Chance the Rapper may be back with new music, but Miami will have to wait a little longer to see him in action. Hot off the highly-anticipated release of his debut studio album “The Big Day”, the 26-year-old rapper was set to headline the first Miami Beach Pop (MBP) festival along with acts Daddy Yankee and Kygo.
The festival was set to run from Nov. 8-10, 2019, but it was abruptly postponed just one month before showtime on Oct. 8. The event planners cited “unforeseen circumstances” for the pushback in their official statements made on Instagram and the event website.
South Florida has been a growing hotspot for music festivals over the past two decades, in large part because of the success of EDM mega-show Ultra. Genre-specific festivals such as Fort Lauderdale’s Tortuga Country Music Festival continue to thrive, as do star-studded newcomers such as Rolling Loud and Wynwood’s III Points. Such festivals appeal to Florida natives and tourists alike, and have become destinations in and of themselves for music fans. Miami Beach Pop attempted to recreate the success of these giants by providing an idealistic weekend getaway, but it seems like its bubble has popped. So, what went wrong?
The young music festival promised customers a lot for their $249 three-day tickets, from yoga on the beach and sustainability efforts to a “groundbreaking culinary showcase” of local Miami flavors. They aggressively marketed not only themselves but the city of Miami on their social media, attempting to reel in tourists with the lure of an all-inclusive music festival experience in paradise. A campus-marketing initiative was even implemented to target students at Florida schools such as the University of Miami and Florida International University.
Despite the promise of postponement, local outlets such as The Miami Herald have strongly suggested that they believe MBP has been canceled. While figures weren’t released and officials from the festival have declined to comment on this article, there has been much speculation from news sources that low ticket sales were the reason for the decision. As much as the festival promised to deliver, it might have been too little too late. Established music festivals market year-round, posting Instagram stories and videos non-stop to generate hype. Festival front runner Ultra released tickets for their March 2020 festival back in August of 2019, leaving customers plenty of time to get excited about the festival. Miami Beach POP, on the other hand, uploaded their first Instagram post in May of this year and did not release tickets for sale until mid-June, giving festival-goers almost 6 months to purchase tickets.
Campus marketing initiatives didn’t begin until fall, as students were on vacation during the summer, and by this time ticket prices had already increased from $199 to $249 for a festival only a few months away. As the festival was relatively unknown, they had little turnover time from when customers first heard about the festival to when they would have to decide on buying tickets. This late marketing strategy may have also caused identity problems for the festival, as its “vibe” wasn’t established.
Patrons of Ultra go decked out in psychedelic rave gear, while Tortuga fans don daisy dukes, bathing suits and cowboy hats. MBP, on the other hand, attempted to center itself as a pop festival yet it lacked the A-list lineup that made genre-nonconforming festivals such as Bonaroo, Coachella and Florida’s own Okeechobee musical festival so popular. While priced less than Ultra, tickets for MBP still weren’t cheap, and a student who only wished to see Chance the Rapper may just wait for another solo tour instead of also having to see the other acts.
The mish-mash of artists, which the festival touted as a strong suit, could have been part of its demise, as some customers might not have liked enough of the diverse artists to justify spending the money on the festival. While the official reason for Miami Beach Pop’s postponement is still under wraps, late marketing, high ticket prices and a lack of definitive identity could have created barriers to purchasing passes for many would-be customers. While the ship has sailed on dancing to “Gasolina” with Daddy Yankee on the beach this Nov., you can always check out the much more affordable Okeechobee festival with four-day admission for just $279 and just as diverse a lineup as MBP tried to offer. If you’re still holding out for that all-encompassing Miami musical experience, then we suggest grabbing a speaker and a few friends for a picnic at South Pointe Park.
words_kylea henseler, photo_marc fanelli-isla, courtesy of Unsplash