Wednesday 22 November 2017

MCD's Desmond is thriving in spite of Oxegen-deprivation

Stormzy is performing at MCD’s Longitude festival in Marlay Park this weekend. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Stormzy is performing at MCD’s Longitude festival in Marlay Park this weekend. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Denis Desmond

Gordon Deegan

"WHEN you get it right, it is profitable. Equally, over the years, we have had big losses."

So says the country's biggest pop promoter, Denis Desmond talking about the ups and downs of running music festivals just days ahead of MCD's Longitude festival at Marlay Park in Dublin.

Longitude is just part of a very busy roster for MCD this summer. It is hoping to sell 1.3 million tickets to all live events this year, after selling 1.15 million in 2016.

Only last Saturday, Coldplay thrilled 80,000 fans at a sold-out Croke Park. This followed Guns N' Roses setting the tone for the summer at Slane in May.

Denis Desmond said: "People will be will be talking about that Guns N' Roses show in 20 years' time.

"That is the buzz. It was awesome. I'm still a fan.

"It was a great, great show. They were on form, the audience was on form."

MCD is also promoting Electric Picnic. The festival is the highlight of the summer for many and sold out once again this year before the acts were even announced.

A consultants' report last month estimated that Irish revellers will spend around €253m on festivals this summer.

The most recent accounts for EP, which is jointly owned between Mr Desmond's MCD and music giant Live Nation, EP Republic Ltd, show that it enjoyed a jump of 37pc in trading profits to €1m in 2015.

Mr Desmond says that business is good right now for festival promoters.

MCD is staging the Punchestown Festival in Co Kildare at the end of the month and he says that festivals "are expensive to run, security bills are high.

"If you are bringing 50,000 to a camping festival, you are building a city. There are big costs involved.

"We wouldn't be doing if we weren't making money. We are commercial operators and we do want to make a profit. When you get the numbers right, you get a good return."

However, Mr Desmond adds that festival prices provide "huge value" for punters and argues that the festival market here has by no means reached saturation levels.

He says: "You might pay €150 or €175 for a weekend festival ticket, where there would be 30 to 35 acts performing. That works out at around €4 or €5 an artist.


"Obviously, you are not going to see them all and might catch eight or 10 acts over the weekend, but the beauty of a festival is that you might see an act you are undecided about and then you become a fan."

Mr Desmond was behind the massive Oxegen festivals in Co Kildare, which were last staged in 2013.

However, he appeared to rule out its return and will instead concentrate on smaller scale festivals, adding: "It is a big ask for the size of the country."

Irish Independent

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