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Towson University

Marketing Plan: Charm City Bluegrass Festival

MKTG 341

Professor Biglari

November 21, 2016

Ammara Iqbal

Alex Swain

John Degraw

Nadia Islam

Adam Sulpar

Nick Ventmiller

Executive Summary
Charm City Bluegrass Festival aims to spread awareness of the traditional American
genre through great music, a fun environment, and copious amounts of beer. Their goal in 2017
is to have 4000 attendees, and to generally increase local and regional awareness of the festival.
The festival’s vision is to honor the traditions of bluegrass, spread awareness of the genre, and
throw a great party. By tapping into new markets, such as college students and D.C. and Virginia
area residents, the festival hopes to expedite the growth process. One strength of the festival is
it’s custom beer from Union Craft Brewery. The general public tends to have a lack of general
knowledge about bluegrass, which is something Charm City hopes to change. New attractions
include a whiskey tasting, VIP, discount ticket promotions, the featuring of well established, up-
and-coming traditional and progressive bluegrass bands. This will motivate people in the target
markets to purchase tickets and spread awareness through conversation. Ticket prices are $35 for
Trust-In-Us tickets, $70 for general admission, and $161 for the V.I.P. package. Compared to
other similar festivals, Charm City Bluegrass offer a great experience for all attendees at an
affordable price. In the long run the Charm City Bluegrass Festival hopes to fill Druid Hill Park
with as many as 7500 or more attendees. Advertising through local country and jazz radio
stations, getting new sponsors, and creating a Snapchat filter for the event, among other
strategies, will help us achieve our goal of 4,000 tickets being sold and create awareness about
the festival for future expansion. Other plans to implement include selling a commemorative
copy of the recording, having giveaways with the festival name and logo at the festival itself, and
partnering with local police and fire.departments, to give back to the community.

Company Description

The Charm City Bluegrass Festival was created in 2013 in order to highlight Baltimore’s
rich history in bluegrass music. The organization’s founders created the festival with the
intention of sharing this music, bringing revenue into the city and raising awareness of bluegrass
music in Baltimore (HonestTune, 2015). The festival maintains strong ties with the local
community and seeks to highlight the long, distinguished history of bluegrass music in
Baltimore, and is held yearly in April. This upcoming year it falls on the 29th day of April.
While the festival is so recent, people have been playing bluegrass music since the country was
in its early stages. The Charm City Bluegrass Festival features many artists both well known
throughout the industry along with many upcoming regional artists. The event has seen an
increase in attendees, from one thousand in 2013, to over three thousand in 2016. In the music
festival’s short history, they have already won two awards. They were voted “Best Festival” and
“Best Music Festival” by Baltimore Magazine, as well as winning the “Momentum Award” from
the International Bluegrass Music Association (BMNN, 2016).

The Charm City Bluegrass Festival is the one of the largest and most esteemed bluegrass
festivals in the region. The only major local competitor offering a similar product is the DC
Bluegrass Festival, which occurs within a few weeks of Baltimore’s. The festival is not as large
as festivals for more popular and mainstream music. Nevertheless, the niche-type market it caters
to is quite loyal to the product, as can be seen by their incremental growth. One major draw for
attendees is the abundance of alcohol to be had at the event. Union Craft Beer is a major sponsor
of the event, and dozens of kegs of Baltimore’s finest local brews are consumed that weekend.
Not only does it offer beer and other drinks, but it also features a wide selection of food to enjoy
while being serenaded by the finest pluckers and fiddlers in the region. In years past, many of the
nation's top bluegrass artists, of both the traditional and progressive varieties, have performed at
Baltimore’s Best Music Festival, with this year not being different.

Things have been going well for Charm City Bluegrass Festival. The long history of
bluegrass music in Baltimore has been forgotten, and the Charm City Bluegrass Festival is now
reviving that history. The organizations hope that their music festival displays the rich history of
bluegrass in Baltimore, and lends itself to instilling that interest in others. This marketing plan
will show how the Company will increase their festival attendance from 3000 people to 4000
people by their April festival in 2017.

Strategic Focus and Plan

In this section, the mission of Charm City Bluegrass Festival will be laid out. In addition,
the organization's goals will be described, so that the marketing plan can tackle each goal

The client summed up the mission of the festival by saying that through great music, and
a fun environment, the Charm City Bluegrass Festival aims to honor the traditions of bluegrass,
spread awareness of the genre, and throw a great party. It honors the tradition of bluegrass by
featuring traditional bluegrass music, spreads awareness by showcasing talented, new
progressive bluegrass bands, and throws a great party through a combination of the music, beer,
comradery among patrons, and the overall lighthearted atmosphere of the event.

