AEG’s Double Fest Strategy for NYC

AEG Live will stage two major East Coast festivals on the same weekend next year, with plans to book some artists and headliners to play both events. 

Firefly Festival in Dover, Del., and Panorama Festival in Queens, N.Y., are both to take place June 16-19, and organizers AEG Live and Goldenvoice will take advantage of the short distance between the two events (185 miles) to shuttle artists between both festivals.

While Panorama Festival hasn’t been officially announced by AEG Live, NYC officials have confirmed that AEG plans to launch its event at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, N.Y.

That has drawn cries of corporate takeover from Founders Entertainment, whose Governors Ball Festival on Randall’s Island is to take place two weeks prior to Panorama Fest.

They’ve even begun circulating a petition asking New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to deny AEG’s permit for the inaugural 2016 Panorama Festival. Don’t get me wrong — if I was in the festival business I wouldn’t want to go against Paul Tollett and Rick Mueller, either. But just like our families and neighbors, we don’t get to pick our competitors. And while I appreciate Founders Entertainment’s honesty about its motivations for circulating the petition; I’d also be remiss if I didn’t remark that the whole thing comes off as really whiny.

First, it’s quite naïve to think city officials would deny a private contractor a permit to help another private contractor avoid competition. There’s a reason they took to this to and not an actual attorney — Founders Entertainment has no legal ground to stand on.

Governors Ball had aggregate attendance of 150,000 over three days in June, which is about 50,000 people a day. It’s hard for me to believe that North America’s largest market is being completely served by a festival for 50,000 people. Many cities have multiple festivals, and while Founders Entertainment officials call AEG’s scheduling two weeks after their event aggressive, the chosen date has more to do with tying into the nearby Firefly Festival and less to do with punishing Governors Ball.

The guys at Founders Entertainment don’t own the New York market, and their five years in the city isn’t long enough to call dibs. Instead of whining and passing around their lame petition, they should be the real “born and bred” New Yorkers they claim to be and show some grit. Fans don’t care who the promoter is. They just want a great event with recognizable acts. Give them what they want — and stop complaining.