The 2012 UK edition of the Sonisphere festival has officially cancelled this year’s performance. The touring festival is a European staple since 2009, delivering some of the biggest names in music, including the first appearance of The Big 4 (Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax). While tragic that this had to happen, it speaks to a more worrisome issue regarding the music industry.
Read below for the official statement.
“It is with very heavy hearts and much regret that we announce the cancellation of Sonisphere Knebworth 2012.
Putting the festival together in what is proving to be a very challenging year was more difficult than we anticipated and we have spent the last few months fighting hard to keep Sonisphere in the calendar. Unfortunately circumstances have dictated that we would be unable to run the festival to a standard that both the artists and that Sonisphere’s audience would rightly expect.
We want to express our deepest regrets to the artists and to thank all the staff, suppliers and contractors who worked so hard with us to try and pull off what has proven to be an impossible task and we know how much they share in our disappointment. We also want to send a huge thanks to the Sonisphere fans who stuck by us and we are so sorry that we can’t fulfil what we set out to do.
Ticket holders will automatically receive a full refund direct from their ticket agents.
First of all, I have to give my sympathies to Team Sonisphere. The hard work and effort they put in must have been nothing short of grueling and arduous, all so fans could enjoy some good music. My hats off to you hard workers.
But the cancellation begs a simple question: Why? Why did the festival have to be cancelled? What was the reason behind it? In a word: economics.
Europe is in an incredibly tenuous state right now dealing with Greece and Italy while the European Union is dealing with the Euro and the issues that have arisen since its debut.
The world economic situation is very grim at the moment. Tensions in the Middle East are raising gas prices for pretty much everyone. There are serious rumblings of possible new wars. So on, so forth, as per usual.
In an interview with Press TV, Sean O’Grady, economics editor for The Independent, said that, “…it’s about 50, 50” that the British economy could go into a recession. [source]
As a result, people don’t have a lot of cash. People are afraid to spend money because, who knows? They might very well need it for something far more important down the line. Car tire blown? Luckily, you’ve got a few bucks stored. Get sick or injured? Hopefully you’ve got enough for that!
So what does all of this have to do with UK Sonisphere being cancelled? People can’t afford to spend money on live concerts anymore, especially ones that can cost up to £190.00 (right around $300). That’s a lot of money, even if it is for a vast amount of entertainment.
You see, not only is Sonisphere a music festival. It’s also a place where people go and camp in the middle of nowhere, hanging out and making new friends, establishing new connections. It is a place where the local population creates a network, allowing for new ideas, more reasons for travel, etc… It has secondary ways of helping the economy.
But people don’t have that kind of money or time. After all, spending nearly $300 AND giving up an entire weekend? That’s a tough sell for many people. And it turns out that it was too tough for too many people.
But what does the cancellation mean for the music industry? Record labels are already taking hard hits when it comes to the sale of physical albums. And even though iTunes, Amazon, and other mp3 downloading services are making it far easier to purchase than to steal, illegal downloading is still a big concern.
That’s why live shows are so important. When people are at a concert, money in fist, they get caught up in the atmosphere and buy merchandise directly from artists. They buy CD’s so the band will sign them.
Music festivals are also a place where lesser known bands can get the opportunity to play for huge crowds, thus gaining greater exposure, which, in turn, increases the chances that their music and merchandise will sell.
But when live shows fail to sell, the record label is left in an incredibly difficult state. Where can they get more money to support their other artists? And yes, they also want money for themselves, but that’s beside the point.
You see, the 2012 UK Sonisphere had such headliners as KISS, Faith No More, Marilyn Manson, Evanescence, Within Temptation, etc… These are just a few of the acts that were slated to play the show. Each of these acts are HUGE draws! And yet it wasn’t enough to maintain the festival.
So what we’ve entered now is a time when live music doesn’t have the value that it used to. And why should it? People can watch a band perform live the day after a concert by hopping on YouTube. What’s the point in paying for a concert when you can watch professionally shot footage from the comfort of your own home, without having to be in the midst of thousands upon thousands of sweaty, yelling bodies.
Where does that leave record labels and bands? It’s a good question. You see, the relationship between the musician and the consumer has dramatically changed. No longer is the musician some mythical amazement (see this article for more). But on the other side, the consumer is also no longer just a spending vessel. There is a much closer relationship these days, one where the band speaks directly (via Facebook, Twitter, Internet chats) to fans and fans can communicate directly back. The massive “wall” that once separated the two is gone.
So, again I ask, where does the cancellation of UK Sonisphere 2012 leave record labels and bands? I think the answer lies ultimately with the fans and their feelings on what music is worth. I can only hope that they determine the worth is high.
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