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Music Festival Marketing for Startups

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by Startacus Admin

Author Bio- Anna Lemos is a creative content editor and strategist at Quick Formations aka Quick. Originally a designer, Anna has worked with various startups and SMEs creating graphics, social media campaigns and brand identities to catapult them into the market. Having blogged since University, she took a creative detour into content writing and is now part of the Quick Team.

Quick aims to inspire, support and guide entrepreneurs, aspiring innovators and startups across the UK. They are part of one of the oldest and biggest company formation agents in the UK with experts ranging from the fresh-faced digital team to the formation veterans.

Anna shares with us a plan of action for startups who are hoping to make the most of the marketing opportunities created by the UK festival season.  Here she discusses why festivals can be a great place to raise awareness of your startup, how to select the festival that is right for you, some great examples of successful campaigns, and how to evaluate how effective your efforts have been.

Music Festival Marketing for Startups

Tap that UK Music Festival Season

It’s that time of year when people will start pitching up their tents in the muddy fields of festival grounds. They’ll be singing, dancing and raving to their favourite bands and DJs with, most likely, a pint in one hand and a friend in the other. They want the weekend of a lifetime.

That’s where you come in.

Festivalgoers want an experience to remember and you can become part of that. You don’t need to be a corporate giant to get involved in that festival vibe or pour thousands of pounds into sponsoring an event. Quite simply, you can pitch up and get involved.

Why get your startup on the music festival scene?

UK music festivals attract colossal crowds of people each year. In 2015 alone, about 14 million adults planned to attend a festival of which three tenths said they would go to more than one. Those are huge figures to get your brand in front of.

The most dominant demographic was the millennial with an average age of 33.63% of students in the UK have been to a music festival in the last 3 years. That means you could grab the attention of a lot of 18-34 year olds in the space of 2 or 3 days. More importantly, they will see your brand as ‘on trend’ simply by being at the festival. What’s even better is that you’ll have an opportunity to connect with them on a personal level.

Most millennials will attend festivals that are around £150 or less. These individuals have money to spend. In fact, in 2015 71% spent up to £200 on non-essential items at a UK festival. These people are also passionate about music and everything that goes with it. 74% of attendees always pay for music.

Approximately 97% of festivalgoers are alcohol drinkers and they averaged a £24 spend per attendee daily on alcohol alone last year. The most popular food in 2015 was pizza, burgers, baguettes and wraps which averaged just under £20 spend per attendee daily. Note that 62% of attendees thought food was overpriced. If you’re in the food or beverage industry, there is a huge market here.

There are over 350 organised music festivals in the UK during the summer period and that doesn’t even touch on the myriad of other types of festivals available. The peak month is July with the likes of Wireless, T in the Park and Secret Garden Party taking over the scene.

Festival-goers go to these events for the music, to escape ‘normal life’, to spend time with their friends and meet new people. It is a carefree environment where all the restraints of the day-to-day disappear.

Music Festival Marketing for Startups

How to make your brand successful on the ground

Your brand has the potential to tap into a whole new market, but you’ve got to nail your festival campaign. Only 47% of festivalgoers remember the sponsors there. The trick is to integrate your brand into their overall festival experience.

The festival

First you need to identify which festival you should be at. This will depend on your target demographic and brand identity as well as your budget. If you make sustainable swimwear, then attending Boardmasters would make perfect sense, but heading to Glastonbury might be less relevant. If you’re unsure, contact the festival directly. Once you’ve understood where to go, you need to find out that specific festival’s application dates, costs and procedures. You can normally find this by searching the festival name followed by the word ‘traders’ e.g. Wilderness Traders .

The bigger festivals will probably be too expensive for the average startup, so don’t be afraid to look at some of the free or smaller festivals to begin with.

OK, so you’ve identified which festivals you’d like to attend. Now what?

The idea

You need to figure out what you’re actually going to do at the event. Try to step into a festivalgoers’ shoes. Handing out flyers will just annoy your potential consumers, you need to create an experience they’ll remember.


