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FESTIVAL INTERRUPTUS: The future of music festivals and what it means for humanity.


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Today we are seeing a rapid growth in music festivals, both in size and number.
In 2014 alone there were 874 festivals in North America, with festival capacity growing from 475,000 attendees in 2010, to 1.8 million in 2014. What’s apparent is that Millennials seek a more complete music experience, and Gen Z, we anticipate, even more so.
To develop a point of view on the festival of the future, sparks & honey partnered with PepsiCo’s Creator team to identify the defining characteristics and present our vision of the music festival of the future.

Published in: Marketing

FESTIVAL INTERRUPTUS: The future of music festivals and what it means for humanity.

  1. 1. The future of music festivals and what it means for humanity. FESTIVAL INTERRUPTUS + Image: gpointstudio/
  2. 2. “You text. You don’t call, you don’t write notes. You don’t pop up at your friend’s house. You Skype. We’re not touching each other. Technology has separated us so much, it’s natural for us to have this desire to come together, and festivals really cater to that communal nature.” Murs, Rapper and Founder of Paid Dues Festival Image: Roman Seliutin/ Source: 2 +
  3. 3. Today we are seeing a rapid growth in music festivals, both in size and number. In 2014 alone there were 874 festivals in North America, with festival capacity growing from 475,000 attendees in 2010, to 1.8 million in 2014. What’s apparent is that Millennials seek a more complete music experience, and Gen Z, we anticipate, even more so. To develop a point of view on the festival of the future, sparks & honey partnered with PepsiCo’s Creator team to identify the defining characteristics and present our vision of the music festival of the future. Image: Monkey Business Images/ 3 +
  4. 4. Yesterday’s music listener came of age during the era of the album, the home stereo, and listening to music with friends and family in their living rooms. Millennials have come of age in a time of the MP3 single, listened to via headphones, on the go. A large part of the social aspect of yesterday’s music consumption experience has been lost. But the need for social music consumption and connection through music has not gone away. If anything, it has increased. Image: Peter Bernik/ 4 +
  5. 5. For the artist, music festivals are a welcome source of revenue in the face of declining recorded music sales. More importantly for artists, in an era of MP3 singles and streaming, it is an opportunity to more deeply connect with core fans and win new ones, telling their stories via a more complete music presentation experience. The promoters are (often unconsciously) tapping into these needs: the need for a social music consumption experience, for connection, belonging, ritual, and if they get it all right, transformation and higher order fulfillment. Aided by advances in technology, the music festival of the future will meet these needs in an affordable and accessible way. Image: OSORIOartist/ 5 +
  6. 6. Image: Franz Pfluegl/ SO, WHAT IS A MUSIC FESTIVAL ANYWAY? 6 +
  7. 7. IN SHORT, A “MUSIC FESTIVAL” IS: • Two or more acts • Over one or more days • Recurring at regular intervals • Organized by a third party • Brand of the festival supersedes that of its artists WHAT IS A MUSIC FESTIVAL TODAY? Image: glazok90/ 7 +
  8. 8. THE EVOLUTION OF THE MUSIC FESTIVAL IS ALREADY UNDERWAY Music festivals are migrating to where the audience is vs. people traveling to where the festival is, both in the physical and digital realms. EXPANDED NOTION OF SPACE AND PRESENCE Image: Marco Verch/Flickr Creative Commons Kartkraft 8 +
  9. 9. MUSIC FESTIVALS TODAY ARE ABOUT BELONGING (and boy do we need reasons and occasions to belong) Image: Franz Pfluegl/ 9 +
  10. 10. IMMERSION Opportunity for deeper immersion in a music category MUSIC-DRIVEN BELONGING DISCOVERY Offers exploration into areas that are unfamiliar, but could be of interest to the audience SOCIAL CONNECTIVITY Meet, connect and develop bonds with like-minded folks INTERACTION Real-time interaction with people and art THE WAYS MUSIC FESTIVALS FOSTER BELONGING 10 +
