At the beginning of this week, the internet was buzzing with rumours that the UK’s Sonisphere Festival had been cancelled. Yesterday, the news was officially confirmed on the festival website. As readers of this blog may be aware, I had been rather looking forward to the festival, not to mention seeing Queen up on a big stage but alas this was clearly not meant to be. No official reasons have been given for the cancellation but the general belief is that it’s to do with poor ticket sales.
Working as a music journalist, I’m constantly aware of the damage the recession has had on not just music sales but gigs and festivals. Perhaps Sonisphere is a casualty of the simple fact that many of us are having to do without things that previously we took for granted, live shows included. I find it really sad – not just the current financial climate but also the way it’s impacting on a creative movement. I know so many bands that are struggling – you’d be surprised to learn just how many well-known musicians have day jobs – and so many promoters who are desperately trying to keep afloat. I wonder what the future holds? Free downloads are all well and good (although they don’t financially benefit the artist) but a world without live music sounds very depressing.
I’ve only been out to two gigs so far this week – the one on Wednesday was surprisingly sparsley attended even though the band were excellent. Last night’s was absolutely heaving – admittedly it was a free show that had had a lot of publicity and the band involved have an excellent hype machine running at the moment. But at the same time, I’ve been to excellent free shows at the same venue that have been really empty. I’m really rather curious as to what the exact winning formula is.
Going back to Sonisphere, there has been criticism that the line up wasn’t ‘metal’ enough but the promoters had certainly pulled in some big names worthy of headlining stadiums in much the same way that Download Festival has. It doesn’t really seem to just boil down to cost but instead there appears to be a ‘cool factor’ involved in deciding which shows sink and which ones swim. Companies can pour as much money into events/ bands/ brands as they like but if they’re not resonating with consumers, despite how good they look on paper, they won’t be able to sustain a level of success. Fashions change all the time and I certainly don’t envy A&Rs and marketing managers whose jobs revolve around being able to predict the next big thing – the media does as well although we generally only have to commit to decisions a few months before! Alternative scenes in general seem to be suffering at the moment and I really hope that the current financial climate doesn’t detract any potential new fans.
I feel really sad that there won’t be a Sonisphere this year and really sad that so many people will miss out on seeing what I thought was a very interesting line up. But I also have a sense of apprehension about this year because I don’t think this festival will be the only casualty.
Read the official Sonisphere announcement here: http://sonisphere.co.uk/news/sonisphere-knebworth-is-cancelled/