UK music festivals booking fewer new artists annually, according to study

According to new research by Pirate, major UK music festivals are booking fewer new acts each year. Pirate analyzed 32 of the UK’s biggest festivals, excluding Glastonbury, and found that line-ups have become “homogeneous” with popular names recurring. The research shows that in 2016, festivals with over 50,000 capacity had 80% of new artists booked, while in 2021 this dropped down to 60%.

However, smaller festivals with a capacity between 20,000 and 50,000 have been showcasing new artists more consistently, taking up 80% to 90% of their roster. In 2022, artists like Yung Singh, Self Esteem, and Keg played at seven of these festivals, while Yard Act, Nuha Ruby Ra, HAAi, ENNY, and GROVE each played at six.

Pirate also spoke to a representative from Cross The Tracks who said, “There’s so much music out there, it’s not hard to keep things fresh if you love music and keep listening to new music, old music, good music.” Simon Taffe, founder and programmer of End Of The Road since 2005, added, “I think I could count the amount of festivals in the country when we started. Now there seems to be 10–15 music festivals a weekend during the summer to cater for anything from cheese lovers to model railways enthusiasts. I certainly wouldn’t want to become one of these indie landfill festivals where you always see the same bands on every bill.”

Pirate also discovered the top ten small UK festivals for new artists, with Shambala taking the top spot followed by Bluedot, Love Supreme, and Secret Garden Party. The best large festivals for new acts were Boomtown, Wireless, and Lovebox.