New technology and new uses of existing technology are helping Ottawa Bluesfest to grow and other organizations are looking closely at what is being done there.

Bluesfest is 11 days of music, with over 200 performers, six stages, an expected audience of over 300,000 people. Fourteen years ago the first show had just 5,000 fans over three days.

According to executive director Mark Monahan, the festival made a conscious decision to use technology to help them keep up with their rising popularity. For example, 80 per cent of all ticket sales now take place online.

Updates on shows, performances and basic information are online. There is also a Facebook fan group where fans can listen to past performances.

"The people who come to the festival are mostly the people who get all their information from the web. They don't want to see information that is six to eight weeks old, they want it now and they want it current. They can still get a program if they want, but we're not printing off 50,000 copies of a program," Monahan said.

Rogers Wireless is offering cell phone users a festival "survival kit" of downloads such as a virtual cigarette lighter display and a flashing beacon on your phone so friends can find you. Rogers is also providing advice on what shows you might want to catch, all on your phone.

Bluesfest is the only test market this year and Rogers expects to roll out similar offers at other festivals next year.

This year, there is a record number of 4,500 volunteers at Bluesfest - double that of last year. Organizers believe it's because registration was handled completely online.

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