As a festival and live event professional, you know how incredibly challenging pulling off an event can be. You also know how rewarding it can be to build a fully functioning city in mere days by bringing order to chaos and orchestrating the impossible.
But as we all know, you’re only as good as the software you rely on allows you to be. Trying to execute an epic music festival with outdated or disjointed systems will surely result in lost information, wasted time and fractured communication.
So what are event teams using now to advance their music festivals and live events? The answer is festival management software, and it comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. This article will take a look at the options that exist for event operators today who are embracing the future of event technology to maximize their efforts and simplify operations.
- What does it mean to advance a festival or live event?
- Why is festival management software so critical in advancing an event?
- Top 4 festival management software options for 2022
What is does it mean to advance a festival or live event?
The term “advancing” is common across most live event industries. On a macroscopic level, advancing is the process of gathering, managing, tracking, and communicating everyone’s needs who are participating in the production and management of the event. Basically, anyone who is not a ticket purchasing attendee of the event, and everything that goes into making the event happen, is a part of the advancing process. This means sponsors, vendors, artists, caterers, production staff, security, credentials, riders, contracts, press, transportation, lodging, volunteers, assets, and equipment.
There is commonly a department head, or at least someone functionally speaking in that role, who handles each department’s granular advancing processes. On-boarding paperwork, equipment procurement and tallies, contracts and communication are all common functions of each department head, along with the management of their own subordinates.
To summarize, advancing is the start ⇒ finish logistical workflow that takes an event's operations from conception to completion.
Why is festival management software so critical to advancing an event?
Without a festival management software in place for your event advance, you are operating at an extreme disadvantage. A smooth, successful advance needs clear communication, accurately tracked data, and a database to house all of this information and communication.
It is not uncommon for event operators to utilize numerous google spreadsheets, emails, text message, g-chats, and various other messaging apps in order to communicate and track the on-boarding paperwork and status of their event advance. This may be loosely defined as a system, but it ultimately a very error-prone cumbersome system at best.
Benefits of Advancing Software
Time-Saving Automation Tools - Save hours across time-consuming administrative processes when managing communications across your advance. With time-saving workflows, email tools and SMS functionality, the right system can provide a new level of efficiency. With the staffing shortages facing the space post pandemic, the less man power required for your operations, the better.
Centralized Communication - One of the most difficult aspects of an event advance is keeping the communication between vendors, artists, staff, sponsors etc. going. A software solution can provide real-time communications with sponsors, vendors, artists, event staff and volunteers before, during, and after the event… ideally all in one place
Enhanced Control - With a robust software in place you gain control over your event advance which is essential to being proactive and successful as an event operator. The ideal platform will save time and eliminate errors related to cumbersome manual workflows which will increase the level of attention and subsequent control you will have.
Top 4 Festival Management Software Options for 2022
Now that you understand why a centralized database is so critical, let's dive into the top four options out there in the festival and live event space:
Option # 1. Lennd
First we’re going to look at the most robust solution on the market today for festival and live event management, Lennd. Known for its modern workflow and aesthetically pleasing user interface, Lennd platform as it is constantly refining and improving the advancing process with both the event operator as well as their end users in mind. Lennd works with some of the largest festivals in the world including The Governor's Ball, Electric Zoo, Rolling Loud, Hulaween, Monterey Jazz Festival, Life is Beautiful and Outside Lands.
Key features of Lennd:
Lennd centralizes requests, approvals, and management to streamline operations and maintain security. Credentialing often happens in phases, so you need a system to collect high level credential counts & needs while your vendors & groups need time to gather & submit their names.
Credential managers also require tools that make reviewing & approving requests & applications fast & easy. With real-time data at your fingertips. Lennd can run your most important credential reports for you and tell you what actions are left in the process for all of your constituents. From there you can send clean email communications regarding application status, credential details, pickup, & on-site instructions and more.
Lennd provides a simple way to process orders and keep the details and transaction data for paid passes, internal tickets, and more. The platform features a convenient check-in app, or you can use one of Lennd’s ticketing partner integrations.
You can also generate on-brand event badges for your credential applicants with customizable templates. Print your badges on-site or pre-event and take photos for new attendees on the spot. Lennd can also Integrate access control barcodes & RFID into your process to keep your event even more secure.
Asset & Inventory Management
Assets and inventory can be a brutal conglomeration of spreadsheets that can easily grow in number and complexity. This inevitably makes it hard to ensure there are no missing resources on-site and also no over-ordering which causes budget waste.
With Lennd you can collect and track the equipment and assets your departments & vendors need to build out your event all with a ubiquitous dashboard. No more guessing or trying to format and combine numerous spreadsheets into one.
Lennd provides a user friendly & completely customizable way to create an asset request & order form. The platform gives asset managers the tools that make reviewing and approving orders & requests fast and easy. With real-time reports, a critical step in reducing on-site discrepancies and saving you and your team time and money.
