Music festivals remain a vital source of revenue and publicity for artists as well as organisers. Many fans are willing to spend some money to camp, party and experience several days’ worth of performances from a variety of artists.
Event producers, advertising sponsors and booking agents have successfully monetized every aspect of the festival experience, from the actual tickets to the branded festival grounds themselves.
Local shops, restaurants and pubs enjoy a significant increase in trade over the festival period. Festival staff, security personnel and the fence crew start setting up the site days before the festival, and remain there a few days after the festival. They consistently use the materials in surrounding areas.
As such music festivals are now a large piece of the advertising puzzle, and marketers are all vying for a bite.
But there are also some beneficiaries of music festivals; small-scale business owners and ordinary people.
In the case of Sand Music Festival, handcraft makers, food vendors as well as fishermen made some cash out of their businesses.
A stroll around Sunbird Livingstonia Beach campsite led you to countless makeshift stalls, stocked with different items ready for sale.
From selling Busy Signal-branded T-shirts, as well as those emblazoned with Malawi and the country’s map, the hawkers also stashed handicraft such as slip-ons, jewellery, drums, curios as well tops, blouses and shorts made from chitenje.
Batiks, canvass paintings were also on sale with vendors collecting a few bucks.
Ras Malu, who was selling Rastafarian branded regalia, hailed the festival for creating big business opportunities.
“From Friday evening to Sunday night, I made K200 999 which I normally make in a week or more. The beauty of the festival is not only about how much I have made here, but the opportunities this event created for me and the connections I made with possible deals in the near future,” he enthused.
Even the illegal sale of chamba also got the spotlight at the festival just as is usually the case at the other secular shows in town.
Our investigations found that a raw roll of chamba was being sold at K1 000 or more.
“I am selling a ‘cigarette’ at K1 000 but, of course, I know others who are selling it at K1 500. I can’t disclose how much I have made but it is a fortune, something many in this or any other business here wish to make,” Ras Malu explained, smiling.
Beyond the music, even local fishermen cashed in on the festival. Apart from deliberately hiking the prices, fish was like hot cakes at the festival. Buyers were either roasting it or buying in bulk to enjoy back home.
“A lot of people love fish that even if you double the price, they will still buy. That is exactly what I have done and this festival has proved to be a money-making platform for us. These revellers are either buying the fish to take home or to enjoy it here,” said local fisherman Mussa Aubi.