How top music festivals are using creative digital marketing initiatives to engage their fans while fulfilling their high technological expectations

The majority of music festival attendees are millennials (born between 1800-2000), “the tech generation” (Nielsen, 2015; Festival insights, 2015; UKFA, 2016). This generation relies on technology and social media platforms to interact with music, they use these sources in their everyday lives and most importantly, they consume experiences through technology. Therefore, to differentiate among others festivals must come up with innovative marketing initiatives to connect with them and fulfill their expectations. Social media, the internet and mobile applications are some of their means (Van Winkle, Cairns, MacKay and Halpenny, 2016).

Let’s see how smartly renowned music festivals are leveraging technology and social media platforms to engage with their audience and differentiate from the competition.

Lollapalooza fan app contest

For its 20th anniversary, Lollapalooza created a contest to create a fan app for the festival. Any resident or organisation domiciled within the 50 United States could participate. Fans as well!!. Once the apps were created, fans had to vote for the one they liked the most and would like to use at the festival as the festival app. Consumers are eager of being part of more stages of the creation of the product and firms can take advantage of that interest of being involved by engaging user-innovators in the process (Constantinides, 2014). User-generated products are friendly adopted by users and tend to overtake trends because they combine the brand information with knowledge of user needs, which leads to a product that users want and thus will use (Bogers, Afuah and Bastian, 2010; Ogawa and Pongtanalert, 2013). This was a smart interactive way of engaging fans in the creation of something very useful for them while leveraging their needs and knowledge to improve the app. The outcome of this: a strong relationship between the fans and the festival, an improved product that consumers want because they developed it according to their needs and a great marketing strategy to engage fans. Here you can learn more about the benefits and challenges of involving users in product development.

These are the two winners of the contest:


Bonnaroo line-up announcement

Every year Bonnaroo festival announces the line-up in an innovative way through the Bonnaroo Line- up Announcement Megathon (BLAM!) event, but in 2015 they created a hype by making the fans to announce the line-up themselves. Fans had to call a number on a specific day and time to find out one artist on the line-up; then they had to announce the artist on Instagram, Twitter or Vine in a creative way and using the #bonnaroo hashtag to create a buzz about it. Social media enables consumers to share content and interact with other users, they can share their views and influence other users. Consumers are not passive anymore and they like being part of the generation and distribution of content. When consumers generate content through social media they can become the voice of a product or brand and thus create awareness about it (Kim and Johnson, 2015). If utilised well, user-generated content can be a great free marketing tool to promote festivals and a way to create a feeling for the fans of being part of the festival. It’s a win-win situation!. Line-ups are one of the most expected features of a music festival; by giving the fans the exclusivity of being the first ones to find out the line-up and announce it themselves was a great strategic marketing tactic that engaged fans and made them feel special, which created a strong bond between the festival and the fans. Have a look at some stats and info about how user-generated content is changing content marketing.


Glastonbury: Where’s my welly?

For Glastonbury’s 40th anniversary, Orange in partnership with Glastonbury created a competition to giveaway tickets for the festival. Each of the fifteen days that the competition run, a photo was posted on the website where participants had to find a strategically hidden orange welly in a crowd from past Glastonbury festivals. At the end of each day, the ones who found the welly were put into a prize draw where the winner would be picked arbitrarily. Gamification in marketing includes fun and competition to engage and motivate customers to attain or win something and a way of creating value creation. Games in the form of contests attract customers to the company’s website or social media platforms and are a rich source of data (Conaway and Cortés-Garay, 2014). Check this video of “how gamification can engage your audience”.


Tomorrowland Golden Ticket Contest

One thing social media marketers must learn from music festivals is about how great they are leveraging social media and fans to promote their brand for free. Tomorrowland tickets always sold out extremely quick and they are incredibly difficult to get (some sites even give tips on how to get them!). Therefore, since 2012 the festival runs a contest through Facebook to giveaway Golden tickets and from 2013 participants have to make a creative picture or movie related to the theme of the festival, which changes every year, and share it on their Facebook pages. Again, some smart use of leveraging user-generated content. Knowing how desperate fans are to get tickets, the festival can be certain that fans will do anything to get them. A clever way of engaging your audience and getting free marketing through it.

This is the video of the 2013 winner:

You've showed your amazing capacity and creative spirit once again… But there can only be one winner of the 2013 Tomorrowland GOLDEN TICKET. And the winner is….

Posted by Tomorrowland on Tuesday, 23 July 2013



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Constantinides, E. (2014) Foundations of social media marketing. Procedia – Social and Behavioural Sciences [Online] 148. Available at: (accessed February 13th 2017).

Festival insights (2015) The European festival market report 2014 [Online] Available at: (accessed February 16th 2017).

Kim, A. and Johnson, K. (2015) Power of consumers using social media: Examining the influences of brand-related user-generated content on Facebook. Computers in human behaviour [Online] 58. Available at: (accessed February 20th 2017).

Nielsen (2015) For music fans, the music is all a stage [Online] Available at: (accessed February 16th 2017).

Ogawa, S. and Pongtanalert, K. (2013) Exploring characteristics and motives of consumer innovators: Community Innovators vs. Independent Innovators. Research technology management. [Online] 56(3). Available at: (accessed February 20th 2017).

UKFA, (2016) UK festival awards and conference Market report 2014/2015 [pdf] Available at: file:///C:/Users/gusi/Downloads/UKFA_infographics_16lr.pdf (accessed February 16th 2017).

Van Winkle, C., Cairns, A., J. MacKay, K. and A. Halpenny, E. (2016) Mobile device use at festivals: Opportunities for value creation. International Journal of Event and Festival Management. [Online] 7(3). Available at: (accessed January 16th 2017).

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