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Why No Glasto

Glastonbury 2016

So many great festivals for me to look forward to this summer, but you might have noticed one big omission – Glastonbury. I have to tell you, with huge disappointment, that I haven’t been able to arrange anything realistic, so it’s a case of having to give it a miss this year.

I’ve felt this coming for the past few years. Glastonbury has always been notoriously tight when it comes to fees, with a number of leading DJs refusing to play there for this very reason. It was only in 2011 that I made my debut there, doubling-up with gigs to make it viable, driving in and out on the same day. It was a memorable, albeit muddy introduction to the festival of festivals, but it wouldn’t be until my next time there, 2 years later, that I had my Glastonbury epiphany. This was brought about by a Thursday night gig at the Stonebridge tent that has subsequently acquired a somewhat mythical status for those in attendance (the tent packed inside and out) and is my most listened to live mix on SoundCloud.

I appreciate great store is placed on the festival’s charitable donations, and I accepted the fact that the fees were going to be low where Glastonbury was concerned, it was the nature of the beast, but I’d been looked after with regards to my transport and accommodation, and had been given a decent ticket allocation, enabling me to enjoy the festival with some friends and family, so I accepted this as the situation, understanding that the promoters were all being squeezed to the max with their budgets. They needed DJs to do them favours, or work for free, otherwise they simply weren’t able to book enough to fully programme their areas.

However, the following year there were cutbacks in terms of both fee and tickets offered. The appearances themselves were a joy, but the overall experience of getting less, when you’re already doing it at a massive discount when compared with any other festival, didn’t sit right.

This is the problem – Glastonbury isn’t any other festival, they have a deep history, dating back to 1970, their roots in rock and live music. There’s almost an expectation that people should be perpared to play Glastonbury for the love, given its legacy, and any number of DJs and musicians would be happy to do so, if only to have on their CV.

I have no problem with this – if everyone was willing to approach the festival in this spirit I’d be with them all the way, but Glastonbury, although its roots might be in the free festivals of old, has long been a huge financial juggernaut, with weekend tickets this year costing £228 (plus the booking fees the ticket agents add on the top) and a mammoth 135,000 mouths to feed on site. Is food and drink sold at cost price because it’s in the spirit of Glastonbury not to profit from the event – of course not. It’s a line that’s run out to make the performers feel that they should be thankful for the privilege of playing there.

We’re talking about a festival that’s been selling out before they even announce a line-up! In that context we’re all disposable to one level or another. Other festivals have to carefully think out their line-up on the basis of how many people they might attract. This works from the main stage bands and headline DJs right down the food chain – it’s basic bums on seats mathematics.

Last year I nearly didn’t play at Glastonbury – the offers once more being less than the previous year. I would have had to pass, but I’d promised my son and his band that I’d take them, and I didn’t want to let them down. With the allocation cut, I found myself a ticket short, and it turned into something of a hoop-jumping ordeal before I managed to finally negotiate one. Given all the additional stress in getting this sorted, I thought never again, and instructed my agent, Matt Johnson, that it would need to be a reasonable offer if I was to play this year, something more akin to what I’d received a couple of years previous (my son and his friends, now Glastonbury converts, bought their own tickets as soon as they went on sale this time).

With this year in mind my prime consideration was, of course, for the people who’ve supported me so fervently during the past 3 years, since the Stonebridge gig. Many of them came to all the 3 areas I played in a day in 2014, and last year, at the Beat Hotel, I watched in amazement as this huge marquee, which was pretty threadbare as I set-up, filled up to bursting no sooner had I started.

Greg Wilson at the Beat Hotel 2015

When we were planning out my schedule I asked Matt to keep Glastonbury weekend clear, and I resisted other enquiries including a festival in Ireland I quite fancied in order to leave the way open for this to happen, even if it went to the eleventh hour, which was seemingly the case when an offer came in late in the day. However, it turned out to be a blind alley – they’d assumed I was already on site and would be up for doing it as an add-on. It transpired they had no budget to get me there, let alone pay me, and no tickets to offer. I pretty much gave up the ghost at this point.

Whether I play there or not is an extremely minor issue in the greater scheme of this sprawling mega-festival, but during the past few weeks a trickle of emails and messages asking me where I’m playing at Glastonbury has turned into more of a torrent. My answer, ‘I’m afraid I’m not going to be there this year’, is met with a further question, ‘why not?’, and this is my attempt to give people some sort of explanation as to my absence.

