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Critical Steps Launching a New Music Festival

Andy Robertson

Launching a new music festival can be a daunting yet exciting proposition with numerous opportunities and potential pitfalls to consider. How should organisers mange the planning and timing of announcements for maximum impact yet maintain a sense of reality about what can be achieved by when.

The music festival industry is currently facing several challenges including rising costs, sustainability issues and the cost-of-living crisis that is having an adverse impact on ticket sales. Given this uncertain climate it would be risky to attempt to launch a new event however the potential benefits and financial rewards could outweigh this. What factors should organisers be contemplating when planning and announcing their new music festival.

A music festival that has been running for a number of years can usually offset costs from the sale of early bird tickets even without a line-up. Festival-goers are comfortable committing to an advance ticket because they previously attended, and the organisers have built a positive reputation for putting on a good event. New festivals do not have this benefit and are often starting from scratch so advance ticket sales revenue cannot be considered in any financial planning so suitable alternative funding needs to be secured.

Festival Site.
Organisers should obtain permission or at least approval in principle on a proposed festival site, ideally a location that has good transport infrastructure and a friendly local authority. It may be prudent to have an early conversation with licensing authorities who may be willing to partner with organisers because of the potential local economic benefits. If approval has yet to be obtained organisers should consider contingency locations close to their desired site. 

Team and Staff.
The credentials of the organising team are essential considerations as individuals with proven track records are more like to be taken seriously by licensing authorities, suppliers, artists and ticket buyers. It is not unusual for organisers to recruit staff on a contract basis to avoid any long term financial commitments.

Suppliers and Contractors.
Early negotiations with suppliers and contractors are essential to guarantee availability and organisers of new festivals will probably be expected to pay on confirmation or at a minimum a hefty deposit. For suppliers and contractors, a new music festival represents a financial risk which can only be mitigated with some kind of proforma invoicing arrangement.

It can be acceptable to run a teaser campaign on social media about a new music festival to drum up interest and generate pre-registrations from interested festival-goers. This could be as vague as month, general location and genre of music. A new music festival should not be selling tickets before a festival site has been secured and the initial line up announced. Once the festival site and dates are confirmed organisers can start curating artists that match their ethos and chosen genre. As more headliners and artists are announced a series of campaigns can be run for phased early bird tickets.

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
Andre Moura via Pexels

Andy Robertson
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