The Genius Marketing of Music Festivals

Since Woodstock, music festivals have been popular and abundant. They bring people together and allow us to escape our day-to-day lives for a few hours, or even weekends at a time! As music festivals have moved into the 21st century and the world of Digital Marketing, their genius has really shown. Between strong branding, heavy social media engagement, and strategic partnerships, music festivals can teach us a thing or two about how to build a business into a brand.

Consistent and Fun Branding

Tribu talks a lot about building businesses into brands, but what about building a music festival into a brand? Lollapalooza is a great example of how consistent branding can grow a festival into a cultural event. For 30 years, Lollapalooza has brought live music to a large audience in Chicago. However, did you know they originally started as a touring event? They have gone back to a similar business model now, and have been very successful at bringing their festival to audiences across the globe! After building such a strong brand around their central Chicago festival, it made sense to go back to their roots and bring their brand of music festivities to audiences in North and South America and beyond! They use the same logo and brand style across all festivals and even go as far as keeping most of the same acts for many of their shows.

One thing that will always make music festivals interesting is their consistent branding with a fun twist! As they roll out a new yearly festival, they have a visual theme to go along with it! Each year that they drop a new lineup, they extend their branding with a fresh approach to all graphics and branding elements. Google “Lollapalooza lineup over the years” and see the evolution of their lineup posters–you won’t regret it!

Big Lollapalooza Sign

Strategic Brand Partnerships

Music festivals are great at a lot of things, but strategic partnerships are one of their strongest marketing efforts. Close to our hearts and even closer to our homes, the Austin City Limits Music Festival has been happening for over 20 years! Austin City Limits partners with American Express every year, and with this partnership comes the opportunity for exclusivity. They offer discounted ticket prices and early ticket purchasing access, among other things, to loyal American Express members.

Crowd and Stage Picture of the Austin City Limits Music Festival

In addition to their partnership with American Express, they partner with Miller Lite, Liquid Death, T-Mobile, and Honda, just to name a few. With these partnerships, you can get perks if you are a loyal customer of one of these brands, but more importantly, the partnership gets both brands increased exposure! It’s like influencer marketing on a massive, corporate scale.

Hype Building

Not to toot the horn of Austin City Limits again, but they also do a great job at hype building. Immediately upon the wrap of the two-weekend festival, they announce the pre-sale of the following year’s tickets! You get a discounted rate before even knowing the headliners. However, it does not stop there. They go quiet on social media from November until about late April, and then they announce that the lineup is soon to be announced, with the tickets launching only hours after the lineup release.

Phone Screen Displaying the Name Austin City Limits

This is where the real work begins. In the days following, they are consistent with posting and reminding people of their brand partnership with American Express and the exclusive perks that come with being a cardholder. They go into engagement overload and, in other years, start to post mysterious blurred-out photos of the headliners to have fans rave and speculate. The hype is real by the time the lineup and the tickets drop!

Social Media Engagement and HUGE Ad Budgets

Along with their increased presence on social media, music festivals hit an engagement overload from fans alike. To keep the hype they have built alive, they trend track on their hashtags, and actively respond to fan questions or viral social media posts. While doing this, they also make sure to link back to their ticket purchasing portal or relevant site pages. They never miss an opportunity to get eyes on their brand.

Their ad budgets are probably no joke either. I’m sure you’ve seen musical festival ads EVERYWHERE on social media recently! It’s music festival season, and their digital presence extends beyond their increase in organic social media posting. All these festivals have to do is put ad dollars behind their lineup poster (the moneymaker) and now they have millions of impressions and more ticket sales. As they build the hype before dropping the lineup and the tickets, festivals like ACL put ad dollars behind really cool creative graphics as well! Check this one out on Facebook Ad Library and maybe you’ll see it in the wild! 

Has a music festival’s marketing ever gotten the best of you? Let us know which festival caught your attention recently! And if you have a music festival or event that you need help building into a brand with kick-ass design and advertising, contact Tribu today!

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