In the space of just over three years since the first edition of its flagship festival, SOUNDSTORM, MDLBEAST has experienced a meteoric rise, growing rapidly into a multifaceted music entertainment company that is a major force in the development of the Saudi Arabian live events industry. The third edition of SOUNDSTORM, which took place in December 2022, was the biggest yet, attracting more than 600,000 music fans for a three-day extravaganza headlined by a catalogue of global superstars, including Bruno Mars, Swedish House Mafia, Post Malone, DJ Khaled, and David Guetta.
With seven stages spread across a massive 5.5 sq km purpose-built festival site, SOUNDSTORM is a festival on a mammoth scale – a fact that became painfully apparent as we dashed from stage to stage the day before opening, checking in with some of the key figures from the catalogue of production teams working on the event, all while gradually burning to a crisp in the afternoon sun.
One man who certainly has no problem navigating his way around the vast festival site is MDLBEAST’s Executive Director – Events, Michael ‘Curly’ Jobson. While he was understandably tied up with the mammoth task of overseeing the general running of the festival during our visit, Curly took some time out of his busy schedule to catch up with TPMEA once the dust had settled.
“It’s truly mind-boggling how big and production-intensive it is,” he reflected, looking back on to project. “All the planning and the learnings from 2021 came together. The key thing is the customer journey; we learned so much about our customer and what they want in a festival. We are immensely proud of what we produced.”
A 40-year veteran of concert production, there’s not much that Curly hasn’t come across in his time in the industry. However, even he was taken aback by the sheer scale of SOUNDSTORM. “The movement of people, traffic flow, parking, security, accessibility to the venue… all these factors needed to be carefully considered before we even started talking about producing the show,” he recalled. “I showed up here in 2020 and, not being from the festival world, I had to learn very quickly. I applied the same logic I have applied to everything else I’ve ever done in my career, which is ‘if you don’t know how to do it, ask somebody’.”