I tried to work the short cut (Do read the post about how I planned) to a successful music festival in Islamabad, Pakistan on 16 November 2019, considering I had sufficient experience and expertise in organizing, scheduling and assigning. I realized there is professional marketing aspect as well.
Everything I did was perfect; the artist list, target market, equipment selection, venue booking, digital marketing and the operations. What I didn’t anticipate was that EAT Festival would announce their annual festival right next door, in the last 10 days leading up to my event. How could I have known that? I guess, by keeping track of festivals schedule of Islamabad. That means experience in the sector.
The EAT festival even cashed my marketing campaign and lots of people out of my crowd ended up there.
Where my festival was a financial disaster, it showed me the correct path towards organizing a successful event.
These are the five essentials of conducting a super music festival in Pakistan:-
The lead artist has to be a crowd puller. It has to be a name that gives credibility to your event outright. Akcent, Kantik, Clean Bandit, and Diplo are the kind of big names that force people to come to the venue. Build an artist list around this crowd puller. The second tier artists have to complement this show stopper; a deep house DJ like Ahmet Kilic would work fine swaying the crowd with his Arabic inspired notes, before the final act of the night. Book the lead well in time, that is, 3 months before the D-Day. Every prospective sponsor will ask for confirmation of this lead performer.
The venue has to be relatively close to where the target market is. Music festival target market is 15-35 year olds, privately educated, English speaking, music loving boys and girls. This crowd you only find in Islamabad and 25 miles around it, up to Wah Cantt. Nowhere beyond. So, the venue has to be close to the areas where the target market resides or works. That is CDA Sector F-6 to F-10. Period. The marriage marquees in E-11 are a good option, but they have hangovers with musical events; music events infringe on their religious sensitivities. Or that might be a marketing gimmick to squeeze out more profits from prospective musical event managers.
The third most important thing is equipment. Certain NXS 2000 systems (player and mixer) are very hard to get in Pakistan and equally difficult to ensure they reach the venue in time. I hired a sub-contractor to arrange this equipment for the last day. Even then the middle man tried to fleece more rent from me. Well, at least the equipment was installed and in place on time. Many events have been destroyed by these high end mixers, players and screens not installed at the venue in time. Pakistanis event market is quite unprofessional in that sense. So, do cater for unprofessionalism.
On fourth spot is to make sure no bigger fish is scheduling their event on your days. This is a make-break for tiny events in the vicinity. Even if you have to go up to the big fishes to find out, do that, because they can steal your entire crowd with their established reputation and big marketing money. Especially, do not schedule your event in the same month, and the same city where a bigger fish has already raked in the recreation money of your target crowd. Entertainment, Arts and Food festivals are in the same category of EDM ones. Keep a lookout for ticket pricing. You cannot go beyond Rs 500 per person, if you seek to attract students and middle class people. Otherwise stick to the rich crowd; you’d need special passes and access to the rich people hive, then you can charge upwards of Rs 5000.
The 5th and the most important factor that has to be kept in mind to arrange a successful event in Islamabad is professional marketing, sales and sponsorship. Don’t leave home without it. These professional marketers charge a hefty amount, but you can always compensate it with sponsorship money. These professionals know how to reach Zion of rich kids. These kids don’t trust just anybody to come to their show. The right rich crowd needs to know the event-lead personally in order to trust the quality of the show. Professional marketers do just that — Give you credibility, if you are just breaking into the scene. Also, sponsorship is vital to hold a reasonably good event. All the cola manufacturers do sponsor music and entertainment events, but they have started conducting EAT events of their own — killing the little guy in the process. In any case, if you present your proposal at least 3 months before D-Day, and the proposal has lucrative marketing opportunity for the cola manufacturers, they do sponsor.
In conclusion, the Entertainment, Arts, Food and Music Festivals are the rage in entertainment starved Pakistan. It’s just the right team to manage critical aspects that I have explained above that needs to be assembled in order to get the right results.
I will be joining a professional event company to learn the ropes of marketing and sponsorship, so that I come back stronger next time.
Wish me luck.