There are few faster-developing trends in live music today than the extremely popular Music Festival. This trend has been seen in the United States for several years and the UK is now on a wave of its own as the popularity of such events soars. Driven by music-hungry millennials, these shows are set up to accommodate all musical tastes. Along with interest in attending these community entertainment fests, there is a corresponding interest in organising them of course.
Once within reach of only a few, well-heeled entrepreneurs, today’s live outdoor events are now achievable for towns, cities, theatres or other partnerships set up to stage a Music Festival. This is partly because what makes up an outdoor event of this type has changed substantially over the last decade. Both in scale and diversity, these hugely attractive events are now a broad church of entertainment types and defining exactly what a Music Festival is, seems to be getting harder. The UK alone bosts over 80 different festivals that cover popular music alone. This is an expanding entertainment area and likely to become more so over coming years.
What Are The Different Types Of Music Festival?
To some extent, the answer to that question is whatever the organisers want it to be, though there are several well-defined types of event that are most common.
* Classic Music
* Chamber Music
* Pop Music
* Tribute Bands
* Experimental Music
* Electronic Music
* Heavy Metal
(Reference: a comprehensive list of UK festivals)
The list goes on and on. in essence, if there is a genre of modern music, then there is scope to arrange a communal Festival event with a music theme at its heart. They may be family orientated, adult-orientated, music geek focussed, broad-ranging or niche. 1,2,3 or 4 days duration, with or without camping and overnight rough sleeping. You name it, there is probably scope to arrange and structure a Festival event around it. Some UK examples include the famous Glastonbury Festival, Tribfest, Three Choirs Festival and the former V-Festival.
Of course, there is more to an event of this type than just music. Accompanying the musical activities you will often see a range of outdoor attractions, catering and crafts, all with a place at these most cosmopolitan of occasions. Fairgrounds, Inflatable assault courses, Laser tag events, a wide range of familiar and exotic food and drink plus all the crafts, decorative and body art choices that give these occasions such a wonderfully entertaining feel. The Festival experience is something quite special and perhaps that explains partly at least, why they are so popular across the summer months (especially) in the UK.
So the day or weekend itself is great fun and everyone has a fantastic time. Before you feel inspired to rush off and get one underway, just pause for a moment and consider what actually needs to happen in order for those few wonderful days to take place. There is work – a lot of it and you’ll need to be prepared for some hard graft, good decision making and some sleepless nights. Why? Because these are major projects and we use the word project advisedly. They need to be organised and planned like a military operation with many moving parts that need work carried out by the right people at the right time and all within a budget.
Challenging? Yes, but not impossible as the year on year increase in Music Festivals shows. Here at A1 Festivals, we specialise in organising, supporting or simply advising potential Festival organisers about the right steps to take to bring their event to fruition. We can’t give away the crown jewels of course but here is our rough guide to organising a Music Festival.
For organisers, it’s important to understand how to plan and put together a credible and rewarding event. The final product has to be fun-filled, entertaining, and secure.
This guide is a comprehensive look at how to plan, manage, and organise a Music Festival.
The Value Of Hiring An Event Organisation Agency
Festival management companies, if hired, are responsible for handling logistics, budgeting, marketing, vendor coordination, and any other form of event management. These agencies are respected and have years of experience in handling similar music festivals. We are one but there are several out there, some generic and some highly-specialised. Choose your event management company wisely
Why bother hiring one of these event specialists – what do they bring to the party?
let’s consider the complexity of bringing together a wide range of expertise, services and deliverables.
With so many details to consider, it becomes important to have a professional at the helm of your budget. If not, the budget might become meaningless as you continue to spend over what’s required! An event organisation company is well placed to handle all budgetary requirements and will remain within the established guidelines. This simplifies the financial side of things and ensures the results are positive.
perhaps the main reason an event organisation specialist is able to remain cost-efficient has to do with its established network of connections. These agencies are coordinated, professional, and connected from top to bottom making it easy to find affordable deals.
