Indiefication of Major Festivals

With the warmer seasons quickly approaching comes the breaking out of the shorts and sunglasses, to those of us who are die hard music fans it symbolizes the beginning of the music festival scene, a phenomenon worldwide, where you can see a handful of your favorite acts in one weekend for one larger nominal fee what a convenience.

If you are to look at any of the major festivals one will note that there is a surge of indie bands not affiliated with the “Big 3” major labels. Although these bands are not signed to the majors they have gained enough acclaim and attention to be able to play some of the biggest festivals in the world with some of the more popular artist currently touring and promoting the new projects they are releasing as well as some of the classic bands from previous years. With the power of the Internet and social media, streaming, and other music sharing these bands are able to gain enough buzz to play at these festivals where in the past few generations they would have no place to play.


With Coachella standing as the symbol to the start of the festival season in the United States this has become one of the largest festivals bringing 254.4 Million in revenue in 2012 alone. It’s interesting to take note that a good numbers of bands on the bill minus the headliners and some of the other larger acts performing at the festival are not connected to the major labels in anyway. A good Majority of the bands just underneath the main headliners on the flyer as seen above have a large following and of there own and are signed to independent labels. A few of these acts that are on their way to becoming household names for any indie music fanatic are, Flying Lotus (Brain Feeder), FKA Twig (Yung Turks), Perfume Genius (Sargent House), Toro y Moi (Carpark). As these act play more festivals they will gain more popularity rising to prominence and helping their careers and their labels career.

The festival scene acts as an amazing proving ground for this new emerging artist signed to independent label to gain a new fanbase that would otherwise never take interest in or be aware of their music. By the draw of the bigger acts that tend to play later at night many festival goers often spend their time when not partaking in some less than legal activities discovering what could be their potential new favorite artist. On an average 75 percent of the bands playing the festival fall under the category of “Indie.” An indie artist can be looked at from the perspective that they are signed to a label that operates without funding or outside the organization of the major record labels.

Some artist especially Indie artist start there journey on the festival scene as the “opening” act or one of the artist playing earlier in the day playing on smaller stages but some can rise to being a headliner. An example of this would be the post hardcore band At the Drive-in who in 1999 where one of the smaller acts playing on a small stage at Coachella and in 2012 they were headlining multiple major festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo behind the likes of acts like hologram 2Pac (but who are we kidding its hard to compete with a guy performing from beyond the grave). They were able to headline while maintain the status of an indie band.


Although most of the smaller acts are not typically the main draw for those attending the festival willing to spend nearly $500 + on a weekend they do enhance the experience and bring some notoriety to the emerging artist and the labels they represent. Although the bands are performing the festival to get some spotlight there is a benefit for Goldenvoices the festival promoters behind hiring smaller rising bands to perform a few of the key benefits are they can gather more acts for less money, they can fill up the whole weekend with musical entertainment creating a much more enjoyable experience and there are less chances conflicting ego as the stereotype dictates of the larger “superstar” artist.

The festival scene will continue to help promote and aid in the careers of the small rising artist not associated with the major label. Signifying a shift in how the current generation thinks about music and how it’s consumed. Allowing smaller artist who would never have a chance in any other time in history not only to perform to thrive and find a strong fan base and to play some of the biggest shows around.

-Andrew Beeh

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