"Many music festivals are actually just concerts,” says Australian music promoter Paul Piticco, a record label owner and founder of Splendour In The Grass (SITG), one of the country’s largest music festivals. “It’s not a true festival experience if you wake up in the morning, go to a gig and get back to sleep in your bed at night,” he feels.
SITG which started out in 2001 sees approximately 30,000 people a day at its annual four-day fanfare, with tickets notoriously selling out in hours.
“Organising a music festival is like showing someone your iPod playlist or record collection. It’s really a reflection of your tastes and what you do. Splendour has always been more about giving people a musical holiday. You travel with likeminded people and create a temporary small town that has the same agenda. You feel a sense of belonging,” Piticco says.
Back home, Girish ‘Bobby’ Talwar, co-founder of Only Much Louder that organises the Pune’s Weekender and countrywide Invasion festival, stresses the importance of the overall experience as well.
“A good experience makes a good festival. People go to festivals for different reasons, so having an underlying theme is very important. For example, Weekender is a happy festival, while Invasion is all about dance and energy,” he says.
According to Bobby, it’s also important to do unique things to make the experience memorable. “This year, we ended Weekender with a bang with the all-star set, that brought together all the performing artistes on one stage. The tattoo convention and experimental drum-and-bass tent went down well too,” he says.
Brian Ritchie, bassist of American alternative rock band, The Violent Femmes, and curator of the MONA FOMA music festival in Tasmania, Australia, feels that people should also feel as if it’s their own event, and that they have ownership of it. Ritchie’s advice: “Try to make the audience feel like they’re part of the fest. Successful festivals are those that appeal to everyone, rather than just to a niche audience.”
Shailendra Singh, co-founder of Goa’s popular electronic dance music festival, Sunburn, also agrees to the fact that organising a memorable festival involves a lot more than just good music. “A festival is successful if the fans can leave their world behind and for a few days, live a celebratory, carefree life,” he adds.