NU grad creates music fest rating site

A Northeastern University (NU) graduate has created an Internet business called Obfessed that allows attendees of music festivals to rate their experience on an online platform and have a voice.

“Our goal from the beginning has been to give festival fans a voice,” said founder Daniel Swain in an email to the Gazette. “The louder and more influential that voice is, the better. Ideally, you’ll be able to Google a festival and its Obfessed page will come up. When we make that happen, festivals will be forced to listen to their fans.”

Swain, who recently graduated from NU with a music industry degree, said the idea for the start-up came as he was working as a marketing associate for several festivals, including the Newport Folk Festival. He said he saw a need to have a site where festival-goers could have a voice that would be recognized, as when they posted on the festival’s Facebook page, it would become lost in the Internet deluge.

Obfessed, which is located in neighboring Jamaica Plain, first launched as a Twitter account, where Swain posted festival news, including lineup announcements. Swain said he began developing the site last fall and launched it in February. He said the name comes from combining the words “obsessed” and “festival,” noting also that the domain name was available.

“One of the remarkable aspects of the festival industry is how dedicated festival-goers are to their favorite festival,” he said. “I wanted to create a place that could really harness that enthusiasm and the name had to reflect that.”

Swain said he designed the website to be easy to operate. Users type in a festival’s name in a search box, find its individuals page and write a review.

“The best reviews are ‘upvoted’ by other users to make sure the highest-quality reviews receive the most exposure,” he said. “In many ways, Obfessed functions similarly to other review websites, but there’s no need to create an account and it’s designed specifically for festivals.”

Swain said he is concerned about the direction large-scale festivals are heading because they are looking to maximize profits instead of focusing on improving the individual experience.

“Small, niche festivals, such as our very own Jamaica Plain Music Festival, on the other hand, recognize the value in customer satisfaction,” he said. “For them, it’s about building long-term relationships with their fans. I’m hoping that Obfessed will reflect that and expose those small [and] medium festivals.”

Swain said like most startups, the challenges Obfessed faces are getting its name out there and funding. But, he said, he hopes to grow the startup to where a person looking to attend a festival will first visit the website.

“As it continues to grow, Obfessed will evolve to become a hub for festival discovery,” he said.

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