By now, many of us have seen the expose Netflix and Hulu documentaries on the now infamous Fyre Festival that took place in April 2017.
If you’re not familiar, let me sum it up for you. Fyre Festival was a failed “luxury music festival” that was highly promoted by big name Instagram influencers and supermodels like Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid.
While the event marketing for Fyre festival utilized effective strategies to create buy-in for their audience of young and wealthy music-lovers, the festival was ultimately a complete flop. During the Fyre Festival's inaugural weekend, the event experienced problems related to security, food, accommodations, medical services and artist relations. Instead of the luxury villas and gourmet meals for which festival attendees paid thousands of dollars, they received prepackaged sandwiches and FEMA tents.
The founders of the festival were subject to over $100 million in class action lawsuits in addition to millions in damages and even criminal convictions. The music festival put the marketing tactics of all music festivals under extreme scrutiny in the aftermath.
Music festival marketers must now examine their own strategies and determine if they are not only effective, but also ethical. Continue reading for detailed tips on how to market your music festival to sell tickets and build the brand.
Music festival marketing strategies
- Use targeted data to reach an audience and convert to ticket sales.
- Partner with brands, performers, and affiliates for increased awareness and to build interest.
- Expand reach beyond your state or region.
- Make it fun by harnessing people’s desire to share their experience.
Music festival marketing
Marketing your music festival is a lot like marketing an event. Your biggest goals are to get people in the door and to build awareness for the brand. Unfortunately, consumers have their guard up around music festivals following the Fyre Festival scandal, so you need to be deliberate in the ways you choose to market your event.
A good place to start is using tracking links for everything on your website. Comparing this with Google Analytics data will tell you where your audience is coming from and what they are coming for. This can be combined with audience segmentation and retargeting people who are most likely to convert and buy tickets to the event.
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Partner with brands and performers
A music festival is one of the best opportunities for lasting marketing partnerships.
Fyre Festival successfully utilized influencer marketing, however, it did this in a way that was misleading and deceptive to the public. Any brand wishing to enlist influencers must lay out clear expectations of the influencers, and the influencers must disclose to their audiences that they are partnering with a brand. In the years following Fyre Festival, platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook have put more effort in creating tools for influencers to disclose their partnerships.
These mutually beneficial partnerships can go beyond influencers though. Performers especially want their fans to be able to come see them at festivals, and will generally share information about your festival through social media, emails, or radio appearances. Take advantage of this and provide artists and brands with all the tools they need to engage with a broad audience.
Expand your reach
Festival-goers are not shy when it comes to traveling for their favorite music events. Use your money wisely and cast a wide net. Go the extra step and take into account the geo-tagged data for where your performer’s fans live and target those cities or countries.
Like any event, it’s important to make sure you have the infrastructure in place for people from anywhere.
Make it fun
Marketing a music festival should aim to please the audience and provide incentive for them to buy tickets and bring their friends. The best way to do this is by creating an event that is fun and provides opportunities for festival guests to share that fun with their networks.
Each festival needs to cultivate it’s brand. Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza are all huge music festivals that instantly bring an image to mind. Create Snapchat geofilters, livestream performer’s sets, or install an art piece people will want to post a photo of can help expand your brand far beyond the people attending your festival and grow the show even bigger in the years to follow.
The show must go on
Fyre Festival unfortunately cast an ugly shadow on the culture of music festivals, but using these strategies will help keep you effective and ethical. Whether you’re a small folk music festival or a huge multi-weekend EDM event, it’s more important than ever to be honest in your marketing and build trust with your audience and partners.