the future of music festivals

Bigger doesn't always mean better.

by i-D Staff
27 May 2016, 4:25pm

Image via Instagram

It's been over half a century since the first big music festivals took place. Fast forward to today and the concept of the super-sized festival is well established, but bigger doesn't always mean better. Countless stages and unmanageable timetables often frustrate the festival goer attending for the music and not the fanfare and dazzling distractions. Of course, commercialisation is becoming an issue for some, and many of these events are being pushed to reinvent themselves in order to stay relevant and attract younger generations alongside older loyal fans. So who is leading the way?

Music festivals such as Barcelona's Sónar understand this well and they continue to evolve. Twenty years after the inaugural Sónar took place, it has established itself as one of Europe's most well known music festivals and its influence and pull has spread internationally. Each year, for one weekend in June, Barcelona is flooded by thousands of musicians from across Europe and beyond. Since 2002 Sónar has organised more than 50 events across the globe. Adapting its philosophy to unique venues and environments whilst highlighting the freshest homegrown talent and local scene. Alongside the event in Barcelona, Sónar now organises festivals in other cities. In recent years, it has travelled to Reykjavik, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Buenos Aires, New York, London, Cape Town, Frankfurt, Seoul, Lisbon, Lyon, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Osaka, among other destinations around the world. Sónar proves that big festivals can become global by remaining local.

Challenges aside, there are some positive developments happening on a purely entertainment level. Artists are often replicating their tour shows at festivals, And for artists they offer and opportunity to reach new audiences and try different formats. Plus, technology has made it easier for more of us to experience festivals live, without ever having to get dirty— streaming advancements mean they can now be enjoyed from the comfort of the couch. So what's the appeal? Positioned at the cutting edge of the electronic music landscape and its interactions with digital culture, Sónar unites established artists with emerging talent, in all areas of musical and audiovisual production. Sónar's founding values have defined the festival since its inception in 1994: the link between creativity and technology, its commitment to being a global event and a meeting point for creative people from different disciplines and communities.

music festivals