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EDM Festivals Keep the Off-Season Buzz Going With Big-Budget Commercials

Winter is a slow time for EDM festivals, but organizers have found one way to keep the buzz going year-round. Aftermovies, or YouTube commercials that recap the events, have emerged as festivals’ preeminent advertising tool, often drawing hundreds of thousands of views and achieving the all-important task of racking up early ticket sales for the next fest. 

The big-budget videos, which are usually between five and 20 minutes long, tend to follow a predictable but effective aesthetic: bikini-clad girls perched on a boy’s shoulders, DJs jumping with their hands in the air, bird’s-eye shots of sweaty crowds dancing in slow motion, etc.

“The films make you feel like you cannot miss the next year,” said Charly Friedrichs, who owns the Amsterdam-based film company Final Kid and produces Ultra Music Festival’s aftermovies. “They’re the best way to get all eyes back on your festival.”

Electric Zoo, Ultra Europe and TomorrowWorld, which took place in the summer, released videos in November. Some festivals, such as Ultra Miami, release aftermovies just before early-bird tickets are released in late September to boost pre-sales and build anticipation for the following year’s event. “We tease the videos days in advance,” said Ultra rep Jonathan Llewellyn, “and when they land, it’s mayhem.”

The festival responsible for kickstarting the trend is Belgium’s Tomorrowland, which posted a 20-minute video recapping its 2012 event that went viral and has since garnered nearly 120 million views on YouTube.

“Now, aftermovies are an industry standard,” says Mitchell Scott, who works for the 16-year-old Shambhala music festival in British Columbia, which invests between $65,000 to $80,000 on video production each year. 

As video has become more integral to festival marketing, the movies have become more sophisticated. Ultra Miami’s 2014 aftermovie, “United We Dance,” was shot in 4K (four times HD) and had an original score by the DJ duo Vicetone. And Insomniac CEO Pasquale Rotella has an in-house video content team of 10 staffers who produce trailers, aftermovies and announcement videos for the company’s festivals. Most of the videos cost under $100,000 to make, depending on the festival, but for this year’s Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, he upped the ante and invested about $4 million in feature-length film called “Under The Electric Sky.”

Rotella said aftermovies are one of the most effective ways to attract first-time ticket buyers. “It’s hard to describe these events sometimes, so we like to offer a link that fans can forward to their friends,” he said. Going forward, Insomniac will invest more in trailers, which are similar to aftermovies but focus more on the upcoming event rather than tracing the last one.” But he has no plans to stop making aftermovies. “There’s value there or we wouldn’t be doing it,” he says. 

This article first appeared in the Dec. 13 issue of Billboard.