Gear Up... It's Festival Season Again!

Gear Up... It's Festival Season Again!

The clogging of lineup posters in our newsfeeds can only mean one thing, it’s festival season again.  As we all gear up for another summer of sunburns, last minute count-ins and late nights we thought it would be a good idea to look back at some of the interesting merch trends we’ve seen on the festival front over the past few years.

It’s estimated that over 32 million people will attend at least one festival in 2017.  And although there are more people going to festivals than ever before, there are also way more festivals for folks to choose from.  This increase of options ultimately has an impact on everyone’s bottom line – tickets get tougher and tougher to sell and artist reps are demanding much more money per festival date.

With the competition for wallet share more cutthroat than ever before and the price of booking talent continuing to rise, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing many of our festival partners invest more resources into ancillary revenue streams to help offset rising costs – merch sales being a critical one.

As the importance of maximizing these additional revenue opportunities continues to grow in light of a competitive festival environment, we thought it would be a good opportunity to share with you some of the interesting festival merch trends we keep a close eye on here at atVenu.  We believe helping you understand how your current merch business stacks up to the competition and the industry at large will inform what types of investments you need to make to maximize your merch revenue.

First, we want to give you a sense of the size and scope of our festival business.

atVenu Festivals by the Numbers

Since the launch of our Festival Platform a few years ago, atVenu has:

Festivals Settled
Managed in Total Merch Sales
Headlining and Support Festival Artists
Pieces of Merch Sold

High Level Festival Trends

Curious as to where your festival merch business stacks up against the industry at large?  Below are a few averages across our roster of festival partners – regardless of size and genre.  (Min of 5,000 ticket sold)

Avg. Festival Attendance
Avg. Total Gross Merch Sales
Avg. $/Head
Highest $/Head
Lowest $/Head
Avg. Event Merch Sales as % total gross merch sales
Highest % of Event Merch Sales as a % total gross merch sales
Lowest % of Event Merch Sales as % of Total Gross Merch
Avg. Gross Headliner Sales as % of Total Gross Merch
Highest % of Headliner Sales as a % of Total Gross Merch
Lowest % of Headliner Sales as % of Total Gross Merch
Avg. Spend Per Transaction

By Genre

While most genre tags are pretty self explanatory, for the sake of clarity we have classified any festival whose lineup spans multiple genres (ex: pop, hip-hop, EDM, rock) and is stacked with major label artists as “Alternative.”   Our “indie” festivals are those festivals whose lineups are primarily made up of artists on independent labels (ok, artists that you’ve likely never heard of) and skew towards more “intimate” sized crowds.

Here’s how the average number of attendees breaks down by genre of festival:

Alternative leads the pack with highest average gross merchandise sales:

And how much are fans spending on average per transaction? With atVenu Register, we are able to track the avg spend per transaction for our festival partners. Of the festivals that use our POS, avg spend by genre is:

Now a look at the lowest, average, and highest $ per head by genre. Many in the industry consider this number to be the best and truest measure of merch sales success since it’s an average spend per attendee which scales regardless of festival size. Note: highest reported per head of $44 intentionally not included.

Don’t discount the importance of your event merch (i.e. the line up tee or event poster). It’s a growing revenue stream across the board and are the items fans take home to memorialize the experience. Here we take a look at average event merch sales as a % of total gross merchandise sales along with it’s spread, showing the highest and lowest % of event merch to gross sales.

And how does your Headliner Artist merch sales stack up to total Gross Merch Sales?

These are just some of the interesting data points we wanted to share. As you think about where your merch business fits into everything, let’s not forget about another critical piece of the puzzle – the promotional aspect. Fans that are shelling out money to purchase your event merch are walking billboards for your festival. This is not free advertising – this is incremental advertising YOU get paid for. So take it seriously. This is your brand. What better way to find new fans, sell more tickets, sell more beer, sell more food (and hopefully more merch) than to have your biggest fans promoting your event for you. Sure beats pumping money into Facebook ads to push your lineup.

Good luck out there this summer festival friends!
The atVenu Team

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