Go behind the scenes of Sensorium with David Guetta
Sensorium Galaxy, a new VR ‘social metaspace’ in which users can attend alternative-world concerts, nightclubs and festivals through a VR headset or streaming, has shared behind-the-scenes footage documenting the making of David Guetta’s avatar.
Last autumn, Guetta revealed a partnership with Sensorium Cooperation that will see him create a series of exclusive performances in the metaspace, which is set to launch in Q2.
Guetta will appear as virtual representation for his exclusive performances in Prism – a ‘content hub’ in the Galaxy dedicated to music concerts and festivals, which is being developed in partnership with Yann Pissenem, CEO and founder of The Night League and creator of nightclubs Hï Ibiza and Ushuaïa Ibiza.
The company has now shared a behind-the-scenes video offering a glimpse into “the crazy experience” of developing Guetta’s avatar, capturing his facial expressions and mapping his signature moves and DJing techniques using cutting edge technology.
Since its foundation, Sensorium Corporation has raised over $100 million in private investments
The Grammy award-winning DJ and producer was the first artist announced to join the platform, followed by contemporaries Carl Cox, Armin van Buuren and Black Coffee among others.
Since its foundation, Sensorium Corporation has raised over $100 million in private investments, making it ‘one of the world’s best-funded startups in the VR space’, according to the company.
Among its backers are Forbes-listed billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay-Z’s streaming service Tidal, which spent US$7 million on tokens issued by the platform’s company, acquiring access to broadcast its content within the platform.
Sensorium has also announced the closed beta trial which will allow selected users to access the platform and explore the worlds of Prism and Motion, an underwater world dedicated to mindfulness. Applications for beta-testers will open next week.
Alongside preparing for his Sensorium debut, Guetta has been busy with his lockdown livestream series, United at Home, which has raised more than US$2 million for charity to date. Read more about the success of the spectacular charity concerts here.
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United at Home: How David Guetta live streams raised millions
United at Home, David Guetta’s free-to-access lockdown livestream series, has raised more than US$2 million for charity to date – over half a million dollars per show – and is just getting started, according to co-organiser Michael Wiesenfeld.
Wiesenfeld, a French-born, Miami-based estate agent and friend of Guetta, was instrumental in setting up the first United at Home event in April 2020, which saw the DJ play a 100-minute set on the roof of an apartment block in Miami in aid of the World Health Organization (WHO), Feeding South Florida, Feeding America and France’s Fondation des Hôpitaux.
The show was seen by more than 12 million people – many of which also joined in on a Zoom link, while 7,000 residents of neighbouring blocks in the Icon Brickell complex watched from their balconies – and raised $700,000, with donations matched by Guetta himself, Wiesenfeld explains.
“For that first show, David paid for 100% of the production, as well as matching people’s donations, so 100% of that money went directly to charity,” he recalls.
Thinking back to the genesis of the show, Wiesenfeld tells IQ: “David wanted to do something to give back, but he didn’t really know what. I was the same – it was such a stressful time, and I couldn’t sleep thinking of all these people who were worse off than me. We could see people were struggling. There was no help at the time, as this was before any stimulus package.
“I used to live in the apartment block where we did the first show and I realised it would be perfect. I was looking for something that would be visually very nice [to watch from home] and also offer the possibility for David to interact with a live crowd. A friend and client of mine in the real-estate business, Jean-Charles Carre, is part of David’s management team, so I called them up and said, ‘Why don’t we do it here?’”
The United at Home team, which also included Jérémy Zeitoun, Guetta’s head of social media and digital marketing, and Pierre-Georges Kieffer from Warner Music France, pulled the Miami show together in under a week, working “18 hours a day for five days” to make it happen, Wiesenfeld continues.
In addition to providing some much-needed entertainment, the funds raised by United at Home Miami and follow-up event United at Home New York, on 30 May, enabled Feeding America to distribute over four million meals to people in need.
“We thought about selling tickets to raise more money, but it would limit the number of people who can see it”
“Everybody has same story about it giving a bit of happiness at time of such darkness,” Wiesenfeld says. “I dug out the clips recently and, even a year later, I had chills. It was like watching France win the world cup!”
“That night, I couldn’t sleep,” Wiesenfeld remembers. “David, the team and I were on the phone until 6.30 in the morning, we were so full of adrenaline. We all agreed that we had to do another one.”
The show that followed, which saw Guetta performing from the roof of New York’s Rockefeller Center, almost didn’t happen, with big-city bureaucracy, the worsening Covid-19 situation and the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd threatening to derail the concert before it got off the ground.
