MTV buyout leaves festival feeling more corporate


Bonnaroo, a four-day music and arts festival held on Tennessee farmland, is often associated with indie, jam and folk music sounds. The festival has received many complaints about lineups and straying from its original sounds after recently being bought out by music powerhouse MTV.

The buyout, whether seen as good or bad, has brought in a larger variety of musical genres, such as country, rap and electronic, and increased general awareness of the festival.

Matt Radil, Bonnaroo 2012 employee and University of North Carolina at Wilmington student, said he feels Bonnaroo’s transition and growth are to be expected, as music will always be changing, as well as embraced.

“I don’t feel they have sold out, but rather, they have adapted because they want everyone to have fun,” Radil said. “They have maintained their original hippie feel, but they also have the modern rave thing going on. As long as they stick to groundbreaking music, they won’t sell out.”

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival broke onto the scene in 2002, inviting music and art fans to camp for four days in the fields of Manchester, Tenn. and enjoy the tunes of 47 talented bands. The idea for Bonnaroo, a Creole term meaning “good stuff,” originated from four college graduates living in New Orleans in 1995.

With annual growth and attendance, the grounds spread over 700 acres and accommodate over 80,000 fans and 150 bands. The festival now has its own Ben & Jerry’s flavor and has been named “the American rock festival to end all festivals” by Rolling Stone Magazine.

This summer’s festival featured 11 stages, with one main stage, four medium stages and several smaller stages that have been added over the years to accommodate more break out artists.

Some fans have claimed the expansion of Bonnaroo has made it to be just another festival selling out to the masses in order to survive. However, some students, such as Matthew Massey, a senior majoring in accounting, disagree.

“Of course it’s big and crowded – it’s Bonnaroo,” Massey said. “But there is nowhere else you can see so many talented and diverse bands in four days for a couple hundred bucks. And all the tents and vendors and activities just bring more fun to Bonnaroo.”

In addition to the live music, Bonnaroo offers a plethora of activities, most of which are located in Centeroo, the middle of the grounds.  The grounds include food, clothing and merchandise vendors, art and artist’s tents, a beer fest tent with beer from over 20 breweries, a 24-hour air conditioned cinema tent, craft and exercise tents, a “kidz jam” tent for children and a 40-foot high, 175-foot long water slide. Attendees also have the opportunity to do yoga every morning, as well as have their hair washed and styled at the Garnier Fructis salon.

Some students that attended this year were bothered by all the activities.

“I didn’t like how you felt they were always trying to make money off of you,” Jaqueline Jenkins, a senior majoring in public relations, said. “It was just very public and commercialized for a music festival, but it’s definitely worth it.”

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