For the coming year of 2017, the Charm City Bluegrass Festival seeks to achieve the
following goals:

-To entertain an audience of at least four thousand. With an estimated ticket sale
breakdown of 20% trust-in-us tickets, 20% VIP tickets, and 60% general admission tickets, this
would lead to $324,800 in revenue.

-Last year the festival sold over 81 kegs of their specialty beer, bringing in thousands of
dollars in revenue. This year, the organization is planning on introducing wine, and increasing
beer and liquor sales.


-To spread awareness of bluegrass to new target markets, namely progressive college students,
and fans of other mainly instrumental genres, such as jazz, country, and classical.
-To be featured in thirty-seven or more editorials, exceeding last year's numbers.
-To raise awareness of bluegrass in Baltimore, a city that was once a hub for folk and bluegrass
-To penetrate the DC bluegrass market, a place where they have not yet reached.

Situational Analysis

Music festivals draw large crowds nationwide, and the Charm City Bluegrass Festival is
no exception. While it has succeeded in the past, it does face certain threats. A SWOT
(Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis is used to keep track of what the
festival is doing well, what it needs to improve, and what the future may hold. Following the
SWOT analysis, an industry analysis will be completed, as well as a competitor analyses, an
organization analyses, and customer analyses.

● Takes place in a convenient and central location, Baltimore City.
● Winner of Baltimore Magazines “Best Music Festival in Baltimore” award and
International Bluegrass Music Association’s “Momentum Award” (BMNN,
● Established sponsors, such as Union Craft Brewing, D’Addario Strings, and Jack
● Effective use of Facebook, and other social media.
● Strong local fan base.
● Limited Edition beer, made especially for the event.
● Children under 10 are free.
● Convenient parking.
● The festival featured performances from national and local folk and bluegrass acts
including The Travelin’ McCourys, The Wood Brothers, and more.

● High setup costs: Had to make substantial donations to the city to use city
property for the festival.
● Small bluegrass fan base.
● Ticket price increases: $45 for GA and $140 for VIP in 2014 and $70 for GA and
$200 for VIP in 2016 (Mayhugh, 2014).
● Tight marketing budget of $10,000.

● Increased interest in alternative music genres.
● Outreach to jazz and classical music fans.
● Outreach to progressive, open minded college students.
● Untapped DC market.
● Room for growth at Druid Hill Park.
● The opportunity to partner and merge with both local and national bluegrass, folk,
and Americana festivals.

● Alternate bluegrass festivals in the month of April, in Pennsylvania, Maryland,
DC, and Virginia.
● Alternate events in Baltimore at the end of April, causing traffic, and conflicting
● Overall lack of knowledge of bluegrass in society, as opposed to mainstream
● Volatility of weather of an outdoor festival.

Industry Analysis

The bluegrass festival industry, as well as the industry for comparable genres, such as
folk and Americana, has increased in recent years. This may be attributable to the increase in
alternative music genres, as opposed to the traditionally successful genres of pop, rock, and rap.
Music festivals traditionally take place in wide open, fielded areas, and Charm City Bluegrass
Festival is no different. Located in Druid Hill Park, there is hypothetically room for over 10,000
attendees. Another staple of folk and bluegrass festivals is excellent food and drinks, and this
festival certainly delivers in that aspect. As festivals go, it is much smaller than many others, but
as bluegrass festivals go, it is quite large, and continues to grow yearly.

Competitor Analysis

The Charm City Bluegrass festival happens in April every year. During the month of
April, many other bluegrass festivals and other alternate events and festivals take place in
Maryland, DC, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Even though the dates may vary, people will
generally pay to go to only the event that they find the most entertaining and worthwhile. Some
festivals that are expected to hold competition for the upcoming bluegrass festival are the
Kingman Island Bluegrass & Folk Festival, Capital City Music Festival in Washington, DC,
Leesburg Beer fest, M3 Rock festival, and the Federal Hill Spring Block Party. The Capital City
Music Festival is in Washington DC, in the very beginning of April. The price is only $35 for a
music and dance festival which features performances by a wide variety of local and national
entertainers. The Kingman Island bluegrass & folk festival focuses on targeting people of not
just bluegrass but also comparable genres like folk. This festival targets people of different ages
by offering family friendly activities and a children’s stage. The much older and established
Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival occurs in a similar timeframe as well, and would be a major
source of competition.

