Music Festivals as a Political Medium


Q Zara

It’s no news that people enjoy music. In almost all cultures, music plays a huge part in defining things about a community. Because of this, music and the artists behind it tend to have a lot of influence over people. Music festivals, which are community events involving live performances from various musicians, are very popular events attended by many people. Due to the cultural impact of music, the artists who write it tend to have a lot of influence over people. This makes music festivals a perfect opportunity for serving a purpose that’s more than just entertainment, whether it be raising awareness for something or representing something bigger.
This idea isn’t something new, however. Music festivals originated in the activism of the 1950’s. Over time, however, they became more corporate, focusing more on the entertainment and revenue of the event rather than pushing a point. Recently however, the trend of music festivals as political venues has been becoming progressively more frequent. More and more people involved in the events are motivated to make a change, and are choosing to do that through this medium.
One notable example that has been happening annually for almost two decades is The Essence Festival, with its tagline, “the party with a purpose.” It debuted in 1995, intended as a one-time celebration of the 25th anniversary of the magazine Essence, is a magazine targeted primarily towards African-American women. The Essence Festival since then has become the largest event celebrating African-American culture and music in the US.
A fairly more recent music festival is ROTHBURY, also known as the Electric Forest Festival. Founded in 2008, it’s an event that last 4 days, and is a music event committed to spreading word about climate change and pushing for clean energy alternatives. One of its goals is to produce a near zero waste concert.