April 24, 2019
Madison House Presents, the team behind world-class music festival Electric Forest, is dedicated to “never do the same show twice.”
Their fans know it too, walking away from the last festival day already talking about returning for the next magical year. Madison House Presents plans all year, working on refining, improving, and devising innovative new experiences for tens of thousands of attendees. It is their biggest event and sold out three years in a row.
We caught up with Kayleigh Rose Neu, the production coordinator at MHP. She generously shared a few insights behind the scenes of Electric Forest, an incredible event that they plan and produce using our Marcato Enterprise software as their central hub.
“I pretty much live and breath Marcato,” Kayleigh says.
MHP sets up the festival deep in the woods of Michigan. They set up art installations and build stages amid towering trees. With multi-colored lights shining upwards, the natural canopy looks like the inside of a kaleidoscope.
Managing thousands of people at a music festival in Michigan is not an easy task. Having a central hub to gather and organize everything is essential.
MHP uses Marcato Enterprise to organize the hundreds of vendors, artists, staff, and volunteers involved for the two-weekend-long festival. They track each piece of the festival with purpose-built tools in Marcato, from headlining acts like Bassnectar down to the radios that staff carry.
Out in the woods, they bring in over 200 vendors all with their own staff. Through Marcato, they can coordinate multiple guest credential types with RFID access control. They can gather detailed information at the right time to find out who is coming on site and their travel plans. The team arranges lodging, meals, and parking for everyone. It’s a colossal amount of logistics, but Marcato gives them a uniform way to make sure their team has everything under control.
Every person and company that comes on-site runs through Marcato, from the proposal, all the way to their parking pass when they arrive. Including staging crews, port-a-potty deliveries, and even the roving performers dressed up like roller-skating candy girls.
“We love Marcato,” Kayleigh says. Before using Marcato, Kayleigh says their team used another platform for event management. But they found that Marcato’s software was more user-friendly and regularly updated, with a support staff focused on customer satisfaction. Whenever a new feature rolls out for Marcato Enterprise, the MHP team jumps to see if they can further optimize one more thing for Electric Forest.
“We are an event production company, leading the industry in the quality of the events we produce,” Kayleigh says. “A lot of that comes from our ability to stay organized and work as a team.”
Every event and festival is very different and has different needs. Over three years of using Marcato, MHP has refined how the team uses the event management software. They’ve discovered new ways to integrate Marcato, including sponsorship management and tracking catered meals for their crew through the system.
“Marcato is a great way to really dial in your event,” Kayleigh says. “The industry is fast paced and can be challenging to keep up with. Doing everything with spreadsheets would be difficult.”
Marcato’s asset management features is a module that the team heavily uses. They track valuable items like golf carts, radios, quartermaster supplies and more. In real time, they can pull reports during the event, so they can advance managers when they have questions.
They can also analyze data about asset use and compare it to previous years. Using the historical data in Marcato, they can think critically about planning their budget. By learning from the past, they are always looking for ways to make the next year even better.
With Marcato saving the team time on logistics, they are developing new, innovative ideas to keep the festival fresh and exciting. Every year they update and add experiences at Electric Forest, like their Plug In community program.
The Plug In Program creates different ways for fans to get involved, collaborate, contribute and connect. It is just one of the many examples why Electric Forest is well-known for its welcoming, engaged community within the festival. Fans proudly call themselves part of the Forest Family. There are awards for fans who contribute to the Forest Family community, spreading ideals of giving and sharing the magic of the forest.
Anywhere you go on the festival ground, from the camping areas to any of the seven stages, MHP has thought about how to make it feel unique and special. There are large, towering art installations and beautiful, awe-inspiring elephant sculptures. There are also tiny “fairy” homes about the size of a mailbox, with doors that open to reveal miniature scenery or inspiring messages.
Large natural trees are designated with signs as Giving Trees, places for Forest Folk to drop or take small items. Some offer up practical items like mouthwash or snacks; others give sentimental souvenirs and jewelry.
Madison House Presents knows that all combined these “little things” make a big difference. Their well-crafted lineup of bands like The String Cheese Incident and Marshmello certainly draw people to the festival. But their attention to detail, community building, and dialed in logistics? That’s what makes it feel magical and fresh year after year.