Future of the Festival

Photo: themusic.com.au

Are you an avid festival head? Well, if you are the person that can let summer pass without heading to your favourite music festival, then sit down, because we are about to time travel into the future of Australian music festivals.

With the death of popular Australian music festivals like Soundwave, Future Music, Big Day Out and Stereosonic and the immense advent of live-streaming – what does this mean for the future of Australia’s beloved music festival?

According to Eventbrite Australia and New Zealand (Eventbrite ANZ), last year alone, 91 per cent of Australian millennials (aged 18-34) attended a live event.

Eventbrite ANZ Managing Director Phil Silverstone says there is a growing desire among young Australians to engage in live experiences.

“This growing preference for live experiences is being driven by a strong desire to connect with people, our communities and the world.

“This is a generation choosing to spend their money to create lifelong memories instead of accumulating stuff,” Mr Silverstone said.

For many Australians, music festivals are a serious investment.

According to Eventbrite ANZ, Australian hardcore festival-goers will spend around $358 per ticket.

“Hardcore festival-goers are no different from serious sport fans, they’re passionate and consider the ticket price an investment.

“What’s more, the hardcore festival-goer is willing to throw down on an upgraded experience,” Mr Silverstone said.

And these experiences aren’t cheap, last year VIP passes to Coachella started at $899 for each weekend.

Despite the exorbitant cost, people are still willing to buy into the experience, particularly hardcore festival-goers.

What about the rise of technology?

As technology inevitably rises, infiltrating into every aspect of our daily lives, this raises the question of what effect will this have for the future of the festival?

Losing big festivals like Stereosonic and the Big Day Out over the years has demonstrated that annually organising, funding and managing a festival is no easy task.

Fortunately, technology has actually made it a whole lot easier for the industry, particularly when it comes to managing festivals, customer engagement and marketing.

“Typically, music festivals were logistical nightmares.

“Now, it’s more simple and cost-effective to ticket and manage an event, as everything can be done through an app.

“Organisers can easily release tickets, track who’s attending, who’s buying what and when, and can target their marketing and sales to more personalized campaigns,” Mr Silverstone said.

Technology has also heavily influenced how people engage with festivals.

Undoubtedly for many of us, it’s often impossible not to take a photo with friends whilst enjoying a festival and share it on social media.

According to Eventbrite ANZ, over half of all hardcore festival-goers post what they’re doing on Facebook and Instagram during a festival.

“Leveraging technology across these channels of marketing, as well as commerce is vital for the future of festivals,” Mr Silverstone said.

For example, Eventbrite organisers can now integrate their ticketing automatically into their Facebook event page enticing attendees to buy without leaving the site or app.

But nowadays, you don’t need to fork out hundreds of dollars to enjoy a festival with the sudden rise of live-streaming.

Although live-streaming sounds pretty amazing, could it potentially harm attendance rates in the future?

For iconic US music festival Coachella, it’s actually done the complete opposite.

Since 2011, Coachella organisers have successfully live-streamed the festival globally through platforms like YouTube ensuring that anyone, anywhere can get a taste of the festival.

According to StubHub data, in Coachella’s live-streaming 2011 debut, tickets sold out in less than 3 days, and the following year all tickets were sold in just a few hours.

At a glance, virtual attendance is not only beneficial for those who can’t attend but can actually drive more interest in real attendance.

Many Australian music festival organisers are even considering using live-streaming as a potential marketing tool.

Beyond the Valley Festival Director Nicholas Greco said live-streaming is something his team have been heavily investigating.

“It’s something we’ve been looking into heavily, if anything it becomes a major marketing tool,” Mr Greco said.

Beyond the Valley festival is also another prime example of where the future of Australian music festivals is heading, that is, the rise of the ‘boutique music festival’.

Mr Silverstone said that being the biggest festival no longer means the best.

For example, some of Eventbrite’s biggest ticket sales over recent years have actually been for boutique festivals, such as the Rainbow Serpent, Beyond the Valley and Rhythm & Vines in New Zealand.

“The concept of boutique festivals where attendance is capped as a good strategy,

“Organisers can invest in quality acts and vendors, and create a much more personalised festival experience for each attendee,” Mr Silverstone said.

Beyond the Valley is a prime example of this new boutique experience which seeks to go beyond the music, fostering a more immersive and inclusive experience.

Alongside a killer line-up, the festival features a collection of art installations, sculptures, boutique bars, gourmet food trucks and even morning yoga classes.

But getting the festival off the ground in 2014 was far from easy.

“That year [2014] was crazy for us, sleepless nights and drama after drama, but we had a solid team around us and it helped build the foundations for what the festival is today,” Mr Greco said.

For Mr Greco and his team, the festival has exceeded their expectations with its dramatic growth over such a short time period.

“We came from an events background, and we spotted a massive gap in the market for a boutique camping festival over New Year’s which caters for a broad range of genres [music],

“We always dreamt big, and Beyond the Valley has definitely exceeded our expectations, to become a must attend event was definitely a dream for us,” he said.

So, where does this leave us? Where exactly are we heading when it comes to the future of music festivals down under?

Well, so it may seem like the future of music festivals could soon be through a computer screen, but this doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom.

But nothing beats the ‘real’ experience, and by ‘real’ I mean that feeling of being fully immersed in the energy of a crowd singing in unison, as one.

However, there will be times when we just simply can’t afford that excessively expensive concert ticket or, we’re lying on our death bed beside a flimsy box of tissues … well at least live-streaming will be there to save the day.


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