Organization Analysis

Charm City Bluegrass is an organization which has not existed for very long. It was
founded in 2013, and has grown quite a bit since then, from one thousand attendees in the first
year, to over three thousand in 2016. The main purpose of this organization is not to make profit
or gain game, but instead to spread the gospel of bluegrass in the region. The general source of
revenue from the festival come from its tickets sales, food sales, and most importantly, its
alcohol sales. Beer is the main focus of its sales, but liquor makes up a decent percentage, and in
2017 they are considering offering wine. Charm City Bluegrass has partnered with Union Craft
Brewing, to also throw one of Baltimore’s greatest parties. Union Craft even brews a unique
brand of beer, specifically for the event. Their public relations company, Planet, has gotten them
featured in 37 editorials in years past, and the organization hopes to increase that number this
year. As far as is known, all press about the event has been either positive or neutral, and it has
an overall positive position in the mind of most locals.

Customer Analysis

According to the client, the three major personas who attend the festival are as follows;

In total, 15 percent of attendees are fans of traditional bluegrass. These folks are
generally men and women over 50, who live in the suburbs of Maryland. These people stick to
what they know, and are not very interested in the modern, progressive forms of bluegrass. This
class of people are hesitant to venture into the city.

40 percent of festival attendees are fans of the more modern prog and jam bluegrass, of
all ages. These people are generally also fans of the Grateful Dead, Phish, and other jam groups.
These people are less interested in traditional bluegrass, and may come from some distance to
hear their favorite bands play.

45 percent of those in attendance are the younger, progressive generation, who enjoy to
do unique, interesting things. While they may not be huge fans of bluegrass, they enjoy going to
a large party, drinking craft beer, and being involved in their community. They may bring their
families to the event. Other interests of these open-minded individuals may be public radio or
environmental groups.

The attendees of the festival are younger to middle-aged. According to figure 1, over
80% come from the Baltimore suburbs. Last year 51% of festival goers were women. The
Facebook page boasts an incredible 16,000 fans, many of whom actively like and share posts
from the page. For an organization which has only existed for a few years, they are doing quite

Figure 1:
5. Market-Product Focus
In this section, the current marketing objectives of Charm City Bluegrass will be
discussed, as well as future objectives, and how they apply to the target market, points of
difference, and product positioning.
Marketing and Product Objectives
Target Markets
The current market consists of men and women in the local Baltimore area, generally
between the ages of 25 and 44. This includes the 16,000 fans that the festival has on Facebook. A
majority of the attendees would describe themselves as fans of bluegrass, and similar genres of
music. College students make up a percentage of the festival goers, as well as older bluegrass
The festival wishes to attract new attendees to the event in 2017 and beyond. A goal for
this year is to attract bluegrass fans from the DC metropolitan area, a region where only one
percent of attendees come from. Another group of people they wish to attract is females. Every
year, more females purchase tickets and attend than males, and the organization would like to
capitalize on this group. Fans of jazz,classical, and country music are also a people group who
Charm City wishes to entice to come to the event. Lastly, the organization feels that beer
drinkers would be interested in this event, so some advertising has to be done in area bars and
restaurants. One thing that sets this event off from others is the urban location.
Festival attractions
Charm City Bluegrass Festival focuses on bringing in bands from all across the
nation. These bands range from Grammy winners, Ricky Skaggs and Steep Canyon Rangers, to
small town groups like “Man About a Horse” and “Ampersand Stringband.” There are also
multiple stages for non-stop music throughout the night. Local beer brought in by Union Craft
Brewing Company brings a sense of home and community to the festival. VIP tickets are sold to
those who want to get the most out of their experience. VIP tickets include lunch and dinner, a
branded mug for unlimited beer, VIP seating area and bathrooms, and discounted festival
The festival is bringing in a new stage placed in the center of the vending area. This
stage will be an area for smaller, local bands to show off their talents, answer any questions, and
teach new musical techniques to attendees. Wine will be provided for the first time and new ice
cream brands will be sold in the food venues. VIP ticket buyers will be able to attend a whisky
tasting during the event.
Points of Difference
Charm City Bluegrass offers a family friendly venue, unlike many other festivals,
welcome to all ages and walks of life. In sticking with this thinking, Children ages 10 and under
can attend the event for free, and parents are encouraged to bring them. Another difference
between this event and others is the emphasis on both local and national artists, and not just one
or the other. The event has even emphasized this point, by having a separate stage set up
amongst the food vendors, specifically for local bands to perform in a more intimate setting.
Bluegrass is traditionally considered to be a rural custom, but since Baltimore has been a driving
force in the spread of bluegrass, it makes sense for this event to be held within the city limits. At
this festival, attendees can bring their own instruments, and can play together at a separate stage
set up just for that purpose. Something else that sets the festival a part is the special after-party
performance by The Everyone Orchestra. These point of difference separate Charm City
Bluegrass Festival from other festivals of a similar nature, giving it an edge above the
Music can be a source of empathy and understanding, folk and bluegrass tend to tell
stories of hardship and struggle. Bluegrass and folk music have been a part of Baltimore’s
history for many years. For instance, the banjo has been a part of Maryland tradition since the
1740s (Newby, 2015). During the Great Depression, the families’ migrating from the South and
Appalachian region brought their traditions and cultural taste, which included bluegrass and folk
music. In the evenings, before work, these migrants would gather in bars and basements, bring
their instruments and have informal “pickin’ parties,” keeping their traditions alive in a city
(Newby, 2015). This makes the festival culturally enriching and lets the people of the city
connect with their roots. The event tries to cultivate a fun, carefree attitude.
6. Marketing Program
The Marketing Mix is the core of any marketing plan, and Charm City Bluegrass
Festival’s marketing program is laid out below.
Product Strategy
Charm City Bluegrass Festival sells a ticket, with which buyers are able to attend a music
festival, featuring musicians from all over the country at a private venue. This tickets allow the
participant to hear all the music that they can, and enjoy the grounds. In addition to the initial
purchase of the ticket, the organization also sells various forms of refreshments, most notably
beer, but also including liquor, wine, and other beverages, as well as a wide variety of food
options. Merchandise is available to purchase as well.
Price Strategy
Tickets for Charm City Bluegrass Festival are available through MissionTix, an online
ticket purchasing site. The prices are as follows:
● Trust-In-Us Tickets - $35 (in essence, early bird tickets)
● General Admission Tickets - $60
● VIP Tickets - $161 (This includes lunch, dinner, snacks, Mug Club with unlimited beer,
whiskey tasting, exclusive seating and restrooms, merchandise discounts, and other

