Troops Want Festivals
32 Million people in the same exact age demo as our troops went to at least one music festival in 2014. That's insane.
That's more people than the state of Texas, and they are mostly millennials and younger. The average festival attendee's age is 27 and coincidentally the average enlisted Soldier/Airman/Marine/Sailor is also 27 years old.
Millennials don't do "events" anymore, they do "EXPERIENCES." That's why our clubs on base are less attended, and our bowling alleys and golf courses are not overflowing with patrons. In order to get them off their iPads or Netflix, the event needs to be an EXPERIENCE.
So, how can the military adapt?
The service MWR organizations should fund one annual major festival per base per year.
Each base can choose ONE event per year to promote, whether it is their 4th of July, Oktoberfest, American Day, Air Show, Memorial Day, Back to School, etc.
Allocate each major installation $250k, $500k or $1M each year, and let them choose the time, place and talent their base community wants to see. Hint: It ain't the Lt Dan Band!
This would give the entire community something to look forward to each and every year!
It would also allow the local MWR team the time and consistent inventory necessary to get major sponsors on board. All the money the base makes from sponsorship, VIP tickets, Meet & Greets, and Food/Beverage goes back to the base to support other MWR programs in need of funding assistance.
Want to hear something crazy? "Desert Trip" aka Oldchella? You know the festival with all the classic rock acts? It just made $160M from ticket sales exclusively over two weekends.
How about the other Top 5 Festivals in the US? Well they grossed a combined $183M in 2014 with Coachella leading the way with $84M.
You don't have to draw 450,000 people to your huge annual event or gross $50M to be successful, but MWR programs should be operating in the black and they can be, if they move in the direction of doing what is best practice in the private industry.
A-list artists and experiences are what right looks like and the sponsorship dollars will follow.
Festivals take three years to break even on average.
Now is the time for the military to allow MWR organizations the freedom to build their bottom line with this initial investment. The risk of business as usual could mean MWR ceases to exist.