Has Social Media Destroyed the Festival?

Maha Music Festival, August 2013.

Music festivals represent a gathering of common interest, a love for music and a love of community.

For years, festivals have acted as a coming together of people and music.

The togetherness that is felt between absolute strangers is a contagious feeling, which along with the music, acts as the attraction for these festivals.

The lack of dress code and the freedom to wear and in most cases act as you please, creates yet another reason for people to involve themselves.

This community that is created between strangers is in a few cases however, deteriorating. The breakdown of these aspects has been derived from this stranglehold that social media has on our society.

One perspective says that social media offers a whole lot to the festival. Advertising for example, through multiple media platforms and of course a way to create two-way communication with its attendance.

It’s become apparent that a lot of people that attend these festivals, don’t particularly enjoy the music, nor do they buy into the brand of togetherness festivals bring, but they use social media as witness to their ‘festival life’.

This has created the divide that is perhaps felt at festivals nowadays.

DJ and frequent festival attendee Cam Milesi, says: “Social media allows people to become aware of up and coming events, which has created a bigger market for festivals”. But Milesi however, also addresses the other side of the coin. There are“…people are stuck with their head in their phones trying to get the perfect video or picture to upload rather than living in the moments and connecting with people”. 

Image: Gianluca Toscano

Milesi’s opinion resonates with many people who go to festivals.

Take Miranda Malone for example, frequent festival attendee and Instagram personality. She says, “I do believe a lot of people just go to festivals for Instagram photos”, but Malone continues to embody the acceptance and community created by the festivals by adding, “…there’s nothing wrong with that, everyone has fun in their own way”.

Credit: Gianluca Toscano

This acceptance is what these festivals are all about, a community created for those who want to escape the everyday. In fact, Babylon Festivals ethos states, “Babylon revellers are to be free of everyday pressure, judgement and limitations, surrounded by friends and likeminded travellers”. This statement is the embodiment of what a lot of people are looking for when it comes to festivals, if not life itself.

Festivals have been experiencing an existential growth rate over the last couple of years. This can be confirmed by the creation of festivals such as ‘Babylon’ and ‘Pitch’. But not only is it there a market for festivals, there is also markets being created within festivals.

Malone has outlined these markets through her knowledge of Instagram. There is a mutual relationship that is being created through festivals, clothing companies and attendees.

“Festivals allow clothing and accessories to massively boost their sales and business”, Malone states. What Malone is referring to is this new mutual relationship between clothing and accessory brands and the festival. All of which are dependent upon the existence of social media and instagram influencers.

Toufan Shareefpourarabi, also known as ‘Malibu Who’, buys into the opinion that social media has become the predominant information holder on everything to do with festivals including dates, times and locations. Toufan is under the opinion that although social media is embedding itself alongside the festival, it simultaneously affords it opportunities and exposure that is undeniably positive. 

Toufan also interestingly outlines an important point, about the price of ticket sales exposing those who are and aren’t going for the line up of music.

 “Since you’re paying about $300-$400 for a ticket, you would want the line up to be mint”.

This is an extremely valid point, assuming that people attending that aren’t interested in the music, wouldn’t fork out this amount of money for few Instagram photos.

A side of the coin that also should be explored is the idea that social media has made festivals incredibly accessible. Scrolling through a news feed can consists of a majority of 10 second grabs of the latest DJ’s dropping the newest tracks. Well, that’s my feed anyway.

Image: Luke Rodenburg

DJ Milesi believes that this sort of impact of social media has resulted in Australia being ‘put on the map’ for the international techno scene.

 Toufan agrees, saying “…this just relates back to the festival scene evolving over time to become bigger and better”. 

Milesi, Toufan and Malone all seem to share one important conclusion with one another. That is that social media has afforded festivals more positives than it does negatives, so much so that it has changed the way festivals are viewed. 




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