New Acts Are a Rare Sight at UK Music Festivals, Study Finds

March 06, 2023
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© Arthur Edelmans / Unsplash

Festival lineups give you more deja vu and fewer upcoming acts, according to a Pirate study. After analyzing 32 major festivals in the UK – excluding Glastonbury – researchers found that music events book less new acts each year. 

While legacy artists and popular acts are omnipresent in festival announcements, upcoming talents are becoming a rare sight, making lineups look “homogenous”. Emerging trends show that music events with over 50,000 capacity, including Download, Parklife, and Latitude, have dropped emerging artists in the past decade. 

In 2016, UK festivals had 80% of new acts booked, but the rate dropped to 60% by 2021. The findings also show that large-scale events tend to stay in their comfort zone and book the same acts yearly. 

Smaller festivals, on the other hand, went in the opposite direction. For events with a capacity between 20,000 and 50,000, new talent has been consistently making up 80% to 90% of the roster. 

According to Pirate, the top UK music festivals to showcase new acts all had a capacity of less than 50,000. 

A representative from Cross The Tracks festivals told Pirate keeping this fresh is anything but difficult.

“There’s so much music out there, it’s not hard to keep things fresh if you love music and keep listening to new music, old music, good music.”

Simon Taffe, founder of indie fest End Of The Road, notes that creative and eclectic lineups is an effort worth doing. 

“I certainly wouldn’t want to become one of these indie landfill festivals where you always see the same bands on every bill.”


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