This year, thus far, has been an incredibly dull year for music. With the exception of a handful of albums, very few artists or albums have recently captured America’s attention.
That’s why Voodoo’s 2017 lineup was so impressive; they managed to scrape together an incredibly solid lineup of artists in a year of blasé material.
They had some of hip-hop’s most promising and exciting new acts (Post Malone, Amine) as well as established rap titans (Kendrick Lamar) and several of the most relevant rock bands of the past decade to boot (Foo Fighters, The Killers and LCD Soundsystem).
Truthfully, it’s hard to imagine a much better lineup given the constraints of Voodoo’s limited budget. And therein lies the fatal flaw of Voodoo: it’s as big as it can get with the quality of artists they sign.
New Orleans, and Louisiana in general, is an extremely small market. Sure, there might be hard-core festival-goers traveling from around the nation if they really want to party in the Big Easy, but the fact is that barring some extremely rare, hard-to-get A list act, (Kanye West, Jay-Z, Eminem) Voodoo isn’t going to get much bigger than it already is.
It’s a Catch-22; Voodoo fest can’t get bigger artists without selling more tickets, and they can’t sell more tickets unless they get bigger artists. Although Voodoo has a solid lineup year after year, it’s hardly enough to convince music fans to hop on a plane and fly out here.
So where does Voodoo go from here? Is the festival really destined to stay the same size, trading in its older members who have grown tired of similar acts year after year for teenagers excited for the next EDM act?
It’s a longshot, but I believe Voodoo’s best shot at real growth lies in making a bet for EDM/dubstep’s inevitable, slow death; trade out the endless, interchangeable and expensive electronic music acts for more hip-hop.
The key to success is differentiation. Voodoo is never going to be able to compete with Electric Daisy Carnival or any of the other five or six massive EDM festivals around the country.
However, there is an incredibly small amount of hip-hop based music festivals around the country.
Literally the one festival with a complete and unwavering focus on hip hop is California’s and Miami’s “Rolling Loud” festival. If you look at videos of the festival, the crowd is unbelievably large.
Voodoo’s organizers, and festivals around the country, underestimate hip-hop’s fan base.
Sure, Voodoo might lose a hardcore EDM fan flying in from Wisconsin to see RL Grime, but I would bet they would gain three or four casual rap fans coming in from Texas, Mississippi or Alabama to see an act like Future or Young Thug.
Voodoo has a plethora of hip-hop acts who are likely not extremely expensive to book. (XXXtentacion, Lil Uzi Vert, Travis Scott, Kodak Black, 21 Savage, etc).
Voodoo needs to take a risk after the same old stuff the past few years; without it, they’re destined to keep spinning in their tracks.