Preparations for the next Ultra Europe Music Festival are underway. Hundreds of people have been tirelessly working on the project that has changed Split – from finalizing and arranging performances to logistics, meetings with city authorities, police, utility services, and more.
Joe Bašić, the owner of MPG Live, the alpha and omega of the Croatian Ultra, revealed everything we need to know about the upcoming edition, and just how Ultra got here in the first place, reports Slobodna Dalmacija on January 2, 2019.
How did Joe come up with the idea of organizing Ultra?
“I have been involved in organizing various events, concerts and music festivals in North America, and in Croatia since 1997, for over 25 years. The economy started to change here in 2006 and Croatia became a marketplace where it was possible to organize international music events but needed further development and investment in infrastructure to attract the best performers and projects. That same year, MPG began developing strategies and investments in local and regional music events, concerts and festivals. One of the important steps was to develop the electronic music fan base in Croatia because we recognized that the new generation wanted new and different music to express themselves. Before that, electronic music was ‘underground’ and just released in small clubs and could not get mainstream radio and media attention.”
When did this change begin?
“Well, with the events we’ve organized, like Fat Boy Slim, Armand Van Helden, Sebastian Ingros, Axwell, David Guetta, Fedde Le Granda, Eric Moril and others, which gathered between 3000 and 10,000 people. Recognizing the potential and great interest, we organized Umagination and Big Beach, and they attracted fans from Europe, Canada and the United States. With more than 20,000 people attending these festivals, electronic music has become more popular and has also found its way to the most important media in Croatia. After five years of creating a strong base of fans and our recommendations as organizers, we launched a discussion with leading world festivals with the intent to consider the possibility of organizing a major international event in Croatia. We felt that the Ultra Music Festival was the best way for us and after 18 months of presentation and negotiation, we managed to sign an exclusive partnership in Europe for their brand. In 2013, when Croatia joined the European Union, we organized the first edition of the ULTRA Europe Festival and the rest of it is history.”
How did the Americans react to this proposal?
“First they thought we were crazy! They never heard about Croatia and they thought we were from one of the former Russian states. But after seeing our references and rich experience, they decided to seriously consider our proposal. By presenting ULTRA Europe to them and once they arrived Croatia, they became convinced of the beauty and potential of this project, and the partnership decision came quickly.”
Which Ultra festival is the most successful with regard to the location? Of course, not counting Miami.
“ULTRA Europe is the second biggest event in the great Ultra Worldwide family, right after the Miami Festival. There are currently more than 30 events around the world, on all continents, with more than a million tickets sold annually. Our release has 15 percent of total sales and generates more than 200 million impressions in the media annually. ULTRA Europe’s visitors come from more than 140 countries, while in Miami festivalgoers come from 90 countries, which is 50 fewer than us.”
What’s in store for the future?
“The US owners are convinced that our festival will become the largest Ultra festival in the world, but this will certainly require additional support from the Government and local partners, new hotels and all the necessary infrastructure for an additional 20,000 visitors. In 2013, Split had 7,000 registered beds, and today it has grown to 32,000. There is a need for additional investments in hotels of higher categories and the development of traffic, especially air traffic, so that Split is ready to increase guests.”
What should we expect for Ultra 2019?
“Our plans and current indicators are moving towards 160,000 visitors in 2019, so, this is the number of visitors who will visit Poljud all three days, as well as the events on the islands and all other events related to the festival. This will be possible with additional flights to Split, Zagreb and Zadar and increased investments in marketing activities and promotion of the festival in the world, and we are working diligently.”
Will there be any changes compared to Ultra 2018?
“The novelty is certainly the ULTRA WORLDWIDE STAGE on which we will present performers from all over the world. We will also promote our country through works by local artists, food and other entertaining events. We will continue to focus on improving the overall visitor experience, so we will further work on food, toilets and the arrival to the stadium. Given the excellent results, we will continue with the development of destination events on Bol, Hvar and Vis, and our goal is to show the world all the beauties of Croatia so they extend their stay here. Be sure to expect a lot of good surprises.”
How are preparations going for 2019?
“Great! We have entered the seventh year on the wings of last year’s most successful edition so far. I think that behind us is tremendous knowledge and invaluable experience and we are most focused on improving the overall experience of visitors and for even better promotion of all the benefits that our festival offers as a unique destination in the world. We recently announced the ULTRA Europe 2018 Aftermovie, and in the first 24 hours it was viewed by more than 200,000 people. We are extremely pleased with the sales that again recorded a growth of 20 percent more than last year, and a 100 percent increase in the DESTINATION ULTRA Europe tickets, which includes the entrance to all seven festival events. We plan to invest more in the RESISTANCE stage, and there will be special RESISTANCE tickets for those who want to visit all the events under this brand, in Split, and on Hvar and Vis.”
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