Your Data is Safe with Marcato!

heartbleedIn recent days you may have seen a lot of press and social chatter surrounding the OpenSSL vulnerability bug, ‘Heartbleed’. In light of the threat, specialists have advised the global public to increase their security measures online and change all of their existing passwords to more secure options.

We wanted to quickly check in with you all and assure you that our app is not and will not be affected by these threats – your data is safe with Marcato!

That being said, when it comes to your other personal internet accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Ebay, Google) we suggest you read this informative piece from the BBC, and follow their advise to ensure your data stays your own!


Accepting Vendor Applications – Best Practices for Managing Your Festival

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In the early stages of planning a festival, accepting vendor applications is an important step for ensuring that not only the ‘marketplace’ of your festival is in full force come production day, but also the culture of your event is firmly established.

To a festival goer, vendors don’t just represent a means to an end, eg. a piece of pizza, or a place to charge their cellphone. If curated properly, vendors are an important part of the overall festival experience; in many cases they represent the cuisine of your festival, the mementos, the partners, the place to exchange ideas or excitement — the lifeblood of your festival.

Some best practices to follow when accepting vendor applications at your next festival are:

Accessibility:

The most common model of accepting festival vendor applications is posting a link to a staff member’s email, or a generic vendors@yourfestival.com email, on the event’s website, and then encouraging vendors to apply via that address.  The overall workflow of this process is almost always long, painstaking, and leaves a lot of room for human error. Between incoherent emails and missing information, even the simple task of collecting a list of options can turn into hours of work and wasted HR.

Providing accessibility for prospective vendor applications  can become one of the biggest time-savers while planning for your festival. Festivals can improve their accessibility by:

    • Clearly listing a process of how to apply to your festival on your official website
    • Hosting a digital form on your website that collects all the prudent information of your vendor applications and then organizes it efficiently in some sort of database.  
    • Clearly indicating any ‘next steps’ that a prospect must be aware of after they are done applying to your event

Creating a coherent application process that is accessible to all those seeking out your festival will save hours of work and synergize your collaborations, right out of the gate.

When reviewing the workflow charts of the two different models for accepting vendor applications, it becomes very apparent as to which model saves both the vendors and the festival organizers the most time & stress.

Vendor Applications Workflow

Categorization:  

Another common practice when accepting vendor applications is simply accepting generic applications for “vendors” or “trades,” while the festival is actually actively looking for food vendors, craft vendors, charity vendors, media vendors, or contestant vendors. Festival organizers often assume that applicants will understand how and where they fit into the entire process, which may be true for any veterans of the trade, but organizers then risk missing the ‘next big thing,’ eg. a vendor who may not know their way around the block yet, but have a lot of offer.

The key is to purposely seek out your vendors by listing and categorizing exactly who and what you are looking for. Have a separate web application form for all the vendor applications you are accepting, providing a clear workflow for any prospect. This point clearly relates back to the first best practice of ‘accessibility.’ The more organized and clear your festival is about your application processes, the more organized and clear your event will actually be.

Transparency:

Lastly, it is not uncommon for a festival goers to have no sweet clue about what vendors are attending your festival until they actually arrive on the event grounds. There’s been no chance for them to get excited about visiting their favourite food truck, or artisan display; no direction about where to locate them – no nothing!

A lack of communication about these details is a missed chance to promote your festival and a missed chance to be kind to your vendors. If we truly believe that vendors are not just means to an end, but an integral aspect of our events, we must properly represent and advertise their presence. This is especially true when you consider the cost of advertising can be virtually free in this circumstance, seeing as  an announcement that a certain popular vendor is coming to your festival this year is perfect tweet material! Such tweets will will open up new audiences for your festival who are big followers of your vendors, but know very little about you.

For more festival management best practices, including a few more tips on how to efficiently accept festival vendor applications, connect with one of our Marcato specialists and get started today!


Green Festival Initiatives: a case of going digital and going green.

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This blog was written in collaboration with A Greener Festival to help propel their mission of ”reducing the environmental impact of music festivals and events.” It was originally published on their blog at agreenerfestival.com

To explore other green festival initiatives and become ‘a greener festival,’ visit their website and follow them on twitter @AGreenerTweet

In darker days, if you sought them out keenly enough, one could find a festival director hunkered down in the corner of a large room, full of dishevelled papers, crates of contracts, old line-up schedules, and scratched out artists’ riders.

These were the photocopier days, the P.O. box days, where highlighters and letter openers were treasured possessions and pens went missing more often than chicken fingers at an office potluck.

