‘The Future Couldn’t Look Brighter:’ Festivals Return With Global Ambitions
When thinking about taking festivals global, the first that comes to mind is Lollapalooza. The C3 Presents/Live Nation brand is currently live in six countries: France, Stockholm Germany; Chile, Argentina and Brazil in South America; and the Chicago original in the U.S. Last month, the team announced the premiere of Lollapalooza India in January 2023. It marks the first time the famed festival will take place on Asian shores. The local partner for this premiere, which will take place in Mumbai, is BookMyShow, India’s main live entertainment player.
In his last conversation with Pollstar, C3’s Charles Attal went into one of the main reasons for expanding the Lolla brand: “We don’t want to live and die by one show. Some shows will be soft one year, some will be super strong. We want to be able to continue to diversify.”
For a lot of festivals, the last two years haven’t just been soft, they’ve been silent. And while 2022 saw most of them return strong, adding a presence in new markets will help make up for lost business.
C3 Presents has shown how it’s done, growing organically by finding partners and sites in different cities around the world that match the Lollapalooza identity. As Attal explained, “There’s always going to be a regional, local and national flair to each festival. There’s no cookie-cutter going on anywhere because you can’t do the same types of activations, food, music or art, because every country is different. That’s the beauty of Lollapalooza, we’re able to come in and create something different in every market.” It’s a blueprint other promoters have been following. Continuing with Live Nation’s event roster Download Festival comes to mind, which originated in the UK, and premiered in Germany this year, headlined by Metallica. The festival has also spawned offshoots in France, Spain, Australia and Japan.
Next up is Rolling Loud, which originated in Miami and has since held editions in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and New York City. This year, the festival will premiere in Toronto, Canada, Sept. 9-11, headlined by Dave, Future, and Wizkid. Rolling Loud co-founders Tariq Cherif and Matt Zingler also ventured into Europe for the first time this year, first as partners of Live Nation’s Dutch hip hop festival Woo Hah, July 1-3, then as its own event in Portugal’s Algarve region, July 6-8. Zingler told Pollstar, that “Portugal was an amazing show. Highly anticipated after the pandemic since we had to postpone. The energy was insane and being on the beach made it very unique compared to other Rolling Louds.” Referring to the upcoming premiere in Canada, he added, “the Toronto show is one of the most exciting lineups I think we have booked to date. Just the diversity in the headliners alone each of the days is something you shouldn’t miss. The location is amazing, and the city is spectacular. Oh, I almost forgot: the merch is going to be insane.”
See: Rolling Loud California Returns With First-Ever Festival At Hollywood Park
Last month, Rolling Loud announced its first foray into Asia in 2023. The site for the event will be in Thailand, but no further details were available at press time.
Zingler said, “expansion is based on quality partners understanding the vision of Rolling Loud. We were fortunate to find an amazing partner in Thailand, which is why that is our first show in Asia.”
He revealed that more Rolling Loud announcements would follow, “We plan to expand off of Thailand into other markets around that same time period.”
Zingler explained, “Shows in new territories require a local demand. That’s the first step. Once we have determined there’s a demand, we look into what the fans want to hear. We love supporting local talent as well, so that’s something guaranteed that you will see upon our announcement.” He said existing infrastructure helped a lot, “along with having the proper roads, hotels, transportation services, etc. There is a lot of infrastructure available locally but depending on the type of structures or rigs we are using it will require us to ship.” Working with a local partner will help make sure “that the verbiage is right, and the marketing rollout is proper,” the promoter said.
Another festival launching in multiple new markets this year is Primavera Sound from Barcelona, Spain. The first U.S. edition will finally touch down in Los Angeles, Sept. 16-18, after being postponed twice due to COVID. The festival will also land in South America with three editions: Santiago, Chile (Nov. 7-13), partnering with local promoter Rock Stgo, Buenos Aires, Argentina, on the same weekend, partnering with DF Entertainment, as well as São Paulo, Brazil (Oct.31–Nov. 6), in partnership with Live Nation Brazil. Speaking about this massive expansion, Primavera Sound co-director Alfonso Lanza told Pollstar, “We are truly excited about this upcoming year for Primavera Sound, a year like we have never had before in our history. The future couldn’t look brighter for us and right now everything is on schedule, planning is moving forward as expected. We hope that fans of Primavera Sound in Barcelona will be able to recognize the same festival they enjoy and admire in our city in the new venues, and at the same time find distinct features in each new venue and edition. We are not losing our identity whatsoever, but the cities hosting our festivals won’t lose theirs either.”
See: Biggest Primavera Sound In History
Lanza also touched on the importance of understanding local markets and their cultural heritage. “There are two strands, the first one is understanding local audiences and the other one is understanding local talent, and we believe that both should feel represented in the line-up. We don’t want to be a franchise that arrives in a place and exposes itself to the possible ‘lost in translation’ syndrome. That’s why we work with local teams that help us to understand the public in each area and their tastes. Anyhow, the years of experience of Primavera have taught us that our audience is coming from all around the world, so we’re aiming for a model that can is understood universally. We are a music festival for music fans who don’t follow algorithms, and you can find them anywhere.”
Lanza said the live infrastructure in the South American territories is of the same high standards one has come to expect in Europe and the U.S., which is why “everything is sourced on site, with the help of our partners and teams who have been working on music festivals with very high standards for years.” And he concluded, “We like to think that the best way to think and act internationally is to think and act locally, the better you do things from a local perspective the more universal you will be. The proof is that by doing the right things locally we have managed to expand and make ourselves understood internationally and we have received proposals to make festivals in other places.”