With the continued rise in demand for live music experiences, several new festivals are attempting to carve their niche and eventually expand into the mainstream following in the footsteps of Coachella, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, etc.

As talent buyers, festival organizers, and live events companies recognize opportunity, the market quickly became a bloody red ocean filled with competition and remain dominated by the aforementioned staple festivals. Most of the newcomers have plateaued or gone bankrupt. Few have the grit to push through the financial hardship which comes with starting a project of this magnitude.

I had the pleasure of visiting two festivals this weekend, which have utilized a unique combination of elements to create a blue ocean of success all their own –

BottleRock Festival – Est. 2013 – Capacity: My guess is 50,000 per day (about half of Coachella).

The beginning of BottleRock’s blue ocean is its location in Napa Valley! What adult doesn’t want to go to a music festival in Napa?

As we get older, the fans seem to get younger and younger at the mainstream festivals – BottleRock is the perfect environment for a festival for mainly adults. The organizers curate a line-up which straddles generations by interweaving nostalgia (Snoop Dogg, Earth Wind and Fire, and Incubus) with an array of up-and-comers (The Struts, Alice Merton, and NoMBe). With Halsey, Bruno Mars, Billy Idol, E-40, and the Chainsmokers also on this year’s bill, there was something for everybody.

This is an extremely clean, more upperclass, extremely well run festival. With it’s unique location and sold out crowd, there is no shortage of wine sponsors. Last year, Live Nation acquired a majority stake in the festival.

Lightning in a Bottle – Est. ~2000-2004 (depending on whether you call their early parties the launch of the festival) – Capacity: 25,000

Lightning in a Bottle is an entry point to Burning Man – It has a more accessible location, still uses money instead of trading as a currency, has a revealed line-up, and only lasts four days. All of these traits make it an easier journey than Burning Man for those seeking the camping festival experience.

Building off the burner vibes, the festival prides itself on enlightenment and community – Many of its attendees to go to multiple camping festivals a year.

Lightning in a Bottle is a lifestyle festival spanning the gamut from yoga classes, speakers and workshops, and art sightseeing to costume filled psychedelic raves which last until the sun rises. Griz, Anderson Paak., and our very own ZHU were this year’s headliners, but the majority of attendees don’t go to the festival specifically for the acts. They are there to live an alternate life for a few days. Nonetheless, if your act can command an audience at the main stage, a very loyal following throughout California can ensue as a result.

Last year, the festival competed with the weekend of the solar eclipse, but this year, it had no trouble selling A LOT of tickets.

According to wikipedia, the festival’s organizers aim to promote “sustainability, social cohesion, personal health, and creative expression”. While these values are timeless, they are definitely also in trend – After 15 years of  throwing the festival, the independently owned and operated Do LaB team (also known for their stage at Coachella) has stayed true to their mission and deserve the immense success.

Both of these festivals have supported our acts at TH3RD BRAIN over the years. I am very grateful for their support and for opening my eyes to new possibilities for live music this weekend. I wish them all the best in their continued pursuit of creating the ideal festival experience for their respective audiences. Their dedication to innovation in creating blue ocean experiences will surely inspire other entrepreneurs looking to make an impact on the live music industry.


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