All I can say is that I really wanted this to happen, and would have happily come in at an absolute minimum to make it work, but when you’re prepared to go more than half-way, but you’re not being met there, but expected to, the way it’s been going, pretty much pay for the privilege, its going to squeeze certain DJs and musicians out of the picture, especially when they’re aware that there’s serious money being spent in other aspects of the festival, its performances and production.

I’m fortunate to get some wonderful slots in some stunning spaces, and with appearances upcoming at a whole heap of festivals, big and small, I hope that those of you I’ll miss this time around at Glastonbury will catch me someplace else during the summer.

Fingers crossed I’ll be back at Worthy Farm in 2017. In the meantime here are the recordings from all my appearances to date.

Previous Glastonbury posts:

Glastonbury – The Greatest Show On Earth:
http://blog.gregwilson.co.uk/2013/07/glastonbury-the-greatest-show-on-earth

Glastonbury Trilogy:
http://blog.gregwilson.co.uk/2014/07/glastonbury-trilogy-2014

GW Festivals 2016

Greg Wilson Festival Schedule 2016:
http://blog.gregwilson.co.uk/2016/06/festival-schedule-2016

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37 Responses to Why No Glasto

  1. Me June 17, 2016 at 6:36 pm #

    All I can say is great and honest. Glastonbury is sometimes up it’s own successful arse.

  2. Hannah MacDonald June 17, 2016 at 6:39 pm #

    Thank you for explaining. I missed the Stonebridge set but arrived at block 9 just after you had started and was treated to something magical…. Hope you’re back again so others can experience it too

    (Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson)

  3. Sean Bull June 17, 2016 at 6:40 pm #

    I can’t count how many times I’ve seen you play at Glastonbury. It won’t be the same without a beautifully curated set from yourself this year..
    One of my fondest memories was in the dance village – Can’t remember the year exactly, but the weather was poor, everyone was fatigued, but some how you managed to pick everyone up to the point of euphoria.. Setting the bar for the days ahead.

    (Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson)

  4. Phil Austin June 17, 2016 at 6:41 pm #

    Now that’s an interesting perspective on things and every credit for saying your piece Greg.

    (Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson)

  5. Paul Stevens June 17, 2016 at 6:42 pm #

    Intresting read and explanation of your reasons to keep away this year. Talking from personal experience I completely understand your reasons around fee payments. Fairly ludicrous in my opinion.

    (Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson)

  6. Carlo June 17, 2016 at 8:12 pm #

    So refreshing to have a transparent explanation, you’ll be missed

  7. Salty June 18, 2016 at 8:14 am #

    Moan moan moan

  8. Rich Ashcroft Hart June 18, 2016 at 8:57 am #

    It’s a shame I can’t post pictures of all the memories that have just come flooding back reading this.
    It won’t be the same without you

  9. Ashley Brancker June 18, 2016 at 11:39 am #

    It’ll be a shame to not have you there this year but its completely understandable. Good on you for opening up & letting people see the other side of the story. I think some bigger bands take a fee cut as they will be plastered all over the bbc and its great promo for their current or new album but there is little to offer dj’s on the smaller stages in this respect. Luckily we’ll see you in leeds at the big disco week after!

    (Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson)

  10. George Goldboy Summers June 18, 2016 at 11:39 am #

    Perfectly describes the current predicament placed on most Dj’s when offered a dream gig for no money. It’s work most other trades would expect to be well paid for – why not Dj’s?

    (Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson)

  11. Simon Harding June 18, 2016 at 11:41 am #

    I don’t think there’s a need to go into the fee negotiation publicly. If you’re not getting what you want out of it don’t do it, and explain the reason to the handful of people that give a shit if you have to. Glastonbury is what it is, do it or don’t, but don’t get on a Rolling Stones soap box complaining about the booking arrangements. It looks pretty unprofessional.