  11. 11. Music festivals in the future will be shaped by increasing human needs for connection and affiliation, and the technology enablers that are deployed to meet those needs. TOMORROW, BELONGING WILL STILL BE IN THE DRAW Image: Joe Van/Flickr Creative Commons Voodoo Festival, 2009 11 +
  12. 12. SO, WHAT’S CHANGING IN SOCIETY? Images Clockwise: Sensay, frescomovie,, Georgejmclittle/ 12 +
  13. 13. PEOPLE WILL INCREASINGLY SEEK THEIR TRIBES Two-way communication vehicles increasingly enable us to self-invent and shape and control our identities, ultimately enabling the formation of communities around our interests, passions, and the most relevant parts of our identity. HUMAN NEEDS ARE EVOLVING Voodoo Festival, 2009 Image: Joe Van/Flickr Creative Commons 13 +
  14. 14. 1. Experience curators: Find the right experience 2. Digital matchmakers: Connect with like-minded peers 3. “Phygital” connectors: Create digital sensory connections with others 3 technologies will be key in bringing people together at festivals in the future TECHNOLOGY IS ENABLING BELONGING Image: luckyraccoon/ 14 +
  15. 15. NOW Gauging what’s hot and where to be at a music festival can be overwhelming, often resulting in memorable moments being missed Real-time fingers on the pulse of what’s hot and relevant for you NEXT Apps will let us know if a particular event is worth watching, based on user-provided information FUTURE Bots and algorithms will analyze personal and contextual data to guide us to what’s hot, exciting, and relevant Thuzz It lets a sports fan know if a game is worth watching EXPERIENCE CURATORS FUTURE FESTIVAL TECH: Image: Georgejmclittle/ 15 +
  16. 16. NOW A large part of the festival experience is discovering and connecting with like- minded folks. Today, these connections happen serendipitously Guided introductions based on your current context, wants, needs, passions and group affiliations NEXT Algorithms analyze our personalities and biology to make recommendations on food, drink, and experiences FUTURE Matchmaking algorithms evolve to become true digital matchmakers, trusted to proactively introduce us to individuals that will enhance our lives at the festival and beyond The Social Shot An algorithm developed at the University of Cambridge allows the computation of an individual personality analysis through the user’s Facebook likes. Image: McIek/ DIGITAL MATCHMAKERS FUTURE FESTIVAL TECH: 16 +
  17. 17. NOW To connect with artists and other fans, attendees have to withdraw from the festival to engage digitally, often missing memorable moments Experiencing what fellow fans and artists are feeling through physical/digital connections NEXT Connected VR technology and haptic feedback will draw us closer to friends and family to physically and digitally share experiences VR systems are ready to take over the entertainment industry FUTURE • Platforms for rapid and easy “phygital” connecting come online • Phygital sharing of experiences becomes the norm • Fans and artists freely share experiences with one another Image: Marco Verch/Flickr Creative Commons “PHYGITAL” CONNECTORS FUTURE FESTIVAL TECH: 17 +
  19. 19. 1. Local and Tribal 2. Frictionless 3. Customized 4. Non-temporal 5. Ritualistic 6. Transformational 6 defining characteristics of the Music Festival of the Future: THE FUTURE MUSIC FESTIVAL More aligned with the needs of its audience L Festival, Orange County, CA 19 +
  20. 20. WHERE LIKE MINDS CONNECT... As festivals proliferate, new festival goers will opt for local festivals with a smaller cash outlay as a stepping stone to the fuller festival experience. Promoters, and the music industry, will respond to this downward price pressure by promoting festivals that go deep in a specific genre vs. broad, as larger destination festivals do today. Lightning in a Bottle, 2013 Image: Dianne Yee/Flickr Creative Commons LOCAL AND TRIBAL THE FUTURE MUSIC FESTIVAL: 20 +
  21. 21. THE SCARCE RESOURCE IS NOT SPACE, IT’S TALENT While there has been tremendous growth in the number and size of festivals, there hasn’t been a growth in the number of headlining acts. These acts now command fees that are increasingly difficult for festival promoters to cover, creating a ceiling on the number of large festivals that can profitably operate. The larger festivals that will inhabit tomorrow’s landscape will be the “Superbowls” of festivals, while the smaller ones will be the regular season games. These “Superbowl” festivals will offer the best talent and a rich, immersive experience for a well-heeled millennial cohort. L Festival, Orange County CA 21 +