Compared to other events, these tickets are reasonably priced. Tickets for the DC
Bluegrass festival start at $80 for the early bird tickets, and as much as $315 for the VIP tickets.
Promotion Strategy
With a $10,000 marketing budget, the key promotion strategies consist of social media,
namely Facebook and Snapchat , email, radio, online ads, The Baltimore Sun,z baltimore
Magazine, and local news station. Their email list consists of 5000 people. Promotion through
radio and other online sources are not as successful as other mediums, and are not emphasized.
There are numerous bloggers writing about what the festival has to offer, and occasionally offer
discounted tickets. The previous year, an AXS contributor wrote an article titled Tickets still
available for the Charm City Folk and Bluegrass Festival. AXS is a digital marketing platform
for purchasing tickets for sports and entertainment events in the US, and overseas. With an
increase in the social media promotions, Charm City Bluegrass Festival would be able to reach a
wider, and more youthful audience.
Place strategy
The tickets are sold online through the Charm City Bluegrass website, and through
several other festival sites such as Everfest. When you click on buying tickets on the Charm City
Bluegrass Festival site, it takes you to MissionTix, an online company that provides simplified
ticketing for various events such as conferences, film festival, music festivals, and so forth.
The festival is located in the city of Baltimore, right off major highways. It is also
relatively close to the regional airport, so folks traveling locally, regionally, or nationally can all
easily reach the festival. Hotels are no more than a few miles away from the venue, and in the
age of Uber, it is no difficulty to quickly and inexpensively get a ride across town, with or
without a double bass.
7. Financial Data and Projections
A. Past Sales Revenue
Charm City Bluegrass Festival has had an increase in attendance for their main festival in
April each year since its first festival in 2013. In the four years, the festival has not had a large
jump of attendees but a constant increase in attendance each year. In 2013, the festival had 1000
attendees, and in 2016, they had 3000 attendees. The organization is not as concerned with
turning a profit, as it is with spreading awareness of bluegrass, and hosting a great party. In an
interview Chorney said, “Everyone always gets paid no matter what, even when you know the
bank account about to hit zero, you still make sure they get paid.” (Newby, 2015).
B. Future Projections
Charm City Folk & Bluegrass Festival wants to continue with its increase in attendance
with a goal of 4000 people in attendance for 2017. Assuming 20% of attendees purchase trust-in-
us tickets, 20% purchase VIP tickets, and 60% purchase general admission tickets, this would
lead to roughly $324,800 in revenue, excluding beer, food, and merchandise sale.They will
achieve this by trying to reach a larger audience outside of Maryland, as well as adding new
target markets. A larger audience will be reached by making the festival more unique than its
competitors, which include but are not limited to bluegrass & folk festivals occurring in D.C,
VA, and PA. By 2022, with growth staying constant at roughly 700-800 new attendees a year,
the Charm City Bluegrass Festival may be entertaining 7,500 or more attendees.

