Finding analytic insights in the growing popularity of music festivals

Marketing Leader, Media & Entertainment Industry, Analytics, IBM

The surge of streaming technologies and the various ways we experience live music are changing how we access and engage with music. In addition, multiday culture and music festivals have become extremely popular, especially among the millennial crowd. According to Nielsen Music, 32 million people attend at least one music festival each year. Festivals such as Lollapalooza, Coachella and Ultra Music Festival regularly sell out within hours of launching ticket sales.

And, when the festivities begin, thousands upon thousands of fans flock to embrace the unique experiences of seeing many top performers all in one place and participating in lots of social media buzz. According to recent research, 75 percent of music festival conversation is generated by individuals between the ages of 17 and 34 years old.

While many music festivals are held over a long weekend, some are even longer, such as South by Southwest, which stretches for six nights at over 90 venues featuring 2,000 showcase acts. Regardless of the format, these festivals have become more about the experience than anything else. They represent opportunities for people to express themselves and experience a sense of belonging and acceptance. And, the light shows and special effects are stunning. deeper look

Analyzing the unique behavior patterns surrounding these events piqued the interest of a team of researchers from Copenhagen Business School. They analyzed the behaviors of the 130,000 fans attending the 2015 Roskilde Festival in Denmark, the largest North European culture and music festival. Their intentions were to leverage collected data to encourage sustainability efforts surrounding the festival, including public safety, food supply, energy, water and waste management.

The findings of the Copenhagen Business School team are insightful and clearly show how data can open up many opportunities for improving the overall fan experience and helping out planet earth along the way. With so many crowds of people in a central location at the Roskilde Festival, the team tracked movement by polling the location of opted-in smartphones every two minutes and then plotting these locations on a map. Additional data sources that were analyzed included weather temperature, ticket sales, social media feeds, vendor sales and concertgoer interviews.

What did the team find out? How can this type of analytics benefit the music festival industry? Consider several results that can be predicted or achieved in some way: 

  • Crowd patterns can be predicted
  • Food and beverage consumption can be predicted for specific times of day
  • Food vendors can maximize profits and minimize waste
  • Personality traits can be used to predict attendees of specific festivals
  • Accidents can be prevented in high-risk, mass-crowd environments

Festivals are here to stay

Although many people think there are now so many music festivals that we’ve reached saturation in this market, clearly these festivals are here to stay for the conceivable future. Which ones are on your list to check out? Take a look at a guide to upcoming music festivals in 2016 to start your planning. You can opt in for the mobile app when you get there to maximize your experience. And find out more on IBM solutions for media and entertainment.