The new millennium has brought widespread euphoria, high expectations and a desire for some better new times in which the advancement of science and technology will occur, as well as greater respect for human rights. Speaking of music and music business in the realm of popular culture, many things have changed globally, the Internet has introduced various novelties, the ability to share a wealth of data and faster communication. Big record companies have lost their primacy, everyone is able to record their music and market it, however, everyone is also able to download someone else’s music in a few minutes, which calls into question the rights of the author. It soon becomes clear that concerts are a major source of income for musicians. In this division, a new era, the era of music festivals, begins.
Music festivals have a long tradition, they have been held for centuries, with various goals and purposes. As important gathering places, their purpose was, and it still remains, to connect and exchange different experiences of the world. Today, there are festivals for everyone’s taste, and thus have become a special industry branch that contributes to both the national economy and the image of those countries in the world. Everyone who visits festivals has the opportunity to choose from a variety of festival offerings. On the one hand, there are large, commercial festivals that bring the biggest and most up-to-date performers of popular music, but also depend on collaborating with sponsors and selling tickets that are not affordable for everyone. On the other hand, there are narrowly profiled festivals that have a loyal audience such as hardcore fans and those with a clear artistic concept which don’t have primary ticket sales.
In recent years, in addition to audience-oriented festivals, there has been an increasing number of showcase festivals that have a structurally different and larger reach. Festivals like this are partially closed to the public, and at concerts that are public, the audience is both ordinary listeners and talent hunters who offer their services. Authors and bands booked at showcase festivals have the opportunity to interact with professionals from the industry who are otherwise difficult to reach. Conferences are held, meetings of record companies, bookers, music managers are organized, decisions are being made about new performers to be promoted and digital trends in booking or marketing.
Unlike this kind of networking, in the last century, music festivals arose from the enthusiasm and struggle for the idea as such, as well as from the rebellion against conventionality. Such manifestations gave a sense of freedom, equality, the right to critical thinking and open dialogue, as well as to the unique feeling that the energy created between the musician and the audience awakens. Many music festivals ceased operations, and those who survived despite the inevitable commercialization did not give up social activism.
Exit is one of the festivals in our country that arose from social activism. Exit paved the way for the emergence of a large number of music festivals in Serbia and therefore set high standards. Of course there were festivals before Exit, like Youth in Subotica and Zajecčar Guitar fest, but their form and essence had a different purpose. These festivals were about promoting new authors, connecting them, and were mostly free. In contrast, Exit, although driven by social activism, from the beginning, claimed to be a quality product with the potential to attract large masses, so it had to be well packed. Exit is held in a specific environment, has a receptive program, a large number of accompanying events, panel discussions, workshops, but also a strong presence of sponsoring brands. All major music festivals also have their own copying function models, such as payment systems or tickets/bracelets. Depending on the weather, there is dust, mud and strong sun at each festival, but the common feature is the large number of young people looking for fun, whose safety is often the biggest challenge for organizers.
The future of the music industry and music festivals and in which direction it will all go will be interesting. Until then, if you have the opportunity, visit the In Music festival in Zagreb, Sziget in Budapest, be sure to be a part of Exit or one of the non-profit and incredibly inspiring festivals that are regularly held in our region. The experiences gained at such events and the richness of experience are priceless.