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How Music Fans Are Choosing Their Summer Festival Lineup

1Fans are eager to invest in tickets to festivals with star-studded lineups, but as more and more of this events crop up, competition is getting stiff. Here we take a look at the factors which potential festival attendees take into account when deciding where to go.


Guest post by Rachel Grate of Eventbrite

As we dive headfirst into music festival season, lineups are being announced left and right: Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival just revealed their alternative-rich roster for early July. Classic East and Classic West, a new bi-coastal summer series, broadcast their lineup of the rock greats for late July. And Boston Calling, happening in late May, is now selling tickets for its star-studded lineup.

Fans love the “all you-can-eat music buffet” experience of festivals, and they’re willing to throw down big bucks for multi-date tickets so they don’t miss a thing. But the wild popularity of festivals means new live music events are popping up every year. And with increased market saturation comes ferocious competition.

So how do fans make their choices about which festivals to attend? Read on to find the answers uncovered in a recent survey of music festival fans.

The Headliners

Music festivals are about much more than just music. The culture, the crowd, and the overall experience are all factors in what makes a music festival memorable. But a third of music fans still say that headlining artists are the number one factor they consider when deciding which festivals to attend. To stay ahead of the competition in the festival space, one tactic clearly stands out: You have to have a great lineup and stellar headliners.

The Supporting Cast

ImagesMore than half of fans would rather see a favorite artist headline a festival than play a standalone show, and the same amount consider supporting artists when making ticket-buying decisions. In fact, 10% of music fans we surveyed seek to discover great new music through supporting artist lineups at festivals. So play up your entire roster — not just your big names. Tease your supporting artists via social media and video clips in the months leading up to your festival. Consider spotlighting one or two “up-and-coming artists” fans might not get a chance to see elsewhere.

The Genre

Of course, there are so many music niches these days it can be hard to differentiate Americana from Alternative Country. At the end of the day, music fans particularly love artists who perform in the mainstream categories: Alternative and Modern Rock (55%), Classic Rock and Pop (49%), and Top 40 (40%). So when zeroing in on who to choose for your roster, exploring lesser-known genres is great — but consider anchoring your lineup with some classically popular choices as well.

The VIP Options

A healthy 45% of festival fans are willing to pay 50% more to upgrade from general admission to VIP status. Back up your elite ticket option with substance: perks like VIP-only access to artist lounge areas (for which 30% of fans are willing to pay double) and VIP-only viewing areas (29% would pay double). You can also lure VIPers with premium restroom facilities and faster or private entry.

The Hardcore Festies

Your superfans are the ones driving the bulk of your revenue. They’re VIP-ticket buyers, repeat attendees, and vocal social media advocates for your event. They attend an average of five to six festivals a year and comprise about 20% of all the fans at each festival. Pay extra attention to these big spending fans. Which acts are they most enthusiastic about? Where are they spending their time onsite? (Hint: beacons can help you hone in on this.)

Tapping into the enthusiasm of your hardcore festies is key to influencing the rest of your fans: The majority of fans surveyed make choices based on where their friends are going, even if they are unfamiliar with the artists.

In a crowded festival market, creating better experiences with the right headliners, a great supporting cast, and sweet VIP options will give you the advantage. And paying attention to the hardcore festies in the mixwill help you gauge what’s working best.

For more on how to entice the right kind of fans in big numbers, check out the eBook Attract the Most Valuable Fans with Your Music Festival Marketing.