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industry

Festival Fatigue Among Small and Large Events Alike

From Faster Louder yesterday:

Late last year, FasterLouder’s parent company Sound Alliance ran an online survey to find out your take on a range of topics. 5,000 respondents aged between 18-30 years old from Sound Alliance websites responded, making it the most comprehensive survey of its kind in Australia.

Well, the results are in, and they have some telling answers about that ‘fatigue’ question. While some punters are tiring of festivals, the good news is that the festival industry still has plenty of life in it yet.

“About a third of respondents agreed that they enjoy festivals less than they used to, which is natural as early adopters move on and get that bit older,” says Sound Alliance Managing Director Neil Ackland. “But the vast majority, 76%, disagreed with that statement.”

“When a festival like Big Day Out sells 200,000+ tickets a year, it’s hardly underground anymore, and this is reflected in the survey results where 74% agreed that festivals have become very mainstream, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

“Whilst the festival scene has most definitely tipped, prices of tickets are still seen by most, to represent good value for money,” says Ackland. “Just 15% thought otherwise.” Big Day Out in particular fared well with 71% stating that they intended to buy a ticket next year.

So the industry is still going strong despite "about a third" of survey participants stating less enjoyment at festivals than previously. Almost three quarters are still very much enjoying festivals, although they acknowledge festivals becoming "very mainstream."

A comment from Faster Louder user, ThatDude123, on the Sound Alliance survey, caught my eye:

Were any questions asked about overcrowding on the festival market? When I filled it out I don't remember any, and that seems to be the big issue when I talk to people. It isn't that festivals are better/worse (in fact I personally find them to be better due to our strong dollar bringing in top acts and better understanding of the logistics involved), it's just that you can only take so much time off work and spend so much money before you are eventually fired/broke.

Really the biggest success story of the festival season so far, I'd say, is the Laneway Festival. In less than five years it's sold out two major markets and brought a crowd who usually find festivals "disgusting" and "mainstream" back to festivals.

As opposed, Big Day Out promoter Ken West said to Faster Louder last year that the festival has had numerous reasons and opportunities to skip a year. Glastonbury is taking 2012 off according to Faster Louder in the same article.

Last year, Katherine Feeney of The Brisbane Times wrote about the sheer quantity of festivals in Australia and reasons why the public might be sick of them. The comments confirm the idea that festivals are no longer about music, but an overcrowded, wasteful experience of drug taking (me thinks I'll address the extortionate drink prices at festivals another day), ridiculous sunglasses and fluoro t-shirts.

In the article, Jan Skubiszewski of Melbourne band Jackson Jackson states his view that festivals are "mass populated" and that niche events are starting to emerge, much to the preference of musicians and other creative types looking for differing, improved gig experiences.

However, the more these niche events come up, the more I see of these mini-festivals fail. There was BAM! Festival and Lost Weekend at the same Queensland venue last year, and Blueprint which lost $500,000 in Victoria, late 2009. Trailer Trash, as mentioned by Skubiszewski, has turned to the Woodford festivals calendar to run its programme, opting to cater to a captive audience inside the Planting, Woodford Folk and other festivals held at the venue.

Another result is the constant barging of club events at bars. Is there now just too much of the same stuff happening, that punters are too busy with pubs and clubs to fork out for festivals? Gossip, 299 or whatever the heck that place is, constantly finds a way to invite me via Facebook to every event at the venue. Rosie's Tavern is another in Brisbane that does a similar job. I don't even like DJs or care for any of the unknown bands they promote.

I would definitely like to do more exploration as to the reasons of Australian mini-festival success rates in comparison to larger events. What are your experiences at larger versus smaller festivals?

Event ConneQion: Stalls

These are the stalls which caught my interests the most at the Event ConneQion on April 3rd:  

  • Brisbane Marketing - Brisbane Council marketing initiative to increase the population of Australia's golden capital city and to connect existing businesses.
  • Brisbane Unique Venues Association - Something I have been trying to organise for the Queensland Museum to be on.
  • Infosalons - Registration company. The girl there was lovely to speak with and was very helpful.
  • The Daiquiri Group - Speaks for itself really. Daiquiris at your next gig!
  • Nomadic Tents - Another "for next semester" supplier. Unfortunately the man at the stall did not have anywhere near the charisma or selling skills other stalls had. They had an impressive set-up though.
  • Wine Design - Merchandise and goodies printed on Australian wines
  • Full Frame - Wins my prize of best business card design for the day. The gentleman there was rather charming too!
  • Sport and Event Photos - Spent ages talking with the man here. A great idea to be printing on-site at events and they sold their wares well.
  • Customs House - Spoke to the woman here regarding my 21st and gained a lot of information from her...
  • Hillstone St Lucia - ... as I did here too. Hillstone St Lucia is an award winning venue with a fabulous reputation for service.
  • Wicked Wolf Events - The Sunshine Coast event company with the most beautiful booth decor I'd ever seen!
  • A List Guide - Just plain awesome. Directory of events industry suppliers and links.
  • BizParade - Still getting into this one. Apparently a new events site. This one should go well.
  • CIM Magazine - I signed up for this one too and I must say the e-mails have been pretty useful!
  • Event Connect / mice.net - The essential.

Event ConneQion, April 2nd and 3rd

Last week I had the great fortune of attending the events expo in Brisbane. Was a fantastic experience and I cannot wait for 2009 already! 

First up, it was an outing with my marketing class (very much appreciated, Kerri!) and we had an exam for accounting later that afternoon, so I felt a little limited by time. Turns out though that two hours was more than I needed to get all the information I was looking for.

There were suppliers, services, venues, publications, tourism companies, events companies, motivational and financial speakers, musicians, cooks, mountain climbers, a magician, even an audio visual supplier with a Nintendo Wii set up! All rather exciting, and I must admit I did go with not only professional and academic intentions, but also the hope of chatting to venues about my birthday celebrations later this year. Which I did! Customs House and Hillstone St Lucia were both very lovely to talk with about my requirements and I intend on chasing up with both of them as possibilities.

Over one ticket, two carry bags, twelve business cards and two hours later I was rather excited to get home and sort through the goodies. Even picked up the name of a business stationery company from a photographer. My only regret for the day is that I did not create my own business card before the day, as I was asked for it numerous times.

There were so many suppliers, venues, publications and companies which caught my eye and deserve mention and I shall do so in a second post tomorrow. This entry would seem nothing but link-dropping if I continued! If anything because of this extensive list, I shall be on my way towards starting up a list of resources I can definitely see myself using in the future.