Posted by: Dana Kelly | April 18, 2011

Social Media Revolutionizing Events

I tried to turn a blind eye to this year’s Coachella Music & Arts festival, I really did. While the three-day festival in Indio, California has long been on my 20-something bucket list, I’ve accepted my fate as a poor college student living in Eugene for the time being. One day I will partake in this musical pilgrimage,  but as of right now, I don’t need to be plagued with jealousy.

I stayed as close as I could to shelter this weekend, often battling monsoons whenever leaving my house, and I found that there is no such thing as turning a blind eye to one of the largest music festivals in the country while we live in the age of social media. Facebook, Twitter, and every online periodical I read managed to update me on various performances, events, and art installations all occurring 1,000 miles away from me! The company I’m interning for this summer, (No Subject), even hosted a packing list prior to the event, constant updates from the location, and a post-festival q&a on their Twitter account. All of the hype and anecdotes did not help my pang of jealousy, but somehow I survived. However, last night I truly realized the magnitude and impact of social media on such festivals. Kanye West’s highly anticipated performance following the November 22, 2010 release of his new album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” was streamed live on the Internet. The amount of tweets that linked to the stream was unprecedented and a simple search for “kanye at coachella 2011” yielded 289 hits on Google News within .10 seconds. Social media has not only revolutionized the way that we interact within our immediate relationships, but how we experience events all together. The fact that I avoided spending the $500 on tickets alone for the Coachella festival yet still managed to be a part of the experience almost feels like I cheated the system. Granted, the difference between watching a video on my computer screen and experiencing a concert of that scale in real life is like comparing apples and oranges, but I still had access to what was considered otherwise to be an exclusive event amongst a sea of hipsters.

What does this mean for the future of the PR industry? Is it our responsibility as practitioners and event coordinators to obsessively update the cyber world on the status of our event or campaign? In a way, yes. Without the social media component, I do not think that a music festival that started as a two-day event in which Pearl Jam performed for 25,000 people could have grown into a three-day festival drawing in over 75,000 people a day. Essentially, we have fueled Coachella’s unrivaled success, and “we” weren’t even there! Not to undermine the intensive work and planning done by the festival promoter, Goldenvoice, but as social media consumers with a vested interest in music and the arts, we are now able to direct Internet traffic to the growing trend of live-streaming. How do you see live-streaming affecting your social media use?


  1. It’s pretty cool that social media can connect you to all sorts of stuff like concerts and events across the country. TED Talks are another example of that. I heard that actually going a TED convention costs thousands of dollars. That’s just insane, especially when you can watch them online for free! Like you said though, there’s nothing like actually being there. Anyway, I follow a bunch of photography blogs, and one photographer is always at really cool concerts. I saw that he was basically on stage at Coachella taking pictures of the event. They’re pretty awesome, so you should check them out!! This is the link:

  2. I felt the same exact way about Coachella as you did. All of my friends from Southern California went and posted days in advance the clothes they planned on wearing and the people they could not wait to see. My favorite store from back home even had a separate catalog for Coachella outfits. So basically I was surrounded by all things Coachella even though deep down I knew it was nothing compared to the real thing. For Memorial Day weekend, I am going to the Northwest’s Coachella: Sasquatch. I must admit, I will most likely be tweeting and posting photos on Facebook as my weekend goes. For me, I hope to do PR in the entertainment industry so you bet that I will be on top of all social media documenting my experience at Sasquatch.

    Another note, I also tuned into Kanye’s show on YouTube and all I could think was, when is YouTube going to charge people to see shows streaming live? You are right when you say you felt like you cheated the system, I felt the same exact way. People pay big money to see Kanye and although we did not see him in person, we did see him in clear view in the comfort of our homes. Do you think YouTube should start charging for events like these?

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