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5 Shocking Facts About Festivals

Fans have a lot to say about festivals!

Eventbrite teamed up with leading social media research company Mashwork to analyze over 20 million social media conversations about music festivals in the 2013-2014 season. Industry professionals including Tom Russell (Governors Ball), Stacey Wilhelm (Festival Coordinator, SXSW), Laurie Kirby (President, IMFCON) and Martina Wang (Head of Music and Entertainment, Eventbrite) revealed the shocking statistics of the drivers behind the music festival boom.

Live experiences are more important today than ever before, and electronic music festivals drive a massive amount of social media discussion by sharing their experiences online. Eventbrite analyzed festival conversations, total event buzz relative to total attendance, and audience demographics from 20 million public Facebook, Twitter, and online forum conversations. The goal, to understand music festivals through the lens of social media, resulted in the five shocking insights below.

Insight #1: The Overall Lineup and Experience Matters the Most

Music fans are more likely to discuss excitement for the entire lineup and experience than a specific artist. In fact, one in every five social media posts about festivals talk about being excited for the lineup. Surprisingly, only 8% of online conversation is about an individual artist. During the panel discussion of this topic, Tom Russell explains the value of artistry: “Don’t be afraid to invest in the talent, lineup, and experience of your festival.” Stacey Wilhelm, who’s booked over 2,000 acts in the past three SXSW events, believes these statistics reaffirm the fact festivalgoers enjoy the overall experience the most and hopes it translates to people re-discovering acts that haven’t been on their radar.

Insight #2: 54% of the Conversation Happens Before the Event

The majority of online conversations happen before the event. The shocking statistic is the low percentage of individuals who share their experience on social media during event. Pre-promotion, marketing, and anticipation leading up to an event is a key factor. It is also important to capitalize on conversations and focus on post-event discussion in order to create an even better event at the next festival. The most powerful form of marketing is word-of-mouth. The logic is simple: the more you see your friends talking about a show, the more likely you’re going to want to go to that event with them. Tom discussed that although it may be challenging to leverage conversations, it is essential to share relevant and engaging content. He expands on this topic mentioning that strategic choices are online shares about new announcements, or things that are 101 to the consumer.

Insight #3: 23% of Posts are People Participating Remotely

Festivals can expand their reach tremendously through video live streams or live stream conversations. People who express fear of missing out, or FOMO, actually increase overall demand, as nearly a quarter of social media posts came from people who were not at an event. Furthermore, 70% of people who participated in festival live streams stated they are more likely to attend the next event. There are several outside entities who wish for a live steam, and more festival organizers are proceeding to assist further in the live streaming aspect. However, there are several factors to consider when deciding if the cost is worthwhile. According to Tom Russell, the festival first must determine how many stages there will be at the event. Then, the number of cameras and licensing costs must be sorted. The coordinators must also decide if the stream will be live or on demand. Lastly, it is a matter of figuring out the distribution platform. Larger platforms such as Facebook, YouTube or Viacom are crucial to showing to the masses because they can add the stream to their site for millions to view. Once costs are determined, the festival must find a sponsor. The most successful sponsor is one that understands why the attendees are there, and focuses on assisting their needs without over-branding. The cost of producing a live stream is incredibly expensive, starting at roughly $500,000+ to do a major festival. Regardless, these drastic statistics may say the investment is worth it. With an ever-growing population of events, Tom says, “We want people to know that the event was worth going to.”

Insight #4: 75% of the Online Chatter is Driven by Millennials

The scope of the industry has changed over time. The younger generation cannot be ignored as they are the tastemakers and industry professionals of the future. Referred to as the “experience generation,” millennials (age 17-34) are driving 3/4 of festival conversation. In order to capitalize on the information, it is important to tone in on what social media channels millennials are using both online and offline. For example, SnapChat is one of the most popular media platforms, and festivals like TomorrowWorld have already taken advantage of using this channel to communicate with fans. Stacey from SXSW mentioned that performers are also included in these statistics, and it is relevant to consider not only the experience for the attendees, but the artists as well. Stacey says it is important to “captivate the attention of the performing artists so they want to come and be a part of the culture at SXSW.”  

Insight #5: Differentiated Brands Mean Higher Engagement

SXSW and Governor’s Ball were two of the most buzzed about festivals of the season. The media engagements between the two festivals were notably different, but both have supported insight #1: Lineups sell the tickets. Extremely successful in different aspects, both events focused their efforts on creating a positive and unique experience. Tom, referring to Governor’s Ball Festival, states, “We make sure we book the best of the different genres out there and we emphasize the experience is once a year in New York City.” An event is most successful when it creates an experience that can’t be found anywhere else. Stacey from SXSW comments on the festival’s 2,000 act lineup: “People are obviously not going to know every act, but they get excited about the sheer volume.” Stacey also discusses the importance of making sure people know about easy transportation to and from the festival. Matters such as this enhance the overall experience, and these preeminent festival coordinators aim at hosting events that are as special as humanly possible. "As the number of festivals increase, the thought is on differentiating yourself," Stacey says,“Music fans are engaged in so many other creative pursuits, and having an event with other creative aspects like great food or things with similar character, help the experience make a destination.”

Learn more about Eventbrite and their partnership with EDM promoter Disco Donnie Presents in the video below! 

Cover Photo Credit: EDM Magazine

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Tags Eventbrite fans Governor's Ball Music Festival Social Media Statistics sxsw

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