Music festivals have changed dramatically in the 50 years since Woodstock, that seminal, outdoor musical event in the United States that arguably started the much slicker concept we are familiar with today. Although music festivals in the wet UK often involve standing in pouring rain and sliding about in muddy fields, they are still for many people an essential cultural element of summer. Festivals attract all generations and ages from many social backgrounds and they cater to a wide range of tastes. The ever-growing number of new festivals suggests that demand for them will not be declining any time soon.
Primarily about entertainment, music festivals are big businesses and require complex logistical organization. And it is perhaps surprising at first to discover that so many music festivals involve volunteers. Who volunteers? Why do people volunteer at festivals? What are they attracted to and how are volunteers recruited? What tasks do they carry out? How are they supported and their achievements acknowledged?
In this edition of Along the Web, writer Arnie Wickens looks at some major music festivals around the world to see whether websites can shed light on this unusual combination that mixes volunteering with money-making entertainment. He explores how and why the need for volunteers is identified where the ‘community’ being served only comes together for a few days or a weekend.