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 ways your festival can 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.’
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.
At 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.
In our latest testimonial, Festival Manager, Grimur Atlason of Iceland Airwaves shared with us that Marcato has become “a big part of his festival’s structure.”
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!
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 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.
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!
Steven Rolls here, Customer success specialist with Marcato Digital.
Some of you have already run into me at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Walkthroughs – These articles give you step-by-step instructions of how to use tools or entire modules of the Marcato app. They discuss all the tabs, fields, and options that you might have questions about.
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 email@example.com, outlining your issue and we will be happy to lend a hand!
A new About Us section, where you can now learn more about Marcato and introduce yourself to all of our veteran team members and those new to the family!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!
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.”
“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.”
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.
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:
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.
Back in the bygone days, when our team first built the festival management software we’ve come to know and love as Marcato Festival, the software was designed and developed around the already proven and effective workflows of multiple festivals, with many of the unique industry needs built right into the product. Seeing as there are many similarities to how festivals organize themselves, after reviewing how our first few users did business, our developers were able to design something that felt “just like home” for most teams. Of course, every once in a while, a new unique need would be brought to our table and we would often find the functionality that one festial needed to be incorporated to the app would actually be very useful for all of our clients. From this ability to grow and adapt, a very thriving and robust software has been built over the past few years.
With all that being said, the festival space is still massively diverse, which then means not everyone will need the exact same functionality – in almost every case, an individual festival will always need to keep track of one or two little things that are unique to them. To provide a solution for this, Marcato developed the new, self-serve Custom Fields functionality. This enables festivals to keep track of any unique data specific to their organization, which can be used either internally, or publicly, using our intake forms.
Specific needs can be associated with almost every section of the app, and therefore you can create custom fields throughout most of modules. Some example uses of this feature include:
In our Artist Management module, if you wanted to track your artists’ preferred travel dates (which not all festivals would be concerned about, but it’s actually very important to you), you can now create a custom field to keep track of that data!
Another example could be in our Volunteer Management module, where you might want to ensure that your volunteers weren’t scheduled for the shows they were most excited to see – you could create a custom field designed to collect that information from your volunteers during their application process, which is done through our app.
Along with these examples above, Custom fields can also be used to create a solution for your unique sponsorship needs. Our Account Executive at Marcato, Natasha Hillier, explains:
With the addition of custom fields it opens a whole new door in terms of tracking all your sponsorship information in one place. In the contacts section you can simply create a contact role of “Sponsor”, and then, through a series of custom fields, track details like their sponsorship level, dollar value, contract details and deliverables, such as tickets, ads, or social media mentions. Seeing as no two festivals require the exact same sponsor details, this presents the perfect opportunity to customize Marcato to fit the exact needs of your festival’s sponsorship team. See the image below for an example of this in use.
If you’d liked to dive a little deeper into how you and your team can utilize Marcato’s custom fields, take a few minutes to watch this demonstration video, or connect with your friendly Marcato account manager for more details.
Two redeye flights, a massive party, and a suitcase full of fine British tea later… we’re back from the UK Festival Awards!
Last week we had the pleasure of serving as the 2013 UK Festival Awards’ “Official Technology Partner,” where we met with a fantastic representation of festival management professionals across the United Kingdom and made some great new friends!
Presenting to a room full of people who eat, breathe, and sleep music festivals is a pretty special thing for us here at Marcato, so you can imagine we felt right at home when everyone broke off into groups and began to have great discussions around some of the most poignant “hot topics” of this coming festival season.
Early on in the day we had the chance to talk about what we do at Marcato during the “Tech Blast” talk, which was loads of fun, but it was also a real joy for us to meet and hear from some other “festival focused” technology companies, including services like Festival HQ and Streaming Tank, who both serve the festival/event space providing top-notch technology services across the globe.
Festival HQ, a bespoke digital marketing and planning tool created by industry professionals to serve as the missing link in festival marketing; and Streaming Tank, an end-to-end video streaming company that takes care of all your production, bandwidth, and web development needs with awesome reliability and creativity.
Both companies certainly left an impression.
Later on in the day, moderator Andy Lenthal (Production Services Association) introduced the topic of “Festival Neighbours,” where speakers Jon Drape (Ground Control), Dan Craig (Loudsound), Noz Nozworthy (Nozstock Festival), and Chris Johnson (Shambala Festival) all went at it, giving us some pretty fantastic advice about how we can create and maintain a “neighbour friendly” festival. Right off the bat, the table acknowledged the well-documented cultural & financial benefits that a music festival can potentially bring to a local area, but then wasted no time getting down to the negative side-effects that festivals can have as well, ie: noise, litter, ASBOs, traffic, and this list goes on! At first, it seemed like a daunting thing to reflect on the underbelly of all our festivals, however as the speakers began to dive into their methods, everyone was given a little hope. The solutions humorously came down to paying close attention to some basic British etiquette:
Clean up – Clean up not just after the event, but throughout. It seems like a lot of work, but maintaining a clean environment through a sometimes week-long event does a world of good and will go miles when you ask the neighbours if it’s alright to visit again next year. This seems like the most obvious piece of advice, but it may be the single most important; recycle properly and take care of your trash!
Speak up – Communication is vital. Maintaining an active line of communication between your HQ and your site’s local businesses is vital to your operation. It helps your neighbors be more prepared and excited for your big event, both before and after production day!
Stand up – Stand up, and stand up tall, people! As festivals, we attract massive crowds to our event, where thousands of strangers sometime sleep in foreign fields, and a small town becomes an epicenter of traffic and congestion. Therefore, security must be taken very seriously, not just concerning your festival-goers safety, but your local neighbour’s too – because everyone wants to feel safe at home.
All fantastic things to think on this coming season!
After the awards we had the chance to sit down with James Drury, Managing Director of the Festival Awards, and get his perspective on what were this year’s highlights. Here’s what James had to say:
I was over the moon with the response we had from everyone who was there – from delegates at the conference, to our partners, and guests at the awards – this has been regarded as the best event we’ve run. And that’s what makes it all worthwhile!
We had our biggest conference to date, this year – 421 delegates – and ’m looking forward to working out how we’ll top that next year.
I think the biggest “take-away” from this year is that the festival industry is about to experience a sea-change in the role of technology in everyone’s lives. I also felt like Marek Lieberberg’s message that being a festival organiser means you have the power to “not be the puppet, but the puppet master,” was also especially profound.
As a whole , the UK festival industry is not alone in having been through some choppy waters in the last few years. I don’t think we’re through that period yet, but there are many great signs and indicators which seem to suggest we’re nearing the end of it. The exciting thing about challenging times is that it really brings the industry’s creativity to the forefront.
Overall, the event seems to have been a smashing success from all perspectives. A time was had (most likely on account of the open bar) and the awards were given out, but what really stuck with us was that there were no obvious dominating festivals across the night’s categories. Many festivals leading up to the event were nominated in multiple categories, but when it was all said and done, most festivals had only gone up to the podium once. What does this speak to? In our opinion, its a great indicator that the UK festival scene, as a whole, is doing incredible things. Every independant team, coalition, and production company is working hard to ensure the country’s festival goers are happy with their time and money spent! As Mr. Drury indicated, “there are many good signs,” and we agree! The UK industry is really putting their best foot forward and we’ve certainly taken notice.
Keep on keeping on, UK Festivals. We’ll see you again next year!