Fuel prices and festival attendance?

Will rising fuel prices keep you home this summer?Driving my truck to the office this morning I realized I needed to stop and fill the tank. That is a major financial commitment on a vehicle like mine. As I watched the pump quickly soar through the dollar signs, I began to wonder if the rising price of fuel would have any impact on the 2008 bluegrass festival season.

Filling up your vehicle, whether it’s a small car or a motor home, is going to cost more this summer than it did last summer. Will festival attendance be diminished as a result?

You tell me.


  • The cost of gasoline to me is not the only element that increased gasoline costs will have on the festival scene. Bands cannot continue to afford to travel great distances to perform without increased compensation. Promoters cannot afford national bands without increasing admission charges. Festivals will have to rely even more on regional and local bands to fill their lineups. Will people drive to more expensive festivals with fewer national bands at higher prices? There will inevitably be a shrinkage in the number of festivals and touring bands. Bands will need to sell more merchandise in an environment of shrinking CD sales. Vendors will need to charge more for their product, especially for food. Bluegrass will not be the only victim of the current situations. – Ted

  • nashphil

    I would think this is a HUGE issue for many touring bands, as well as the fans who attend the shows. In general, bands and festivals must increase the ticket prices to compensate for all of those extra expenses. Unfortunately, the bands are just making less money for doing the same thing, nothing new there. It’s just another way to make less money. I have an old conversion van that has been used for many road trips over the years. I recently drove it from Nashville to Knoxville at 13 mpg to visit my sister, round trip fuel expenses were $120. Those in the area know that’s not very far. (3 hours) By the time you add 5 bandmates, instruments, amps, drums, and maybe a trailer to pull everything with, you are really adding to the fuel costs. It really discourages bands from booking shows outside of their home turf unless they can guarantee a profit.

    I work with a young band who is really being hurt by this, considering they are averaging $600 per show total for 4 guys. They can’t afford to travel more than 2-3 hours to do gigs because of all of these extra fuel expenses they aren’t being compensated for. You can’t expect venues to pay it, it has to come from the fans, who are already paying twice as much to go out and see a show. After all this, not too many have cash leftover for a $15 CD.

    Paying for music and for musicians seems to be something many people just don’t seem to put much actual monetary $ value on. For example, consumers have no problem paying electricians, plumbers, and car mechanics excellent hourly wages for performing their services. Yet, because it is music and associated with pleasure or fun, many seem to have issues with paying fairly for that. Good luck trying to make $80 an hour playing guitar in a bar. That same bar owner will happily shell out that same $80 per hour for an electrician to come fix his freezer. Which takes more talent?

    In the studio I see this everyday. A well known and legendary studio ace that I rely on, charges that very same $80 per hour for his service on a recording project. He’s the very best at what he does, so to me it seems like the deal of the century to get this legend to play on your record. Yet, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people complain about this hourly rate. Same with studio time billed as hourly rate. People seem to think music should be free, maybe because it’s so fun. It seems like a crime against humanity to charge for fun. One thing I know for sure, musicians will keep playing music whether they get paid for it or not.

    Cheers, Phil