Festival Awards co-founder Steve Jenner has led festivals through several game-changing technological shifts over the years, from bringing the internet to Glastonbury in the late 1990s to seeding the integral online community of Download Festival in the 2000s and more recently making festivals like Boomtown fully cash-free with RFID systems. Jenner now shares his insights on the impact that AI, predicted by Google’s CEO to be more significant for advancing humanity than fire, is set to have on the festival industry. He wrote this himself, without the assistance of…well, you get the drift.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has made remarkable strides in the past decade, even surpassing average human performance in medical and legal exams. Now, it is permeating everyday life, with the meteoric rise of ChatGPT, which gained as many users in its first five days as Facebook did in ten months and Netflix in five years. Experts are likening ChatGPT’s impact on society to the steam engine’s revolutionary effect on global commerce and industry two centuries ago.
Consequently, AI is expected to transform the festival industry even more profoundly than the internet, which sparked the festival boom in the 2000s. Its potential to enhance the festival-goer experience, improve sustainability, safety, efficiency, and financial stability of events is revolutionary.
Here are 10 ways that AI is about to shake-up the festival industry:
- AI will boost sustainability at festivals
AI will enable festival organisers to significantly reduce environmental impact and promote sustainable behaviour among festival-goers. By analysing data on waste management, energy consumption, and other factors, AI systems will help improve sustainability practices, saving costs, and improving brand image. AI can even reward visitors for sustainable behaviour in real-time, from choosing green travel options to recycling onsite and removing their tent at the end of the festival.
- AI will uncover new talent and create make line-ups more diverse
By analysing real-time data on emerging artists across streaming platforms and social media, AI systems will identify up-and-coming acts that have the hallmarks of future success. This will alert festival organisers to new talent that might not have been on their radar otherwise. This will also strengthen the role festivals play in discovering and nurturing new talent.
- Festivals will be safer than ever with AI at the helm.
By analysing data from security cameras and other sources, AI systems will quickly identify potential security threats and alert security in real-time. Whether it’s theft or suspicious behaviour, AI’s ability to recognize patterns and quickly act upon them will help keep festival-goers safe, police and insurance fees down and criminal elements away from their fields.
- AI will revolutionize ticket pricing, sales and visitor loyalty
Gone are the days of static pricing models. With AI, festivals can optimise ticket prices in real-time based on live sales data, and even automatically reward more loyal fans with priority access and greater value. This means maximising revenue and keeping ticket sales on track with dynamic pricing, without exploiting fans. AI can also analyse past ticket sales, weather forecasts, visitor loyalty and other factors to accurately forecast sales and set prices, taking much of the guesswork out of festival promotion and significantly reducing financial risk.
- AI will boost on-site revenue through real-time optimisation
AI systems can analyse live sales data from bars, traders, and other outlets, along with factors like stock levels and weather forecasts, to optimise on-site sales and minimise waste. This will allow festival organisers to maximise revenue and reduce costs. For instance, AI systems integrated with cashless payment systems can automatically adjust prices in real-time and send targeted offers to visitors via the event app, increasing sales and enhancing the overall experience.
- AI will supercharge festival logistics and crowd flow
Forget long lines and bottlenecks! With AI-powered analytics systems, event control will get real-time insights based on live data from CCTV, Wi-Fi, RFID and more. By tracking the movement of attendees and analysing their behaviour, AI will optimise crowd management, reduce wait times, and offer a more seamless festival experience. It will even detect congestion and automatically guide attendees to less crowded areas via the event app and digital signage.
- Get ready for 24/7 customer service and data capture with chatbots and virtual assistants!
Say goodbye to human support teams with overflowing inboxes and hello to cost savings, improved efficiency, and happier festival-goers. But that’s not all. These automated systems will gather data on fan preferences and behaviours, providing valuable insights for organisers to make data-driven decisions about programming, marketing, and logistics, and even monetise all year round with brand partners.
- AI will make marketing and advertising much more efficient and cost-effective
With the ability to analyse social media data and other sources, AI will enable festivals to precisely target their desired audiences with customized messages, improving brand awareness and boosting ticket sales. By reducing wastage, AI will also help cut online CPC advertising costs. For instance, AI systems can identify popular trends among specific audience segments and target ad messages accordingly, optimising ticket purchase conversion rates.
- AI will level-up festival production quality
By using AI, sound and lighting production at festivals will be taken up a gear. AI algorithms can adjust sound levels and equalization in real-time based on the venue’s size and shape, and the number of attendees, while AI-powered lighting systems will create dynamic visual effects using live data on crowd movements and music beats.
- AI will make festivals much more valuable to brand partners, even remotely
With AI, festivals can offer brand partners significantly higher ROI and more meaningful engagement by analysing attendee data to understand demographics, preferences, and behaviour. This data will create personalised experiences, such as targeted messaging and recommendations, increasing brand affinity and driving visitors to make purchases post-event. This creates lucrative year-round brand activation opportunities for festivals, even without on-site branding, making festivals more valuable for brand partners than ever before.
In conclusion, the music festival industry is on the cusp of a radical transformation, with AI offering a range of exciting opportunities to improve the festival-goer experience, enhance production values, attract more high street brand sponsors and, crucially, create a much more financially robust, lower-risk, year-round business fuelled by solid, data-driven decisions.
It is clear that the use of AI in the festival industry is no longer a question of if, but rather when and how. The potential rewards for those who get it right are substantial, and the time to act is now.
If you have any questions or concerns about AI and how to get the jump on it, feel free to contact Steve here [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org].