Guest blog: How to organise a Bestival success, rather than playing with Fyre – Michael Zajdel, Acuity Law

Michael Zajdel - Acuity LawWith memories of Glastonbury 2019 still with us, we are now half way through the festival season with Lovebox, Latitude and Creamfields just around the corner. The festival industry has experienced significant growth over recent years with new festivals popping up across the UK. Despite this, some festival operators are still waiting to generate any profit due to a variety of contributing factors from weather to badly negotiated contracts.

This article is looking at some of the legal implications of holding a festival and how to avoid unnecessary issues on the legal front.

Live music is big. Very big. It accounts for a significant contribution to the UK economy and is a key revenue generator for artists and labels. Festivals brings huge benefits to the UK and are a growing attraction. The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee found that a 5,000 capacity festival can generate approximately £800,000 in net gain to the local area while a 110,000 capacity festival can generate £18 million for the local area. For every £10 spent on a ticket in a grassroots music venue, £17 is spent on food and drink bringing profits to restaurants and other local venues. Festivals can have a positive social and economic impact on the local community.

Whether you are a festival organiser, sponsor, venue owner or a performing artist, you will want to focus fully on the success of the event and not be distracted or worried by the legalities. Ticket resale platforms, music venue closures and growing competition are only a few of the many commercial risks a festival organiser will face. It is more important than ever to have clear and firm legal arrangements in place when planning or holding a live music event or festival.

Some practical legal tips for anyone thinking about getting involved in festival organisation include:


  • ensure the agreement for the venue clearly sets out the position in the event of a cancellation –ensure the event can only be cancelled in very specific agreed circumstances
  • ensure risk of losses, refunds and compensation are fairly covered for the operator and the punter
  • ensure all insurances are in place
  • ensure the venue’s licence permits the running of a festival without restriction on playing live music, selling food and alcohol and replaying music
  • ensure all health and safety issues are covered
  • ensure all staff are employed for the duration of the festival and all their contracts are signed
  • ensure all branding and intellectual property has the owner’s permission for exploitation

Aside from the above (boring legal) checklist make sure the social media plan is set up well in advance and any arrangements with social media influencers are in writing and clearly set out all goals.

These tips are only a few easy steps you can take to safeguard against unintended consequences when organising festival events and should give you an idea what should one consider before approaching the difficult task of organising a festival.

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