Every year, the city of Montreal is witness to a number of music festivals between the months of June and September. These festivals draw huge crowds of music lovers from across the world, giving them the opportunity to attend outdoor concerts and club gigs across all kinds of musical genres.
This past week, we had the opportunity to attend two of Montreal’s biggest crowd pullers – the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival (Osheaga) and the Montreal Electronique Groove (the MEG). While Osheaga spans three days and is held at the Parc Jean-Drapeau, the MEG is spread over ten days and takes place in a number of venues across the city. Both festivals, although affiliated, have distinct personalities that are reflected in their aesthetics, musical preferences and audiences.
Spread across seven stages and featuring over 100 artists, Osheaga offers its audience of over 40,000 attendees the opportunity to discover music from around the world. The 2016 line-up featured the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lana Del Rey, Radiohead, Bastille, Passenger, HAIM, Hiatus Kaiyote, Daughter and Jack Garratt to name a few. Besides music, Osheaga does its fair share as a platform for the arts by making room on the festival grounds for various art installations.
The Montreal Electronique Groove is one of Osheaga’s sister festivals, and, as the name suggests, focuses almost exclusively on showcasing music from Montreal’s underground electronic music scene. Featuring a number of local and French electronic music producers, the MEG offers an interesting musical experience, very different from that of Osheaga. Focused on creating a more intimate ambience, the MEG caters to fans of the underground electronic music scene as well as the musicians, who again come from backgrounds as varied as their mixes.
While music festivals are definitely a great place for music lovers, they are also meant to enable musicians to grow their careers by providing them with a platform to engage with audiences and showcase their latest musical offerings. Osheaga and MEG set themselves apart by providing several networking opportunities to industry professionals, by way of specialized events and a panel discussion. These events bring together a number of managers, agents and media professionals, creating an interesting cross-section of the international recording and publishing industry.
Although Osheaga and MEG are great revenue generators, the organizers have expressed their concerns over managing audience expectations. As one organizer mentioned, while Osheaga has a larger than life brand image, festivals such as the MEG have to compete for the attention of the audience due to other music festivals happening around the same time. At the time of the MEG 2016, there were as many as six other music festivals running in the city. It thus becomes necessary to find innovative marketing strategies to promote the festival, the musicians and what they stand for.
A large part of the success of Osheaga and MEG is owed to Montreal’s image as a hub of diversity and culture. A walk around the city’s neighbourhoods immediately makes evident the city’s love for art and music. While most other cities frown on graffiti, busking and street theatre, Montreal chooses to celebrate it instead, by providing both audiences and artists suitable infrastructure to make the most of these experiences.
Osheaga and MEG 2016 provided us with some solid insights into the music business by making us think about the connections between infrastructure, city support and resources. Besides offering us food for thought, the festivals were an absolute delight and we at Artistik License are grateful for the invitation. We look forward to the next edition of Osheaga and MEG 2017, scheduled to take place August 3–6, 2017.