The Best in Festivals & Conferences: Splendour in The Grass

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CH. VII – Splendour in the Grass

Splendour in the Grass is one of the most amazing, if not the best, music festival in Australia. The festival began in 2001 as a one-day music event co-promoted by Village Sounds and Secret Service music companies. It now lasts 3 days and welcomes around 20 000 festivalgoers every year. I attended the 2010 edition, as I was driving up the east coast of the land down under in the beat-up van I had bought over there. Personally, I had never seen anything quite like it. The festival was set-up in a small town in the middle of nowhere and from the parking/camping lot, all you could see were tents and campers. 20 000 of them.

One of the best aspects of this festival is the line-up. Every year, they book a good chunk of the most popular and up-and-coming bands. When I went I saw The Strokes, Empire of the Sun, Florence & The Machine, Mumford & Sons, Passion Pit, Hot Chip, K-Os, Wolfmother, Angus & Julia Stone, LCD Soundsystem, Ben Harper, and the list goes on with more incredible artists. Actually, there are so many bands that you possibly can’t see them all. I was lucky to have the energy to watch about the third of the line-up play. Shows are spread out over about 6 stages, each allocated to a specific sponsor. And of course, because of the crazy band line-up, ticket prices are pretty ridiculously high. A festival and camping pass costs about 450AUD$. I was lucky to get a discounted ticket from a friend that worked at Converse. And I realized that lots of brands want to be associated with this festival because of its reputation. I think there was even more brand promo kiosks than food trucks.

However those high tickets price don’t scare the fans as the festival usually sells out within a day. 20 000 x 450$, you do the math. But I mean, it’s legitimate when you know how much these bands cost for the promoters. So I particularly wanted to talk about this festival to give an example of festival who’s main problem is its popularity. Each year, the demand exceeds the supply of tickets available and that creates a major issue for selling tickets. I mean this year, the festival SOLD-OUT IN 43 *$& MINUTES. Brand value eh, ya. In 2008, 70 000 people were trying to buy 18 000 tickets at the same time. So year after year, Splendour had to refine its ticket selling strategy to avoid ticket scalping, ticket sites crashing down, etc.

Finally, obviously due to the popularity of the festival and the great line-up every year, the smaller bands that play there benefit from Splendour’s brand value and get exposure to a very targeted market of fans. Here’s a little video of how the artists perceive the festival.

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