A trio of South American Lollapaloozas scheduled for this spring, including a first foray into Argentina, underscore how the events’ organizers are mining the buzzy South American market and could provide a road map for similar festivals looking to expand internationally.
The first leg of the Lollapalooza tour, which will feature such acts as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden, Arcade Fire, Pixies and Lorde, is slated March 29-30 in Santiago, Chile. It will be followed by the Argentine event in Buenos Aires and wrap up with a two-day festival April 5-6 in Sao Paulo.
By bundling the three festivals together, event organizers including Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell, William Morris Endeavor, C3 Presents and local partners in each country were able to both lure bands to the Latin American market and save on production costs.
“The money’s great. You’ve doubled, tripled what you’re going to make,” says Farrell, adding that offering three festivals as a package can help in negotiating with top acts who typically receive $1 million and more per show. “It gives us booking power.” Reception by both fans and bands has been so enthusiastic that organizers are “actively looking for more Lollas” in international venues, and expect to announce a site before the end of the year, says Farrell.
South America has had a robust rock scene for years, but it is only now that U.S.-style multi-day festivals are catching on in more countries, in part because Lollapalooza paved the way. The festival debuted there in 2011, staging Chile’s first multi-day rock event and drawing a crowd of 35,000. By last year, attendance had reached a capacity of 80,000 per day. In 2012, Lollapalooza moved into Brazil, attracting more than 65,000 fans. Those successes encouraged Farrell and his partners to try Argentina, a country that has hosted many international artists including Madonna, Metallica and Justin Bieber, but has never attempted the festival model on this scale.
For the upcoming dates, organizers expect attendance to reach 80,000 in Chile and Brazil. In Argentina, advance sales have already topped 100,000 tickets, a record for that country, according to Diego Finkelstein, president of Lolla Argentina producer Fenix Entertainment Group. Prices range from sold-out early-bird packages at the equivalent in Argentine pesos of about $70 to full-price VIP passes set at about $445. In Brazil, the average ticket price is the equivalent of about $68 per day, with 85% of festivalgoers taking advantage of a 50% student discount. In Chile, tickets go for $140 for one day and $200 for both days.
The South American market could be valuable not only for Lollapalooza, but also for other U.S.-based festivals as well as bands. Total ticket sales in Argentina are about $19 million a year, according to Fer Isella, an executive with MICA, a state-sponsored culture agency, and digital music sales in the country climbed 57 percent between 2011 and 2012. In Brazil, where the live music market is valued at $5.5 billion, the digital market has grown 25 percent during each of the last three years, according to data cited at trade show MIDEM in January. Growth has also been robust in Chile, where digital music downloads rose by half between 2012 and 2013, according to the IFPI, though only about a quarter of Chileans attended a live concert in 2013.
Solo artists have been adding Latin America dates to their tours for years. Miley Cyrus will kick off the Latin American leg of her Bangerz Tour in September, while Avenged Sevenfold will head to the region this month. “South America is an extraordinarily important part of our touring cycle for bands,” says Chris Dalston, an agent at Creative Artists Agency who represents both artists.
In fact, the continent has proved a fairly easy sell for Lollapalooza, in spite of the challenges of wrangling multiple bands to appear abroad. While festival organizers last year were forced to cancel a planned edition in Israel for unspecified reasons, business in South America has only grown, according to Dalston, in part because there is an established infrastructure with promoters and the artists know they will get the same treatment they would at home.