Posts Tagged ‘Austin City Limits Festival’

LESSONS FROM COACHELLA

April 13, 2015

Coachella fever thundered through Southern California last weekend like a speeding train. And not just in So-Cal, all over the country. Every media outlet imaginable covered the star-studded 3-day music festival outside of Palm Springs, where tickets sell-out in minutes, and if you didn’t attend, you somehow felt left out. So what lessons can we take away from what Goldenvoice has built? Here are three:

  1. Trust – In the Lefsetz Letter’s recent Coachella post, Bob’s first point is the most important, “it’s a matter of trust”. You can say this about any “product”. If you make something great, and can find an audience, that audience will trust that the next thing you bring them is at least worth trying. Goldenvoice has built trust as both superior event producers and music/art curators. Building trust takes vision and guts. Charlie Jones,  one of the C’s in C3 Presents, and producers of  Lollapalooza and  ACL festivals talks about “taking a hickey”. He means losing money the first few times at the wheel. C3  believes in building a great product (acts and experience).  That’s the reason why they can sell their events out without announcing a line-up.
  1. Tenacity – You can’t give-up. Coachella lost money for years. In fact, there probably wouldn’t be a Coachella if it weren’t for AEG Live coming in at the right time with financing and support. Yet Paul, Skip, and Rick had the vision and guts to push on without knowing what the outcome would be… and have been rewarded for it. It is good to second guess yourself, but don’t stop at your first hurdle. Being awesome isn’t easy.
  1. Over Deliver – How do you go beyond your fan/consumer/guest’s expectations? Coachella takes place on the same field in Indio every April, and each year those polo grounds are turned into a sound, visual and social experience unlike any other. I’m not talking about having a Ferris wheel, VIP area, or RFID wristbands (although that can be part of it). That’s easy. It is the whole experience; the art installations, carnival games, the unique venue lighting, the polo field itself, arts and crafts vendors, local food and drinks, the music, how fans are communicated to, staff…basically every touch point needs to “wow”. Are you exceeding expectations?

Next weekend is round two in Indio. See what lessons you can take away to make your next product WOW.

TOP 6 MUSIC EVENT PRODUCERS

March 20, 2012

Below are my picks for the top music “event” producers in the U.S. What do you think?

4 Fini/Kevin Lyman – Kevin and company have built multiple touring brands including WARPED, Country Throwdown and Mayhem by staying true to each events vision.  Not only are fans…well fans of their shows, so are the artist that play them. 

SuperflyBonnaroo (along w/ AC Entertainment and Red Light Management) put Superfly on the national stage and have since added Outside Lands (w/ Another Planet and Red Light) and new to Brooklyn this May, The Great Googa Mooga (“n amusement park of food and drink).  Each year, you can find something new and different at their events.  Walt Disney called this “plussing”, or making the experience better for no reason other than to surprise and delight the audience.  Do you “plus”?

C3Austin City Limits Festival (ACL) and Lollapalooza has three things in common, 1) they are great events, 2) no parking spots for 75,000 guests per day, and 3) are produced by the three C’s that have always put fans and bands first.  Charlie, Charlie and Charles are also familiar with “plussing” which keeps fans coming back year-after-year.  Being chosen to produce President Obama’s 2008 Inauguration ceremony speaks volumes of their experience and knowhow. 

GoldenvoiceCoachella is America’s Music Festival (at least Rock/Alternative).  It has been booked and produced for years with passion and love by Paul, Skip and their team… in a market (LA/Southern California) that is much harder to sell tickets in than you may think.  It is easy to say now that you knew Coachella would be successful, yet it lost money for the first three years (and probably wouldn’t be around today if it wasn’t for the vision of the AEG Live management team).  Now they have moved to 2-weekends and added a country festival on the same site, Stagecoach (doing well for years). 

Live Nation/Arthur Fogel, Gerry Barad & CoU2, The Rolling Stones, Bowie, Rush… nothing more to say. 

The Messina Group – Louis Messina and his team just keep hitting them out of the park…ball barks.  Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift, George Strait, and they help-out the Goldenvoice team on Stagecoach in So Cal…those are all well produced shows. 

There are plenty more out there for sure (Jazz Fest, Telluride, High Sierra, Voodoo, moe. Down, country and folk festivals everywhere, etc).  These are my tops, what are yours?

 

WARNING – SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION!

April 6, 2009

Most readers know the LiveWorks Newsletter is not about promoting our festivals, events, and tours.  At the same time,  The Great American Food & Music Fest  (http://www.greatamericanfoodandmusicfest.com )is newsworthy, something we are very proud of, and want you to know about it…tell your friends…and come to the event yourself!

The best festival style “family friendly” event that I can think of in America is C3’s Austin City Limits Music Festival.  These guys make it relatively comfortable to bring your family to a very large event and have a good time.  Yes the venue is amazing…but so is the talent schedule, tag-a kid program, local food options, prices, number of water stations, bathrooms, and entertainment choices in general (even sand to play in).  What if you could combine the best elements of ACL ; what we learned over the years touring the amphitheatres; youthful summer memories of the Saratoga Jazz Festival (food, fun, family, friends…and music, just like ACL); the rock star status that celebrity chefs have taken on; and the best of the best of all- American Food (hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, BBQ, ice cream, etc)?  You would get The Great American Food & Muisc Fest.  Below is how the professional would (did) write it…

The Great American Food and Music Fest ,  a one-day event celebrating the rich traditions of classic American fare and music, will be held at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California on Saturday, June 13, 2009.  It will be hosted by chef and Food Network personality Bobby Flay.

