On March 15th, 2011, I walked through the gates of my first music festival and discovered a community my life was missing. SnowBall Music Festival, held in a foot of snow in Avon, Colorado where the temperatures barely broke freezing, is the moment where my life changed. Experiencing my favorite bands performing in the mountains surrounded by so many individuals letting go, I became aware of what I wanted for my life: To belong. The 401ks, the health insurance, mortgage, and the other shackles of “the real world” meant nothing once I discovered the freedom that is a festival.
Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, the Local Natives and The Flaming Lips were what brought me to SnowBall but it was also where I first experienced Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, and Big Gigantic. Experiencing all of this music may have been the highest point of my life up until then but I can still bring that pivotal change in course from then to now down to the smallest of mundane moments: My first festival porta potty. As I closed the door behind me I was suddenly engulfed in total darkness. To complicate matters further I had to work get through two belts for the two layers of pants I was wearing. By the time I was free I wasn’t even sure if I was pointing in the right direction, and believe me, I’m not the first person in a festival porta potty wondering if they’re pointing in the right direction. How the hell could there not be lights in the bathroom? With a year to plan, how could the event producers miss this? Knowing there was an easy fix for this, my questioning the status quo began and I started thinking of more ways the festival experience could be improved.
High off my first festival, a month later you could say I overdosed on Coachella. It was at Coachella that I started to see festivals from the macro point of view. I saw something in the community that I knew I needed to explore. I left my Corporate America six figure salary and flew head first into my pipe dream. My passion for the festival life mixed with the curiosity of why things were done the way they were led me to start TheFestivalGuy.com and reviewing festivals became how I initially accessed the lifestyle on a minimal budget. I believed if I could find ways to make festivals better, I could create a dream career and a difference in the lives of thousands of people.
I can attribute my eye for improving the festival scene to two things. One, I majored in Restaurant and Resort Management in college at Colorado State University. Two, the founders of the company I worked for after college paid their employees to read sales, motivational, attitude, and business development books where I recognized three common themes:
- Find something you love and do it. If you do enough of it, you will be a master of it and people will want to pay you to do it… I summed that up from one of my favorite philosophers, Alan Watts.
- It takes roughly 10,000 hours to achieve mastery in a field- Outliers by Malcoml Gladwell.
- Successful companies identify a niche market and create solutions to problems that had not previously been identified- Crossing The Chasm (by Geoffrey A. Moore)+ From Good To Great (Jim Collins).
Two years and 28 festivals later I started my company, FestEvo, with the sole purpose of improving festivals. Our first product, the FestEvo mobile app, (Available for free on iOS and Android) allows FestivalGoers to discover new festivals, determine which of their friends are going, and listen to every artist on the lineup so they can spend their entire day watching music they love. This was a larger undertaking than I ever imagined it would be but now after two and a half years of development I couldn’t be more proud of the app. All said and done, I now know why they say ‘starting a business takes twice as long and twice as much money than you think.’ Because it does.
As I’m writing this post it has been now been 1,767 days (4 years, 10 months) since my first festival. During this time I’ve made it to 91 festivals, totaling 310 festival days. I’ve also made it to in eleven festival industry business conferences (IMFCON, EDMbiz, SXSW, Fest Forward) as an attendee, exhibitor, and speaker. Conferences gave me the opportunity to understand all of the hurdles event producers face in creating a world class event. It was these panels combined with my first hand experience, that led me to take on my most ambitious project to date, The Festival Thrower’s Bible.
Introducing FestEvo to this community and adding this ‘How To’ resource for aspiring and current event producers are projects I’ve been driven to start and deliver. I see the community spreading as the events are drawing more attention with the advent of social media, and entrepreneurs want to bring the experience to their circles. I’ve been itching to share my knowledge but knew creating something of this magnitude was not going to be possible on my own.
Fate took over as it always does last April (2015)… Vendini Ticketing, the leader in festival logistics, reached out wanting to meet. They loved my brand and their main question was on how we could collaborate. I was moved at how inspired they were by my cause, and to date their team has been the key to opening the avenues to industry leaders who could share their expertise thru this medium. Together, Vendini and I composed a dream team of ten industry leaders to guide the reader through planning their first festival, no matter the size or space.
Now, nine months of writing, illustrating, and editing later, I’m ecstatic to announce my book is out. From a fan’s perspective, I provide everything the organizers should have in the forefront of their planning strategy to create a life changing festival for the attendees. Because if every festival is well organized, clean, beaming with light work and artistry, everyone will want to come back. Your endeavour will be a success. And more importantly, there will finally be lights in the porta potty’s.
Electronic Edition on Blurb: $9.99 Paperback Edition on Amazon:$59.99