The long-awaited return of Glastonbury this week is set to be a major platform for breakthrough acts.
With the festival taking place for the first time since 2019, labels are set to seize the opportunity for artists who have emerged during the pandemic.
“It’s seismic,” said Toby L, co-founder of Transgressive, which has made an impact with Arlo Parks, 2021 BRITs Breakthrough Artist and Mercury Prize winner for Collapsed In Sunbeams (69,497 sales to date – Official Charts Company).
“Glastonbury is the greatest and biggest party on the planet; its resonance can be felt from the opener through to the headliner on each and every stage,” he added. “For emerging artists, it’s the ultimate seal of approval, and its association can really tip things over.”
“It’s really important,” said Fred Gillham, MD, UK & Europe at Concord, which has acts including jazz star Nubya Garcia on the bill. “We have been starved of these big cultural music moments for two years [during the live shutdown].
“Glastonbury is a breeding ground of fan discovery and an opportunity to play to a diverse and broad audience, which so many artists have missed out on.”
“It’s a rite of passage, and after such a painful hiatus for the festival, it’s going to be an incredible moment,” said Kieran Cullen, senior marketing manager at Insanity Records, which has Joy Crookes as part of the line-up. Her debut, Skin, peaked at No.5 and has sales to date of 27,305.
As the broadcaster for the festival (June 22-26), the BBC will be amplifying the performances at Worthy Farm across TV and radio, as well as via the iPlayer, BBC Sounds and online. It is billed as the "most extensive" BBC coverage ever.
Lorna Clarke, BBC director of music, said that the broadcaster is gearing up to revive the “magical spirit of Glastonbury to our millions of viewers and listeners”.
“This year will see many artists who have emerged and developed since the last festival in 2019 – including Beabadoobee, Dry Cleaning, Fontaines DC, Declan McKenna, Holly Humberstone and Wet Leg – take to Glastonbury’s legendary stages, some for the first time,” she told Music Week. “I’m looking forward to presenting these special moments from this iconic festival to an even wider audience via our BBC platforms.”
This year will see many artists who have emerged and developed since the last festival in 2019 take to Glastonbury’s legendary stages, some for the first time
The 2019 coverage achieved the biggest ever TV audience for Glastonbury when 3.2 million tuned in for Kylie Minogue. There was also a record digital performance with 37.5m digital requests, including via YouTube and iPlayer.
Toby L described the BBC’s coverage as “second to none”.
“The impact is global, and we always plan to support the appearances with either new material or a reminder to fans of an artist’s most recent work,” he told Music Week. “Arlo is in the studio working on new material and we recently released a brand new song – Softly – which I am sure will be a standout moment in the set.”
Declan McKenna’s manager, Tara Richardson at Q Prime, also highlighted the global reach.
“The TV exposure is always hugely beneficial to all the artists,” she said. “The BBC are the best in the world at live music broadcasting, and Glastonbury attracts attention from all over the world. It’s invaluable.”
Music Week cover star Beabadoobee is among the acts launching a new album around her Glastonbury appearance. Beatopia, released on July 15, follows the global streaming success of 2020 debut Fake It Flowers, which has UK sales of 15,187.
Dirty Hit head of marketing Jon Moore described Glastonbury as an important moment in the campaign.
“For emerging artists like Beabadoobee, who like so many others had no choice but to roll out her debut album without playing it live, that sudden full stop on touring really left a hole in how she, and the label, could promote the music,” Moore told Music Week. “That said, luckily we’re now in the unique position of going into debut shows at festivals like Glastonbury at a certain level, which is a brilliant platform to reach a huge, engaged audience.
“The BBC’s excellent coverage makes that single show really shareable and provides lots of new eyes – particularly domestically, but also internationally, given the festival’s iconic status. Glastonbury feels unique in being a massively visible, mainstream moment, but also all about the music.”
This year’s festival is the first edition to take place since the mass adoption of TikTok.
Concord’s Fred Gillham said that the label will work with artists on digital strategy across TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, including sharing user-generated content as well as posting performance and backstage footage.
Jeff Bell, GM of international at Partisan Records, who reached No.1 with Fontaines DC, said: “The performance itself will always be the anchor, as it’s what the band do best, but there is also the opportunity for artists to let fans in on their experience via their own social platforms, with a focus on more candid, short-form video content.”
With the event just weeks away, artist teams are now primed for their Glastonbury moments. “It’s the biggest event in the music industry’s year, and therefore a huge platform for those needing to get their music out there,” said Tara Richardson.