The business of organizing a major festival was once, and still is for some, a grueling exercise in filing – sorting vendor agreements from media information, reports from venue layouts, and making sure the thousands of other documents a festival must deal with have a place and purpose. All the while, directors are trying in vain to catalogue all of it in a way that when next year comes back around things will be easier and less convoluted.

For the Canadian based Celtic Colours International Festival, first held in 1997, this story couldn’t have been more familiar nine years into their annual event. Driven by the thought that there “must be a better way,” the management at Celtic Colours commissioned some local programmers to help them design a rudimentary system that would eliminate the confusion of their paper data and help them ‘go green.’

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A few years later, the Celtic Colours office was transformed. Now instead of boxes filled with paper, staff were equipped with laptops and connected to a web-based management system that stored all their data and records neatly and coherently.

Using their newly gained insight into the inner workings of festival management, and encouraged by other festival directors who helped them capture the already proven and effective workflows of the industry, the software took on a life of its own. Marcato Digital was born and their soon-to-be branded “Marcato Festival” application grew quickly.

As the software evolved, more festivals around the globe started to join in with the revolution. Soon Marcato eliminated the need for any artists, vendors, or media to mail in their application to attend a festival, now they could simply apply online – paper-free.  In the same breath, the back and forth of contract negotiations became online mediations, where both parties could legally bind their agreements with a click of a button, rather than the swipe of pen.

Soon almost all festival management initiatives were thoughtfully incorporated into the system. Everything from allowing staff to collaboratively create complex shows & workshops online, to assigning and distributing credentials digitally at events in real time, was made possible.  No more photocopiers, no more fax machines, no binders being passed around from one member to the next – this was streamlined festival management.

What’s exciting is that Marcato Festival is not the only company sharing about how the digital revolution has come to the aid of festival organizers, and about how the movement as a whole has made some distinctly green progress over the years. As previously mentioned, digital can cut away vast amounts of paper and waste from the office; what’s more is websites can now provide clear and easily available information online, apps can help fans navigate line-ups and festival sites, and new technologies such as RFID and mobile ticketing can replace paper tickets and on-site payment systems with digital solutions.

Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 2.10.35 PMAt the Green Events & Innovations Conference in London, March 2013, We Got Tickets and En-Count launched their Carbon Assessment of Ticket Delivery Systems which showed that “For every ticket order sold, WeGotTickets has 107 times less environmental impact in relation to Greenhouse Gas emissions than the equivalent concert ticket order from a traditional ticketing delivery system.” Elsewhere, companies like Intelligent Venue Solutions are helping lead the way in the deployment of RFID, NFC, mobile, and other contactless technologies to create significant additional value for event producers, their customers, artists, and brand partners – all the while removing paper from the supply chain. Then there are our friends at Intellitix, another leading global provider of RFID Access Control and Cashless Payment Systems for live events; with offices worldwide in Canada, the UK, Australia, USA, and Hungary, the company has activated over 5 million RFID tags at music festivals, sporting events, and many other live events, since 2011. Intellitix says their technology improves the consumer experience at live events, increases revenues, drives efficiencies, cuts queues to a minimum, eradicates ticket fraud, and more closely connects bands, promoters, and brands with their audience like never before.

In Marcato Festival’s case – and the same can be said for many of these other digital companies – what started as an initiative to simplify the high volume of data that a festival must manage during any given year became an opportunity to revolutionize the way festivals are planned and eliminate the needless and excessive waste of material resources.

The perpetuated myth that ‘going green’ will be too hard of a challenge for your company or organization could not be more effectively debunked than by the case study of Marcato Festival.  Although this is just one step in the many needed to host a greener event, starting with the management process does seem like a good first step in ensuring we all leave our festivals with a sense of accomplishment, and knowing that we’ve done our most to ensure our environmental efficiency.

To learn about other green festival initiatives  that start from the ground up, get started today and talk to one of our awesome team members!


Iceland Airwaves says Marcato now plays a big part in planning a festival

In our latest testimonial, Festival Manager, Grimur Atlason of Iceland Airwaves shared with us how Marcato has become “a big part of his festival’s structure,” and how it can be used as an oversight tool while planning a festival.

Continuing on, Atlason explains that “as his festival creates a legacy,” Marcato is helping their staff “build a history that won’t go into ruins if anything ever happened to me!”

“Behind the scenes, it’s helped us a lot! We’re really grateful for that.”

