Hot ticket: 2011 summer music festivals for millennials

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Believe it or not, the end of the spring semester on most college campuses is just over a month away. This means that students will be heading off for summer break, which in turn means less traffic on campus. But as marketers, we don’t have to give up on reaching this desirable target market from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The key is to bring your message to where the students are. Among the popular summer events for students are a multitude of summer music festivals. With attendance in the tens of thousands, these festivals provide great opportunities for marketers to reach large audiences.

The big four:

Coachella – April 15-17, Indio, CA.

With headliners like Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire, Kanye West and The Strokes, CA’s largest festival is sure to bring a diverse crowd. It’s proximity to LA usually means a lot of celebrity guests as well. Brands can set up tents on the festival grounds themselves, or can also throw sponsored parties at nearby off-site locations.

Bonnaroo June 9-12, Manchester, TN.

Bonnaroo is essentially the only reason why I would even consider traveling to the middle of nowhere, Tennessee, especially in the midst of summer.  But this monster festival, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, draws quite the extensive and impressive line-up. Sponsors of the festival are required to provide free activities for attendees, so this is your chance to get creative with brand interaction.

Lollapalooza August 5-9, Chicago, IL.

Originally started in 1991 as a touring festival, Lolla is now a one-stop destination in Grant Park in Chicago. Though the official line-up hasn’t been announced yet, rumors include Eminem, Foo Fighters and Muse. Tickets for this festival are highly sought after due to its location in the heart of the Chicago-metro (versus a desert in CA or a field in TN).

Austin City LimitsSept 16-18, Austin, TX.

The annual three-day festival in Zilker Park attracts over 70,000 visitors each day.  Though this festival happens after school is back in session, that makes it even more popular for college students due to the proximity of UT Austin. Like Bonnaroo, ACL is also celebrating its 10th anniversary this fall.

Other notables:

New Orleans Jazz Fest New Orleans, LA. April 29-May 8th.

Don’t be misled by the name. This two-week festival brings a very diverse group of acts, ranging from Arcade Fire to Jimmy Buffet to Bon Jovi to Lauryn Hill.

Sasquatch –May 27-30, George, WA.

For the more indie/alt rock and folk fans, this is one of the largest festivals for the Pacific NW. This year’s headliners include Foo Fighters, Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse, Wilco, Flaming Lips, The Decemberists, Iron & Wine, Bright Eyes, etc.

Vans Warped Tour –  June 24-Aug 14, Various US Locations.

Though Vans clearly has naming rights (and has since 1995) this traveling tour still draws the punk rock crowd more than any other. And it also has the advantage of being a traveling tour, so marketers hitching their brand on the wagon are able to reach many different markets.

Outside Lands –  Aug 12-14, San Francisco, CA.

One of the newer events in the festival circuit, Outside Lands is held annually in beautiful Golden Gate Park. This festival is a great fit for companies that are involved in the eco-friendly, green movement.

Glastonbury – June 22-26, Plton, England.

For those looking to travel outside of the continental US for their festival fix, there is no better stop than Glastonbury. The largest Greenfield music fest in the world is playing host to just about every alt-rock and/or indie band you can imagine. Then even have living legend Stevie Wonder playing a set.

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