How Technology is Fueling Australia’s Growing Festival Scene

August 28, 2019

Festivals are booming in Australia.

During the six years Marcato has been in the music festival scene in Australia, we’ve seen an explosion of growth. More awesome festivals, artists, and fans.

In the last year, Australia boasted 10 of the Top 100 grossing concerts in the world. Among those ten were two mega festivals: Byron Bay Bluesfest and CMC Rocks Queensland.

Now we’re excited to announce our account executive Mark Sparrow will be in Australia this November as a delegate at the Australian Music Week. AMW has grown larger every year, showcasing more artists, conference panels, and international delegates. Mark will be there to visit the AMW team, a Marcato client, and meet with many other festival organizers. (More at the bottom if you want to get in touch!)

All about Australian Music Week

“After using Marcato for Australian Music Week over the past two years I couldn’t imagine trying to organize an event without it,” said Jon Howell, the conference manager of Australian Music Week.

As a festival organizer himself, Mark spent the last three years as the sponsorship coordinator for the Lumiere Arts Festival in Nova Scotia, Canada. During that time, he quadrupled the non-profit’s private sponsorship revenue and implemented Marcato to help the festival move beyond spreadsheets.

Mark has consulted with hundreds of festivals on software needs and implementation strategies on many topics, including artist advancing, contracting, programming, vendor management, volunteers, credentials, catering, access control and production asset management. He is the first point of contact for many festivals seeking to improve their processes by adopting modern management tools.

“I’ve heard a lot of horror stories from festivals about how many dozens of extra hours they’ve spent just managing simple data because they were doing it manually, or in disconnected systems,” Mark said. “At the same time, we see more and more events pursuing a better way. An hour spent not doing duplicate data work is an hour they can spend promoting the event and selling tickets, or on any of the many items on a festival organizer’s to-do list.”

Technology brings big growth for music festivals

At top festivals, guests get through the gates faster with online ticket sales, have RFID wristbands for easy access, cashless payments to leave their wallets behind, and all while capturing and sharing the experience on Instagram.

Behind the scenes, technology is also helping festival organizers manage these massive events. Even small festivals are ditching spreadsheets and binders to manage growing crowds, complex scheduling, and line-ups that last for days.

One of the secrets of these growing festivals in Australia? New technology that helps organize more artists, more vendors, and more attendees. Many festivals and live events are using software from our own company Marcato, based in Sydney.

But that’s not Sydney, Australia. We’re actually based in Sydney, Canada.

“Every few years, someone tries to book a ticket to Sydney in Australia, but accidentally ends up in Canada in the winter with shorts and sunglasses,” Mark said.

Growing festivals in Australia

The Australian Festival of Chamber Music was our first introduction to the Aussie music scene six years ago. Since then we’ve gained many more Marcato fans including Cygnet Folk Festival, Gympie Music Muster, and Broadbeach Alliance.

In a tribute to the Broadbeach Alliance festival organizers, artist Eilen Jewell called Blues on Broadbeach “a perfect festival. Anyone hoping to organize an event of their own ought to take heed of what’s happening here. People are happy onstage and off.”

Which is high praise for a massive blues festival that attracted an estimated 170,000 people to the Gold Coast.

Broadbeach Alliance also takes the credit for Australia’s fastest growing country music festival, the Groundwater Country Music Festival, which drew a record crowd of 65,000 people to Australia’s Gold Coast in 2017.  

Broadbeach Alliance CEO Jan McCormick said she was excited about the festival’s future.

“At six years old, Groundwater has certainly demonstrated that it will become Australia’s largest country music festival in a very short time. The crowds have been strong and everyone is so relaxed and happy, from performers and crews to the fans… A perfect recipe for the festival’s growing success moving into the future,” Jan said.

Australian music scene in the top ranks internationally

Ticket sales and attendance data pushed 10 of Australia’s biggest outdoor venues up in the ranks of Pollstars’ list of Worldwide Top 100 Outdoor Stadiums and Festival Sites. Including Etihad Stadium, which ranked #3 internationallyamong the Top 100 Outdoor Stadiums and Festival Sites. At Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, 302,433 people attended shows including the likes of Ed Sheeran and the Foo Fighters.

Pollstar’s Mid-Year Touring Report shows that Byron Bay Bluesfest is Australia’s biggest music festival… and ranked 14th worldwide by ticketing revenue! The last Bluesfest? There were 101,729 fans who joined the fun there.

For these large-scale and even small events, event management software like Marcato is a game-changer. Organizers can ramp up and grow their festivals like never before. Now everyone from food and wine festivals like Taste of Tasmania, to small-town music series, can afford a version of the same Marato event management software used by the likes of Coachella and Bonnaroo.

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