Reading Festival leads the way with deposit scheme

Biffy Clyro on the Main Stage, Reading Festival 2010Exactly one month after being embarrassed by a line-up leak, Reading Festival has launched a deposit scheme to help shift the last of its day and weekend tickets. 

The way the system works is you can reserve your ticket now for a £7 booking fee, with only 25 per cent of the ticket price paid up-front. The remaining balance is then paid in three equal instalments over the next three months.

Some may say they’re just copying Glastonbury, but the key difference is that most of the line-up has been revealed before you commit to pay and the monthly chunks of £48.12 are much more affordable than the £150 lump sum Glastonbury asked for earlier this month.

Also, Reading has a much younger target audience, so it makes sense to offer a staggered way to pay. With the price of festivals going up across the board and punters budgets being stretched tight, this could be the way forward for many UK music fests.

This year’s Reading and Leeds Festivals, just in case you haven’t already heard, will be headlined by My Chemical Romance, The Stokes, Pulp and Muse.

Has the leaked Reading line up proved a point?

Reading Festival 2011 line-up
Erm... whoops!

Reading Festival organisers and Zane Lowe have egg well and truly on their faces today after an unnamed Kerrang! insider leaked the full line-up yesterday lunchtime, more than five hours before it was due to be announced.

As a result, this year is the first time in at least four years that Reading weekend tickets have not sold out in a matter of hours. I checked 23 hours later and Seetickets was still selling them.

The line-up itself was the subject of a fierce Twitter backlash, with many voicing their disapproval. But in all honesty it’s the same every year. Those with the most vociferously negative opinions will always be heard the loudest in the social media echo chamber. Although that said, the Official Reading Facebook page’s attempt to delete spoiler comments was hilariously naive and just proof that they had something to hide.

Is the line-up worse than in previous years? That’s hard to judge objectively, true there’s less metal, but that trend has been ongoing since 2008. The Strokes and My Chemical Romance are both massive bands, whether you like them or not and Muse’s only festival appearance this year is sure to be something rather special.

Zane lowe bbc radio one dj
Zane ain't happy...

The main difference this year is that the power appears to have been at least partially taken out of the organisers’ hands. Zane Lowe in particular was left looking more than a little bit foolish last night after his grandstanding annual line-up announcement live on BBC Radio One was well and truly gazumped by the power of the internet. As he struggled to maintain his trademark Kiwi cool, he let slip “this was meant to be a celebration and now I’m trending with hate.”

Maybe fans are a bit sick of being treated like unquestioning saps by the organisers, who are pushing towards getting the tickets on sale before anyone knows for sure who’s playing.

They may argue that they’re following Glastonbury’s lead, so they are justified. But this is only partially true, as the Pilton farm mega-fest only asks for a £50 deposit in good faith and they then only demand the rest once the first 20 or so bands are announced.

At the end of the day, I can’t help wondering whether this whole embarrassing debacle will maybe make Festival Republic think twice about their approach to announcing the line-up and selling tickets next year…

In the meantime for those of you that are going and are excited (like me), I humbly present my Reading Festival 2011 Spotify playlist and Neat Little Rows from the splendiferously magnificent new Elbow album: