The Rise of the Micro-Festival

Today’s passionate music fan needs more than an album to listen to. Read how Micro-Festivals play an essential role in today’s international music scene and tomorrow’s music industry economy.

In this age of digital downloads and instant gratification, it’s not enough to just make great music and have it available to sell. Die hard music fans have always been my favorite kind of treasure hunters, only the type of treasure has changed. We’ve come full circle in the music world, where fans who once clamored to get their hands on a physical piece of music no longer have to fight through the record bins and wait-lists. Now with the click of a button and a little bit of WiFi, finding great music is as easy as finding sand on a beach. So what are these treasure seekers left to look for? How about great musical experiences? Those once-in-a-lifetime moments that really connect them to the music they love and make them feel more alive than they’ve ever felt. That make them feel like a part of something bigger than themselves. And seeing a major act for an hour or two just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Die hard music fans have always been my favorite kind of treasure hunters, only the type of treasure has changed. - Shauna 'WhiskeyChick' Castorena
“Die hard music fans have always been my favorite kind of treasure hunters, only the type of treasure has changed. – Shauna ‘WhiskeyChick’ Castorena”

Let’s face it. The days of the local music fan going out 3-4 nights a week and paying covers to see a garage band play to ten people are not working anymore. Money is tight for everyone, and some markets just can’t support that kind of music scene. Luckily DIY musicians and promoters are starting to catch on that there is a much better way to do business that benefits everyone involved at all levels. The Micro-Festival.

What is a micro-festival?

A micro-festival is a music festival that falls somewhere between the multi-day mega fests like Rocklahoma and Coachella and the traditional arena-packing headliner shows like AC/DC and [Adele]. Micro-festivals are usually single all-day or overnight events that feature multiple stages or entertainment hubs, a variety of vendors, and possibly camping or onsite lodging, all targeted to a very specific demographic of fans. Metallica made a fantastic case for this type of event when they created the Orion Music + More event which hosted visual artists, bands, film-makers and several other talented and creative feature attractions all backed by a headlining show from Metallica themselves. It was a sell-out event that gave fans more value for their concert tickets, and vendors a naturally pre-qualified throng of potential customers.

Texas Hippie Coalition is also great example of this, as is Zac Brown Band, Lucero, and several others who create a family vibe within their fanbase, holding reunions rather than shows. These cook-out and camp-out styled events still feature carefully selected vendors and entertainers, but in a more relaxed and familiar atmosphere that helps fans create a bond with each other, strengthening the artist’s fanbase as a whole.

If you want to learn more about the logistics behind running and promoting a successful micro-festival, check out this great article from Spin magazine.

For a list of up and coming micro-festivals that are really making a name for themselves, Amex has a list of the top 17 must-see micro-fests across the world.

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