Denis Desmond: Festival business booming

“When you get it right, it is profitable. Equally, over the years, we have had big losses.” 

Denis Desmond

That is according to the country’s biggest pop promoter, Denis Desmond talking about the ups and downs of running music festivals days ahead of MCD’s Longitude festival.

It is just part of a very busy roster for MCD this summer in which MCD is hoping will help it sell 1.3m tickets across all events this year after selling 1.15m tickets in 2016.

Coldplay thrilled 80,000 fans at a sold out Croke Park, while Guns N’ Roses kicked off the summer at Slane, in May.

Mr Desmond said: “People will be will be talking about that Guns N’ Roses show in 20 years time. That is the buzz. It was awesome. I’m still a fan. It was a great, great show. They were on form, the audience was on form.” MCD is also promoting Electric Picnic.

A report sponsored by Livewire and Ignite market research last month estimated that Irish people will spend around €253m on festivals.

The most recent accounts for EP Republic Ltd, a company jointly owned by Mr Desmond’s MCD and music giant Live Nation, show it posted a 37% increase in profits to €1m, in 2015.

Mr Desmond said business was good for festival promoters at the moment. He said though festivals were “expensive to run” and the security costs were “high”.

“If you are bringing 50,000 to a camping festival, you are building a city. There are big costs involved.

“We are commercial operators and we do want to make a profit. When you get the numbers right, you get a good return.”

Mr Desmond, however, claimed festival prices provided “huge value” and that the festival market in Ireland has by no means reached saturation levels.

“You might pay €150 or €175 for a weekend festival ticket where there would be 30 to 35 acts performing.

“That works out at €4 or €5 an artist.

“Obviously, you are not going to see them all and might catch eight or 10 acts over the weekend, but the beauty of a festival is that you might see an act you are undecided about and then you become a fan. Festivals are great breeding grounds for new bands and great for fans to find new artists. They are great community events.”

“You talk to people who have been to EP and they will tell you ‘I only saw two acts all weekend because there was so much else to do’.”

Mr Desmond was behind the massive Oxegen festivals in Co Kildare. A smaller event was last staged in 2013 when MCD recorded a loss at the event.

He appeared to rule out its return.

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