Automated Email & SMS Communication Tools
We've learned over the years that issues with credentials, asset requests, and catering discrepancies always start with poor communication. Whether it be reminders to department heads or end users that have not submitted certain requests, to real-time alerts on-site, to having the filtering power to narrow down to a certain type of constituent and send a message specific to them, having a real-time communication tool is essential.
In reality you’re never going to eliminate the communication tools your end users are familiar with and rely on, as dealing with the festival advance is not their primary focus on a day to day basis. Lennd allows you to send custom bulk emails or SMS, while also showing you a history of communication, all through the platform.
Integrations with other event technology (i.e. RFID)
A critical component to festival management is having the ability to fulfill credentials via a physical ticket, badge, or RFID mobile scan. That’s why whatever event management software you decide to invest in needs to have the API functionality for integration with other systems (especially with ticketing and RFID). Lennd has a fully public accessible API for your ticketing partner to link with.
Cross Event Database to Clone Events
The last thing you want to do is start from scratch building out your event advance with each new season. Therefore it is essential that your management software truly functions as an organizational database, storing this information so you're not left repeating your efforts over and over. Lennd is built to give event organizers the ability to clone events and make necessary tweaks to fit the new event all within the database with ease. Event organizers save tremendous amounts of time when building out each new event as a result.
Option # 2. Beatswitch
Beatswitch can be most accurately defined as a credentials tool for music festivals. They specialize in artist event management, with the ability to manage catering and assets as well. The product provides event organizers reportable data functionality as well as platform based communication tools to converse with users.
Key features of Beatswitch:
With Beatswitch you can create unique application forms per credential type. The platform allows you to assign different zone access for user types as well. They also integrate with “all major ticketing providers” and give you the ability to load in users individually or by bulk.
Assets & Catering
Beatswitch is designed to centralize everything and everything into one place. It creates a working environment to collaborate better. Beatswitch allows for event organizers to manage catering and assets through a dashboard feature.
Create custom advancing timelines with specific milestones to simplify the artist management process. Fully automated advancing workflows ensure you have all artist related data at a moment’s notice. Beatswitch has a drag and drop timetable builder to keep everyone on the same page.
Another interesting feature of Beatswitch is their mobile app offering which is mostly geared towards attendees. It has a built in music streaming service as part of a Spotify integration, and the ability for attendees to view maps of the festival and schedules of performances by stage.
Event Essentials has event management software that is geared towards a wide range of customers, from music festivals to charity events. They offer a blend of solutions that can be added or subtracted in order to fit an event’s unique needs. From back of house tools to manage volunteers and artists, to attendee specific tools that manage ticket sales and auctions, Event Essentials has an interesting mix of services.
Key Features of Event Essentials:
Credentials & Management
Event Essentials can handle registrations and sign-ups for all types of events, as well as vendor and exhibitor applications. They also provide artist, band, and parade scheduling to go with contracts.
Staff & Personnel
A big feature of Event Essentials is the ability to manage volunteers and sponsors on site with sign-ups and scheduling. You can also communicate with staff & personnel through the platform as well as access reportable data about your groups.
Point of Sale
A unique function of the Event Essentials software is the POS feature. This allows for attendee ticket, merchandise, and food/beverage sales on site.
Event Essentials offers personalized content management to promote your event. This marketing service can be added for those teams who are looking to outsource their advertising efforts who are looking to bolster their existing marketing team.
Festival Pro is geared towards music festivals, literary festivals, and beer festivals. They are a UK based company who works primarily with UK based clients in the, you guessed it, festival space.
Their focus is narrow and specific, and they handle most every aspect of the music festival management process fairly well. Let’s take a look at their core features.
Key Features of Festival Pro:
With Festival Pro you are able to advance your artists from contracts and riders to guest lists and parking. It empowers event operators to make their people more self sufficient—artists and agents can edit and upload all relevant details online using unique password access to only their information.
Festival Pro allows for the management of stage times and tech specs for artists through the software. You can sync all your data, download tech specs for each stage and enable all your stage managers and artists to know exactly what is going on when.
This functionality provides event organizers with the ability to handle documentation, invoices, certificates and more through a personalized login system. Vendors can log in themselves to upload relevant documentation and fill in essential info direct to your system.
Staff, Volunteers, Contracting
Here is where event organizers can compile staff lists, accreditation documents, and purchase orders. There is also some asset management functionality like the control of radios on site.
Guests and Sponsors
Guests and sponsors' event access can be managed and reported on through the Festival Pro platform.
Deciding on the right software for your next festival or live event
The days of relying on spreadsheets and a random assortment of messaging apps or emails chains are over. For festival directors and event organizers at large, investing in an event management platform is the only way to efficiently and effectively advance and control future events. Finding the right solution for your festival or live event is a matter of understanding what functionality you require to be successful.
At the end of the day, your software should be streamlining your process, making you better at your job, and empowering your staff and constituents to do a better job as well.
Festival directors and event organizers can benefit from a solution that has all the tools they need to see their occasion through, from inception to completion, and year over year after that.