Festival Knowledge and Experience
It’s as simple as this when it comes to hiring a professional agency.
The agency is going to have years of experience in handling, managing, and supplying music festivals around the region. They will understand what’s required and what can go wrong. Instead of doing a “trial and error” event, why not go with those who already understand the intricacies of a well-hosted festival?
This is the best way to see high-quality results and host one of the greatest music festivals.
Music Festival Event Project Management Planning
The planning phase of any event including a music festival project is tedious, time-intensive, and important. If the music festival project scope is incomplete or under-assessed or there are holes in the planning phase, it will lead to long-term issues while managing the event. This is why the planning has to be done by a professional organisation that’s helped host events before.
The Value Of Planning Your Festival Thoroughly
1. Adds Structure To Your Musical Entertainment Event
An event is reliant on its structure from start to finish.
This includes how tickets are sold, starting times, closing times, food vendors, budgeting, and everything else associated with a music festival. You require a professional and diligent setup to make sure the event goes ahead as desired and is operating within the capacity and legal bounds of the area or location where it is to be held. It’s easy to ignore these details and assume the festival will be a super hit but that’s rarely the case. Instead, it’s best to look at hiring a professional agency to help out wholly or partly with creating a foolproof plan. They will be able to go through all of the variables and come up with a plan that holds meaning. This is one way to feel assured about how the event is going to take place and the value it will yield from start to finish.
This structured setup is one of the biggest reasons to write out a plan.
2. Makes It Easier To Adjust The Organisation
Adjustments are a part of any successful music festival and that’s where professionals help out.
By planning out the details, the event can be set on the right track. However, it doesn’t matter how great a plan is, there are going to be problems and that’s where adjustments have to be made. With a plan in hand, these flaws will become apparent in seconds.
Instead of learning about them when it’s too late, the organiser(s) can make adjustments immediately. This is better, faster, and safer when it comes to hosting a modern-day music festival. Anything else is not going to cut it and that’s a risk not worth taking.
Music Festival Legal Considerations
Just like any other event, a music festival is reliant on local, county and parliamentary regulation.
These regulations are clear-cut about what’s permitted and what’s not. Event planners are asked to understand these regulations ahead of time before planning the event. Each event is going to come with its own legal factors and those have to be kept in mind at all times. Starting your planning with the input of a qualified health and Safety expert specialising in outdoor events will make sure you understand the commitments and limitations that will be required. Don’t expect to mount a 10,000 person festival based on field-owners dimensions when health and safety is a key factor in determining the size and attendance of your event.
Key Legal Factors To Consider
We have touched on the absolute necessity of scoping out your plans and location with a qualified health and Safety advisor. after that, here are some other legal elements you will need to consider.
1. Performance Artist Agreements For Their Appearance
The heart of any music festival will be its artists and that’s where your focus should go.
The legalities of signing artists to perform at the festival can be time-consuming. This is why getting ahead of the task and remaining on top of things becomes important. It’s the only way to feel confident about the arrangements from a legal point of view.
With any artist agreement, it should spell out all of the contractual obligations (from both sides) and what the compensation will look like. This should be aired out in advance for the event to be a complete success. Any hurdles on the day of the festival could pose issues down the road and it’s best to take care of them in advance. Look into all potential legal factors while writing up these legal agreements to ensure the event isn’t spoiled.
2. Festival Ticket Selling Legal Considerations
Another legal factor to give thought to is the ticketing for a live event.
A music festival has to follow the laws of the land when it comes to ticket distribution, taxes, ticket pricing, and anything else associated with the tickets. This information is readily available for event organisers and should be followed to a tee.
The wrong approach with regards to tickets could lead to an evacuation and that’s the last thing a music festival needs on its big day. Plan ahead and account for these legalities.
Music Festival Health And Safety
As we’ve noted, the health and safety of all festival goers is of the utmost importance and cannot be ignored when it comes to organising an event. This is why it’s important to look into the various requirements associated with a music festival and how it’s going to be hosted.
Important Health And Safety Considerations
This is a critical area to delivering a successful Festival event – read this HSE advice at the earliest stage possible.
