When the button was pressed and our new site launched last Thursday, I felt a similar pang of excitement to that spring day, ten years ago, when VF went live for the first time ever...
The differences were that this latest version of the site had over 130,000 pages on it including several hundred upcoming UK festivals, several thousand past ones, 26,000 artist profiles, tens of thousands of reviews and editorial pages, 40,000 photos, hundreds of event organisers endorsing the site and, most importantly, 2.3 million festival-goers using it.
The original site came into being with just 6 upcoming events featured, no users and a few powerful event organisers who were very much opposed to VF existing at all. I still have a framed letter from the biggest one of all warning me that I'd be swiftly removed if I was even seen on-site at their event! Thankfully after a few tense months they saw the bigger picture and realised that VF was much more of a help than a hindrance.
So, what a difference 10 years makes. Not just to me or to Virtual Festivals but look at what's happened to the festival scene as a whole.
It's so much more colourful, vibrant, diverse and enjoyable now, having exploded beyond all recognition. There are more than four times the amount of festivals – and festival-goers – now than in 1999. Festival organisers are more in touch with their audiences than they've ever been. YOU, as a fan, have more influence in setting the standard and affecting the changes that you want to see. It's amazing, and it's all because of YOU.
So, congratulations, well done and thank you so much. For adopting VF and showing it more love and attention over this last decade than I ever envisaged in my wildest dreams. For using it as your vehicle to connect to eachother, make the festival world a fun place all year round and rallying to raise standard of the industry.
For taking responsibility and using the new tools that VF and the wider social internet presented and making a huge difference to millions each summer.
This amazing festival movement of the last decade, driven by fans, remains one of the most positive forces shaping the world at this time, blazing away like a beacon of hope and encouragement in the fog economic gloom. I just can't wait to see where it takes us over the next ten years.
Keep up the great work! VF is right behind you all the way.
Steve and the gang x