By Lidia Marusic
To many music lovers, there is nothing like spending a weekend dancing at a music festival or jamming out at your favorite live venue. I am certainly one of those music lovers, and concerts are my favorite way to spend my time (and money). By March 2020, I had purchased tickets to three concerts and intended to buy tickets to Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and all live music events were suspended with the rest of the performing arts. This summer was the first time many fans and artists felt comfortable to perform again, and along with many others, I jumped on the opportunity to experience live music post-pandemic. In this blog, I discuss how music festivals were marketed this summer and how this will change venue marketing in a post-pandemic world.
I Wanna Rock and Roll All Nite
It’s no surprise that thousands of concert fans rushed to purchase tickets when music festivals like Lollapalooza and Rolling Loud announced that they would be happening again in summer 2021. Why? After spending months in lockdown and losing that human connection, people were ready to get back out in the world and experience something they love. This made marketing the experience to live music fans so much easier for festival marketers.
For many live music fans like me, the perfect summer experience is a music festival because you get to engage with others who have the same music interests as you. Loyal music fans, frequent concert goers, and those looking to experience that human connection needed little marketing efforts to sway their decisions to attend. Social media was used to gauge interest and excite fans. Simply announcing that the festival was going to happen this year was enough marketing for festivals like Lollapalooza to sell out 4-day passes in a couple of days.
Sorry for Party-Rocking
Despite the droves of people looking to experience live music again, the concerns of spreading and contracting COVID-19 were still on festival planners’ and marketers’ minds. For some people, the fear of getting sick or the social backlash of going to a festival that would likely be a super spreader event was a major barrier. With any business or marketing campaign, it is important to pay attention to these concerns, and music festivals needed to address what those other potential audience members felt about this mass gathering event taking place.
There were a handful of initiatives that music festivals took to protect concertgoers from pandemic worries. Vaccines or 14-day COVID test results were required and checked upon entry at Rolling Loud and Lollapalooza. This was on all marketing materials and made known through news broadcasts, social media, and website warnings when purchasing tickets. Also, word that the festivals would be live streaming full sets and filming backstage content piqued the interest of both ticket holders’ and non-concertgoers alike. For example, Lollapalooza contracted with Hulu to livestream the entire event for people who didn’t feel comfortable attending. They marketed this as the safer and cheaper way of seeing and supporting your favorite artists from home.
For the Love of Live Music
As we continue into a post pandemic world, there is no doubt in my mind that concert venues and music festivals will continue to have to innovate on their marketing efforts. I think that Lollapalooza did a very good job of marketing that live music is back for the frequent concert goers and marketing the shared experience over social media and livestream for those not willing to attend in person. Moving forward, venues should take note of what Lollapalooza and Rolling Loud did to attract people to engage with the event online or attend in person.
Lidia Marusic is a third-year student studying Marketing and Human Capital Management & Leadership at Miami University. Her involvement in the arts started from a young age, when she was an avid performer and creator. Although Lidia has stepped off the stage and away from her drawing kit at Miami, she has devoted her time to developing skills in business leadership that she hopes to apply to arts and entertainment organizations in her future career.