  22. 22. CULTURAL SHIFT • Music festival organizers are aggregating acts that reflect digital patterns of music consumption • Music festivals are growing in number, competing for headline acts and attendees • Festival organizers seek niches that enable differentiation in a crowded space • Fans and artists freely share experiences with one another IMPLICATION New music festival attendees will need to be brought into the fold to support the rapid growth in the number of festivals. These “late festival adopters” will demand an experience that is more economically and geographically accessible before graduating to larger festivals FUTURE Smaller local music festivals proliferate, serving as the stepping stone for a few large, unique festival experiences. The source of new talent for these festivals will increasingly be the pool of digital-only artists Source:, team analysis LOCAL AND TRIBAL THE FUTURE MUSIC FESTIVAL: 22 +
  23. 23. WALLET AND PHONE OPTIONAL In the future, wristbands, bracelets, watches, and other wearables will not only provide frictionless transactions, but also grant access to games, let friends know where you are, post photos, share contact info with new friends, monitor hydration, blood alcohol and other vitals, and ensure you stay connected to your crew. Wearable technology is already making it possible to leave your phone and wallet in your pocket. As computer chips continue to get smaller, faster, and more energy efficient, the smartphone form factor will atomize into separate, specialized devices, ultimately eliminating the need for a wallet or a phone. Apple Pay L Festival, Orange County, CA Bottom Image: Shinya Suzuki/Flickr Creative Commons FRICTIONLESS THE FUTURE MUSIC FESTIVAL: 23 +
  24. 24. CULTURAL SHIFT • Mobile payment platforms are revamping functionality to support smaller festivals and local brands: PAYPAL • Assault-averting wristbands will monitor your vitals and keep you connected to your friends: ASSAULT-AVERTING WRISTBANDS • Beacon technology will allow festival attendees to opt-in to sharing their location, ultimately enhancing social interactions and connections. IMPLICATION Festival goers of tomorrow will expect technology to eliminate the need to carry a wallet, and make carrying a phone optional FUTURE Technology will not only enable frictionless transactions, but will also support frictionless social networking, social safety, and social content sharing and consumption FRICTIONLESS THE FUTURE MUSIC FESTIVAL: 24 +
  25. 25. MY FESTIVAL EXPERIENCE IS UNIQUE TO ME Having come of age during a time of unprecedented consumer choice and control, tomorrow’s festival attendee will expect to be able to curate their festival experience to explore, discover, immerse, connect, withdraw, and detox on their terms, at their pace, on premise and off. “One trend emerging is the way people are using technology to curate their own festival. So, within the big playlist, making their own playlist of what they are going to see and how they’re going to see it.” Jack Antonoff, Musician SXSW Interactive 2011 Austin, TX Image: kris krüg/Flickr Creative Commons Source: PepsiCo Proprietary Festival Research CUSTOMIZED THE FUTURE MUSIC FESTIVAL: 25 +
  26. 26. CULTURAL SHIFT • Allow fans to design and distribute concert apparel via marketplace apps: TEEPUBLIC • Edit and share festival photos, creating a personal and shareable audiovisual experience on festival grounds: GENERATE • Find the right amount of personal space and interactions at festivals: AVOID HUMANS IMPLICATION Music-festival attendees will expect an increasingly customized experience FUTURE Music-festival attendees will curate, share, and monetize their festival experience. It will be a form of digital scrapbooking. Music festivals will also offer truly value-added opportunities for artist/fan co-creation and collaboration CUSTOMIZED THE FUTURE MUSIC FESTIVAL: 26 +
