What Music Festival Trend Has Worn Out Its Welcome?

As the planning of music festivals has come under the national spotlight (thank Fyre Fest), here are the trends event planners say should be retired, from gifting suites to excessive waste.

From left: Priscila Martinez, Pablo Henderson, Rita Tabet
From left: Priscila Martinez, Pablo Henderson, Rita Tabet
Photo: Alena Mealy (Priscila Martinez), Eric von Fricken (Pablo Henderson), Anthony N. Castillo (Rita Tabet)

“Gifting suites are overdone, especially small pool parties with a bunch of unrelated brands all crammed together along with brief, arbitrary talent appearances. Guests go to music festivals for the music. Brands need to activate more organically, with something artist-focused that adds value to consumers and aligns with their desire to attend in the first place. Guerrilla marketing street teams who hound guests outside of festival gates also comes across as inorganic to the vibe and interests of the consumers.”
Justin Lefkovitch, founder and chief executive officer, Mirrored Media, Los Angeles

“The biggest threat to festivals is producers going in blinded by the idea, and not grounded in the reality of producing one of these complex experiences. When done right, they are a huge success, like we have seen with Coachella or Burning Man. But, when the right amount of resources, design, funding, and planning is not applied, things escalate quickly—and the world is as quick to hear about it. That’s a trend we can do without.”
Christine Erickson, senior vice president of U.S. event solutions, BCD Meetings & Events, Minneapolis

“Social media and influencer culture has infiltrated our daily lives, and that certainly does not preclude festivals. In 2019, a festival can literally pay certain influential figures to back it’s ‘awesomeness,’ without any performers even confirmed or infrastructure in place for the actual event—ahem, Fyre Fest. As with all things in life, don’t always believe what you read online from paid influencers who you most likely will never meet. An influencer can certainly expose you to new products or events, but don’t fall prey to the trend of seeing is believing. Choose your festival based on music, entertainment, food, atmosphere, and the overall culture—not because Kendall Jenner says she’s attending.”
Kristin Banta, creative director, Kristin Banta Events, Los Angeles

“We are saying goodbye to excessive waste. With the extreme amounts of trash going into landfills as a result of festivals, both promoters and attendees are looking for ways to decrease waste through reuse, recycling, and composting initiatives. We are also saying goodbye to paper currency, as cashless payment options provide a smoother payment experience for attendees and expands commerce options for both the festival promoters and its sponsors.”
Heather Salkin, independent innovation specialist, New York

“One festival trend that has worn out is welcome is heavily sponsored parties. From food and drink to branded stations, heavily sponsored parties cannibalize coverage for themselves, as outlets typically only mention one or two brands in their coverage. Out-of-the-box experiential activations and one-on-one influencer settings are gaining traction and proving to be more beneficial for brand R.O.I.”
Priscila Martinez, founder, the Brand Agency, Los Angeles

“Festival attendees are looking to unplug and have a more connected and authentic experience at music events, rather than seeing phones in the air. The idea that every moment of the festival has to be captured on video or in a selfie and then posted on the social media takes away from the intended experiential moment, and is something attendees are maturing away from.”
Chris Kramer, partner and chief production officer, Metropolex, San Francisco

“Music festivals have to have one thing: Incredible music. But they don’t have to only have one thing, and they don’t have to mean roughing it. W Hotels debuted the global rollout of its music festival Wake Up Call in 2018 to reinvent what festivals could be. Wake Up Call is all of the fun and perks of enjoying music with other fans, with none of the sacrifice or struggle that many have associated with a festival experience in the past.”
Pablo Henderson, senior global director of brand marketing, W Hotels, New York

“The one music festival trend that has worn out its welcome is florals. Whether it’s on flower crowns, flower installations, or simply as patterns on dresses and garments, florals need to take a break from the festival circuit. Although beautiful and flattering, the trend has been overused to the point of exhaustion. Today, when you see a flower crown and a flower dress, instead of thinking wow, it all looks great, you kind of think… not again!
Rita Tabet, C.O.O. and co-founder, Pop Up Mob, New York

This story appeared in BizBash's Spring 2019 issue.

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