Case Study #2: Firefly Music Festival

My apologies to you all that this post is long overdue. I guess on the bright side, I think my clients are happier that I’m busy promoting them rather than myself. Without further ado:

One of my favorite things about social media, and marketing & advertising in general, is that people are always coming up with amazing new ideas that just make you stop and say “How awesome is that? People are brilliant.” That appreciation for the industry, coupled with my well-documented love of the music business brought me to my next case study.

Music festivals. Every genre has them and each one is a bigger name than the next: Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Coachella, Governor’s Ball, Ultra, the list goes on and on. Each one has a seemingly unbeatable lineup of big-name artists, and each one is competing for the time and attention of a very finite group of music lovers and festival goers. So this year, rather than print a flyer, do a big reveal on their website, or send out a press release, the up-and-coming Firefly Music Festival did this:

Now I ask the same question: How awesome is that? Let’s break this down a bit to see who this benefits (spoiler alert: everyone):

The Fans- Always first and most important. Who doesn’t love a good mashup? This song doesn’t play like an advertisement, it plays like a mashup. I’ve listened to it dozens of times since it was released and will probably listen dozens more.

The Artists– There’s a reason some bands headline and some bands play on side stages in the middle of the day; but how many of those lesser-known bands probably have great music that you will wish a year from now that you had heard before the festival? The mashup gives a little taste of more than a dozen artists and will help pique people’s curiosity (both attendees AND non-attendees) and promote the people on the bill; I personally discovered a few new acts that I’m now looking forward to seeing in June.

The DJ– If you don’t know The White Panda, you should. He does awesome work and this is just another great way for him to get his name out to an audience. Also, check out his track Drake & Diane.

The Budget– Commission a mashup and throw together some B-roll from previous years. Let the fans carry you the rest of the way. Sounds way less expensive (and more effective) than running print ads, Pandora promotions, TV spots, and other forms of traditional advertising.

The Festival– For all of the above reasons, the Firefly team is the big winner. They created an ad that people want to listen to. They’ve separated themselves from the noise and clutter, provided added value to their artists, pleased their fans, and found a way to stay at the top of people’s minds from the date of the setlist release all the way to the festival, all while being extremely cost-effective.

It’s important to also note that the key point here is creating something that people want to listen to and will share with their friends and come back to. Not to knock Governor’s Ball 2013, but they also created a video to announce their lineup. The difference is, it didn’t feature ANY of their artists’ actual music (there’s actually a lot of overlap between the two bills). People probably watched it once and enjoyed it and then never came back. The result? They’ve received 1/5 as many views, despite releasing their video one month earlier.

I can’t express how much I love this idea. I hope that other festivals will follow suit, but as with most great ideas, the people to get their first create the biggest splash; everyone else who follows in their wake just creates the noise that will eventually spawn the next big attempt to break through it.

What are your favorite festivals? How do you propose they go about promoting them in creative and innovative ways?

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