BARCELONA — With nearly 900 festivals now held a year in Spain, mass live music gatherings have become the draw for tourists that bullfighting was for many in Hemingway’s day, and are competing even with football for sponsorship dollars. According to a new report detailing the country’s music festival explosion, 6.4 million people attended Spanish festivals in 2018, an almost 10% increase over 2017. Overall, the festivals took in €197 million euros in 2018, nearly 13% more than the previous year’s revenue.
The report, whose title Oh Holy Festivals! Reveals the enthusiastic tone of its content, was compiled by Neolabels a communication consultancy which tracks Spanish festivals and their audiences and provides information to brands, and Fever, a Spanish entertainment site featuring localized concert guides. The report was informed by a survey of 4,375 festival goers, and by statistics that included information from Live Nation, PricewaterhouseCoopers and other companies.
In 2019, the Medusa Sunbeach Festival, an electronic music gathering in the province of Valencia, attracted 315,000 people, the biggest number of attendees of any Spanish festival. Arenal Sound, Viña Rock, Mad Cool and Primavera Sound were also in 2019's top five festivals, with crowds between 220,000 and 300,000. For the first time, indie rock and pop lineups were slightly eclipsed by more varied programs that reflected the growth in popularity of reggaeton in Spain, as well as diversity in global music trends.
"More than ever music festivals define today’s culture," proclaims the report, which describes the music festival business in Spain as "a rising sector attracting more and more investment."
There were 896 music festivals in Spain in 2018, 27 more than in 2016. Catalunya (Barcelona and the surrounding region) hosted the most festivals in 2018: 172, followed by Andalusia which offered 118, and the city of Madrid and the surrounding area: 113.
People between 25-34 made up 47% of the crowds, followed by festival goers aged 18-24 (38.6%).
Men dominated the audience at 57%, while 41.3% were women (1.6% did not identify their gender). Almost 71% of all festival attendees surveyed at Spanish festivals came from Madrid, according to the report.
Spain has risen to the No. 1 festival destination in the world for travelers, according to 2018 figures from music travel website Festicket cited in the report, representing a 70% rise in "festival tourism" over three years. Forty-three percent of those traveling festival goers came from the UK. Six percent of Spain's festival goers came from the United States.
According to the "Holy Festivals" report, brand sponsorship of festivals in Spain is on the rise, with companies looking for alternatives to televised sports, which has in many cases moved to pay-per-view from network TV, narrowing it’s audience reach.
"[Festivals] have gained strength as a more direct, more emotional and more experiential environment that allows brands to connect with their markets," says the report, which reports that revenues from festivals make up 59% of live music earnings in Spain. "The diversity of festivals generates collaborative spaces between brands and [audiences]."
Beer, alcohol and other beverages made up about 50% of festival sponsorships, with Coca-Cola coming in as the biggest sponsors of Spanish events, followed by Jagermeister. According to the report, 60% of brands in Spain surveyed reported an increase in music festival sponsorship, which they said would continue in 2020. The report also noted that media companies and local government entities remain an important source of support in Spain.
New music festivals announced in Spain for 2020 include an Ultra Beach festival in Malaga, an edition of Mexico’s Vive Latino in Zaragoza, and Yerga Sound, an event showcasing Spanish artists set to take place in Alfaro, in the Rioja region, known for its wine.