The arrival of April means not only that spring is in the air, but festival season is upon us as well. This is what I look forward to all year long, not because of the occasional sunny days we see in San Francisco, but because I know I am weeks away from dancing in the desert for three days straight at the Coachella Music Festival.
For music lovers in the Bay Area, we are lucky enough to have another one of the best music festivals right in our very own backyard, Golden Gate Park. Although Outside Lands is still new to the festival scene, having debuted in 2008, people from all over the world flock to San Francisco to experience the three-day, music-packed weekend.
It is no surprise that music festivals are not cheap and ticket prices have been on the rise since the popularity of these events continues to grow. Rolling Stone reported in 2008 that Outside Lands brought in an estimated 120,000 attendees. Now entering its fourth consecutive sold-out year, the festival brings in more than 200,000 fans over the course of the weekend. Since the first edition of the event, the cost of a three-day ticket has risen $100 bringing this year’s ticket price to $325 before service fees, according to Ticketmaster.
When tickets sold out two hours after they had gone on sale March 26, I noticed many people turned to social media to express their grievances toward high prices. First of all, spending a few hundred dollars to see more than 70 bands in one of the greatest cities in the world is like stealing candy from a baby. What many people do not understand is where that money is actually going and how it benefits our city.
The festival has given more than $10 million to San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Department since its inception, according to an Outside Lands press release. Based on a 2011 economic study, it is estimated that the festival generates over $70 million annually for San Francisco’s economy.
Spending hundreds of dollars in one weekend is not the ideal financial situation into which anybody wants to put himself or herself, but as someone who has attended both Outside Lands and Coachella for the past four years, the memories, experiences and performances that I have witnessed make it more than worth the high price.
The first year I attended the festival in 2012, Stevie Wonder was one of the headlining performers and I will never forget the moments I shared dancing in a circle with all of my friends and even some strangers in this city that I love so much. It was during the song “Superstition” when I thought to myself, “I am coming back here every year no matter what it takes.” Two years later my love for music and festivals was reconfirmed while watching Paul McCartney as fireworks lit up Golden Gate Park.
The money is more than worth the memories music goers will make in return, but it is also a financial deal to see the dozens of well-known performers in a course of 72 hours, including musical legends like this year’s headliner Elton John. A single ticket for the Grammy winner’s concert at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas costs up to $500, according to AXS’ website.
Purchasing an Outside Lands ticket will not only give attendees the opportunity to see top music acts including Mumford & Sons, The Black Keys and Sam Smith, our city will benefit from the money generated from ticket sales and fans will experience a one of a kind music extravaganza. During the past four years, I have learned that when it is all said and done I do not regret spending the money because I would rather invest it on the experience knowing I am helping my city in return and making memories I will never forgot.