Two Festivals, Same Time

The inaugural Vibe MusicFest, developed by Vibe magazine, is set to kick off June 10-12 at the Atlanta Georgia Dome and nearby Georgia World Congress Center. That also happens to be the same weekend as the city’s three-day Music Midtown, which is moving from May to June this year.

The Vibe festival will celebrate Black Music Month. Some have questioned how it got scheduled in Atlanta on the same weekend as the massive outdoor Music Midtown and if it will be successful, considering the media coverage and marketing Midtown’s sure to generate.

Vibe President Kenard Gibbs told Pollstar he was confident the two events could coexist. Though the Vibe MusicFest will feature live music nightly (a lineup was expected within a week of press time), the event focuses on “urban lifestyle,” not just music.

“It’s truly a festival-like activity. We’re going to be having panel discussions and fashion shows … this will be full-fledged,” Gibbs said.

Other activities include a custom car show, career seminars, film screenings, gaming, beauty makeovers and a food and book fair. There will also be side stages set up inside and outside the Dome for new artist showcases.

“When we chose this date, we didn’t know anything about Music Midtown,” Gibbs said. “We worked our deal out with the city of Atlanta. … I think it just enriches the experience for the people of Atlanta. I don’t think about this as competing in any way.”

In fact, he took offense to a headline in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that dubbed the situation as a “Battle of the Music Fests.”

“If anything, the people of Atlanta will have a musical experience unparalleled to anything they’ve had before, whether they go to Music Midtown or go to our festival or they go to both.”

Gibbs said there will likely be a daily ticket price as well as one price for those who just want to attend the nightly concerts. There might also be an all-inclusive ticket. The Dome can accommodate approximately 60,000 people, but Gibbs said the capacity of the festival will be lower; Vibe just needs something larger than the city’s 20,000-capacity Philips Arena.

Music genres are expected to include R&B, hip-hop, reggae and gospel. Gibbs said Vibe has received “overwhelming support” from record companies. The festival is “drawing participants from all over the country” and has national radio support, he said. Television coverage is also a possibility.

Organizers include Eli Lande of TouringPro / Jack Utsick Presents, Gibbs said, and Infusion Marketing, which helped develop the only other equivalent event, the Essence Music Fest, which takes place July 1-3 in New Orleans.

Music Midtown promoter Peter Conlon, of Clear Channel’s Peter Conlon Presents, said his festival has an urban component and there could be some talent crossover issues.

“I’ve had conversations with Vibe and the people doing it,” Conlon told Pollstar. “It probably would have been better if they had chosen another weekend, but I have no control over that.”

Of the Vibe MusicFest, Gibbs said, “This is being built as an institution,” no matter where it takes place in the future.

“My vision is for this to be a longstanding tradition and serve as a platform for the celebration of urban culture,” he added.