Wednesday, 26 June 2019 19:57

Hayes: DWP lost $3M on Epicenter; new dates coming soon

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Guitarist Tom Morello plays in the crowd at the inaugural Epicenter Festival, held Mothers Day weekend at Rockingham Dragway. Guitarist Tom Morello plays in the crowd at the inaugural Epicenter Festival, held Mothers Day weekend at Rockingham Dragway. Wally Reeves - For the Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — The dates for next year’s Epicenter Festival should be announced within the next few weeks, despite a multi-million dollar loss in its inaugural run.

Danny Hayes, CEO of Danny Wimmer Presents, went live on Facebook Wednesday to give fans transparency of the decision-making process and discuss several “hot topics” regarding the promotion company’s music festivals.

One of those topics was ticket pricing.

Hayes reminded those watching that DWP is a business.

“A lot of our decisions are driven by economics - what I call ‘festival economics,’” he said. “If we can’t make the economics work, the festivals go away.

“And sometimes we have to make hard decisions based on finances, and I wish it was otherwise, but the bands want to get paid.”

Hayes explained that the headlining bands cost more than $1 million each, which drives the festival budget up to $10 million, with more than half of that going to the talent budget.

“So you can start to the math, look at the ticket price and go, “Hmm, how many tickets do these guys gotta sell to even have a shot of getting out of the show and breaking even?’” he said. “This is what goes into the pricing decisions … these are the costs of things and how are we gonna pay for it?”

He then went on to discounting and $1 tickets.

“I hate discounting tickets,” he said.

Then why do it?

“We discount a ticket when a show is not doing well and we need to get more bodies in and try to get out of the show,” he said. “We’re faced with a very difficult decision at that moment: take too big of a loss, pack up, go home and say goodbye to the festival?”

Hayes then used Epicenter as an example.

“We lost $3 million this year … I should be shutting that down permanently and not coming back,” he said. “But what we did is decide to run the dollar campaign … which was only offered to existing ticket-buyers … it was a bring-your-friend campaign … but the intent isn’t to piss people off, the intent is to save the festival.”

The goal, he added, was to get enough new people in the door and convert them so that next year they can actually make a profit, or at least break even.

“The alternative, like I said, is to shut it down,” Hayes added, suggesting that next year he may run a poll to ask fans if they would rather the festival be shut down or discounted tickets be offered. “When a show’s running really well, there are no discounts.”

Hayes talked about other issues, including staffing, traffic, camping, weather and band booking.

The bands, he said, are booked about a year in advance, so the headliners are already picked for 2020 — “but I’m not going to tell you.”

He said the reason for booking so far in advance is because of competition in the festival market, which gives them the advantage to start selling tickets earlier.

During the video, Hayes was also answering a few questions from commenters, with one asking if Epicenter could be moved back a week so it wouldn’t conflict with Mothers Day.

“We’re looking at that,” he said, adding that dates will be announced in two weeks.

The entire video can be viewed at the Danny Wimmer Presents Facebook page.