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International Transcendence of Music Festivals

What’s The Trend:
A notable rise in the international popularity of Music Festivals, demonstrating a new preference for large-scale events with many artists, is spreading to Latin America as well as incorporating Latin American influence. This trend may also indicate a larger phenomenon of globalization of pop culture, with trends and tastes no longer being limited by geography and borders.

What’s New:
The music festival phenomenon shows a shift in preference towards events showcasing many artists, producers and DJs from around the world, in comparison to the usual single day concert with few headliners. There is also a growing emphasis on the experience one has alongside the music. Art installations, creative lighting, interactive displays and large sculptures and structures throughout festival grounds are a big part of these events. Festivalgoers are also attracted to the feeling of community and oneness that these large gatherings can generate.(13)

A great illustration of this increase in popularity is the high-profile Coachella festival in Indio, CA. Starting in 1999 with about 25,000 people during two days, Coachella has since attracted crowds of 85,000 per day over two three-day weekends in 2012. In the same year, Ultra Music Festival in Miami reached a high of 165,000 attendees.(14) Lollapalooza, an extremely popular festival based in Chicago, has definitively signaled the globalization of music festivals by adding three South American festivals this spring in Santiago, Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo.

Brands have been increasingly taking advantage of the surge in popularity and global growth of music festivals by developing new marketing opportunities at these large events that in some cases also reap collateral benefits and touch consumers in unexpected ways. The long-running festival South by Southwest in Austin, for example, has seen brands exercise creative ways to engage with festival attendees. Last March, Doritos sponsored a stage designed like a vending machine to introduce their new Doritos bold flavors. Throughout the festival, Doritos’s then held a contest requiring fans to complete acts of bravery to win a ticket to the Lady Gaga concert on the Doritos stage.(15) Companies in the fashion industry have looked to take advantage of this craze by releasing music-festival fashion lookbooks. BCBG and Free People are two that recently released “hippie, music-loving” chic lookbooks early spring to drive festival attendees to their clothing lines.(16)

Why It Matters:
Music festivals aren’t just growing, they are globalizing. While Lollapalooza, a U.S. based festival, is expanding to the Southern Hemisphere, Latin America is also bringing their music influence to the U.S.

Rockin Rio is a festival that took place in Brazil last year and will be coming to Las Vegas in May 2015, bringing attendees the best of U.S., Brazil and U.K. cultures.(17) Rockin Rio coming to the U.S. reveals the influence of Latin America on the mainstream and it lends itself as an example for Latin American cultures to integrate at future music festivals.

As we see the ease in which these culture-infused, large-scale music festivals move across borders, it is important to note the greater significance this has when thinking about creating products and content. The assumption has been that people from other countries will be unfamiliar with U.S. culture and vice versa. But if pop culture in general isn’t limited by borders, then peoples’ choice in products, content and experiences is expanded. The globalization of music festivals therefore creates not only increased competition, but also countless opportunities for increased creativity, unique consumer experiences, and growth in brand awareness.

13. Gerstley, Lisa. (2013, January). “The Festival Phenomenon: Beyond the Music.” Daily Trojan.

14. Gerstley, Lisa. (2013, January). “The Festival Phenomenon: Beyond the Music.” Daily Trojan.

15. Hamp, Andrew. “The $1 Million Buy-In.” Billboard 3-15-2014.

16. Picillo, Emilie. (2014, April). “Music-Festival Inspired Fashions.” TrendHunter Young, Meghan. (2014, April). “Music-Loving Hippie Lookbooks.” TrendHunter.

17. Rockin Rio USA. Billboard 3-29-2014.

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