As far as music festivals go, we've come a very long way since the days of Woodstock. Music festivals have rapidly grown in popularity over the past couple decades and have evolved to become much more than just a string of concerts. These days, people aren't just attending festivals strictly for the music; it's about the entire experience. Sure, the music is still the main focus, but now attendees can see their favorite bands while simultaneously shopping, lounging, and indulging in various foods and drinks. These festivals now have various facets; they’re a concert, fashion show, foodie event, and social gathering all in one. Brands have become aware of the growing popularity of the music festival scene and are leveraging these events to market themselves and their products in an extremely effective way. If you're wondering why and how brands are marketing the music festival experience, we’re here to enlighten you.
First, let's talk about the evolution of music festivals.
The biggest change that has contributed to the popularity and evolution of music festivals is technology. Technology has increased the awareness and accessibility of music and events. The Internet gives people access to bands, their music, and their concerts like never before. Social media platforms have now become one of the top ways that individuals find out about music festivals, whether it's through the festival themselves, sharing by friends, or promoted advertisements. Social media has brought FOMO (fear of missing out) front and center with the addition of live streams, Snapchat, and Instagram. 30% of those who watch a livestream of an event will later attend in person. Did you see how much fun Sally was having at Bonnaroo? There's no way you're missing out on that next year. Technology has brought an all new sense of connectivity to the music festival scene. Whether it's connecting with fans, bands, or brands, it's changed the game forever.
So, why are music festivals an effective place to market your brand?
- There are more than 800 music festivals throughout the United States, and those festivals draw 32 million music fans each year. That's a lot of potential customers.
You're able to target a specific demographic (typical festival age range is around 18-34) in the same place for multiple days, who have some sort of disposable income. Hey, they did buy these (many times overpriced) tickets after all.
You can target even more specific people based on the type of festival. Hippie brand? Check out Bonnaroo. More bougie? Try Coachella. After all, 81% of millennials attend music festivals specifically to engage with a like-minded community.
If you know anything about inbound marketing, you'll know the key is to meet people where they're at. It makes sense in the eyes of your audience that “cool” brands would be marketing at a “cool” place a.k.a. a music festival.
How are brands marketing the music festival experience?
The most popular way that brands market during festivals is with pop-up shops or merch booths where festival-goers can buy/try products. Many brands even give out practical items like fans, water bottles, or koozies for free or in return for a sign-up (extra points if the item is branded with your company's logo). This is a fantastic way to get people to stop by your booth and get to know your brand. Who doesn't love free stuff? These people are also somewhat detached from reality (they've been at a big party for a couple days), so they're more likely to spontaneously spend on your products, especially if they can use it during the festival.
People love a good experience. Brands have started offering "experiences" to attendees such as silent discos, VIP lounge areas, and Instagram-worthy photo backdrops. Not only are these cool and fun ways to get people involved with your brand, but they also make great content for people to share on their social media.
Sweepstakes and Contest
"Share this post on social media and you could win tickets to this festival!" Sweepstakes, contests, and giveaways are great opportunities to get your brand out there and are basically a way to get FREE promotions. Again, people love free stuff.
Brand Ambassadors, Street Teams, and Influencers
Many brands and companies have their very own groups of ambassadors and street teams to promote their products and brands for them at events. These individuals are "paid" with free swag and usually consist of people who were fans of the brand before they became an official ambassador. Brands are also leveraging social media influencers to promote their products at festivals. This is a great way to get your brand name out to new audiences, but be warned; hiring an influencer isn't always sunshine and rainbows, so make sure to do your research beforehand.
As you can see, the world of music festivals has changed quite a bit over the past few decades. With the addition of technology and social media, these festivals have evolved into something much more than just a concert series. Music festivals have become an overall experience for attendees that brands have piggy-backed onto to meet, connect, and engage with their audience where they're at.
Interested in hearing more about the world of music festivals from a couple millennials themselves? You're in luck! By clicking the button below, you can listen to a bonus episode of the Don't F**k It Up with Don Crow podcast where we dive even deeper into the music festival scene to answer the question, "Do Music Festivals Exist Just So We Can Post About Them?"