IMFCON Review 2014: 10 Things We Learned

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IMCON International Music Festival Conference

We have finally recovered from last week’s International Music Festival Conference (IMFCON) held annually in Austin, Texas. Overall, the three day meetup delivered a super positive experience. Couched between the mini-convention floor, the panels, the mixers, the BBQ, the parties, the after-hour parties, and the after-after hour parties is a chance to connect with the people working behind the scenes on these epic festivals. Some of the takeaways from this year’s event:

  1. Sit with strangers. This excellent tip came courtesy of The Festival Guy (and founder of FestEvo). What works at a festival works at this conference — getting out of your comfort zone and meeting others leads to some off-center discussions. IMFCON really shined at setting up a variety of events to get everyone mixing comfortably.
  2. Chip Conley is a badass. The co-founder of Fest300 gave a spirited keynote where he waxed philosophical about the collective consciousness of festivals, going through a cultural transformation, and baby jumping.
  3. Fest tech is ready to explode in 2015. Get ready to leave your wallet at home. Cashless festivaling is almost here and with it a smorgasbord of opportunities fun festival upgrades. Mobile phones, smart watches, artist interactions – we expect to see a huge electronic boost this festival season.
  4. Rest is important. It’s a conference held for music festival insiders in the one of the most vibrant cities in the country. You may stay up late. You may miss some morning panels. You may not meet your Airbnb hosts. You will definitely miss the morning fun run.
  5. Art, man. Turns out those massive and mind-boggling art installations have crazy unique challenges During an artist panel, a specialized group of experts covered everything from building, transportation, engineering, and the money behind this quickly growing hyper niche industry.
  6. We can all do more. A chance encounter at a round table of non-profits was an eye-opener. These organizations are working hard to make the festival experience fun for everybody and inspired us to up our non-profit game. Keep an eye out as we highlight some of these organizations over the next year.
  7. Keep it safe. There’s a strong underlying theme at IMFCON that keeping fans safe is a top priority and festival organizers are working hard at making it even better. Some of the logistics covered during the Event Safety Alliance highlighted the efforts over the past year.
  8. Harm reduction is here… Instead of just focusing on security measures to lessen the impact of drug related injuries, festivals like Shambhala are taking a more realistic approach. Their list of services is growing and hopefully encouraging other music festivals to grow as well.
  9. …and other countries are better at it than the US. It’s mostly the fault of our lawmakers who have passed a ridiculous number of laws that end up paralyzing organizers to do anything lest they get sued. The Festival Lawyer (in his typically entertaining fashion) dropped a pile of information about the RAVE Act during a lively and much needed honest panel about drugs at festivals.
  10. Say “YES” to the bus. When someone asks you, “Do you want to take a ride on an Interstellar Bus?”, you should always say yes. This is not a metaphor.

 

Born during a backstage Bonnaroo downpour, Vito's mission in life is to dance, write, and travel to all the great festivals that this wide world has to offer.