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he board game Monopoly was invented as a parody of capitalism,
where concentrations of wealth eventually paralyse all but one
victorious player – my smug friend Chris usually.
Of course, the board game isn’t an exact proxy of market conditions.
Companies can, in reality, diversify and create novel niches, generating
whole new swaths of customers. Capitalism can continue until we discover
the limits of human desire – perhaps future festivalgoers will be plugged
into a perfect replica of Woodstock ’69 like a hippy version of Neo in The
Many organisers, however, cannot pass ‘Go’ in the first place, or are
confined to certain squares on board due to the market habits enshrined
by a handful of increasingly large conglomerates. Our cover feature (p28)
hears from some of the companies impacted by the big players – who all at
once control concert promotion, festivals, ticketing, box offices and artist
I also spoke to the organiser of ‘the last‘ Port Eliot Festival, a much-
loved event that struggled to generate adequate finance for next year.
These losses have a real effect on communities, and our industry. It was
particularly interesting to learn about the challenges she faced marketing
this event in a sector where every event is marketed as ‘unique’.
Despite the understandable frustrations, I’m sceptical about using
the law as a weapon to break up the big players. All too often, these
same edicts can create barriers to entry for new players, thus actually
strengthening the so-called ‘monopolies’ as an unintended consequence.
We should champion and go the extra mile to support and promote our
culture of wonderful independent festivals to ensure they flourish and
have every opportunity to sit alongside the big guys.
Your wallet and your time are the most powerful tools in your arsenal.
Top hats are not mandatory.
Tom Hall, Editor
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