Aug 24, 2012

Digi-palooza: Chicago’s Music Fest’s Digital Strategy

Lollapalooza is one of the country’s largest music festivals that brings music lovers from all over the world together. This once traveling music fest has now found a home in Chicago, IL and draws over 160,000 people into Grant Park each summer. The 21st celebration of this music festival brought big names to the Windy City such as The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Black Keys, Florence and the Machine, and Kaskade. The music ranged from hip-hop to dubstep, the crowd ranged from young to old, and the weather ranged from hell-like to hurricane? Aside from the music and great food at Chow Town, I couldn’t help but notice something else..the digital presence. Call me a nerd, but as a digital marketing specialist I was taken back by the amount of planning put into the digital strategy and interactive engagement with the fans.


The App

Let’s start here. The Lolla app was perfect for this type of event. It wasn’t overcrowded with features and games but served all the needs of the festivalgoers. Fans were able to get full line-ups, interactive maps, and updates. The developers also added in a group text feature that allowed fans to communicate with each other in the black hole of service.  Users could make their own schedule, listen to playlists, see social media feeds, and get notifications. I could go on and on about this app, but the best part about it was the updates. After the storm that swept through the city Saturday evening forced the festival to evacuate the park (yes is was a mess), the app showed real time updates to the lineups after the park reopened. This feature saved my experience and some tears in fear that I was going to miss one of my favorite acts.



Digital Strategy

#lolla. Enough said. This hashtag was implemented all over the marketing, festival signs, and even the water.  It was simple, easy to remember, and most importantly consistent. The hashtag was followed all over Twitter to see pics, hear reviews, and get updates.  The use of the hashtag was best put to use on Instragram in my opinion. Fans were able to upload photos on Instagram using the hashtag and then those photos were displayed live on the jumbo-trons between musical acts. Not to mention that the official twitter account is how I found out the park was being evacuated right before the storm hit. They tweeted clear evacuation plans for fans all over the festival.  There was a live stream of the acts on YouTube, pins on Pinterest, and of course Facebook contests and teasers.



Digital Displays and Exhibits

Unfortunately, the festival is barely long enough for you to experience all of the music let alone all the extra activities going on in the park. Most of these sponsored tents featured some sort of digital aspects such as live photo streams, music downloads, contests, video game previews, and digital interviews with the artists. All of the sponsors also implemented their own hashtags and digital strategies along with it. My favorites around the fest were the Rayban Interactive Photo Gallery that gave our free prints from their Instagram account and created interactive mosaics inside the tent.  VH1 also brought back the Pop Up Video with QR signs (that were also great fans) that users held in front of a digital display to show animations and of course, pop up captions.



The most ingenious uses of the digital technology were the tickets themselves. As avid Lolla-goers know, Lollapalooza sends their fans wristbands in the mail a few weeks prior to the concert. Inside these wristbands were tiny chips that fans used to check in and out of the festival each day. These chips were collecting email addresses, mailing addresses, names, check in times, check out times, and time spent at the festival. This is the type of information marketers die to get their hands on…and Lollapalooza got all of it, on their wrists.


Last but not least, even some of the artists had some pretty cool technology integrated into their sets. All favoritism aside, Avicii had a great set in the shape of a man’s head and projected patterns and scenes on it to create a very cool effect. With the opening of his set, he surprised his fans by projecting a mouth on the giant head signing the words to his hit “Levels”. It was a very cool moment and so was the festival over all. If you’ve never been, I highly suggest making out to the Windy City to experience this festival first hand. And if it’s too much work, you can just watch it live on YouTube :-)  Enjoy.


(To see the mouth, start around :34)