The fields round Worthy Farm in Somerset, would kindle a heat glow within the coronary heart of Donald Trump. An eight-mile lengthy, 20-foot excessive fence runs around the farm and the 12 neighbouring properties, encasing Britain’s greatest music competition – Glastonbury, after all.
The competition would possibly even be safer than Mr Trump’s deliberate border wall between the US and Mexico.
There are actually two fences. A barely shorter one sits within the shadow of the big barrier with sufficient room between them to drive an emergency car.
It is designed to discourage those that need to watch the large identify acts with out paying the £245 ticket worth. Some nonetheless strive. “After they take it down they discover the odd physique half left behind,” says a neighborhood taxi driver with a grim smile.
The wall is testomony to Glastonbury’s pulling energy, and business success. When the 200,000 tickets for this yr’s occasion, which begins on Wednesday, went on sale, they disappeared in 36 minutes. Two million individuals pre-registered to have a shot at shopping for one.
Glastonbury sits on the prime of the UK festivals tree – a tree whose decrease branches have sprouted quickly lately.
In accordance with UK Music, the music trade commerce physique, 4 million individuals attended a competition in 2017, the newest yr for which it holds figures. 5 years earlier than, it was solely three million. The Affiliation of Unbiased Festivals, which speaks for these occasions not organised by the big music trade gamers, says competition goers spent practically £400 per head on common at every occasion.
Regardless of that, competition selling stays a dangerous enterprise. Backers are without end taking part in off the worth of spending closely to safe a giant act and increase ticket gross sales, and the urgent want to manage prices.
Some are involved concerning the proliferation of rival occasions. A have a look at the UK Festivals web site reveals ten or extra occasions each summer time weekend, catering to each potential musical style. And unbiased promoters complain that an excessive amount of energy has been concentrated within the palms of some firms, specifically Stay Nation, the American leisure group that runs about one-quarter of the big (greater than 5,000 attendance) occasions within the UK.
The opposite wild card is the climate. The forecast is nice for this yr’s Glastonbury, however it has endured epic washouts and dirt baths. The unpredictability of the enterprise explains why the corporate behind the occasion, Glastonbury Pageant Occasions, maintains a money pile of greater than £10m.
The buffer is revealed in its most up-to-date accounts. Within the yr to the tip of March 2008, it made a post-tax revenue of £1.43m, had money reserves of £10.6m and made charitable contributions of £2.1m.
Emily Eavis, the occasion’s co-organiser and daughter of founder Michael Eavis , mentioned the reserves have been about defending the occasion in opposition to unexpected occasions.
“Contingency is de facto necessary to us. The weather are so unpredictable. We’re fully on the mercy of the weather,” Ms Eavis mentioned in an interview with the In the present day programme.
“Now we have to promote out to interrupt even, as a result of the occasion prices a lot to placed on – about £40m. Our different purpose is to have the ability to give the charities we assist about £2m a yr. Glastonbury employs about 50 individuals full time.”
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Media captionEmily Eavis tells the BBC the organisers strive to not plan too far into the long run
However Ms Eavis mentioned they didn’t take success with no consideration.
“It’s undoubtedly associated to trend and developments. Folks like going to festivals in the intervening time; we’re in an up interval.
“However the factor about Glastonbury is that it has by no means had a really long run plan – we venture 5 years into the long run, however not past that. It takes away from the spirit of the occasion to be planning too far forward.”
Ms Eavis mentioned the corporate had turned down most requests to licence the Glastonbury identify for different occasions. “You will not be seeing a Glastonbury America,” she mentioned.
Whereas Glastonbury is having fun with a robust return – final yr there was no occasion – the competition trade has had some high-profile failures. Probably the most infamous was the 2017 Fyre Pageant within the Bahamas, promoted by businessman Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule. It was meant to be a luxurious occasion with prime identify acts, however turned out an entire flop, with these attending being supplied stale cheese slices and half-built tents.
Even success can create its personal issues. Alex Trenchard, founding father of the Standon Calling competition in Hertfordshire, was despatched to jail for fraud after attempting to cowl some prices on his employer’s firm bank card within the early years of the occasion.
“I used to be in my early twenties, the occasion had grown rapidly and I had a name from the safety firm every week upfront saying if I did not pay they would not be displaying up. I received right into a deep gap and did not inform anybody about it,” he mentioned.
Since then Standon Calling has prospered. Mr Trenchard mentioned the important thing to a profitable competition was the flexibility to manage prices. It has pioneered using Oyster-card type cost playing cards, which let festival-goers pay for his or her foods and drinks rapidly. It additionally permits Mr Trenchard to see precisely the place the cash goes and the way a lot third-party caterers and drinks suppliers are taking.
“It’s like all medium-sized enterprise,” he mentioned. “However with festivals, all that enterprise occurs over one weekend.”