Festival Thrower’s Bible
by Tucker Gumber / Illustrations by Andrew Steers
There’s a great comic strip that opens Tucker Gumber’s guide to the modern festival. There are two guys hanging out on a meadow, rocking to some killer band, when one asks the other “Did you really write an entire book to advertise your company?”
His buddy’s response — “No. I wrote an entire book to help make festivals better.” It’s a little reminder from Gumber that while North America is undergoing a huge growth of festivals, the concert community still has a long way to go when it comes to creating an enjoyable communal experience that brings fans back.
Who is Tucker Gumber? He’s the Festival Guy, a lifelong music fan who created the company FestEvo which uses tech and mobile applications for festival organizers. Tucker has attended 99 festivals, everything from Electric Forest to Sasquatch, and is a regular at industry events like EDM Biz and IMFCON.
The result is the “Festival Thrower’s Bible,” a 150-page guide published on a small 7×7-inch paperback, chalk full of graphics, fun illustrations and breakout sidebars covering everything from pricing out your “water tax” to building a crisis communication plan. The book is well-organized and covers a lot of ground — it’s not something you would read word for word, but is laid out in a way to encourage a person to sit down with the book and spend about an hour flipping through the text and deep-diving on topics they might find interesting.
For me, that topic was ticketing and Gumber had some interesting advice for new festivals organizers. On pricing the ticket, he advised: Don’t price your tickets based on your estimated operating expenses for the festival… Instead, price your tickets based on the perceived value of your event.
To get people to arrive early, he suggested: Work with your beer sponsor to allow the first few hundred festival-goers to get all the beer they want. Sasquatch! partnered with Kokanee Brewery to offer their first 500 arrivals wristband access to all they could drink.
And the advice I liked most of all was on combating scalping. If an event sells out, he recommended: Save a portion of your tickets and sell them at face value on secondary websites like StubHub.com or Craigslist. Face-value tickets will lessen scalpers’ ability to jack up the price.
The big festival organizers of the world could certainly benefit from the “Festival Thrower’s Bible,” but the book is really geared toward new properties and music entrepreneurs looking to plant their flag in the festival world. While some in the music industry argue that too many festivals already exist, there’s still a large demand for well-curated, well-organized festivals that invest in the customer experience.
“Festival Thrower’s Bible” is an enjoyable book that will I keep close by and revisit as I cover the 2016 festival season. The layout is simple to navigate, the graphics are fun and there are plenty of tips and wisps of wisdom that could help festival organizers up their game. And while Gumber relies on 12 industry experts to give the text some credibility, I think the book benefits being written from a fan’s perspective. Gumber is the kind of fan we all want at our events — he’ll advocate for your brand, he cares about the community and he can share smart feedback that will make your event better.