In March 2014, 4 of us got together to work on a plan to hold our own festival. We had been to so many large and small festivals around the UK and seen the good, bad and the ugly. We had all worked festivals from promotion to stage management but had seen so many things that could have been improved to make the festivals we worked on much better and the only way to manage this was to run our own event. Festivals are an extremely expensive thing to put together. Most people do not realise even the small costs like lanyards, posting tickets out and even things like ear plugs for the kids.
A lot of planning went in and after attending the much loved metal event Beermageddon in August the venue was perfect. We had already put a number of bands in place, ticket prices were already set and the date already booked. There was even a website and social media pages already set up even before we found a venue. We were that confident we would find the right place for our first festival.
One thing we noticed and talked about with other festivals is definitely the financial aspect. We believe many new festivals fail because of the financial implications for the growing costs (what ever the worked out costs, it never stops at that price) which can include insurance, toilets, skips, venue hire, stage hire and staff. These cost fluctuate and there has to be a budget in place to cover these. We felt that the only way to bring back the confidence in the paying public, after such failed events as Alt-Fest was to have the money already set in a bank account before a ticket goes on sale. That way, the festival goes ahead no matter what.
We put our budget together, changed the figures and then doubled that to come to an agreed amount we needed to put on our first festival. Using our own savings we put the money into an ISA account and kept it there until people needed to be paid over the final 3 months. This unique style of festival planning is what we believe put the confidence into the customers, the bands and ourselves.
We had a great location, tried and tested and now we had the financials in place. Tickets started selling slowly last November when they went on sale but within 3 months another 4 festivals cancelled due to lack of ticket sales and finances which again worried people into investing into a brand new event. This didn’t deter us though, it made us more determined. We now had the backing of the media including a number of articles in the local newspaper and an interview the local BBC Radio station so confidence grew once again and the word on the street was all about the first ever Breaking Bands Festival.
With a few last minute line-up changes we got to a month away and realised we hadn’t checked how many people were camping and how many were just travelling daily or staying in hotels. With some last minute calculations we decided to put a sold out sign on the festival due to not wanting to oversell the camping field, whereas the venue still had capacity for more people – a lesson well noted!
So with 4 weeks to go, a solid line-up and a sold out festival we just had to wait and get to the big weekend. The sun shone and skipping forward to the end of the weekend it was absolutely awesome. As one of the organisers I cannot begin to explain what a buzz it was that everyone, absolutely everyone came up to us to thank us for a great weekend.
There were so many good things over the weekend, most didn’t notice the niggles we had, which we are changing for next year. We can happily admit yes the stage times fell behind, there weren’t enough food stalls and some of the toilets weren’t brilliant but overall it was a very successful weekend and one that we cannot wait to do again.
We’ve always been transparent with the public about the event. The organisation team have been a part of the festival group page on Facebook answering questions rather than hiding away and not letting people know who they are. We needed to have the public’s trust and we earned that over the last 12 months.
We have even put together an anonymous feedback form for the public to tell us the good and bad of the festival, what they want changed for next year and how they rated the festival and all the positives and negatives have been noted and this again is something we pride ourselves on and splits us from other festivals, we listen.
The reviews that have come in via our Facebook page are also overwhelming. The overall experience from everyone has been put into writing and even after more than a week since the festival, people are still buzzing about it. Here are few examples:
Julie Redfern – What a great setting. Good club, good field, really cheap tickets and bar/food prices. The bands were all well chosen and outstanding in their ability to play well. Toilets were kept really clean and there were shower facilities, but don’t expect 5 star. Overall what a superb first festival, better get tickets for next year because I think it’s gonna sell out -fast!
Skylla Ceto – An absolutely brilliant festival, the best I have ever been too. Excellent venue, very well organised, an entire weekend of excellent bands, great atmosphere and every one there made it a totally enjoyable experience. Even better was that you didn’t need to spend a fortune to be there, other festivals really do need to take note as this is how a festival should be run.
A massive thanks to everyone involved in making it such a success, I hope there are many more of these.
Breaking Bands – I’ve discovered my new favourite festival.
Ian ‘Skully’ Russell – When we cover a festival (As journalists) in their 1st year, they always have teething problems… We’re very happy to say, we had NO criticisms of the 1st ever Breaking Bands festival, and hope to be back again next year to see it grow 😉
Joey Class – If the subsequent years can match or top 2015 this could be the fastest growing festival in the UK. A privilege to be a part of. Cool people, fine bands at a price that can’t be beaten!
Be there in 2016!
So now it is onwards to 2016 and we felt the right way to follow on was to continue our attitude towards the festival by putting our money in again. We have upped our budget to cover extra things needed and once again money has been put away into a bank account ready to make sure 2016 is as good or even better than this year’s event.
To show confidence to the public, we went an unorthodox route of announcing the headliners first, at this years event as we continue our open and transparent view towards the festival. Band applications open soon, our first target of bands will be getting announced and early bird tickets are on sale and selling well with more than 10% sold in the first week.
To end, we are not trying to be the next Download, Sonisphere or Glastonbury but a festival for those who want to enjoy a laid back atmosphere, a low price but high quality event highlighting the future of rock and metal bands. Those who will be headlining main stages in 10 years time at the bigger festivals. That is what we want and that is what we are about.
I’m Mucka Jay from TBFM Radio and co-founder/chaos manager of the Breaking Bands Festival. I look forward to seeing you all next year.