Ultra Successful

**Just a heads up, I wrote this while the music festival took place this weekend and that is why it focuses partially on 2017. Also, my hyperlinks were not working so all of my sources are at the end of the blog.**

Ultra Stage

This weekend, Ultra Music Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary in Miami, Florida. Ultra Miami is arguably the world’s most popular dance music festival that brings out the best DJs in one of the best cities. Although Ultra has festivals around the world, the one in Miami is the longest running annual Ultra Music Festival and the most popular one, too. It would be an amazing experience to go to, but not everyone can pack up their things and spend a lot of money to go down to Miami for the weekend. So how did Ultra use social media and technology to reach this level of popularity?

Ultra Passport

Ultra Passport is a rewards program in the Ultra app. By attending Ultra events and signing in on the app, you earn rewards points. For point milestones, you can receive several benefits, including:

  • Exclusive access to early bird tickets
  • Access to an Ultra Passport lounge for Passport members
  • Special experiences unique to each Ultra location

This rewards program is one of the first in the music festival business, and it certainly will help give people more incentive to return to Ultra events in the future.


This year’s statistics are not out yet, but if they can surpass last year’s numbers (which they will) they are headed in the right direction. 165,000 people from 60 countries attended, but an even crazier statistic is that the Ultra Live livestream on the internet had 14.1 million viewers worldwide. UMF TV, run by Ultra, puts together the livestream every year, and last year’s livestream was revolutionary for a couple reasons. First, it was the first time that the livestream was available in 4K streaming. Also, it was the first year they incorporated a 360-degree viewing experience for one of the performances. These two enhancements coupled together bring viewers at home a little closer to feeling like they are actually there. One DJ duo, Axwell /\ Ingrosso, even displayed people at home watching the livestream in a moment that brought livestream viewers into the live experience more than ever before (even though it still creeps me out how the livestream is allowed to access the viewers’ cameras…). You could see the shock and excitement on everyone’s faces, including this girl:

Axwell Ingrosso

This was the view on the livestream (and YouTube video). The screen you are seeing is the massive screen behind the DJ stand.

Once these live performances happen, UMF TV posts them all to their YouTube channel not long after. The YouTube channel, which has over 1.4 million subscribers, is a place people can go to relive their favorite performances or watch any performances they may have missed. Most of the videos have at least 1 million views, and many of them have multi-million views. They have given fans at home such an enjoyable experience through this digital content platform that people enjoy watching it at home and the FOMO is lessened.

Digital Content on Social Media

One thing Ultra does really well is build up the hype leading up to the music festival and keeps it going throughout the weekend. For example, they send out more and more frequent countdown tweets with high-quality videos put together from previous years. Here is the one from last week:

Last year, #ULTRA2017 received over 42 million social media mentions across all platforms and at one point was the #1 trending topic on social media. This year, since it is the 20th anniversary of Ultra Miami, Ultra capitalized on this celebration-worthy milestone by starting #20YearsofUltra. They have been posting flashback videos of the best moments in the music festival’s history on all platforms with #20YearsofUltra like this one on Instagram:

From what I have seen, the hashtag has been successful. In most posts about the music festival I have seen people using the hashtag. They also have put out a short docuseries called “20 Years of Ultra” highlighting the rise of Ultra and electronic music. Because of their ability to continually post high-quality, viewer-engaging content that captures the excitement and fun of the festival, I have a feeling that the Ultra mentions on social media this year will be record-breaking for a music festival.

Ultra uses the DJs that will be performing that year to help spread the word about Ultra, too. Each of the DJs that will be performing posts Ultra-created content like this:



These DJs have very passionate followers, and these followers know that this is usually the DJs favorite festival where they will most likely play new music. It is a no brainer as a fan to then tune into Ultra Live. As you can see, Ultra has capitalized on network effects.

Finally, as we all know our generation cannot go to a concert without taking out a phone to send a Snapchat or post a Snapstory. The fantastic light shows and pyrotechnics, the beautiful weather, and the music make it hard not to want to show the world what they are missing out on. If you go to Snap’s Discover feature and search “Ultra” you will see what I am talking about. For Ultra, it certainly draws even more attention to their event.



Here is a Snapstory my friend posted from Ultra Music Festival this weekend.



I hope that, even if you are not a fan of this music, you can see why Ultra is great at using social media and technology to help effectively market this popular event. They have built a platform and fan base that is among the strongest in the music festival industry (i.e. Coachella, Lollapalooza) and it has made the name Ultra synonymous with the increasingly popular world of dance music.


Other Sources

YouTube channel — https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBg1SJiXSxfIShNlZOl2PqFsy0eLfgcIb








  1. danmiller315 · ·

    I think that the interesting thing here for Ultra is that it recognized that it does not have to cap its potential revenue streams/market share at those that buy tickets for the event. Like you mentioned, it is not feasible for a fan to attend every concert, but by engaging with them on social media, you are giving yourself the ability to keep as many fans entertained and willing to purchase tickets in the future.

