There were no brands attached to the ill-fated Fyre Festival, the “luxury” millennial music experience that abruptly aborted its mission in the Bahamas in April due to lack of infrastructure and funds, among many other issues. (Phew.) Nonetheless, the viral story surrounding the event shined a spotlight on the rapid growth of the festival space, its influence and how marketers should approach a festival partnership, especially a first-time one.
We tapped Rich Goodstone of Superfly, who founded Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival (Manchester, TN) and Outside Lands (San Francisco) for a few best practices for marketers looking to carve out a presence in a festival property. Superfly is launching a new festival, Lost Lake, Oct. 20-22 in Phoenix, AZ, that will combine music, culinary and the arts scene. Here are a few of Goodstone’s tips.
ESTABLISH YOUR GOALS AHEAD OF TIME
Music festivals aren’t always about a single genre or experience. Many are multi-faceted cultural events that speak to a variety of passion points from fashion to food to hip-hop to folk. For brands, it’s not necessarily knowing “whether” they fit into a festival property, it’s “where” and “how.” Who is your audience? Are you looking to create content? Do you have a specific number of interactions to meet? From there, you can review the opportunity with your legal team, ask many (many) questions, and then, ask for everything up front from the organizers.
“Sit down with a festival property and they should be able to provide you with a list of everything you can do in the same way a media outlet can: Here are all the benefits we provide, here are our social channels, here’s what we can do promotionally, here’s what you can do on-site,” Goodstone says.
DETERMINE THE VIBE OF THE FESTIVAL
Figure out what the personality of the festival is, and most importantly, what the experience will be for attendees and how they’re meant to feel. Bonnaroo is famous for its fun-loving spirit and “high-fives” (a tradition at the event venue known as The Farm). It has a community culture. You might look at a festival like Coachella today and determine that fashion and celebrity culture dominate that scene. Festivals are a rich landscape for content so make sure the “backdrop” makes sense for your brand.
“For our events, we try to communicate a look and feel, bring to life a story we’re trying to tell and a theme of why this exists, why we’re doing it, and present a vibe and a code of ethics that comes through to attendees,” Goodstone says.
RESEARCH THE VENUE AND THE CITY
It may seem obvious, but take a hard look at the venue. Look at the major roadways serving the event location, whether it has access to water and sanitation, and then, does it provide the right infrastructure. Find out the event’s overall safety and emergency plans.
After getting a feel for the “health” of the event and its location, take a look at the surroundings. Has the festival property researched the market and the potential attendee base? Will the festival have a positive impact on the surroundings, or a negative one?
“For us, a similar level of research goes into the market as it does the venue, and one of the reasons we chose to produce Lost Lake in Phoenix is that we found it to be a fascinating city that was lacking in meaningful cultural moments,” Goodstone says. “So we thought we could galvanize the creative community there and build something really special for that market.”
Not for nothing—it’s also the sixth biggest metro area, and Arizona State University is one of the largest colleges in the country. Demand? You got it.
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