How much Glastonbury headliners get paid and why it might be less than you think

Dua Lipa performing on stage during the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset
-Credit: (Image: Yui Mok/PA)

Glastonbury Festival 2024 is in full force and has already seen some iconic performances from the likes of headline act Dua Lipa.

Tonight, festival goers will see rock band Coldplay take the stage and make history as they become the first act to headline Glastonbury five times. The global stars are set to play some of the best known hits including Yellow, Fix You and Viva La Vida throughout the duration of their two-hour long set.

Glastonbury is no doubt one of the biggest festivals of the year, for guests and the artists, but they might not be paid as much as you think, reports The Mirror.

Read more: 37 huge major gigs, festivals and theatre events to look forward to in Yorkshire this July

Over the years Glastonbury has had some massive headliners, including David Bowie, Beyoncé and Adele, and you might assume playing such a huge gig would mean the musicians are being compensated with a pretty hefty sum, however, you might be surprised to learn that it's not as much as you'd think.

Festival co-organiser Emily Eavis, youngest daughter of the festival's founder Michael Eavis, confirmed that artists get paid 10% less than what they are typically paid by other festivals.

Although, it's for a pretty good reason. This is because Glastonbury prefers to donate £2 million to charities every year, which dispels the myth that some headliners are paid £1 million, as the number is likely much lower.

In a 2017 interview with BBC Radio 6, she explained: "We're not in a situation where we're able to just give people enormous amounts of money. So we're really grateful for the bands that we get because they're basically doing it for the love of it."

Crowds at Glastonbury Festival 2024
Crowds at Glastonbury Festival 2024 -Credit:Ben Birchall/PA

Founder Michael once revealed that Coldplay and Paul McCartney were both paid around £200,000 for past headline sets. He said at the time: "I paid £200,000 for Paul McCartney and for Coldplay, and although it sounds a lot, they could have charged me far more."

The exact number each 2024 headliner gets paid will be kept under wraps, but in an interview with Metro, music consultant specialising in live music venues and festivals Lyle Bignon, said: "The likes of Elton John and Guns N' Roses, who have decades of global fame behind them, can likely command higher prices running into the £250,000+ range."

In an interview with Somerset Live last year, Bestival organiser Rob Da Bank revealed that Glastonbury's budget is under £500,000 per headliner. He said: "They cap their budget and even the headliners don't get paid more than 500 grand, I think, which is cheap for some of the headliners and they've had a lot of them."

Although there's no bigger UK festival than Glastonbury, it doesn't pay its headliners more than others. For other UK festivals, headliners can earn upwards of £1 million, according to Billboard.

The reason is that Glastonbury aims to raise money for charity, which means headliners are paid significantly less. Each year the festival raises funds for charities including Oxfam and Greenpeace, which means that they have a smaller budget, no doubt made even smaller by the cost of living crisis.

But it's not the money that draws huge performers to Glastonbury, it's the festival's reputation and acts can rake in huge amounts of money after performing.

Emily told George Ezra's podcast: "Because of the TV and because of the exposure that they get, they do go on to do really well afterwards, so they'll sell records afterwards.

"So we're saying 'look, come and do this but even though there's a small fee, we can almost guarantee afterwards you'll make up for it'."

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