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Fire Festival: the rise of the virtual music festival

Dance music and gaming unite in virtual music festival hosted inside popular video game Minecraft

By Anna Grace on 17 Jan 2019

Fire Festival

Fire Festival took place inside Minecraft

image © nolongerkai

Last weekend, Fire Festival provided a musical experience for a digital age. Thousands of festivalgoers wandered the grounds, listened to music across two stages and interacted with fellow attendees, all from the comfort of their own sofas.

More than 5,000 fans “attended” the event from 12 to 13 January, with 6,500 people also joining the festival’s live Discord chat.

Over 50 artists performed at the event, with headliners Ekali, Hudson Mohawke, ARTY, and Luca Lush playing along with many other underground acts and unsigned artists.

The world of Minecraft supplied the setting for the festival, which fans could attend free of charge, provided they owned a copy of the game on PC or Mac.

“Anyone with a [Minecraft] account could join and explore the festival grounds we built, fight ‘boss battles’ to gain festival merch, or watch the artists ‘perform’ at either of the stages,” festival organiser, Max Schramp, tells IQ.

Those without a copy of Minecraft did not have access to the virtual landscape, but could still “attend” the festival by tuning into the music stream on the festival website and joining the live chat rooms.

“In the end we had over 6,000 people playing Minecraft and over 80,000 people tuning into the audio stream!” says Schramp.

“Anyone with a Minecraft account could join and explore the festival grounds”

The festival proved a great success, but did not come without its obstacles. Minecraft is not optimised to have servers of hundreds of players, so the festival’s development team had to create a custom network for their servers in order to spread the load of the players, explains Schramp.

Another major obstacle faced by the team is much more familiar to organisers of traditional festivals the world over: the coordination and handling of artists. Leading up to the festival, “there were a dozen iterations of the posters, videos, and various promotional material, with some artists sending us their sets hours before they were due to play.”

Schramp tells IQ that the origins of the festival sprang from a birthday joke, after he announced that he would throw his 21st birthday party inside Minecraft. He and his friends formed a team to create Coalchella 2018, the precursor to this year’s Fire Festival.

Since then, the joke has evolved into a much bigger platform for music lovers and gamers alike, as well as developing an important social cause.

The festival organisers donated US$1750.97 – all profits from the event – to the Trevor Project, an organisation focusing on suicide prevention among LGBTQ+ youth. “I hope that this might be a significant step in pushing the music and festival industry towards inclusivity for LGBTQ+ and underprivileged people,” says Schramp.


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