• The content coming out of festivals this year was about the campsites, not the artists
  • Wireless was by far the biggest and most viral festival on-platform this year
  • Official Audio usage of lineup artists dropped during festival season in favour of random original audios
  • LF System x Parklife was one of the festival season’s biggest trends

Every summer as festival season kicks off our feeds become inundated with pictures of other-worldly outfits and stages, mud and party-hungry revellers. The past decade has been dominated by Instagram; where the glitzy shadow of Coachella looms large. However, as TikTok becomes the platform where audiences spend most of their time , we ask three key questions:

  • What does festival content look like on the platform?
  • Which festivals were the ‘biggest’ on TikTok?
  • How did festival appearances affect artists’ profiles on TikTok?

What we did

We focused on 10 of the UK’s most loved festivals. The festivals below reflect a range in terms of size, audience and genre:

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We analysed the amount of views under year-specific hashtags (i.e. #boardmasters22) to work out the digital ‘size’ of each festival as well as the general hashtag (i.e.#boardmasters) to get a full picture in terms of content and trends. We looked at content a week before the festival, the week of, and the week after.

What did festival content look like in 2022?

Though it was blockbuster line-ups that sold tickets this summer, festival content was about one thing… the campsites. When looking at the top creations for each festival, the majority of content revolved around campsite shenanigans; mud, unruly neighbours, ‘wars’ with other groups, to name a few. Interestingly, Glastonbury which had a primarily 25-34 audience (whereas the rest were mainly 18-24) was slightly different; ‘Daily diaries‘ or Festival-ground tours were a lot more common.

         Apart from a few notable exceptions – artists were eerily inconspicuous in festival content. Harry Styles, as expected, was a major talking point for BBC R1’s Big Weekend, and there were trends around throwing phones at the stage at Wireless, but the content that overwhelmingly trended largely left the headliners out of the picture.

         One of the year’s biggest festival trends also involves one of the year’s biggest tracks. LF System’s Afraid to Feel was much intertwined with Parklife Festival. In the run up to the festival, variations of this trend were pushing up the views on the Parklife hashtags and the creations on the Afraid to Feel Audio even though LF System weren’t on the lineup.

When looking at the top creations for each festival it was clear that the majority of content revolved around campsite shenanigans.

Which festival was biggest?

Wireless, by a country mile, had the biggest moment on TikTok this year – whether we look at video creations, views, or engagement; every metric shows that it was the favourite. As to the why – it’s a natural fit between genre, audience and platform. The lineup was made up of some of Rap and RnBs biggest artists which currently have a huge Gen Z audience; these are the artists that Gen Z love to shout about, and TikTok is naturally where they go to do so. The festival ran for two weekends which provided more opportunity for viral content to spring out and its attendees were particularly good at generating the sort of content TikTok loves.

We saw two extremely viral moments; one of a would-be attendee/ prominent influencer  sneaking in and one that started a common trend of people throwing their phones onto the stage in the hope that the performing artist will pick it up.

Views under each hashtag

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Creations under each hashtag

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Festivals and TikTok Audios

With festivals being such a big topic of conversation we expected that line-up artists’ TikTok presence would grow.  However, the opposite was true – the majority of content coming from audiences relied on ‘original’ sounds meaning that the majority of Official artist audios on TikTok decreased across the festival season. That’s not to say the same was reflected in streaming figures, but certainly on TikTok, artist appearances did not translate to greater usage of those artists’ audios.

artist appearances did not translate to greater usage of those artists’ audios.

What does it mean for festivals? What does it mean for artists?

 For artists

–   You don’t have to be in the line-up to take advantage of an upcoming festival

–   Artist campaigns should focus on the pre-amble to a festival rather than the festival itself as audio usage is likely to drop in that time

–   Consider having alternate ‘original’ versions of your songs available for the festival weekend

For festivals

–   Collectively the festival hashtag had over 10 billion views this summer. TikTok is a platform for discovery – the content from festivals this year will inform purchase intentions next year, so being active on platform early will help sell tickets during the key purchase period

–   The campsite is where the majority of content comes from, not the arena – people want to show the experience rather than the headliners – lean on the experiential element of your event in your marketing to get the most from TikTok

Some of our favourite festival moments

–  The Boardmasters water tunnel

–  The Truck classical mosh pit

– The  Glastonbury “paramedic”