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Dhruv Prasad talks about the inaugural Loudwire Music Festival Special

By Adrian Peel     Mar 19, 2015 in Music
Digital Journal spoke to the Executive Vice President of Live Events for Townsquare Media, the company behind Loudwire.com and the above-mentioned music festival.
Every year in June, Grand Junction, Colorado, plays host to Country Jam, an annual three-day festival that draws some of country music's best-known stars to the Centennial State (this year's headliners are Tim McGraw, Toby Keith and Keith Urban).
Now, the team behind this event are set to stage the first ever Loudwire Music Festival, three days of rock which they hope will do for the music what Country Jam has done for country music, by bringing some of the genre's most iconic performers together in a field at the height of summer.
"It came from really two places," says Mr. Prasad, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, discussing how the festival came into being. "The first is we do a festival in country music at the same location where we're doing the Loudwire Festival in western Colorado the weekend before. It's called Country Jam and it's one of the largest country music festivals in the United States.
"We wanted to extend our use of that facility. We thought it could support another festival, so we looked around to try and figure out which genre of music we wanted to do and settled on rock, principally for the second reason, which is that we also own, among other things in our company, a website called Loudwire.com.
"It's the leading website in the world for hard rock music; it has four million readers a month... So we felt like we could leverage what we were doing on Loudwire.com into a live music experience."
The team at Townsquare Media, led by Dhruv, who initially worked in investment banking in New York and in Hong Kong, before branching out into, among other things, real estate and corporate finance, began planning the event in the summer of 2014 and I asked him whether there had been any problems in getting it up and running.
"No, it's a new genre of music for us to book... Luckily we have the benefit of the writers and the music aficionados at Loudwire. Our team has an expertise, I think, in creating live events. The Loudwire folks in our company have an expertise in hard rock music, so it makes for a really good partnership.
"I don't think there were any issues... It's not a new venue to us, having done Country Jam there, and we can take advantage of a lot of the infrastructure that we put in place for that festival."
Acts already scheduled to appear at the Jam Ranch's rock spectacle include Linkin Park, Rob Zombie, Weezer and Halestorm and I wondered how the team went about securing their services, and whether any more names will be added between now and then.
"Well, talent booking is a little bit of art and a little bit of science, I think," muses the skilled businessman, who from a personal standpoint would love to see Pearl Jam on the Loudwire bill one day.
"There's a lot of data available about which acts in hard rock music draw crowds and how many tickets they sell for tour dates, how many Facebook fans they have, how many hits on YouTube...
"We sort of couple that together with our own feel as talent bookers. With the help of the folks from Loudwire we try to find acts that not only will sell tickets, but also that we think our audience is gonna be interested to see.
"What's interesting about our festival is I think there are some major headliners that people know, like for example, Linkin Park. But there are also acts that are not headliners that we think are emerging and that people will be really excited to see, like for example, Halestorm."
In answer to the second question regarding other artists being added to the lineup, Dhruv states,"Yes, our plan is to have between 20 and 30 bands... It's three days; it starts on Friday night June 26th and runs through Sunday June 28th, so we've actually only announced the headliners plus a couple of other acts.
"But we still have several acts to announce that are performing each day. Of the 20 to 30 acts that we expect to have at the festival, I think we've only announced five or six, so there's plenty more to come."
Out of curiosity, I quizzed one of the Managing Directors of FiveWire, who co-founded Townsquare Media in 2010, as to what makes his festival stand out from the pack.
"Well I think two things... First, there are actually not a lot of festivals in hard rock music in the US. There are more successful rock festivals in Europe than there are here. The US festivals that tend to be very successful either are in Alternative or in country. Hard to really put Coachella or Bonnaroo or Firefly into a specific genre...
"Rock in general has I think, very interestingly, splintered into a lot of different sub-genres and our festival offers Alternative rock, like Weezer, or more mainstream rock, like Linkin Park, or Rob Zombie or some of the other metal acts that we have on the show. I think it's very diverse, in terms of drawing from the various constituencies of rock.
"The second thing that I think is important is there are not a lot of camping festivals in rock music. We think the camping experience - the on-site experience - brings something different to the music festival landscape. Almost all of the festivals that we do have a camping component to them. For us that's very important to the music experience."
The first Loudwire Music Festival will run from June 26th to the 28th 2015.
Tickets for General Admission start at $79.
For more information, visit the festival's official website.
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