The past decade has seen the resurgence of music festivals all across the country. 2014 is the 10 year anniversary of the ubiquitous Coachella Music Festival in Indio, CA; but it wasn’t the first and is certainly not the last. In any given year you can find Bonnaroo, Stagecoach, Lollapalooza, Wakarusa, Governors Ball and so many more. It feels like there is a festival for any genre of music, in any geographic location and for any age group. In fact, the relatively new Bottlerock festival in Napa, CA was designed specifically for the aging demographic of festival attendees who no longer want to car camp, but rather stay in upscale lodging, visit wineries and eat great food all while listening to their favorite bands perform. The impeding issue to a strong ROI is that the circuit is rather incestuous and often times the bands overlap in lineups. Bookers and promoters try to appeal to a wider demographic of attendees not only for ticket sales but also to court brands into sponsorships.
Here in San Francisco, the release of the Outside Lands lineup is always fraught with anticipation even though the bands are playing at least 2-3 other festivals and attendees will be hearing them multiple times. This makes new and exciting news, old news very quickly. With each lineup released, the curiosity about the lineup for another festival dissipates. So how do festivals who have similar talent, ticket prices and attendees distinguish itself in this crowded marketplace and actually make money? Outside Lands is held in early August in San Francisco. It doesn’t have the weather of southern California, the grit of NYC or the twang of Tennessee. It has fog, chilly evenings and the impossibility of getting a cab to bring you to your apartment or hotel after the 10pm (strict) music deadline every night. What is does have is the access to social media evangelists and unique, out of the box marketing tactics that work. OSL knows that to court an audience, especially one with a younger demographic, social media is imperative to peak interest and drive ticket sales. This year, the lineup is released on April 8th, 2014 and dovetails with regular admission tickets which is the bulk of their revenue. They aim to drive interest and curiosity in the week leading up to the announcement, instead of just making the announcement and hoping the talent does the marketing and sales for them.
In 2014, Outside Lands used their mass following on Instagram (almost 40,000 followers) to release “clues” about their lineup. They developed the hashtag #outsidelandsclue and have been leaking cut off shots of album covers and pictures each day in an effort to increase anticipation and sell out of 3 day passes as soon as possible. In addition to running this program via Instagram, OSL has been posting articles to Twitter about various artists as well as hosting the live Instagram feed on their website which drives interest parties back to the shopping cart. This is a risky, yet ahead of the curve media plan for OSL, since they have realized that print advertising just doesn’t work and that the demographic they appeal to is very adept at ignoring digital messaging. Now, there is a global buzz about the lineup. Editorial teams are writing blogs, and OSL is getting so much more value in premium content and earned media. Well played OSL, well played.Read More