The heavy sponsorship is another feature that makes FreeFest unusual, Speer said. Last year, there were between 10 and 12 sponsors, Faris said. There were also groups of Virgin volunteers polling attendees how likely they were to switch cell phone carriers. On the day of the festival, fans can again count on being bombarded with ads from all corners at Merriweather grounds.
Fans have complained before, but Speer said organizers handle it appropriately. “Sponsorship could have been really in your face and obnoxious, but most people I talked to were not bothered by it. They thought of it as a trade off.”
To FreeFest's disadvantage, it comes at the very end of music festival season. Coachella took place in April and Lollapalooza is scheduled for August in Chicago. Still, Hurwitz said one of his goals is for FreeFest to become a musical arbiter in the manner of those festivals.
“I would like for people to look at us as an endorser, as in and out list,” he said. “We're looking to turn people onto new music.”
Virgin Mobile FreeFest 2011 line-up:
The Black Keys
Cee Lo Green
TV on the Radio
Empire of the Sun
Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
Two Door Cinema Club
Bombay Bicycle Club.
Eclectic MethodTeddybearsAn earlier version of this article misstated the date tickets will be given away. It is Friday, July 15.
The Sun regrets the error.
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