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How To Launch A Successful Music Festival – MoSo Fest 2012

[ 0 ] June 20, 2012 |

If you’ve noticed a lack or updates to the New Rockstar Philosophy lately it’s primarily been caused by MoSo Fest.

Shortly after coming home from SXSW I was asked to head up the sponsorship and marketing of a fledgling festival in my city called MoSo Fest. This year, with a large sponsorship budget (which I was to make even bigger), the festival had big dreams. A team was assembled headed up by festival director Rich Taylor and we were to make MoSo Fest a global event.

This weekend the whole thing finally happened. Over 50 bands in 7 venues, all with in a 5 block radius. It was quite exhilarating to be experiencing a mini SXSW moment right in my backyard. It was a huge success but not without some failures. So how do you launch a successful music festival. Below I share some thoughts.

  • Get the right team.
    The people are the foundation of your organization. Just like in a band, if you have a shitty drummer, things won’t go well in the long run. Everyone from your artistic director to volunteer co-ordinator need to be capable and engaged individuals to make such a massive undertaking like a music festival work.
  • Get the right angle (niche).
    WHAT’S YOUR ANGLE??? Are you a jazz fest? A dubstep fest? A old timey fiddle fest? Pick an angle (doesn’t even have to be a musical angle. Could be that all the bands have no fathers….. I don’t know). But I do know that one of the reasons MoSo Fest was so successful is that we had a focus on new, mostly unheard, bleeding edge bands. The audience knew that they would find out about new bands because that was our angle from the beginning.
  • Get the right sponsors.
    There are a few huge companies in my city who sponsor a heck of a lot of events similar to MoSo Fest. But because those same companies are so huge, some bands take issue with being asked to be associated with those mammoth companies. So we didn’t go after those sponsors. We wanted to find great local companies (because local was another huge part of our angle).
  • Get the right marketing.
    Know your audience. Know what they do, what they read, where you can get at them. MoSo Fest is all about Mobile and Social Media, so obviously our audience is online. We spent a huge amount of thought on how best to engage our audience. The week before the fest, all the team members changed their Facebook profiles to cool images related to the fest, as well as changing their Facebook header image. Who knows how many more people that caught and reminded.
  • Over saturate the airwaves.
    You’ve heard about the advertising rule of 3 right? Most people need to be hit with a message 3 times before it begins to sink in. We hit them online, in print, local community radio, local TV, and visually around the city with a shit ton of posters. Three weeks out we plastered the city, then 2 weeks out, then the week of the fest we hit the city the hardest. PLUS in each venue, and store front who became a sponsor we threw huge movie sized posters. If you were even mildly aware of local events, then you were aware of MoSo Fest.
  • Make it exclusive.
    One of the biggest obstacles for MoSo Fest was educating the locals about a multi-venue festival. So one of our ideas was to give the Priority Pass holders a better/more exclusive experience than the people who pay at the door (which I know is pretty standard…but still).  When line ups for venues were at their longest, we made sure that people with the red wrist bands (priority pass holders) were able to head straight to the front. We made it a big deal, and made sure that all those waiting in line knew that if they had bought in earlier to our idea they would already be enjoying their night.
  • Get the musicians involved.
    This lesson was the most unexpected. We gave all the musicians who played full fest passes that got them into all the concerts. They embraced the weekend wholeheartedly, using social media, they provided the fest with another level of enthusiasm. It was a really great energy.
It’s also important to make your goals grounded in reality. In the beginning I was jazzed up for much bigger acts than this festival could handle. We reeled in our dreams and realized that there will be room to grow into that bigger festival. For now our job was to make the best festival we could at the appropriate size. Truthfully, it was much bigger than we expected. Especially our online reach. With under 500 Facebook fans (we started late) we were able to reach nearly 9,000 people consistently through the weeks leading up to the festival. So there you have some thoughts on how we did it. Obviously every situation will be different, but if you cover the points above I think you’re going to be off to a good start.

Music Consciousness

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Category: Marketing, sxsw

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