    As we discussed in class earlier in the semester, the younger generation today is more apt to spend money on experiences rather than the ownership of objects. They want to spend money on things that they can post on their Snapchat or Instagram to show their friends how much fun they’re having. Ultra gives them the ability to do just that. The pyrotechnics, the music, and the overall euphoria within the moment allows a fan to elicit a feeling to their followers that an going to an Ultra concert is a must.

    I would be interested to find out if Ultra has began experimenting with AR/VR that would allow fans to use a headset to get the feeling of what it would be like to be at the live concert. If they are, I would also be curious as to how they plan on marketing that experience in a way that would not deter fans from dishing out the money to physically be at the concert in person.

  2. kkim312 · ·

    This was an awesome post about Ultra! I understand Ultra is a big deal, but the technology seems to be about the same for Lollapalooza and Coachella. It is interesting how Ultra is utilizing a reward system for their members, I wonder how many people actually know about it/how many other Ultra events are there other than the main one in Miami? The tech, I’m sure, at the actual event is also just as crazy as the website and streaming device.
    It would be interesting to see what kind of servers handle the website. I’ve had my fair share of years at Lollapalooza, but every year the website crashes due to the crazy traffic on the day GA tickets are released. Also, it is interesting how Ultra does not seem to have a payment for the live streaming rather it is just for free. I feel as if they have a small charge to stream, they would make a good amount of money.

  3. kennedy__bc · ·

    I had a few friends that attended Ultra this year and they said it was absolutely amazing (which makes me super jealous). I would have to disagree with @kkim312 with the idea of charging people to stream. I say this because since tickets and travel are so expensive the target market (people ages 18-30) are either students or just starting out their career its a large investment to make. By giving users the ability to experience the concert via livestream I believe this makes people even more jealous of not being there and therefore becoming more inclined to buy a ticket in the future. I certainly saved up my money to attend Osheaga last summer because I heard about how fun it was in the years prior. Additionally, as more and more of my friends have been attending Ultra Music Festival the fomo is really starting to kick in so who knows I might start saving up for next year! Great post Tully!

  4. Loved the topic of this post, Tully. I previously did not know how well Ultra was utilizing the digital realm, aside from Snapchats/Insta Stories.
    I am especially impressed with Ultra’s decision to livestream for free. Not only is FOMO lessened, but Ultra is able to make the masses feel connected to the festival. That being said, 14.1 million people outside of the ~330,000 that get tickets feel affiliated with Ultra, building it’s popularity to insane numbers. It is a great way to keep people coming back (when they get to rewatch their experience from crazy aerial views) and make people want to get a ticket in the near future. I have to agree with @kennedybc in that it is important for Ultra to not charge money for livestream. I feel it builds more support for the festival from the masses and makes people want to experience it in person that much more. It is honestly just a great marketing tool for the festival.

  5. oliverhowe14 · ·

    This was a super interesting post. I have a friend who goes to UMiami, and I know that he goes to Ultra every year. I never realized that it had such an online presence though. It makes sense that they would stream it online because of all of the people who would love to go but can’t afford it or can’t make it. What is interesting, however, is that they stream it for free. I understand that is obviously not the same atmosphere at the festival as it is in person, but I am sure they could sell, say, a week long pass that would allow people to view the festival. They must be doing something right and found some way to monetize viewership (ads on the streams probably) and they are pulling in 1+ million viewers.

  6. kikinitwithraf · ·

    Being from Miami, Ultra Music Festival is the marquee event of the “Spring.” I may be dating myself a bit here, but I remember the first ever Ultra (on the beach in Miami Beach) in 1998 and what has transpired through the years is incredible. Not only have the crowds increased, but the popularity of social media has enabled the music festival to connect with fans all over the world. Ironically enough, I was watching the festival on both Facebook Live and UMF TV over the weekend. At one point there were 980K viewers tuned into FB Live on Friday afternoon for the festival’s kickoff.

    And while UMF is just one aspect of the Winter Music Conference, through the use of social media, there’s a plethora of options they could use to incentivize and reward its members. I think there use of “free” streams only serves as a medium to hook people into experiencing the festival live the following year. It’s brilliant marketing considering that every year Ultra breaks records for crowd attendance.

  7. Nice post. Another interesting example of how digital and real-world can reinforce itself to create a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

  8. phanauer1 · ·

    Great post! I’ve been to a few music festivals but have never known much about Ultra. After watching a few friends’ snap stories at the festival, I’m not surprised that it has such a loyal following, even from those unable to attend! Continuing the conversation about charging for streaming, I think that it’s great and important that the streaming be offered free of charge. I know that while I would maybe tune in for a free live session, if I had to pay I would absolutely go elsewhere for my music or just try to watch later. The result of paid streaming would be some money made from true enthusiasts unable to attend in person, and a lot of other people lost who could otherwise interact with the “brand” of the festival and maybe attend in the future. I’m impressed by their efforts to get people involved and offer special promotions to loyal customers too! I think it’s great that they have the passport option to reward those who keep coming back and I think having positive relationships with people over the internet can only serve them well going forward – I expect another 20 years of Ultra if they continue on the same path!

  9. was a great day and an amazing party! thanks for your thoughts!

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