Kendrick Lamar has been announced as the headliner for Australia’s most prestigious music festival, Splendour in the Grass. This morning’s announcement has been heralded as a blessing for some festival enthusiasts, whilst others are questioning the organiser’s budgeting choice.
US rapper Lamar has been reported to charge about $1 million per concert. While this is not an unusual amount to pay for a Splendour headliner, it has sparked conversation about the symbiotic nature of small local bands and international headliners at music festivals.
“As much as it’s a huge amount of money to get people like Kendrick in, it actually ends up helping out us little guys,” local band member Aditya Nair said.
Having played at Grassplot, and Australian Music Week’s HiFi Days last year with The Knots, Nair said the exposure small bands can receive at these events is invaluable.
Splendour in the Grass has worldwide acclaim, with international travel brands advertising it as special. With over one third of the artists playing in this year’s lineup hailing from Australia, many hope this will allow local bands to begin creating an international audience.
“Most of the time the headliners will get thrown into prime spots, generally after 8pm,” Nair said.
“But during the day at festivals, heaps of smaller bands will play from 12pm, which gives them an opportunity to catch the attention of people who might just be relaxing during the day.”
For smaller Australian bands, such as Ocean Alley and Waax, playing at the same festival as international headliners as a way to assist future bookings.
“It’s the same as a résumé. If a small band can say they’ve been booked by the same guys as Lorde, it gives them way more credibility, especially for international tours,” Nair said.
While this has alleviated some concern about the booking budget, criticisms continues about other choices made by the organisation, including gender representation.
Despite reaching out to several booking agencies, Splendour representatives were not available for comment in time for publication.