“The day of the event, there were 4,000 people on the streets of New York by our hotel,” Wiesenfeld explains. “We didn’t think we were going to make it to the Rockefeller Center in time. In the end, David arrived seven minutes before the show!”
Despite the chaotic circumstances, United at Home New York was another critical and financial success, securing the backing of a number of high-profile sponsors who were impressed by what the team had pulled off in Miami.
“In Miami, David paid for entire show, but in New York we had Major League Soccer, Heineken, Atari, all kinds of companies… In total, we had maybe 15 sponsors because they saw what we did in Miami and they were blown away,” says Wiesenfeld.
Similarly successful were United at Home Paris, held at the Louvre on New Year’s Eve 2020, and United at Home Dubai, which saw Guetta return to the rooftop (this time of the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel) on 6 February. Both shows were engineered by Guetta’s long time tour manager, Jean-Guillaume Charvet, and visual artist Romain Pissenem of High Scream Production, and brought United at Home’s now-trademark mix of high-energy electronic music, spectacular visual effects and breathtaking locations to fans in new continents.
Bucking the trend towards ticketed live streams, Wiesenfeld says all future United at Home events will remain free to view to ensure they reach as many people as possible.
“The key with charity is that it’s all about the experience and the connection with people”
“We thought about it [selling tickets], to raise more money, but it would limit the number of people who can see it,” he explains. “David’s logic is that he’s been very successful, he’s received a lot from his fans, and now his duty is to give back. The charity angle is very important to him.”
At press time, the four shows had been collectively viewed by well over 100m people – and where in the beginning the team had to approach cities to host United at Home, now the cities are coming to them. “The shows have shown that these United at Home events are a great way of advertising their cities,” says Wiesenfeld, who with Carre now leads a specialist event consultancy, The Charity Guys. “After all, it’s a lot cheaper than hosting the Euros…”
The plan for 2021–22 is for another three or four over the next 12 months, he says. “Now United at Home has become a concept – we travel to a beautiful part of the world and play great music for charity – it’s going to continue.”
Post-coronavirus, Wiesenfeld adds, team Guetta – which also includes agent Maria May of CAA – are also hoping to do a “real show in a big stadium: a festival curated by David but featuring other artists. A Live Aid type of thing, once a year.”
On the live stream front, it’s likely the next United at Home show will be in Asia, but The Charity Guys is also looking at South America, the Middle East and other cities in Europe, according to Wiesenfeld. “What we’re trying to do is find new ways to raise money for those who need it,” he adds.
The Charity Guys is also hoping to work with other artists to replicate the success of the United at Home model, using it as their proof of concept.
“United at Home was the product of out-of-the-box thinking – it was livestreaming but in a completely different way. Now we want to do that with other artists and entertainers, leveraging their fame and brand to raise money.
“There are a lot of celebrities who have foundations but they don’t raise much money, and I think that’s because they don’t have the right team around them. The key with charity is that it’s all about the experience and the connection with people, and that’s why United at Home has been so successful.”
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ADE reaches millions with virtual 2020 event
The 25th edition of Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE), which took place from Wednesday 21 to Sunday 25 October, reached millions of people across the world with the festival’s first-ever digital event, organisers have revealed.
The yearly ADE Pro conference, which traditionally takes place alongside the festival, also took place in an online environment and attracted thousands of electronic music industry professionals.
Highlights of the event included a live conversation between Timbaland, Martin Garrix and David Guetta, The Evolution of Sounds, with more than 250,000 people tuning in globally. Meanwhile, the ADE Pro conference delved into future prospects for artists, clubs and festivals, health issues with James Blake, activism and music with Neneh Cherry and more. All ADE Pro content is available on demand via the platform.
Other sessions of note included the European premiere of the documentary Larry’s Garage, a collaboration with Nyege Nyege festival from Uganda and a livestream from Elrow with Desperados, which attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers.
“It’s great we were able to fulfil our role as a world-leading platform for electronic music even in these strange times”
In addition, studio tours and master classes by a wide range of artists, including Bloody Mary, Carista, Carl Cox, Âme’s Frank Wiedeman and Pan-Pot, formed an in-depth program for the new generation of DJs, while viewers were given a glimpse into the future of digital performances with innovative audiovisual experiences.
