Music Fest Moneyball


Summerfest Lineup (2)

A couple of weeks ago Consequence of Sound posted a feature titled “Let’s Play Moneyball with a Summer Music Festival” about a piece wrote by The Early Registration’s Dan Garcia. In the piece Garcia used price quotes of popular artists in music to drop and add acts to the World’s Largest Music Festival, Summerfest, located in Milwaukee, WI in attempts to also make it the world’s best music festival.

Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration

Earlier this month, Degy Entertainment (via priceonomics) put together a guide on what it costs to book some of your favorite artists. The list gives quotes from anywhere to a thousand to a million dollars for some acts. Although this list is not perfect (some quotes are arguably too low or too high), I decided to play festival ‘Moneyball’ by looking at the lineup of the “World’s Largest Music Festival”, Summerfest in Milwaukee, and trade some of the acts who are too pricey or outdated for other bands and artists to try to make the world’s largest music festival into the world’s best music festival.

My first step was to drop Summerfest’s more outdated bands, who still charge top dollar. Although my line­up will inevitably be less diverse, Summerfest cannot compete with the big­boys (Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza) when it is booking Bonnie Raitt, who charges an estimate of around six­ figures for shows. Also while Summerfest, as opposed to other major music festivals, is fairly heavy on its country music selection, I cut various country acts but also left in Brad Paisley as one of the other major headliners to maintain some of Summerfest’s musical diversity and broad appeal. Some older acts left out of my line­up include Cheap Trick, Rick Springfield, and even Ludacris.

Next to open up some cash for my lineup roster, I dropped some of Summerfest’s bigger but more expensive acts. These acts include Luke Bryan (who charges an estimate of $200k­$400k), the Zac Brown Band ($250k­$400k), and Bruno Mars ($200k­$400k). Why have Bruno Mars for $400,000 when you can get Frank Ocean for $100,000? Next, I proceeded to drop other acts that I thought could free up some much needed cap­space, especially if I want to book an Arcade Fire or a Kings of Leon. Such notable cuts included Ziggy Marley ($75k­$100k), Darius Rucker ($90k­$125k), Fall Out Boy ($100k­$150k), and DJ Pauly D ($40k­$60k).

Also, although I cut a number of acts from Summerfest’s current lineup, the festival has a number of great acts that retained positions in my faux lineup. In total over 800 acts will perform at Summerfest this year and I only cut less than 30 of them. Some of the major acts that are playing Summerfest this year that remained in my lineup include Outkast, Arctic Monkeys, Lady Gaga, Usher, and Nas. Afterall, if I want my Summerfest to be 2014’s best music festival, you have to a stop on Outkast’s festival tour. In total I was able to free up about $3.6 million dollars in my festival budget for new acts. While this number may be high (because of some potentially estimating errors by priceonomics), I figured with such a large number of both cut and new acts, any inconsistencies in the price quotes will be evened out by comparing both sides.

After the new acts were booked for my new and improved Summerfest, I was able to make room for new headliners and smaller acts. Unlike other major music festivals, Summerfest uses a system where it separates the festival between the main grounds (which consists of 10 stages) that cost a general admission price of between $10 and $17 and the Marcus Amphitheater which varies based on the artist (Outkast will cost you between $45 and $75) and includes free admission to the rest of the festival. Under such a system with my line­up you could pay under a $100 to get good seats to see Kanye or pay $10 general admission (even free with some Summerfest promotions) to see Lana Del Rey. A beer may cost you another $10, but seeing Childish Gambino for under $20 sure beats the price of buying a weekend pass at Lollapalooza.

While the non­profit organization that runs Summerfest may prefer its vast diversity of acts, after­all when else will you get the chance to hear “Jessie’s Girl” performed live, after a number of trades within Summerfest’s budget I was able to save a couple thousand dollars, add one more act then I cut, and traded names like Ludacris, Bonnie Raitt and DJ Pauly D for Kanye West, Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend, and Frank Ocean. After a little bit of music fest ‘Moneyball’ I was able to turn the world’s largest music festival into above and beyond the world’s greatest music festival. See my faux Summerfest lineup poster above!

KEPT: Outkast, Arctic Monkeys, Brad Paisley, Lady Gaga, Usher, Tegan and Sara, Girl Talk, Phantogram, Nas, Neon Trees, Brand New, Taj Mahal, Ben Harper, Best Coast, Melissa Etheridge

DROPPED: Bonnie Raitt, Luke Bryan, One Republic, Zac Brown Band, Paramore, Kip Moore, Rise Against, Bruno Mars, Dave Matthews Band, Darius Rucker, Fall Out Boy, Five Finger Death Punch, The Fray, B.O.B., Ludacris, Atmosphere, Cheap Trick, REO Speedwagon, Umphrey’s McGee, Ziggy Marley, Rick Springfield, Switchfoot, Los Lonely Boys, DJ Pauly D, Kansas, Timeflies

NOTABLE ADDITIONS: Kanye West, Drake, Arcade Fire, Kings of Leon, Pharrell, Vampire Weekend, Calvin Harris, The Flaming Lips, Frank Ocean, Lana Del Rey, Lorde, A$AP Rocky, Odd Future, Childish Gambino, Chance the Rapper, Ellie Goulding, MGMT, Kendrick Lamar, Big Sean, Phoenix, MIA, Steve Aoki, Kid Cudi, Miguel, Danny Brown, Schoolboy Q.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.