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Why I Don't Announce Artist Lineups for Our Music Festivals Anymore

by Jabari Johnson, Founder & CEO at COLORS Worldwide Inc, March 23, 2023

We just sold out our latest music festival, “R&B ONLY FEST”, in Dallas, TX and a lot of people have asked me how we did that with no artist lineup announced. I thought this would be a good time to share the reason and framework behind this concept as I know this is relatively unheard of in the live music industry. The capacity/ticket numbers I’m including throughout are rounded in an effort to simplify the explanation.

(...) We were so green to the festival space and so eager to make a huge impact that we spent far too much money on a ridiculous activation where fans could take a helicopter ride over the festival grounds to see it from above. As I laid in bed after the show, I can vividly remember myself calculating the damage of the hole I had just burned in my pockets thinking, “Who the hell is coming to a festival to watch it from the sky?!”

(...) I learned a hell of a lot about billing, lineups, and set times through this process. I’m going to define some key terms below for those that may not understand the jargon us folks in the live music industry speak.

“Billing” is pretty much the placement of an artist’s name listed on the festival’s artwork. That artwork includes the full “lineup” which is the list of all the artists performing at the festival. The more well-known/in-demand artists are typically displayed in a larger font size and placed at the top of the artwork signifying their “headliner” position. Headliners are usually the last act to perform at a festival and in some instances, there can be co-headliners (both billed at the top of the artwork on the same line left to right but one having to perform penultimately).

Thanks to Christine Osazuwa, Chief Strategy Officer at Shoobs & Founder of Measure of Music, for sharing this.


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