Bonnaroo 2013: Superfly’s Jonathan Mayer on Lineup, Legacy, Why Mumford Are a ‘Bulls-eye’ for Fest

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(from Billboard, February 22, 2013) Bonnaroo, a diverse music and arts festival set in Manchester, Tennessee, will be hosting 125 bands and 20 comedians on 13 stages this summer from June 13-16. Paul McCartney will be headlining this year, along with Mumford & Sons and the Lumineers. Bonnaroo also has a YouTube festival called Bonnaroo365, where fans help program the festival by submitting their own videos promoting artists they would like to see. This engages the fans and helps them become a part of the brand. Superfly President, Jonathan Mayer, wants to not only keep up with the diversity of Bonnaroo’s acts but to also introduce fans to new music. The lineup will feature many upcoming artists, but also have well-known names to drive ticket sales and keep a balance.

Mayer states that “Each one of these great festivals have their own unique identity, from the venue, the setting, the location, the mix of artists, just the personality. We really don’t think about what everyone else is doing.” He also states that they want to build their own identity, and raise the stakes for themselves by continuing to do interesting things without worrying about everyone else.

Festivals play an important part in artist development today. Proof of this is the band Mumford & Sons, who will be on the main headlining stage instead of a tent. Mayer calls the band “a bulls-eye in terms of the Bonnaroo aesthetic, what they represent.”

Competition in selling tickets for festivals is becoming tougher than it was when Bonnaroo began. Even with this in mind, Mayer is confident that the lineup will make up for lost sales days. He stated, “We’re 12 years in, but it feels like there continues to be great momentum. Just having the level artists we have participating is exciting.”