COVID-19 completely upended the live music and events industry this year, inevitably forcing the unfortunate postponement of Ever After Music Festival’s 2020 event. Following the announcement, the festival provided the option to repurpose tickets, allowing Ever After to facilitate the resale of tickets to another purchaser for the 2021 event. A remarkable 90% of 2020 ticket holders opted to attend 2021 or 2022 and not repurpose their ticket, highlighting the steadfast support and dedicated loyalty festival-goers have to the brand as a whole.
In the era of virtual meetings and zoom calls, FestPop “sat down” with Ever After Festival founder, Gabriel Mattachione, to talk about how they were affected by COVID-19 and how they navigated the situation.
Below are some of the highlights from FestPop’s interview:
FestPop: This was supposed to be Ever After Festival’s 6th year anniversary, right? How did you come to the decision to postpone till next year?
Mattacchione: Right! The process was, on our end, was a patient and lengthy process. Obviously, as promoters and producers, it’s in our natural DNA to make shows go on and overcome obstacles. We were trying to stay in there and figure out how it would be possible to put on the festival. Until it became apparent that hosting an event or festival was a health concern and would be unwise and a potential risk to people’s health. We made the decision once we had the realization that this wouldn’t be safe anymore.
FestPop: Do you think your process was different because you’re an independently run festival compared to something run by say Insomniac or another large group?
Mattacchione: Oh yeah, for sure! We are an independent festival, as you said, so we knew blanket refunds were going to be a huge issue for us. You know, the ticket money is our cash flow, it’s our lifeline, it’s how we actually make the event happen. Being so close to our date, deposits for artists, production, and everything else that comes to be Ever After Festival on that weekend, we were already out.
Through initial conversations about potentially having to cancel or postpone, we got the same answer across the board from all parties saying that “you aren’t getting deposits back at this point and everything is on hold till you do the event”. Knowing that and knowing that we don’t have a blockbuster sponsor behind us or a big corporation that could field a blanket refund we wanted to hold out and see how it really played out in terms of if we could produce an event this year or just not. So, it definitely would have been a different process if we did have some kind of backing like that.
FestPop: Are a lot of the vendors and artists letting you use your deposits next year?
Mattacchione: Yeah, everyone in the industry is kind of working together the best we can in terms of finding solutions. It may be a breach of contract to allow us to use the deposit for next year but they are willing to do that. So, that was a sign of good faith on the side of most of the vendors, artists, and whatnot. But yeah, unfortunately, we couldn’t get money back to refund people so that was really our only option.
FestPop: Yeah, I saw that you were letting people use their tickets for either 2021 or 2022. Have you had a lot of people already ready to go next year.
Mattacchione: Yeah, we went through a unique campaign that we came up with because we couldn’t offer blanket refunds. Which was, what we called the repurposing campaign, only about 9-10% decided to opt into that option. This inevitably does give you a refund but makes us sell your ticket first. We use our marketing team, marketing dollars, and our contact list to do so. About 90% of our attendees are choosing to come back next year or the year after.
FestPop: Looking forward to next year, are there procedures that you guys will be putting in place to make the attendees more comfortable going to a festival in a post-COVID world.
Mattacchione: Definitely! We’ve already started planning for 2021, a lot of that stuff is on the discussion table. In terms of how do you make people feel comfortable, what are the steps we do this. We are looking at some sanitization options, for example, maybe there is a better option than just regular porta-potties. You know, definitely upkeeping the venue and the assets that sit on it are a main priority and concern for us. More regular cleanings, more pastures near the bar, lounge and bathroom areas, and more hand washing stations are definitely somethings we are looking at.
In our opinion, we are still very early in even defining what our governing bodies will mandate us to do. As much as we’re planning we’re going to have to see what those governing bodies require of us. We’ll use that as a low standard and try and build from that.
FestPop: Thanks for sharing your experience and letting us take a peek at the process. Is there anything else on the topic that you would like to share?
Mattacchione: My only comments are: it was definitely an unprecedented time and one of the toughest times that we’ve had. Not only with the festival but throughout my professional career as well. The support of the 90% of ticket holders who choose to keep their tickets just warms my heart. We are so thankful that these people stuck with us and decided to hold on to their tickets. At the end of the day, they are going to get the experience that they paid for and wanted. We’re just happy that they were patient.
FestPop: That’s great. It sounds like Ever After Festival has a good following.
Mattacchione: Yeah, we’ve prided ourselves on trying to build that and give people a true experience onsite. Being an independently run festival its sometimes harder than some of those bigger players to create the experience we want. Bu’t I think we’ve done a pretty good job at building that brand and having people enjoy their experience here.
FestPop: Thank you for taking the time to talk to FestPop and I’m glad that you guys are surviving COVID the best you can.
Mattacchione: Thanks, I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me and choosing us as someone to comment on the situation.
Ever After Music Festival 2021
Ticketing tiers are available for next year’s edition, with prices varying between each. 1-day General Admission tickets are currently on-sale, in addition to 3-day General Admission, a 3-day Rabbit Hole option (a GA+ experience with a separate entrance into the venue, express lines, etc.), and 3-day VIP tickets. Fans looking to go can also select a payment plan for 2021, with 7, 5, or 3-month options available.
Ever After Music Festival is also the first festival to legally allow cannabis into its venue, with each attendee permitted a total of 10 pre-rolled grams. This unbeatable hallmark will return to the 2021 edition for EAMF’s loyal fanbase to enjoy once again.
Further information regarding the 2021 lineup, on-site activities, hotel accommodations, and camping details will be announced in the coming months, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled! For all the latest updates, head over to EverAfterFest.com.
Interested in reading more articles on music festivals and COVID-19? Check out some of our related articles below:
- Planning For Your First Festival Post-COVID-19
- The Rise of Virtual Music Festivals
- The 5 Best Festivals to Attend in 2021