Before leaving UP Magazine last year, Vincent Libosso aka #TheEventsKahuna went in-depth looking at the future of events in 2016. He shares with us some of his predictions!

“While the Kenyan live scene is vibrant, we do not have an event that people always look forward to. We have a series of concerts but this does not make Kenya a destination for someone who wants to experience the best of Kenyan music”—Beth Achitsa, Regional Editor (East Africa) for Music In Africa Website.

For a growing number of us, the capital of Kenya is becoming equally synonymous with the very best in events, concerts and festivals. A rise of a musical intellectual class that goes for substance rather than hype will be of the norm for 2016.

“We are definitely witnessing the surge of the center of our own intellectual and art-filled universe,” UP Magazine Creative Director, Rand Pearson.

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“In 2015 alone we saw dozens of festivals coming on board to crack the lucrative event production industry (UP Live, Sondeka, Storymoja and Africa Nouveau, to name just a few of the recent headliners). We are spoiled for choice.”

It is these events that make Nairobi a city of extremes and contradictions. A deejay tells us that 2016 will be a year of more music festivals and outdoor events. A spoken word artist tells us 2016 is the year for poets and creatives to throw off their yokes. With a surging market, coupled by an appetite for good events, 2016 looks to be big for events.

“I think the growing incomes will see a rise in tailored experiences. Revelers will want to have more say in what they want in an event so as to suit their personal interests. New events companies will flourish from catering to niche clients,” says Timothy Mworia, an Editor with Kenya Buzz.

We sat down with Beth Achitsa from Music in Africa, an information and exchange web portal dedicated to the African music sector on her prediction for 2016, and she had a lot of interesting insights.

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“I think there will be more interesting developments in 2016 especially when it comes to music events. We have seen the birth of new festivals in Nairobi and there should be more enterprising people come up with great events. On the reggae front I think things will get better. This year we witnessed Scottish band Mungo’s Hi-Fi perform in Nairobi, courtesy of Bad Mambo Productions. I think the trend will keep up.”

Florence Mugi, an ardent social chronicler was quick to disagree, “I think they will be the same old replication of ideas.”

Death of ‘Event’ and rise of ‘Experience’

Blinky Bill

Blinky Bill termed his concert last year ‘an experience,’ as was the case with UP Live IV. Industry experts Riz Ibrahim and Zelalem Mulat, who helped produce UP Live IV, used the word “experience” more often than the industry staple, “event.”

Events are about diversity, scale and ambition. But with a new dawn in producing smarter events, many brands are looking to leave an experience with event goers. By providing consumers with engaging experiences in which they can actively participate and interact with the brand in some capacity increases the attendees’ likelihood to become more emotionally invested in that brand and the product or service it provides.

Event marketers are also going for experiential marketing. The Advent Blog summarises this,

“Experiential Marketing connects audiences with the authentic nature of a brand through participation in personally relevant, credible and memorable encounters. Whereas traditional marketing has focused on mass communication using rational, left-brain directed persuasion, experiential marketing focuses on making a personalized connection using emotional, right-brain directed involvement.”

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UK’s NEC’s Marketing Director, Martin Clarke is quick to point out the need to sell an experience. “We sell an experience, where the ticket sale is just the start of your relationship with your customers. The same is true of inviting people to free-to-attend events (like trade shows), so why should the process differ? As venue teams – similar to organisers – we measure our success by the audience we deliver, number of tickets we sell, the speed at which they are sold, and through the ticketing systems we use, but the reality is…tickets are not what we sell. Not as a standalone product anyway.”

NEC hosts over 500 events in a year and is UK’s No.1 venue. Mark Norman, a lecturer in Event Management agrees, “It is their job to create a really memorable experience, and this requires a creative mind alongside skills such as project planning and people management.”

What to expect from 2016

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“Expect more festivals and EDM events,” Vikki Kimani who organizes The Ice Cream Social event tells us. But Gisa Brian who is behind The Noise on The Lake event (Kelele Ku Nalubaale) in Uganda sees 2016 as the year for more regional appealing events.

UP Nairobi in partnership with Soysambu Conservancy is presenting an exclusive three day music festival at Lake Elementaita on Feb 26-28. According to the producers this will introduce an international multi-day music and arts festival in the cradle of civilization. The short term hope is that it becomes a premium festival destination on the continent alongside Lake Malawi’s Festival of Stars and the now-exiled Festival in the Desert.

Achitsa is clear on this point, “While the Kenyan live scene is vibrant we do not have an event that people always look forward to. We have a series of concerts but this does not make Kenya a destination for someone who wants to experience the best of Kenyan music.”

Sandra Chege, co-producer of Sondeka Festival, challenges industry players to make one month a sole dedication festivals, “as producers we need more genuine collaborations. I strongly believe we can make September a festival month in Kenya and East Africa,” as quoted in a previous UP Magazine article.

Events photographer and videographer, James Njaro is hopeful that more corporates will get involved in 2016. His counterpart, photographer Evans Dims sees 2016 as a year for more political rallies and campaigns. Should the event industry embrace one another in one big hug and collaborate for more professionalism in the future? That may seem like a lot to ask.

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Beth Achitsa tells us, “One thing is sure we will witness more reggae concerts in Nairobi in 2016. Definitely more organizers will collaborate to come up with exciting programs.” Mworia is also optimistic, “My wildest prediction is that Nairobi will become a hotspot for international musicians’ world tours in 2016. Beyonce?”

We’ll have to sit mum on this prediction because as we saw in 2015, no international artists will come here for fear being ripped off by shoddy Kenya promoters and producers. In line with international standards, artists will stipulate payment before performing, but often fail to receive payment, as was the case with 2Chainz in 2014.

Article remains the intellectual property of UP Magazine Nairobi and the writer’s, and was only shared on promotional basis!