Coachella, Lollapalooza, SXSW, Moogfest, Bonnaroo… do these sound familiar to you? They’re all popular music festivals that (sometimes) include camping by your car, spending the day outside walking under the hot sun from venue to venue, listening to live music and meeting new people over the course of a few days. After the festival has run its course, there’s a sense of community between the fans that have all attended the festival, as if they have been a part of something bigger than themselves.
Though music festivals in the similar strain to Woodstock are not new– some dating back to the 1960s– the way they are branded has now changed. They are now branded as experiences towards millennial, and as a generation that highly values experiences over tangible objects, millennials are willing to spend more money and travel time to achieve their goals and wants.
Out of the 32 million people that attended music festivals in the past year, 14.7 million of them were millennials, and they are the most sought after demographic in this industry.
Millennials aren’t the first generation to discover music festivals, seeing as Woodstock began in 1969, Lollapalooza in 1991, Coachella in 1999 and Bonnaroo in 2002. But millennials are the first ones changing how music festivals are marketed and have helped music festivals become an economy based on experiences.
A driving force for millennials and the rise of the music festival is their love and want for unique, curated experiences that they don’t get to experience in their daily lives. Many festivals, such as Coachella and Lollapalooza, sell out within hours of when they began to sell their tickets.
Social media, which is especially popular among those between the ages of 18-25, plays a huge factor in how music festivals are branded and have gained more access to a wider audience. With social media, the music festival, their sponsors and attendees can showcase their experiences at a moments notice – sharing on Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. Many music festivals start months in advance with their advertisements over social media by announcing the lineup as bands join, when ticket sales will become available, etc. The organizers of the event can build audience, influence people to attend and give out information about their event while spending little money.
Social media is important both to millennials and brand sponsors. Scott Carlis, AEG Live’s Vice President of Digital, Social media and Marketing explained that, “It’s not just in terms of capturing those FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and #YOLO moments, but 70% of respondents told us it actually improves the live event experience.” [http://www.billboard.com/articles/business/6634345/momentum-aeg-live-study-music-festivals-brands].
Essentially, people love sharing what they’re doing with others and letting them know what a great time they’re having. The documentation of their experiences is just as important as experiencing them. Seeing and being able to posts about what they’re doing encourages millennials to show up, share and engage, which is an important force behind the experience economy.
A couple hundred dollars to see a hundred or so bands over a three-day period doesn’t seem like such a bad deal, especially when you’re paying for the experience as well as the event. Millennials want to spend money making memories and sharing them with close friends and family. 8 out of 10 millennials chose to attend live events such as parties, concerts, festivals and performing arts in the past year to create real-life, shareable and personalized experiences rather than buying a material item.
Millennials aren’t the only ones loving musical festivals; bands do, too, especially lesser-known bands that become discovered by hundreds of people at one time at a festival, gaining exposure and success quickly through social media. Many bands make more money off playing festivals than they do touring,
Music festivals have proved sustainability over the past few decades, and according to their increase in revenue and attendance with the millennial population, they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.