It was that moment, when I was sitting at a table in the candlelight that flickered across the faces of strangers sitting next to me who I have more in common with than any of my current friends, that the true value of FestForums® hit me.
Unlike other conventions where tech companies, agencies, or CEOs are outdoing each other on panels talking about their successes and being first-to-market, FestForums’ panels of festival experts, music industry leaders, and film gurus, discussed 101’s and helpful tips to equip others to create more art for the world. The common theme throughout the forums was “authenticity”. Partnerships with larger festivals were, by the very nature of the forum, encouraged vs. viewing everyone as competition. Describing the sponsors for their events as partners vs money trees was refreshing. Engaging, useful topics were covered rather than broadly safe statements just to fly by. The two day event really brought together innovative minds and genuinely kind people willing to share their expertise, both during their panel and over a bottle of wine – as authentic as you can get.
During the days at Time Inc’s headquarters, topics such as “Creating an Optimal Experience for Talent at your Festival” with Marc Brownstein and Aron Magner, Co-Founders of the jam band The Disco Biscuits and Camp Bisco Festival and “Producing a Festival from Soup to Nuts” with Kyle Casey and Jonathan Baden of Panoramaand Ricky Ginsburg of Bonnaroo/Outside Lands/Boston Calling /Eaux Claires, were covered in detail with clearly credible advice.
Day one, Thursday, May 11th, encored at the opening night of Esther & Carol for the funkiest networking happy hour with a performance by the impressively talented, new rock band Rebel and the Titan. Lead singer Sophia Urista seamlessly blended and embodied the sounds of Prince, Janis Joplin, Robert Plant and Dana Fuchs, if that’s even possible.
Day two kicked off with a hungover-attendance, but most relevant topic for our platform, “Media At Your Festival” monitored by the most relevant PR company in the space, Russel Ward from The Confluence Group. The importance of press is a no-brainer, so the discussion leant itself more to how to properly pitch outlets to cover your festival (do your research / customize your pitch / propose a relevant topic), and how to utilize press for crisis management – dodging the FYRE example was impossible. Steve Knopper fifteen-year Freelance Journalist at Rolling Stone added credibility to the conversation, reiterating the importance of understanding an outlet’s content, knowing your audience, and using unique / insider information in the article. Case in point: Billy McFarland of FYRE Festival.
Continuing on a key topic to launch and grow festivals, David Beame,Event Director of Global Citizen Festival, lead a panel of luminaries under the title “Growing Your Event by Acquisition or Changes Within”. Peter Shapiro, founder of Lockn’and Publisher of Relix, and Luke White, COO of SnowGlobe festival, shared the heart for growing their endeavors. White hit it home eloquently stating how important it is to build an authentic relationship with your city, show the city how you can make a positive impact, and treat each partnership as a longterm collaborative bond for a successful launch of a festival. Shapiro agreed, adding in the significance of the seasonal team that makes a festival happen – becoming a family and how the volunteers, partners, sponsors, and workers all really love the festival mission, which is what keeps it going.
Turning the wealth of information into insider tips for the future was the goal for attending FestForums. However, we in turn received so much more – relationships we appreciate and hope to keep into the future and inspiration. If there are hundreds of accomplished festivals and passionate people in music, art, and film, you can become a success story in this beautiful industry, too.
When the team who coordinated FestForums informed me that the Santa Barbara event was even bigger and better, “Think California, there’s festivals all year around,” it only took a second to consider the value of that authentic experience. Count us in again.