Live music festivals have been steadily increasing in popularity, particularly for millennials who generally prefer to spend their money on experiences rather than accumulating material items. They are driving ticket sales and the number of music festivals across the country. Billboard reports more than 32 million people attend music festivals each year. With over 800 annual music festivals in the U.S., Bloomberg says the global revenue from these festivals is expected to top $20 billion in only the next year or so. That was until COVID-19 hit.

COVID-19 has changed everything, including the live music industry. But we know it won’t last forever and when it’s safe to start booking again, you can believe the hoards of people will show up. They’ll be more ready than ever to enjoy live music again, perhaps with even a greater appreciation for it. How are promoters and venue owners managing this incredible surge in live music interest? For many, music festival software is the only way.

More Than Meets The Eye

Music festivals may attract and seem to make millions, but when you dig a little deeper you see the margins are actually quite thin, even with record-high ticket prices. The expenses never seem to end and include artists booking costs, venue, administrative, marketing, safety, production, and staff. Revenue streams aren’t as prolific. They come from ticket sales, merchandise, food and beverages, and sponsorships. In order to just break even, promoters have to typically sell at least 80% of their tickets. 

When you’re talking about a music festival, one that hosts dozens of bands and thousands of guests often across multiple days or weekends, things can quickly get complicated, even chaotic. For venue owners and managers, booking all of the artists, managing their contracts, and staying on top of the constant changes requires countless hours of labor and an extreme focus on organization. A seemingly small change in schedules, availability and other variables can throw plans out the window, spelling disaster for the festival and revenue.

Investment in these festivals is high risk and now, stakeholders have to worry about COVID-19. Any festival on the books for any time in 2020 and beyond is questionable. Coachella and Stagecoach, two of the largest music festivals on the planet, have both announced cancellations in light of the pandemic. While public safety is a top priority, travel restrictions and fears of infection that keep artists and fans from attending no doubt play into the decision to cancel. It’s a risk factor no one could have predicted or planned for and it’s costing the music industry billions.

These are no easy decisions to make. Painful, in fact. Keep in mind Coachella grossed more than $114 million in 2017 and the same year, Stagecoach grossed $67.2 million in ticket sales. Collectively, $1.4 billion in profits was expected from these festivals alone in 2020. That’s a lot of money to leave on the table, even if it was unavoidable. Multiply that by the 800 music festivals across the country and it’s easy to see the damage this pandemic has had on the industry.

The big question is – will music festivals return any time soon? No one really knows. Is it worth buying music festival software to make the booking and management process easier and more profitable? Absolutely.

Music Festival Software Makes Life Easier

Ask any talent buyer or venue manager and they’ll tell you one of their biggest challenges is staying organized. There are literally hundreds of moving parts, particularly with music festivals, and trying to stay on top of everything is a full-time job. If you’re like a lot of business managers, you’re likely using multiple systems to try to automate at least some of the tasks, but those systems are often disconnected. Here’s the problem: when systems aren’t integrated and sharing data, you not only have the hassle of having to switch back and forth between applications, but you’re also not ever getting a truly comprehensive picture of your business – in real-time.

Sure, manual processes and complex spreadsheets are still popular, but only because people think they are their only options. Instead of helping, these disconnected systems just slow things down and make it difficult to make decisions, especially quick decisions. Change wreaks havoc and errors in manual data transferring results in more work and apologies. You’re likely never 100% certain of the accuracy or reliability of your data.

So here’s the good news: Music festival software not only automates existing processes, but it also gives you visibility into every aspect of the business. This is so important because when you can see every part of your business, you can be more resilient, proactive and organized with less effort. 

You can see how valuable this capability is during this pandemic when so much is in flux. Things are changing daily and talent buyers and venue owners have to keep in control as best they can. Music festival software makes that much simpler, streamlining processes that reduce costs and ultimately, increase profits.

How Does Music Festival Software Work during a Pandemic?

You may not be planning any music festivals right now, but at some point, they’ll return. What can you be doing now? Quite a bit.

You’re probably working feverishly to attempt to reschedule with artists, or at least keep in contact with their agents to stay in the loop. But now is also the optimal time to get organized and assess what tools and processes you are currently using to see if they really are working for you or against you. With festival margins already thin considering the number of hours you put into booking and managing a festival, whatever you can do to streamline your processes and become more efficient can only help you stay more organized and reduce costs.

Here are just a few of the capabilities music festival software can give you:

  • Comprehensive calendar management where you can easily manage holds, shows and markets on a centralized calendar the whole team can work from
  • Instant offer generation with real-time break-even calculations so you can more accurately predict revenue, profit and break-even across deals and scenarios
  • Total visibility into revenue, expenses and return on investments (ROI) at multiple levels with real-time and historical views, even linking directly to your ticketing platform for automatic and real-time updates
  • Customized settlements that track and report adjustments, payout methods, and additional costs and revenue
  • Centralized collaboration platform to keep you, your team and your stakeholders connected virtually so you can track status, progress and communications in one place
  • Interactive, easy-to-read dashboard with all of the key metrics that matter most to you, such as sales trends, profitability, taxes paid and owed, and employee productivity

The best part about modern music festival software is that you can do all of this from any device. You don’t have to be tied to your desk or wait to get back with someone about an issue when you return to the office. You and your team can be more productive, getting more done than ever before with less effort.

During this unprecedented time, investing in technology that will make you and your team more efficient, organized and informed will increase profits, optimize resources and improve your ability to stay afloat. We all can’t wait for music festivals to return. And when they do, you’ll be in a better position to organize, manage and profit from them.

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