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  • Writer's pictureThe Belvedere Journal

It's 2020: Why Are Music Festivals Still A Thing?

Amy W

Coachella, Glastonbury and Reading are simply side projects for the money-hungry entrepreneurs and social media influences to profit from those who can’t grasp how ridiculous the concept of ‘music festivals’ really are.

2020 is a time of peak technological advancement, a time of globally increasing social acceptance and a time where social movements are more active than ever before. All of these relatively new ideals play a substantial role in strengthening community cohesion and encouraging the practice of cultural excellence in modern day society. Members of humanity can demonstrate their collective passion and drive to make the world a better place, to enhance the quality of life for everyone. How admirable, it makes us think, ‘Wow, mankind really is headed towards the right direction, striving for an a progressive, contemporary society!’

Except this is all contradicted by the existence of one modern concept; Music festivals.

Music festivals are undoubtedly one of the strangest concepts to ever exist, and this is easily proven once the different elements that make up a festival, are taken out singularly and examined. Take the very popular festival ‘Coachella’ for example; a perfectly good 650 acres of land, turned to dead grass, gritty sand and God knows what else, that had been left behind. Stimulants and depressants crushed to the ground, brought in the first place with the intent of making the festival more enjoyable, because despite the hefty price tag of $450 per ticket (not including parking), it simply still wouldn’t be enough fun without the aid of something bought from a sketchy guy, loitering in the drop off zone by the entrance all night. 

Despite the reality of it all, it’s astonishing to believe that music festivals still remain so popular amongst teens and young adults; considering the disastrous ’Fyre Festival’ scandal that took place in 2017.  If you haven’t heard of the infamous Fyre Festival before, I personally recommend you take 93 minutes of your time, and watch the documentary of the disaster, available to watch on Netflix, ‘FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened’. It provides an insight into the shocking scenes of a corrupt industry. It was an event that was endorsed by A-listers such as Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski and set out to be one of the most exclusive, spectacular music festivals in history, with promised performances from major artists, Migos, Drake and Major Lazer on an exclusive, private island in the Bahamas. The documentary explores the downfall of Billy McFarland in greater detail, his failed attempt at entrepreneurship and his naivety in believing he could possibly pull off Fyre Festival and follow through on all his ridiculous promises, that actually ended in scenes of chaos that could have easily been taken as a scene straight from Lord of the Flies. People were left stranded on an island with no explanation, after being promised ‘luxury villas’ and ‘‘a culinary experience’ but instead received this:

So what went so wrong?

Apart from the obvious blame that falls on McFarland and his delusional team, it’s pretty clear. Coachella, Glastonbury and Reading are simply side projects for the money hungry entrepreneurs and social media influences, who hold more cultural power over us than we’d like to believe, to profit and exploit those who can’t grasp how ridiculous the concept of modern day ‘music festivals’ really are. In the end, it’s about how easily we are to throw $450 away, for a ticket to an event that isn’t anything special, because we see celebrities telling us we should. Music festivals have lost their original purpose, instead of being an event where friends can meet up and spend their weekend watching their favourite artists live, it’s become a popularised trend. It’s now seen as an opportunity for people to show to their Instagram following what a luxurious life they’re leading, uploading pictures of the scenes while they’re stood knee deep in mud and urine. But that’s why Fyre Festival was so popular. No need to read about any of the details or complications that could arise, but the promotional Instagram post of Hailey Baldwin posing on a yacht with the caption ‘#fyre’ is enough to influence thousands of people to blindingly throw $450 away, just because of the buzz. It is however impressive that Fyre managed to scam a hundreds of thousands from the public, just from a couple promotional videos featuring well-known models on a beach.

The only reason that they still take place is because festivals offer a proposition between two seemingly dying entities; the careers of influencers/‘instagram models’, and the music industry.

It’s no surprise that any record label would jump at the chance to boost their slim profit margins, that until now were solely relying on the 0.05p per stream of their artist’s one hit wonder song that peaked in the summer of 2012. And for those who are paid to promote such festivals, their careers and income rely on their audience, consisting of mostly young teens who are most likely to easily buy into the glorification of the idea of music festivals. But what is so glorious about it? The violating nature of being enclosed around a bunch of strangers you’ve never met before? The live experience of seeing, wait, what’s that band called again? Oh, The Weeknd isn't a band? 

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy going to music festivals as much as the next person, it’s a great experience, and highly enjoyable with the right people, but I wouldn't spend a ridiculous amount of money on a ticket for one. There's also no denying that the existence of music festivals is a huge step back in terms of cultural values. On one side of the globe, Greta Thunberg is a teenager, dedicating her life and future towards tackling climate change, and in America we have people willing to pay double what Coachella tickets are actually worth, because they’re all officially sold out. 

If only festivals weren’t so commercialised, maybe people wouldn’t only be focused on the buzz and social media aspect of it, but the fact that Kendall Jenner was paid $250,000 to feature one post on her Instagram advertising Fyre Festival says it all.

It’s 2020, and we still haven’t realised that music festivals just aren't as incredible as they’re made out to be.


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