Music Festivals Generating Buzz
This coming weekend will see U.S. music festivals in Colorado, California and Oregon, according to Music Festival Junkies, a website tracking festivals in North America and three other continents. (If you’ll be in Belgium and like alternative music, don’t miss Pukkelpop 2015.) The number of music festivals keeps growing; the industry is making headlines for its popularity and transformational impact on the live music industry. Sampling from recent news coverage, plus offering our own background, we’ll offer three perspectives on music festivals: for promoters, fans and production staff.
For Promoters, a Turf War. The $6 billion North American concert industry is “tilting toward” music festivals and away from arenas, stadiums and amphitheaters, wrote Neil Shah in The Wall Street Journal last month. Promoters like AEG Live and Live Nation are competing to buy successful U.S. festivals, many of which rose to prominence in the 2000s. AEG Live now generates one-third of its income from festivals, up from 10% in 2010. Live Nation claims to own four of the top five U.S. festivals by attendance.
Turf wars are motivated by money – successful weekend festivals can rake in $5 million to $10 million for promoters, according to the WSJ. (This compares with $40,000 to $45,000 profit for a single sold-out show by an artist commanding $50 to $75 per ticket.) Next year, AEG Live expects to launch three large festivals in the U.S.; SFX Entertainment, which focuses on dance-music events, acquired 20+ festivals and event companies worldwide the past few years.
For Fans, Sampling and Sharing. Nielsen’s Audience Insights Report on Music Festivals, published this spring, found that nearly half of festival fans were aged 18-34, considered the demographic sweet spot for marketers trying to reach Millennials. This generation is accustomed to sampling a variety of music through streaming services like Spotify. Festivals offer a variety of acts, enabling similar sampling at a relatively affordable price compared to separate concerts. And festivals engender loyalty: on average, fans travel 903 miles to attend; one-third of fans attend more than one festival annually. Festival fans are over two-thirds more likely than the general U.S. population to engage with social media channels like Snap Chat, Vine and Tumblr; when these fans are attending festivals, their friends hear – and see – all about it!
For Production Staff, Foundation for Success. While mega-festivals receive the most attention, there are also countless smaller, community-based festivals sprinkled across the country, some focused on music, others not. For any size festival, the right event staging is a crucial foundation for success.
“Staging is very important, because whatever your entertainment, people are also looking at your stage, including the backdrop, lights and sponsor banners,” says Jill Korsok, recreation program manager for the City of Mentor, Ohio. “Your stage is the perfect opportunity to design a memorable space.” Korsok continues, “I think a mobile stage is the coolest thing, although we’ve not used one yet. It would really give wonderful flexibility for different locations and stage sizes.”
Because safety must be a top priority, production staff should choose a staging supplier carefully – whether for mobile stage or staging platforms. Wenger has built staging platforms for more than 50 years and uses third-party engineering firms to validate performance specifications. Wenger also requests testing beyond load rating capacities, involving both static and live loads. Along with strength and durability, choose staging that’s user-friendly to minimize handling time and related expenses.
…And For You? Attend any music festivals this summer? We’d love to hear your comments and see your photos. Visit our Facebook page to post!