The New Game in Town in China: Music Festivals
In this post, our friends at Splatter have taken a look at 2010’s hottest phenomena in China, the Music Festival. Below they touch upon what brands can gain from this phenomena. These benefits aren’t exclusive for the Chinese market though, but apply to many other markets.
Until relatively recently, China’s music festivalers were restricted to one option only, Heavy-metal heavy Midi which has been held in Beijing since 1999 and stood alone as the only regular event in China until, in 2007, two new players strode purposefully into town. Aiming at a more attractive (to marketeers at least) “indie hipster” crowd, Modern Sky Records in Beijing launched their eponymously titled 4 dayer, and Splatter’s sister company Split Works launched the Yue Festival in Shanghai, backed by Bacardi and Converse. Since 2007, Music Festivals have erupted in every corner of China, with (rough estimation) around 60 in 2010 and there is more to come…
Festivals are however an expensive game - creating a temporary village for 1-4 days, paying local and national government licenses and then of course artists fees, both international and domestic (domestic artist demands have tripled in the last couple of years due to the increased popularity and demand) - puts festival investments into the millions of RMB (1 RMB is approximately 0,15 USD). On the other hand, you look at the ticket prices of the average festival (60RMB/day) and the average attendances (2,000 – 8,000 – be wary of anyone who claims more, Splatter attend them all), it becomes clear there is a large financial disparity occurring.
How do the organisers make up this shortfall? In China, there are four ways currently:
- A local government offers to underwrite the festival (Suzhou Holisland, Zhangbei Inmusic, Zhenjiang Midi Festival) as a way of promoting the town/ district
- Sponsorship fees (Modern Sky, YUE, Nokia’s Strawberry in Xi’an)
- Real Estate developers offer to host a music festival on their land to attract people to the area and then to hopefully sell them expensive property (Tianjin Dreamvalley, Great Wall Tanglewood)
- Promoter funds the festival personally (at Niu Yu Hui near Guangzhou, the farmer whose land hosted the festival, sold his car and laptop in order to pay the bands due to poor ticket sales)
More often than not, festivals are funded by a combination of the elements above (e.g. Zebra Festival, a festival in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, is a joint venture between Zebra Media and the Chengdu Government/Chengdu Media Group and Suzhou’s Holisland was actualy underwritten by local government to draw attention to a new real estate development).
Because of the need for funding, brands and agencies in China are being approached by most, if not all of these festivals throughout the year. But, why would you want a music festival as a part of your branding strategy? Splatter tell their clients that music festivals scratch at least 4 distinctive itches.
First, brands get a great experiential and engagement opportunity to have a deep and meaningful interaction with their consumers. Going to a festival is the most exciting thing most people ever do; this makes them incredibly open minded to messages from sponsors.
Second, brands can use their participation at the music festival to tell a broader story to the media, by buying media and mobilising online communities. Festivals can deliver huge value in terms of PR and marketing when done well.
Thirdly, your brand benefits from increased awareness as well as a positive and often passionate association and alignment with the festival itself and the artists attending.
Finally, there are enormous sampling opportunities, which your target consumer will often pay for! On site, sales can be leveraged, and most experienced brands report substantial increases in sales post event.
Which music festival would fit your brand?
Splatter is a specialist music communications agency based in China. Split Works, Splatter’s sister company, is a Beijing- and Shanghai-based concert promotion agency. Together they maintain China Music Radar, a blog about the Chinese music industry.