Get all the insights in our third annual report: 2017 Music Trends.

The 2017 music festival season is only a few months away — and fans are desperate to get a sneak peek.

Don’t let your festival be forgotten in the rush of lineup announcements. Here are three festival trends you can use to position your festival as a can’t-miss experience in a busy season.  

Fan curation will be pushed to its limits

Fans have always had influence on their favorite festivals. But this year, we’ll see the first — but likely not the last — completely fan-curated festival. Delaware’s Firefly Music Festival is letting audience input determine every aspect of the event. Many in the industry are applauding their choice.

On the Firefly website, fans are voting on merch, art installations, favorite restaurants, and, of course, artists. They’re even letting fans vote on which of four bars they want. (Options include a ping-pong bar, a dueling piano bar, a multi-level container bar, or a globetrotter cocktail lounge). In total, there will be up to 40 different surveys fans can use to customize their experience.

But while experiments like this are inspiring, some in the industry are hesitant about handing over complete control to festival fans.

“At the end of the day, people go to festivals to experience something new,” says Morgan Howard, a freelance customer experience manager for festivals like Governors Ball and Sound on Sound Fest. “If everything is fan curated — is what’s popular — you might not find that exciting new thing. Fan-curated festivals are exciting from a marketing perspective, but from the curator perspective, I want to support up-and-coming artists.”

Regardless of individual approaches, 2017 will be a year that fans get more involved in planning their favorite festivals.

Personalized marketing and customer service will make every fan a VIP

The next phase of VIP experiences will be making a luxury experience feel accessible to all fans. “Whoever can figure out how to put concierge-level personalization into a live event has an incredible opportunity to make everybody feel like a VIP,” says Nick Panama, founder of Cantora. “The next generation of live entertainment companies will build on an understanding of fans and their affinities.”

The most achievable place to start creating personalized experiences is with your ticket-buyers. Festivals have begun creating personalized customer service options, using ticketing data to provide an experience that feels VIP.

“This year for Sound on Sound, we had a customer service plugin through Facebook Messenger,” says Morgan Howard, a freelance customer experience manager for festivals. “It was automated, and able to answer a lot of customer questions with a great success rate. Fans got the instant gratification of receiving a response.”

While they won’t replace VIP tickets, these personalized programs can help all fans get the luxury experience they desire — building fan loyalty for years to come.

Music festivals will create spaces for activism

In 2017, we’ve already seen artists making their political beliefs part of their performances. As more artists begin to take a stand, their fans’ expectations will shift for live events as well. “Sometimes music and events are a great way for people to escape their troubles, as a safe place for people to be,” Gaston says. But in the year to come, fans may be looking to engage rather than escape.

Matthew Morgan, the co-founder of Afropunk, believes fans will look to live music as an opportunity to make sense of the world around them. “We’re in line for some really great art over the next four years, [and] what we’re doing is going to be even more important,” Morgan says. “So many people are looking for things that are positive, that give them something meaningful in their lives.”

In this quest, fans and artists will use live performances to build community around shared causes. “Festivals are a place for people to congregate safely, a place to share a common, collective experience,” Sweet says.

This collective experience can quickly become collective action. “Events start with the impetus to create a safe place for people to experiment,” Morgan says. In the year to come, those experiments will become more political in nature, moving beyond politically-charged song lyrics to creating community-building opportunities at live shows. In the process, strong bonds will form between fans and artists.

Music has always been a source of solace for those going through hard times. This year, fans will seek this solace in the communities at live shows and festivals. Collectively, artists and fans will find meaning and power in art.

Find out all seven live music trends — and get more opinions on these predictions — in the full report: 2017 Music Trends: 7 Eye-Opening Predictions from Industry Pros.