SJC research rocks the music festivals

23 Mar 2016

Dr Nic Carah has gone backstage to some of Australia's biggest music festivals to discover what makes them tick. And the answer is the corporate dollar, but unlike days gone by today's music fans are comfortable with that. 

Dr Nic's has studied the way corporations use music festivals to help build their brands and found rather than alienating young people these branding practices were embraced.

“Global corporations have become very adept at co-opting popular music culture into their marketing strategies,” Dr Carah said.

“Instead of being seen as an outsider of youth culture, they gain authenticity by being part of these events.”

He said while in the past some of these strategies may have been looked upon as suspicious, young people today understand the marketing practices and accept it as part of the culture.

“Young people aren't fooled by these tactics, they don't get sucked in by them,” he said. “They just aren't concerned with it anymore.

He said events such as the V Festival - a very overt branding exercise - are acceptable as long as there is value in it for the concert goer.

“If Virgin brings popular bands to a festival, then the audience is comfortable to use their phones and cameras to send texts and pictures to giant branded screens,” he said.

“They also share these experiences on web 2.0 spaces such as Myspace and Facebook, pushing the corporations' reach even further.

“The audience perceive they get something and the company develops brand value by associating itself with such an event.”

“Music events like the V festival work because they try to develop a meaningful and natural engagement with the audience.”

But Dr Carah said companies walk a fine line in this type of approach.

“A few years ago Coca-Cola ran Coke Live, the largest all-ages music festival in Australia,” he said.

“To get tickets young people had to purchase several bottles of Coke. Many young people, musicians and industry folks thought this was a bit too overt.”

Dr Carah's book Pop Brands: branding, popular music and young people was published in 2010