Hargreaves, Miell and MacDonald (2002) suggest that people increasingly use music as a means to formulate and express their individual identities, present themselves to others in a particular way, make statements about their values and attitudes, and express their views of the world. Young people in particular use music as a “badge of identity” (North &
Hargreaves, 1999) and attend some types of music events in order to construct or express a sense of identity (Goulding, Shankar & Elliott, 2001).
Today, people negotiate life pathways that are increasingly fragmented, de-traditionalized and individualized. In such a world, music festival engagement provides an avenue through which people can connect with the arts and so discover a sense of identity, meaning and social integration (Packer & Ballantyne, 2011). Such festivals provide an environment for young people in particular to gain positive psychological and social benefits from immersion in a musical experience, especially those who are unlikely to actively participate in traditional forms of musical engagement such as playing an instrument, listening to a classical music concert, or singing in a choir.
As Gibson and Connell (2012) remark:
What makes festivals distinct is that they are usually held annually and generally have social rather than economic or political aims: getting people together for fun, entertainment and a shared sense of camaraderie. Most festivals create . . . a time and space of celebration, a site of convergence separate from everyday routines, experiences and meanings – ephemeral communities in place and time. (p. 4)
Gelder and Robinson (2009) suggests that while the music choices made by festival managers are important, equally important to festival attendees are the adjunct aspects of music festivals – such as the atmosphere and opportunities to socialize. rielsson and Lindström Wik (2003) and Seligman (2002), and concluded that “Music listening . . . offers the potential to connect to different sources of happiness, and as such to reach a balanced state of authentic happiness without any apparent negative side-effects” (p. 244).
According to Packer and Ballantyne’s
(2011) model, which was developed through qualitative research with young people aged 18–
30, social interactions, festival atmosphere, separation from the everyday, and the music itself are all important facets of the music festival experience.
Ryan and Deci’s (2000) review of the literature on research into well-being identifies two general perspectives: the hedonic approach, which defines well-being in terms of pleasure or happiness; and the eudaimonic approach, which defines well-being in terms of self-realization and personal growth. Others have used the terms “subjective well-being” and “psychological well-being,” respectively, to characterize these approaches (Keyes, Shmotkin, & Ryff 2002).
Psychological well-being is conceptualized in terms of six elements: autonomy, personal growth, environmental mastery, purpose in life, positive relations, and self-acceptance (Ryff &
Keyes 1995). Social well-being is considered to have five components: social coherence, social integration, social acceptance, social contribution and social actualization (Keyes, 1998).
Subjective well-being refers to the more affective dimensions of positive functioning, such as happiness and life satisfaction (Keyes et al., 2002).
Packer and Ballantyne (2011) describe the interplay between the four facets of the music festival experience that constitute their model, and the psychological, social and subjective wellbeing outcomes reported by participants. They note that each of the four facets has implications for attendees’…