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The business behind Kenyan festivals and concerts


Nviiri the Storyteller, Femi One and DJ Xclusive during Beer Festival on 9th October 2022 at Tamasha Bar and Grill in Eldoret.[Edward Kiplimo,Standard]

These final months of 2023 saw Kenyans let their hair down, put on their partying boots and sing and dance the evening away to live performances.

According to a report released exclusively to The Sunday Magazine by Oktobafest communication executives, the beer festival was on a mission to leave a positive social and economic impact, and they broke down the numbers to explain how they did that.

The report says the total number of Oktobafest attendees were over 49,000. Organisers boasted that this number shows the large number of people who came together to share their love for music.

“Oktobafest extended its reach by partnering with 100 outlets across the region. These outlets became valuable partners in the festival's journey. This partnership was not just about commerce; it was about creating collaborative opportunities that extended beyond the event,” the report notes on partnerships, adding that there were 78 vendors who supplied food, beverages and merchandise.

On matters transport, sources noted that there were up to 788 taxi drivers who provided services to and from the venue, and an additional 30 matatus ferrying attendees and service providers.

Artistes and high-profile personalities in the lineup included Tanzanian Bongo music sensation Diamond Platnumz, Uganda’s Emcee Dedan, South Sudan’s John Frog, and local music icons such as Nyashinski, Khaligraph Jones, Mejja, Jua Cali, Nameless, Wakadinali, and Kalamashaka, among others, as reported by Kenyan Vibe.

The VIP season pass for Oktobafest was Sh12,000. The day pass for regular tickets went for Sh2,000, while the regular season pass was Sh5000 as per posters of the festival shared by Tusker on X.

Over at Solfest, which was dubbed ‘The Last Dance’ of the celebrated boy band Sauti Sol, there was not only an emotional goodbye to the celebrated group taking a hiatus but there were also big bucks being spent.

The festival promised to be a true celebration of Sauti Sol’s extraordinary career, and the pricey Sh20,000 VIP tickets were sold out by September, a testament to how eager the fans were for the highly anticipated event.

Tickets for the ‘fan show’, which was on a different date from the VIP one; cost Sh2,500, and attendees would get an exclusive backstage experience for the raised price of Sh6,500.

In an interview with an entertainment site, band members Bien-Aimé Baraza and Savara Mudigi defended the price of the tickets, with Bien saying: "The cost of doing the concert is really expensive as well. We are not trying to take advantage of people. We are giving you 20 years of lives; we have been together for 20 years. That ticket price is worth the 20 years we have been together." 

Market research firm Statista projected that the music events market in Kenya would reach over Sh592 million (US$3.88 million) last year.

Statista reported: “Revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2023-2027) of 6.28 per cent resulting in a projected market volume of over Sh747 million (US$4.95m) by 2027.” [Kirsten Kanja]

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