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Solutions for Music Festival Staff Shortages.

Andy Robertson

The coronavirus pandemic had a significant impact on the music festival sector with many full-time permanent staff being made redundant or at best furloughed. People affected were forced to find alternative employment but once events resumed it has been challenging to get experienced people to return to the industry.  

Anyone working in the music festival industry will find the work enjoyable and very different from any humdrum regular job. Despite long hours, low pay and sometimes unpleasant working conditions employment with any festival organisation can be rewarding in so many other ways. When faced with having to earn an income music festival staff laid off in 2020 found alternative employment, often with established companies. Their new working environment provided regular hours, good salaries, job security and numerous company benefits making them reluctant to return to the often-chaotic environment of the music festival. What can organisers do to fill the gap left by experienced festival staff.

Recruiting Talent with Transferable Skills.
The job categories most easily filled by festival organisations are those that have a technical requirement that is easily transferable from other industries. This would include the marketing, finance and IT functions where the skill set can be similar irrespective of the industry previously worked in. There will be minor differences but these can easily be taught quickly making any onboarding process straightforward. Festival organisers should be more open to accepting these functional talents from other industries when recruiting. The biggest challenge will be filling any operational production roles which require music festival specific experience and skills.

Freelance Contractors.
For difficult to fill vacancies like artist management, artist curation, stage production and roles involving site build infrastructure and logistics festival organisers can consider outsourcing. This may involve using freelance contractors or event production agencies. There will be an increased cost associated with this route but it does guarantee getting an experienced team working on key elements of the festival organisation. 

Whilst the shortage in experienced festival staff continues organisers should be more proactive with their training programmes. Recruiting fresh graduates and creating intern programmes is a low-cost avenue to future proofing a core team of permanent staff. Graduates and interns will be green to the music festival environment but having a structured training programme will ensure that the organisation can build an experienced team for future events. If the festival organisation is using freelance contractors, it may be wise to insist that trainees work closely with them by job shadowing or acting as an assistant. This on-the-job training is the best way for talent new to the industry to build their experience and quickly get up to speed with the intricacies of music festival operations and logistics management.

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering.

Photo by Edmond Dantès via Pexels

Andy Robertson
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