Boutique festivals are organically popping up in Australia like mushrooms in a cow field. Music Festivals like OutsideIn are run and owned by fun guys who, like the mushroom, only want to put a smile on your face and provide the best possible festival experience. They are achieving this without the huge ticket prices or rich backers – this is boutique!
Events company Astral People have reinvigorated boutique with their music festival OutsideIn and part owner Vic Edirisinghe echoes the boutique sentiment.
Festival World’s: The term boutique festival is being thrown around a lot, what does it mean to you?
Vic Edirisinghe: “Boutique is an over-used marketing term unless you mean it. The boutique feel that people are craving is an intimate experience catering to individual needs. It’s a tight line-up that gives an opportunity for smaller acts to shine. It’s also got those fair ticket prices and a carefully curated food and drinks menu for the audience being catered for. For us it’s all about pinpointing the demographic that you personally relate to and making sure every aspect of your festival is tailored towards them.”
Are boutique festivals common in Australia?
“Yeah they’re popping up more and more. When we first started 4 years ago we were quite unique. Before that time national touring festivals like Parklife, Future Music and Stereosonic dominated the market. I think the big touring festival formula has been well used and is slowly but surely on its way out. That’s made room for more boutique festivals.”
It’s interesting how your experience changes at a boutique festival, how do you think people interact with each other at OutsideIn compared to touring festivals?
“I co run Astral People with Tom and Lee and we were reminiscing on the event, once you’ve arrived at OutsideIn you realise that it is actually a very small experience. There are people here that you know from frequenting similar bars in Sydney. We’re all part of a small community. That’s what brings out the really friendly nature in everyone that comes along. It’s very much tailored towards a specific audience so everyone can get into what’s happening at OutsideIn.”
People might not know this is your fourth year throwing OutsideIn. Maybe that’s the wrong word do you think of it as throwing a slightly larger party or is this a curating effort? And how does this year compare to previous festivals?
“From my eyes it was the best by a mile. I felt like even if there wasn’t one person in attendance in terms of the execution, the promotion and the logistical coordination of sound and staging design it was the best year yet. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.”
So it’s definitely not just a big party, it’s a festival?
“We put a lot of effort into the inside aspect of the festival. That is what differentiates us from modern day touring festivals; the aesthetic is key to us. The boutique experience isn’t just based on the music alone. Sure that’s a big factor and that’s what’s going to sell tickets but the boutique experience is all day. It’s the food, the art, the stage design and the drinks that really plays a big hand. That’s the part that we as Astral People and record label Yes, Please really focus on and we couldn’t be happier with what our team put together.”
With some of the major players like Big Day Out falling by the wayside what makes for a successful boutique festival and how do you last in the industry?
“A strong foundation. We started at a small capacity and we built upon it. In our forth year we’ve now double the capacity we started with which shows we’re trying to build organically. I think where people seem to fail in this market and where festivals don’t seem to last that long is because throw the kitchen sink at certain artists, trying to book the biggest thing out but without actually having foundations layed out that can’t last.”
When you say organic what does that mean?
“When you look at festivals that are long-lasting like Subsonic and Rainbow serpent you can really tell that they have come from an organic place. They’ve built their brands around the theory of longevity and ensuring that if you have strong foundations that will set you up for a strong future. We’ve put a lot of thought and hard work into OutsideIn and at the end of the day we’re not a festival with any rich investors or backers like a lot of other festivals have. We’ve had to do a lot out of our own pocket and I think that’s what’s set us up for future years.”
What are some other boutique festivals in Australia that you work with or would recommend checking out?
“In Victoria there are a lot of camping festivals such as Strawberry Fields. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Rainbow Serpent. Melbourne one-day festivals like Let Them Eat Cake and Sugar Mountain. Here in Sydney we have festivals like Subsonic, Lost Paradise and of course OutsideIn Festival.”
Are you going to incorporate OutsideIn Music Festival across NSW state lines?
“There has been talk about it moving into Melbourne. That’s something we’ve seriously thought about and I don’t see why not. Now that OutsideIn works like a well-oiled machine there’s no reason why we cant replicate the formula in other cities and hopefully put some more smiles on peoples faces in other territories.”