Essay: Innovations and Developments in the Music Festival Industry

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¶ … business today, the music industry has seen rapid and extreme changes. Not least of these is the change towards the digital media and the Internet. These have changed the face and nature of the music industry, as well as the development and purchase of music by the public. In addition, the current drive towards more green technologies has also created changes in the way music products have been developed and provided to consumers. The same is true of music festivals. Music festivals create the need for large spaces and quantities of products and infrastructure to be successful. At the same time, trends in the music industry are often at the heart of creating these festivals for the purpose of attracting as many consumers as possible. As the industry develops, music festivals have become an increasingly global phenomenon, where it has had a particular effect on the economy and the tourism industry. These effects can be seen in terms of the trends in the music industry and music festivals in general, in the economy, and in the environment.

Trends in Music and Music Festivals

According to Warman (2010), music festivals have thrived over the last 25 years, even when taking into account the economic turndown in recent years. In Britain alone, there are more than 670 events, of which the top 200 contributes £450 million to the country's economy in terms of ticket sales, travel, accommodation and food. The UK is probably that country that is currently most famous for its music festivals. Visitors from both abroad and locally have increasingly made music festivals part of their vacation getaways. Today, there is even a luxury option for those who do not want to camp out in traditional "Woodstock" style.

Warman (2010) ascribes the rise in popularity for these festivals, at least in part, to the downturn in album sales. Today, artists make more money from their live performances than from the music products offered in stores. This has affected the marketing efforts related to the music industry. According to the author, marketing support for musicians would have been substantial with every album release. Today, however, the trend is to focus live performances instead.

Because of their nature, marketing for these events then also includes much more than just the music itself. It is a package that is being promised using music as the focus point. Anxiliaries such as food, beverage, and merchandise form part of the experience being offered. The challenge is to create an economic balance between the expense of the festival and income from ticket sales, which forms the majority of revenue for such events. Indeed, whereas ticket sales fluctuate and are subject to uncertainty, payments to service providers remain constant.

Regardless, the industry continues to grow, apparently independent from any economic woes plaguing the rest of the business sector. One of the reasons for this is the industry's response to demand changes. Camp Bestival in the UK, for example, is aimed at families, where babysitting services, a circus, and adventure park, and other family-focused features are provided.

The international tourism industry has also benefited from music festivals, where Europe has become a popular destination for festival goers, especially from the UK (Train, 2011). According to Train (2011), festival-going tourists spend about 25% more than other travelers, which make them a profitable target for tourism marketers.

Increasing festivals and marketing are not the only trends that have changed over the last decades of the industry. The social and cultural roles of music festivals have also grown in importance (ITineraryforvision, 2011). Woodstock might be seen as on of the first music festivals with major cultural and symbolic meaning, promoting the "hippie" lifestyle and culture. Since then, there have been vast improvements in the organization and management of music festivals, especially when it comes to sizable events, as seen above. To this end, the International Music Festival Conference (IMFCON) is the largest international organization that represents the industry. The IMFCON supports needs such as networking, partnerships, and trend research in the music and festival industry in order to help organizers and musicians provide the best possible customer experience.

Sustainability and Environment Trends

Because of their nature, much attention has been given in recent years to the extent to which music festivals are conducted in an environmentally friendly way. In response to the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report claiming that the music festival industry has been a major contributor to the carbon footprint left by the general music industry, organizers have made the effort not only to reduce the footprint by means of better organized events, but also in so doing to educate festival goers themselves (Music Week, 2008).

Particularly, organizers have implemented measures such as stages lit by pedal power, hydrogen fuel cells, or the distribution of biodegradable tent pegs. On a more official level, the music industry lawyer Ben Challis has co-founded the non-profit British organization A Greener Festival (AGF). This organization focuses not only on strategies to implement green strategies at the sites of festivals themselves, but also on strategies to eliminate associated environmental damage, such as transport travelers use to reach these sites. Indeed, this is a specific focus for AGF. Once solution is to encourage festival goers to use public transport to events by including the cost of such transport to tickets. Glastonbury in the UK has introduced 22,500 tickets of this type, being linked to coach and rail travel. According to the organizers, however, they were the slowest to sell. Another effort is to lobby the country's government to change its transport policies to encourage more use of the public transport system. Despite the apparently slow progress of these efforts, the industry has nonetheless shown itself to be willing to become more responsible for the environment.

Another example of the organization's effort is its Greener Festival Award scheme, by means of which festival organizers are encouraged to complete questionnaires with the aim of having their events being recognized as green. In response, many have opted for low-energy or solar power for their stage events.

Indeed, there are examples of UK festivals that have successfully reduced their carbon footprint. One of these is The Big Chill, where the effort includes combined festival and coach tickets, as well as a project to run its Body & Soul area entirely on solar and pedal power. In fact, that area is being used as a testing ground for various green initiatives to determine the best green power effort for use across the entire festival.

This is a good beginning, but not yet enough by far to reach the worldwide target of a 60-80% reduction of emissions by 2050. A significant challenge to this is competition. With the increase of festivals across the world, the temptation is often to reduce costs at higher costs to the environment. In addition, many prominent artists are increasingly demanding in terms of the management of, access to and suppliers for festivals, which also presents a challenge to increasing green and reducing carbon. This in itself creates pressure in terms of the balance between competition and creating a green festival.

Another challenge is the condition of the environment left behind after festival goers and musicians have left. This is another environmental concern that must be effectively tackled if a greener festival environment is to be ensured. Discarded items and field damage are among the top concerns to be addressed (Music Week, 2008).

In addition to encouraging better behavior in audience members, strategies to combat this include recyclable plates, cutlery and drinking utensils and campers' waste kits. Other measures include prominently displayed slogans and "green police," who encourage respect for the environment.

Nevertheless, an important component in the equation of environmentally friendlier festivals is the people attending the concerts. To make for successful green efforts at festivals, it is essential that the audience participates. While many today are more aware of the impacts of human activity on the environment, it is unlikely that this is at the top of the list for festival goers, especially if it takes some effort on their part. This is something that only time and organizer effort will likely remedy. Environmentalists will, however, find it encouraging to see how many organizers are indeed aware of the need to make an effort and are responding by implementing significant efforts.

Worldwide Industry

While the UK might be considered as the country with the most significant among of music festivals in the world, others are not far behind, which is evident in the quality of worldwide music festivals and the numbers of tourists attending them.

White (2011), for example, mentions the 2011 Essence Music Festival, an annual event in New Orleans. This in itself is an event that offers a range of platforms for the various cultures represented in the city. The festival has been showing exponential growth over the years of it existence, as indicated by the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street, which has been sold out earlier than it ever has.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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