In the early days of rock concerts and festivals, the backstage experience offered food, drinks and groupies.
Now, the backstage has become an opportunity to build brand loyalty.
Organizers courted performers’ attention this weekend at the three-day TBD Fest music festival in West Sacramento. The festival, which opened Friday, features 75 national and local acts.
The behind-the-stage offerings for artists included a VIP salon tent. Inside awaited two hairstylists, a freelance makeup artist, a masseuse and a clothing bar provided by Crossroads Trading Co.
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“For our VIPs, we’re trying to create a unique experience,” said TBD producer Lisa Kennedy, who is in charge of the VIP experience and media production. “The idea behind it is when artists arrive from their travels, they’re usually tired and need time to decompress before they do their interview or their performance.”
Such perks and brand sponsorship are growing at festivals and tours nationally as well. Spending on sponsorship is expected to be roughly $1.28 billion in 2013, according to the firm IEG Research.
Kennedy said she was was eager to try the style and beauty tent at TBD after doing something similar at the South by Southwest annual music, film and interactive festival in Austin, Texas.
At SXSW, she said, companies see such promotions as a way to test new things.
“If they work, they push them out to the large festival market,” said Kennedy, a former merchandise buyer and manager for high-end clothing boutiques.
At TBD on Saturday, hairstylists Suzanne Romero and Taren Redwine, both from the Deeda hair salon in East Sacramento, waited for the first customer.
Redwine, who agreed to offer free hair services between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., did not know what to expect.
“I’m a little nervous,” she said.
Would artists want blowouts or just touch-ups? Redwine said she was prepared for anything that did not require a salon sink. She brought a power strip, trimmers, scissors and a comb. Also in her tool bag were a curling iron and styling pins.
Mike Carr, guitarist with the band Desario, was among the first to take advantage of the tent. As he sat in a chair getting a touch-up before going on stage, Carr looked amused by the idea of a free haircut.
Two racks of clothing sat nearby, manned by Caitlin Wrockloff, a clothing buyer for the midtown location of the Crossroads Trading Co. resale store.
She said she hoped a performer would choose to wear one of the many pieces of clothing offered on racks.
She sees the promotion as a win-win situation for Crossroads and the festival.
“This is a good thing – it gets everyone on the same table,” Wrockloff said. “For Crossroads, it gets us involved in something bigger than us.”