Have We Reached Peak Festival Attendance? Bonnaroo 2016 Ticket Sales Down 46%
When a touchstone music festival has a 46% attendance drop, does it signal we've reached peak festival attendance? It's too soon to call it a trend, but a signification number of existing fests shutting down or reporting smaller attendance.
It was a tough year for the 15th Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival after ticket sales plunged precipitously for the event in 2016.
According to figures obtained by the Nashville Tennessean, 2016 ticket sales for the 2016 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival came in at 45,537 — a drop of 46 percent from its 2011 high. The sales figures for 2016 slid by 28,156 from the previous year and represent a nadir for the festival, beating the previous low point of 2008 when there were 65,164 tickets sold, the Tennessean said.
While the festival doesn't publish its ticket sales publicly, the newspaper calculated sales figures from a public records request to the Coffee County government’s budget office.
Bonnaroo's slowest year comes just weeks after the festival was purchased by promoter Live Nation. Industry experts suggested to the Tennessean that the decline in sales may reflect the festival's lineup this year, which featured Pearl Jam, LCD Soundsystem, and Dead & Company. As well, the festival is facing greater competition in the U.S. summer festival scene.
Both Bonnaroo and Live Nation did not answer the Tennessean's request for comments on the story, but on the final day of this year's festival, organizers released a statement which said:
"For the past 15 years we've been extremely fortunate to have over a million fans share the Bonnaroo experience with us,” the statement read. “While our attendance is slightly lower this year, the Bonnaroo community is as vibrant as ever and excited about celebrating this milestone year on The Farm."