Spain's BBK Live Festival July 12-14 smashed its crowd records and is now challenging Benicassim as the country's biggest festival.
Benicassim communications director Ernesto Gonzalez told the post-festival press conference that the average daily crowd July 12-15 was 40,000, while BBK Live (July 12-14) ran it close by smashing its own attendance record.
Back in May it became evident that Benicassim faced a tough trading environment, as UK concert promoter Vince Power, whose publicly traded Music Festivals group owns the event, warned that the economic situation and a scarcity of top talent were slowing sales.
Local sales clearly took a knock, as less than 30 percent of the visitors to the festival, which is on the northwest coast, came from Spain. Last year it was 45 percent.
Local papers reported that barmen working at Benicassim said nine out of 10 drinks orders were in English and the ticket figures indicate that 70 percent of the crowd was either English or Irish.
At BBK Live, which is run by Last Tour International and takes place at Kobetamendi, a park in the mountainous region just outside Bilbao, the average daily crowd rose from 25,573 in 2011 to 36,400.
More than 70 percent of the crowd came from Spain, with most of the rest coming from either the UK or France.
A four-day ticket for Benicassim cost euro 165 ($200) with a lineup featuring Bob Dylan, The Stone Roses, New Order, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, David Guetta and Ed Sheeran.
The three-day ticket for BBK Live cost euro 105 ($128) and the bill had Radiohead, Keane, Mumford & Sons, Snow Patrol, The Cure and Garbage.
Both festivals, along with the rest of the Spanish live music business, now face difficulties because the cash-strapped Spanish government has decided to hike the rate of VAT from 8 percent to 21 percent. The country’s PRS rate is 10 percent, one of the highest in Europe.
Former Live Nation Spain chief Gay Mercader, who is now semi-retired and promotes only the occasional show, told Pollstar he’s glad he’s no longer a regular promoter.
“I only do the acts that I really want to do and the ones that particularly want me to do the job,” he said. “If I still had to promote shows on a daily basis, I would be very worried.”
Power told the post-Benicassim press conference he’s considering re-branding his event as either “a bullfight or football game,” as those events aren’t affected by the tax increase.