Remember how two years ago, everyone was predicting the “EDM Bubble Burst?” Well ladies and gentlemen, we are finally experiencing it. With the recent news of Mysteryland USA cancelling its 2017 edition (which would have been the festival’s fourth year), we find ourselves yet again contemplating the future of the scene.
We all knew this would happen, especially since many of these cancelled festivals were just created in the last five years. Basic economics took its course: demand for festivals grew in 2013, more festivals popped up. Demand for festivals has since decreased, many of them are now dying out. But how does the market determine which festivals survive and which ones don’t? Back in the early 2010s, many of the EDM generation’s youth were going to their first music festival. Fast forward to 2017, and most of those people now have a few years-worth of festivals under their belts. They are more experienced and they know better.
First things first: the lineup of the festival can make or break it. Despite the notion that some of us like to “go for the experience,” a good majority of us like to spend our hard earned money on artists that we like to see. Booking Tiesto and praying for ticket sales on a sub-par music festival is never going to work in the long run. The average festival goer has learned to wait for a lineup release before buying a ticket. And for promoters, curating the lineup can be a challenge. Do you cater your lineup to appeal to the masses, or do you find a niche in the market and cater to that audience?
For the smaller, regional festivals, the niche market is definitely the way to go. Movement in Detroit has been gaining momentum each and every year of its 10 year existence, holding firm the title as the best Techno and House oriented music festival in the country. Mysteryland USA’s demise is partially due the fact that they reportedly tried to cater to a “Coachella crowd” with their diverse lineup, and failed miserably. Why take a festival that was solid in its reputation for techno and bass music and dilute it with G-Eazy? The world may never know…. Toronto’s Veld Music Festival may also take a hit on its ticket sales this summer with its eclectic lineup for 2017. I don’t know where else in the world you can see Future, Gareth Emery, and Nicole Moudaber in the same event, but its confusing lineup will likely not pull any mega-devoted fans.
If a festival isn’t hinging on its lineup, then it really better provide a damn good experience. Heavy hitters like Ultra Music Festival, Coachella, Electric Daisy Carnival, Burning Man, and Electric Forest are probably the strongest festival brands in the USA. These festivals know how to keep up with trends, start new ones, and curate an experience that makes people come back every single year. They are the events that most people agree on going to “at least once” in their life. Whether you are drawn to EDC because of the carnival rides, or pulled to Burning Man from the allure of living in a self-sustaining community in the desert, you pretty much know which what you are getting into before any lineup is announced.
So what are my predictions for 2017’s festivals? Which ones will be winners and which ones will be duds?
Mysteryland USA (#RIP)
Middle Lands (Texas)
Veld Music Festival (Toronto)
Electric Zoo (NYC)
Electric Forest (Michigan)
Bass Center X (Virginia)
Dreams Festival (Toronto)
Bonus: 2017 Festivals on the Rise
Summer Set (Wisconsin)
Imagine Festival (Atlanta)