Rock Werchter: Live vs Online – What can we learn?

Rock Werchter – the best music festival in the world (according to the music industry) – came to end over the weekend. This 4-day event attracts 320.000 music lovers from 71 different countries (80.000 per day) with 56 bands performing, among which Coldplay, Metallica, Oasis, Kings of Leon to name a few.

The reason I refer to a rock festival on this blog is simply because it has many similarities to live and online conferences we are talking about here. In the end we are all part of the Event & Entertainment business.

The festival exists for over 30 years now and has become an incredible success story. Not over night but step by step, by re-inventing itself a few times with always the attendees in mind and a clear vision with a strong leader (Herman Schueremans). You can never underestimate the influence of an inspirational leader!

The event typically sells out by using their normal marketing channels. The brand is now so strong that (mostly Belgian) people (their target audience) simply know for years now, “the first weekend of July is Rock Werchter”. Period!

The organizers could stop there and enjoy. Job well done. But of course not. It doesn’t stop there. It doesn’t stop with the live experience itself. The website has links with most recognized social media sites. Fair enough. What I find more interesting is how they “compose” a kind of virtual online music experience. They don’t do it themselves. They connect with the local telco, hosters, TV channels to stream some of the performances (live and on-demand) on their websites. In this way everyone is happy; the organizers since their content scales and gets promoted for next year; all the others because they have valuable content for their own online channels.

What I especially liked this year is that they allowed the public TV channel to build a 3 hour program live on television when the topacts on Sunday evening where performing. They showed interviews with the artists, behind the scene stories, press people, crew, catering, VIP village, the campings etc. The things people (voyeurism) are interested in. Many people that are not attending but are still connected with the event (memories, “when I was younger”, university live) get a “Werchter” experience and at the same time it is the best marketing for the following year.

All these elements together; the live experience, the ” time-limited” online performance streams, the social media connections, the TV program, press coverage, behind the scene interviews etc. It is all part of this ONE WERCHTER. All part of the events marketing/entertainment mix. There is something for everyone.

What we can learn here is the integrated approach to ONE Werchter while the organizers are focussing on their 2 core business components: content – content – content (the best rock bands in the world) and a flawless execution. And all the other channels are taking care of all other aspects of the “there is something for everyone” by being allowed to bring what they do best (content around the actual music content). Clever win-win situation.

Werchter

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