    (Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson)

  12. Ashley Brancker June 18, 2016 at 11:41 am #

    But the explanation is fair. It is already a cut on the fee 2 years ago and now its getting less and less for fees and guest places. I think greg is right to have a ceiling under which he wont go. Its called having principals. This is coming from an annual glasto goer who goes to watch greg there every time. I love the festival but it has its shortcomings

    (Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson)

  13. Derek Kaye June 18, 2016 at 11:42 am #

    I actually applaud Greg for his complete transparency in this statement. He has known while writing this, that this could very easily been construed as some kind of sour grapes or diva type moan. Well done for being extremely open about it I say . .

    (Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson)

  14. Sally Stewart June 18, 2016 at 11:42 am #

    I think people greatly underestimate the goodwill shown by performers to be part of such an event. You’re right to value your time and skills because your audience does.

    (Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson)

  15. Pete Williams June 18, 2016 at 11:44 am #

    Gutted is an understatement ! My usual glasto brothers won’t be here with me this year,particularly my raving bro Sluggy who passed away in October,we made sure we saw nearly all of your sets when you was there ! Stonebridge was the mutts nutts and the beat hotel was unforgettable so seeing you there would have brought back some very fond memories …I would gladly see you close the festival on the Sunday instead of Soldplay and I’d sell all I have to pay your fee ! This might be my last glasto..but I must say that every year ! Haha Until next time GW ❤️

    (Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson)

  16. Jim Jazz June 18, 2016 at 11:44 am #

    shame not to catch you this year greg. At £228 its wrong i think to suggest its nothing less than a bargain. Average tickets for Adele for a one off gig are over £100, tickets for a Rolling Stones gig over £500 and Coldplay average £200. Beatherder is £158 quid with James head lining. Festival no 6 is £195 +booking fee. hope ur back

    (Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson)

  17. Adam Symbiosis June 18, 2016 at 11:46 am #

    Disappointed for you, playing at Glasto like you say is almost pay to play as many other “DJing” gigs these days are like. Would hope to have you at Lost Dawn in London sometime next year if we can fight off The Nest and Slide! 🙂

    (Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson)

  18. Paddy Campbell June 18, 2016 at 11:46 am #

    i’m sad that you wont be playing glasto as it’s my first year and i see that you have played many sets there before… this said, i’m sure i’ll get to see you play later in the summer!

    (Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson)

  19. Carl Platt June 18, 2016 at 11:47 am #

    spending money on artists and less on djs methinks

    (Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson)

  20. Edd Read June 18, 2016 at 11:48 am #

    Your set in Block9 (I think) in Glasto 2013 remains one of my favourite moments of all time. I’d never heard Fleetwood Mac and Todd Terje together in one set and it was magical.

    (Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson)

  21. Michael Towey June 18, 2016 at 11:49 am #

    Fair enough GW, we understand. It’s a real shame because, for me and most other scousers your sets are one of the highlights of the festival. Hope they get their act together for next year. You’re an absolute legend.

    (Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson)

  22. Graham Newlands June 18, 2016 at 11:51 am #

    Shame to hear that someone who many punters mark as a must see in their Glasto schedule faces these challenges. We managed to catch 2 out of the 3 sets in 2014 and seen several repeat faces which, considering the line ups on the other stages, is testament to the regard in which you are held by so many.

    (Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson)

  23. Peter Warriner June 18, 2016 at 11:52 am #

    Wonderfully honest and true. Gb has become a beast…

    (Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson)

  24. Paul Wright June 18, 2016 at 12:33 pm #

    Starting as a free festival it does seem to have morphed too far into the commercial realm, losing much of that original ethos. When I started going (1997), you could still order your ticket in May, >100,000 were jumping the fence which certainly created more of an electrified and chaotic atmosphere. The festival is a bit more sedate these days though the 24hr spaces that now exist wouldn’t have been safe to operate in the past. The BBC telling everyone to turn up without a ticket precipitated the licensing issues, their coverage is great though I’m not convinced the whole entourage is necessary, the same could probably be said of other media outlets, Guardian etc. Many of those that supported the development of this festival have essentially been priced out now with it turning into a middle class ‘let’s play at being hippies for the weekend’, event. That said, every time I’ve been there and the sun sets over that incredible space it’s a truly magical experience (getting goose bumps as I type).

  25. leighton June 18, 2016 at 1:37 pm #

    What was their actual offer? Just your ticket?

