Alright everyone… I’ve finally been able to sit down and write. I’m sitting here at SDSU, while my girlfriend is in class. “Why?” you ask? We’re heading up to Disneyland when she’s done. Gonna spend tonight and tomorrow there. So anyway, I have nothing to do for the next 2 hours, so I thought, “Hey, it’s about time I start blogging again!” Quite honestly, I wonder if anybody even reads any of this drivel, but who am I to judge my own writing? 🙂
Speaking of Disneyland, I got a call last week (FINALLY!!) from them, asking me to come in to do some observation training. Well, the most unfortunate part of that is that I just happened to be in the shower when they called. I’ve called them back with my availability to no avail. One really is at the mercy of their leader’s schedule when one works for that company. I’m starting to wonder if it was a big practical joke, since the call came in on April Fool’s Day of all days! So here I sit again, waiting around for them to call. Damn you, good personal hygiene! Damn you…
Part of the trip today and tomorrow may be dedicated to stirring up a bit of interest in actually FOLLOWING THROUGH with what they have told me. Oh by the way, that part that I auditioned for back in February, yeah the one I got cut from, well I’m quite glad that I didn’t get it. Check it out!
Yes folks, that could have been ME! I can honestly say that it may not have fit me all that well. By the way, that’s my good friend Michael Pollock, who also works Coke Corner and the Golden Horseshoe. I’m not sure if he still does those, considering that he’s at the ranch now. He’s been a great help for me so far. This picture is from Laughingplace.com, you can click HERE for the full story on the new attraction.
OK enough about Disney. Eureka last weekend was fabulous! Had a great time. There are a few photos from the festival over in my “most recents” on my photo page. Despite it being a great time, Eureka, like so many festivals out there, is hurting quite a bit. However, their coordinators and directors have done something that no other festival directors have done in order to begin planning for the future. They actually asked ME, a young person (relatively), what I think they need to start doing in order to get there festival to survive. LISTEN UP DIRECTORS OF ALL FESTIVALS!!! Or you can kiss your fun little exclusive parties goodbye, well actually, that’s going to be part of the process of survival.
Festivals have long been functioning without having to worry about getting people to show up to them. This has been due to a large, loyal fan base. Well, I’ll be blunt, that fan base is disappearing, and it’s not due to disinterest in the music, it’s due to them dying. Face it, the audience for these things is OLD! Now I know, through my experience with audience members over many years, that many of them like to be a part of something that is theirs only, and that they don’t like to share it with others. That’s why older people like to be involved in clubs like the Elks, Moose, Lions, etc… Well, unfortunately the jazz festival circuit has been just that. Only in the last 3 or 4 years have directors started to realize that the business model for throwing a party for themselves and a bunch of old people who don’t want to share it with anyone, is starting to not work anymore. However, they haven’t unlearned a thing, and continue to use this business model.
They are also realizing that it is very difficult to get young people involved. Well, they burned those bridges years ago. There is an entire international network of young swing dancers out there that happens to just consume this music like alligators! But you know what? They won’t come to the festivals. Why? Because they get treated terribly when they go. High prices and constant aggressive behavior from regulars trying to defend their territory has turned the young people sour. Yes, I am one of those young people that has also been turned sour by such things. In the past, I have believed that the high prices have been put there on purpose to keep young people out, and guess what, it’s worked.
Here are a few basic rules of survival for a festival on the circuit….
RULE #1 – Scale back your festival, but do NOT charge more than you did last year!! You really need to charge less! Basic Business 101, I know. But despite the fact that every festival has been scaling back as they should, they have been charging more money to goers for less venues, and less bands! All this will do is drive away the loyal fans you already have! And if you’re not scaling back your festival, then you really need to. It’s better to have fewer packed venues, than to have more empty ones. Don’t plan for an overflow of people that you won’t get. Plan for the least amount you need to pay the bills, and then anything more than that will be the fat gravy!
RULE #2 – You need to repair your relationships with the young people. Festival directors complain to me all the time about how they’re not reaching young people, despite their efforts. Many festivals have outreach programs where they go into the schools and expose students to the music. This is a fantastic start, but as far as getting people to go to your festival, about the only people who are going to show up, are the teachers. NEWSFLASH – kids are not independent! They are still ruled by their parents, and the parents are the ones who decide whether or not they go. If you’re going to have an outreach program to schools, you need to get the parents involved because most of the kids aren’t going to remember why the music was at the school or that it even happened! Have evening events at schools so that the whole family can go, and make it free! Not only will this be more effective, but it will more than DOUBLE the amount of people you reach.
RULE #3 – This is in concordance with rule #2. Now that you have families hooked on going to the festival from your outreach program, GIVE THEM A BREAK!! Have you even looked at the prices for your festival these days?!?! Here is an example from the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, the one who is supposedly leading the way as the exemplary festival:
All Events 1/1/09 And After
- • $110 – (21 and over) Includes program
- • $50 – (Youth ages 7 – 20)
Ok this is for all events, which means that you can go to everything you want for the entire 4 days of the festival. Let’s do a little math for a family of 4. Mind you, these are the prices for THIS YEAR! 2 adults, that’s $220, plus 2 kids, another $100, totalling $320, and that’s just to get you IN!! Family of 5 or 6? $370 and $420… Not only are these prices high, but if you’re trying to get first-time goers, you’re breaking the deal before you’ve even peaked their interest. They’d be better off taking their kids to Disneyland over Memorial Day Weekend because at least they’d know that they’d have a good time. Don’t be fooled by the notion that just because YOU know your festival is fun, so should everyone else! That is a big mistake.
The solution is to lower the youth rate, add another tier for inbetweeners (ages 21-30), and make it so that parents get a deal for bringing kids! And while you’re at it, lower that $110! All you’re doing is ticking off your loyal fans! Here is an example deal: Parents get a 2fer for bringing their kids. So at the base $110, parents get their tickets for $55 each, and charge $20 for each kid. Trust me, you’ll thank me for doing this because, face it, what do you have to lose? You’re already NOT getting families, if you do this, you’ll get families. This is a winning situation! Also, word travels much faster between families than it does between older people, so as soon as one family sees this, there will be many more lining up right behind them! Family-friendliness is going to be the key to your survival!
So all you festival directors out there, please don’t continue to screw up your festivals. At least make it a point to follow these 3 rules I’ve laid out… Please, do it for ME, so that I don’t have to end up eating peanut butter sandwiches for the rest of my life! I work so hard to make sure that your audience members are happy, so I only ask that you do me the favor of ensuring that I still have an audience to make happy! That is all…