Magazines are spending millions on their own pop culture festivals

From NY Magazine’s Vulture Festival and Entertainment Weekly’s Popfest to OZY Fusion Fest and ComplexCon, media corporations and startups alike are embracing editorially-driven pop culture festivals as the next wave of live journalism.

The anatomy of a pop culture festival is relatively consistent across all publishers: catchy and nostalgic music, high-quality food, unexpected laughs and pragmatic activism, with a healthy dose of celebrity. The “editorially-driven” component means that staff writers and editors not only curate the programming themselves, but are also onsite introducing and/or interviewing their special guests, creating what is essentially a living newspaper. If recent numbers are any indication, these conferences and festivals also attract big bucks.

More tangible than Snapchat and Facebook Live, these festivals aim not only to connect editorial staff more directly with digital readers, but also to revamp the tired, old-fashioned business models of newsrooms past. Particularly for OZY, a digitally-native news outlet that launched in 2013 and held its inaugural OZY Fusion Fest last month, live events round out the company’s multimedia business model, while driving its mission of converting observation into action.

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