Go Ahead, Be Different

differentRemember when you were a kid and your parents would always say ‘It’s ok to be different’? I hate that I am admitting that my parents were right, but not only is it ok to be different, it’s brilliant! This is especially true when it comes to the festival business. Festivals are more popular now then they have ever been and they are popping up and dropping off everywhere! Moreover, the cost of talent on a lot of the A-list acts has sky-rocketed! And don’t even get me started on the actual hard-ticket value, because in a lot of cases, the price is all about supply and demand which unfortunately throws a lot of that financial sense out the window – you pay it because you have to or else you don’t have a headliner and Joe’s festival down the road does. Now, don’t get me wrong, you should always negotiate but at the end of the day the agents are doing their jobs and getting their act the money that is out there, as they rightfully should. But what if you created something different? A show that was like no other and catered to a specific demographic – what would happen then? BOOM! Now you have a selling feature that sets you apart from ‘Joe’s Festival’ down the road. Getting strong artists is definitely a large part of any festival but it doesn’t need to be the only part of the festival, because there will always be someone in your back yard, with bigger pockets, willing to pay. What you need to figure out, is how you still make the attendees come to you, regardless of the line-up. What can you create that your competitors cannot or have not? This is where the brilliance of being different steps in. Now you are selling a brand, an experience and a package. You are no longer reliant on just your headliners but on so much more.

Again, we will always need headliners for music festival, no doubt about it. But what each festival needs to figure out, is what sets them apart and will keep the fans coming even when new competition comes to town. I can’t sit here and tell you what that special and different thing is, but what I can tell you is that being different and not being cookie cutter can set you apart from the crowd. Prime examples of this would be Voodoo fest in New Orleans. They attract over 45,000 fans from all over to come for the experience. Imagine 45,000  people in a park in the middle of New Orleans all dressed up for Halloween – the costumes are amazing and are an event in themselves! Obviously they have great talent but they also have that special thing that sets them apart. Now it’s no longer a conversation between friends of ‘Hey, there’s this festival and XX is playing, we should go if they aren’t touring this year’. Now the conversation is like this: “Dude! A friend of mine posted these amazing pics of this festival where of all these people dressed up in crazy costumes – there were thousands of them! Let’s get our crew together for this! The line-up is also pretty rad. We need to check this out’ – BOOM, the talent is secondary and the experience is first.

So, go ahead and be different! Find a niche and build that brand and that experience that only your festival has.

As always, I’ll end with a quote:

In a world full of princesses, be batman!’

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