Over the last week or so, Senior Account Director Sean Kelly has been reading a lot of criticism about the crowd and experience at V Festival 2011 – and so he wanted to offer a slightly different perspective on it.
So V Festival, criticised for being overly commercial, it’s mainstream bands, poor facilities and loutish clientele more interested in looking good and getting drunk than watching the music. Having been to the festival myself several times I’ve seen it first hand, and the criticism is hardly new – ‘a plastic festival’, ‘a festival for those who don’t want to get muddy’. All true, but is there anything wrong with that? Surely they are just filling their segment of the market.
For me V is the biggest culprit of the ‘commercialisation of music festivals’, but it’s happening everywhere. They have become more fashionable to attend, and much more accessible, especially as there are so many festivals out there now, and not everyone wants to stand in a Glastonbury field for 4 days soaking wet, with an enlightened traveller telling them how good it was in the ’70s…man. Also, it’s chance to have a weekend away in the sunshine (if you are lucky), get smashed, listen to music, all without the flight to Ibiza, Magaluf or Malia.
V suffers most (although I do hear the same about Reading) due to it being one of the most commercial festivals for years. It was set up with sponsorship in mind (the clue is in the title), so has just become a more well-oiled machine as the years have gone by. The first thought is to profit, rather than looking after the paying public. Providing as little toilets as they can legally get away with, and the same goes for space and food. Capacity has increased, but the site really hasn’t. It’s a business, end of.
In terms of line up, they created a rod for their own back from the start, so they can hardly start looking for alternative acts! It’s not their place. And, when was the last major, major band to break in this country who could headline? Kasabian? Maybe. That’s not the festival’s problem. They are also catering for the consumer (the only time they do it), who wants accessible bands to watch.
V (the Essex version) is so close to Chelmsford town centre that it’s really easy for day-trippers. The Saturday is Essex day out. It’s their day in the calendar, which everybody wants to attend. The minority of which are loutish idiots (who exist all over the country), but the rest just want to look good in the sun. I do think that these ‘festival-goers’ have seen way too much Coachella and Benicassim on the TV! But for one day why wouldn’t you get glammed up? It would probably be the same all over the country…but maybe with less fake tan.
For festivals to stay alive, they need to monetise. This means pricier tickets and more brands. That’s how you grow. Glastonbury, Bestival, IOW, they’re all doing this, but are managing to hang on to their roots.
The interesting debate is the role of the brands. Have they been part of this commercialisation? Yes and no for me. Yes in terms of being there with cash in their hands to spend on sponsorships to take advantage of the targeting, and no, because they have been given the opportunity to by festival owners who want to make more and more cash. Going forward maybe their focus should be about making the experience better…but then again I think that this is the basic role of a good sponsorship.
So defend V? Why should we be offended by something that sells to you what you get? A day or weekend out, live music, drink and hopefully a good time.
If you want a ‘real festival’ then search elsewhere. Simple.