Feb 16, 2024

Meet the Maker: FreeFlow Festival (Germany)

Around 12,000 clubs and festivals roam gigmit. We often talk about the Indies, who invest a lot in their local communities. But what does that actually mean? How does it look like in practice? In this new series “Meet the Maker,” we take a look behind the scenes, talk about the festival, opportunities, and concerns. To kick things off, we met with Julius Exner from the FreeFlow Festival.

The FreeFlow Festival in Biberach is a music and culture festival. Since its founding in 2018, it has become a significant event in the region. The festival is characterized by a diverse program that connects music, culture, and community. It takes place in Biberach at the Riß river and attracts visitors with a mix of live music, DJ sets, and other cultural performances. Last year, the festival was held over two days for the first time with a focus on HipHop, Rap, and House. The organizers aim to make the festival bigger, more colorful, and more interactive every year to offer an even more intense “FreeFlow” experience. The festival will take place on September 6 and 7, 2024, in its fifth edition. 


Hey Julius! Thanks for taking the time. When we came across the festival, we wondered, “…another festival, really…?” – What makes the FreeFlow Festival special?

The FreeFlow Festival has been organized by young, volunteer Biberach residents from the beginning – with support from local youth groups, schools, suppliers, and partners. About 20 people work year-round in planning and marketing, while another 100 people help with setup and takedown as well as running the event, investing a lot of passion and dedication. The festival is located in a characteristic park, setting it apart from the fence landscapes of other festivals. Our team decorates the site elaborately each year to create a distinctive event location. But it’s not just the location and organizational structure that sets it apart from conventional music festivals: 

With our focus on sustainability, cultural diversity, art, inclusion, and freedom, we create an event experience that is not feasible at large festivals. 

The fringe program makes the festival stand out, with workshops, fashion, and tattoo booths. Visitors become creative themselves and become part of the festival with their art. With the FreeFlow Festival, we bring art and culture to Biberach, a city that otherwise offers little for young people.

Glasperlendspiel @ FreeFlow Festival 2023 | Photo: Markus Haner
Glasperlendspiel @ FreeFlow Festival 2023 | Photo: Markus Haner

Let’s talk about people. Which visitors come to the festival?

Our program decides the target group. On Friday, we focus on Hip-Hop, attracting a younger audience of 16-30 years. Here we expect about 4,000 visitors in 2024. On Saturday, Pop and Indie attract a mixed audience. We have observed that many young people visit the festival with their parents, and small children are also brought along. Our audience here is between 16 and 60 years old. On Saturday, we want to reach our maximum capacity of 5,000 visitors.


You’re hosting a band contest on gigmit. How did the collaboration come about?

Since I started in the music scene myself as a DJ, the gigmit platform was already known to me early on, and I was able to snag one or two performances here. When I switched from being a producer/DJ to an organizer, we wanted to offer emerging artists the opportunity to perform at our festival through a band contest. gigmit offered us the opportunity to quickly and easily reach the right artists.

[You can find the band contest here on gigmit.]

FreeFlow Festival Bandcontest

Let’s talk about money. How is the festival financed?

Due to extreme price increases in the event industry (sometimes up to 100%) and the expiration of local and national funding programs, financing the festival has become an ever-increasing problem. Especially good artists (for which we are actually known) are becoming more expensive and thus hardly affordable for us. We are now in a situation where only about 50% of the festival costs can be covered by ticket prices. Another 25% is financed through revenue from gastronomy, which unfortunately is weather-dependent, and the remaining 25% through sponsors. Therefore, partners and sponsors are enormously important for our festival and indispensable from our concept.


Which sponsors are involved this year? What do you do with them?

We have various types of partners and sponsors. Many local companies support us with their services, which also make us what we are: a festival with local suppliers and character, but also with national and international art and reach. We also have foundations as sponsors. However, it’s important to us that we and our guests can identify with every sponsor. Besides local companies, we are therefore also supported by, for example, Volksbank, WGV, Liebherr, or various beverage brands. Especially through the sponsoring support of “gigmit for brands,” we hope to achieve even more national reach with our partners.

The involvement of partners and sponsors is always very different. We always try to look at the company/partner individually and think about where we might have possible intersections with the product with our event.

Atmo @ FreeFlow Festival 2023 | Photo: Markus Haner
Atmo @ FreeFlow Festival 2023 | Photo: Markus Haner


What can you offer sponsors? The days of logo placement are over.

We always try to first understand the partner, their product, and philosophy and then think individually about where, in what form, and intensity a collaboration makes sense.

For some companies, in this process, classic logo placement actually turns out to be sensible, while others want to be more intensively involved.

What we want with all partners, however, is for them to become part of the event and be there on-site. Since we want the effort to be worth it for both the visitors and the companies, two concepts have proven to be sensible: The job fair and the product presentation. At the job fair, the company presents itself as such and can build personal contact with potential new employees. This should happen in a playful manner, making the companies with their job fair booth part of our fringe program and also offering workshops or similar. At the product presentation, companies often offer giveaways or tasting portions, allowing visitors to experience the product at the festival and perhaps even buy it directly. Raffles or similar are also often used here.


Julius Exner, FreeFlow Festival
Julius Exner, FreeFlow Festival

Sentence completion: From sponsors, I wish…

…that companies also consider the smaller festivals.

Of course, you reach more people in total at the big festivals (in theory). At smaller festivals, there is a closer connection to the visitors, and as one of a few sponsors, you become more tangible and present, offering the opportunity to engage more personally. Exactly these characteristics are inherent in the identity of small festivals; a company basically just has to find the right festival.





Thank you, Julius, for your insights and the conversation. More information about the FreeFlow Festival can be found at https://freeflowevents.de.

The band contest is available on gigmit.

Sponsor inquiries can be directed to gigmit and will be forwarded directly to Julius and his team. The interview was conducted by the gigmit editorial team. Since 2022, gigmit has also been bringing festivals together with sponsors. We draw on a network of currently around 1,000 festivals and offer tailored matchmaking of the right festivals for the right brand. Besides festivals with over 200,000 visitors, gigmit offers numerous small and medium-sized festivals in Europe, the USA, South America, Australia, Africa, and Asia.

More information about festival sponsorships can be found here.