SUNDAY TIMES - Festival galore: time to get out there & party your socks off
Sunday Times Entertainment By Sandiso Ngubane, 2017-05-12 00:00:00.0

Festival galore: time to get out there & party your socks off

Festival-goers at Oppikoppi, which has partnered with Rocking the Daisies.

The next few weeks will see a flurry of music festival activity across southern Africa.

Swaziland's Bushfire ( May 26-28), Durban's Zakifo ( May 26-28), and its Reunion Island sister fest Sakifo ( June 2-4), Jozi's Bassline Africa Day Festival ( May 27) and Maputo's Azgo ( May 20) all take place within a span of two weeks.

The five events are part of the Igoda partnership, formed to create a live music festival circuit the partners describe as an "incredible opportunity for artists and fans to travel across southern Africa, celebrating music and strengthening the regions's interconnected creative economies".

Recently, the owners of the Rocking the Daisies Music Festival and Oppikoppi, which take place in Darling, Western Cape, and Northam in the North West, respectively, also announced a partnership, and said both festivals will this year take place on the same weekend (October 5-8).

This is happening in the midst of a fast-growing live music circuit that Pricewater-houseCoopers predicts will account for 68% of total music industry revenue by 2020. In 2015, this figure stood at 57%.

So, why, as ticket sales and sponsorship revenues improve, do promoters see value in partnerships? Is there no potential to splinter audiences, considering these events are all happening either at the same time, or within days of one another?

Sipho Sithole, Igoda partner and owner of Native Rhythms Recordings, believes not. "We want to create mobility, and to create cultural tourism," he says, adding there's potential to tap into the tourism industry, and to partner with airlines and the like.

George Avakian, managing director of Steyn Entertainment, organisers of Rocking the Daisies, says his festival and Oppikoppi both offer a unique experience, and it makes sense to partner in order to deliver a better festival experience.

"If we can maximise the infrastructure, booked artists and 4500 staff we'll be able to prove our true potential. The bottom line is, the bigger the demand, the healthier the industry, the bigger the platform," he says.

Sithole feels festivals have to go beyond just being a musical experience in order to capitalise on the growth in ticket sales. "There must be differentiation in terms of programming. It has to be rare, and people must want to be there. Zakifo and Sakifo become trade zones, where you can walk around and do some shopping, so there's an opportunity for vendors and for artists to sell their merchandise."

The growth of the live circuit is a global trend, and many festivals around the world have become more than just places fans go to see their favourite bands.

Brands have seen the opportunity to swoop in, and at the world-renowned Coachella, in the Colorado Desert, US, for example, brands like H&M, Levi's and Tag Heuer have created pop-up shops and hosted private parties.

Similarly, Rocking the Daisies last year partnered with online retailer, who hosted an outfit upgrade station on the festival field.

It makes sense for brands to get in on the action as the live music circuit grows.

This article was originally published in The Times.