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Australian Festival Fans Revealed:

What Drives the Most Valuable Festival-Goers to Spend and Attend More

It’s not just about the music. It’s the feeling I get when I’m there, the feeling of being alive — and I’ve been chasing it ever since.

— Krista, 33

Krista is what you might call a hardcore festival fan. She’s been going to multiple music festivals every year for the past several years and doesn’t see herself slowing down anytime soon.

Krista’s not alone in her enthusiasm as music festivals like Splendour in the Grass and Groovin The Moo continue to sell out year after year. However, there’s been a degree of uncertainty in the industry around whether festivals have hit peak popularity. With festivals like Future Music and Soundwave cancelling last year, and numerous other players like the iconic Big Day Out going out of business or selling to overseas corporations, it’s natural to question whether the market is plateauing or if we’re in a bubble that will soon burst.

Over the past ten years, Eventbrite has processed tens of millions of tickets to music festivals and concerts. In an effort to provide new insight into the state of the music festival industry and the fans who drive it, we worked with independent research company MusicWatch, Inc. to survey over 2,000 18—49 year olds across Australia, US, UK and Canada, who attended at least one music festival in the past 12 months.

We uncovered scores of insights around how much people are spending and why they’re attending (more on that below). We also learned that despite industry speculation, attendance is holding strong: 65% of respondents went to the same number or more music festivals this year compared to last year, and almost half plan to attend even more festivals next year.

The most important thing we learned from the results: Not all festival-goers are created equal.

So, who is this standout attendee, and what do the Australian statistics look like?

Hardcore Festival Fans and the 80/20 Rule

As a festival organiser, you already know that some fans drive more revenue than others. Whether it’s your VIP buyers or your repeat attendees year after year, these hardcore festival fans may be the 20% of your customers who drive up to 80% of your business. The question is, how can you identify and target this audience, so you can focus your efforts and achieve the greatest success?

We looked at several factors that impact how valuable a festival-goer might be: their average ticket spend, how many festivals they attend, how influential they are in getting friends to go, how often they go back to the same festivals, and many more.

When we looked across all the variables, we found that festival-goers clustered into three distinct groups:

  • 1. Hardcore festival-goers: 14% of Aussie festival-goers; attend an average of four to five festivals each year
  • 2. Moderate festival-goers: 44% of Aussie festival-goers; attend two to three festivals each year
  • 3. Casual festival-goers: 42% of Aussie festival-goers; attend one festival each year

Hardcore festival fans spend $600 a year more on festival tickets.

Hardcore festival fans are not only attending more events overall, they’re also more valuable to your specific business: they're spending more on an average festival ticket compared to casual fans, and two-thirds of this group have attended their favourite festivals three or more times.

In fact, hardcore festival fans outrank casual fans in VIP purchasing, social influence, and virtually every other aspect of spending, attending, and engagement.

Festival-Goers: Hardcore Fans vs. Casual Fans

While festival producers want to reach every potential attendee, even the most casual patron, doubling down on the 20% can power your business’ growth.

Now that you've realised the value of your biggest fans, it's time to get to know them.

Meet the Hardcore Festival Fan

The average hardcore festival fan in Australia is 31 years old and skews male. They don’t just have oversized enthusiasm for music festivals — they are keen event-goers of all types and aren’t afraid to spend their hard earned cash on live experiences.

Dissecting the Hardcore Festival Fan

Hardcore festival-goers find modern music festivals new and exciting; 52% say they attend more festivals now because the line-ups are more appealing and 42% say it’s because “it’s more fun than it used to be” (compared to just 11% of casual fans).

The festivals that have captured the hearts and wallets of the most hardcore festival fans?

The Top Five Australian Music Festivals Hardcore Festival-Goers Attend

Before you can win their loyalty and repeat attendance, you have to win them over for year one. Now let’s dive into how a hardcore festival fan decides on which festivals to go to.

Getting the Hardcore Fan to Your Festival

To reach hardcore festival-goers, it’s important for festival producers to consider a diverse marketing mix that encompasses digital and traditional media, as well as key distribution channels like tapping into artists to get the word out.

This group is likely to learn about festivals through social media, their favourite artists, radio, online advertising, and online or print publications.

