How Primavera Sound Partnered With the U.N. For 2019's Most Globally Conscious Music Festival

Jo Hale/Redferns
Miley Cyrus performs at the Radio 1 Big Weekend at Stewart Park on May 25, 2019 in Middlesbrough, England.

The Barcelona's gender-equal lineup - featuring major acts like Miley Cyrus, Erykah Badu and Rosalía - will host an AR activation in partnership with the United Nations.

Earlier this month, Primavera Sound, the annual pop and alternative music festival held in Barcelona, continued its path of progression by announcing a multi-year partnership with the United Nations focused on the U.N. 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.    

The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), agreed upon by world leaders at the U.N. in 2015, includes 17 actions designed to end world poverty, protect the planet and combat both gender discrimination and sexual harassment, among other initiatives.

The reason why the U.N. reached out to Primavera, in an effort to ally the festival’s platform with its own? Primavera Sound’s gender-equal 2019 lineup, which includes several female main-stage acts like Erykah Badu, Rosalía, Robyn and Solange, in addition to Future, Interpol and J Balvin; Miley Cyrus will also perform at this year’s festival, a late addition following Cardi B’s cancellation.

“Gender equality is one of the goals in the [U.N.] campaign,” Marta Pallares, Head of International Communications for Primavera, tells Billboard. The Primavera team met with the U.N. SDG Action Campaign in Barcelona earlier this year, and were impressed by the long-running festival’s track record of inclusivity. 

“These development goals are not by the U.N., but by all of us -- the leader of the 193 countries of the United Nations agreed with those goals,” Pallares explains. “But it’s up to all of us to use them, to make them ours, and to introduce them into our lives. They went looking for options to reach a younger audience, so they proposed to get us into an alliance.”

The U.N. activation on the grounds of Primavera Sound, which kicks off its 19th edition in earnest at Barcelona’s Parc Del Forum on Thursday (May 30), will be an augmented reality campaign centered on five sets of wings, representing five development goals. 

“Each participant will be able to take pictures with the five sets of wings -- one on gender equality, climate action, ending poverty, ending hunger and [protecting marine life],” says Marina Ponti, Head of the U.N. SDG Action Campaign. “They will be able to take pictures with the beautiful augmented reality wings, and they will be committing to take action for the goal. It’s leveraging technology and creativity, music and something a little bit fun, to get people understanding that these goals really are a priority of everybody, no matter where you live.”

Meanwhile, Primavera Sound will an increased commitment to environmental sustainability: for the first time, the festival has fully removed plastic cups in favor of reusable polypropylene cups, with 19 different different cups on the grounds, each sporting a different historical Primavera lineup. The fest has also implemented discrimination and sexual harassment information and training to staff and sponsors; an interactive plastic bottle recycling bank, with participants entered into drawings for prizes; a new collaboration with Apropa, an organization focused on bringing cultural events to people at risk of social exclusion; and a partnership with OXFAM to give excess food from the festival grounds to the food bank.

As several major music festivals have faced criticism in recent years for featuring male-dominated lineups, Pallares is proud that Primavera’s “50-50 lineup” in 2019 helped attract the U.N. to its cause. The Barcelona-based music promotion company, which launched Primavera Sound in 2001 and has since expanded to a counterpart in Portugal (happening later in June), “has women in all the departments,” says Pallares. “We want the festival to be a safe space for everyone.”

Ponti adds that the U.N.’s partnership with Primavera will last at least three years, “so [there will be] more campaigns in the future,” she says. “We really want to leverage this opportunity to communicate with this large audience, and convey the importance of this message.”

Festivals 2019