Music fest begins web-based ticketing

Updated: 2013-07-09 11:55

By Caroline Berg in New York (China Daily)

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A popular music festival in China is making it easier to buy tickets for the three-day party on Shanghai's beachfront this month.

The Zebra Music Festival has launched a digital service in cooperation with ticketing website to speed up and simplify the process.

"The electronic ticketing system is similar to when you buy a movie ticket online. You get a code and there are machines at the gate, so you can print out the ticket at the door," said Scarlett Li, founder and CEO of Beijing-based Zebra Media, China's biggest multimedia music platform and the festival organizer.

The annual Zebra Music Festival began in Chengdu in May 2009. A year after an earthquake hit Chengdu and devastated other parts of Sichuan province, Li wanted to do something to lift local people's spirits.

The first festival drew more than 100,000 people and encouraged Li to expand the event to more cities across China, including Hangzhou, Suzhou and Shanghai. This year, the festival will also plant roots in Beijing.

Now in its third year in Shanghai, the festival will run from July 19 to 21 at Jinshan beach. It is intended to support emerging talent, and up to 40 national and international performers will appear on three stages - representing heaven, earth and the ocean.

Last year, Billboard estimated that 60,000 people attended the three-day concert in Shanghai, generating generated some 9.8 million yuan ($1.5 million) in ticket sales. Li said she expects a daily turnout of 30,000 to 50,000 this year, for which tickets cost between 120 and 380 yuan and the main demographic is 15-35 years old.

"It is a festival with heavy music elements, but it is not a concert," she said. "We generally attract people who love music and want to party."

In addition to music, the festival will have a food court, outside karaoke, water-gun fights, a bikini party, a social event for singles, yoga, nightly screenings of classic movies, salsa dancing, soccer and other beach activities. It will also introduce a beach-friendly version of American football with the help of professional coaches from the United States.

"The NBA and basketball are very popular in China, but not football," said Eric de Fontenay, owner of MusicDish-China, a media sponsor of the Zebra festival that serves as a music-industry bridge between East and West.

Zebra has from the beginning tried to differentiate itself by transcending and music focusing on the entire festival experience, de Fontenay said.

Other big outdoor rock festivals in China include Beijing's annual Midi and Strawberry shows.

"We feel sports and music share similar audiences within similar age groups," Li said. "I think sports that don't require a lot of facility or venue support will gain popularity in China."

The festival also includes a social workshop that will encourage young people to help protect the environment and do charitable work.

"Chinese festival-goers are typically more attracted to the 'festival experience' than the musical lineup than their American counterparts, as it is still a relatively new experience for the mainland," de Fontenay said.

(China Daily USA 07/09/2013 page2)