CMJ Day 1: The Future of Festivals is in the Experience

It’s Day 1 of the CMJ Music Marathon in NYC, and it’s no surprise that festivals, and their ever-booming popularity, are continuing to take the music world by storm (if they’re not rained out — too soon, ACL?). We hit the “Jam Packed: The Explosion of Music Festivals” panel today to dissect how festivals are evolving and keeping everyone’s interest.

Here are 3 things we learned:

1. It’s All About the Experience. All of the panelists could agree on one thing: most of the time, it’s NOT about the headliners. While having great bands is always key, it is equally important to make sure that every festival-goer has a good time. From the food to the porta potties, these guys want to make it worth your while. You can thank them for including better food options (“We’ve come along way from Bud Light and hot dogs.”) and getting sponsorships that benefit the fans (Purell sponsored the Governor’s Ball porta potties).

2. Be Prepared! With the recent cancellations for weather and drug-related deaths, the panelists all said that one of the biggest parts of putting on a festival is making sure you are prepared for whatever might be thrown at you. While the topic of drugs at festivals was only lightly breached, the point was that safety comes first.

3. Streaming Festivals: Easier Said than Done. While streaming is taking over the music scene, most of the panelists agreed: live streaming their festivals is just not worth it. With the cost involved and the lack of sponsorship, they said that live streaming is more of a headache than it is worth. An interesting end point was the proposal of making festival sets “a la carte” via Netflix, so you see only the performers you want. Can’t wait for Netflix to get it together? Check out live shows on Qello.

Rich Schaefer, President at The Artists Organization, finished up by asking panelists a very important question: Who are your 3 fantasy festival headliners (alive or dead)? Answers below.

Jonathan Neman (Sweetlife Festival): David Bowie, all three nights, BUT each night playing from a different decade.

Jordan Wolowitz (The Governor’s Ball Music Festival): The Talking Heads, Notorious B.I.G. and The Strokes — keeping it real with some of New York’s finest.

Jbeau Lewis (Agent at CAA): Hinted at Dave Matthews Band, all three nights.

Claes Olsen (Øya Festival): Couldn’t pick.

We’ll be hitting panels throughout the day, every day, and seeing bands till the early hours of the morning, so make sure to check out our Facebook, Twitter & blog for updates on this year’s CMJ.

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