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How to Plan a Music Festival

How to Plan a Music Festival

After being in the production industry for over 47 years, we thought we had seen it all. Then, last month, Netflix and Hulu dropped their documentaries on the disastrous 2017 Fyre Festival. After watching both, Merestone asked the in-house event experts what critiques they had.

“Don’t Over-Promise and Under-Deliver”

Of course you want your big event to be fantastic and have cool amenities. But if you cannot deliver, then don’t promise it. One of the biggest issues the Fyre team faced was keeping up with the luxurious stay packages their Chief Marketing Officer came up with on the fly. They marketed these packages for attendees to buy before ever consulting their vendors or event production team. “You got to be a conduit between all entities of an event to make it a success,” says Merestone Executive Producer, Cindy Kenna. As an event production veteran, she knows how to plan large-scale shows. “When you have your hand in the pie, you need to share what you have with your marketing team, your event production team, your vendors… in order to execute.”

With all the buzz on social media that Fyre had created already, hundreds of people started spending thousands of dollars on cabanas that weren’t accounted for in the original plans. Instead, the team found and used disaster relief tents leftover on the island from Hurricane Jack. They also promised private jets, sushi cuisine, and meet and greets with celebrities that never showed up. In fact, none of the entertainment or talent arrived. They weren’t paid and so the music festival had no music.

The nightmare continues…

“Research, Research, Research”

Fyre Festival didn’t start with a strongly developed business plan and well researched course of action. Instead, the extremely well-connected and financially invested entrepreneur, Billy McFarland, and his friends flew to the Bahamas and stumbled upon an island with a deserted landing strip. Previously owned by the infamous Colombian cartel kingpin, Pablo Escobar, McFarland and his team had the brilliant idea of having a music festival right there in the middle of the Caribbean.

“Everything was wrong about this from the beginning,” says Rob Hill, Merestone’s Vice President.  “The infrastructure on that island was not equipped to handle the number of people they were expecting. There wasn’t enough electricity, plumbing, shelter… no one considered the environmental impact either.”

Taking the time to understand the infrastructure capabilities and logistics is key for any event planning. But this was not reviewed at the pre-conception of Fyre and ultimately led to their downfall. “That’s why Merestone goes out and does site inspections. We know our resources, we know our people, and we know the logistics. It’s also about building relationships with the people on the ground and who know the area,” Hill stresses how important it is to do the research of a venue and the location beforehand. Having professional input is highly valued in Merestone production planning.

“Listen to your HIRED experts”

Another major error the Fyre decision makers made was ignoring the advice they were receiving from the experts hired; event planners, production teams, engineers, audio, visual and lighting technicians, talent agents, and caterers. From the beginning, the experts raised the red flags but it fell on over idealistic, deaf ears.

Merestone’s cast members are exceptional industry professionals with diverse background experiences to ensure the recommendations clients receive are informative, well-researched, and dependable.

“Time and Planning Are Your Event’s Best Friends”

Set realistic dates and deadlines for yourself, your team, contractors, and vendors. Large scale events don’t happen overnight. Coachella’s planning began in 1997 and the inauguration was in 1999. Keep in mind Coachella didn’t start out offering VIP experience ticket packages with bungalows in the Bahamas right on the beach, private jet flights, and meet and greets with the top 10 models and influencers of the decade for thousands of dollars. Instead, they sold “come as you are” tickets and had space for attendees to pitch a tent or sleep under the stars in the middle of the desert.

In comparison, Fyre Festival needed considerable time to efficiently plan their first event. Unfortunately, they rushed everything and ended up with a major PR disaster and a federal investigation. With the advice from the Merestone event production experts, your large-scale show won’t go down in flames.

Take a look at the exceptional projects Merestone has successfully completed for our clients: PORTFOLIO

Welcome Cory Jespersen To Merestone’s Cast!

Welcome Cory Jespersen To Merestone’s Cast!

Cory Jespersen has joined the Creative Services team as Merestone’s newest Graphic Designer! To get to know him a little better, we sat down and talked about his journey to Merestone.


Cory got his start working for Fred Meyer, a multi-level grocery chain in Portland, Oregon, while also attending college at Mount Hood. Although he is from Oregon, Cory is not new to the desert. In 2003, he moved with his wife to Phoenix and worked for Petsmart, creating store environments and fixtures. After a few years, Cory and his wife moved back to the Northwest to be closer to family. In 2009, they had twin girls.

