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Festivals

Top Five Tips Festivals Should Take from Primavera Sound

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Mon, Jun 6, 2011 at 8:55 AM

click to enlarge Big Boi at 2 a.m., BFFs 4 lyfe: the party don't stop at Barcelona's Primavera Sound - ANDREA DOMANICK
  • Andrea Domanick
  • Big Boi at 2 a.m., BFFs 4 lyfe: the party don't stop at Barcelona's Primavera Sound
The past couple of years have seen a proliferation of summer festivals in the U.S., but many have been accompanied by a proliferation of financial swindles, musical shortcomings and logistical foibles.

No festival is perfect, but last weekend's tried n' true San Miguel Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona showed us how it's done with a killer lineup, moderate costs and a flexible schedule. And after last week's face-palming announcement from Coachella about duplicating the festival, we thought we'd offer a few pointers about why Primavera Sound should be the paradigm. Here's the Top Five Tips Festivals Should Take from Primavera Sound 2011:

click to enlarge 6 a.m. - nap time! - ANDREA DOMANICK
  • Andrea Domanick
  • 6 a.m. - nap time!
5. Hold it (all) at night

We're talking 4 p.m. to 6 a.m. Because the only thing worse than baking in the hot sun all day is trying to find a way to keep the party going at night after the last band has played.

click to enlarge Festival-goers make their way home just before sunrise - ANDREA DOMANICK
  • Andrea Domanick
  • Festival-goers make their way home just before sunrise
4. Hold it in a city

Because sleeping in a bed, showering and doing a little sightseeing with the festival-goers you met at your hostel will always be better than waking up in a tent at 7 a.m. with the sun in your eyes, hoping your stuff didn't get stolen.

3. Respect your audience--and their wallets

From roaming beverage vendors sporting backpacks-cum-bars to bang-for-your-buck meals, it was apparent that Primavera's organizers took pains to make convenience a priority. Most notable (and controversial) was its innovative Portal system - a sort of Primavera credit card that could be charged with money online and used to buy food, drink and more. The idea was to keep your wallet safer and make the lines go faster--and the idea was great. So while the execution ended up being a mess of server crashes and technical errors, and the cash system eventually restored, we'd love to see another fest hammer out the glitches and make this a game-changer.

click to enlarge Festival-goers pack the Poble Espanyol, one of three Primavera venues - ANDREA DOMANICK
  • Andrea Domanick
  • Festival-goers pack the Poble Espanyol, one of three Primavera venues
2.Don't run out of tickets

And don't address the supply issue by duplicating your festival--we find the idea of replicating experiences a little insulting. Instead, handle the demand increase like Primavera did: Expand to a larger venue, or incorporate others nearby; supplement the main festival days with "spillover" days for more intimate sets and repeat performances; keep tickets flexible. Full five-day passes were offered at a reasonable price (about $250), but single day passes (about $90) remained available throughout Primavera's three main days at Parc del Forum. Rather than sell-out or do a blind pre-sale, Primavera encouraged fast, early ticket sales by increasing ticket prices over time, while still leaving room for additional revenue from the last minute ticket sales.

And the number one tip:

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