With Memorial Day weekend, summer has finally arrived and for most music fans that means one thing; festival season is here! Finance blog Nerd Wallet has taken out some of the guesswork and figured out which festival gives you the most bang for your buck. The blog broke down the general admission ticket cost of three major festivals: Lollapalooza in Chicago, IL, Outside Lands in San Francisco, CA, and Austin City Limits in Austin, TX. How the net value was calculated was the blog calculated the ticket cost of each artist, calculated what artist a festivalgoer is most likely to choose, favoring main stage acts, deducted from the ticket price based on shorter festival sets, and then took that combined ticket cost (the gross value) and subtracted the ticket price.
Using this method, Nerd Wallet determined that in 2013, the festival with the biggest value is Austin City Limits. It’s has a net value of $631.66. Also, its top artist ticket price is The Cure only $103 meaning that the value is better spread between the artists. That’s compared with Outside Lands whose top artist ticket is $154.33 for Paul McCartney. After that is D’Angelo valued at $89.40, a steep drop-off for a sub-headliner. Outside Lands ranked second with $621.94 but was considered a waste if one did not wish to see McCartney. Lollapalooza ranked third which was interesting considering it the lowest ticket price and not the fewest amount of artists. The reason being is the artists are smaller priced artists throughout the entire festival keeping the gross value low.
While this is a tried and true method in determining whether or not a festival is a good buy for your summer, it doesn’t tell the whole story. First off, there are two large omissions from the study named Coachella and Bonnaroo. Bonnaroo may have a unfair advantage as music goes from noon until 4 AM. I don’t know whether that makes Bonnaroo have more artists than other festivals but it’s an important factor in making a decision. Coachella is also a juggernaut and has a similar lineup to Lollapalooza. Another good comparison would be The Hangout in Alabama.
The other problem is intangibles that are not included in Nerd Wallet’s study. The three festivals selected take place in major cities. That means you have to factor in hotel costs, food costs, afterparty costs, alcohol, and transit costs among others. It would be nice to average out those costs to get a real feel on cost of attending a festival. Bonnaroo and Coachella offer camping, cutting down those costs. They also have less afterparties and no travel cost, adding to their ability to be less cost prohibitive.
A third issue is the rise of the regional festival. Less likely these days are people making a cross-country trek for a festival lineup when they can have a similar experience close to home. Firefly in Delaware, Sasquatch! In Washington, and Newport Folk in Rhode Island would be more interesting festivals to add and breakdown this concept further. Hopefully, an intrepid statistician will break this down for a music blog and get the real answer.