As part of the International Music Summit Asia Pacific conference that will be taking place 28-29 September 2016 in Shanghai, MNA’s Executive Series managed to speak to some of the region’s most prolific doers from the music scene.
Introducing MNA’s very first season interview, Jason Swamy, Promoter for one of the most successful lifestyle festival in Thailand at the moment – Wonderfruit. Jason co-founded Do What You love Ltd in 2011, an experiential marketing agency which in 24 months has booked over $USD 3 million in talent representing acts and events. His experience in producing events and promoting talent over the last 15 years saw some of the most prominent names booked under his roster including Coldplay, Psy, Nelly, Nicolas Jaar, Justice, The Killers, M.I.A, The Strokes and Mark Ronson.
Jason shares with MNA his experience promoting talent and events; and fundamentals of what makes a successful festival.
Q: Festivals such as Wonderfruit and Further Future have become such a big hit among festival goers. What are the main star attraction of these two festivals that really kept people coming back for more?
There are a few factors that appeal to festival goers. Both events are an evolution to the traditional point to many, music-focused model. While music is a core pillar, Wonderfruit and Further Future differentiates itself via highly curated content spanning numerous pillars, attendee participation, and community. Further Future and Wonderfruit creates
Further Future and Wonderfruit create a community with its attendees and deep emotional connections with the brand. Attendees from both events leave with the knowledge about the future of our world or how to preserve our world.
Q: The festival landscape has certainly changed over the years. Although these concepts have already existed in the US/Europe, it may still be a new thing in Asia. What are some of the biggest concern you have when you were planning for the first Wonderfruit Festival?
Speaking on behalf of the Wonderfruit team, there are are two major concerns. One was the steep learning curve in developing curiosity among the Asian audience to come give Wonderfruit a try. We were the first sustainability and conscious living focused festival, the first lifestyle camping festival and family friendly camping festival all in one. These are familiar concepts to the West and we knew we didn’t have any problem getting a western audience but for us, a key to long-term success was that we were attracting a regional Asian audience so they could experience what we were trying to do. Wonderfruit is, after all, an Asia-focused festival created by Asians.
The second major concern was execution. Wonderfruit in year one was already very ambitious, we were and will continue to be very content rich. With so many variables plus having camping and being remote, you’re exposed to many potential points of failure. As we were a new concept in Asia, it was difficult to communicate what we were trying to do and find the experience locally to execute. We had our share of shortcomings in year one and we’ve learnt a lot from it.
Q: Although it has only been two editions of Wonderfruit, how has it evolved over the last two editions?
We can break up into three parts. Content-wise, we’ve evolved by consciously adding more and more regional Asia-based content and we’ve made sure to include content across as many Asian countries as possible. We continue to diversify our content to make sure it’s conscientious while having a bohemian flair. There are much more participation and support across the region from embassies, art councils, institutions, academia, and artists. Execution has improved exponentially, the team knows what it takes to execute the product, with the luxury of having the event at the same place, we learn from all the feedback internally and externally to enhance the experience.
Promotions-wise, now that we have roadmap we have a much longer timeline to promote the event, we are now able to reach even more people to spread the Wonderfruit gospel.
Q: Tell us how you go about curating and choosing the music lineup for Wonderfruit and Further Future?
With Further Future, we already have a very discerning audience, The goal of the curation is the same goal as the curation for the rest of the brand. It’s to educate, peak curiosity and promote discovery. Content should be at the right place at the right time. We take a lot of risks and ensure we cover the gamut of interesting electronic and electronically inspired music while throwing a curveball here and there. We rarely repeat a booking as we want to keep things fresh.
With Wonderfruit there are many similarities in the goals but the main difference here is two-fold, firstly we make sure we offer a very diverse line-up, something for everyone but always indie-type acts. Secondly, to support regional/grassroots and ethnic/culturally driven acts. It’s a very nascent market so we take more calculated risks. Both events are not driven by traditional headliners but the sum of each part.
Q: What does it entail to be a successful promoter in the Asian region?
A lot of patience.