The following entry is a record in the “Catalogue of Catastrophe” – a list of failed or troubled projects from around the world.
Project name : Fyre Festival
Project type : Music festival
Date : Apr 2017
Cost : Undeclared
The execution of a large-scale music festival can be a complex Project Management challenge. The bigger the event, and the higher the expectations, the more challenging it becomes. Throw in a remote location, a lack of event planning experience, lashings of social media hype and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
What might have been a modern day Woodstock, became a modern day laughing stock. Conceived as a high-end music event on a private island in the Bahamas, the Fyre Festival fizzled to the point where the enduring image is a photo of a sad looking cheese sandwich. The hype for the event promised top bands, high-end accommodations and top chefs. The marketing conjured up images of guests being flown in by private jet, while living in an Instagram dream. Bling, beaches, beauty and bands!
It turns out that creating a dream is easier than creating a reality and the planning necessary to fulfil the expectations fell short by an Instagram-exaggerated mile. The resulting calamity meant there were no high-end bands (in fact almost no music at all), no high-end food (hence the photo of the rather sad looking cheese sandwich that became the enduring image) and a rather rough looking camp site. As one attendee reported “school buses took us to the festival. It was a wasteland. Mattresses on the floor, diggers everywhere, no order at all. [We were told to] ‘grab a tent’ and it was literally a free for all. [They] were awful – they were all damp, had rips in them and wouldn’t close at all – totally unsafe.” – Attendee interview in the Independent April 2017.
While Woodstock may have been ‘a trip’, the Fyre Festival simply stumbled. Perhaps for a project born of the social media age, it’s fitting that the resulting face-plant will be on face-book for evermore.
One redeeming point does lie in the new frontier of comedy (comment sections in social media). Among the comments from YouTube:
- Budget : 98% Social media 2% Tents and sandwiches
- Woodstock says a lot about the sixties. Live aid says a lot about the eighties. FYRE festival says a lot about today
- Who says Fyre was a failure? Instead of entertaining thousands, it entertained MILLIONS
- Never in my life did I think I would laugh at a picture of a cheese sandwich for 30 minutes
Contributing factors as reported in the press:
Pure lack of Project Management and organization. Allowing expectations to inflate beyond the reality.