The history of music festival events goes back thousands of years in time, starting in Ancient Greece during the Pythian Games at Delphi. The Pythian Games at Delphi were essentially an outdoor festival of dance and music and art held every four years, dedicated to the Greek god Apollo. Similar types of events have been observed throughout many different cultures throughout history, for example the Scottish Mods of the eleventh century, and remain common place to this day. However, they have evolved into something different in these modern times, and would be unrecognizable to those who celebrated different music festivals throughout history. The modern music industry is a very different system to any that had previously existed, and as such, the ways in which the industry is represented are drastically different as well.
While some form of these types of these events have taken place over the last few hundred years, those types of music festivals were all religious in nature. It was not until the nineteen fifties that the first secular music festivals began to take place, and evolved into the kinds of music festivals that we see today. The first example of this we have is the Newport Jazz Festival, which took place in Rhode Island in 1954. More than ten thousand people showed up to this Jazz festival, which featured some of the most famous musicians of the time like Billie Holiday. Then in the 1960s, when rock music was becoming dominant in the pop culture, the Monterey International Pop Festival took place. Essentially a predecessor to Woodstock, the Monterey International Pop Festival has been largely overlooked by most individuals today. These two events, while overshadowed by the notoriety of Woodstock, laid the ground work for what we see today.
Throughout the seventies and eighties, rock music remained the most popular genre in American Culture, albeit in different forms. However, this began to change during the late 1990s with the advent of electronic dance music. Instead of hair metal and punk rock, the young people wanted to listen to this electronic dance music instead, and the kind of music played at music festivals has never been the same since. While rock music in all its forms remains popular to this day, newer genres have eclipsed it in popularity by a significant amount, such as rap music and dubstep music. Instead of Woodstock, the new generation has Lollapalooza and Coachella.
The popularity of these music festivals has been steadily increasing as time has gone by, leading to several different cottage industries popping up around them and local economies being drastically impacted by these events. As such, it has become a status symbol of sorts for a local area to be the host of a music festival, and there is a certain amount of prestige for those who organize these events. However, there have also been a number of significant failures that have cropped up as well. The most well known example of this was the Fyre Music Festival that took place several years ago, which bankrupted the man who tried to organize it, and led to his subsequent arrest on fraud charges. As technology has continued to develop, live music has become less and less popular. Concerts and music festivals simply do not have the cultural significance that they used to, and as such the future of music festivals looks questionable.