At the festival legendary purveyors of classic American food, celebrity chefs and extraordinary musicians will come together for the first time ever, at an affordable price.  Some of the most acclaimed culinary establishments in the country will be on-site to serve their specialties, including:  Pink’s Hot Dogs (LA), Barney Greengrass (NYC), Graeter’s Ice Cream  (Cincinnati),  Southside Market Barbecue (Texas), Anchor Bar (Buffalo, NY; inventor of Buffalo wings), and Tony Luke’s Cheesesteaks (Philadelphia). In addition, some of the Bay Area’s best food establishments will be featured along with great American wines and specialty cocktails.

The culinary presentations will be augmented by live music from Little Feat, Marshall Crenshaw, and jazz, blues, and swing outfit Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, among many others. The full line-up will be announced shortly. In addition to Flay, there will also be a gathering of other food world notables, including the star of the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins, & DivesGuy Fieri.

Tickets for the event will be available for sale beginning April 5th and can be purchased at LiveNation.com, Blockbuster Video locations, and the Shoreline Amphitheatre box office. There are a number of ticket options available for the event to make it accessible to everyday food lovers without breaking the bank. General admission starts at $35 inclusive of all service charges and includes your first plate of food for free. 

Well I hope to see you there!

Speak with you soon…

Jim

Top 10 Ways to Make Your Festival Successful

November 27, 2008

Last week I had the honor of moderating the “Festival Panel” at the Billboard Touring Conference in New York.  I hadn’t really wanted to do these type of things since starting the Aspen Live Conference (Dec. 11-13 @ St. Regis, Aspen http://www.aspenlive.net), but when Ray from Billboard emailed me the list of panelist, it was an easy yes.  After all, we are talking about the best and most successful music festival producers in North America.

The panel; Chris Shields from Festival Productions (New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Newport Folk Festival, Playboy Jazz Festival, etc),  Charlie Jones from C3 Presents (Austin City Limits Festival, Lollapalooza, etc), Tony Conway from Buddy Lee Attractions (CMA Festival, Nashville…formerly Fan Fair), Chuck Morris from AEG-Live, Rocky Mountains (Mile High Festival, Rothbury), and Ashley Capps of AC Entertainment (Bonnaroo, Vagoose) really are the best at what they do.  Our Canadian representative got sick and was unable to…well represent.  The basic question that we were dealing with was the health of the festival business in North America.  Is there room to grow?  Are there enough headliners to go around and still have each festival keep its identity?  The easy answer to all is yes.

Tony Conway pointed out that the CMA Festival actually raised their ticket prices this year and are at this point well ahead of last year’s sales to date, without announcing a line-up (the event takes place in the spring).  On a call prior to our panel, Charlie Jones talked about how the Austin City Limits audience “must be trained or something”.  The fact is they are…trained to expect that the event will be well run, with great music and food, clean port-a-johns, plenty of places to get a bottle of water that doesn’t cost $4, amazing transportation system, and a friendly staff.  The ACL and CMA audiences are trained to expect quality and value.

Based on my notes from our panel, here is what the experts had to say…at least on that day is the TOP 10 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO MAKE YOUR FESTIVAL SUCCESSFUL!!!

1)      Know Your Market There is so much that goes into a festival’s workings, that without knowing about traffic patterns, neighbors, law enforcement, political issues, competition, and a whole host of other issues, you are setting your festival up to fail.  Chuck Morris pointed out that artists that aren’t big around the country can draw in Colorado.  One reason being radio station KBCO in Boulder.

2)     Community Relations – Each of our panelists at the Billboard Touring Conference had at least one story of how building relationships with community and business leaders, neighborhood associations, law enforcement, fire and rescue, parks & recreation officials, health department, and others gave them some kind of advantage.  Whether it was bidding on a new project, going into a new city, or getting into trouble and needing help, there is no substitute for being a good citizen.

3)     Over Deliver – Especially in year one, it is important to over deliver for your consumers and talent.  Even if it means the difference between breaking even and losing money, spend the extra to WOW the audience.  It keeps them coming back…”trains them”.

4)     Price – Price is very much tied to knowing your market, but for some reason, festival pricing is much more sensitive than regular live entertainment pricing.  Your customers really want to feel they are getting their money’s worth since there is an assumption that what ever they are going to see will be watered down (music act will play a shorter set without their production, food festivals will give you smaller portions than the restaurant would, etc).

5)     Transportation & Housing – This really should be 2 if not 4 separate departments of your festival team.  Certainly if you going to have 2 departments you need to separate responsibilities between those that handle transportation or housing for artists and crew and those that will get the audience from place to place.  Housing is a place not to be overlooked.  Every try to get a hotel in a city where there is a large festival?  Good luck!

6)     Booking Talent – The strong message here is that anyone can book a really big headliner; it is the whole package that makes a festival. Remember, a festival is more than a line-up it is about passion.

7)     Camping vs. “City” Festivals – Our panel all believed that the growth in North America would be more in the non-camping festival model (ACL, Jazz Fest, CMA Fest, etc).  With that said, Rothbury only started-up last year in Michigan and it is a camping festival.

8)     Food & Beverage – Every producer will tell you about the part that food and beverage play in the overall feel of your festival.  With festivals like New Orleans Jazz & Heritage and Austin City Limits, the food has become almost as much of a draw as the music.  Also price was a big topic.  Some people just have a problem with $4.50 for water.

9)     Technology Is Your Friend – Use technology whenever and wherever possible to make your fan’s experience more enjoyable.  Things like an event schedule that consumers can customize to plan their day at your festival have become necessity.

10)  Build a Model – All of our panel’s festival producers pointed out that once you had a model that worked, you could reproduce that model in other cities and with other festivals.  The key here is experience.

If there was an 11, it would have to be staying out of trying to do a festival if you have no experience.  Better to partner with someone like those listed above who already have their “models”, and can make things run smoothly for you.  Going in head first without learning to swim can make all of us drown.

Talk to you soon,

Jim