The challenges of announcing a line up!
It doesn’t get any easier pulling together an independent classic rock weekend in a small town on the west coast of Scotland and the past seven days have pushed that theory to its limit.
When WinterStorm was first unveiled in 2016 it came from nowhere, with no back story and launched on the 1st of August -around 100 days before the event was due to burst into life.
Since then the announcement dates have got earlier and earlier and the end of January has become the de facto calendar point for unveiling the line-up. To be fair that has worked pretty well up until now but perhaps the pressure has been ramped up a little more due to the incredible number of presales bought “blind” without any bands announced. For 2020 we have amassed advance sales of almost 2/3rds of the total tickets available!
It’s a compliment to the event, the atmosphere and the venue but it has the downside of trying very hard to fill slots too quickly and for the wrong reasons. It’s something that we have already started reviewing for future events.
Anyway, that is, in itself, a precursor to the decision we’ve had to make about the announcements planned for this weekend. We were never going to be in the position to be unveiling the full line up for 2020 at this point; there are numerous reasons for not getting band logos on the first flyer – headline tours are in place and agents will not allow anything that may even remotely impact those sales; tours are in planning and WinterStorm can only announce when that is going public and increasingly for artistes playing in side projects the “parent” bands take precedence and time lines for the offshoot project are fitted in around those logistics. One of the clearest changes we've seen this year is that the number of summer rock festivals and events means that agents, managers and bands have a focus on May to August; most other things can wait.
Until this week we have been spared pretty much all or any of the above. Within 72 hours we have been hit by all of them and some!
The result is that the leaflet prepared ready for distribution is currently complete with four newly shaded out areas on it! Not cancelled not in jeopardy just not to be announced yet!
So what to do? Do we hold back the full line up until end of February or do we announce what we have? We are currently veering towards the latter in recognition of the number of paid ticketholders waiting for direction. If we hadn’t sold the tickets in advance we’d probably hold back and launch as we have always done with the key line up in place.
That’s not going to be possible but there are still some exciting inclusions even if there are more exclusions that we’d prefer.
We have our New Wave of British Heavy Metal Bands in place and that has always been a key part of the fortieth anniversary of so many seminal albums from that wonderful year of 1980 we have most of our New Wave of Classic Rock line up in place for the main stage; we have three or four of our surprise acts in place from across the globe and at least one of our traditional “guitar heroes” slots in place.
We are missing the ability to announce four bands in place but embargoed for the reasons above and one that we are still chasing as part of our bigger 1980 anniversary picture.
The truth is at the time of writing this we have 303 days before we open our doors and we are rushing perhaps for all of the wrong reasons – if we hadn’t sold blind advance tickets we would undoubtedly be slowing this process down. So we will reveal some of what we have on Friday as planned but we are also going to take a deep breath, slow the email chains down and get in place what we want for November rather than what we hoped for January. Hope that makes sense.
In short we need to remember that the important date is November 27th not January 31st!
We therefore are now working towards the end of February for tying down the rest of the line up and hopefully can have release on all the bands on our spreadsheets.
We are also cognisant of the no quibble refund guarantee and we absolutely stand by that premise and promise. If our supporters are willing to buy blind it can only be done with the surety of a full refund should we not deliver the goods! We will therefore be extending the refund date until 28th of February – it is a cast iron guarantee.
So that’s where we are; an open insight into the process going on here and where we are. Those that have seen the "full" line up rate it as highly as last years even if it is a little more left field and perhaps diverse than last year. We are happy with it but there’s always fear that we get it wrong!
It is a world dominated by social media and no doubt there’ll be grumbles and we accept that comes with the territory, but we hope that the above at least gives an insight into the joys of bringing together 38 acts over three days!
As ever we’ll keep you up to date – increasingly via the blog first – with every piece of news we have.
More to follow…