The success of last weekend’s Sacramento Cannabis Cup, California’s first event with state-licensed cannabis sales and onsite consumption, has led music promoters to look ahead to a future of 420-friendly music festivals and single-act concerts. Just as merch sales have become an important revenue stream, promoters and talent managers are looking to capture cannabis sales as a way to monetize the music.
Not only was the High Times Cannabis Cup in Sacramento the first festival in the United States to feature taxed sales and open consumption of the botanical intoxicant, Friday and Saturday’s concerts were the first in America at which smoking cannabis violated no rules.
“Cannabis and music go together hand-in-glove,” High Times’ chief revenue officer, Matt Stang, told Leafly shortly before the first waft of cannabis smoke—and some of the biggest names in hip-hop—hit the concert stage on Friday.
“Cannabis is coming into the music industry,” added Stang. His company, the longest-running brand in the cannabis industry, bridges cannabis culture and the music business in the pages of its magazine and in the lineup of hip-hop, reggae and electronic artists at its Cannabis Cup events. “As legality scales out, there’ll be a lot happening.”
Stang will join a panel of music and cannabis industry executives convening at Music Biz in Nashville later this month (May 14-17). The topic: cannabis as a new revenue stream for artists, labels and festival and concert organizers.
This Is Not Not Happening
Tim Blake, the cannabis grower who became an event producer when he founded Northern California’s annual Emerald Cup festival 15 years ago, told Leafly it’s a matter of when, not if.
“All the big event producers are all talking about how much business cannabis has done on the streets outside their events all these years,” Blake said. “Now they would like to have a piece of it, just like the beer garden.”
A number of well-known artists are already in the game. Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg have their own cannabis companies, with products ready to sell in place of alcohol at California concerts. Last year the Tragically Hip, Canada’s iconic band, struck a deal with Newstrike, a Canadian cannabis company, that wasn’t about the endorsement fee. The Hip actually took an investment stake in the company.