Country 2 Country festival is a vitally important part of being a country music fan in the UK, giving fans a chance to see the breadth and depth of Nashville’s finest all in one place. 2017 saw Brad Paisley, Reba McEntire and Zac Brown Band headline successful shows in London, Glasgow and Dublin. The event is now held over three days, in three locations and is by all accounts a smashing success.
While fans can’t get enough of the music, look closer and you will find there are issues with the event which need addressed. Even the most famous blog in country music covered the fact that a DJ booked for an afterparty seemed to have no idea she was playing a country music event (although this has since been explained away by that old chestnut ‘technical difficulties’.) A quick glance on twitter will confirm that fans are not happy about many other things to do with the festival.
So having spent time reading through fan comments online I have come up with a list of suggestions which would could improve this event in the future.
1: Reduce Ticket Prices
First things first – the event is ridiculously overpriced. The cheapest weekend ticket is £131 for the nosebleed seats, ranging towards £322 for a closer view. In comparison a ticket for Glastonbury is £238 for the whole festival, including camping where you can see on average 10 bands a day over three days. C2C has four main acts per day, two of which only play for half an hour. Of course in London there are other opportunities to see smaller artists on the day but not enough to justify the absurd price. C2C are exploiting the loyalty and lack of other options available for country music fans. Just because country music fans will pay these prices doesn’t mean to say that they should.
2. Abolish Unfair and Unethical Platinum Tickets/VIP Packages
One of the worst aspects of a seating event run by Ticketmaster is the ways they try to make fans pay premium by claiming this is a ‘VIP’ or ‘Platinum’ experience when it is simply a closer seat to the stage. The shocking cost of C2C platinum in London this year was £725.25. Why would anyone in their right mind pay this much for what could be just one row further forward to a person paying half that price? In Glasgow (where platinum seats were less but still considerably more than normal prices) it seemed that not enough people did buy these rip off tickets. However instead of reallocating these seats to people who had bought early bird tickets (ie the loyal fans) the organisers of the event put these tickets back on sale at cheaper prices in the week before the event. Yes, that’s right – the organised and committed fans who had bought their normal tickets a YEAR in advance were sitting behind the causal gig goer who just decided to attend at the last minute. Furthermore many people commented on the fact that there were empty seats at the Glasgow shows, suggesting that they couldn’t sell these seats at such short notice. After all the gig was advertised as ‘SOLD OUT’ for weeks. You have to feel sorry for anyone who did buy the platinum tickets in the first place. This concept is a straight up scam and such a blatant attempt to rip off fans must be stopped.
3. Introduce Standing
The one way to prevent the fans from being disadvantaged by random seat allocation is to introduce standing. Most fans on the floor of a venue will stand up during a show anyway. By allowing this option fans are able to choose their location in the venue and those obsessive fans can get to the front if that is where they want to be. As all the venues also offer great seating options this change disadvantages no one. Furthermore having a standing section actually adds to the atmosphere of shows.
4. Include More Diverse Artists
The main strength of C2C is how successful they have been at booking the big headline acts who have had huge success across the pond. That should never change. But look further down the bill and you see an opportunity. These half hour slots could be the chance for a smaller, independent artists like Margo Price or Nikki Lane to be exposed to a wider audience. And the lack of racial diversity on stage is another cause for concern – why not have someone like Rhiannon Giddens (now star of the hugely successful Nashville)? Or Valerie June? Going further into the Americana part of this genre would also help to bring variety to the line-up.
5. Have an Equal Split of Male & Female Artists
Thankfully country music is not short of strong, successful female artists and C2C has always represented women in their line-up. Previous female headliners include Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and Dixie Chicks. This year Reba graced the stage and further down Maren Morris and Cam impressed. However only the top two artists on each day play for more than half and hour and Reba was the only woman in that top six this year. To be fair this may have just been an issue with who was available but it is still a worrying trend. In my opinion, aiming for a 50/50 representation should be a priority of every festival, not just C2C.
All thoughts are my own, feel free to correct me on anything I have wrong or if you disagree with me. Any thoughts or other suggestions for further improvements let me know!