How to sell out a festival the Belladrum way

When things don’t sell as well as expected all sorts of excuses are offered – the weather, timing, competition, funding, advertising and that conveniently perma-topical phrase “the current financial climate” are usually at the top of the blame list.

In the context of Scottish music festivals, history shows that if you build it, they might not come. Connect, Outsider, Live At Loch Lomond, Retrofest, Big In Falkirk, Homecoming Festival, Rock4Life and the Festival of British Youth Orchestras have all sank into the mud in recent years.

The simple reality is that punters won’t commit to such a considerable outlay unless they feel they’re getting their money’s worth – that’s why T in the Park manages to sells out year after year despite being one of the more expensive festivals in Europe.

Given their vastly inferior budget, this week’s BELLADRUM TARTAN HEART FESTIVAL can’t compete with the TITP line-up when it comes to luring mainstream acts, but the organisers still managed to shift all 12,000 tickets for the second year running, which is testament to how it excels in other areas.

For starters, families are encouraged to attend. Belladrum offer free entry to children aged 12 and under and as many as 2,000 festival-goers fall into that category. Needless to say, a more tolerant atmosphere is created when excited kids are chasing each around the site instead of boorish, topless men.

The perks don’t stop there. Camping and car parking are included in the ticket price, there are designated family, disabled and ‘quiet’ camping areas, and the organisers are less Nazi about rules and regulations, as the Belladrum website’s FAQs proves:
– Can I pitch a tent next to my campervan/ caravan?
The short answer is ‘No’ – but we may turn a blind eye if the tent in question is small and tucked well in.
– Can I give or sell my tickets to someone else?
– Can I leave the event and return to it later?
Yes, so long as it isn’t between midnight and 0800.

So we’re on to a winner and we haven’t even mentioned who’s playing this Friday and Saturday. The opening day’s headliners are Feeder, with Stornoway, Badly Drawn Boy and Beth Jean Houghton the pick of the non-Scottish acts. Amy Macdonald tops the bill on the second day, with a supporting cast which includes Candi Staton and The Divine Comedy.

However, it’s a familiar story of the bigger names being overshadowed by the quality of the local talent. Friday also plays host to Twin Atlantic, Colin Macintyre, Admiral Fallow, Tommy Reilly (DJing, bizarrely) Unicorn Kid, Kassidy, The Boy Who Trapped The Sun, Sorren Maclean, Astral Planes, The Moth & The Mirror, Woodenbox With A Fistful Of Fivers, Bwani Junction and Randolph’s Leap, while Saturday has King Creosote, Rachel Sermanni, Panda Su, Hip Parade, Kitty The Lion, Alex Gardner, Young Fathers and Julia And The Doogans.

Tommy Reilly featuring Rachel SermanniMake The Bed

Bwani JunctionTwo Bridges

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