IMFCON 2014 Wrap Up

Freshtix at IMFCONLast week, Marketing Manager Ashley Staggs and I attended the International Music Festival Conference (IMFCON) in Austin. The annual conference draws attendees from an industry comprising of festivals from around the world and providers who service the festival industry.

Everyone from the organizers of Coachella, EDC and Bonnaroo to app developers to just about every major ticketing company has a presence at the annual 3 day event.

Here are some of our highlights:

Sunday:
The Magic of Music Festivals: What It Means to this Generation
Chip Conley, CEO, Fest300

Chip Conley (the former CEO of Joie de Vivre hotel and current Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy for Airbnb)  is the founder of Fest300, a website that aims to curate the world’s 300 best festivals.

Chip spoke about his passion for music festivals and our need to get out and enjoy real experiences and not just digital ones. He has travelled to hundreds of festivals across the world.

Takeway – I thought one of the most interesting topics of discussion was “What is a festival?” His website has picked the best 300 festivals, but how do you define a festival? Does it require the word festival in it’s name?

Monday:
Sell Out Your Festival with Big Data

Moderator: Biasha Mitchell, Manager, Music & Festivals, Eventbrite
Panelist: Uri Bogler, VP Marketing, Front Gate Tickets
Panelist: Keith Goldberg, VP of Marketing and Product, Vendini
Panelist: Sean O’Connell, Festival Director, Hangout Music Festival

Uri Bogler and Sean O’Connell had the best input. Uri Bogler talked about how his company helped their festival clients analyze and collect their data. You could tell his company worked closely with their festivals to share the data and help them realize what they could do with it. The same way we do at Freshtix. Sean O’Connell explained how big data helped him book Hangout Festival and talked about how the Shazam app had some features that helped with gauging artist interest. Biasha Mitchell provided some insight (the same as when she moderated the panel last year) about the importance of Facebook and the amount of ticket buying traffic it still generates, not necessarily from company pages any more, but from fans sharing the event and/or letting their friends know they’re attending.

All Roads Lead to WiFi: Evaluating iBeacon, RFID and Cashless Payment Technologies

Moderator: Kim Owens, Editor & Owner, Kaffeine Buzz
Panelist: Todd Terrazas, Founder, Brain itch Solutions
Panelist: Allen Cook, Founder, TOURtech
Panelist: Chris Hammond, Co-Founder, Wine Amplified Festival
Panelist: Ron Doroba, Vice President, North American Sales , EPS America

Allen Cook talked about how back of house internet reliability at festivals has gone from a nice-to-have to a must-have over the past few years, especially since the introduction of cashless payment technologies. But Ron Doroba from EPS America talked about the next wave of RFID which writes to the chip locally and doesn’t rely on an active internet connection.

It’s Been a Hard Day’s Night! 2014 Recap – State of the Industry

Moderator: Laurie Kirby, President, IFFS-IMFCON
Panelist: Kevin Lyman, Producer & Creator, Van’s Warped Tour
Panelist: Stuart Ross, Red Light Management
Panelist: Robert Richards, Commercial Director, Glastonbury Festival
Panelist: Maureen Ford, President of Live Nation Venue Network, Live Nation Entertainment
Panelist: Elliot Lefko, Vice-President, Goldenvoice (Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival)

Probably my favorite panel. It was interesting to hear Robert Ross talk about the differences between UK & European festivals and US festivals which is mainly that most UK festivals, in particular, are camping festivals. Stuart Ross talked about the way festivals were booked, as did Elliot Lefko. It was just good insight into the current state of music festivals worldwide.

Tuesday:
Sharing Events: How to Get Them Talkin’

Moderator: Ted Cohen, Managing partner, Tag Strategic
Panelist: Christophe Daligault, CMO, FireChat by Open Garden
Panelist: Bart Borrelli, Business Development, CrowdTorch by Cvent
Panelist: Melissa Golding, Digital Content Manager, SXSW Conferences and Festivals
Panelist: Mike Walbert, General Manager, A3C Hip Hop Festival
Panelist: Tucker Gumber ,CEO, FestEvo

iBeacon technology which tracks your movements and pushes messages to your phone (as long as you are within proximity, have the app downloaded and have bluetooth turned on) replaced RFID as the new buzz tech of previous years. Melissa Golding talked about how they were using it at SXSW. Christophe Daligault was interesting too and talked about his product called Firechat which turns a group of friends at a festival into a network to communicate with one another and even share one person’s internet connection.

Visual Arts: How art installations give festivals personality, identity, and longevity
A music festival is not a series of concerts on a series of stages.

Moderator: Philip Blaine, Owner, Robot Picnic
Panelist: Christopher Janney, Artistic Director, PhenomenArts, Inc.
Panelist: Todd Roberts, The Windish Agency, LLC.
Panelist: Dede Flemming, Co owner, The Do Lab (Lightning in a Bottle Arts and Music Festival, Coachella Music Festival, Boom Music Festival)
Panelist: Michael Christian, Artist

This was a great panel to end on and really emphasized the primary theme of this year’s conference that is it all about the experience. You can book the best acts year after year, but if that’s the only thing you’ve got going for you, you’ll quickly lose money as you’ll be relying too heavily on booking the right act (and paying out the nose for it) and not the overall experience. You want people to come out and have an amazing experience at your festival regardless of who is playing. That’s why the most successful festivals sell out even before the acts are announced.

Adding art installations enhances the overall experience of your event, creates a unique identity and gives attendees something to take pictures of and share and entice their friends. It was really interesting to learn how festivals curate the art and how the artists view it’s use.

Did you attend IMFCON this year? What panels did you enjoy most?

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