Renowned for discovering massive international successes like Sigur Rós and Of Monsters and Men, Iceland Airwaves attracts thousands of tourists every year to their beautiful Nordic island, selling out year after year, months before the event even takes place. Airwaves has been a part of the Marcato family for a long time now, and in 2012 our own Alison Giovannetti featured the festival on our blog where she highlighted some ‘bands to watch‘ that year… they all became huge rockstars.

Check out Grimur’s testimonial below, then head over to Airwaves’ website for ticket and line-up information!


New Zealand’s ‘Longest Running Music Festival’ advises festivals to ‘Find a point of difference and know what your end goal is’:

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Once again, Marcato headquarters is buried in a solid 3 feet of snow, but down in the Southern Hemisphere, it is an enviably different story. Summer is in full swing and today marks the start of New Zealand’s longest running music festival and the Southern Hemisphere’s largest Christian festival, Parachute Festival.

Pulling together an impressive crowd of 25,000+ people every year, Parachute continues to build on its legacy, first started in 1991, by showcasing some of biggest names in contemporary Christian music this year, with headliners like John Mark McMillan, Gungor, and Paper Route.

A weekend long event, Parachute goes the extra mile to ensure their festival-goers get the most out of their two days by hosting:

  • a seminar programme,

  • an “American Idol” style talent show, with some impressive perks for the winner, seeing as the festival is put on by one of the largest Christian music initiatives out there,

  • a top-notch kid’s programme, where Parachute offers to look after festival goer’s “pint-sized punters”, &

  • a fully serviced “Glamping” ground.

Yes… you heard right, Glamping: glamorous camping.  Not taken lightly by the folks at Parachute, they describe glamping as “what happens when you combine canvas with creature comforts.”  There is nothing like roughing it for a few days in the New Zealand wilderness, apparently. Next time I go camping, I’ll be sure to remember where the bar has been set.

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We had a chance to connect with our friends at Parachute this week (who’ve actually been on site for multiple days now & seem more than ready to rock’n’roll) and ask them a few questions about how they’ve been able to consistently pull off a unique event like this, growing every year in size and reputation.  Here’s what they had to say:

Marcato: What do you think makes your festival ‘unique’? What are the things that really bring festival-goers back to Parachute every year?

Parachute: Parachute Festival is the largest Christian music festival in the Southern Hemisphere and is one of New Zealand’s biggest family-friendly music festivals. People keep coming back each year because it is a safe and enjoyable environment for all ages with a variety of artists, speakers, and performers. Also, being drug and alcohol free means that families are not afraid to bring their children along to enjoy the festival.

Marcato: As you’ve grown as a festival, what is one lesson, or piece of advice, that you would give to another faith-based, or secular, festival looking to become the next big thing?

Parachute: Find a point of difference and know what your end goal is. Our mission has always been to provide a platform for Christian musicians in New Zealand and to give them an opportunity to be inspired. By defining what we want to achieve we are able to have a clear cut idea of what to deliver. This is one of the reasons Parachute has become New Zealand’s longest running music festival.

For all those attending Parachute this year, have a fantastic weekend! For our friends involved in putting on this fantastic event, keep it up – it’s always a blast working with you!


Check out our new Help Centre & Support Board!

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Steven Rolls here, Customer success specialist with Marcato Digital.

Some of you have already run into me at support@marcatodigital.com. That’s right! I’m the traffic cop between your questions and our answers!

I come from a fifteen year background in specialized training, public interfacing, and web design/production.  I first joined the Marcato team back in July, 2013.

After starting here at Marcato, my first order of business was to get our Support Board up and running, which you can now access from the bottom-right of your Main Menu in the app, or by clicking on the Help button located on the top right corner of our website.

As much as I love to hear from our users, I know there are many folks out there who “go to google,” or YouTube, to answer any questions you might have in your daily life.  If you love reading through “how to’s” and firmly believe that everything should have a video explanation… this Support Board is for you.

Presently, the board is comprised of fifty-eight articles outlining the use of both Marcato Festival and Musician. These articles range in information from how to reset your password to a full overview of how to use Marcato Festival to manage your event’s volunteers, and a lot of things in between.

To make things easier, the articles are broken down into three types:

  • Overviews – These articles give you a breakdown of steps used to fulfil a process, such as getting started with Marcato or managing passes. These Overviews take you step-by-step through the process and link you to more detailed articles, which then walk you through some of the more complicated steps.

    For example: Overview :: Getting Started (Festival)

As always, we are here to answer any questions you have and help you through any issues you might come across. Just send a detailed message to support@marcatodigital.com, outlining your issue and we will be happy to lend a hand!


Officially Announcing Our Brand New Website Design!

