plan a festival

How to Plan a Festival: What to Consider for a Successful Event

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Is there anything better than an entire event dedicated to live music? We’ll help you out, the answer is no. When planning a music festival, there are some unique considerations that need to be taken into account. No matter what genre of music or the demographics of your attendees, there are steps you need to take to ensure a successful music festival. Here’s a closer look at what you need to do or consider when planning a music festival:

Give Yourself Time

As when planning other festivals and events, it is important to start the process as early as you can. The amount of time you need depends on the size of the event. If you are going to hold a 4-day blues festival, you are likely to need anywhere from a year to 10 months before your planned dates to find the right venue and book all of the musical acts. The early bird gets the worm. It may be corny, but it’s also true. Popular musicians book early for festival season and you do not want to miss out on those that are sure to boost ticket sales. Remember, it can take time to make contact with a booking agent. Smaller events, like a 2-day folk festival, may require less time. Either way, start as early as you can. The more time you have, the better your festival will be.

Choose a Venue with Enough Space

Choosing the right venue goes beyond having enough space for a stage and your estimated number of attendees. For a larger outdoor festival, you may want to have multiple stages. To pull this off, you will need to make sure there is enough space between the stages so the artists won’t drown each other out or compete for the audience’s attention. It is also important to have enough room for a backstage area. Bands need a place where they can hang out with other artists before and after the show. Will your festival require tents to protect from sun and heat exposure? Will there be camping and parking nearby or on-site? You may think you have found the perfect venue but if it does not satisfy all of your space requirements, it simply will not work.

Don’t Spend your Budget All in One Place

Sure, you and your planning committee may have your heart set on bringing in the hottest artist since Elvis Presley but if that artist is too expensive, you’ve handcuffed yourself for the rest of the festival.Booking an act that will cost all, or most, of your budget, means that you will have to scrimp and save in other places. You will have a difficult time booking other performers to fill the day and be forced to reduce your marketing budget (which will hurt ticket sales!). And those vendors you wanted to hire to improve guest experience, you’re likely going to have to limit them as well! Maximize your budget by going after artists that both fit your audience demographics/interests AND your budget. Consider hiring local bands and rising talent that will compliment your big-ticket headliners. And don’t forget to go after sponsorships to help relieve your burden. Speaking of sponsorships...

Request Sponsorships

Sponsorships are a great way to build relationships in the community and ensure that you have the funds you need to pull off your music festival as planned. Begin with businesses and corporations that share your target audience. There is no sense in making a sponsorship request from brands and companies that will not see some sort of benefit from partnering with you. Your ask will be more attractive to potential sponsors if they can see it as a way to get in front of a desirable audience. You can learn more about how to make a sponsorship request here. Once you have established your sponsorship packages and lined up your sponsors, do not forget to properly highlight them before, during, and after, your event.

Make Sure You’re Legal

Before your music festival starts, it is important to make sure you have all of the proper permits and licenses in place. If you are holding your festival in a city park, for example, it is likely that you will need permits from the city. If you are going to sell alcohol, you will need to have a license or a permit to do so. Acquiring these permits can take some time so make sure you apply well in advance. The last thing you need is to have your event shut down before it even gets started. And while you’re at it, make sure that you understand the bylaws that are in place. You don’t want to plan your headliner to play after a noise curfew, for example.

Get the Right Equipment and the Right People to Work It

Planning outdoor events means a few special considerations are necessary. For starters, you will need a stage, or stages, that are able to withstand potential inclement weather like rain and high winds. You will need proper lighting and proper sound equipment. Hire a music production company or individuals who have experience producing like, outdoor, music events.If any one of these elements comes up short, it will negatively impact performances and negatively impact the audience’s experience.

Plan Your Operations

Music festivals are living organisms and to make sure they thrive, you need to have clearly established operations in place. The types of considerations you’ll need to make will depend on the size and scale of your event.Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is there enough food available at your event? Is there enough variety of food, have you covered potential dietary restrictions? Is there easy access to water?
  • Are there enough bathrooms?
  • Do you need a shuttle to get people from the parking lot to the event? From the campgrounds to the event?
  • Are there enough first aid kits available? Are they easily accessible?
  • How will attendees move through the event? Where do they enter? Are the stages clearly marked?
  • Are there enough garbage, recycling, and compost bins on-site?
  • Will registration be online or in-person?
  • Are the acts scheduled with enough time between performances so people can easily move between stages without missing a single note?

Have Enough Staff and Volunteers

When planning a music festival, it is important to have the right number of people working at the event and managing operations. If there are not enough workers, it will show. Make sure that you have:

  • People working the front gate handling check-ins, will-call, and day-of ticket sales
  • Cleaning staff that works both during the event and will come in after-hours to tidy the grounds
  • Parking staff that will help direct cars and point attendees toward the entrance
  • General staff that is available to answer guests’ questions and direct traffic as needed

Consider Safety and Security

It is impossible to control every variable that can surround an outdoor event. But, what you can do is try to be prepared by ensuring that you have proper health and safety systems in place. For summer festivals, heatstroke can be a real risk. Be sure to have tents or covered spaces available, particularly in locations that do not have natural shade. Make sure that guests have enough to drink. This means handing out bottles of water or setting up water stations where people can refill a reusable water bottle. Have a weather monitoring system set up. More than just keeping an eye on the forecast, have a lightning detection system and if possible, bring in a meteorologist to monitor things so you can be prepared for whatever comes your way. In case of extreme weather or some other type of emergency, have an evacuation plan in place. Make sure that all staff members and volunteers are well briefed on this plan and know exactly what they are to do to get people to safety. It is a good idea to hire security guards to manage the most zealous music fans. These individuals can monitor entrances, check wristbands at restricted areas, and perform general crowd control. Set up a security booth so that people can report problems or missing personal items. Employ a team of first aid practitioners to attend to heatstroke and minor injuries. First aid tents should be clearly marked and spread throughout the venue. On the day of your festival, alert law enforcement and medical services that your event is taking place so they can respond quickly if need be.

Take a Collaborative Approach to Marketing

When it comes to music festivals, your event marketing strategy should be a collaborative effort. Obviously, you will want to promote your event on social media, radio, in print, through digital advertising, and email campaigns, but you will also want to coordinate with the marketing teams associated with your performers. Their fans will want to know about the performances and are likely to purchase tickets for your festival. By having the artists promote the festival as well, you will reach far more people than you would likely be able to on your own.

Make Ticket Buying Easy

If you really want to sell out your event, you need to make it easy for interested parties to purchase tickets! Yes, it is a good idea to make tickets available at local sponsors and businesses, but the bulk of your sales are likely to come online. By choosing an event ticketing system, you give people the opportunity to purchase tickets when it suits them best. And the right ticketing system will allow you to create ticket tiers like early bird and VIP while making registration easier for you, management, and staff. With a ticketing system, you will be able to monitor real-time stats that will enable you to shift and adjust your marketing campaign if necessary. Live, outdoor music is one of the greatest joys imaginable which is why music festivals have so much appeal. To create and plan a successful music festival, it is essential to think about the considerations mentioned in this post during your planning process. More than just booking the right acts, you need to make sure your guests are happy, comfortable, and safe.

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