It may seem crazy, but Northern Hemisphere festival season is not that far away. Ultra is about a month away and then a few weeks on from that is Coachella. Most lineups have been announced or are on their way to being announced, but that doesn't mean we can't have some suggestions for what else we would like to see happen this summer. Some things need improving on or change and we have suggestions.
1. Free Water:
Most festivals already have free water stations, but the point needs to be emphasized again. Making attendees pay for multiple bottles of water just to stay hydrated or to keep from passing out is irresponsible, especially when battling intense heat. There needs to be more than just three or four water stations. Put as many of them around the venue as possible as a precautionary measure and goodwill.
More fans need to be wearing earplugs. This is an initiative that festivals can spearhead by giving them out at the gate or at a special tent, but listening to music at 100db all day or all night is bad for your ears. That ringing in your ears after the festival? It is avoidable and not good. Wear earplugs and hell it might just make the music sound a bit better, cutting out the really tinny highs and obnoxious lows you get on poorly mixed festival soundsystems.
3. Free Snacks:
This may just sound self-indulgent, but brands setting up tents to give out free snacks is a great idea. Whether they are chips or bars of some sort, these are wildly popular and don’t cannibalize sales for the food vendors around the festival. It is a bridge from one meal to the next and adds a little extra fuel to keep people dancing.
4. Instantly refundable cash on cashless wristbands:
The cashless wristbands that have been rolled out at festivals have been good and bad. They have made lines run faster, but also caused a few problems. The machines routinely break and prevent vendors from selling their goods. The other issue is that getting your leftover money on the wristband is generally a pain. You sometimes have to fill out a form, MAIL IT IN and then wait for a few weeks for your refund. Just as you can instantly add money to your wristband, make it so you can instantly get the money back or at least commence a transfer back to your bank account. If you are linking to your bank account, these types of transfers should not be difficult. The current scheme for many festivals is just a disingenuous way to get a few extra bucks.
5. Better Recycling & Use of Recycled & Compostable Materials:
There are generally recycling containers at festivals, but often times they are also filled with trash. That is on the attendees to actually care. However, there should be more places for fans to recycle cans, paper and cardboard so that less ends up in the trash. That also goes for cleanup at the end. Make sure to recycle what can be and throw out what goes in a dumpster. Many of the containers for food and pamphlets about the festival could be made from recyclable materials or be compostable. It may cost a little more, but it would go a long way to lower the carbon footprint of the festival.
6. Greater Emphasis on Environmental Initiatives:
As mentioned with recycling, that is a first step with environmental initiatives. This can be related to where the event is. On an island? Work to help the ocean. In a forest, help deforestation efforts somewhere in the world. Also festivals could get a greater portion of their energy from renewable sources. All of the lights, LED walls and production uses up A LOT of power, so even getting 10-20% from renewable sources would make a big impact. It would cost a little more, but it would be worth it.
7. Attendees Cleaning Up After Themselves:
This is a must. Too often at the end of a night, the ground is littered with cans, plastic bottles and food containers. There have been times where I have waded out of festivals with seas of cans up to my ankles. People don’t want to leave there spots and dance, I get that, but hold on to your trash until you can get rid of it. If someone is leaving to get something, give them your empty can. Do your part. At camping festivals, don’t leave anything behind because you assume it will be cleaned up. It might get blown away or stuck in the ground. Be a good person and clean up after yourself.
8. More Unique Production:
The age of sticking some LED walls in a parking lot or throwing up a tent in a field and calling it a festival seems to have mostly passed, but still more can be done. Make the most of your festival grounds to set up art from local artists, graffiti and sculptures that will be interesting and shared by those going. If there is a theme, buy into it and use that on the stages. Make a festival stage that you want to be remembered for years to come. Make it something that people will say when they look at the picture “festival x 2018.”
9. Longer Sets:
This has been spoken about at great length, but sometimes you will go to a festival and an artist only has a half-hour. That just won’t cut it. They play five songs and leave. An hour for a techno DJ isn’t enough for someone who play songs 5-10 minutes in length. Give them more time to work. That means you have to make the most of your bookings or create interesting back to backs, but super short sets break the pace up of a day. It also prevents people from seeing multiple acts when they are all at the same time.
10. Artists Taking Risks:
This can take various forms. This can mean sneaking into your set an old track that you haven’t played out in a while and may have slipped under the radar, but it is always a good time to educate the crowd with an oldie, but a goodie. Playing the hits can be fun to see the reaction, but mixing deep cuts that have a similar reaction can be even more satisfying. Yes this same idea is said over and over again each year and DJs say they will do it, but it seems like few do.
Also do some tricks on stage. If you are a technical DJ, show that off. If you aren’t, well practice on the crowd. Make mistakes. That is the only way you are going to get better and some may not notice the little techniques you use, but those who do will really appreciate it. Those are the fans that will come to your next club show.
11. Diverse, happy and judgment-free dancefloors:
This may seem self-explanatory and a given most places, but it isn’t always the case. If someone has awful dance moves, let them be. People from all walks of life are allowed on the dancefloor. That is what makes it special. If you want to judge people, exit the festival pronto. And a diverse crowd is the best crowd. Getting one is a whole discussion on its own, but booking can be crucial. That is your job promoters. The fans can also do their part to go to a stage they might not always check out and see different acts.