Elsewhere, favourite moments from previous editions of ADE were shared on TikTok with the hashtag #ADEmoments throughout the week, with the likes of Tiësto, Martin Garrix, Stella Bossi, Don Diablo, Armin van Buuren and Carly Wilford getting involved, as well as the Rijksmuseum and other organisations. This reached more than 35 million people.
ADE co-directors Jan-Willem van de Ven and Meindert Kennis, who took over from Mariana Sanchotene for this year’s event, jointly comment: “We obviously had something different in mind when we started in December, but given the circumstances we’re happy to hear people say we’ve raised the bar for the future of digital events.
“It’s great that we were able to fulfil our role as a world-leading platform for electronic music even in these strange times and we look forward to further developing the digital platform over the coming months to benefit our subscribers.”
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Live music community rallies for Covid-19 relief
High-profile acts from around the world are taking part in a number of upcoming virtual events to raise money and awareness for Covid-19 relief funds, as the live music community continues to pull its weight in the fight against the disease.
Virtual benefit events have been a feature of lockdown from the very beginning, with the Lady Gaga-curated, Global Citizen-organised One World: Together at Home an early pioneer of the space. The mammoth livestreamed benefit event raised almost US$128 million for the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Covid-19 solidarity response fund, setting a new a record for the most money generated by a remote music festival.
Now Global Citizen is teaming up with the European Commission for Global Goal: Unite for our Future, a campaign seeking to raise funds for the development and distribution of Covid-19 testing, treatments and vaccines.
On 27 June, high-profile artists including Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Shakira, Coldplay and J Balvin will join philanthropists and world leaders in an international pledging summit to call on governments to commit to the funding needed to ensure fair access to Covid-19 treatment.
Music industry giants including Live Nation, Scooter Braun and SB Projects, Adam Leber (Maverick), Jay Brown (Roc Nation) and Michele Anthony (Universal Music Group) are involved in producing the event.
Exclusive experiences, including a virtual happy hour with Adam Lambert and virtual concerts from Chloe X Halle and Fher Olvera, lead singer of Mexican rock band Maná, also form part of the campaign.
Global Citizen is teaming up with the European Commission for Global Goal: Unite for our Future
Independent LA-based electronic music companies Brownies & Lemonade and Proximity yesterday (28 May) announced the second edition of their Digital Mirage festival, set to take place from 5 to 7 June.
The first outing of the event, which saw performances from Alsion Wonderland, Tokimonsta and Sofi Tukker, raised over $300,000 for the Sweet Musicians Relief Fund. Digital Mirage 2 will feature acts including A Trak, Baauer, Boys Noize and Hot Chip, with all proceeds going to Plus1’s fund for Covid-19 relief.
Fans can register for the event here.
Eschewing the virtual world for the real thing, French DJ David Guetta is set to make his second rooftop performance in New York on Saturday, following on from a similarly distanced performance in Miami last month. The Miami show raised $750,000 for Feeding South Florida, Feeding America, World Health Organisation and Fondation Hôpitaux de Paris.
The New York concert will raise money for the Mayor’s fund to advance New York city, as well as the international organisations that benefited from Guetta’s first show.
Elsewhere in the US, acts including Pearl Jam, Macklemore and Dave Matthews are participating in the virtual All in WA event on 10 June to raise money for Covid-19 relief efforts across Washington state. The concert, which will air on the local NBC affiliates, can be streamed on Amazon’s Twitch channel, and will be available on Amazon Prime after it airs.
Superbloom festival to debut in Munich
Miley Cyrus and David Guetta are among the headliners for the inaugural Superbloom festival, which is taking place on 5 and 6 September in the German city of Munich.
Promoted by Goodlive, Superbloom will see performances from acts including the Pussycat Dolls, DJ Snake, AnnenMayKantereit, Apache 207, Bishop Briggs, Liam Payne and Parcels.
Located in the grounds of Munich’s Olympiapark and Olympiastadion (75,000-cap.), the festival will also feature a firework display from RuPaul’s Drag Race: Werq the World, as well as comedy from Kaya Yanar and live podcasts.
Advance ticket sales are now open, with weekend passes priced at €155 (£130).
Goodlive is also behind German electronic music festival Melt!, hip-hop and rap festival Splash!, metal festival Full Force and touring yoga festival Wanderlust.
MDL Beast festival to debut in Saudi Arabia
David Guetta, Martin Garrix and Steve Aoki are among acts confirmed for electronic dance music (EDM) festival MDL Beast, the latest addition to Saudi Arabia’s flourishing festival scene.
