Bleached may call Los Angeles home, but it doesn’t look like the four-piece will be spending much time in the sunny city in 2016. Jennifer Clavin (vocals, guitar), Jessica Clavin (guitar), Marc Jordan (drums) and Micayla Grace (bass), recently announced a new U.S. tour that starts on the west coast after SXSW and moves east, ending back in their home town on May 5 at the Telegram Ballroom.

Now seasoned veterans of SXSW, Sheffield’s The Crookes return to Austin with treasures in tow: ten brand new tracks that make up their 2016 full-length album, Lucky Ones, which follows Dreams of Another Day EP,  released when the band first appeared at SXSW in 2010, Chasing After Ghosts (2011), Hold Fast (2012), and Soapbox (2014).

Conversations around how profitable the festival industry is, and certain festivals in particular, has been ongoing for some time. Yesterday the Las Vegas business publication, Review Journal, took a look at the financials of the Life is Beautiful (LIB) festival. It included a quote I provided business columnist Alan Snel on the commonality of festivals operating in the red, so to speak, in their first three to five years of existance. Life is Beautiful is no different.

There’s nothing more exciting than seeing a thought, an idea, become a thing, a reality. Tucker Gumber, The Festival Guy, has released his book, “The Festival Thrower’s Bible,” on Vendini Press, and I couldn’t be more excited. It was last June at Bonnaroo. Tucker and I were chatting at the Red Light Management party when he told me of this project: a guide to help festival throwers do what they do better. Did I want to contribute? Hell yeah!

Telegram - comprised of singer Matt Saunders, bassist Oli Paget-Moon, drummer Jordan Cook, and guitarist Matt Wood - hails from London, having played together since 2013. That year BBC 6 Music’s Marc Riley’s debuted their first single, “Follow,” which quickly catapulted their sound and fan desire.

For a Monday night, the Echoplex in Los Angeles was quite packed out. SWIMM, Florida-to-Los Angeles transplants as of 2015, followed Andy Clockwise, aptly thanking him for the blast-happy performance. It was SWIMM's last night of their residency at the Echoplex, and the two-piece, now expanded to five performers, wrapped it in pure rock and roll style. Even some of the family were in attendance, including the proud mom of lead singer and guitarist, Chris Hess.

The world received a right blow to the soul today on the passing of David Bowie. Although we knew he had suffered from health problems over the years that caused the canceling of performance dates, we were shocked that he’d hidden his battle with cancer for the last eighteen months. That unto itself, that Bowie would choose to focus solely on writing, recording, and producing his last gift to the world in the form of the Blackstar album, versus letting us know of his terminal illness, is not shocking. It is true form Bowie.

Released late last month (November 19th, to be exact), David Bowie's single and accompanying video, "Blackstar," was yet another short story from his endless mind of creativity. The ten-minute journey is expectadly unexpected in story line, visuals, and musical expression; the title track providing an eerie yet exciting glimpse into the forthcoming album due out January 8, 2016.

The conversation on the bias and inequality in the entertainment industry has been going on for some time now. In 2015, the movement behind raising the bar for women in film and entertainment has thankfully stretched beyond idol mentions and has consistently boiled up into action beyond words. Tonight’s Moonfaze Feminist Film festival at LA Mother aims to “disrupt the status quo” of homogeneity and patriarchy by dedicating a night solely to outstanding talent in feminist film.

I couldn't help but notice the focus of a recent article in Quartz, (“Music festivals are making more money by ditching cash,” December 1, 2015) was on how festivals are embracing cashless payment systems. Really? That unto itself is not necessarily news, as cashless payment systems are not a new, twinkle in the eye technology.

What stands out is that the case study referenced was the Clockenflap Music Festival - in Hong Kong. The actual news is the continuing adoption of cashless, not only in the U.S., the U.K. and Europe, but in Asia.

In years past RFID systems were put in place to manage more streamlined access control, while some festivals, even the larger ones, put cashless into the ‘maybe someday’ category. At the same time, numerous festivals have implemented the technology with great success.

So that ‘someday’ has arrived. Fear of adoption will continue to plague festival promoters through a loss of competitive edge. There’s a way to overcome this. Festival leaders have opportunities to go into potential implementations with a clear idea of how these technologies work and better predict the outcome by learning from others who’ve walked the walk.

This month in San Diego, event technology companies, festival organizers, promoters, and thought leaders will gather at the annual International Music Festival Conference (IMFCON) + International Film Festival Summit (IFFS) to discuss how far festival operations, in all its facets, has come and what’s in store for the 2016 season (and beyond).

The three-day conference will dive into both film and music festivals, looking at trends and advancements in each industry, including the evolution of programming, operations, and attendee engagement (“Reviewing the Modern Film Festival: Current and Future Possibilities,” featuring Steven Gaydos VP and Executive Editor, Variety, and Colin Stanfield, Festival Producer, New York Film Festival).

Taking a look back at last this past year's festival season, “The Golden Age of Festivals” has Andy Hermann, Music Editor for LA Weekly, asking panelists Branden Chapman, The Recording Academy; Tom Russell, Founders Entertainment; and Simon Rust Lamb, Former COO & General Counsel for Insomniac, about the potential for a festival bubble to burst, when competition shows up in your backyard unexpectedly, and how they’re preparing for festival season 2016.

“Making Waves: Innovative Revenue Models for Music Festivals” will most likely include a conversation on cashless payment systems (Jeff, will you guys give Intellitix the green light to take Bonnaroo cashless in 2016?), along with how ticketing, social media, and fan engagement has evolved to drive an increase in sales.

Tapping into ways festivals can expand their brand’s reach beyond the people in attendance, “Creating Your Festival Channel: Technology, Strategy and More” will dive into how streaming, video, radio and social channels bring a larger audience into the live event experience. Google will join in along with SFX, Goldenvoice, Open Garden, and Bulldog Digital Media, who will moderate the conversation. Potential questions may include: How have these activations and tactics  proven to drive the following year’s ticket sales, with the proverbial fan FOMO being played to their advantage? How can these pieces of content be repurposed throughout the year’s marketing and sales efforts?

I expect other topics of discussion will arise, but with a slightly more elevated take than last year’s IMFCON, as experiences and intelligence is shared:

How can we operate Health & Safety better?

How will climate change shift current emergency response practices and will next-generation technology solutions help to avoid problems that plagued the 2015 season?

When will the U.S. be able to go beyond the tabu of drug testing and embrace the benefits of this practice as their festival counterparts in the U.K. and Europe have done?

What festivals are increasing their use of iBeacons, notifications, geofencing, and evolved social media tools, and what was the outcome from this past year? What’s the potential for 2016?

Where are networking technologies like mesh and mobile-to-mobile platforms headed?

How will convergence of film, comedy, music, food & wine impact festival programming as fans increase their desire for diversified experiences?

What part does small to mid-sized and niche festivals play in the industry and what are the operational benefits and challenges?

How will the evolution of VR play a part in the real-time and post festival experience for the fan?

How will M&A continue to impact the festival space, both on the promoter and the technology side?

When is happy hour?!

Many questions. No doubt, many answers will be taken away from this year’s IMFCON-IFFS.

And along with the panels are the numerous and unique opportunities to connect face-to-face with new and old acquaintances alike, sparked opportunities for business partnerships, and chances to pluck knowledge nuggets and that could potentially make a huge difference in this coming festival season.

See you there!

Register for IMFCON here.
For more information on IMFCON go here.

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