What Conferences Can Learn from the Austin City Limits Music Festival

October 07, 2015 - By: Sarah Pease

Chances are while channel surfing you’ve come across the PBS show, “Austin City Limits.” Started by
Bill Arthos in 1975 with nothing more than $7,000 and Willie Nelson, it’s grown to become the longest-running live musical concert show on television and an American cultural treasure. It’s also grown into a popular music festival. Founded in 2002, the
Austin City Limits (ACL) Music Festival has gone from a two-day event featuring five stages and 67 bands, to a two consecutive-weekend event with eight stages and over 140 artists. Here are three takeaways from ACL that you can use at your next conference:
Expand Your Comfort Zone For years the primary purpose of the TV show was to showcase Texas singer/songwriters. The decision to include other country, rock, and blues artists is what helped them reach a wider audience. Now, the show and festival includes acts like
Foo Fighters and Pearl Jam. Sometimes something new leads to something great.
Have a Heart Consider a charity tie-in to your conference.
ACL Cares allows festivalgoers the opportunity to easily interact with local, nonprofit organizations. This provides engagement and education beyond simply attending the festival. The key is to choose like-minded nonprofits that fit with your conference’s demographics so that it complements, not complicates the participant experience.
Embrace Technology We know this seems like a no-brainer, but participant convenience is a must. The ACL Music Festival offers
an official app that lets people create a custom schedule or test their music knowledge for the chance to win festival merchandise or tickets to exclusive ACL Night Shows! And, let’s not forget the
cashless wristbands. Which takeaway would you use at your next conference? Tell us in the comments!
Photo via Instagram: @charles.reagan and @aclfestival