Living the Sweetlife


Below is a news summary by Tabatha Bell, an Entertainment Management student at Missouri State University.

(from Billboard Magazine, April 21, 2012) In the United States, festivals sponsored by big brands are hard to come by due to financial situations. However, Virgin Mobile successfully produced just that. The Sweetlife Food and Music Festival is on its third year. Jonathan Neman, Nicolas Jammet, and Nathaniel Ru run a salad and frozen yogurt chain known as Sweetgreen, and came up with the idea of the music festival on the side. This year, the main stage features Avicii, Kid Cudi, the Shins, Explosions in the Sky, Fitz and the Tantrums, and more. General admission costs 75 dollars and VIP passes are 125 dollars.

“When we started our business, it wasn’t just about what we did, but why we do it,” Neman said. “We didn’t want to just serve food, we wanted to show people that they can be healthy and still have fun. For us, that path leads straight to music, which is really our passion.” The idea of the music festival came when Sweetgreen’s Washington D.C. store opened with dismal sales. It changed when the owners started blasting music in the parking lots on weekends. They claim that it changed the way people viewed their restaurant all in a short amount of time.

The festival started off small until the electronic indie band Hot Chip came to play a show. It was after the performance that the owners decided to get a little bit more ambitious with expansion. After signing on the Strokes to play at the festival, their attendance grew to 15,000 attendees. They expanded the festival so it became about more than just food or music, but rather those two things combined, and raising awareness for eco-friendly living. Economically, the sizeable profits that the festival has been making is going to different charities, including the DC Central Kitchen.

The store is now looking to expand all over the country.