No. 1 How To Run a Music Festival in 4 Easy Steps

No. 1 How To Run a Music Festival in 4 Easy Steps

Step 1 – Avengers Assemble

Running a fest is no small task, and you’re going to need a team with all sorts of skills! That friend who’s always thinking up zany marketing ideas; the budding social media manager who can keep on top of Tik Tok trends; the tech wizard who is never more at home than when surrounded by 15 different types of audio cable; the housemate with an incredible gift for graphic design. Your fest would be nothing without them.

The reality is that your friends who are doing cool things on the side of their jobs/studying right now will be making money practising those skills full-time and likely at the top of their game in only a few years. Make the most of all that talent, especially if they’re excited to develop their own skills at the same time. All the best collaborative projects allow the people giving up their time and energy to get a whole lot out of the experience themselves. If you can say you’ve run a marketing campaign for a music fest that’s going to sound pretty cool in an interview.

The most important skill to look for though is enthusiasm! It can be a knackering task, so you’ll need to keep each other motivated and excited. On top of that, if the team is excited for the project then that translates, and the excitement will spread…

Photo: Maddie Drake (@maddiedraake)

Step 2 – Team up

The first time I ran a festival I tried to organise it all through 1 committee space. The second time around I split things up into programming, production, and promotion. This was much more effective. Hopefully, you’ve already got a bit of a team forming, and you can start picking out some people to head up each of these sub-groups. It may sound boring, but getting this organisation right will really make or break your project.

Make sure these groups are having regular and frequent meetings. Get a calendar together, allocate tasks, and keep an action log, but make sure to let each person involved guide their own work as much as possible. Having that sense of ownership is super important so that people follow through with the project. In an ideal world, you’ll be fulfilling the role of manager, making sure that everything is flowing in the right direction and right pace, providing assistance where needed.

A lot of this comes down to delegation. It’s an essential skill but a very difficult one to do well. I’ve been trying for two years and still have a very long way to go! Also, the team mentality extends to the day of the festival – assign those stage manager and artist liaison roles; maybe you even want to let particular groups curate the lineup for a whole stage.

Step 3 – Go with the flow

It's only right that at this point I acknowledge I have a long way to go when it comes to festival organising. Additionally, you’ve always got to allow for the fact that things will not go to plan. Try to build in the time for this, and embrace the hecticness wherever possible, but realise that you may need to step in to complete certain tasks yourself, and sometimes ideas will have to wait for the next festival.

When working with student volunteers (as I do), quite naturally life can get in the way for people, and they can’t quite finish what they intended to. That’s ok. There’s no such thing as the perfect marketing campaign or the perfect programme so don’t hold yourself to that standard – if you’ve put the work in then great music and ticket sales will come.

I must have put up hundreds of posters over dozens of hours – that’s probably not how you want to be spending your time when you’re trying to organise the whole project, but if the posters have to go up then sometimes the buck will stop with you. (Bonus tip if you’re running a student event: half of your total ticket sales will happen on the day before the event and on the day itself – keep the heart palpitations at bay by reminding yourself of this hourly if needed).

Photo: Maddie Drake (@maddiedraake)

Step 4 – Enjoy it

The day has finally arrived – you’ve had many sleepless nights to get here. Good event management on the day aside (I could write many more articles on that), your fate at this point is pretty much sealed. The marketing campaign has run its course, you’re hoping that the band who never got back to your requests for tech info did indeed only need 2 microphones, and you’re quite sure that you gave out the correct number of wristbands to each stage manager…

Take the time to soak up the atmosphere, watch some music, look at the smiling faces in the crowd, chat with the artists coming off stage from an electric set, and thank all of the people that made it possible. Music festivals are all about spreading the love, so make sure to share in that with your friends, and towards the end of the night you can start to let that feeling of a job well done settle in. You’ve done it!

It’s worth noting there are so many different ways of running a festival, and you should make yours unique. Maybe you want to do all sorts of in-person experiential marketing instead of making videos for social media; maybe making all of your posters on Microsoft Paint is part of the charm. Put your own spin on things, have loads of fun, and you’ll get that meaningful engagement from your audience and volunteers as they get on board with the project.

Have fun. I can’t wait to see what you get up to!

Noted by Robbie Beale


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Robbie, you are a star! I absolutely loved reading this blog <3


Thanks so much for having me! This was a lot of fun :))


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