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We’re pretty gosh darn excited in the office today as we’re finally ready to officially announce the launch of our brand new website design at www.marcatofestival.com.

Take a few minutes to browse through the new layout; there are many new pages that have been added which we hope you will really enjoy.

Some exciting new things to look out for are:

  • Check out the Testimonials page and hear from some of our amazing clients! If you have a testimonial you’d like to share, contact our Marketing Manager, Ethan Fenton, at ethan@marcatodigital.com.

  • Lastly, for the past few weeks we’ve slowly been revamping our blog with this new design in mind! We now offer a wide variety of content for you to enjoy, including new monthly and weekly feature categories, such as

    -  “The Shorty Weekly,” every Wednesday

    -  “Featured Festivals,” every second Friday of the month

    -  “What’s App: News from the app and the office,” every third Friday of the month

    -  “The Guest Blog,” every second Monday of the month

    -  “Tips & Tricks for Festival Management and Operations,” an archive of all our past and future blogs that offer industry tips for festival management and operations

Don’t forget to sign up for our blog by entering your email on the top right corner of this page, and receive a notification every time new content is published!

Explore, enjoy, and let us know what you think!


Rising Artists Fees Risk Leaving Small Festivals Bankrupt: The Green Man Festival Shares Their Worry

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The following blog post first appeared on MusicWeek.com in December of 2013, written by Rhian Jones (@JonesJourno), a Music Week Staff Journalist. The blog was originally written shortly after the 10th annual UK Festival Awards, where the interviewee, Fiona Stewart (@Fiona_Stewart) of the Green Man Festival, was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Festivals Award.

Owner and Director of the Green Man Festival, Fiona Stewart says increasing artist booking fees are making it harder than ever for independent events to compete for headliners in a crowded market.

The exec discussed the state of the live industry with Music Week after being awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Festivals Award at the tenth annual UK Festival Awards on Monday, December 2.

Stewart’s career in entertainment and events spans 25 years, and in 2010 she was recruited as a panel member of the Welsh Assembly Creative Industries Advisory Board.

Green Man takes place in the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales and during its 11 year tenure has booked names such as Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Flaming LipsPatti Smith, Super Furry Animals, Robert Plant, Mumford & Sons, Band of Horses, Laura Marling, Alt J, James Blake and Joanna Newsom.

However, the cost of artist fees have “increased incredibly over the years,” explains Stewart. “There’s a division between management companies who are still interested in their artists performing at festivals like Green Man – that aren’t particularly massively moneyed events – and others who just want to go for as much money as they can get, which we can’t offer them,” she says.

“When people say to me, ‘Oh I’d love to have such and such playing at the festival,’ I think there’s no way I can compete with [the major festivals] price-wise, artist fees have doubled in the last few years, its just gone bonkers.”

2012 was a notoriously bad year for the live events market with a large number of festivals being scrapped due to financial pressures, slow ticket sales and weather complications. Amongst those affected were Creamfields, Sonisphere UK, The Big Chill, Lady Rock Festival and Go Go Festival.

“Quite a lot of management companies probably got their fingers burnt with festivals which have gone under, but [they need to put their] hat on the festivals which have always come through,” says Stewart.

“When I first started you had to give a kidney to someone to get a festival going and now you can go off and get a festival license very easily. So there are a lot of events that come up and then seem to disappear and that then creates a ripple effect right through the industry as everyone tries to claw their money back in other ways.”

“But we’re going to get to the stage where festival organisations, like mine, cannot afford to run. It will be a bad situation for all those small festivals if it gets to a point where they can’t afford to book any of the well-known artists.”

Despite a successful summer for the likes of Reading & Leeds Festival, Glastonbury and V Festival, Sonisphere, which cited a “lack of available headliners”, the Big Chill, Lady Rock Festival and Go Go Festival all failed to return in 2013.

Stewart proposes stricter rules imposed on those attempting to enter the festival market who may not have enough “money and expertise” to make their idea a success.

“There’s enough festivals out there and [a crowded market] makes it more difficult for the people who actually have a good concept and a good idea to get a contractor behind them,” she says.

“The licensing should be rectified and actual financial controls put in place to check that people who are entering the market actually have enough money to do it, as there’s no real credit check on what goes on, which I find odd.”

“There are so many amazing events doing incredible things and the state of the festival industry is healthy, but we can’t just make this happen because we fancy it. There’s a an ‘X Factor’ idealism of: ‘I want it, so I shall have it’, but it’s just time wasting.”

