Tomorrowland is creating a premium music festival experience | CNBC Reports

It’s one of the biggest dance music parties in the world, hundreds of thousands of festival goers flock to Tomorrowland in Belgium during two jam-packed weekends of live electronic dance music. But like many large-scale live music festivals, music is just one part of business at Tomorrowland. So we are walking into the festival, it is literally stepping into the world of tomorrow, the whole festival here is cashless. To make purchases you’ll need a wristband, which is also your ticket in. By the way these wristbands they can get pretty expensive. How much did you pay for that one? I paid like 790 euros. That’s a lot of money. Concessions are valued in Tomorrowland’s own virtual currency, called pearls. So the cost for popcorn is three pearls, which is about five euros. But forget carnival food like hotdogs and fries. Here you can get healthy options like organic salad from a local Belgian farmer, or frozen yogurt with fresh fruit, or gourmet diners can enjoy a three-course tasting menu from a world-class chef, while still dancing to the beats of a popular DJ. Music festivals like Tomorrowland are increasingly catering to a high-end audience with a wide range of luxurious add-on options. Here in DreamVille, Tomorrowland guests can opt for a VIP experience with their own cabanas for the weekend. It’ll set you back around 2000 euros, but you get your on bed, jacuzzi and even a 24-hour reception desk. If dancing to the music isn’t enough of a workout for you, you can still break a sweat here at the gym on site. The luxury accommodations are a big shift from the scene at festivals like Woodstock nearly 50 years ago. World famous DJ Armin van Buuren says Tomorrowland has its own counterculture. I think this is the Woodstock of 2017. It’s a cultural movement, it’s beyond the festival. It’s a music festival combined with a theme park, combined with a food festival, combined with a cultural event. Festivals like Tomorrowland are one way businesses and artists are reaching a younger generation choosing to spend major cash on once-in-a-lifetime experiences – all captured online. Those people if they like you, they’ll become new fans or friends and they’ll follow you, they’ll share it. Tomorrowland’s growth has been explosive since the festival launched in 2005. 400,000 people attend during two weekends and tickets sell out in minutes. The festival has put Belgium in the global spotlight with the prime minister taking a front row seat to the show this year. You can choose from 16 different stages here featuring some of the biggest names in electronic dance music. As an artist, when you look out and you see people holding up flags and you see flags from all kinds of countries, this is the most international festival out there. Tomorrowland is trying to capitalize on its global popularity, but the festival has struggled to replicate its success outside of Belgium. A Tomorrowland concert in Barcelona this year was canceled when the stage caught fire from a technical malfunction. Separate Tomorrowland and TomorrowWorld festivals launched in Brazil and the U.S. were shut down after a couple of years. Organizers say it can be challenging to pair with local agencies who just don’t have as much festival experience. Tomorrowland is a very difficult festival because we need lots of manpower to do it. Lots of energy, lots of time, and you cannot do this in one year. We really need the time to make it good in other countries, too. Smaller music festivals can have a hard time keeping up to create one-of-a-kind experiences like this. That’s why a couple of companies are dominating the music festival market. Live Nation and AEG run some of the world’s biggest music festivals like Lollapalooza in Chicago and Coachella in Indio, California. They have the resources to take risks independent festivals can’t. Tomorrowland is still run by its founding team, but the festival experience has come a long way from its first show more than a decade ago. When you think about how far music festivals have come over the years, it’s just amazing.