Glastonbury organizer Michael Eavis says his new deposit scheme will "definitely" return in the fall for the 40th anniversary next year of the first ever Glastonbury festival.
Last year the festival at Worthy Farm in Pilton, Somerset struggled to sell out in an increasingly competitive market, with additional concerns about bad weather and doubts raised about the suitability of Jay-Z as a headliner for Glastonbury. It ultimately sold out on the weekend itself in late June.
However, the 2009 event, taking place June 24-28 and headlined by U.K. rock act Blur, Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young, was sold out by February.
Eavis says that 90% - around 119,000 - of general sale tickets were purchased via the new deposit scheme after sales began on Oct. 4 last year. He believes that the option to pay £50 ($69.82) initially followed by the outstanding £125 ($174.76) by Feb. 1 was a major factor in securing an early sell-out.
"It's been a huge success," Eavis tells Billboard.biz. "The deposit makes it easier because the price is £175 [$244.37] and that's a lot of money to find all at once. We did figure out that during the Christmas period, parents and grandparents can pay the balance for them [deposit holders]. That's what happened funnily enough. We sold thousands of tickets just before Christmas."
"It was very popular," adds Nick Blackburn, chairman of Nottingham-based ticketing partner See Tickets. "The fact it sold out quicker - I think that [the deposit scheme] helped."
Eavis says he paid See Tickets around £50,000 ($69,864) to set up and operate the deposit scheme for the 2009 event.
Only a small percentage of people failed to complete their purchases, he adds. Their deposit was returned minus a £10 ($13.96) administration fee.
"Once people commit, then they know they have got a ticket," says Eavis. "So they haven't got to worry, they commit to us first so we're home and dry."
Next year's Glastonbury is set to feature the return of acts from across the festival's 40-year history, with Eavis' daughter Emily working on the line-up. The inaugural 1970 headliner was glam-rock act T. Rex. The band's singer Marc Bolan died in 1977.
"We've got lots of them [former Glastonbury acts] who want to play next year," says Eavis. "My daughter has coined the phrase '40 bands for 40 years,' but I don't quite know what she means. We can't get T. Rex back can we? We are trying to go through the years a little bit. We've got so many headliners piling in for next year though. It's going to be a big one."
Eavis admits he would like Led Zeppelin to reform again to appear at the festival.
"Whether we can get Robert Plant's band to come on board or not I don't know," he tells Billboard.biz. "Robert Plant and Jimmy Page have played here several times, they've played here separately and together."
See the current issue of Billboard for more on the Glastonbury deposit scheme and other festivals adopting the measure.