Music Festival: It’s All About The Creation

music & arts: Entry 1 of 3 in Festival Event Planning

Erie Art Museums Blue and Jazz Festival

One of Tammy’s Successful Events
Click to see the Erie Art Museums Event Page


Believe it or not, the summer is actually coming, and nice weather means one thing for music…outdoor concerts! But these concerts don’t just grow out of fields and shutdown streets, they grow from the fertile soils of hard work, teamwork and planning.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing one of Erie, PA’s premiere event planners, Tammy Roche, Director of Marketing and Development at the Erie Art Museum. Each year the Art Museum puts on a fantastic Blues and Jazz Festival at Frontier Park in Erie, PA. Tammy plans the whole thing and has been nothing but successful. Here are her insights into outdoor festival event planning.


We are assuming that the concert is an existing event, that is, it occurred last year.  For a multi-day event, Tammy is typically in the planning stages 9 months ahead of time. Planning starts with a debriefing for the previous year.  The team discusses issues such as the overal success and areas for improvement.  Once the initial bumps have been ironed, its time to be proactive.

“I want the event to be unlike any other event in the community” – Tammy Roche


Planning is done with committees, by leveraging expertise and talent, more work is done, and it is done by qualified and passionate individuals. This is the key to event planning is being a facilitator, the  overall genius comes through individual contributions. In order to direct the proper talent to the proper outlet, the event is broken down into categories.  Normally there are sub-committees for each category:

  • Music
  • Logistics/Technical
  • Vendors
    Crafter/Artisan Subcommittee
  • Food/Alcohol
  • Community Programming
  • Promotional


After committees are established, a regular meeting schedule is derived within which tasks are created and feedback is required from everyone at every meeting. According to Tammy, the key to productive and effective event planning meetings is to make everyone feel like the are contributing … everyone leaves with a task and everyone reports back.


Erie Art Museums Blue and Jazz Festival

Early Afternoon Crowd at the Blues and Jazz Fest
Click to enlarge

Planning a cultural event needs to have some strategy behind it. Typically, Tammy thinks in terms of: “What does this event bring to the community?” The planning team must decide how the event will be something unique, fresh and new, and most importantly, something that you can’t always experience.  Thinking about the goal of the event is important. It is where the blue print for the experience comes from. Some goals include cultural development, community economic development,  or a cultural/charitable benefit.


Once the entire committee is on the same page about strategy and goals, the rest of planning has a benchmark with which to work from. Everything from venue, music selection, vendor selection and gate payment will be build from the strategy.


Let the planning process truly begin. The proper committee proceeds by locking down the venue as far in advance as possible. Typically, with an ongoing festival, this is done immediately after the THIS year for the NEXT year.  Then permitting and ordinances need to be worked out.  If it is a public park or location, the proper public leaders need to contacted to establish logistical items such as parking, restroom facilities, after dark permits, electricity, noise, etc.


The next step is the musical experience. Next week’s blog will completely focus on the musical aspect of the festival.  We will explore selection, booking, contracts, and production.

The Blue and Jazz Festival is one of Nick’s favorite gigs at Raven Sound. Not only is it amazing to experience the atmosphere and music, it is just as great to be apart of it.

Work Hard, Take It Easy

Nick Corsi

Follow Me on Twitter: NickCorsi

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5 Responses to “Music Festival: It’s All About The Creation”

  1. Thinking Big Works » Blog Archive » Music Festival: It’s All About The Music Says:

    [...] This blog post is the second in a series of 3. It is a look into musical festival planning through the insights of one of Erie PA’s best event planners, Tammy Roche. If you haven’t read the first article, “Event Planning: Its All About the Creation,” check it out here. [...]

  2. Thinking Big Works » Blog Archive » Music Festivals: It’s All About … Planning Says:

    [...] Thinking Big Works » Blog Archive » Music Festival: It’s All About The Music on Music Festival: It’s All About The CreationPeter Graham on Network Marketing No-No #8 – Our Plan Pays A Gazillion dollars!!!eCopt on We Deliver [...]

  3. Ruth Says:

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  4. NickCorsi Says:

    Thank you Ruth, I appreciate your kind words!

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