The eve of Glastonbury – the UK’s long-running music festival - got a few of us onto a rather fun conversation about the festivals we had attended in our youth, the ones still on our bucket list and those that sadly slipped away into a muddy field leaving behind just a few very cloudy, cider-addled memories. But what was intriguing is that we all had at least one foreign music festival booked in the next 12 months. Clearly it's a huge business and one that is getting bigger every year.

I’ll own up, I was planning on going to “Oldchella” (aka Desert Trip) but now have other more vibrant plans up my sleeve, whereas my business partner Michael prefers to stick to the edgier (and younger) Coachella near Palm Springs.July will see three members of the London sales team take a trip to Belgium EDM phenomenon that is Tomorrowland - a festival by the way with its "own" branded Brussels Airline plane (SEE BELOW). Fitting really as more than 10,000 passengers travel to the festival with the airline. However, as I have always suspected, it's the accounts department you have to watch out for as they make their annual pilgrimage to Ibiza and its 5,000 capacity superclubs.

Brussels Airline Tomorrowland

All this talk inspired some deeper research into the sheer size and scale of this exodus of music lovers and the massive marketing operation behind it. Not to mention the financial clout they wield, as brands attempt to pursue, influence, immerse and experientialise (try saying that in Shangri La at 3am) future customers and consumers.

Brands such as BMW, Amex, Marriott and Heineken are flocking around these music events, throwing mega bucks around in the hope that festival lovers will visit their VR media tents, chillout spaces and recharge zones. Named sponsorships of these festivals go for $$$$$ but I wonder just how effective this type of on-site marketing is, because in my observational experience, revelers are rather more “focused” (by “focused” I mean “off their tree”) on their music and chemical experientialising at this critical brand touchpoint.

In the last few years we have seen nimble airlines proactively respond to this ever-growing market. For the main Tomorrowland Boom event in Brussels, 140 additional flights from 67 different cities are laid on. Ibiza’s summer schedule sees over 2.8m people arrive on the white island over the course of the season, with over 12,500 aircraft movements in July and August. Smaller festivals like Farrago (Munich), Sonar (Barcelona), Secret Solstice (Reykjavik), Roskilde (Denmark) and Outsideland in San Fran see hundreds of thousands of people transported in and out of those cities. Restaurants are jam packed, hotel rooms are booked up long in advance and taxi drivers’ coffers are overflowing. Whether you are a sun cream brand, travel insurance company, headphones manufacturer, booze brand or clothing company – come talk to us straight away. 

Put it this way - would it not be more effective to place your brand, for a fraction of the cost, in front of your target audience when they are VERY high, with their head in the clouds and rolling at 500MPH? And by that I mean sober, focused, relaxed and kicking back in the comforts of a flight.

…and the colleague who is off to Burning Man to breathe fire naked? I’m afraid they will have to remain nameless.

Festival Tomorrowland

Interesting Music Festival facts:

Coachella hosts over 198,000 over its 2 weekends. International ticket sales were up 125% from last year. In all, seventeen countries are represented with most international fans hailing from Canada followed by the U.K., Australia, Mexico and the Netherlands.

Tomorrowland attracts 185,000 people from more than 75 countries and has expanded to Rio, Chattahoochee Hills Georgia.

Foreign music tourism is on the up - 767,000 foreign visitors attended a festival or gig in the UK last year, up 16% year-on-year. These music lovers spent an average of £852 per stay, up 13%.

135,000 overseas visitors came to the UK for small, grassroots music events.

This weekend 170,000 people will descend on Pilton, Somerset for the 44th Glastonbury Festival.

Source: UK Music