If you’ve been missing Coachella and other music festivals, it might still be a while before we can attend one of them again, sadly. The COVID-19 virus is still mutating, so we can’t risk being in packed places yet. Hence, what we can only do for now is to reminisce about our epic festival experiences. But have you ever wondered how music festivals are organized?
These events are organized by large companies and live music promoters. Music festivals have a rich history, dating back to ancient Greece. Music festivals throughout history involved competitions in music, arts, and sports, which isn’t far from how we celebrate them today. But of course, modern music festivals are much more jubilant, not to mention crawling with celebrities.
If you’re curious about the comings and goings of organizing music festivals, here’s what happens behind the scenes:
1. The Organizers Start with a Goal
The goal of a music festival isn’t to gather people and let them take pretty pictures in pretty outfits. Though social media has also influenced the theme of music festivals, their goals go beyond that. For example, if your company wants to promote indie musicians, your music festival should include popular and budding indie musicians. Pop stars like Ariana Grande and Adele won’t be a good fit for your agenda, although they’d help boost attendance.
2. Organizers Scout for Bookers
As you start making a list of artists to invite, you’d also scout for the best booker. Bookers are agents who help promoters or companies book artists for a performance. You can also get in touch with the artists themselves if they happen to book their own gigs. Indie bands are often one of those types of artists.
If you know an artist personally, chances are you still have to follow protocol, which is to talk to their agent first. You’ll negotiate fees and other details associated with the performance with the agent. If an artist is willing to perform at your event for free, that’s a different story. But generally speaking, organizers go through the booking agents first.
3. Obtaining Sponsorship
Music festivals cost a lot of money to organize. But they are primarily financed by sponsors. For this reason, this might be the first step you need to take if you’d organize your own music festival. You need the money first, so sponsors are crucial.
Sponsors are the brands and companies that are promoted during the festival. During intermissions, you’d see their logos flashed on the screen. Some may even sell their goods in the venue. As such, sponsoring a music festival is a marketing opportunity for companies. But even so, it’s not easy to make a company fund your festival. They want to be sure that they’ll benefit from your event, too. Hence, scouting for sponsors is a critical early step because, without them, festivals won’t come to life.
4. Legal Matters
Music festivals are also subject to laws and regulations. Since they’re typically held in a public venue, organizers get in touch with city hall staff to reserve that venue. You have to do this early on because city halls tend to make a lot of last-minute requests, which would be a nightmare to deal with days before the festival.
In addition, music festivals should be insured. This will allow you to pay back the investors and ticket buyers in case the event gets canceled. Without insurance, buyers and investors can’t get a refund, painting you in a bad light. That is what happened to the infamous Fyre Festival, a hyped music festival that didn’t take place. Its organizer, Billy MacFarland, told investors that they have a right to a payout if the event gets canceled, when in fact, he didn’t secure any cancellation insurance policies for Fyre Festival.
That festival might’ve been an outright scam, but still, you have to be careful when issuing claims. Even if you’re following the law, investors and ticket buyers could assume otherwise if you made a small legal mistake.
5. Venue Design
When the logistics, artists, and legal matters have been settled, it’s time to handle logistics once more, this time for the venue design. You’d need a stage set for the festival, which warrants an industrial scaffolding rental, audio/visual equipment, and stage lights. The attendees will require refreshments, so you need to allocate areas for food and drink sellers. The festival’s theme should be seen in the design too, so you’d need decorations.
These may all sound fun, but in reality, organizing a music festival is taxing. It requires excellent attention to detail, good time management skills, and good people skills. The festival is a publicity stunt for your company, so it should be perfect and unforgettable for everyone.