Green Man has previously taken home the UK Festival Awards for Best Medium Festival (2010) and Best Grass Roots Festival (2012). The event was recently named one of the top 50 brands in the ‘UK Cool Brands list’ 2013.


Festival Feature: Eurosonic Nooderslag

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We’re packing our bags and leaving on a jet plane this week, bound for Groningen, NL to attend one of the most renowned music festivals on the planet, Eurosonic Nooderslag!

An out of this world music showcase, accompanied by a top-notch meeting of the minds conference, “Eurosonic Noorderslag is the key exchange and networking platform for European music, with a proven track record for helping new acts break into the international music scene.”

“Selling out each year, Eurosonic Noorderslag attracts over 3,200 delegates, including 400 international festivals,” and because of that has created a hub-like atmosphere for festival directors around the world to attend and learn more about the global market trends of this coming season. This kind of environment, at this scope, is hard to come by in the festival space and we’re excited to be attending again this year, sharing our thoughts about all the new technology trends in the festival management space and how festivals of all sizes now have the opportunity to streamline their operations via our specialized software.

If you are attending Nooderslag this year, be sure to get in touch with us, and don’t miss any of the great festival related workshops, like:

We’ll see you there!


The In-Between: Quick tips on how to maintain your festival’s hype during the downtime

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Old posters piled up in the corner, cans of RedBull on your vacant desk, and a sense of accomplishment hanging in the air… The day after production weekend has come and it’s now time for a well deserved break away from laptops, phone calls, ticket sales, and anything that even resembles a crowd, am I right?  Not if you’re on the payroll of Reykjavik’s Iceland Airwaves festival, says Grimur Atlason, Festival Manager of the now world famous weekend-long event, renowned for discovering bands like Sigur Rós and Of Monsters and Men.

“It’s all about keeping the hype up and the excitement going,” says Atlason. “People don’t come to Iceland Airwaves for our headliners, they come for the whole package. Because of that, we start selling tickets for next year literally the day after our event is over.”

Iceland Airwaves takes place the first weekend of November every year, so returning fans have learned to plan their holidays well in advance of the event, and due to the efforts of Iceland Airwaves’ marketing team, they’ve also learned to buy their tickets early.  A a result, the festival is selling out year after year, months before the event even takes place.  That’s a big “Verkefnið Tókst!” if you ask me. Whether you are Iceland Airwaves, Coachella, SXSW, or a local small-town festival, there are a few fantastic “best practices” revealed in this short interview with Atlason that any festival could start working on in 2014:

“People don’t come to our festival for its headliners, they come for the whole package.”

If you can make this statement ring true for your event,  you’re well on your way to establishing an all-year-round hype.  This is where fan loyalty will really start pick up the pace, early ticket sales will then follow, and an overall “brand presence” will ultimately be established.  According to UK’s Festival Insight’s 2009 Annual Report (no North American data because Festival Insights in a UK based organization), “headliners” only ranked 3rd in what were the most important factors influencing  festival-goers buying decisions.   Ranking first and second was “whether like-minded people & friends will be there,” and “overall festival organization.”  Therefore, headliners are certainly important influencers, but by no means the “key” ingredient to a festival’s success (obviously we accept the numbers could vary when you take into consideration any economic shifts over the past 5 years and the many cultural differences in the UK vs. North American market, but nonetheless we believe this statement will still hold fast in the global festival market).  This is fantastic news for any festival that might struggle securing big names for their event due to a number of hold-ups that are totally out of your hands (heavy artist fees, scheduling conflicts, etc.).  The kind of people you attract to your event and the level of organizations you can establish, on the other hand, are totally in your control.

“Our festival takes place the first weekend of November every year.”  

By holding an event the same time of year, every year, festivals give fans a chance to prepare for some time off, plan between friends, arrange travel & accommodations, and everything else that goes into attending a festival that should never be overlooked. Many festivals do operate in this consistent manner, but fail to market the fact. Consistency is a sign of “overall organization” and a powerful asset that is widely neglected in the marketing world. By opening your box office as early as possible, you can easily reassure buyers that the plan is still the same as always, and they can have the ticket stub to prove it.  All you need is a date, a location, and a promise of a good time and you’re ready to sell tickets.  Things like venues, headliners, exclusive concerts,  and everything else can then be used later as powerful marketing collateral, which will help maintain hype and sales throughout the year.

These are just two of the many great practices festivals around the globe are using to drum up excitement, community, interaction, and sales during the dreaded “downtime.” Share your festival’s insights in our comments section below, or tweet us at @MarcatoFestival using the hashtag #DowntimeTips.

Happy 2014 everyone!