Festival Season Has Returned

In Beats + Bytes by Nue Agency

This weekend, the festival season officially kicks off with Coachella.

We had a strong warm-up with Dreamville last weekend, and J. Cole outdid himself by dropping a surprise album, I Might Delete Later, the night before the fest. That’s a next-level marketing stunt and shows how non-artist driven festivals can’t compete with true fandom when it’s well orchestrated.

But Coachella is the big kahuna. It’s the pinnacle of festival style and sets the tone for the year with its brilliantly curated lineup.

This year, Coachella had some trouble selling tickets at first. Typically, they sell out before even announcing the lineup. So, why was this year different?

It could be a combination of not being enough big festival headliners people want to see, plus many bigger acts doing or having recently done their own massive tours. Why headline Coachella when you can sell out SoFi Stadium in LA?

It might also be a saturation issue. There are so many festivals now. Or, it could be a backlash from a rough 2023 economic year and reverberations of the recession.

There might also be market demand for something new and fresh since so many festivals are legacy brands at this point. In fact, many festivals called it quits in 2024. RIP to Made In America, Sasquatch, FireFly, and many more that won’t be returning.

That said, Coachella is shaping up to be a hit, in part because the parties that surround it are so legendary. Coachella is also leading the pack in terms of tech moves, including its big partnership with YouTube (for the 12th year). YouTube is going to apply a lot of the knowledge it’s accrued from broadcasting NFL games, as well as its latest shopping capabilities, which will likely lead to a new format for livestreaming festivals going forward. On top of that, the Google hype machine is turnt and already hyping up the artists on this year’s bill with added promotion for the festival.

Our friends at FutureParty put together a roundup of the events surrounding the festival and the brands activating this year, so take a peek and try not to get too much FOMO.

Coachella is also experimenting with NFTs again, which should be interesting post-FTX and after a failed attempt a few years back. It’s even playing in the gaming space now, staging a festival in Fortnite to drum up attention.

Coachella always sets the bar high for the season. I’m going to have to sit this year out and catch Couchella, although I do plan to be on the summer circuit with clients and friends.

As for the rest of festival season, I’m excited to see which artists break out, which brands make an impact, and what technology is widely adapted; not to mention which styles catch fire and which products become must-have accessories. I feel like the Burning Man chic and flower crown days are over, don’t you?

There are big opportunities for partying with a purpose and creating sustainable and cause-related events.That’s what the people want. I talent produced for a solar-powered festival in NYC many years back, so I’m curious to see what a fully sustainable music festival could look like in 2024.

I’m a big believer in the power of the music festival and the connections it creates: it’s the ultimate taste test; a great place to congregate; a press lightening rod; and a place where artists can touch fans, and brands can put cans in hands. Whether at an oasis like Indio, the glamping grounds of Bonnaroo, or the cityscapes of Lollapalooza and Global Citizen Festival, there’s no better way to plant a tentpole for the summer and fall. These events will all be “the place to be” in their respective cities.

And yet, niche festivals continue to grow in influence. They allow us to go deep with a core group and make content that counts. That way we can learn and build new communities while we party.

Yes, festivals are here today and gone tomorrow. But the memories made can last a lifetime and lift a city up.

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Also published on Medium.