Youth Influencer Interview No.4: Andy Rigby Music Festival Promoter guru

Change of pace for my youth influencer interview. One area of youth culture I’m pretty clueless about is the music space..bad i know. Music festival culture has exploded in Australia the past 10 years and I was lucky enough to chat with Andy Rigby, a Pom who’s been one of the pioneers in music festivals in Australia and was involved with  ‘Vibes’ in ’96 (when i was in year 12)… Here’s his perspective on the Australian music festival scene and youth culture

Describe yourself in 140 words or less

An Englishman who moved to Australia over ten years ago and fell in love with the place. Was involved with Vibes on A Summers Day from 1996, started Good Vibrations Festival in 2004 and then in 2005 started Playground Music which now promotes the Playground Weekender, a Tottenham Hotspurs fan who likes to box in his spare time and enjoys the occasional beer!

Why are music festivals so important to youth?

It’s basically the perfect day out with their mates. Music, dancing, dressing up, a few drinks. And they get to be with thousands of people in their age bracket. Going to a music festival also brings kudos to the individual within their peer group, gives them something to look forward to and plan and then something to chat about afterwards. One day is almost not enough time to pack it all in, that’s why the 2 or 3 day festival has begun to spring up, and the reason why we’re pushing ours to a massive four days next year!

Describe Australian youth culture in a word or two?

Splintered personas – it’s not about belonging to one particular tribe of music these days, it’s all about picking and choosing which songs and bands you identify with. Unlike me, back in the day i was a Ska boy, rocking out to The Madness.

What’s the best music festival you’ve put on and why?

Last year’s Playground Weekender of course! We were really happy with the line up , old school Tom Middleton and Primal Scream to the crowd favourite The Streets and new kids on the block Crystal Castle and Cold War Kids. The Pool Bar was very popular and the punters got right behind fancy dress Saturday night.  A fun three days of camping, swimming and dancing

…If only it hadn’t been so bloody hot (freak heat wave of 45+ degrees out at Wiseman’s Ferry)

Which bands do you think are having the biggest influence on the Australian music scene right now? Why?

Lily Allen, MGMT – both are going great guns here in Aus. They are offering something different, fun and really listenable. Lily’s cheeky lyrics and ska/pop blend are so on trend, and MGMT have put a new spin on the electro movement that we’ve seen over the last few years. Plus the biggest impact both these artists have had is that they’ve both become successful due to the massive word of mouth their fans generated online.

What are the key elements of a successful event in your eyes?

Understanding your target market – and knowing you can’t be everything to everyone and offering something different to your competition.

Making the experience more than just the music but keeping your line up fresh and appealing.

And keeping those bar and toilet queues as short as possible!

How different is the Australian music festival scene in comparison to the UK/Europe?

The Aussie music scene is fast catching up with the UK’s – there have been so many new festivals entering our market in the last few years, ours included. I would say there’s definitely less mud at Aussie festivals perhaps with Good Vibrations Sydney being the exception this year.  The concept of camping overnight at a festival is really only beginning to take off here in New South Wales whilst in the UK this is the norm.  Hopefully this changes as more of the Australian public deserve to experience a proper festival which has to be more than one day. The police presence is much higher here which I’m not entirely sure is good news in the long run and I’m sure will cause more harm than good.

Is there such thing as a global festival culture?

Each festival has its own unique style – Big Chill (my favourite) is completely different to Glastonbury, here in Oz the BDO has its own place in the world vs a Parklife or a Peats Ridge. All the festivals that survive have generally done so as a result of being different from their competition which encourages people to travel from all over the world to different events hence creating a bit of a global culture.

The best way to promote a festival is…..

Still good old fashioned word of mouth, the only difference being the vehicle of communication has changed from purely hand to hand flyering, poll posters and utilising promoters to now heavily relying on the internet. Myspace and forums like inthemix are vital to getting our message out there. The fans are our biggest asset in spreading the word, we’ve been lucky enough to have some awesome fan reviews posted which have really helped to get Playground Weekender to be a success after only 3 years in the game

What are you guys doing next?

We’re beginning to pull the line up together for Playground Weekender 2010. Our first major act is this close to being booked- very exciting.

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