What’s better than a music festival, you ask? A music festival that delivers an important, need-of-the-hour social message. But it takes a lot of responsibility to put together a socially relevant music festival.

With the rise of public consciousness, more and more festivals are brimming with a sense of social responsibility. They want to deliver a stupendous musical gathering, while dispensing some important notes to remember for a better society. And The Sherp thinks that there is no better way to take a social message, than with a dose of music attached. In fact, we even did an article about putting together an environmentally conscious music festival. But if you are a festival organiser wishing to be more socially conscious, or are already one, or you wish to put together a spectacle of this sort, then we have a small list of do’s and don’ts you can keep in mind!

1. If you have a message, share it

Not every festival needs a specific message to propagate, but if you were to concentrate on one aspect, be sure to share it in all forms. For instance, Tortuga Music Festival held every April in Florida, takes place on a beach by the Atlantic Ocean, and carries an important message of marine life conservation. This idea is conveyed in various forms. They have stalls educating people of the same, and brilliant real-time sand installations depicting marine life. There is no way you can stay at a festival like that and not be influenced by the positivity of environmental conservation. Basically, your message must be impactful enough to be carried home.


10277618_758564094176693_4698260327615747530_n(image source: Tortuga Music Festival Facebook)

2. Lead the way

If the message on your board is that of environmental preservation, how can you put together a festival with non-degradable materials? If there is anything that festivals like ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone?’ and Coachella have shown us, it’s that what you work with stands in tandem with your message. Stages made of bamboo, parakeets made of cloth and not plastic, absence of plastic water bottles will all be noted by everyone who attends your festival. So, be the harbinger of change you want to see.

14646_1611792889064242_2330670865772143374_n(image source: Where Have All The Flowers Gone? Facebook)

3. Consistency is important

When you associate yourself with a social idea, it is important that you’re consistent in every piece of communication. Make sure that your message is accurately conveyed in every article, or news announcement you put out, so the level of awareness is high enough to facilitate a conversation about the topic.


Where Have All The Flowers Gone? is a tribute to Pete Seeger’s messages

(image credits: Where Have All The Flowers Gone? Facebook)

4. Your artists represent the message you carry

When you put together a line-up of musicians, it won’t do you well that you include any artist who has indulged in any activity strongly detrimental to the message you wish to put across. As an organiser, your reputation is at stake. While some music festivals only bring together artists with a strong foothold in social activism, you needn’t have to do just that, but make sure none of the artists stand nemesis to your cause. LA Rising, for instance will bring together artists who bring to the stage music that carries strong social messages. That level of conformity shines through.


Rage Against The Machine at LA Rising

(image credits: Christopher Alvarez)


(image credits: Debi Del Grande | brooklynvegan.com)

5. Let everyone be a part of the message

Including your artists and your tie-ups with the message you wish to convey goes a long way in solidifying the idea. Everyone will willingly come together to make sure that they share the message in their own way. Artists may include a socially relevant song, or a food tie-up will ensure responsible packaging. Together, you can put up a festival that remains sonorous to its idea throughout.

MG_73061(image credits: Thomas Lavell | welovegreen.fr)

6. Don’t be phony

Music festivals from around the world have made it big by bringing the best of music on a single platform. Not all of them wish to be socially deliverable. And there is no need for you to be either. Pick up a message you feel strongly about, as an organising committee, or don’t. Remember that the work you precede it with, will remain associative with your message for a long time to come. Your message must either be a positively impactful addition, or there needn’t be a message at all. Please remember, if you’re faking a sense of activism, it will show.