Anneli Knight
Smarter Writer

Anneli Knight is a journalist, writer and academic with a background in law and finance. She lives in Byron Bay

Anneli Knight
Smarter Writer

Anneli Knight is a journalist, writer and academic with a background in law and finance. She lives in Byron Bay

Running a music festival as a successful commercial venture is not easy in this era when some of the longest running and most successful festivals have closed down.

Two Australian festivals that are continuing to expand are the St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, held throughout the country in January and February, and Splendour in the Grass, held in Byron Bay in July, which has recently acquired Falls Festival, held concurrently for three days over New Years in three states.

Jerome Borazio is co-founder of the hugely popular St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, which grew from a line-up of gigs at his bar in a Melbourne laneway, to a festival that tours the country and is also held in Singapore, Auckland and Detroit.

Music festival stage and crowd

Stay fresh

Jerome says one of the most important aspects of running a successful business in such a competitive cut-throat environment is to continue to be proactive in creating new things, so the audience is continually delighted.

“We travel extensively and see a lot of amazing festivals all around the world,” says Jerome, who started the festival with Danny Rogers, who manages some of Australia’s top bands.

“We know what we enjoy at other festivals and we bring those qualities back to our show. It’s about doing things properly and always paying attention to detail.”

“We know what we enjoy at other festivals and we bring those qualities back to our show.”
Jerome Borazio, St Jerome’s Laneway Festival

Listen and respond quickly

While it is a long-term process getting the foundations right, a festival won’t survive if it doesn’t respond immediately to what its patrons want. Social media platforms make things happen quickly.

“We had a significant Facebook campaign run by patrons for the need for better [mobile phone] coverage,” says Mat.

“Our patrons demand and require bandwidth like never before, people are uploading and downloading all sorts of information, which really wasn’t the case five years ago.”

North Byron Parklands responded quickly to make this service available for the next event, says Mat.

Social media has also become a key to keeping the festivals in the mind of punters all year long, with plenty of quality content to broadcast.

“Festival marketing has moved from traditional to a social media focus. There’s a long burn and a short burn to that,’ says Mat.

“There’s this opportunity to engage with existing and potential patrons through social media, and also the opportunity to really get defined messaging out closer to the event.”

Within two days of the announcement of the 2014 Splendour in the Grass line-up the Facebook post had received more than 50,000 ‘Likes’, says Mat.

Social media has been a double-edged sword for festivals.

“In the past, venues and festivals were not given this critical feedback in a timely fashion, and that was really hard to steer that business model because your response time was slow,” he says.

Verdict

The threat and the opportunity for any businesses working in this type of environment is tuning in to what your customers are saying and to evolve accordingly.

“For businesses nowadays you just have to tap into that and respond to it quickly.”

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