Festival Republic boss Melvin Benn has told Music Week reports of the demise of camping festivals have been greatly exaggerated - despite the rise of city centre events.
Benn, who spent a decade at the helm of Glastonbury Festival as licensee from 2002 to 2012, has a foot in both camps (pun intended), overseeing events such as Reading & Leeds, Latitude, Download and Rize, alongside city festivals including Wireless and Community.
“It’s easy to forget that in 1989, when Vince [Power, Mean Fiddler Music Group founder] and I took over Reading Festival, there were only two UK camping festivals – Glastonbury and Reading – and we aren’t remotely close to going back to those days,” he said. “There are hundreds of camping festivals, there’s still a market for it.”
Speaking in his cover interview in the new issue of Music Week, out now, Benn said there is no reason the two formats cannot continue to coexist, pointing out that camping festivals often hold little crossover appeal.
I don’t think there’s a better city centre event in the world than Wireless
“There’s a relatively small sector of the Wireless audience that would potentially come to Reading & Leeds, but the vast majority wouldn’t consider it at all, because they don’t want to camp," he said. "So isn’t it fantastic that we, as an industry, have realised that and created festivals in city centres that they want to go to? So I don’t think it’s a case of either/or, it’s just different people.”
The 2018 edition of Wireless featured the likes of Stormzy, J. Cole, Giggs, Post Malone, Migos, Krept & Konan and a surprise headline slot by Drake, and sold out Finsbury Park in record time.
“I don’t think there’s a better city centre event in the world than Wireless," said Benn. "Wireless has become London's festival. Nothing scratches the surface of London in the way that Wireless does. Wireless is what London is - it's about the makeup, the demographic, the diversity of London; it's fantastic.”
Click here to read our full cover story with Melvin Benn.
PHOTO: James Bridle