Melvin Benn took a stab at explaining the slow sales Reading experience in 2011, and in an NME interview today, he predicted a repeat performance in 2012 in the wake of government cuts and, presumably, the economy at large.
“Reading & Leeds did take longer to sell out last year, but they got there eventually – I’m not worried about 2012. I think it’ll be slow again – the market that Reading and Leeds targets has been hit by government cuts.”
It wasn’t all gloom and doom from Melvin as he went on to lay out plans for a new payment plan while promising a quality line up:
“However, we have a great line-up. There’s going to be a deposit sale introduced for the March main sale, which will be the first time we’ve done that properly.”
When asked about Reading’s notoriously high price tag Melvin offered a detailed explanation;
“It would be lovely to make them cheaper if it was economically viable but it isn’t. The sad thing is that the cost of running a festival, from infrastructure to sound, lights and bands, has increased and it’s just not viable to reduce the prices. I wish it was. If it was, believe me, I would do it. There’s going to be a deposit sale introduced for the March main sale, which will be the first time we’ve done that properly.”
Finally NME pressed Melvin on the headliners, and he gave the only response he could:
“I’d love to tell you about the headliners but contractually we’re not allowed to talk about them until March. We’ve got two or three locked in.
NME threw The Stone Roses name out there, and here’s what Melvin had to say:
The Stone Roses? Oh crikey. Well, they’re one of the seminal bands for a whole generation, as important to people in the UK as Nirvana, and we considered having the band. It wouldn’t have been appropriate to have them back, you know, this year. It wasn’t even something they considered or we considered but of course we’d consider having them back in the future.”
Strictly Our Opinion: The deposit scheme will certainly cheer the more impoverished among us up, as a similar scheme has been hugely successful at Sonisphere, but it is certainly odd to hear Melvin predicting another slow sales year.
Throughout 2011 he was incredibly positive, standing up to those who talked down the festival industry and predicted its demise. He even talked of launching new festivals, highlighting the strength of the market. Still with record youth unemployment, perhaps 2012 is a year to tone down the bravado. Melvin’s more cautious approach is certainly a refreshing change from that of Andy Copping.