How Concerts & Music Festivals Are Becoming More Millennial

Jul 08 2012

Today’s post comes to us from Caroline Marques, a music fanatic and frequent concertgoer who realizes that the shared experience of seeing an artist live is increasingly important to Millennials. Bonding with other fans, building a closer connection to an artist, and being engaged in such social experiences is something Gen Y values, as they attend concerts and festivals more and more. In fact, 31% of Millennials plan to attend concerts and/or music festivals this summer according to a recent Ypulse poll among more than 2,700 14-30 year olds. Caroline explains below why festivals are so relevant to young people and how they’re changing…

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How Concerts & Music Festivals Are Becoming More Millennial

Ask a teenager when they bought their first CD and they probably won’t remember. But ask Millennials who was the last artist they saw live, and they’ll come up with a list of ten names. It’s summertime and young adults know what that means: time to save up to attend some concerts. Come September, festival-goers all around the world will have more than twenty names to add to their list of bands they’ve seen live. A lot of teens around the world will be spending a few hundred dollars on a festival and camping ticket in order to see their favorite band perform in front of an excited, sweaty, and passionate crowd.

Why are music festivals relevant today? The idea of concerts and live music certainly isn’t new, but I have a feeling that the idea of festivals is becoming more and more mainstream and important to teenagers, which is why I wanted to share my thoughts on this experience and compare it to last year’s.

I was lucky enough to attend Rock Werchter this past month, an annual Belgium music festival that sold out after attracting big names such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Snow Patrol, Pearl Jam, Jack White, Justice, and many more. Most of the festival-goers were from Belgium although I met quite a few fans from Australia, France, and the U.K. The first thing that I noticed about the line-up was that despite its name (“Rock” Werchter), it wasn’t purely rock and roll. On the contrary, RW respected one of the key ingredients to a successful festival: an eclectic line-up.

Would RW have been as successful if it had been purely “rock”? Perhaps. But a lot of fans didn’t only come for the rock — they came for Justice, Skrillex, DJ Fresh, and Deadmau5 or for Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller. The music scene today isn’t dominated by a particular genre of music, but we can no longer ignore the lingering presence and influence of dubstep, electro, and house music. We aren’t only a dub and EDM generation — though sometimes it feels as though we’re definitely moving towards that generation (Coachella also invited Justice, Madeon, AWOLNATION, and Flux Pavillion this year).

Instead of considering some festivals as “indie,” we can now consider them rave-like. Glow-sticks, electronic music, and impressive lighting bring festivals that aren’t geared specifically to electronic music (such as Ultra or Electric Daisy Carnival) to a whole new level. Ultra might not be for everyone, but the great advantages of other festivals is the variety. For example, one could see icons (Pearl Jam, Jack White) perform or experience electronic (Deadmau5), indie rock (the Temper Trap, The Kooks), hip hop (Mac Miller), indie pop (the xx) or dance to some old-time favorites (Blink 182) at RW.

Though I enjoyed myself tremendously (particularly impressed by RHCP and Mumford and Sons), there are a few things that could have been improved. The distance between the stage and the audience was quite large — an understandable decision — but that meant that even the first row was far from the band. There weren’t any signings or meet and greets which could have been a good opportunity for some of the new bands to connect with fans. Basically, the connection between the artists and the fans could have been stronger. But the biggest problem was the littering. After the first day, the festival grounds were covered with paper plates and empty plastic bottles. There weren’t enough trash cans and it seemed easier to litter than to look for an appropriate trash can in the sometimes unbearable heat. On a green scale, Gurten (Bern, Switzerland) was more impressive. Though we teens sometimes like to think otherwise, a festival can and should strive to be clean and green.

Though these events haven’t necessarily evolved ecologically, they are definitely up to date technologically. Once again, we cannot ignore Facebook’s omnipresence in my generation’s lives. Most festivals have Facebook pages (very useful!), which allow fans to discuss their favorite bands and “meet” before the concerts, trade tickets, and ask questions. It is also possible to watch some concerts live, thanks to streaming on YouTube or on the festival’s site. But the innovations aren’t only online – this year, Coachella allowed the public to attend a concert given by Tupac thanks to holograms (a neat idea, though it definitely can’t compare to a real concert).

It’s important to note that music festivals aren’t meant for everyone — the “I want to live in a music festival forever” pictures on Tumblr can be misleading. Festivals aren’t only fun all the time — it is hot, dirty and exhausting to be on your feet all day under the burning sun. But if you’re a music junkie, then the experience is more than worth it. Since music is also so readily available (by listening to it on YouTube or downloading it illegally), a lot of a band’s income now depends on its live performances. But this generation doesn’t have to worry yet — festivals are going in the right direction. Nothing beats a live concert with your friends — Coachella (still on my to-do list), Werchter…it’s this generation’s Disney!

About Caroline

Caroline MarquesCaroline is an American student enjoying her senior year of high school in Geneva, Switzerland. This year will be her fourth year serving on the Youth Advisory Board, which she loves, as it allows her to keep up with a lot of U.S trends and do what she loves the most: write. She spends her time trying to master several languages, traveling, kick-boxing and enjoying music and dance, as well as her two favorites: reading and writing.