Recently, festivals and associations reported a weakening trend for 2019: The ticket sales of big festivals are decreasing due to repetitive line-ups and rising ticket prices. Headliner’s fees are rising each year, thus the ticket prices. At the same time, smaller regional festivals or one-day events with lower ticket prices and a more personal flair for proximity and conviviality are trending.
Christof Huber, festival director of Switzerland’s OpenAir St Gallen and general secretary of Yourope, the European Festival Association, says: “My personal view is that the market has been quite saturated for a few years. Also, the same headliners return too often and sometimes play multiple festival seasons.”
On a positive note, this development supports live music booking of up-and-coming artists who offer high quality but have lower fees. Small festivals are also benefiting from this change since they offer better, more unique experiences for artists and festival goers than big mainstream concerts.
To refresh line-ups and to discover young talent without burning money, independent artists need to get easy access to the live booking business, especially to mid-size and smaller regional festivals.
3 solutions to this challenge lie in the infrastructure of a digital booking platform called gigmit. The mission of the Berlin-based company is to give the live industry a digital update with the power of a connected live community. gigmit.com is a free profile-based matchmaking platform for artists and promoters that aims at reducing administrative work leaving more time to create and perform. Two of their projects (LASER & INES) are co-funded by the EU:
1. An algorithm for Europe’s rising talents
LASER (= Live Artists Search Engine & Recommendations) is an algorithm-based software service that mines data to assist live music promoters in discovering and booking European artists. No individual has the capacity to know everything that is happening in the vast landscape of today’s music scene. Fan and streaming data already exists on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, Deezer, Soundcloud or Apple, but needs to be collected, analyzed and presented in a user-friendly format. Consequently, booking agents can use to detect artists that fit their venue’s programming requirements and have an existing and growing fanbase in their regions. By the end of 2019 LASER’s first prototype wants to be introduced.
2. Digital distribution for independent artists
Music streaming has become as relevant in the industry as television has become for football: if you can’t be found on Spotify & Co, you practically don’t exist as an artist. Getting your music out there via streaming portals is the first step to getting booked. “A combination of artist discovery, streaming and booking, is a live-business overdue”, says Marcus Rüssel, founder and CEO of gigmit. That’s why he started a corporation with the global music distribution and record label services company Ditto Music from Liverpool.
3. Organizing international talent discovery
Showcase festivals are an excellent opportunity and a platform for up-and-coming talents to present their music to potential fans and music professionals outside of their home country and to be discovered. The Innovation Network of European Showcases (INES) is committed to promoting talent and international exchange. Since 2017, the program co-funded by Creative Europe provides the infrastructure for international talent discovery. Now 19 showcase festivals from 18 countries are going to choose bands and solo artists from a common pool of INES talents for their international line-ups. Over 150 slots are reserved for INES#talents. Uncommonly, catering and hotel costs, as well as festival tickets and a conference pass, will be covered by the organizers of the festival. A minimum performance fee of € 250 and a basic backline are guaranteed. Until August 27, 2019, live acts can apply as INES#talents for the festival season 2020 at ines-festivals.eu/talent-application.