A summer without festivals is an invitation for innovation

Coachella: festival postponed until October (picture credit: Coachella)
Coachella: festival postponed until October (picture credit: Coachella)

Please don't stop the music, experience creators across the UK implore.

The sequin-clad crowds are not gathering in their thousands in Coachella Valley, California, in April. São Paulo will not welcome Lollapalooza Brasil. There is no Snowbombing in Austria and Kendrick Lamar won’t be headlining Glastonbury.

This is the year that festivals came to an abrupt halt, postponed or cancelled across the globe due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

But in the gaping void lies a chance to innovate and an opportunity to inspire an audience desperate to gather in fields once more and lose themselves in the music. Brands have a chance to show their commitment to artists while sating the needs of fans and creating platforms to connect communities.

Campaign spoke to experience creators and culture makers about the prospect of a summer without festivals.

Leila Fataar

Founder, Platform 13

Music and live entertainment is so ingrained in British culture – we love it. But for us at Platform13, culture is the stuff of life, a reflection of reality, a global connector of communities. That reality is clear: Covid-19 will affect everyone, from Beyoncé to your pub band. It is the leveller and will challenge the live experience like never before.

In recent years, digital platforms such as Spotify, SoundCloud, YouTube and Boiler Room have been indispensable in scaling music distribution and exposure, but you can never take away from the festival, club or live environment experience. The British also have a long and varied heritage of creating music culture through adversity and limitation, such as niche-to-now-mainstream genres like punk, grime, jungle, house and even rock. It may be through this difficult and unprecedented time that artists find a different creative voice and message and new ways for their music and that live experience to be delivered. 

But there is a more urgent and immediate need – of survival in a collapsing industry. This can only be done if the behind-the-scenes companies – brands, streaming platforms, record labels, big management and publishing companies – come together to work hand in hand with the artists and community impacted and find ways to change the way they they work together. Create short-term rescue packages and, medium term, new ways to pay and financially support artists and their teams (production companies, stylists, content creators etc).

And, more than ever, us fans really need to support our favourite artists with our money. And for live entertainment, especially for independent venues and promoters, postponement rather than refunds would be essential. 

Brett Booth

Partner, Urban Nerds

We know a lot of music fans and followers live for the weekend, when they can let their weekly worries off to the sounds of the moment. But even more thrive on the spike moments of the summer, when the highlights of the year and potential lifelong memories are forged. We’re talking about the day parties, festivals and international music-based trips and tourism.

A summer without festivals will be surreal for fans, but more importantly the ability of music artists and supporting creatives to still be here, with us, doing what they do in summer 2021 will rely on a different kind of "fan support".

Donations, paid digital engagements, merchandise orders, bandcamp purchases and opportunities like Mixcloud Select, where you can directly subscribe to music-based content creators, could be a great way to support these hard-hit creatives that could really use our help getting through the months ahead.

Never stop supporting. Think about how we can hire these grassroots creators of culture into digitally, remotely briefed and executed opportunities on brand-based and commercial work that pivots and perseveres in this testing time.

George Bartlett and Charlie Lindsay

Creatives, Truant London

So summer is officially over. From Coachella to Glastonbury, the cancelled crusty love fests would have been an obvious hotbed of corona contamination. But it’s not all doom and gloom.

We might just be heading for the best festival on record. One that the entire country, if not the world, will be a part of. 

The music industry’s currently haemorrhaging billions. This will, without doubt, create opportunity. Right now, someone somewhere is working out how to replace the festival as we know it. This could be the dawn of a new age of post-contagion music events.

Think about it – no more trekking miles to see your favourite band. Experience any live act from the comfort of your sofa. No more queuing for entry, drinks or pungent Portaloos. 

Adversity has always been a breeding ground for creativity. Just look how Italy came together with balcony choirs. Let’s go one further. Sofa raves. Kitchen EDM. Living-room trap. Garden-shed grime. Let’s take garage back to the garage. You can still throw up in your wellies and sleep in someone else’s underwear. You just don’t have to navigate through a sea of mud or stagger out of a baking hot tent. 

A new type of festival is coming to you this summer. It may not be quite what we expected, but it could end up spreading faster than the virus that inadvertently created it. So, what should we call this domesticated festival inspired by a virus… In-Fest?

Alex Wilson

Head of content, Amplify

As music events and festivals start to disappear from the summer of 2020, so too does the promotional opportunity for hundreds of emerging artists. Without these key platforms, we as an industry need to pivot and work hard to ensure we aren't losing a whole generation of new music and talent. 

As an agency, we continue to develop and bolster our innovation and live broadcast offering, but some of our existing campaigns can evolve as content-first offerings that continue to answer the challenge they were created for. For example, Dr Martens has tasked us to consider how their culture platform can continue to support emerging talent during this time, when now more than ever artists need that support. Potentially to such a degree that it's now not just about supporting new music – but saving it.

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