How Hardcore Fans Learn about Music Festivals

Once they hear about a festival, what convinces a hardcore fan to convert to a ticket purchase? It helps to know exactly what motivates this group to hit “Buy”:

The #1 Reason Hardcore Fans Decide to Go to a Music Festival

Cost is not a major concern for this group when it comes to deciding which music festivals to attend. In fact, more than half said that one of the reasons they attend more festivals now than before is because they have more money to spend now (compared to just 31% for casual festival-goers).

Speaking of money, the hardcore festival-goer is also willing to throw down on an upgraded experience — one in four say they typically purchase VIP festival tickets (vs. 10% percent of casual fans).

Half of hardcore festival fans who have purchased VIP in the past are willing to pay at least double the cost of a general admission ticket for viewing areas close to the stage, free drinks, VIP restrooms and faster, private entry.

Three out of five are willing to pay at least double the price of GA for access to VIP-only access to artist lounges.

When asked about the most they ever spent on a festival ticket, hardcore festival fans averaged $358 per ticket — 26% higher than the average Australian festival-goer.

So now that we’ve covered some aspects of the festival experience that appeal most to the hardcore festival fan, let’s break down their behaviours.

Hardcore Festival-Goers Love Live Experiences

Hardcore festival-goers are more than just diehard music fans — they love live experiences.

This socially active group are more likely to attend other events around town and are happy to spend their hard-earned cash on great live experiences.

Event Attendance: Hardcore Fans vs. Casual Fans

For music festival organisers, this highlights the trend of alternative attractions helping to lure in attendees. For example, 3-day camping festival, Splendour in the Grass, uses non-music attractions to keep attendees amused with local designer markets, art installations, workshops, three dedicated food halls plus food trucks, a comedy club, and a hair and beauty area to help guests “stay insta-ready”. These activities don’t come at the sole expense of promoters and organisers, with brand sponsorships used to design and run these unique experiences.

Hardcore festival fans are highly engaged attendees and not averse to interacting with corporate sponsors. While 60% of all respondents said they would interact with a sponsor/brand offering free food or drink, the hardcore group is more likely to engage with sponsors for other services including wi-fi, device charging, merch, and photo booths or lounge areas.

For organisers of festivals outside the music category, it’s important to note that the people attending multiple music festivals per year are the same group that are going to your events too. There is a growing trend of Aussies preferencing live experiences over material possessions, choosing to spend their money on creating lifelong memories instead of accumulating ‘stuff’.

Australian Festival-Goers Are Willing To Travel

For festivals looking to reach out-of-towners, both hardcore and casual festival-goers alike are willing to travel. One in four festival attendees have travelled interstate to attend a festival, and more than a third have left their city. This is reflected in the popularity of destination festivals such as Groovin The Moo, Falls Festival and Splendour in the Grass.

When it comes to hardcore festival-goers, 40% have left their state to attend a festival, including 16% travelling outside of Australia. In fact, Coachella festival in Southern California sneaks in at #10 on the top festivals that Aussie hardcore festival fans have attended. Given the expense of international travel from Australia, it proves that hardcore festival fans are more than willing to invest in a great festival experience. Coachella is also one of the most widely broadcast festivals in the world, with every act available to livestream on YouTube — showing that taking your music festival to the global stage can drive attendance from outside of your target region.

Hardcore Festival Fans are Driving Growth in the Festival Industry

What does all this mean? To put it simply: hardcore festival-goers are driving growth, influence, and loyalty within the music festival industry.

While people have a growing appetite for festivals, there are also more festivals than ever before, making it harder for festival producers to turn a profit — which is why the hardcore festival fan is critical to the success of your business.

More than half of hardcore festival-goers attended more festivals this year compared to last year — 63% more than the festival-going population. While hardcore fans only make up 14% of festival attendees, they account for the highest annual spend on festival tickets. For hardcore festival fans like Krista, it’s not just about chasing the next thrill – music festivals and live experiences are a way of life.

So what are you waiting for? Start planning for your next festival now with our action plan on how to design an experience that hardcore festival fans can’t resist.

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About this study

These findings are from a survey conducted by MusicWatch, Inc. from June 17-28, 2016 on behalf of Eventbrite. A sample of 2,046 adults age 18-49 from the Quest Mindshare North America panel were surveyed online in English.

Photo credits: Full width photo of Lightening in a Bottle, Nam-Chi Van, Instagram/@namchivan. Thumbnail of Lightening in a Bottle, Daniel Zetterstrom.