1. Crowd Management At All Stages of the Event
Before anything else, the most important consideration would be an event’s crowd management strategy. Let’s assume the artist will be performing at a pre-determined stage. Where is the crowd going to be seated? Will there be people standing close to the stage? Will there be ways for members of the crowd to exit or are they going to be cramped in one spot? Is this safe for their well-being especially as the festival drags on?
These questions are essential before planning an event.
A music festival’s crowd management strategies are important because of local, state, and federal regulations on such matters. Governments are particular about such events and how they’re hosted because of the potential hazards such as electric wiring, lighting, and standing structures. These details can make or break how the event is hosted. Event planners are urged to look into these details as soon as possible.
2. The Availability Of Sanitary Facilities
Along with the crowd management strategy, it’s also important to look into set sanitary facilities for the event. These facilities should be accessible, plentiful, and safe for the event to be a success. If not, these adjustments should be made immediately to avoid long-term issues.
It doesn’t matter where or when the event is hosted because sanitary facilities are a must.
It’s not just about the legalities of such requirements but also from a business point of view. If the event goers aren’t happy about the sanitary facilities, they’re going to leave and that’s the last thing a host desires.
Event Health And Safety Checklist
The best approach to hosting a safe music festival is to create a pre-determined checklist which should include, at least, all of the following;
- Sanitary Facilities
- Safe Electric Wiring (Pyrotechnics, Fireworks, Lighting)
- Crowd Management Strategy
- Camping Area(s) If Applicable
- First-Aid Management (Access to Medical Professionals, Ambulances)
- Transportation Options
- Communication Between Event Personnel
- Emergency Situations (Fights, Natural Disasters)
All of these details should be considered and planned for. If not, the event could be compromised and that’s not a good thing at all! An event organisation agency can help with these details and come with a robust, more extensive checklist of their own. This can help streamline the music festival and ensure it goes ahead smoothly.
Music Festival Entertainment Artists And Performers
Let’s move onto the most important entertainment part of any Music Festival and that’s the artists/performers.
It’s important to consider the type of artists/performers that are coming to the event and how they’ll add value. Looking into their reputation, quality, professionalism, cost, and all related variables remain essential for a successful music festival.
Why Choosing A Good Mix Of Performers And Attractions Is Critical
1. A Good Range Of Entertainment Sets the Tone
A music festival is reliant on its image and that’s the “first impression” it’ll end up making.
This means it’s best to choose a quality lineup of professional artists/performers that are renowned for their work. It will set the tone and make sure people understand this is a legitimate event with legitimate professionals on display.
2. Helps Promote the Festival
The goal is to bring in as many people as possible to earn money and that’s where a quality lineup matters. The best artists/performers will do all of the marketing on the shoulders of their brand. This can make it easier to spread the word about the event.
Music Festival Sound Systems And Engineers
These are the unsung heroes at a music festival but remain an important cog in the machine.
A sound engineer is responsible for setting up, monitoring, and managing all festival-related sound systems with efficiency. These are professionals with years of expertise in sound engineering for high-profile events and should be cherished.
Key Factors To Consider When Arranging Sound Systems
1. Output Levels of Speakers
According to professional sound engineers, it’s important to look at the power generated by speakers. This means how loud the music can be played without seeing a distortion in quality. It’s easy to set up simple speakers, raise the volume, and call it a day but that will lead to a lousy event with screeching.
Instead of having a screeching set of speakers, a sound engineer is able to maximise a speaker’s output for a pre-determined location (i.e. stage).
2. Physical Location of Speakers
Not only is the output essential but also the location of each speaker.
The crowd is coming in to listen and they want the best possible experience. This is only possible when the right number of speakers are placed in strategic spots around the venue. If not, certain segments of the crowd may find the music to be quiet or awkward. These details do matter and shouldn’t be ignored while hosting a music festival. This can make or break the festival because a poor sound system is impossible to ignore.
