Lights All Night’s 10th-Year Bash: A Labor Of Love Pays Off
Alive Coverage – Lights All Night
EDM-heavy Dallas New Year’s bash Lights All Night festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary Dec. 27-28 topped by Skrillex and Bassnectar, one of the biggest in the state and a true success story in the notoriously difficult independent festival space.
“It’s been a labor of love over the last 10 years to get to this point,” said festival co-founder and producer Scott Osburn of Always On. “Last year we made a considerable investment onsite in terms of experiential art and crowd movement and production, and it’s gotten to the boiling point.”
Skrillex hasn’t played Dallas since Lights All Night in 2014, making him a strong draw for this year’s event, which takes place at Dallas Market Hall, while Bassnectar remains one of the largest in the scene. Osburn notes other strong talent throughout the lineup, including recent Pollstar cover artist Louis The Child, Porter Robinson’s alter-ego live project Virtual Self, Houston’s Kayzo, and rising talents in San Holo and Subtronics, among others.
“With the boiling point of the art installation, the 10-year anniversary, if there ever was an opportunity to increase the talent budget a bit, this was the year, and it’s paid off,” Osburn says, with ticket sales on pace to sell out at around 18,000 per day.
A labor of love is an apt description, with hard times coming after the event’s third year as the Lights All Night brand saw exponential growth, going from 6,000 tickets to a two-day event at 12,000 at the Dallas Convention Center, and still growing.
“Being just young guys, the adage was ‘starting the startup’ and growing too fast,” Osburn says. “We saw exponential growth, moved to another, larger venue to try to sell more tickets, doubled the talent budget, had some nasty weather events, overpriced ourselves and everything in between, and lost a ton of a money.”
That fourth year was a tough lesson for Osburn and his business partner.
“We’re 24-25 years old with a million-dollar loss. That was hard,” Obsurn said. “But we had some great advisement and people around us. They said the fans don’t know what happened in the back office, all the fans and artists know is you have an excellent event and a great brand you’ve built over the years.”
– Scott Osburn
Lights All Night
– Scott Osburn
Lights All Night
With that advice, Lights All Night got back to work and found a great deal at the Dallas Market Hall in 2015. Meanwhile, the goal was to keep investing in the experiential and customer service aspects each year and continue building the brand.
While there are risks in putting on a major event as an independent, Osburn says there is some strength in small numbers.
“We’re fortunate in that sense because being independent, yes, we don’t have the ability to block buy or use the leverage of global powerhouse, but we do have the ability to be nimble,” he says. “There’s no red tape to make the next move and, if I need to send an offer that day, I can, and couple it with one of our Austin fests or our other mini-Dallas festival. That’s our greatest advantage at this point.”
Going forward, Osburn says the goal is to continue to expand and invest, as the hard work over the last decade pays off.
“Getting to this point, we’ve seen tons of ebbs and flows,” Obsurn says. “The thing we were fortunate of is we’ve always been able to get great artists, always able to have top production partners able to produce larger-than-life production. The goal is to have enough cash to invest in the art and experiential side of this business, and we’re finally there. I foresee that, with great lineups and events, as what we will continue to stand on.”