MIddle Tennessee State University Sponsors Conference On The Business Of Bonnaroo
October 14, 2014 at 12:08 PM (PT)
How BONNAROO began as a way to reinvigorate outdoor music festivals was one of the subjects tackles in the daylong seminar sponsored by MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY's COLLEGE OF MASS COMMUNICATION on OCTOBER 8th attended by the fest's co-founders ASHLEY CAPPS, JONATHAN MAYERS and RICK FARMAN in MURFREESBORO, TN.
“BONNAROO: THE MAKING OF A MUSIC FESTIVAL” drew standing-room-only crowds in a parliamentary room normally used by the STUDENT GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION.
Staffers from every facet of the event joined CAPPS, MAYERS and FARMAN to explain how they create, promote, maintain and safely operate a city of 80,000-plus people that emerges for four days every year near MANCHESTER, TN.
"We see the site transform from a farm into a city," said RUSS BENNETT, BONNAROO's head of visual design. "The culture, the impact and power of all those humans living together, with every kind of viewpoint, political view, musical taste, is still incredible to me."
The festival launched in 2002 with little traditional advertising and sold out its 70,000 tickets in 11 days. Since then, organizers have continued to expand both its entertainment offerings and its 700-acre site to grow into an event that ROLLING STONE has called "one of the “50 moments that changed the history of rock ‘n’ roll."
After explaining to the MTSU audience how planning each BONNAROO is now a year-round effort and fitting the artists for each year's event into the site's multiple venues is "like a big puzzle," co-founder MAYERS noted that we "started with a business plan, and … a lot of adjustments have had to be made.
"As each year goes by, we want to keep improving the experience, which means that we have to keep looking at the business model and the ticket price,” he continued. “We don't make decisions within silos; we have to look at the whole complete picture."
"We're building a city for the weekend," CAPPS added, "and it really has to have all the core ingredients that a city needs, from medical assistance to security to access to food and water, and that can get expensive for 80,000 people.
The daylong MTSU seminar discussed all aspects of the internationally acclaimed festival from its business model, planning, marketing and media to its community spirit, volunteerism, music and programming. Its revenue streams have expanded from the traditional concert ticket sales, concessions and merchandise to encompass VIP event packages, corporate sponsorships, live streaming audio and video and licensing of audio and video content.
“It's an extraordinary opportunity for a college of media and music to host a group of professionals so adept at both,” said MTSU COLLEGE OF MASS COMMUNICATION dean KEN PAULSON. “It's simply unprecedented for the full management team of a world-class music festival to take a full day to engage and educate the next generation of music and media professionals.”
MTSU’s COLLEGE OF MASS COMMUNICATION teamed up with BONNAROO leaders earlier this year in an ongoing partnership that brought the festival officials to campus in APRILI for question-and-answer sessions with students and then put MTSU students behind the scenes at BONNAROO in JUNE for multimedia news coverage.
The OCTOBER 8th public symposium was streamed to classrooms on campus and was recorded to create a "video textbook" and possibly a video course for MTSU's music business curriculum.