Music Festival Stage Considerations
The sole focus of any crowd will be directed at the stage and that’s why it’s the heartbeat of any music festival. It’s the keystone to a successful event and has to be prepared to the best of one’s ability.
Choosing The Correct Stage Type And Size
1. Crowd Size Considerations
Before anything else, the most important thing an event organiser has to consider would be the number of people coming in. This can be done with the help of counting tickets or determining interest online using polls.
The premise is to gauge how many people will show up because that can determine how big a stage should be. A larger crowd is going to require a larger stage.
2. Overall Size of the Venue
Don’t forget to consider the venue’s size because this will determine how large a stage should be. Too many event organisers forget to fill up space when it comes to their venue and this leads to large gaps in the crowd.
It’s smarter to maximise the venue and strategically set up the stage.
Musical Performance Lighting Gear
Imagine walking into a music festival that’s dull, dark, and simply unsafe.
The lighting has a role to play in how a music festival is hosted and the value it brings to those coming in. If the lighting is off, it’s going to end up sucking out the event’s energy in a matter of seconds. It’s best to look into this as soon as possible with the help of lighting specialists.
How To Organise Lighting For the Festival Performances
1. Focus on the Stage
Build from the stage out when it comes to lighting. This means focus on the stage’s lighting system and then start to work around the rest of the site. This is where the attention is going to be directed so ignoring it is a bad idea.
Think about the lighting, wiring, and pyrotechnics surrounding the stage and then start to work towards the other regions.
2. More is Better Than Less
This is the rule of thumb when it comes to lighting at events.
Crowds rarely complain about too many lights because a bright setup is always better than a dull one. However, everything has to be prepared in advance including the location of each light and how much power it’s able to generate.
Vendors And Vendor Management
The vendors are a part of the “show” when it comes to a music festival and that’s what makes it a proper event. This is why spending time speaking to various vendors is a good step in the right direction.
Handling The Advertising And Onboarding Of Vendors And Caterers
No outdoor music event is complete without a wide range of vendors offering tantalising attractions from food, through crafts to traditional Festival experiences such as henna tattoos, stalls, games and tuition classes. Many people remember their experience at a Festival music event as much for these vendor attractions as the core entertainment itself. Once you set up your initial Festival online properties (website, social media etc) you should provide facilities for interested vendors to contact you (and they will). However, choosing and bringing your selected vendors onboard requires thought and planning. Here are a few early considerations.
1. Plan to Mitigate Risk
The most important thing for a music festival is to mitigate risk and that includes anything associated with the event. With vendor management, the mitigation of risk should include understanding cost implications, agreements, certifications, qualifications, and alternatives.
2. Sign Agreements And Have them Validated First
This fits in with the idea of applying local Uk and county regulations because vendors need to sign agreements too. Look to speak to a legal professional beforehand to get a gist of what needs to be done and make sure you are clear what certification(s) vendors must provide. If they can’t, then don’t even think about it.
Always prepare for the worst and have backup solutions when it comes to the onboarding of vendors/caterers. This is critical while planning out a music festival and hoping it goes ahead without an issue. The agreements will ensure the festival has something to lean on in case a problem arises.
Disabled Attendee Considerations And Requirements
Let’s assume a variety of people will show up to enjoy the music festival.
It’s more than likely for the event to end up hosting disabled ticket holders with accessibility requirements. These cannot be ignored because it’s illegal to do so and the event will be sued to the moon if that’s the case.
What You Absolutely Must Take Care Of With Disabled Facilities
1. Assess And Make Sure You Meet Your Legal Obligations
There are specific legal obligations tied to each and every ticket holder. This includes disabled individuals coming to the event.
If they’re not catered for (sanitary facilities, ramps, parking spots) then the law is being broken. It’s as simple as this and these details should be planned out in advance. Assuming people will adjust is the worst possible thing to do because it will lead to a lawsuit.estival’s Image If This Aspect is Not Well Managed
2. Can Harm The Festivals Image if This Is not Well Managed
There have been several examples over the years of poorly hosted music festivals and how their oversights ruined the event forever.
