After 18 months of no festivals, Live Nation head of strategic partnerships Ashley Stevenson spent the summer helping sponsors reconnect with fans at events including Latitude (pictured), Creamfields, Reading & Leeds, The Isle of Wight Festival and Wireless.

It’s fair to say the live music industry has been on a journey none of us could have imagined two years ago. From Sefton Park and the Download Pilot to Melvin Benn and his team ushering in cinch presents Latitude as the first major camping show to kick off the season – the amount of relentless hard work from people across the industry has been nothing short of inspirational.

Brand partners fully understood the importance of this summer not only for the industry, but for live music fans across the nation. For many of us, working with partners on the return of live music to the fields of the UK was an incredibly challenging but rewarding experience. After walking festival sites and observing fans interacting with brand partners once again, below are a few lessons we learned along the way:

Do Something Unexpected for Fans: It was clear attendees welcomed and valued spontaneity this year. Co-op hosted DJ’s late into the night at their store activations, delighting unsuspecting fans in the aisles. cinch hosted surprise samba dancers, engaging and captivating dancing fans in the moment. Fans across the board truly leaned into the additive energy provided by partners.

Fan Centric Experiential Design: Keeping fans comfortable while providing new experiences was a trend we noticed. Designed with a fan mindset, Pepsi activated a viewing platform and cocktail bar at Reading and Wireless with nine private rooms with a view that fans could book in advance. This level of thoughtful design will be paramount for brands moving forward.

Anticipate Fan Needs: This year we welcomed two new headline partners – cinch and Zapp. Both are disrupting their respective industries, providing customers with new services and experience. That game changing approach was reflected in how they showed up onsite for fans at festivals. Where else could you order a poncho or a phone charger at the touch of a button – or even win a car onsite with a simple scan of a QR code?

As we wrap up 2021, we’re proud to come out of a challenging period with strong relationships and a renewed sense of what it means to work towards shared values and goals. It’s an insightful place to grow and build from.

As we look towards 2022 and 2023 as record breaking years for live music, we look forward to ushering in a new era of music experiences with our partners. If 2021 has taught us anything it’s that there’s no substitute for live music and fans are hungrier than ever for those enhanced experiences – and we’ll be here to provide.