I met up with Tucker Gumber at Lightning in a Bottle Festival in 2015. Tucker is also known as the Festival Guy, and we talked about event promotion and his app FestEvo.
Please introduce yourself and explain what The Festival Guy does.
I’m Tucker and I’m known as the Festival Guy. It started as a way to go to festival for free. I thought if I review festivals I could come in as media. For that to actually work I had to visit a lot of festivals and it turned into something else. What I do is I look at problems at festivals and try to find solutions for them.
For example I've created a campaign to change the crowd’s perception that it is our responsibility to pick up after ourselves. I’m writing about the other stuff at festivals that no one else is talking about.
When did you start The Festival Guy and how many festivals have you visited so far?
My first festival was March 2011 and Lightning in a Bottle Festival in 2015 is number 78. I like to think I’m a seasoned festivalgoer by now.
What is your advice to a future festival organiser about how they should organise a festival?
Be very clear with your audience what they can expect. Give them rules. Rules at a festival are not bad. In fact it is for everyone’s benefit. Here at Lightning in a Bottle the rule is that you pack it in, pack it out. We’re going to pick up after ourselves and they have signs across the site to remind people of that rule. It works!
What happens at festivals where you do not have these rules is that I cannot go up to someone who throws something on the ground and say “hey, that’s not how we do it here”. So, rules work.
How do you find out about new festivals and especially the smaller festivals?
Normally I hear about festivals word-of-mouth. It will probably always that way because if you throw a good festival you want to come back again next year and brig your friends with you. I do get press releases on all the festivals and that’s how I keep my app FestEvo up to date.
I also started my own app called FestEvo that let’s you research the line up of festivals. The idea behind the app came from what I said about addressing problems at festivals. I discovered two main problems that we experience when at festivals. One we go to these festivals to spend time with our friends but you never really know which of your friends are going to be there.
We had met at a conference and after Northern Night Music Festival I received a message from this guy (he’s referring to me) that he was at the same festival and that it would have been cool to hang out. I replied by saying: “if someone only worked really hard on an app to solve that problem”.
The other problem is that when you go to a festival is hard to find out the entire line up and listen to the music. So you end up spending hours trying to find artists on Spotify and Youtube. In my app you can click on any festival and it will show you the entire line up and you can listen to every artist. The app can give a customised line up based on how you rate the artist. The app is free but the customised list is $1.
What aspects of the festival do you focus on when you review festivals?
I focus on everything. I want festivals to be sustainable but also easy to attend. I want there to be bathroom lights. I want to see and hear the music from the back of the crowd. I want to know what the crowd is like. The only thing I do not write about is what happens on the stages. Don’t go to the festival if you don’t like the line up.
How do people find out about festivals?
You want your festival to be on websites like Fest300, Music Festival Junkies, Wiki Festivals, and of course my app FestEvo.
What can festivals do to promote themselves?
Festivals should get way more creative with the content they create at the festival. Very few festivals let their artists control their Instagram account. They should all do that. Make smart content along the way and focus on more user generated content. Give someone a camera for the day and at the end of the day you can use that content.
Is it social media that festivals should focus on?
Honestly, a festival should focus on throwing the absolute best festival! Because if you throw an amazing festival, everyone that came this year will want to come back next year and they will bring people with them.
Lightning in a Bottle for example doesn’t rely on the line up. Everyone buys their tickets in advance because they want to be here, because it’s Lightning in a Bottle.
Where can people go if they want to find out more about you?
You can visit my website FestivalGuy.com or FestEvo.com and via there they can look me up on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.
Go to my Youtube channel if you prefer to watch the interview with Tucker.