Home' Rhythms Magazine : 2016 May-Jun Contents 56 Rhythms
Is a music festival on the high seas, as provided by
Mick Manov’s Choose your Cruise, a viable alternative
to the traditional model?
As we come toward the end of the festival season, a seven
month run that stretches from early October to the Easter
long-weekend, for most it’s a good time, a time to look
back and reflect on the experiences garnered at events like
Bluesfest, Woodford, Falls and Port Fairy.
In this country, even the ‘off-season’ yields a plethora
of action, from the buzz and hum of Splendour, to the
more laid-back vibe that the Bello Winter Music festival
presents; ours is a lucky country indeed, particularly if
you’re after music in the festival setting. If you’re in the
promoting game however, it’s about a lot more than the
actual experience we as punters go through. Behind
the scenes, dozens of people work year round in order
to present these festivals, and for some, it can prove too
much, events regularly (particularly in this day and age of
festival saturation) falling by the wayside.
It seems however, that there’s a niche out there, one not
being exploited by anyone other than a man and his team
based in Adelaide – Choose Your Cruise (CYC) is the name
of the company, and Mick Manov is the man in charge.
“It’s a festival of music on board a cruise liner,” Manov tells
me, essentially summing up his company’s ethos in a short
sentence. Now, for some, there’s not much fresher hell than
this, cooped up in the same place for a set amount of time
– there’s no escape – but for the tiny demographic Manov
is currently catering to, it’s a highly desirable alternative to
the traditional music fest.
“Once people go on our cruises, they never go on a normal
cruise [after that], they find it very boring,” he says. “These
people are music lovers and when they get on board, they
meet other music lovers, so it’s like a big family.”
Essentially, CYC put on a number of cruises per year –
at this stage they’re advertising Cruise ‘n’ Groove; the
Bravo! Cruise of the Performing Arts; Rock The Boat 6;
and Cruisin’ Country – aboard actual cruise liners, with
music running all day and most of the night, ranging from
one to eight days in length. And we’re not talking artists
no one’s heard of – currently listed are acts like Chubby
Checker, The Troggs, The Pacemakers, Adam Brand,
Shane Nicholson, John Farnham, Pseudo Echo, along with
a host of others. Jimmy Barnes headlined Rock The Boat
5 last year.
This isn’t a cheap form of entertainment however, which
is but one aspect that could play against the company if
they try to branch into a younger market (their current
demographic is 40 to 70).
The lowest price for the most modest of cabins is around
the $2,500 mark (per person), and as such, Manov’s target
market is small – older (a glance at the line-ups confirms
this), well-off, like to cruise. Regardless of the market size
though, it’s a market that’s willing, most cruises announced
at this point already selling well, if not completely sold out
– people are indeed keen to get on board.
So Manov and CYC are exploiting a niche, and at this
point, seven years after their first effort, are doing well.
I ask if they’re actively competing against the more
established traditional events like Bluesfest, Splendour,
Falls, and while he says he can’t say too much, this is
something Manov is looking at – or at the very least, a
“We’d like to work in conjunction with those people,
maybe we put a cruise on before or straight after the
event,” he muses, “use their artists that are already here.”
An interesting idea, but one that could hinge quite heavily
on attracting a younger market, which while Manov says
they’re tempted to do, it’s not something they’d initiate
without the proper research.
So for the older, wealthier music loving crowd, choosing
your cruise is looking like a decent alternative to getting
stuck in the mud and rain at places like Bluesfest. For the
younger generation though, I’d venture this sort of thing
isn’t on their radar. Time will certainly tell.
For more information on Choose Your Cruise, visit
SAMUEL J. FELL
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