Years with Company: 5
Address: 239 North Harbor Dr., Redondo Beach, CA 90277
Email: [email protected]
Publicity: Angela Moreno, [email protected], 805-390-5263
Clients: Tons of satisfied concert attendees
Allen Sanford grew up loving California’s sandy coasts. Naturally, he thought it wise to create a festival that revolved around the beach lifestyle. BeachLife began in 2019, later expanding with a second festival devoted to Americana, country, and roots music, BeachLife Ranch. Sanford and his team are also building a 15,000 square foot theater called the California Ocean Club, which will deliver the same sunny vibe all year.
Music + Beach Culture = BeachLife
Our festival is different from a lot of festivals. Most festivals aren’t created around any sort of culture. It’s more organized by genre of music. Obviously, there are a lot of festivals that are not subject to what I’m talking about. But our festival was created to serve a certain type of fan. It’s as much about the culture and community as it is the music.
Building on Sand
Any show you do near the water makes it much more difficult to build. The stages and structures have to be designed with a lot more strength. Instead of wheeling things in, you’re using tractors. It definitely provides challenges.
But the question of whether it’s worth it is a no-brainer. Every time the sun sets and there’s a band playing, we look at each other and go, “Yep, that was worth it.”
Many Moving Parts
I would love to tell you I never worry about anything, but that would be a lie. You’re depending on a lot of human beings to do their jobs. We have about 1,200 people working the festival. If you think about how much has to go right to have a successful festival, it’s daunting. I’ve run a lot of businesses over my career, but none that are as 3D-chess as this and with as many moving parts.
I have a partner. After each festival, we’ll sit down and talk. We like to span generations, so we’ll go old-new-old-new. And then we spitball headliner names, with the preface that it’s got to fit within the BeachLife culture and vibe.
And then we get at it. I do all the booking, because I’m fairly particular. It’s like putting together a video montage and you want each frame to be right. It’s one thing to get all the right frames, and it’s another to put them in the right order.
We’re not a huge festival, and we’re not trying to be a festival where the only reason somebody comes is because of the names. So, we like to pick ones you wouldn’t immediately shine after, maybe aren’t playing the festival circuits that year. I look at a lot of festival posters, and it tends to be the same artists.
We have an area on our website where you can pitch [yourself as an artist to perform]. And we go to the agencies and ask them to send us anybody they think might fit. We have a stage for up-and-coming artists. It doesn’t matter how many fans you have; it matters how good your music is.
Country music kind of gives me the same feel in my heart that the beach life does. I grew up going to the central California coast, where it’s a little more cowboy land. And I love the idea of mixing that with the cowboy-surfer mentality. Surfers are like the cowboys of the coast―riding waves and riding horses. It seemed like a cool way to send our culture into the winter. Having us on both ends of the summer seemed like a great idea.
A Vibe of Respect
I think [throwing things at artists on stage] is super lame. I couldn’t think of a more despicable thing to do to somebody who’s putting one’s heart out there.
I don’t think we’d ever have that issue at BeachLife, because we have a respectful culture. If we did, those people wouldn’t be welcome. That’s not what the beach life is about. At BeachLife, if you drop your wallet, somebody will pick it up for you. That’s the culture we try to promote.
Keeping Everyone Safe
A lot of times, people who do festivals are music people. They’re not security people. And they hire an outside security company to make them safe. Many times, these companies fail.
We wanted to take extra precaution. We brought on one of the best, a former chief of police with 30 years as a police officer. I’ve got my five-year-old daughter running around, so that’s my litmus test for how safe this festival needs to be.
Singing the Pandemic Blues
COVID was brutal. I’m in restaurants and live music. You couldn’t pick worse verticals to be in during a pandemic. It was very tough. Luckily, we came back to a hunger for live events. That gave us the motivation to get back on our feet. It was a journey, for sure. I’m glad it’s behind us.
[The live music industry is] still finding its way. It weeded out a lot of small people, so the Live Nations are stronger than they’ve ever been. But as time goes by, more independents will pop up again, hopefully.
Switching On and Off
The [BeachLife] app is a cool tool to help people enjoy the festival. Our whole goal is using technology to make the experience better. But we’re also not guys that love being on the phone at a show. It’s a fine line between using technology to improve the experience but also not overdeveloping to where fans are on their phones instead of enjoying the show.
Dining On Stage
The perfect experience for me would be eating a nice meal on the side of the stage with a glass of wine. So, when we created the festival, we asked Michelin-level chefs to come. I don’t think any other festival’s doing this. We’ve had all sorts of crazy chefs, and they design their menus based on the type of artist they’re paired with. It’s another cool experience that you don’t get often in this world.
Everything But Water Sports
We stay away from the swimming. Swimming and drinking is not a good mix. And you’d also have to bring a change of clothes and all that stuff.
We’ve got a Kids Zone. We have a karaoke bar. We’ve got a sports lounge for those that like to watch sports. [We have] tons of shopping, tons of health and wellness. We have an arts area. We bring in a lot of musicians who are also graphic artists who sell their art. Last festival, Chad Smith, drummer for the Chili Peppers, was selling his art. We want to indulge your senses over and above the music.
It wouldn’t be genuine of us to call our festival BeachLife but not care about the beach life. We have a mission statement as to whom we support. Our May festival focuses on ocean- and kid-related philanthropies, and our September festival focuses on hero philanthropies, like police, fire, and veterans. I happen to be the chairman of the local police foundation, so I’m a big supporter of first responders. The least we could do is help them raise some money.
We do ticket giveaways. We have a big party at the beginning of Ranch for several charities. And pretty soon we’re going to be launching our own 501(c)(3) to help these same causes on a local level. I think we raised $150,000 for local charities last May. Not too shabby for an independent festival. •