How much do festivals cost to run? We’ll attempt to answer that question in this article, in case you’re playing with the thought of running a music festival.
Read on to learn…
- The average cost of staging a music festival
- How to determine the cost of your own
- Different ways you can cover the expenses
What is the average cost of staging a music festival?
It’s as difficult to calculate as the length of a piece of string. Music festivals range from small local festivals to large behemoths like Glastonbury.
There are also precious few music festival budgets available online—none, in fact—but fortunately, some organisers have kindly supplied bits of information.
In 2014, Glastonbury saw £37.3 million in revenues be reduced to just £86,000 in profits. Needless to say, organising a music festival is not a get-rich-quick scheme.
How to determine the cost of running your own music festival
Now that we have a ballpark figure of what the average music festival costs, you’re probably interested in a music festival budget breakdown. Let’s see what music festival expenses look like in detail.
The cost of booking your festival acts will vary the most. This booking agency lists their booking fees as ranging between £300–£2000 per band. But famous acts can cost you a much larger amount.
2. Site hire
Unless you’re able to strike a good deal with a local farm, you’ll have to hire a festival venue. These can cost you around £100 per person per day, or around £5000 per day fixed-price.
How much does a stage cost for a festival? Small ones can be hired for £700, medium ones will set you back around £1,500–£3,000, whereas the biggest ones can cost as much as £20,000. Here are a few stage suppliers to consider:
Expect to spend £60,000–£100,000 on electricity alone for a festival of 10,000 people. Although you don’t have to give out free water, you still need to pay for the toilet and shower water on top.
5. Waste disposal
The same festival with 10,000 attendees will also produce a lot of rubbish that you have to clean up. Set aside another £30,000 just to clean up the environment after the festivities.
6. Printing and signage
Signage, banners, and other printed materials are surprisingly cheap compared to all the other expenses. Let’s call it £1,000 for our music festival with 10,000 attendees.
You’ll need a ticketing app to help you manage ticket sales and gather attendee insights. But you’ll also want to invest in admin tools for your team, so set aside another £1,000 for that.
9. Equipment hire
You can get a festival PA package for hire for around £850, but that only covers one stage. Multiply that amount by the number of stages you plan on setting up for your music festival.
You’d think that insurance premiums would sky-rocket with so many people attending a music festival. But you can, in fact, get insurance for as little as £62 for a festival of up to 20,000 attendees.
11. Permits and licences
Infrastructure is taken care of with indoor festivals. Outdoor festivals may require you to build roads and parking lots, which can set you back £250,000 for your 10,000 people festival.
Unsurprisingly, 10,000 drunk festival-goers pose a serious security risk. The Isle of Wight festival spent £1 million on police and private security firms, so it can quickly get expensive.
14. Photography & videography
There will be plenty of Kodak moments at your festival, so you should make sure to capture them. Each videographer will cost you around £750 per day, so multiply that by days and staff.
Phew, that should cover it….
… But wait, there’s more.
Before you begin calculating the price of your music festival tickets, you should remember that the government wants its 20% VAT. That has to be added on top of the ticket price.
PRS (formerly “Performing Right Society”) wants some money (in addition to the licences they sold you), so set aside another 3% of your ticket sale revenue to pay them off as well.
Remember the summer of 2012? No fewer than 57 music festivals were cancelled due to the bad weather. That’s after they’d paid all the costs we just described. Talk about an anticlimax.
7 music festival revenue streams you should use
Now that we’ve gone over the depressingly huge sums you’d have to shell out for the love of music, it’s time to look at some ways you can recoup those investments.
Ticket sales are the obvious revenue stream, but it’s not as lucrative as you might imagine. Wychwood only covers 60% of their expenses through tickets despite their high price point.
Mud, sweat, and tears are not for everyone. More and more people are happy to pay for “glamping” facilities, which include air-conditioned tents, comfy beds, and private toilets.
You can charge festival sponsors anywhere from a few hundred quid to £20,000 for a headliner sponsorship package. You’d still need quite a few headline sponsors to make it work.
The music acts will no doubt sell their branded merchandise after their performance. You should follow suit. Create your own music festival merchandise and sell as much as you can.
Food is a necessity, so you can make a decent revenue if you sell your own at the festival. But you can also pull in an external catering company and charge them rent for selling their food.
Booze is the special ingredient that makes a music festival magical. Be sure to set up a few bars so you can accommodate the thirsty festival-goers when they run out of their own supplies.
Tools to help you calculate the budget for a festival
All of these expenditures and revenue streams can be difficult to keep tabs on. We’ve pulled in a few tools to help you calculate the cost of your music festival.
Here are some festival budget templates you can use to help you out:
- Guidebook: a list of several event budget templates
- Concert Promotions: a festival cost sheet
- Creative & Cultural Skills: a live music production sample budget
Tip: You can also refer to our guide on how to manage event budgets for additional guidance.
Ready for summer vibes?
As you can see, it’s not a dance on roses to organise a music festival. It’s very difficult to just break even and almost impossible to make a profit.
Know anyone who’s organised their own music festival and turned a profit? Let us know in the comments section below.