  • How will they be feeling?

  • What will they be doing?

  • What will they be wanting?

A bicycle powered juice maker branded to cure a hangover could be a fun idea, or why not cycle around the campsite in the morning delivering free breakfast? If you’re going to be static, you’ll want to create incredible environments that tie in with the overall festival feel. Don’t be scared to see if you can co-brand specially made products with the actual festival. Think free samples, workshops, interactive experiences, games and fantastical spaces. Here are some examples to get you going.

Pic by EE  

EE tapped into a common millennial need. Access to WiFi. Thus, the EE #4GEE TRACTOR was born. Driving around Glastonbury, it created a hotspot for anyone within 10m of the tractor providing free WiFi for speedy 4G internet.

Glastonbury is on a farm which makes the tractor an apt choice of vehicle, EE constantly promotes its speed and millennials always want to be connected. Brilliant idea for EE.

Lacoste picked up on the most classic festival attire. Flower crowns. In this case, they had their own Lacoste Live Desert Pool Party at Coachella and had a huge budget, but this stall is a fun and easy way to get involved with festival-goers. Simply pick the flowers you want in your flower crown, and they’ll make it for you in exchange for a post on social media.

The classic festival look involves people covered in glitter with flowers in their hair. This campaign tapped into that by providing bespoke, handcrafted flower crowns. The exchange? A social media post that would boost brand awareness across the festival and the internet.

The campaign

Right, so you’ve identified where your target audience will be and you’ve got an idea. Now you need to execute it. Here are some things to consider when creating your campaign.

Cost: Getting a stall at a festival can be very expensive. It can be useful to find other companies interested in the same market as you that are not direct competitors. You could share a stall which would split the costs. If the cost is still too high, consider looking into free festivals which will be a lot cheaper.

Giving: You need to give your consumers something to remember you by. Whether that is a great experience, a creative freebie (not a keychain or pen) or a limited edition product, you need to come up with something striking.

Taking: You’ve given them something (probably for free), you now need something in return. This is a great opportunity to collect emails or get social media follows and likes. Make sure you have an easy way of getting people to signup. This could be an iPad where they just need to login, like your page and logout again, or an easy to fill form for an email in exchange for a free sample.

Mobile: If you are doing anything that involves transactions, you’ll want it to be easy and mobile. Also excepting different forms of payment, such as cash or card, makes the festival-goers’ life so much simpler.

Remember, the festival culture has to be at the core of your campaign. Now you need to promote it.

Before, after and during the festival

A festival campaign isn’t just a 3-day job, it involves months of build up. You need to make sure you’re active on social media months before and after the event. Promote the festival and what festivalgoers are going to benefit from your presence. Start finding relevant hashtags and find out what the emotions and vibe of that particular event is. Try making a round-up video of your stall for Youtube after the event, Instagram during the event and Tweet and Facebook it before, during and after.

Whilst actually at the festival, get people to interact with your brand, monitor popular emotions and hashtags, and make sure you are permanently on social media to reply, mention and share what your users are engaging with.

Next you’ve got to get staff. Make sure they aren’t going just to get into a festival for free. You want enthusiastic people with a love for music, a belief in your product and good customer service skills. If they are new in the field, make sure you train them for various scenarios such as how to handle drunk people.

Marketing opportunities at festivals

Was it worth it?

Lastly, you need to measure the success of your campaign. This way you can see if your festival campaign was worth the expenditure and decide whether to:

  • Go back to the same festival next year

  • Choose another festival where your brand might have more impact

  • Decide against festival brand awareness campaigns.

Final thoughts

Festivals are a great place to get your brand out in front of thousands of people in a short space of time. This particular audience has a passion for music and thrive in the festival culture. Combine your brand with that power and you’ll have something really special.

The most successful campaigns are experiential marketing ones so get your creative cap on and start planning.

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Published on: 20th May 2016

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