You want to make sure fans have a great time at your music festival — but if you don’t turn a profit, there may not be a festival next year for them to enjoy.
Of all the stressful parts of festival organizers’ jobs, producing a steady profit has to be the biggest. In a recent Eventbrite survey, 68% of festival organizers reported profitability as their biggest challenge.
Being profitable goes beyond booking the right bands, picking the right location, and driving a successful marketing campaign. Even if the fest is popular, it won’t matter if you’re losing money by pricing your tickets too low or racking up overhead costs.
It all comes down to revenue and expenses: Your biggest revenue boost comes from ticket sales, and the best way to reduce your expenses is through sponsorship. With that in mind, here’s how to ensure your music festival is profitable year after year:
Build a solid ticketing strategy.
You’ve got eyeballs on your ticketing page, but not all of those visitors are buying tickets. If your conversion rate (the percentage of visitors who buy tickets) is low, you may need a more streamlined ticketing process.
It also could be that your ticket prices just seem too high for the bands you’ve lined up or your fest’s reputation. Or consider the opposite scenario: You’re worried you won’t sell enough tickets, so you set them at a price point you think will sell. It works. But you’re not making enough from those sales to turn a profit.
“Ticketing is the most important part of the festival from a business standpoint. It has to be right,” says Tom Russell, cofounder of Founders Entertainment. With a value-based ticket pricing strategy, you can find the pricing sweet spot that’s appealing to fans — and good for your bottom line. There are also some sure-fire pricing tactics that will help you make more money.
Early sales are a great tool. Our research shows the average music fest has five to six different early-sale tiers, offering an average discount of 10%. A discount like that should be small enough to not compromise revenue — and appealing enough to early bird buyers to give you a nice boost in sales.
If you’d like to offer a more limited discount, quantity-based tiers, in which the first X number people to use a certain discount code get a better price, might help drive early sales and cultivate scarcity.
You can also send last year’s attendees discount codes that can only be used by new attendees, so they have an excuse to invite more friends — and widen your fan base.
On the other end of the ticketing spectrum, premium packages like VIP passes are an easy way to bump up revenue without pricing out lower-spending attendees. Recent research shows some events bring in 25% of their revenue from VIP sales alone. That could mean anything from exclusive areas to drink discounts to backstage passes to free merch.
Now that you know these revenue-boosting tricks, how do you go about reducing your expenses?
Get sponsors to help you out.
More festivals than ever doesn’t just mean more competition for fans; it also means more competition for sponsors. More than a third of event organizers surveyed by Eventbrite said they struggled to stand out to sponsors. Among those who organize fests with less than 5,000 attendees, nearly 2/3 struggled.
But securing those sponsorships is critical to putting on a great show without driving up ticket prices.
To stand out from the crowd, offer ways for brands to build real relationships with fans. A logo on the stage isn’t enough. Fans need to interact with the products or brand in new ways. From an interactive exhibit or social media photo opp to bioreactive wristbands, there are lots of ideas out there on how to get brands on board with your fest.
The most important step in this process, though, is to know who your fans are and what they want. Why? Because you need to be able to sell the brands on your fans. They know who their customers are, and they want to know they’ll be at your show.
In addition to demographic info like age, gender, geography, and income, you should be able to provide some idea of your fans’ spending habits, lifestyle, and why they choose to come to your festival. Gather this info through custom questions in your purchase flow, or with surveys before or after the festival.
For more tips on selling tickets, cutting costs, and using new data to make your festival efficient and profitable, check out this guide on How to Use Your Live Music Data to Turn a Profit.