Market To Market: Listen To The Music


Music fans have long adored music festivals and the experiences they bring. Iconic events such as Woodstock have brought people together, marked time and made history. For many, a music festival isn’t just an event; it’s a cultural moment. More than half of festivalgoers (63 percent) say attending a music festival was a life-changing experience, according to Cloud Cover Music.

Even in a digital music era, fans still flock to festivals. Nielsen Music estimates that nearly a quarter of the U.S. population attended a music festival in 2018, up from 18 percent in 2017, the biggest year-over-year growth of any kind of live music event.

These festivalgoers are willing to spend big on the experience—so much so that one in four are currently paying off festival-related debt, according to Compare Cards by Lending Tree.

Festivalgoers who want to nab a festival pass for Coachella 2020 could easily shell out more than $2,000, according to Money magazine. Spending isn’t expected to slow anytime soon. By 2022, the live-music industry will be worth $31 billion worldwide, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Whether festivalgoers trek across the globe to see their favorite artist or they discover a gem at a local music event, they’re ready to embrace the experience. Smart marketers can get in front of the party-ready masses with promotional products. According to Nielsen, 23 percent of festivalgoers buy artist merchandise onsite. What’s more is that approximately 80 percent of merchandise sales for bands and artists come from live events such as music festivals.

Promotional products aren’t limited to the festival merchandise tent, though. Brands can get involved in music festivals through anything from sponsoring a stage to setting up exclusive lounges or securing pouring rights. According to IEG, brands spent an estimated $1.6 billion to sponsor music festivals in 2018, up from $1.3 billion in 2013. The average music festival now has more than 15 sponsors.

If you want to see your clients’ brands take center stage in the music festival market, read on. We’ll show you how to drum up brand awareness and engage with festivalgoers using promotional products.

Market Snapshot

In the music festival market, bigger isn’t always better. Fans are increasingly seeking out smaller festivals that focus on a genre, community or theme. Often called micro festivals, these smaller music events provide a more intimate and unique experience for live-music lovers.

For example, at the Secret Solstice Festival, held in Reykjavik, Iceland, fans can experience an event called “Into the Glacier,” which features a private concert inside a real glacier, complete with a DJ booth and seats carved out of ice. For a weekend pass under $200, they can see up-close performances from artists such as The Black Eyed Peas, Rita Ora, TLC and Jonas Blue.

Smaller festivals don’t just offer a more distinctive experience—they’re also more affordable and accessible for many fans. Nielsen estimates that live-music attendees spent an average of $247 on tickets in 2018, which doesn’t come close to the cost of a weekend pass for many of the biggest music festivals.

No matter the size or setting of the music festival, brands can stand out by adding value to the fan experience. At last year’s Governors Ball Music Festival, held on Randall’s Island in New York City, Johnson & Johnson’s haircare brand OGX hosted a beauty playground in general admission where festivalgoers could get their hair done by stylists. At Austin City Limits, held in Zilker Park in Austin, Texas, American Express opened up a two-story house with plenty of amenities for cardholders, including custom flags that festivalgoers could wave out the windows.

To succeed, brands must look for ways to cater specifically to festivalgoers and elevate their experience in some way.

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  1. SummerFest
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin: 800,000 attendees
  2. Coachella 
    Indio, California:
    600,000 attendees
  3. Austin City Limits
    Austin, Texas
    450,000 attendees
  4. Essence Festival
    New Orleans, Louisiana
    450,000 attendees
  5. New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
    New Orleans, Louisiana
    425,000 attendees
  6. Lollapalooza
    Chicago, Illinois
    400,000 attendees
  7. Electric Daisy Carnival
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    400,000 attendees
  8. Ultra
    Miami, Florida
    330,000 attendees
  9. Life is Beautiful
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    175,000 attendees
  10. Kaaboo
    Del Mar, California
    125,000 attendees

Source: Largest.org

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Cloud Cover Music surveyed festivalgoers about their favorite performers of all time. Here's who rose to the top:

  1. Red Hot Chili Peppers
  2. Jane's Addiction
  3. Kendrick Lamar
  4. Beyoncé 
  5. Tiësto

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  1. SummerFest
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    800,000 attendees
  2. Coachella
    Indio, California
    600,000 attendees
  3. Austin City Limits
    Austin, Texas
    450,000 attendees
  4. Essence Festival
    New Orleans, Louisiana450,000 attendees
  5. New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
    New Orleans, Louisiana
    425,000 attendees 
  6. Lollapalooza
    Chicago, Illinois
    400,000 attendees
  7. Electric Daisy Carnival
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    400,000 attendees 
  8. Ultra
    Miami, Florida
    330,000 attendees
  9. Life is Beautiful
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    175,000 attendees
  10. Kaaboo
    Del Mar, California
    125,000 attendees 

Source: Cloud Cover Music

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  • Radio, TV or satellite radio - 54%
  • Artist - 53%
  • Ticket provider - 52%
  • A friend's post on social media - 50%
  • Friends - 46%
  • Online ad - 45%

Source: Eventbrite

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These brands are the most active sponsors in terms of share of sponsorship.

