Is it just the Music? Towards an Understanding of the Festival-goer and their Experience at UK Music Festivals

Brown, Alyssa Eve (2019) Is it just the Music? Towards an Understanding of the Festival-goer and their Experience at UK Music Festivals. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Festivals are an adventure of the emotional and physical senses and can create unforgettable, exciting and thrilling memories of unfamiliar and unique experiences. With music festivals in particular, there is an additional emphasis on the chance to experience live music by often idolised musicians within a temporary community of shared musical interests. However, whilst a music festival may attract visitors through advertising an attractive and appealing line-up of popular acts, this far from guarantees a happy customer. There are many other elements that contribute to and impact upon the experience of the festival-goer (Morgan, 2008: 83). If these elements are managed well, this can result in benefits for both the consumer, through positive emotional and cognitive experiences, and for the organisation through repeat custom, recommendations and increased sales. However, if the festival fails and disappoints the consumer, this in turn can generate negative perceptions and an undesired reputation, hence reducing future attendance and sales. Thus, in order for festival organisers to achieve organisational success, they must respond and react to the needs and desires of their festival-goers.
Therefore, this thesis aims to provide an exploratory analysis of the festival-goer and their experience at UK music festivals. More specifically, it examines who the festival-goers are and what experiences they seek. In doing so, the study aims to develop an experience value model, depicting the relationship between festival-goer characteristics and the value of experience attributes at UK music festivals. This research adopts a pragmatist philosophy and mixed-methods approach which is carried out across three phases: (i) interviews with festival-organisers; (ii) an online quantitative survey of festival-goers; and (iii), on-site interviews with festival-goers. The research results are analysed using appropriate methods including thematic coding, exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and linear regression.
The results identify common socio-demographic and psychographic characteristics amongst festival-goers to UK music festivals, whilst also indicating a distinction between those at rock or niche, and pop or mainstream festivals. The value of experience attributes is identified in seven areas: music, other entertainment, services, engagement, added value, ethics and image, all of which may influence the overall experience. The festival atmosphere is the most important experiential attribute; however, this research also demonstrates the significance of engagement and co-creation throughout the festival-goers’ journey. Most importantly, the results show that festival-goers’ socio-demographic and psychographic characteristics determine the value of experience attributes. Therefore, this research provides an original contribution to both theory and practice through the development of an experience value model, and by providing critical

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