Next Wednesday is the start of Glastonbury, which – and you may not believe this – is primarily a music festival and not actually a fashion show or even simply a five-day piss-up. It’s the music that brings strangers together in that unrivalled, free-spirited Glastonbury way.
But not so, according to Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis, whose father Michael Eavis founded the festival in 1970 (and can often be spotted wandering around the festival grounds).
The festival’s emphasis on giving money to charities including Oxfam, WaterAid and Greenpeace, means it’s not a commercial operation in the way that most others are. “We're not in the same bracket as everyone else when it comes to paying artists massive fees,” she said.
“The most important part of the festival is the fact that we can give that money to charity, because it makes it all totally worthwhile,” Eavis added. "We try to give £2m a year. In a wet year it's harder because it costs more, but we give as close to £2m as we can.”
She said people should consider its charitable giving when they scrutinise the festival’s lineup. “Glastonbury relies completely on good will, we’re not in a situation where we’re able to just give people enormous amounts of money,” she said.
"It's probably less than 10% of what they'd get from playing any of the other major British festivals. So we’re really grateful for the bands we get because when they come here they’re basically doing it for fun and for the love of it.”
By contrast, artists can receive more than £1 million for headlining other UK festivals. Reading and Leeds raised the bar in 2000 by offering Oasis a six-figure sum and similar figures have been commonplace since then, the BBC reported. V Festival paid Eminem £2 million in 2011, while Rihanna earned roughly £1 million for playing before him.
Meanwhile, Michael Eavis once admitted paying Coldplay and Paul McCartney £200,000 for their Glastonbury sets. "Although it sounds a lot, they could have charged me far more," he said. Paul McCartney can earn up to £4 million for performances, but likely less for festivals, reported the BBC.
The Rolling Stones were even reported to have made a loss for headlining Glastonbury in 2013 because they spent money on revamping the Pyramid Stage.
When asked about festival safety in light of the recent terror attacks in Manchester and London, Emily Eavis said the Glastonbury team had had “a lot of security meetings in the last couple of weeks” and that “extra provisions and security checks” have been put in place this year.
Ticket-holders have received an email informing them that it will take longer for them to enter this year because extra searches will be carried out. The festival is also working closely with police, she said.