Every Music Festival Needs an App — and Here’s Why

In a mobile-dominated world, apps are the perfect channel for music festival organizers to invest into. So why doesn’t every festival do it? Here’s 5 important reasons they should.

Kristian Gorenc
Jan 17 · 6 min read

Although a smartphone is the festivalgoer’s modern-day Swiss army knife, some music festivals — especially small- and medium-sized ones — are still deciding against using the power of mobile to their advantage. It usually comes down to one simple thing: budgeting.

It’s no secret that festival organizers are working with a tight budget, which means they usually can’t afford to hire someone to focus exclusively on managing content and keeping an app up-to-date. Especially the latter can be absolutely tedious work.

Here’s the thing, though: managing your app doesn’t have to be a nightmare. A standardized database just might do the trick.

To put theory into practice, we introduced the Festival App, a dynamic mobile app implementing data from our Viberate platform, and tested the ground in the summer of 2019 with five popular regional music festivals: MetalDays, Sea Dance, Punk Rock Holiday, No Sleep Festival, and Castle Kolpa Music Festival.

Our findings can be summed into the 5 top reasons why a festival can benefit from a custom app:

#1 In-app planning is indispensable to both festival-goers and staff.

Planning the perfect experience — including the always adventurous trips to the beer counter or the port-a-potty — is much easier if you’re 100 % sure who plays where, and whether the show will be running late.

A tailored, user-first experience guaranteed that 83 % of users rated our Festival App with 4 or 5 stars.

Our Festival App made sure users could easily stay on top of the schedule by viewing day and stage lineups, using the comprehensive “grid view” with a clear timeline overview, or creating a personalized schedule. Notifications were introduced as well, reminding the user about upcoming acts and any timeline changes on the fly. And to ensure an even more relaxed experience, an intelligent homescreen was introduced to display only the most relevant information throughout the festival.

Push notifications drove more visitors to lesser-known acts, and were apparently a game-changer for stage managers and staff, too, as they turned to our app for simpler planning and overview, eliminating the need for printouts and incessant texting to team members.

#2 Your app becomes an owned promotional channel.

With around 80 % of all visitors downloading the app, some of them even weeks before the festival started, we were quite sure we were dealing with an engaged audience. Our pilot launch provided additional proof that people engaged more in activities recommended by the app:

festival vendors (i.e. food stalls, yoga corners, axe-throwing competition etc.) reported 20 % more visits and purchases thanks to our “Experiences” feature, and

around half of all interviewed festival-goers expressed interest in early bird deals for next year’s festival, if such a feature would be introduced in the app.

Different surveys and interviews have concluded the same: a custom festival app is no longer a luxury — it’s a must.

Our outtake: considering the app as a long-term sales channel strategically offering merchandise, special deals, and even prize-winning games can contribute to a festival’s revenue stream.

#3 Creating an app can be cost-efficient — and so can creating content!

Sure, customizing an existing solution is cheaper than developing from scratch. What else is new? Well, how about optimizing starting and maintenance costs, too?

Judging from our partners’ feedback, we struck gold by sourcing rich, dynamic content from Viberate’s platform. It meant the organizer did not have to waste time finding artists’ photos or keeping up with the bands’ latest social media updates — the app did all the work automatically.

Not only did that save valuable time, energy and resources, the sourced content also easily provided users with popular dynamic features, such as playing sample tracks directly in app, making users even happier with the download. Which brings us to another reason:

#4 Apps help build a strong and loyal festival fanbase.

Building a strong community that keeps visiting year after year is perhaps one of the biggest challenges for a festival organizer. People’s expectations get higher with each visit, so if a music festival wants to be memorable, it has to impress on all fronts, from safety and activities to easy access to information.

Our app proved to be essential in that regard:

over 1/3 of the audience turned to the app’s Chat function for getting in touch with both organizers and other festival-goers. They talked about everything from arranging rides to seeking medical assistance.

over 60 % of users kept the app on their phone after the festival, chatting about the festival even after it was over.

Anything fans want, you got it.

This makes a festival mobile app a powerful long-term channel for community-building. With that in mind, we’ve also designed the Live Moments feature for the next festival edition. With it, visitors will try to snap the most-voted-for image to enter the festival’s official Gallery, and see what other visitors liked.

#5 Apps help festival organizers identify upcoming artists and target groups, as well as gain valuable insights.

You know the drill: once you start organizing the new festival edition, you also have to launch your Facebook campaigns, write newsletters to engage your fans, follow up on your e-mails to find fan suggestions for lineups; in short, manage multiple channels, all while thinking about expanding your audience even further.

Time is short, and the budget is tight — so why would you waste either by guessing who your desired audience is, who they want to see perform, and how to reach potential visitors?

Once you have a festival app, a majority of potential next year attendees is already there, just waiting for a notification to pop up on their screen — with no additional cost to the organizer. And as for advertising, there’s no more need for throwing sponsored social media posts and PR articles out there, and praying that some of them stick.

As engagement works better than advertising, our Festival App will now include voting and suggestions. The feature prompts festivalgoers to vote for the bands they want to see the most, or suggest their own favorites themselves, and push other people to vote. Talk about virality! And if you’re an organizer, we bet you’ll be happy to see all these suggestions gathered in one place — your Viberate dashboard.

Your fans have the answers — all you have to do is ask.

Learning from data insights into the app users’ preferences, music tastes, favorite artists etc. can paint a really accurate picture as to who next year’s attendees really are. With data, you have proof of what they’re most likely to respond to, from hot artists to exciting activities.

With these important take-outs, we’re excited to push forward in our Festival App development. Even more so because all our pilot partnerships resulted in a unanimous YES to continuing our collaboration. If that’s not a kick-ass way to kick off a new summer festival season, we don’t know what is.

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Viberate blog

Viberate is a service that joins artists, places, events and festivals in the first truly global music network.

Kristian Gorenc

Written by

Festival apps product owner @ Viberate.com

Viberate blog

Viberate is a service that joins artists, places, events and festivals in the first truly global music network.

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