DJs are the heart of any music festival, setting the tone and atmosphere that attendees crave. Their influence at the BREAKAWAY Music Festival extends beyond mere music, impacting the entire festival vibe. DJs are integral to the festival’s success and are woven into the fabric of the event, contributing significantly to its overall ambiance and visitor enjoyment of the night, week, or weekend.

Integrating a festival’s core values into a DJ’s performance is crucial. At Breakaway Music Festival, artists are selected for their musical talent and ability to embody the festival’s spirit. This alignment ensures a seamless experience for attendees, with each performance enhancing the festival’s ethos. DJs are encouraged to engage with the audience, reflect the festival’s mission, and stay true to their unique style, creating an engaging and cohesive event for all.

We had a chance to sit down with Zach Ruben, Co-Founder of Breakaway Music Festival, to pick his brain on precisely this topic to get an insider perspective on how DJs can bring intentionality and personality to a festival to raise the collective vibe and help make the festival greater than the sum of all its parts.

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What role do DJs play in setting the vibe and atmosphere of the festival compared to everything outside of the music itself?

DJs and music festivals go hand in hand. Without them, we wouldn’t have the festivals. We book artists of all levels, but our headliners are typically relied on to drive excitement for the entire festival and, of course, push ticket sales. When we book artists, they all have a responsibility to deliver a great performance. The festival experience is like a woven cloth—the DJs, activations, and production are all weaved tightly together to create a cohesive experience for the consumer.

How can DJs and artists integrate the festival’s core values into their performances?

Artists are booked across many different kinds of festivals. When artists book any show, they make a commitment to embody the spirit and energy of where they’re playing to best engage the crowd, while still remaining true to their sonic and visual identities. We bring in artists who align with our target audiences, and the artists then amplify their experience.

What advice would you give to DJs who want to participate in the festival in terms of aligning with its goals?

Be active from the moment you’re booked. Pre-festival marketing is just as important as putting on a great show – take the opportunity to do things like merch collabs and meet and greets. Not only will this align you with the festival’s spirit and allow you to interact with the audience, but it’s also a surefire way to grow your fan base, it’s a win-win.

The most important questions for artists to ask all center around who the audience is. Then, it’s important for the artist to understand the festival’s mission – why do we do what we do, how are we making this special for the fans? If they can understand who they’re playing for, they can tailor their sets and energy accordingly, weaving another thread to the woven cloth that is the music festival.

With the industry going in the direction it is, do you see festivals being more selective about artists and DJs who align with their goals and ethos, or will ticket sales and draw override the vibe?

Unfortunately, the tug-of-war game we play with ticket sales vs. vibes and ethos will not end soon. Putting on a successful festival has huge economic implications, but we’ve learned that with the right headliners, there’s still plenty of room for the smaller acts. Breakaway Music Festival is, at our core, committed to serving the underserved, and this includes our artists. We promote having an inclusive booking process and take it seriously – even if this sometimes overrides ticket value.

We’ve also found great success with partner stages for “surprise sets” – for example, at Breakaway Ohio, our ongoing partnership with Jose Cuervo allowed us to squeeze in six extra sets from smaller artists like SIDEQUEST, ZUEZEU and Press Play. We love being able to activate in this way with our partners to not only bring more music to fans, but to engage with more incredible artists that may not have originally been on our setlists.

Share a nugget of wisdom on this topic you think every single DJ and artist should know. Keep it punchy, a sentence or two at most!

Recognize your role in the overall ecosystem, support the festival promoters who are supporting you, and try to make everything a two-way street

The post The Role of DJs in Shaping the Festival Experience: Breakaway Festival’s Founder Shares Advice For Artists appeared first on Magnetic Magazine.