The Wave Gathering Festival coming back to Asbury Park this June 19-21 is excellent news! This festival, which has brought hundreds of bands and singer-songwriters to Asbury Park, has improved every year and has added a few new wrinkles (including a free streetfair one day) that should help this year be great as well. A quick look at the bigger names sponsoring the festival is excellent news too. Or so I thought...
A closer look at the sponsor websites show a disturbingly low amount of coverage for the upcoming festival, which is just over three weeks away. This, unfortunately, corresponds somewhat with the lack of media coverage for the event. Many writers have contacted me recently to see if I had received any press releases or had any news about the festival because they had not received anything. Press releases were finally received last week. I even know some writers who decided against doing stories because they were disappointed at the way it was handled.
Major festivals generally have advertising and media coverage saturated by this point in time. Hopefully the sponsors will step things up, but the question is also out there as to what are these sponsors doing for the festival? Money is obviously a good thing, but is it really so hard to put up a banner ad on your website? Some of the sponsor sites I checked were simply running their own house ads instead of promoting a festival for which they are a sponsor of. That just doesn't seem right to me.
I checked NJ Transit - no ads, which made sense since they rarely have ads on the site (it would have been nice to see a special ad/promotion for the festival though); News12 didn't have anything on the festival; neither did the website for the Lakewood Blue Claws or the New Jersey Department of Tourism site (where I was really hoping to see an ad).
Then it was on to the big guns - the entertainment related sponsors. The Asbury Park Press let me down by failing to have any mention of the Wave Festival on their main page, article pages, or the sections for Entertainment and Music.
WRAT did have a small mention of the festival on its main page, which was good (but not as much as I would have expected) and Metromix - the main sponsor of the festival this year - has a Wave Gathering ticket contest on the main page, but no ads anywhere else. In fact, they were one of the websites running a house ad for Metromix's Summer Guide rather than an ad for the Wave! Even their music main page (http://jerseyshore.metromix.com/music) failed to have any mention or ad promoting the festival. They are doing a major ticket giveaway on Facebook and Twitter, but would it kill them to run some ads for the festival?
It's hard for me to fathom why the major sponsors aren't even helping to promote the festival at this late juncture. As I said, money is great but the festival also needs buzz and the festival organizers should demand some help from these sponsors. Ironically, several websites that helped promote and sponsor the show in previous years are doing more this time around even though they are not listed as sponsors. Credit goes out to:AsburyMusician.com
and our sites: NewJerseyStage.com/AsburyMusic.com
These sites all have the Wave Festival prominently featured on their websites. I guess old friends are sometimes a festival's best friends. I only hope that the Wave didn't make a mistake in not bringing someone like The Aquarian more into the fold. That is unquestionably the number one music publication in the area right now and word from employees is that they were a bit upset at what some perceive as being snubbed.
Make no mistake, I am very much looking forward to this year's festival and hope to continue the AsburyMusic.com tradition of providing the best Wave coverage anywhere, but I worry that the media coverage may not have been spread out as much as in previous years. We are not in an area where everybody reads the same publication or listens to just one radio station. If the coverage isn't spread out enough, many people who would have loved to attend the Wave may not even know about the festival.
In other words, money might not be everything. The right partners might be what you need more. The Wave organizers should demand their sponsors to be such partners...
Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at email@example.com.