Legendary Concert Promoter Harvey Goldsmith Says the Festival Circuit ‘Has Peaked’
Music festivals (in the U.K., at least) will soon be dead, according to Harry Goldsmith – the legendary 69-year-old promoter who organized Live Aid in 1985 and has worked with the likes of the Rolling Stones, Queen, the Who and Bob Dylan.
Speaking at the Hay Literary Festival in Wales last week, Goldsmith lamented that music festivals are becoming irrelevant due mainly to a lack of major artists available to headline them because there are so many to choose from. "The festival circuit has peaked," he told the Guardian. "It really peaked about two years ago. There’s too many of them and there are not enough big acts to headline them. That is a big, big problem in our industry. And we are not producing a new generation of these kind of acts – the likes of The Rolling Stones, Muse, even Arctic Monkeys – that can headline."
He said between May and September last year, there were about 900 music festival events in the U.K. and he speculated there's no way they can all continue. “Music festivals have probably run their course. What is going to happen is a growth in events where it isn’t just music – [but] like this one, with poetry or books or magic shows," he said. "There will be lots of small combination festivals that give something plus – not people standing around in a massive great field unable to go to the toilet because they might miss the band.”
Goldsmith blamed the change partly on a change in the way "young people" listen to music these days. “People don’t seem to want to listen to a body of work, an album, any more," he said. "Most rock bands built a reputation on a body of work – they might take three albums to really hone their art, to become great, but young people don’t want that. They home in on a track, a sound, then ping off again to the next one."