5 Components Of A Successful Music Festival

In Music Festivals by Emily CedarLeave a Comment

Although there are many moving parts that must come together to put on a successful music festival , few are as essential as the ones that will  create a meaningful experience for attendees. While it is easy to get overwhelmed and distracted by the sea of paperwork relating to permits, safety regulations, and local laws, it is important to remain focused on the bigger picture.   Safety is, of course, a priority, and it is probably a good idea to  abide by the rules of the township or city in which you are holding your festival, however, this post will not focus on the details of safety. This post is more focused on the experience you want your guests to take away with them that motivates them to return next year. These five components will help you to create an authentic experience that will stand out from the heap of summer events that are lined up each year.

1. Great Sponsors

MO POP featured sponsors such as Quicken Loans, Fender, and Sprout. The true hero, however, was Kind, who generously gave away an endless amount of free goodies. From protein and snack bars to sunglasses and sweatbands, this sponsor was a true crowd favorite. People love free stuff, especially when it is practical, useful, or edible. Kind hit the nail on the head in all three categories, and fans couldn’t get enough of their sweet and savory treats.

The lesson: Be conscious of the wants and needs of your target audience. If your event’s goal is to gather the largest number of hipsters possible, it’s important to take dietary restrictions into consideration.

This sponsor choice was not only great for the event creators’ pocketbooks, but it was also great for attendees with dietary restrictions, as some of the bars were dairy free, gluten free, and vegetarian. Apart from the focus on dietary restrictions and allergies, you might want to consider the quality and ideals behind the food you’re bringing in. The largest generation in the United States (millennials) reads labels and tends to feel strong about labels like non-GMO and organic.

The lesson: Be conscious of the wants and needs of your target audience. If your event’s goal is to gather the largest number of hipsters possible, it’s important to take dietary restrictions into consideration.

2. Sweet & Tasty Vendors

Speaking of edible goodness… if Kind bar got a base hit with snacking, the vendors of MO POP hit a home run. Food Truck Alley was host to a diverse range of food carts such as Slows Barbeque, Rolling Stone Wood Fired Pizza, and Treat Dreams! One could enjoy a cheesy, noodle masterpiece at Mac Shack, or indulge in a gourmet hot dog at The Mean Weenie. Vegetarians and vegans were thrilled to order from the Shimmy Shack, whose menu included a variety of exciting meatless and dairy-free options.

Apart from the food, the drinks at Riverside Biergarten were cold, flavorful, and the perfect cure for any sunburn. There was a drink for every taste bud. From Blake’s Hard Cider to Magic Hat and Not Your Father’s Root Beer – there was a little somethin’ somethin’ for everybody.

The lesson: Although it’s nice to have lots of great vendors, be selective in choosing ones that will provide the best options for your target audience. Be mindful of selecting too much of the same thing. Even if your event is geared toward meat-eaters, these carnivores might bring their spouse who happens to be vegetarian. Try to have a few options for those special people that diverge from the majority. Hungry guests are typically not happy guests.

3. A Memorable Brand

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The bands at MO POP were fun, energetic, and unique. The setting of MO POP was fun, energetic, and unique. The MO POP branding was fun, energetic, and… unique. Noticing a pattern yet? The logo, website, and promotional materials reflected the energy of the entire festival. Just by looking at it, one could get a feel for what to expect. By glancing at the MO POP brand, one could guess the types of bands that would be there. Now, I know this sounds like a stretch, but by looking at the colors and intriguing design, I don’t think it would take a graphic designer to guess that AC/DC, or Metallica, or a Screamo band would not be headlining.

The lesson: Your branding should reflect the energy and theme of your festival, while appealing to your target audience.

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Not only did the signage for MO POP complement the setting and the band lineup, it actually enhanced the look and feel of the event. The logo was stamped on everything. This is a good strategy for the festival organizers because attendees will take photos and other promo materials home with them as souvenirs. These act as a constant reminder to guests that MO POP was awesome and they’ll need to buy tickets for next year so that they can experience it all over again. In doing this, you’re not just giving away a guitar pick; you’re giving away a story, a belief.

The lesson: People love feeling like they are a part of something, and they love feeling special. Connecting your guests to a belief, as opposed to a trinket or a toy is a great strategy that will ensure repeat attendees.

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4. Location, Location, Location

Finding the perfect location for your festival doesn’t always mean finding the most stunning place on earth. Some things you should take into consideration are the weather, your surrounding environment, and the number of stages and vendors you anticipate you’ll need. Another somewhat overlooked factor in choosing a venue isthe audience that you’ll draw in. The bands you choose, in general, will greatly correlate to the type of audience that will attend. Do some research and pick a location that is more likely to appeal to your target audience. Are you organizing a folk festival? You might want to consider hosting it in a barnyard or field instead of on a cement parking lot. Will there be heavy metal and rock bands playing? Do your research and study your target audience and their desires.

The lesson: You want your guests to feel a sense of home and belonging, so consider an environment and venue that vibe with the “scene” of your target audience.

While finding the right venue for your festival can be a challenge, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for experimentation. MO POP spent its first two years at Freedom Hill Amphitheater before landing at the 20-acre green oasis known as Detroit’s Riverfront Park. Sometimes, you’re going to have to take what is available and make the best out it. However, view this as a learning opportunity that can benefit you in the future. Take notes: what did you like about your first venue attempt? Were there flaws that detracted from your guests’ experience? Were there flaws that made your life as an event planner a living hell?

The lesson: Don’t be afraid to switch up your venue if your first attempt was an epic fail. People will drive, fly, or walk near and far to see their favorite bands, and won’t forget all about your festival just because next year’s event is scheduled in a new setting.

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5. Bathrooms That Don’t Stink!

Basic principles: have enough and keep them clean. It’s weird how this is so hard to find. Having simple amenities like properly attached toilet seats, fully stocked toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and even a nice mirror, can go a long way in creating a comfortable experience for your guests. It might seem silly, but if you want your guests to buy lots of water and booze, you should be prepared for a constant need for adequate Porta Potties. This doesn’t just mean that quality is important; it means that quantity is also essential. When calculating the number of toilets you’ll need, ask yourself the following questions:

–       Will there be alcohol at the event?
–       Will there be an estimated higher percentage of women to men?
–       How many days/hours will my festival last?
–       What is the maximum number of attendees I will need to accommodate?

The lesson: Don’t be stingy when it comes to your event’s bathroom situation. No matter how awesome the view from the bathroom line might be, if your guests have to stand in line for long periods of time, they will either buy less refreshments from your vendors, or end up missing their favorite band due to wait time. Either way, no one is happy and you will be viewed as not being prepared.  

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In Conclusion

Don’t focus on trying make things perfect the first time around. If you are planning a festival for the first time, realize that there will be aspects of the event that will need further tweaking. Learn from your mistakes and do better next time. When making important decisions, consider the scale of your festival and everything comes along with it. Ask yourself good questions to get good answers that will help you appear prepared and professional to your guests. And remember, there’s always room for a little improvisation!