This summer will mark the 14th year for the Vans Warped Tour”, with the new summer theme “The Roadtrip Continues” -making it the longest and largest touring festival in North America. With more than 625,000 tickets sold to young people mostly between the ages of 13-20 last year alone, and pre-sales this year already at 24,000 (the most ever), it’s undeniable that the formula for success for this tour is worth serious attention not only to music industry players, but also sponsors, musicians, and fans.
Many people account for the tour’s success to the founder and director, Kevin Lyman, who has an uncanny ability to select a mix of up-and-coming bands, along with older bands re-instating their careers, which continue to draw a youthful audience. However, the Vans Warped Tour, on reputation alone, has become an American rite-of-passage for youth culture. It’s here that kids often experience their first live music concert, get band autographs, mosh, buy merch, and talk about it with friends for the rest of the summer. Kevin, who is a Peter Pan at heart, simply loves introducing people to new music, and especially the Vans Warped Tour because of the audience it attracts, which is why, as he stated Friday, April 11, at the press conferences in the CAA offices in Los Angeles, that “I will be on every single tour date this summer.” Which is saying a lot considering there are 46 dates from June 20th to August 17th, 37 tour buses running on bio-diesel (not counting a number of semi’s), a 900-person touring crew, countless number of bands, 5 stages, and of course, sponsors, and fans. (In addition Kevin is launching a metal tour this summer called the Rockstar Mayhem Festival featuring bands such as Slipknot, Disturbed, Machine Head, The Red Chord, and Underoath.)
Each season, Label Networks reports stories about the Vans Warped Tour including updates from the road because it’s here that many new trends get their start. Each summer, the tour will produce “break-out” bands that basically make it to the bigtime, and have a major impact on global youth culture, such as Green Day, My Chemical Romance, and Paramore in the past (and before that, No Doubt, Blink 182, Fall-out Boy, Hawthorne Heights, and The Used). Fashion trends are launched here as well as young people check out via the Warped website, social networks, and personal blogs to get the latest scoop on what’s taking place at each location of the tour including who’s wearing what, which then gets recontextualized and modified in the next city and the next, to the point where trends get their start (and then top-end designers copy). The Vans Warped Tour is also where great ideas for sponsorship and marketing opportunities come to light because the sponsorship team of the tour works hard to make sure there’s a connection with sponsors and the audience, not only for the sake of making the sponsors stoked, but perhaps even more importantly, so that the fans of tour continue to have an excellent time. Cool sponsor programs in the past have included texting the band line-up which changes each day for cell phone brands, “jump-the-line” programs that allow kids to skip up front of lines, band autograph signings in sponsor booths, tons of eco-initiatives and this year, the “If we had a dressing room, we’d give you one too ” program whereby a brand can sponsor the make-shift pup-tent and faux dressing room complete with a cooler of Monster Energy Drinks, lounge chairs, and a table that bands hang-out in to meet fans.
Based on Friday’s press conference and kick-off party, this summer’s Warped Tour will feature an eclectic mash-up of music, including punk, ska, rap/hip-hop, emo, screamo, rock, and reggae. Some of the bands who performed at the opening night such as The Aggrolites, Beat Union, Broadway Calls, Katy Perry, and 30H!3, include electronica mixes in their music formulas which has added another alternative layer to the types of music Warped will be providing. Early hype for break-out bands to watch this summer include Shwayze, Cobra Starship, and 30h!3. But favorites will be back out on the road at certain dates including Paramore, The Academy Is As I Lay Dying Oreska Pennywise, The Lordz, and Bouncing Souls.
Ironically, while the economy continues to struggle and music concerts and festivals continue to increase prices, the Vans Warped Tour remains the cheapest ticket in town at $27 for pre-sale–up only 50 cents since last year–of which 25 cents is donated to the Camp Hollywood Heart Charity. “We have had to be very creative in how we keep our ticket prices low,” explains Kevin. “But we’re determined to make sure every kid can come to the Vans Warped Tour that wants to.” Running from 11 a.m. to about 8 p.m. each day, for $27 fans can see more than 40 bands in a day, not to mention visit various merch tents, activity tents, non-profit information tents in a village called Take Action, and check out skateboarding in a mini ramp provided by Vans. In a genius move, kids can also drop off their parents in a Reverse Day-Care tent which ends up being a great hangout for other parents to read magazines, drink beverages, and generally enjoy one of the few air-conditioned areas of the festival.
Top sponsors this year include AT&T, which will be hosting text messages for the day’s line-up each morning, KIA which will be sponsoring the solar-powered Kevin Says Stage, which is also where a lot of new bands break-out each year, making it a must-see venue for fans of new music; plus Monster Energy Drink, Hurley, AP Magazine, Vans, Ernie Ball, Trojan, Fuse TV, Truth.com, Music Saves Lives, Guitar Center, MySpace, SkullCandy, Lost, Xbox, among others.
Stay tuned for more about the various sponsor programs, the eco-initiative of the tour, and updates on the bands, plus exclusive Label Networks TV interviews with Kevin Lyman, and The Aggrolites, Katy Perry, Cave from Fuse TV’s “Brooklyn Way” and The Lordz, Broadway Calling, and 30h!3.