  27. 27. THE EPHEMERAL ASPECT OF MUSIC FESTIVALS WILL GO AWAY Music festivals will lose the notion of defined space and time. Augmented and virtual reality, holograms, livestreaming, and the next wave of social media platforms will not only enhance the on-premise experience, but will enable the festival to be consumed and re-lived on demand by tomorrow’s consumer. Coachella Image: Malcolm Murdoch/Flickr Creative Commons NON-TEMPORAL THE FUTURE MUSIC FESTIVAL: 27 +
  28. 28. CULTURAL SHIFT • Service takes 360° photos and videos and provides them online to capture, enhance and preserve the festival experience: YOUVISIT.COM • FOMO app scours the internet to find relevant photos, video and other content and aggregates all of it into a timeline for a festival, or other major events: SEENAPP • Physical presence is no longer a requirement for the music festival experience: OCULUS RIFT VR CINEMA IMPLICATION On-demand consumption habits are increasing, and technology is only raising the bar on expectations for quality and quantity of content FUTURE Hologram, augmented, and virtual reality technology evolve to deliver a festival that music fans won’t watch so much as they will experience. This experience will elicit the emotional reactions a fan would have at the physical festival, which is the key to non-temporality NON-TEMPORAL THE FUTURE MUSIC FESTIVAL: 28 +
  29. 29. MUSIC FESTIVALS WILL CONTRIBUTE TO THE EVOLUTION OF AMERICAN CULTURAL RITUALS, CUSTOMS, AND TRADITIONS As societies mature, they tend to develop well-established and shared rituals, customs, and traditions. America, being a relatively young society, is still developing its rituals. There is a ritual gap… New rituals are emerging, slowly. Perhaps, the seeds of our new rituals will emerge from our music festivals. Image: Paul Stevenson/Flickr Creative Commons RITUALISTIC THE FUTURE MUSIC FESTIVAL: Marsden Imbolc Fire Festival 29 +
  30. 30. “Festivals are ritual with a musical accompaniment.” Renat Kuenzi, Journalist Images Clockwise: Filipe Frazao, Ru Bai Le, Adam Filipowicz, Luboslav Tiles/ Source: 30 +
  31. 31. CULTURAL SHIFT • Create traditions that establish a cadence and sense of community amongst attendees: BURNING MAN • Maintain a sacred bonfire for storytelling, singing, and dancing: THE EVOLVE FESTIVAL • Festival grounds are blessed at the start of the festival by a Mekah elder: PHOTOSYNTHESIS FESTIVAL • Festivals will make food choice offerings that align with the lifestyles they support (e.g., vegetarianism): THE EVOLVE FESTIVAL IMPLICATION To create meaning and unique branding for their festivals, promoters will crowdsource rituals and traditions that are evolving beyond basic festival guidelines FUTURE Tomorrow’s music festivals will offer more defined rituals that add purpose to the party RITUALISTIC THE FUTURE MUSIC FESTIVAL: 31 +
  32. 32. LEAVING WITH A SENSE OF CONNECTEDNESS, GREATER POSSIBILITY, AND FULFILLMENT BEYOND MUSIC The music festival of the future will more explicitly deliver against the human needs for authentic connection and transformation that they may not be getting from other aspects of their lives. The music festival attendee of tomorrow will leave with a memorable experience that renders them changed in some meaningful way. Northside Festival, Brooklyn, NY TRANSFORMATIONAL THE FUTURE MUSIC FESTIVAL: 32 +
  33. 33. CULTURAL SHIFT • The Lucent Temple of Consciousness provides a space for personal healing through yoga, temple music, and mental engagement with different speakers and workshops: LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE • When taking a break from the music, attend festival-branded classes on financial freedom, world peace, selfexpression, and Burning Man culture: LUCIDITY FESTIVAL • Construct themed areas for different moods and energy levels: THE BOUNCE FESTIVAL IMPLICATION The gap left by our increasing secularity, elimination of civics education, and social isolation creates a need for higher order fulfillment, connection, and transformation FUTURE Tomorrow’s music festival will be equal parts concert, university, and higher-order fulfillment center, with a dash of political activism thrown in for good measure TRANSFORMATIONAL THE FUTURE MUSIC FESTIVAL: 33 +
  35. 35. WHAT NOW? It’s not about technology... it’s about technology that enables the fulfillment of real human needs for belonging, connection, ritual, and transformation. In the future, festivals will play a much larger role in reinforcing our identities. Image: sickmoo/ 35 +