There is nothing more hip and happening than a music festival. Everyone’s in good spirits, people are dressed in trendy outfits (even if they’re covered in sweat and dirt), and the energy of the crowd is unmatched. There is an overwhelming amount of musicians and spirited fans. Even brands are joining the party!

Last year 447 bands played a role in 300 music festivals worldwide. Some brands even took the next step and fully owned a festival, like Budweiser’s yearly end-of-summer Made in America festival, held in Philadelphia. During this year’s music festival season, even more brands will sponsor music events. More than $1.34 billion will be spent sponsoring festivals, tours and music venues, a 4.4% increase from last year!

So, what’s the draw? Why would brands want to take part or host a music festival? 

Brands use festivals to take part in the fun and pair themselves with the lasting memories from the event. A music festival is known to be a positive experience and brands are looking to tap into the good vibes. Brands are also looking to reach a certain demographic and music festivals could be a great way to target the right people.

Wondering if the crowd might be turned off by brands populating their festival plot? No worries, a study at this year’s EDC festival by Bovitz Inc. found that 82% of concertgoers were interested in being involved with brands at the event or receiving free giveaways!

Participating at music festivals helps brands reach the large audience present at the event, but it doesn’t end there. The Bovitz Inc. study also found that the average concertgoer loves social media. 88% of attendees said they planned to use Facebook at the event, 71% said they would tweet, and 68% said they would use Instagram. This means marketers’ messages can easily spread across social channels during and after the festival.

If you have the opportunity to sponsor a music festival and it aligns with your demographic and product/service, it’s definitely a great opportunity to make a lasting impression. If not, there are still many lessons you can learn from music festival marketing. So, other than simply showing up at these festivals, what exactly are brands doing to connect with the crowds?


1. Creating an Experience

Brands aren’t just hanging up a few signs and calling it a day. They are creating a personal experience. A great example of this is Bud Light Platinum at EDC NYC a few weeks ago. To promote their “Turn Up Your Night” campaign, people who purchased the VIP package had their own viewing deck complete with table service and a private bar and a personal Bud Light Platinum dance floor in the MetLife stadium’s 50/50 Club lounge. This BLP experience was made complete with private performances from DJs like Tommy Trash, 3LAU, and Desctructo. Bud Light Platinum made concertgoers’ festival experience platinum using the unique concept of producing an intimate club inside a festival.


An exclusive VIP moment like the one Bud Light Platinum created will be hard for people to forget and with the premium experience, people are sure to think of Bud Light Platinum as an upgrade to the usual. If you want to make the same type of impact on your potential customers, create your own experience!

Don’t slew random advertisements at people (especially Millennials), they’ll probably see right through it. Establishing a personal connection with potential customers is how you earn their loyalty. Create a rewarding experience that people will want to take part in!

Hint: Tap into what your audience already loves when creating a brand experience.

2. Giving Away Free Samples

Everyone loves free stuff. There is no denying that. At this year’s South By Southwest festival in Austin, TX, Monster Energy ran their #MusicMakesMeDot campaign and handed out free Monster products during the shows. They also opened up a “Java Monster Cafe,” where gave away free breakfast and a Java Monster Coffee so festivalgoers could get energy for the day.


If you have a product that people can sample, you should seriously consider giving people a taste of your brand. Sampling creates excitement and removes the customer’s risk calculation. Purchasing a product they are not yet familiar with is sometimes too big a step. The more people who try and like your product, the more people will become customers and actually purchase your product!

3. Solving a Problem

It’s hot, really hot. Fans have been dancing and sweltering in the heat for hours and they happen upon Sony booth. They are delighted to find free sweatbands, such a necessity in 100-degree heat. Sony solved a problem presently affecting potential customers and they are sure to remember this kind gesture.

Finding a solution to a current problem is a smart way to create a powerful connection with potential customers. Not only do people like free products and services, but when you provide for them at a time of need, you’re making an even bigger impact.


4. Inspiring Social Media Activity

Brands at festivals don’t just stop at connecting with the physical crowd on the festival grounds; they also increase their reach to concertgoers’ social networks. VH1 hosted a GIF booth at Lollapalooza where people could create an animated picture that they could email and share on their social networks. They also had a giant tweet board where concertgoers’ tweets would appear if they tweeted @VH1 with the hashtag #BestLollaEver. By creating fun social sharing activities, VH1 gave people a positive experience and in turn, the brand was able to spread awareness through a variety of social networks.


Social media is a large part of any marketing campaign (or it should be). We can look to brands at festivals and see their heavy focus on social media and their use of a variety of social media channels to increase their awareness. Your business should try to implement a number of social media tactics but only if you have the ability to manage a large number of networks well. Quality is more important than quantity, but achieving both would be the optimal goal. Festival marketers also know that visual social media posts get more interaction. Photography is one of your best assets!

The Wrap-Up

Music festivals are popular and full of passion and positive energy. Your marketing should be too! Even if you can’t tackle a music festival in the flesh, by keeping a fresh perspective and following these tips, you can rock your marketing and effectively capture attention and drive conversions.