Hardly Strictly BluegrassBlessed with golden rays and internationally renowned artists, this weekend’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival was an event to remember. As a free festival, Hardly Strictly sets itself aside from other live music events, drawing in a crowd that celebrated the easy access to a diverse music scene. Though the genre of Hardly Strictly is contested and the audience mixed in tastes, free-entry events undoubtedly create a novel opportunity for artists to promote their music.

The digitalization of music has shifted much of the power base in the industry away from record labels to promoters, with booking agents acting as middlemen between the two. Though booking agents are able to demand excessive fees for their artists, promoters are ultimately in the most advantageous position as the main agents in choosing desirable venues and the equally crucial ticket prices.

Hardly Strictly simplified these interactions as artists position themselves in front of a diverse audience that had been brought to the Golden Gate Park by the outstanding value of the event. Unexpected artists such as Hugh Laurie took the stage (see intro) while Gillian Welch presented a more traditionally “folk” flavor. Numerous other artists graced the meadows, creating a spectacle that was defined more by its rich musical heritage than any brandable event.

As tech giants in Silicon Valley attempt to capture the social force of music and promoters work out the tides and swells of global audiences, free live events just may be able to assume a unique role in the industry. Their ability to bring together communities in mass-attendance events is now tested, in the most affordable way. Indeed, San Francisco has a habit of creating Aquarian turmoil.

Image source: Will Ross, Daily Cal

Kitty Graham said:
Oct 7, 2011 at 12:41 am

Beautifully done! Loved the festival and all it had to offer!

Kyle Reese said:
Oct 9, 2011 at 12:43 pm

hardly strict on anything, best free fest in the west!

Zygfryd Nowicki said:
Mar 23, 2012 at 12:03 am