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Ultimate guide to making a profitable music festival budget

Featured photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

If you're an event planner with a big idea, like a perfect, big idea, but you don't even know where to start, you have come to the right place! Big ideas need big plans, and big plans need a strategy, innovation, clarity, and consistency. If you are looking for helpful tools to start your own music festival, we are here to provide you with some insight.

We were in your shoes once before, and it worked out pretty well for us (after some budgeting adjustments). That's why we're here to show you the ropes of starting your own music festival with a detailed look into all aspects of planning one! We are confident that your music festival dream can truly become a real concept.


Photo by Tony Pham on Unsplash

Throwing a music festival or event of your own takes a lot of planning and might even include some aspects you would have never thought were necessary. Things like porta-potties, medical services, a contingency fund, or even costs of parking passes may have never even crossed your mind.

PromoTix has got you covered with a reliable PDF budgeting tool that will turn your extraordinary music event idea into a reality and one that's profitable too! With years of experience under our belts, you can bring your festival dreams to life by reading these helpful tips and downloading this FREE tool that we have created.

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You can check out this video to see how you can instantly increase your profitability when creating a music festival using this.


How to acquire funds to start your music festival

If you need money to start your event, consider bringing awareness to it and spread the word. If you've got a venue or a name in mind, create a name for your festival that will grab people's attention. Through conversation, sharing what you're creating with others will instantly draw attention if you make something interesting.

kaleidico-7lryofJ0H9s-unsplash Photo by Kaleidico on Unsplash

Once you have hype around your event, you know that the concept of it can truly become a reality. If people are interested in getting involved, raising money for the festival is a huge task. You will need a lot of money to make a festival successful, and you don't have to drain your bank.

Some ways that may help you get funding for your festival that may be available to you are applying for grants in your city or state, creating a marketing plan to get a business sponsorship, or even finding venture capitalists that are interested in funding your Festival.

There are people out there who want to help put this kind of event on, and you need to find them. If you can make connections with those in the music and event management industries, word of mouth will travel, and you will find that many people want you to find success in making your event come to life.

Researching grants that your festival is qualified to receive in your city or state is an excellent place to start. There are music organizations out there that fund big events or unique cases like a specific music festival in this case.

Music organizations want to put shows on, and if they like your plan, they might be interested in supporting your festival. Talking to the right people and finding a grant that you can qualify for will save you time.

Finding sponsors to represent your music festival can be a challenge, yes, but a necessary one if you need funds to support your event. Sponsorships are a task you have to put work into because you need to develop sponsorship offers, find potential people, and sell your offer to them. 

sponsor meeting

Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

A sponsor for a festival should have a relevant message to those who are attending the festival. Sponsors will seek brand recognition and benefits from promoting your festival through the attention it receives. 

Driving your festival's social media followings and engagement is another way to find potential sponsors through 'digital word of mouth.' Having a well-known music festival account on a few platforms with a large following will have people all over your posts looking for more information, which will drive awareness.

Music festival budget breakdown

A helpful hint to throwing a profitable music festival (or at least not losing money in the first trial year) is to budget your expenses properly because there will be many expenses. Planning and holding a music festival can cost thousands (if it's generally smaller), if not millions of dollars.

For example, the cost to put on Burning Man was around $35.8 million in 2015. Securing this sum of money for the festival took a lot, but can you even imagine what the actual cost is to put on a similar show in 2021?

In 2017, Coachella headliners were pulling in about $3-4 million for their sets. Three years later and the cost to put on a gigantic festival has increased each year, especially depending on the lineup for which you're aiming.

Any successful festival is founded on an idea with a venue that works with it. Wherever you choose to host your festival, it is likely that the local area will profit off of your festival revenue as well.

Knowing in advance how much you want to put into the quality of the artists and the hospitality is essential before creating the actual budget.

Thinking about every single expense of your event before actually spending the money will be the defining factor leading to your festival's success and profitability.

Planning your music festival can go as simple as you think until you hit a bump in the road and forget a $30,000+ expense or a permit that will shut down your event.

When it comes to planning a music festival, you are essentially creating a brand. Your festival needs a vision in terms of what type of music it will have. Think specifically and ask yourself these questions:

  • What kind of artists do you want to bring in?
  • What type of vibe do you want the atmosphere to have?
  • What kind of people do you want to attract to the festival?
  • What will make your festival unique to fans?

All of these questions will help you visualize the type of music festival you want to achieve and what funds you will need to allocate into your event budget. The outcome of your music festival can not be determined by the 'vibe' of it all; you need to also think about profit.

Creating plans and strategies for each aspect of your music festival will make it unique, functional, and easier to execute successfully.

To set your festival apart from others, offer something different. An attendee will come back to your show each year if you offer something unique, like an experiential marketing set or a surprise headliner/supporting act.

What goes into each budget area?

Your music festival budget plan will take a lot of time to figure out. Knowing what you want to include and leave out of your fan's experience may help you decide which aspects may be more or less important when running through a budget plan.

