KC Thinks: Turf Wars

Since the beginning of time (when man-went-to-rave), promoters have boasted a territorial nature, from the artists they book to the clubs they take over. When these promoters spilled over into the festival market, never more so had the war paint been applied. With every year comes new events and, with the number of spaces (especially in London), festival-goers and talent remaining largely the same, the competition is fiercer than ever. Since the beginning of time (when man-went-to-rave), promoters have boasted a territorial nature, from the artists they book to the clubs they take over. When these promoters spilled over into the festival market, never more so had the war paint been applied. With every year comes new events and, with the number of spaces (especially in London), festival-goers and talent remaining largely the same, the competition is fiercer than ever.

The arrival of All Points East, and the announcement they’d be the sole festival taking place in East London’s Victoria Park, marked a huge turning point for the capital’s scene. With Victoria Park out of action for the rest, a scrum ensued for South London territories such as Brockwell Park (a fight which saw Lovebox now choosing W3’s Gunnersbury Park as home).

With the exception of a handful of weighty headliners, line-ups are growing increasingly similar – a catalyst, if there ever was one, to push promoters to think outside of the model.    The well-documented demand from punters for better and more meaningful experiences, has prompted festival owners to step away from an old guard approach and into something fresh-looking, progressively-programmed and creatively-conceived else face losing it all.

Though promoters may be feeling the pressure to deliver, the punters hold the power. Never before have they had as much choice and diversity in festival offerings. Some of our favourites? The introduction of The Barn at Field Day last year – a gigantic hangar-like construction – proved they weren’t cutting corners with production.  Junction 2 meanwhile, instead of competing for an already-used space, took the bold choice to move out of the pit to a motorway rave hideaway; a choice which would appear to have paid off, as they return for their third year. Elsewhere, Gala festival, an event we’re working on this year, look to put equal emphasis on the food and drink experience as on the music line-up, challenging the festival blueprint and bringing it into line with the foodie revolution we’ve seen sweep London over recent years.

For brands, too, this need for innovation and standout (on the part of festivals), along with an appetite for new and enriching experiences (from punters) represents an exciting time. Can promoters and brands move the conversation along at the same pace as change elsewhere to create successful, progressive partnerships?  For those that dare, the rewards are certainly there.

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