Finally: after two long years of blessed corona silence, the ultimate high mass of dance music breaks loose with Tomorrowland. This time, the sanctuary in Belgium will welcome 600,000 visitors from 200 countries (!) over three weekends.
And that is certainly not a superfluous luxury, given the past loss years. A look into the accounts of the most popular festival in the world. 'If I am convinced of one thing, it is that we will continue to organize Tomorrowland ourselves for the rest of our lives.
DJ Tiësto who at the last minute prefers Leuven's Marktrock to Tomorrowland? Today that seems unthinkable, but in the summer of 2005 it actually happened. It ensured that the very first edition of the dance festival was left with a serious hangover. For example, Antwerp resident Manu Beers (42) — together with brother Michiel (46) the organizer of the dance festival — told us himself a few years ago in one of his extremely scarce interviews. “For the first edition in 2005, we hoped for at least 15,000 visitors. Months in advance, Michiel, I and our small team had covered almost all chip shops and pita shops in Flanders with posters. To end up seeing only 9,000 people show up.” 8,700, to be more precise. As a result, the Beers brothers — who previously organized Antwerp student parties such as 'Antwerp is Burning' — suddenly looked up to a loss of 127,900 euros after that first edition. “We also made a loss in 2006 and 2007. Perhaps a lot of electronic music lovers had yet to get used to the idea that they should party not at night, but during the day.”
et Manu and Michiel stubbornly believed in their festival fairy tale. The first turning point came in 2009 when headliner Moby managed to attract no fewer than 90,000 mainly Belgian visitors to Boom and green figures were finally written with more than 377,000 euros in profit. But the international breakthrough came especially in 2012. Although Tomorrowland had already welcomed the maximum number of 180,000 revelers in the summer of 2011 — the festival had then expanded from two to three days for the first time — during the international presale on Saturday 7 April 2012 something wonderful. In just one second — you read that right: 1 second — the 100,000 tickets still available flew out the door.
On Saturday 7 April, 2 million people worldwide were ready for one of the 100,000 tickets, the definitive international breakthrough of Tomorrowland.
Even Ed Sheeran, Coldplay or — if you will — a full Rock Werchter never sold out as quickly as Tomorrowland did back then. And what made everything even more impressive: just like that, 2 million people on this planet had been sitting at their computers, just to be able to get hold of one of those 'golden' tickets. “Blissful, crazy and actually incomprehensible”, said Manu Beers at the time. “Word of mouth is the main 'culprit'. Anyone who discovers a new Italian restaurant and has had a great meal there, wants to tell 10 friends about it as soon as possible and that's how it went with Tomorrowland. Each of the 60,000 day visitors last year (referring to 2011, ed.) was so impressed that he or she immediately made 10 friends enthusiastic to come along this year. And each of those 10 excited another 10 others via Facebook. That way you get a chain reaction, with eventually 2 million people wanting a ticket.” On that one Saturday morning in April, Tomorrowland became the most popular festival in the world for good. Because the 1.9 million dance fans who missed a ticket at the time, swore to themselves that they would be there the following year, or if necessary the following year and so on.
Since then, Tomorrowland has sold out effortlessly every summer, each time good for a turnover of millions. When this high mass of dance music was spread over two weekends for the first time in 2014 — and this to celebrate its tenth edition — the six festival days together yielded 360,000 visitors, more than 71 million euros in turnover and 3.1 million euros in profit. . That clearly left a craving for more: the double weekend became standard from 2017 onwards. Whereby, also by expanding the site capacity, 400,000 visitors and easily 100 million euros in turnover could be welcomed every summer. Each edition accounts for around 4 to 5 million euros in profit. An admonishing blow from the tax authorities already followed in 2018, according to the website 'The Richest Belgians': “A thorough check resulted in a one-off fine of 8 million euros. As a result, the 2018 financial year ended with a loss of 5 million euros.” And when the corona ghost showed up and all music festivals had to be cancelled, the Tomorrowland fairytale seemed to be in danger for a while. Suddenly in July 2020 you could actually hear the chirping of birds in Boom and the surrounding area, and that would be no different in the following 2021.
Tomorrowland has an agreement with the province of Antwerp until 2033 to use De Schorre in Boom
As a result, Tomorrowland's turnover visibly shrivelled, despite a virtual edition. After the 112.8 million euros annual turnover in 2019, it plummeted to 22.2 million euros in the 2020 financial year. Good for a loss of more than 5.7 million euros. And in 2021 the numbers got even worse: then turnover reportedly fell by no less than 95% and the loss would amount to around 20 million euros. Together, the two corona summers at Tomorrowland resulted in a loss of around 25 million euros. But see: by breaking the absolute record of 600,000 festival visitors with three festival weekends this month, the festival will undoubtedly also make a solid catch up in terms of turnover, possibly up to 140 million euros. Also in the longer term, Tomorrowland is chiseled: until at least 2033, the province of Antwerp allows the province of Antwerp to use De Schorre in Boom two weekends a year.
In the meantime, the story of the Beers brothers themselves has also been definitively added to the fairy tale book. With a capital of 5,400,000 euros, they are currently in 659th place on the list of 'The Richest Belgians'. Although that seems like a gross underestimation, given that the brothers are 100% owners of their dance festival and that is now worth significantly more. At the end of 2012, Manu and Michiel already rejected an American takeover bid of 100 million dollars (or the same amount of euros, ed.) . While the value of the festival has only increased in the meantime. But, as Manu Beers once confided to us: “If I am convinced of one thing, it is that we will continue to organize Tomorrowland ourselves for the rest of our lives. We love our baby too much to sell it to third parties.”
Source: HLN 15/07 via License2publish