ON the heels of its 29th staging of Rebel Salute, entertainment promotions company Organic HEART Limited — the organisers of Rebel Salute — has cited music festivals as big business, noting these events as having the proclivity to drive increased employment and income generation within the local economy.
Speaking at a recent Jamaica Observer Business Forum, Patrick Barrett, the artiste known as Tony Rebel in the cultural and creative sector and chief executive officer (CEO) of Organic H.E.A.R.T, said that the event in its many iterations has not only managed to secure huge corporate sponsorship from a number of local and international companies but has also opened new outlets for creating increased opportunities for the over 500 team members who work at the event and the hundreds of artisans attending the festival to promote their products each year.
"The hairdresser shops, the stores, small entrepreneurs and just about everybody benefits when Rebel Salute is held. It can be lucrative but it needs to have great sponsorships and partnerships to assist with the overall set-up of the show," he stated.
According to UNESCO, festivals are important in showcasing of culture and creativity and are the cornerstone of economic development which also fuels strategies to attract tourists. Coachella, which is said to be one of the most profitable festivals in the United States along with others in Rotterdom Europe, on an annual basis normally grosses over a million in sales and sees thousands in patronage.
Experts have shared that festivals, if executed properly, can also have the power to attract A-list talents as more artistes now prefer performing at a number of festivals than touring on their own. It is also believed that outside of A-list artistes, it is the promoters who are typically the biggest financial beneficiaries. This, pegged to the reality that even as they advance enormous amounts of capital to stage the event, secure the venue and pay artistes, these promoters can also end up at the mercy of the festival's success as they seek to recoup their investment.
With Rebel Salute booking expenditures of over $50 million on average to host the event annually, Jahyudah Barrett, director of Organic H.E.A.R.T., said the returns on spend for the two-day festival have mostly been positive except for a few stagings impacted by bad weather or unforeseen occurrences, which in those instances diminished wholesale success. Annually the festival attracts up to 30,000 patrons, with ticket costs averaging around $9500 per night.
Music festivals which globally have witnessed massive growth since the last decade make up a large chunk of the US$20-billion global concert industry and are touted as big business. According to analysts, the bulk of earnings from music festivals usually come from ticket sales, sponsorship, advertising, concession fees and merchandise.
With plans for its host company Organic H.E.A.R.T. to venture into a number of other areas, Rebel Salute as a festival in the coming years could move to cement its base as not only a long-standing entertainment event, but also as a viable product positively adding to the growth of the local cultural and creative industries.
"We do have merchandise which we have been pushing out there prior to the festival, and even after, and this is just one of the other ways that we have been driving income outside of the festival," Barrett stated, noting the imminent launch of literature, a podcast, recorded content and other products among a slew of products expected to be packaged for sale by the company.