Quite a few people in social media have been buzzing with the news that Tomorrowland will be expanding to every continent including North America. We later learned that the man behind the North American expansion is Robert Sillerman, the billionaire with a billion dollar budget and the ambition to own a significant chunk of the EDM organizations in America. He's already picked up Dayglow, a few Miami clubs, and now he will allegedly be behind future Tomorrowland and Sensation events in North America in a joint partnership with ID&T. Not bad at all for a year's work.
Part of the magic of Tomorrowland was the mystique of it being located in Belgium, it's limited number of tickets available for international buyers, the instant sell out, and the amazing structures that serve as stages for the DJs - all of that created a unique experience and provided it significant caché. So will Tomorrowland's expansion turn into an instant success in America? Probably. However, there remains significant competition in the North American scene as there is already a wide array of festivals to choose from including Ultra, EDC, Electric Zoo, Hard, and Coachella.
The more important question to ask: what's new that's being brought to the table? In most of these festivals the DJ lineups are almost always exactly the same. Was anybody really that surprised by the Ultra Music Festival phase 1 lineup? Can you predict the next EDC New York lineup? I bet you can. There is too much money behind these festivals to take a risk of anything other than the tried and true lineups that you see everywhere else.
The festivals that will survive this EDM boom are the ones that have managed to create a genuine community of fans that will assemble every year for the experience and camaraderie. From my perspective the short list for these North American festivals that have done this successfully so far are EDC Las Vegas, Coachella, Shambhala, and WEMF. All four of these festivals have created something special that goes beyond the music, which is a sense of community of shared experiences that cannot be easily replicated.
As the EDM boom rolls out in earnest over the next few years it will be the festivals that bring a sense of authenticity and community together that will survive and thrive. Tomorrowland has the opportunity to be a massive success and I hope Mr. Sillerman (in a joint venture with ID&T) gives the fans the respect they deserve and create a unique destination that surpasses all expectations. The bar is set very high so let's see what a billion dollars can bring to EDM.