How much do bands make at festivals?

Ever wondered what some of the bands you see at festivals earn? Let’s take a look..

by | Oct 25, 2018

So how much do bands make at festivals? The simple answer is that it varies depending on the size of the band. Not what you want to hear? Me neither, so on this article I will try and gather as much information as possible and answer in a bit more detail!

Appearances at festivals will be paid out on a tiered system. Obviously the biggest headlining acts will usually all be paid the same amount, so for Reading and Leeds Festivals there are 3 headline bands for the main stage and these will all be paid generally the same amount of money each. This is usually around, but not much more than £200,000 per band. This is not always the case, it is reported that a headline slot for Oasis at Reading and Leeds netted them close to £1,000,000. It really is dependent on the size of the artist at the time and what fee they can demand.

Other festivals can vary with paying the headline acts. Glastonbury for example, doesn’t pay nearly as much as most other festivals, relying on the fact that the mere fact that a band has played a headline slot will catapult them to another level. By playing Glastonbury acts are well aware of both the kudos and the relative promotional qualities having such a spot would mean. I always remember Muse headlining Glastonbury for the first time and how before that show I didn’t really have time for them, but after they seemed to be on another level. This has always seemed true for headliners at Glastonbury, and as such, bands will always play for a much less sum than they would elsewhere.

Then you move on to the acts below the headliners. Most of the bands appearing on the main stage and elsewhere will be paid on a tier system depending on the slot given. The main headline support, so the band on second to last will be paid a lot more than the band that plays at 11am when the gates fly open.

(Imagine Dragons Rocking NOS Alive Festival in Portugal Copyright Joseph Miller Photography)

So how much do some of the bigger bands get paid at festivals?

Check out this little infographic with some bands and what they were paid and when.

How much would new bands get paid at festivals?

This is the question that most of you would be interested in. It’s all well and good reading jaw dropping prices for some of the worlds biggest acts, but how much can a new band, possibly unsigned, look to earn for a festival slot?

It won’t surprise you to hear….not a lot! If at all! Being in an unsigned band, or a band signed to an independent label is always a struggle and that struggle doesn’t stop at playing festivals. The issue is actually trying to get a slot at a top festival which can be incredibly hard without a big label behind you.

The best way forward is to look for smaller more boutique festivals, usually local to where you are from or that are known for putting on smaller acts. I once played a slot at Glastonbudget festival, the clue was in the name! I think we got paid something like £100 for the gig, but we also got our weekend ticket, and when you are young and hungry to play any type of festival then that isn’t too bad.

What about pay to play festival slots?

Unfortunately this is becoming more of a thing than it should be. There are festivals that feel that playing them is so beneficial promotion wise that they charge bands to play at them. My advice would always be steer clear of this kind of arrangement. Life is hard enough at the bottom rung of the ladder without laying out what little funds you do have to get a festival slot.
(Copenhell Festival, Copenhagen. Copyright Joseph Miller Photography)

Summary

While there is no definitive answer to how much bands make at festivals, it’s safe to say that the bigger bands do very well indeed. Being in a new band means playing a festival would be great experience and good exposure but don’t expect to get paid much, if at all.
John has been in and out of bands all his life, toured and recorded in some of the UK’s most prestigious venues and studio’s. Also worked on stage with some of the world’s biggest acts setting up amps and breaking down stages.

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How much do bands make at festivals?

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