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The popularity of music festivals is growing. We know this because music promoters keep adding more festivals each year, and we know this because the total numbers of fans attending are higher and higher each year. Some people have been surprised by the growth of music festivals because technology makes it easy for fans of related music to gather in one web-based place and to communicate with each other even if they are physically continents apart from each other. As it turns out, millennials still want to have the “real” experience of seeing artists and listening to their music live. Social media and technology is still a big part of creating the experience, though.

Perhaps the growt h in festival popularity is because of nostalgia that parents and grandparents have as they talk about Woodstock. Perhaps the popularity of festivals is because the cost of a ticket to attend a festival is not dramatically higher than going to one top rated performer that is performing alone. Festivals are also important to fans; festivals are often what people plan their summers around. What is clear is that festivals are not the muddy, wet, often miserable experience that Woodstock really was.

Consumers seem to want live music right now. It is the experience that millennials seem to thirst for. Where else can a person go and hear 10 bands, get their palms read, get a tattoo, learn ways to save the environment, register to vote, and do one of a 1,000 different things at one venue? 

What Helps Draw People to Festivals

Is it any surprise that in the second decade of the new century that technology plays a big part in drawing attention to these festivals? The website suggests that half of all fans who attend or want to attend a festival learn about it through a friend’s social media post. Festival organizers are best served to attract the initial half of fans by hard targeting people who attend several festivals each year. 

These “festies” often attend five or six festivals each summer, and when they post a recommendation to attend a show, other fans pay attention. While half of the people attending a festival said they got word of festivals from the hardcore folks, those same festies believe that 69% of their friends learn about festivals and learn about the best ones to attend through their social media posts. Four of five hard core festies are online to spread the word while under 60% of the casual fans are online. Festies throw a broader net than casual fans.

There are also more corporate sponsors of festivals than in years past. If a major soft drink company or a brewer sponsors a festival, they can advertise with billboards, on cans or bottles, and through their own social media blitzes. For example, in 2006 the Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival attracted 3,000 people. Local breweries, Yelp, and other sponsors helped support and advertise for the festival, and in 2015 it was attracting 27,000 fans. Attendance at this event doubled from 3,000 in 2006 to 6,000 the next year.


Some festivals almost seemed to be aging themselves out of being mainstream. Some thought Lollapalooza was near its final days and losing relevancy. One way the promoters got the word out that it was still relevant was a photo booth at the 2013 concert in which people could take a picture that was animated and sent out over Twitter. It was a hit, and it played at least some role in keeping the festival relevant.

The Most Popular Social Media Platforms for Festivals in 2014

People can use social media to give immediate updates about what is happening at a festival. Other people see that a performer is doing great, that people are having fun, and they either try to get a ticket to the festival in another city, or they remember for the following year. 

The most popular social application usage to promote and to “report” live about a music festal in 2014 were:

  • Facebook was used by 92.5% of fans to promote or report about a festival
  • YouTube was used 88.6% of the time
  • WhatsApp was used 56.9% of the time
  • Instagram was used 48.7% of the time
  • Spotify was used 45.3% of the time
  • Google+ was used 37.4% of the time
  • Twitter was used 36.5% of the time

People will follow their favorite band on social media. They will set different apps to give them an alert when Jack White, or the Black Keys, or some other performer will be close to them. When these artists are involved in festivals, more and more people comment about them on social media. There may not be festivals that draw half a million fans like in the past, but millions of people will enjoy festivals each year, and it will be partly because social media is so effective in getting the word out to those who might want to attend.