  26. LouLou June 19, 2016 at 3:33 am #

    What a damm shame. Sign of the times isn’t it. Musicians creatives and general bringers of joy being expected to do it for the love of it. I feel a div as I’ve been telling people, “yeah Greg’ll be at Glastonbury” mainly cos I believe you ought to be. What you have to give is priceless. So good on you for not going down that road again. Money ain’t everything. And I know you’re certainly not about the money, but you have to eat too and drive there and buy new tapes for your revox 😉 So good on you Greg. Cos if someone with your gifts ain’t making a living from it, how are other people, established and up and coming supposed to?

    Here’s to changes for next year. I know this summer will be a joy for you and yours anyhoo. Super Weird Seven Onwards and upwards!

  27. Daniel King June 22, 2016 at 10:20 am #

    In the name of transparency would you like to divulge your requested fee and the offered fee from the organisers?

  28. SubwooferPresents (@pokeypeople) June 22, 2016 at 10:23 am #

    A non-ongoing concern ! How could you !! 😉

  29. Sir Acid House June 22, 2016 at 4:06 pm #

    The President of Electro in 3/4 length trews boasting again. Don’t they know that he is entitled?

  30. Lee June 22, 2016 at 4:40 pm #

    Takes a degree of bravery and conviction to draw a line in the sand against a festival so popular and huge as Glastonbury. Most DJs would just suck it up which is their own prerogative but fair play to Greg for taking a stand. From what I’ve read, Greg isn’t accusing Glasto promotors of anything untoward here, he’s just explaining the situation open and honestly for his fans and people who want to know without any malice or bitterness. For those of you who think this issue is all about the money, think again. Greg is accommodating in his fee for small events for 200 people not to mention the likes of events the size of Glastonbury. Hopefully next year he’ll be back on the bill as I’m pretty sure this isn’t a manouver by Glasto to screw artists, just a phenomenal amount of red tape that’s resulted in a much loved artist deciding it’s not feasible for him to play this year.

  31. Julie Gibson Rowcliffe June 22, 2016 at 5:20 pm #

    Us punters don’t really think of the business side of what you guys do Gregg. Interesting piece. 2 things. ….I am delighted I had the pleasure of seeing you at SSW, didn’t manage your full set but what I did was superb and secondly, you don’t look old enough to have a son that can attend Glastonbury! Lovely to meet you, hope you do SSW next year x

    (Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson)

  32. Paul Campo Metcalfe June 22, 2016 at 5:21 pm #

    Respect Greg! I love Glastonbury with all my heart and have enjoyed some of the best moments of my life in those fields! It’s gutting that money always rears its ugly head! Well put mate and see you in the Ribble Valley for Beat herder! (And glasto next year) x

    (Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson)

  33. Gregg Holmes June 22, 2016 at 5:22 pm #

    Completely agree with the way the festival has changed. Its a damn shame too as it is (or was) the King Of Festivals. I keep saying i wanna go back one day but every year it gets less and less appealing. There’s plenty of other festivals that will benefit the GW touch. Its Glasto’s loss for not looking after you 🙂

    (Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson)

  34. Nicholas Ryan June 22, 2016 at 5:22 pm #

    Greg, that year in Glasto is one of the beast days of my life. The triple Greg day was something else. Big Gang of us just following you everywhere! Was so much fun! The bombed out church day is still one of the best. So was that gig in Motion that time. keep up the good work mate. ✌️✌✌

    (Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson)

  35. Simon Beer June 22, 2016 at 5:23 pm #

    The piss taking with Glasto has been getting worse for years. Take more and more cash and provide steadily weaker line ups due largely to the fact they only have acts there who do it for the prestige. Good on you for saying no, I’ve been every year since 2000 and this is my last for a while because I am sick of it too

    (Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson)

  36. David Mushy Marsh June 22, 2016 at 5:23 pm #

    Gregg, we had the best day of the decade at the beat hotel last year. Thank you. It made an middle aged man feel like a fucking idiot teenager again. I understand as I get the same in my profession. Have a belting summer and Here’s to 2017.

    (Via FB: https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson)

  37. Richard Ames July 29, 2016 at 10:11 pm #

    Late to the party, and from the ‘States, so new culture for me, but always good chatter. Here’s the thing — the DJ booth may look like a garishly lit ivory tower from the dance floor, but djgw has been generously leading a written nickel tour of how it worked for him for at least a decade now, and I’m still digging it. Thanks Greg!

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