Live & Touring

Music Festivals Like Bonnaroo and Coachella Draw The Line At Corporate Stage Sponsorships

Sponsored-stage-laurabernhardt-flickrThough post-recession growth is bringing corporate sponsors back to music festivals, not everyone is fully embracing their return. Stage sponsorships, a fairly obvious opportunity, are being rejected by Coachella, Bonnaroo and Pitchfork. But that doesn't mean big brands aren't welcome and the stance seems primarily about focusing on the fan as the core customer rather than going anti-corporate.

According to Dave Flessner, the International Event Group estimates corporate sponsorship for festivals and sports events will "increase by 5.4 percent this year to a nationwide total of $1.28 billion."

Such sponsorships can help community-based festivals keep down ticket prices and help put festivals as businesses in the black. For events like the Essence Festival, sponsors are an integral part of the design of the Festival itself.

But Michael Sebastian reports that multiple music festivals aren't interested in stage sponsorships which are one of the most obvious forms of festival sponsorship. Coachella, Bonnaroo and the Pitchfork Music Festival have all turned down the stage sponsorship opportunities that all three could easily exploit.

Richard Goodstone of Superfly Presents, co-creators of Bonnaroo, stated:

"When it comes to sponsorships, there needs to be a value proposition for all the stakeholders, the audience being No. 1…If we took our main stage and put a brand in there, I couldn't justify the value to the overall fan experience."

However brands found lots of way to participate in Bonnaroo including an air conditioned games tent by Mattel, Garnier hair-washing salons and Ford's air conditioned tent with performances and activities.

Pitchfork Media's VP of advertising Matt Frampton explained:

"Stage sponsorships are a big moneymaker, but our position has been that when you get 20,000 people in a field and they're looking at brand marketing, they're not focused on the editorial experience of the festival — the music."

Nevertheless they were able to find a spot for Intel last year to showcase indie video games.

While some brands may be disappointed and some festivals might make a bit less money in the short-term, such a perspective seems likely to help festivals stay in touch with their core base of support, the fans.

[Sponsored stage thumbnail courtesy Laura Bernhardt.]

Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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