Mishandling disabled ticket holders is the easiest way to get vilified by everyone. It’s essential to focus on these requirements so the event doesn’t fall apart.
Music Event On-Site Services
Sometimes, it’s the simple details that make an event successful such as the placement of garbage bins, recycling bins, or even where a bathroom is located. This is important and should be considered well in advance while establishing the venue’s layout.
Other Support Services To Consider That Are Necessary
1. Toilets And Sufficient Numbers Of Them
This is the most important on-site service because people will be rushing to the bathroom. It’s important to have a good amount of bathrooms that are accessible to everyone (men, women, children, disabled persons).
2. Free Water Stations
People enjoy a good drink of water and that’s why setting up free water stations is never a bad idea. It’s the little touches that go a long way.
Music Festival Marketing And Promotion
It’s one thing to go out and set up a great event and another to make sure people are coming in. This is where an event’s promotion becomes vital and has to be done the right way for meaningful results.
Selling Tickets For The Event
You will generally want to sub-contract the actual selling and servicing of tickets to a partner organisation. This ensures not only that the online sales process will operate smoothly but that the necessary resources, training and equipment is available at the event to ensure successful checking and validation of tickets. Ticketing partners vary and choosing the right one for your event is a critical step.
1. Selling Tickets Online
Your ticket selling activity will generally happen via your website, social media pages, mobile event app or through event directories online. Paper ticketing may also be important, however, so research your ticketing partner thoroughly. make sure they support the entire sales process from payment portal through to event check-in. Eventbrite, Skiddle and Gigantic are three specialist ticketing companies operating in the UK but each offers a varied range of services and, most crucially, support. make sure to engage the right partner for your type and, importantly, scale of the event.
2. Checking in Ticket Buyers
You will need resources on the night to check in and validate purchased tickets. Again, your ticketing partner should be able to advise and supply the necessary equipment, software and, if needed, supervising staff to ensure a smooth and orderly entry experience for your visitors.
Planning Your Marketing And Promotion
Build a marketing plan and make sure it’s followed to a tee.
You will, of course, need an event website which will be at the heart of your promotion, advertising and (often) ticket sales. This reflects the ‘brand’ and tone of the Festival so don’t underestimate the importance of a top-quality, highly-credible and attractive Festival website.
1. Social Media Marketing
Social media is the modern-day marketing tool that has to be used well for maximum results. This means spreading the word via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Instagram. All of these social media platforms should be interlinked as the word is let out. There are multiple ways to leverage social media for advertising and ticket sales and a good marketing plan including both online and offline marketing channels is vital.
It’s also smart to use social media influencers because of their outreach. The same applies to any artist that’s performing at the event. He/she will also be willing to spread the word.
2. Local Advertising
Traditional marketing methods such as the media, banners, posters, T-shirts and similar all still have their place in Festival marketing. Don’t underestimate the power of local advertising, especially if you have a one-day festival where a major attendee demographic will often be within a few miles of the event itself.
The Value Of Sponsorship
1. Why have sponsors for your Festival?
Unless there is a good reason not to have them then if potential sponsors appear (and they often will, especially for family community events) consider the value they can bring. On purely financial grounds, you can find that active and participative sponsors are invaluable in partly funding, organising and promoting your event.
If you are a potential Festival organiser then the top-level rough guide above may seem quite daunting (and remember it’s top-level and summarised only). With Festivals the devil is often in the detail and there is a lot to be done. We find that almost every event organiser or organising team underestimates the amount of work needed. If you as an organiser can assemble an organising committee, you will find that spreading responsibility and action across several shoulders can make a world of difference to the road (smooth or bumpy) that your festival organisation takes. Along with input/resources from, or through, a Festival management company, an organising committee is well placed to manage multi-faceted and complex events of this type.
if you are considering staging a Festival next year then we can help you begin to pull the key parts together to help make your Festival event a successful reality. Why not contact us here at A1 Festivals to discuss your thoughts, plans and intentions as you plan for your first or next event.