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