Some of the specific festival budgeting areas include:

  • Site expenses
    • Stages, Bathrooms, Camping, Backstage, Open Space, Entry, Accessibility
  • Production expenses
    • Lighting, Artists, Backstage Food & Drink, Hosts, Sound Systems, Backdrops
  • Ticketing expenses 
    • Commissions, Staff, Printing, Ticket Takers
  • Staff expenses
    • Administration, Parking & Food Staffs, Power & Lights, Insurances
  • PR/ Marketing expenses
    • Website, Social Media, Marketing Campaigns, Promotions, Festival Art, Branding
  • Pre-production expenses
    • Legal Accountant, Postage, Phone/ Computer equipment, Office Costs, Liability Coverage, Permits, Licenses
  • Other expenses
    • Food and Beverage Sites, Merchandise tents, Land Registration, Shuttle Bus Rental, Commodes, Fence & Perimeter Lights, Operations Vehicles, Trash Control, etc.

These are only some of the expenses in detail that you will need to cover when planning a music festival. Depending on the size you are projecting it to be, some things may not be required on-site as they are for larger crowds.

You will need to create a team of people to help you in the process of creating your festival because, as you can see, there's a lot to tackle.

event staff

Photo by DuoNguyen on Unsplash

You will need to start planning around two years in advance for a successful festival to grow the brand, gain traction and plan out all of these details. Finding a location site that matches the energy of your festival will also be a definitive factor of your music festival. 

Hiring knowledgeable event staff who are passionate about music is essential in the event world. From there, you need tons of employees to help run the site and prepare for when the festival is live.

Festival work is really fun, so you may find people to join your volunteer staff for free if they get to see the shows! That's a win-win for any budget.

Budget expense breakdown

The majority of your overall budget will go into advertising and booking artists to perform at your festival. Putting a lot of money into the marketing and promotional material of your event will ensure greater success turnout-both physical marketing materials and digital marketing assets.

Another large chunk of your budget will be spent on creating a popular lineup of artists. Whether or not you want to implement a mix of different music or genres is up to you but hiring professional artists costs a lot of money, especially if you will hire up-and-coming artists. This could also be another aspect that grows your festival's profitability because people will want to attend an event where their favorite artist is headlining.


Photo by Aranxa Esteve on Unsplash

As for all of the more minor details that aren't as enjoyable to figure our like marketing or finding artists, our event budget template helps break every other cost down for you, literally everything, so that you don't forget an important detail that may not have crossed your mind. We break down the cost for each item per ticket fee in each of these categories and how much is budgeted.

This allows you to see each item's cost, what amount of money is put away specifically for that, and how it fits into your overall music festival expenses. When you are creating this music festival, you're essentially starting a business, and we want this business to profit for years to come.

Utilizing our PromoTix platform for your music festival ticketing needs is one way that you can save money when your music festival is live. Our ticketing platform is designed to increase your profitability and save you money by taking away all of those event ticketing fees.

Speaking from our experience

If you genuinely want to know why this practice works when it comes to large-scale event planning, we can share our experience with you. You can trust that PromoTix can help because we've been in your shoes! Yes, that's right, the creator and founder of PromoTix, Will Royall, started his own wildly successful music festival back in 2015, Backwoods Music Festival at Mulberry Mountain. (You can read the full story here).

Will ended up creating PromoTix and was then able to generate leads and ambassadors, bringing in over $390,000 in sales for the festival.

He created his own software and saved over $42,000 in ticketing fees alone. All of that money was saved by trying something different that funding could be used elsewhere in the budget.

So, if you're in a place where the ball is rolling and you're planning and strategizing ways to bring your idea to life, you need to think about the profitability of your music festival. Not just creating it, but how to make it successful and keep selling tickets for years to come. 

You may find multiple ways to increase your profitability, and we are here to provide you with the tools that we found successful in our experience. Check out this video to see just how the Backwoods Music Festival increased its profit margins and attendance numbers while maintaining its attendee experience.

Music industry work is challenging but effective

As you can see, creating, organizing, and planning a music festival is not easy-you will be lucky if you break even or make a profit the first year. It is a tricky business, especially with the growing number of festivals rising in the last few years.


Photo by Krists Luhaers on Unsplash

Hopefully, with these helpful planning tools, your music festival planning experience goes smoother than you thought it would. A festival is a business, but an incredible one that brings massive amounts of people happiness and joy. Live music is like nothing else, and if you can deliver joy to your attendees, your festival has done its job.

Creating a business around your festival is the only way that it can happen, and that is all through money. Buying equipment, paying fees, and paying people are only a few of the things that your festival must make money for each year so that it can continue to boost ticket sales and profit.

If you use our budget planning sheet to make your dream music festival a reality, let us know! We want to know if it worked for you. After all, we're all here to attend a well-thrown music festival to jam out at for a couple of days, right? Wow, we can't wait to do that again sometime soon. 

To get more creative ideas on planning your music festival, check out more of our Music Festival Planning Tools or read through our blog articles. We are here to help the success of your live music event and hope that PromoTix has provided a good place for you to start!

To download our Master Budgeting Tool for Music Festivals, click below.

Download now


Gina Pujolas
Gina Pujolas
Gina is a passionate and creative communications specialist with experience in event management and planning, public relations, and digital media.

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