356 Entertainment Leads the Charge to Make Malta the Next Festival Hub
The 356 Entertainment story begins over 20 years ago when two avid music fans, Trevor Camilleri and Gerald Debono, came together with a vision of Malta's music scene rivaling that of other European hotspots like Berlin and London. They've since harnessed the high-production quality and star-studded pull of the international festival scene as a driver for an intensely passionate and growing local circuit.
Throughout the early 00s, they made significant inroads, and in 2015, promoter and entrepreneur Nicholas Spiteri joined to help fully realize the island's transformation into a must-visit festival destination.
Located between Sicily and the North African coast, all European roads (and boats) point to Malta. Its central location makes it a prime spot for a vibrant music scene. And the near guarantee of good weather year-round makes it a prime destination even when the winter's chill creeps in on the rest of the continent. Local infrastructure is robust with an increasing number of large-scale events happening there, and the cultures and customs of the country itself also make for a decadent holiday experience outside of the music.
Over the years, 356 Entertainment has been at the forefront of driving the live event revolution, often being the first to work with major brands and top-line DJs. They've hosted events with the world's most prestigious event producers, including Cirque Du Soleil, elrow, Defected, BPM Festival, the BBC Concert Orchestra, Creamfields, and BBC Radio 1.
Their precise understanding of the local market continues to draw global institutions into the 356 Entertainment orbit. Their work is estimated to have brought around 100k tourists to Malta annually, all of whom put money back into the local economy. The team has undoubtedly been a pivotal engine of growth for tourism in the region.
We spoke to Nicky and Trevor from the experienced team at 356 Entertainment about their origin story, future plans, and more.
How are your events driving tourism? Are they designed to bring in travelers from around Europe?
Nicky: Yes, one of the goals of every event is to drive and improve festival tourism. 356 Entertainment has been at the forefront of festival tourism in Malta for over 20 years.
How important is it to use local talent, teams, staff, production, and so on at the events to build the local industry?
Nicky: Very important! It is all about creating the right ecosystem for a sustainable future within our industry.
Can you find the staff, creative people, and agencies you need? Do you have any turning programs or plans to breed more entertainment industry talent?
Nicky: Yes, we do have a good pool of local talent. In terms of creativity, we love working with BoldBishop. They have experience and energy like no other and can create the best customized content for our projects.
How hard has it been to establish relationships with some of the big brands and talents you work with? Did they take some convincing at first?
Nicky: Life is all about building relationships and treating people fairly and with respect.
What is your ultimate goal? Would you hope to make a scene like they have in Ibiza or Croatia, or are you aiming at a different market?
Nicky: Ibiza is in a league of their own. I think they are at the forefront of our industry. But I do believe that it became very expensive. Thus a vacuum has been created for people who still want to have a good time and not break the bank. This means Malta is in the ideal situation to position itself as an affordable destination.
What are you most excited about this summer and why?
Nicky: Following the challenges Covid brought, we are happy to be back to a full festival-filled summer in Malta and overseas. We are also very excited to be launching Defected Festival in Malta.
What are some of the best events you have put on, and why?
Nicky: Annie Mac Presents Lost and Found Festival is always special. This festival was created in 2016, and it only gets better every year. Elrow is another special brand we love working with. The creativity of Juan and his team is out of this world. This year, we have started a working relationship with Pollen where we have festivals with Drumcode on the 15th-18th of September and 50 cent the weekend after.
What's your day-to-day role within the company?
Nicky: Building the right connections and always focusing on the growth of the company both locally and also on an international level.
What have been your thoughts on the current climate and how things have been in early summer? What changes do you expect for the latter part of the season?
Nicky - The season started earlier this year and has been positive with great turnouts. I guess this is due to the fact that people have been eager to enjoy themselves freely after the covid years. We expect the season to remain consistent. However, we monitor the industry very closely to keep understanding what the people want. 356 diversifies in different age groups with different entertainment events.
What countries have attended your events the most, and how are you trying to expand your horizons with other key destinations?
Trevor: Whilst the main customers have been UK based, we also continue to see a very good mix of Italians, Spanish, and French coming over for our events. Interestingly, our most recent event garnered significant attention from the USA, Germany, and Sweden, amongst others.
We look at different brands to partner with according to the clientele they could attract. European & UK would be our main focus once they're close to home. However, we will always keep our eyes open for anything we feel would work.
Talk to us about what you're doing outside of Malta. We hear big projects are on the horizon.
Trevor: All artists, management, and crew that visit are impressed by the holistic approach that 356 has towards events and are always eager to work with us again, therefore making the company's expansion to an international level seem like a natural development and this international growth is something we are currently very focused on.
356 Entertainment is proud to form part of ULTRA in Costa Del Sol, which will happen next August. Interest and discussions in the Middle East and other territories are ongoing, and we could hopefully give more info very soon. Partnering up with the world's top brands and opening up new territories is our priority, plus keeping Malta at the highest level of entertainment in parallel.