Top 10 Biggest Music Festivals in the World (And How Much Money They Make)
By Nora Mathe
Festival culture has become more and more prominent during the 2010s; we hear about a new one popping up nearly every week!
With the prominence of music streaming services, artists make most of their money performing live and touring, and, with young people’s interest in going away for a few days to see their favourite artists, party with like-minded people, and be free, the festival business is a lucrative one.
Here are the top 10 highest-grossing worldwide music festivals in recent history, as well as information on how much revenue they pull in.
10. Life Is Beautiful Festival (Las Vegas, NV, USA)
The event is quite new, its history only reaching back to 2013. Still, the 3-day festival is very popular, attracting A-list performers and large amounts of people. Comedians, muralists, plastic artists, and various culinary specialists also come to the event, thus attracting a diverse crowd.
The festival’s location, set in downtown Las Vegas, is quite enticing, too! Most people who come to the festival will certainly spend time in the city. The tourist attractions and casinos attract even more visitors.
9. Classic West Festival (Los Angeles, CA, USA)
Gross Earnings: $17M
Classic West and its twin festival, Classic East, were organized over a weekend: West in Los Angeles, East in New York City. According to the LA Times, Classic West was the new boomer rock festival, aimed at the older generation with headliners such as The Eagles; Fleetwood Mac; Earth, Wind and Fire; and The Blues Brothers.
The Los Angeles festival was organized in 2017, and it was set at the Dodgers Stadium and grossed over $17M, but a new date hasn’t been announced in the last two years, despite its sweeping success.
8. Rock in Rio (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Gross Earnings: $17.7M
Set in the capital city of Brazil, Rock in Rio is a well-established festival and franchise. The event is organized not only in Rio de Janeiro, but in the USA as well, and the organizers are known for their charity work.
In order to offset their carbon footprint, the festival’s staff planted nearly 19k trees. They donate to local charities constantly, helping children in need and the environment. Each year, the Brazilian Rock in Rio closes out festival season in late September. This year, their headliners include Drake, Bon Jovi, P!nk, Foo Fighters and Muse.
7. Pinkpop (Landgraaf, Netherlands)
Gross Earnings: $19.5M
Pinkpop is one of the most popular music events in Europe, visited by festivalgoers from all over the world, its history reaching back to the 1970s. The 3-day festival is organized annually, catering to many musical tastes. In 2018, EDM, rock, and pop music were all present at the event, with performers such as Martin Garrix, Kings of Leon, and Justin Bieber.
Interestingly, in 2018, during the Foo Fighters’ performance on the main stage, music fans could see a meteor disintegrating in the sky, turning the experience even more epic. The festival had some difficulty in the early 2000s, but in the 2010s it had a soaring success once again.
6. Sziget (Budapest, Hungary)
Gross Earnings: $22.7M
Sziget Festival is organized yearly in late August, on an island in the heart of Budapest. The word “sziget” translates to island in English, signifying the place where the event takes place. Debuted in 1993, it focused mainly on Hungarian local bands, but as Budapest gained more popularity with tourists, so did the interest in the festival.
Today, Sziget is one of the largest festivals in Europe, selling out of tickets every day of the 7- to 9-day event, and catering to most musical tastes, from techno to classic rock. Notable performers include Prince, Florence and the Machine, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Ed Sheeran, and Shawn Mendes.
5. Lollapalooza (Chicago, IL, USA)
Gross Earnings: $23.4M
Lollapalooza is an annual 4-day festival that takes place at Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois. The festival branched out and turned into a brand, so it is organized in more locations, such as Berlin, Sao Paulo, and Paris, but the most popular one is set in Chicago.
The festival was created in 1991 by Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrel as a farewell to the band, but after a couple of years, interest in the event dwindled. The festival was relaunched again in 2003 and it has been a staple event in Chicago ever since.
4. Outside Lands (San Francisco, CA, USA)
Gross Earnings: $29.6M
Since 2008, Outside Lands has been a highlight of the San Francisco summer; it is the largest independently owned festival in the United States. Held at Golden Gate Park, the event attracts large crowds and A-list musicians such as Paul Simon, Childish Gambino, and Kacey Musgraves.
Due to the legalization of marijuana, in 2019, Outside Lands featured a new attraction called Grasslands where festivalgoers could legally and safely buy the drug in various forms. Reportedly, the festival made over $1m in weed sales alone.
3. Glastonbury (Pilton, Somerset, England)
Gross Earnings: $55M
With its iconic pyramid stage and its mythical setting close to the locations of English myths, Glastonbury is one of the most well-known festivals today. First organized in 1970, the festival has a similar legendary reputation to Woodstock. The event was first inspired by the hippie movement and holds its values even today.
Around 200k people go to Glastonbury yearly; its popularity has been on the rise every year in the 2010s. The festival’s organizers are known to be very charitable; they hire many volunteers from charity groups, and these volunteers’ wages are donated to the organization. Much of their earned revenue is also donated to charities.
2. Tomorrowland (Boom, Belgium)
Gross Earnings: $70M
Tomorrowland is an exclusively electronic dance music festival, easily recognizable due to its gorgeous stage design, which changes yearly. The sets move and showcase magical landscapes or parts of a story, making the event more memorable with its charm.
The festival hosts world-famous DJs such as Armin van Buuren, Steve Aoki, Martin Garrix, and DJ Tiesto. Started in 2005 when electronic music started becoming more and more popular, the festival has been steadily increasing in size and in revenue. In recent years, the festival has grown to last 2 weeks, and the tickets are sold out within minutes.
1. Coachella (Indo, CA, USA)
Gross Earnings: $114M
Arguably the most recognizable festival today, Coachella grosses the most worldwide. The festival takes place during two separate weekends in April, attracts over 250k people, and features household names such as Beyonce, Ariana Grande, The Weeknd, and Post Malone as headliners. According to Pollstar, in 2018, this festival was the highest-grossing in the world.
Coachella has become a phenomenon because it is situated close to Los Angeles, and many celebrities frequent it to watch concerts. Influencers, singers, and actors are photographed in the VIP area and gossip websites keep tabs on “Coachella fashion”, so the weekend-long event has gained an iconic status.
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