The Business of Fun: Spring Break Music Festivals
Euphoria Music Festival 2012 recap video
As the Ultra Music Festival winds down, excitement for the Euphoria Music Festival begins to build. The connection between college Spring Break and high profile music festivals has a long (and profitable) history. This edition of the Business of Fun looks at Spring Break music festivals and lists the key components of for a successful event.
History of Spring Break
In the United States, celebrations during college Spring Break has been a right of passage since the early 1950s. Colleges have had a Break between semesters for much longer than that, of course, but it wasn't until the post-WWII economic boom in South Florida did it become a "party." According to Time Magazine, Spring Break graduated :D from being a mere pause in higher learning to the celebration it is know as today when the 1960 film 'Where the Boys Are' was released.
Just before the state of Florida raised the minimum drinking age to 21 in the late 1980s, Fort Lauderdale hosted an average influx of more than 350,000 visitors for Spring Break between March and the end of April. At that point in time the annual pilgrimage for fun in the sun was no longer the domain of college students, it was for everyone. Spring Break is no longer the domain of the sate of Florida either as Spring Break parties are now part of every major city in America.
A more recent aspect of the Spring Break tradition is the large scale Spring Break music festival. Since the lucrative twenty-something demographic is highly concentrated in one place, savvy concert promoters bring the music to masses with elaborate festivals featuring the most popular bands and DJs.
In Miami, the Ultra Music Festival is spread across two separate weekends in March. By having the event occur on two weekends, the city of Miami can host the wild throngs with little impact on the weekday business traffic.
Spinner Magazine writes that the "Ultra Music Festival has consistently brought the world's biggest DJs to Miami, decades before the term EDM (electronic dance music) was dreamed into existence." In 2012 the Ultra Music Festival had nearly 200,000 people in attendance and it is directly responsible for a massive influx of cash into the city's coffers. Corporate sponsorship, event underwriting and all the associated permitting heaped even much more revenue onto Miami-Dade county residents.
As of this writing, Ultra is just winding down. That is in sync with the colleges and universities that have their semester transitions early in the Spring Break season. But that doesn't mean the party is over - Spring Break for other colleges hasn't even started yet.
Excitement for another major Spring Break music festival is beginning to build. The Euphoria Music Festival is scheduled for April 12th & 13th in New Braunfels, Texas. Euphoria is as popular as Miami's Ultra, but being as it is held in the less populated rural area, the event is known to be a bit more rowdy. The San Antonio-Express describes Euphoria:
Though Whitewater is often the epicenter of the Texas Music scene, thousands packs the space for DJs and electronic music. That's what'll happen during this festival, which will feature the likes of Datsik, Tommy Trash and the “Harlem Shake” guy, Baauer.
Euphoria differs from Ultra in that it is a much more contained event. Where Ultra is in the open public space of downtown Miami, Euphoria is held at the Whitewater Amphitheater. From a business perspective, Euphoria is a superior model since the event keeps its patrons happy in a traditional venue with all of the concessions, souvenirs, and the experience itself, being "in house."
Another advantage Euphoria has is its tiered seating upgrades including premium skyboxes. Being in a public space, the Ultra music festivals allows for un-ticketed passersby to listen to the various performances for free. But Euphoria maximizes the returns by being mostly removed from all public access in the Texas countryside.
Key Components of Successful Spring Break Music Festivals
If you are considering being the host city or a promoter of a Spring Break music festival, there are some key considerations:
Location - You'll need to weigh the pros and cons of the event being a so-called "street fest" in a public space versus having the event in a more traditional venue. A music festival in a public place will need extensive permitting and possibly incur higher insurance costs, but the loosely knit location may make for more impulsive walk-up tickets sales than closed looped locale. Shunning a street fest and opting for a tradition venue may have a larger upfront cost for securing the venue, but that will very likely be recuperated - and then some - with concessions and the tiered premium seating upgrades.
Event date - Spring Break music festivals have six week window to operate within. You will need to look closely at the regional colleges in order to set an event date to coincide with the end of one semester and the beginning of another. Also, you may want to refrain from establishing your event date solely on the number of college students nearby. The behavioral make-up of a (smaller) college may be much more prone to "party hard" than a larger college. West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia has only 29,000 students, but it is rated the number one "party school" in the country. An event date based on the semester end at West Virginia U may sell many more tickets than nearby Tennessee U.
Ticketing software - Euphoria Spring Break music festival has a business advantage since its venue offers General Admission as well as premium upgrade seating. ThunderTix is proud to be the ticketing software for the Euphoria music festival and we can be yours too. The ThunderTix plan for music festivals offers you the same lucrative tired ticket pricing structures of the Euphoria Music Festival, plus the ability to have exclusive pre-sales for preferred customers. Best of all we do not charge per-ticket fees. A critical business concern given the huge crowds of Spring Break.
What do you think? Is it time you became part of the long history of Spring Break music festivals with one of your very own? Let us know in the comments below!