Percentage of Attendance for Charm City Folk & Bluegrass Festival

Implementation Plan
Here are the steps to be taken in order to reach our goal of 4,000 attendees this year.
There will be a raffle for free tickets to next year’s festival. Not only will people be
excited about getting free tickets, but it will have people thinking about coming back for future
events. One way to do the raffle is via likes or comments on facebook, text message, or email.
Using email or text would also the organization to also send promotional materials to people
interested in winning free tickets.
Next year we will auction signed gear and memorabilia. All money can be used for
enhancing the festival for years to come. People who win memorabilia will have a constant
reminder of the good time they had. This is a great word of mouth marketing tool which can
increase future sales.
Continue to hire a professional photographer for the event. In addition to putting
photographs in publications and social media posts, video can be taken to post on Facebook or
YouTube to attract attention to the events social network scene.
Taking out a 30 second spot on local country or jazz stations, such as WAAI 100.9,
WAYZ 104.7, or WPOC 93.1 would spread the word of the festival to a broader market, and
emphasizing the origins of country music in bluegrass would spark immediate interest. Jazz and
bluegrass have a similar intellectual attraction, and may have overlapping fans. It would be wise
to advertise on Baltimore’s local jazz station, WEAA 88.9, as well. For both of these genres,
tickets to the festival could be given away by the stations. If you can get a station to advertise
and promote your festival for a month in exchange for a booth at the fest, you will save
marketing dollars and reach new audiences simultaneously. Also, advertising it on commercial
break when people watch TV is a great way to promote the festival. Potential customers will get
an idea of what events are happening right in front of them.
A live recording of the festival could be compiled and released electronically and on
vinyl. The electronic version would be excellent to listen to while on the go, and with the
resurgence of vinyl in recent years, a physical album would be a welcome addition to any
collector's shelf. Use a photograph from the event as the cover, and have it as a giveaway for vip
members, and for purchase for general admission attendees.
We should focus on solving the problems that are affecting potential customers: This
means not just providing any products, but providing the customers with the right products at the
right time. The festival usually takes place toward the end of April, and the weather is quite
warm during that time of the year. Attendees usually spend the entire day out at the festival,
dancing and sweltering in warm weather among a large crowd can make you feel extra hot.
Providing the attendees with free sweatbands would make them ecstatic. Ponchos with the
organization’s logo would be good giveaways in the event of inclimate weather. Frisbees with
the logo would make the event more memorable, and would remind attendees about it after it is
over. This would make the customers feel that you care about them and plan the festival
according to their wants and needs.
Coverage of the entire festival on Snapchat and having a special filter for the event will
give an idea of what the event is like to people that had to miss it and for people that were
unaware of the festival. Attendees will be able to snap their family and friends using the filter, to
help spread awareness of the festival. People who don’t know this festival exists will be aware
about the event and may consider attending it the next year.
The organization will reach out to new and recurring sponsors: Both sponsored social
visualizations and an online social hub in our festival page or app tie the branded experience
together and generate revenue while adding value for both your fans and partner sponsors
(Gibson, 2015). Collaborating with websites that show upcoming festivals would help attain
more customers. A website like http://bluegrassfestivalguide.com has a list of upcoming
bluegrass festivals where anyone can look at festivals where anyone interested in bluegrass can
google about any festival and it could show up on spark interest.
Collaborate with local firefighters and police officers. Charm City Bluegrass Festival
could get local bluegrass bands to perform at charity events that are held by firefighters and
police officers to both gain publicity and earn an excellent reputation in the community.
Charm City Bluegrass Festival’s goal is to have 4000 people attend their main festival on
April 29th, 2017. They will keep close track of how many tickets are purchased throughout the
year and modify their marketing strategy to make sure they reach that goal. After this April’s
festival Charm City Bluegrass Festival will see how many people attended their festival and
compare it to tickets bought. Then they will breakdown what marketing plans worked and which
ones did not work and adjust or create a new marketing plan based on the information they
obtained. In addition, a survey will be emailed out after the event to attendees, asking how they
heard about the event, what they liked, what they did not like, and any suggestions they may
have for the future. this will help the event organizers to fine tune the festival into being the best
event in Baltimore City.


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