The Adult Swim Festival Is a Music Festival Like No Other

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With the rise of social media, we’ve seen an inherent increase in the number of festivals being created and re-vamped. Coachella went from booking the esteemed alternative rock band Red Hot Chilli Peppers in 2013 to giving the platform to the pop icon Ariana Grande in 2019. Where Flog Gnaw—once known as OFWGKTA Carnival—previously had Frank Ocean as a headliner in 2012, cut to 2019 and we have Drizzy Drake getting booed off the stage for not being Ocean. 

There are hundreds of festivals in California alone that have advanced with the times and tastes of the newest generation of festivalgoers and amongst these festivals rests one in its relatively infant stages. The Adult Swim Festival first launched in October of 2018 and is making a big return this weekend, November 15-16. Despite the festival’s juvenescence, the Adult Swim Festival holds a lot of power, a lot of talent, and a lot of influence that festivals who have been around since the ‘90s have yet to achieve. How might they have achieved this, you ask? Well, they’re doing the exact same thing that Coachella, EDC, and all other now millennial-driven festivals are doing: they’re evolving with the times.

Basic marketing strategy involves establishing who your target audience is—that is, who and what types of people you’re catering your product to. It’s the reason Coachella, which once catered to a more rock and indie crowd back, shifted towards artists and acts that spoke more to a Gen Z and millennial audience. Simply put, in 2019, there’s a bigger crowd for Ariana Grande and Childish Gambino than there is for Tool and The Stone Roses. 

The Adult Swim Festival, however, has a very specific, all-encompassing yet niche target audience. The people who watch Adult Swim and have an interest in what their brand has come to represent. Adult Swim launched as the late-night accompaniment to Cartoon Network in 2001, branding itself as a darker more left-of-field complement to the kid-friendly network. A lot of their cartoons, artists, and anime shows gathered attention from not only the millennial generation at the time but from generation X individuals who were more than likely watching the show after their millennial children were sent off to bed.

Adult Swim, then, caters to more than one specific generational group, on top of the fact that their festival isn’t necessarily for any one particular group. The Adult Swim Festival grabs the attention of fans of comedy, fans of music, and TV show lovers alike. This means that the festival, and in turn the audience, is not limited to one facet of entertainment. 

This year, the Adult Swim Festival is Incorporating a melting pot of musical artists and events that everyone across generational borders can enjoy. There’s something for everyone—even if your main listening habit consists of playing lofi hip hop radio - beats to relax/study to cause nothing quite hits the same as growing up listening to Nujabes on Samurai Champloo or Flying Lotus’ late night bumps.

Some timeless artists that will be performing are Dawn, Rapsody, and Captain Murphy (Flying Lotus), in addition to a handful of millennial musical figures such as Vince Staples, Tierra Whack, and 2 Chainz. On the other hand, the festival is providing a platform for indie staples such as clipping., Ladies of LCD Soundsystem, and Helado Negro to gain a maximum amount of exposure. 

Coupled with the promise of the premiere of the first episode of the new season of Rick and Morty, an Anime Rave courtesy of Ducky, the Comic-Con-like freedom of cosplaying, a live viewing of the Eric Andre Show, the return of DETHKLOK, and a ton of games and VR experiences, the Adult Swim Festival is not just establishing itself as a premier music festival but separating itself apart from all of its cohorts. 

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