V Festival: How Has The Festival Lost Its Selling Point?

Ed Angeli

“V Festival has always been a special weekend for everyone at Virgin. We’ve been proud to sponsor V Festival for the past two decades and there have been some incredible performances on the stage.”

— Sir Richard Branson

This Halloween, the music world says RIP to V Fest with Virgin pulling their sponsor from the festival after 22 years of support. It would seem the writing was on the wall for the partnership with demand down this summer as a flurry of 2-for-1 ticket sales flocked on social media and Ticketmaster.

The truth is, it appeared the festival was losing a form of identity. It wasn’t about the music; it was turning into a gathering where the likes of ‘Chris’ and ‘Kem’ from Love Island were making the front pages for turning up – we’re meant to be talking about Jay Z on the main stage.

“It lost its way a long time ago and seems to have had an identity crisis about what sort of festival it wanted to be for about 10 years. It’s gone down the pop route but that hasn’t been entirely successful.

“For years, it used to sell out in a matter of days but now it doesn’t even sell out.”

Darryl Webber, Essex Chronicle

If it wasn’t the media talking about non-music artists, headliners were being drowned out on stage by sound from other stages; if you can’t get the headliners right, you may as well not bother at all.

The festival is no stranger to irritating acts, nor is it rare that the big names infuriate the crowds; the moment Cher Lloyd’s performance was sabotaged by a bottle of urine was a particularly low point. Then there was the hungover Justin Bieber performance which involved more miming than singing.

It’s a music festival, and that seemed to be playing second-fiddle to the drama coming out of V Festival. The identity continued to be knocked with packages such as VIP areas that involved beauticians and hairdressers; festival-goers aren’t meant to be signing up for a weekend getaway at the spa, they’re meant to repulse people by forgetting about hygiene for four days.

Ultimately, Virgin is a business, and businesses want to make money. This became all too clear with VIP packages and having expenses where a bottle of water is two-quid – not to mention a cup of tea costing north of three pounds – we’re not sure who’s drinking the tea, but the pricing tells its own story.

The business side of things was killing the music side of things; the important part. It was a great partnership, but one that lasted too long, and the rebranding of the festival should reinvigorate a festival that was dying a slow death.