Rick Farman, co-founder of Superfly
Music festivals are on a roll. Each year, more and more fans are rockin’ to the bands, diggin’ the on-site activations and sharing the experience with friends. Nielsen’s latest Insights Report on Music Festivals (2015) puts the number of people who attend at least one music festival in the U.S. each year at approximately 32 million, nearly half (46 percent) of them between the ages of 18 and 34. What’s more—they travel, spend more on music than the general population and use social media more than the average American. All of which adds up to some pretty sweet music for brand marketers looking to connect with this desirable demographic, especially as new festivals come onto the scene.
Event Marketer asked Rick Farman, co-founder of Superfly, the New York City-based organization behind San Francisco’s Outside Lands and rural Tennessee’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, for his take on the growing music fest phenomenon. And he should know. Superfly in October launched the Lost Lake Festival in Phoenix, and next September will produce a new three-day festival in Denver. Farman also shared his insights on how festivals are evolving and ways sponsors can tap into the fans’ passions there.
Event Marketer: What’s driving the explosive growth in the music festival business?
Rick Farman: A lot of this coincides with the explosion of access to music through digital, which gives people access to the entirety of music for next to nothing, or a very small fee. They are listening to playlists, they are listening to a little bit of this, a little of that, across different genres and styles and so, it is directly correlated to the access that people have to different types of music and how the festival format coincides or fits that desire, that demand of music listeners directly.
EM: How does social and mobile play into this growth?
RF: With social, people are able to share their festival experiences more easily. They’re able to create a community and conversation around these experiences. The next part is the mobile part, where all of a sudden people are going and are able to create content at these things. The residual effect of that is the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), where people who aren’t there feel like they are missing out.
Feeding into all of this is their digital lives at work, at school, at home, where they spend so much time connected, looking at screens, having virtual conversations as opposed to physical conversations or physical interactions with people, or sharing physical moments with people. People want to do something that is tangible, something that is real and physical and that is immersive, deeper and truly a real experience.
EM: How have festival locations evolved? Are they more urban? More rural?
RF: There is both. New Orleans Jazz Fest and Milwaukee Summer Fest are good examples of city festivals that have been around for a really long time. The city festival model is becoming a little more desirable just because it’s more …read more