Weekend Life

Now that Cory and his family have moved back to the Valley of the Sun, they are enjoying the pleasant weather as much as they can. On the weekends, they like to get out and explore the area.

Bar Front - Waste Management Phoenix Open

What’s New in Rentals – Bars

What’s New in Rentals – Bars


What’s a party without a fully functional bar? Choose from any of the available bars for your special event. From 50’s themed to contemporary looks, Merestone has several types of beverage and food bars in different sizes.

Let us know if you are looking for a specific item or have any questions!

Rental Form

Newborhood.com Video Shoot

Newborhood.com Shoot

Newborhood.com Shoot

Merestone recently had the pleasure of filming a broadcast commercial for Newborhood.com in our Tempe studio. The 30 second spot used humor and featured local comedian, David Mendelsohn. The goal of the national campaign was to drive consumers to the company’s website and introduce Newborhood.com to new markets.
Merestone shot on green screen in order to transport the spokesperson through the company’s website universe. The commercial’s post production was completed by Merestone using Adobe Premier, After Effects and DeVinci Resolve.

Merestone Entertainment - LED Dancers
Event Entertainment

Light Em Up

Merestone knows how to grab your audience’s attention with a host of entertainment options for your next corporate event!
Our newest addition: “Light Em Up” will choreograph a custom dance to match your event’s theme or messaging.
Or how about incorporating entertainers into your event with our interactive “Robot”? Whether he introduces the CEO onstage or cracks-wise with attendees during a reception, “Robot” can be creatively scripted into your event.
And don’t forget to pump up the crowd with “Boom Drumline”, these musicians bring the energy and excited of the big game to any venue.

Merestone Ranked in Top 3

Merestone Ranked in Top 3

Top5This March, the Phoenix Business Journal released “The List,” a yearly publication that ranks Arizona business within their industries. In this year’s issue, Merestone gained the #3 spot on Meeting and Event Planners list for 2014. The determination for the ranking was based on the number of meetings and events planned in 2014, and Merestone, having brought it’s full-service event production services to 1,084 meetings and events last year, found itself number three on the list. Given the average size and scope of our events, which are generally high on the scale, we are proud of this ranking and are anxious to see how we rank next year, with so much growth happening in 2015!

Phoenix 20/30 Suitcase Party

Phoenix 20/30 Suitcase Party

Phx20-30This year, Merestone lent a hand to raise money for the Phoenix Children’s Hospital and the Children in Need Foundation, by providing staging, décor, audio visual, and graphics for the party hosted by the Phoenix 20/30 Club. This organization’s mission is to raise money for underprivileged kids by putting on amazing parties and events throughout the year.
On March 27th, the aviation-themed fundraiser celebrated its 7th anniversary with a party at Signature Flight Support. Merestone is glad to contribute décor, sound, lighting, IMAG video, and graphics to the 2015 event.

Join us at the Phoenix Film Festival

Join us at the Phoenix Film Festival

videography and editing
Merestone is excited to announce that our presence will be felt twice over at the Phoenix Film Festival this year, as IFP/PHX presents INDUSTRY NIGHT at the Fox Movie Channel Friday Night Party. Join us at the 2015 Phoenix Film Festival’s Party Pavilion on Friday, March 27, 2015. The cost is FREE, and the party starts at 5 p.m., continuing into the night and until 1 a.m. Come by and say hello. We’ll have two booths at this event this year, which will make us twice as easy to find! Hope to see you there!

For more information, visit: http://www.ifpphx.org/2015/02/ifp-phoenix-industry-night-at-the-2015-phoenix-film-festival/

Merestone Outing at the Ballpark

Merestone Outing at the Ballpark

MerestoneGroup-ballparkThis past Sunday, the Merestone Cast and their families enjoyed a day at the Salt River Fields for a Spring Training game, as the Colorado Rockies took on the Kansas City Royals. It was a beautiful day to celebrate all of the hard work and accomplishments of the past year. As anyone could tell, we take connecting as a team very seriously here at Merestone. We just like to do it over baseball, burgers and fun!

Thank you from Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association

Thank you from AZ Tourism

We love getting thank you notes and letters and are proud to share this one from the Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association.