  • Anheuser-Busch InBev - 51%
  • Uber - 21%
  • Brown-Forman - 19%
  • Fifth Generation - 17%
  • Miller Coors - 17%
  • PepsiCo - 16%
  • Heineken - 16%
  • Coca-Cola - 14%
  • Diageo - 14%
  • E&J Gallo - 12%
  • Deep Eddy Vodka - 12%

Source: Statistca

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Who Are The Music Festival Superfans?
Eventbrite calls them "hardcore festies"—those music festival superfans who outrank casual festivalgoers in VIP purchasing, social influence and almost every others aspect of attendance, spending and engagement. Here's a closer look at this coveted demographic.

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When festivalgoers camp out for a show, the folding captain’s chair lets them comfortably claim their space. Designed with a shoulder strap for easy transport and storage, this chair features two mesh cup holders for keeping cold beverages nearby.

Gold Bond, Inc.  /  PPAI 113974, S10  /  www.goldbondinc.com

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Turn a crowd into a light show with the THUNDER LED wristband. In sound-activation mode, this wristband features an LED light that flashes to the beat of the music. Choose from green, red, royal blue and pink.

Strike Promo  PPAI 667009, S5  /  www.strikepromo.com

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Featuring an acid-washed burnout fabric with a silicone finish, the Zen T-shirt collection will be a hit in any merchandise tent. A range of colors, including cement, dark smoke and twisted royal, are available.

J. America / PPAI 351699, S1  /  www.jamericablanks.com

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Give festivalgoers a frosty relief during summer festivals with the Frigitowel Xtra Cool cooling towel. This 100-percent microfiber towel cools quickly when moistened with water or sweat. It’s available in four colors and two sizes.

Pro Towels  / PPAI 112755, S10  /  www.protowels.com

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When rainy weather rolls in, your client’s brand can save the day with the stasher poncho. This one-time-use, hooded rain poncho comes inside a reusable case with a carabiner clip.

Beacon Promotions, Inc.  /  PPAI 113702, S10   /   www.beaconpromotions.com

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The men’s crew-neck short-sleeve tee will be a fan favorite at festivals. This ring-spun cotton shirt features double-needle stitching on the sleeves and bottom hem along with an easy-tear label and a ribbed collar.

LAT Apparel  /  PPAI 254347, S4  /  www.latapparel.com

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Get your clients’ brands noticed at music festivals by tapping into the nostalgia of tie-dye shirts. Each handmade shirt is similar but not identical, making these tees fun for music festivals of all kinds.

Kerr’s Cotton Creations, Inc.   /   PPAI 313486, S2  /  www.kerrscotton.com

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Give festivalgoers what they want—Dad hats in bright colors. Available in 34 crowd-pleasing shades, the 100-percent cotton Mega Cap is a fan favorite.

Kati Sportcap  /  PPAI 113758, S5  /  www.katisportcap.com

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With the Matador pocket blanket, any seat is the best seat in the house. This water-repellent, puncture-resistant blanket folds up in seconds and includes built-in corner stakes. It comfortably fits two to four adults.

Hirsch Gift, Inc.  /  PPAI 221823, S10  /  www.hirschgift.com

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This record luggage tag is created to look like a miniature record, complete with grooves and a full-color record label. One option has a clear vinyl loop; the other has a steel cable loop—both feature a 2.5-inch diameter vinyl label in the center with space for personal information on the opposite side. The tags are perfect for music-themed events, VIP passes, name tags, gift shops and more.

Record Remix  /  PPAI 706772, S1  /  www.recordremix.com

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Last summer, Jae M. Rang, MAS, owner of Oakville, Ontario-based promotional marketing firm JAE associates, Ltd., worked with her client, the agency for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, to create a fun and interactive music festival promotion.

The Challenge:

OLG wanted to connect with its target audience of adults ages 18-35. The brand partnered with multiple music festivals, including the Toronto Festival of Beer, VELD and Boots & Hearts, to give festivalgoers a chance to experience “the winning feeling.”

The Solution:

When music festival attendees participated in OLG’s game that related to winning the lottery, they received free-play lottery vouchers and one of a variety of promotional products: PVC fanny packs, portable battery packs, sunglasses, beach balls, rain ponchos and custom-printed bandanas.

Rang says product mixes were specifically chosen for each venue, aligning perfectly with the demographic, music genre and location. She adds that the experiential activation aligned well with the festivals’ high energy levels. With social integration at each music festival, attendees knew to look for the activation before they arrived onsite. Prizes were tailored to each event to ensure that festivalgoers would appreciate and use them.

The Results:

OLG achieved the brand awareness it set out to acquire. Many festivalgoers wore their fanny packs, bandanas and sunglasses during the festival and inflated their beach balls to toss into the crowds.

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If you want to take a music festival promotion to the next level, play up the fun with something unexpected: a custom guitar.

“Music is the universal language that we all speak. It’s about emotions,” says Gino Gavoni, president of supplier Brand O’ Guitar Company. “Attending a music festival and seeing a favorite artist or band performing has a direct impact on our emotions. When you have the chance to win an autographed custom-designed promo guitar from that beloved artist or band, then wow, that’s exciting!”

Gavoni says distributors often want to know how to sell a custom guitar. His response? Think big—the creative uses are limitless. Just be sure to listen to what the client wants to project with the guitar’s design.

Brand O’ Guitar Company has created guitars for all kinds of music festivals in addition to VIP gifts at concerts, end-of-year awards, retirement gifts, top sales producer recognition and new product launches.

“Everyone wants to be a rockstar,” Gavoni says, “and we give them that feeling.”

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Audrey Sellers is a Dallas-area-based writer and former associate editor of PPB.

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