An Interview With Marcato

CANADA: I’m sure we can all agree that admin work is somewhat akin to the Sixth Circle of Hell, and this must be especially true for the lucid nightmare that is festival organisation.

Traditionally, keeping track of artists, concessions, catering, sponsors, volunteers, press, and their plethora of various needs has probably contributed to around 45% of Amazonian deforestation with the amount of paper required.

Luckily, Marcato has created a web-based management system to assuage the multitudinous worries of festival organisers, ensuring that by the end of the festival their hair hasn’t become as thin as a single mum’s gravy.

Festival Insights spoke with Ethan Fenton – Marcato’s Marketing Manager – about the vast possibilities of Marcato Festival.

Festival Insights: It seems like Marcato Festival can do almost anything when it comes to event management. Could you talk a little about the origins and the capabilities of the product?

Ethan Fenton: Well as you can imagine, festivals are extremely elaborate undertakings, even when it comes to a single area such as artist management. Between sourcing talent, sorting out running orders, liaising on contract issues, and ensuring that backstage riders are in order, there are so many disparate elements that could go wrong.

Marcato Festival incorporates all aspects of festival planning and administration in one system, intertwining these elements and allowing both the production team and the artists themselves to remotely access all of the vital information in one place.

The system facilitates the kind of oversight necessary to pull together such a multi-faceted event. The big cliché with software companies is that it allows you to work smarter rather than harder, but we really fall under that designation.

The main page of Marcato Festival.
The main page of Marcato Festival.

FI: So what was the old system, before you guys came along?

EF: In the past festivals have literally had an entire room full of folders and contracts, which is clearly an unintuitive – not to mention environmentally hostile – method of storing and tracking your data. Marcato’s CEO Darren Gallop has a 15-year background in the music industry, and his rudimentary observation of ‘There has to be an easier way’ is what spawned the company. There were already a lot of generic database solutions on the market, but festivals have a lot of unique considerations and multiple workflows that need to be addressed specifically.

Music festivals tend to be a labour of love as much as anything; their organisers often come from creative backgrounds and tend to hate the drudgery of admin work, so we try to condense and streamline that into something simple and relatively stress-free.

FI: How many adopters has Marcato had? And do these clients provide much feedback on how to improve the experience?

EF: We’re working with around 150 festivals worldwide, including Coachella, Amsterdam Dance Event, Halifax Pop Explosion, Summer Camp, Eurosonic Nooderslag, Berlin Music Week, and Iceland Airwaves.

And yes, we’re always evolving, owing in part to the tonne of feedback we receive from our clients. For example, the metropolitan festival Halifax Pop Explosion was an early adopter of Marcato Festival. Things can get nuts in terms of scheduling when you have to liaise between loads of different venues that are spread out across an entire city. So it was their feedback that prompted us to create a more intuitive scheduling tool.

Similarly, it was Coachella who came to us with the desire of tracking their catering facilities through our product. Using RFID to track how many lunches need providing could potentially save festivals thousands of dollars, since many bands and their crews only attend for a day or two despite their contract covering food for the entirety of the event. Knowing exactly who is in attendance at any one time – and who has access to where – prevents a lot of stress, which is why Marcato expanded that capability and it can now be used site wide when a festival is using RFID gate systems.

Marcato Festival's interactive planner.
Marcato Festival’s interactive planner.

FI: Can Marcato Festival manage multiple festivals at once?

Yes, it absolutely can. However, once you get to that level, usually you’re already very interested in RFID capabilities, better asset management, and a more advanced credentialing system, which is where ‘Marcato Enterprise’ comes in to play. Some exciting news we have is that our enterprise offering is actually being officially launched this month! Essentially, Marcato Enterprise is a multi-level solution for entertainment organisations – for example those who manage multiple festivals or events. It integrates across multiple platforms, with or without the use of RFID, and it allows you to have an executive overview of your entire production. We’re confident that it can take on any large event or production. Already using the enterprise solution are folks like Goldenvoice, who produce California mega-festivals Coachella and Stagecoach, LiveNation’s Hard Fest, and The Country Music Association’s FanFest and Award Show.

EF: So how does the pricing of Marcato work?

It’s based on an annual subscription. Festivals obviously generate the vast majority of their cash flow at one specific point in the year, so this model usually works best. Once you purchase the subscription you’re granted an unlimited amount of access for all of your staff, whether you have a team of five or five hundred. What’s more is: we don’t like to refer to Marcato as just a software solution – we consider ourselves a partner in your entire festival planning process, during planning and delivery. So we’re not going to sell you the product and go all laissez-faire; we’ll help to guide you through the process and we’re always available to answer queries. We pride ourselves on our transparency and customer service. Our Marcato Festival pricing starts at $3000 a year, per event, although discounts apply when multiple events are factored into the equation. For our Marcato Enterprise offering, the pricing can vary and we want to encourage anyone who is interested to get in touch and explore the fit with us.

For more information, check out Marcato’s official website.