The inaugural MDL Beast festival is taking place from 19 to 21 December 2019 in Riyadh, home to the 70,000-capacity King Fahd Stadium which recently hosted k-pop stars BTS.
The multi-stage festival will feature 18 international headliners and 28 global dance acts including Afrojack, Camelphat, J Balvin and Tiësto, as well as 24 local and regional performers, such as EDM DJ Cosmicat and local DJ duo Dish Dash.
Steve Aoki, who this summer performed at Roqu Media’s Jeddah World Fest – the first, major, ticketed music festival in the country – comments: “When I got the offer to play at the three-day MDL Beast festival, I was thrilled to become part of it and be back in the region again. It’s go[ing to] be an incredible event with tons of acts and lots of new names.”
“We’re confident MDL Beast will be like nothing seen before and we cannot wait to experience this transformative musical milestone”
Ahmad Alammary, DJ and member of the festival team, adds: “More than just a music festival, MDL Beast is also a platform with multiple [projects] including ongoing seasonal local and global events, online and radio channels, recording studios, and a non-profit foundation promoting music education and therapy.
“We’re confident MDL Beast will be like nothing seen before and we cannot wait to experience this transformative musical milestone.”
“I’m so proud of the fact that we’re hosting this festival in Saudi; it’s a great reflection of the Saudi audience being able to experience the music they love,” comments Cosmicat. “As one of the first female EDM DJs here, I’m excited to be flying the flag and representing women on the scene.”
As Saudi Arabia continues to boost its live entertainment offering and cement its place on the international touring map, criticism is still levelled at artists who opt to play in the kingdom. Nicki Minaj pulled out of Jeddah World Fest following pressure from human rights organisations and BTS’ appearance in the country sparked a mixed reaction from fans.
Fans can register for tickets to the MDL Beast here.
Avicii tribute raises funds for mental health charity
Artists including David Guetta, Kygo, Rita Ora and Adam Lambert will participate in an Avicii tribute concert in the artist’s hometown of Stockholm, Sweden on 5 December.
The concert is taking place at the 50,000-seat Friends Arena and will feature music from Avicii’s (real name Tim Bergling) posthumously released album ‘Tim’, performed for the first time.
The event will feature 19 of the singers who appear on Avicii’s songs, performing alongside a 30-piece band. Sets from fellow DJs including Guetta, Kygo, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike and Nicky Romero will open the concert.
Proceeds from the Avicii Tribute Concert for Mental Health Awareness will go towards the Tim Bergling Foundation, a charity set up by Bergling’s family to raise money for mental health-related issues and suicide prevention.
“Tim had plans for his music to be performed together with a large live band, and now we are realising his dream and giving fans a chance to experience his music in this unique way”
Bergling died of an apparent suicide in 2018, at the age of 28. The DJ had retired from touring two years previously, stating he had “too little time left for the life of the real person behind the artist” to continue.
“Tim had plans for his music to be performed together with a large live band, and now we are realising his dream and giving fans a chance to experience his music in this unique way,” says the DJ’s father, Klas Bergling.
“We are grateful that his friends, producers, artists and colleagues are coming to Stockholm to help,” adds Bergling.
“They have all expressed a sincere interest and desire to engage in efforts to stem the tide of mental illness and lend their support to our work with the Tim Bergling Foundation. We are very much looking forward to this evening, which will be a starting point for the foundation’s work going forward.”
Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. CET. More information can be found here.
200,000 festivalgoers celebrate Exit’s 18th year
After last year’s record-breaking ‘Summer of Love’ tribute festival, Exit organisers used this year’s festival to celebrate being crowned best major European festival by this year’s European Festival Awards for the second time in five years.
200,000 people visited the 18th edition of the independently run festival, with 55,000 people coming out to experience the final day, equalling Exit’s previously set attendance record. Set in the 17th century Petrovaradin Fortress in Novi Sad, Serbia, this year’s festival saw performances from hip-hop trio Migos, serial headliner David Guetta and music legend Grace Jones.
Throughout the weekend, artists found time to praise the festival. David Guetta, a regular performer at the festival, thanked both the festival and fans in a statement, “I wanna thank all of you for coming, it was so good to be back, thank you for following me on my journey, wherever I was taking you you were there, I appreciate you. Exit I love you.”
“I just played a closing 3 hours set at one of the most special places on earth.”
Grace Jones and final act Nina Kraviz both extended their sets in a bid to keep the festival atmosphere going. Music icon Grace Jones played on for 45 minutes longer than scheduled, saying onstage that she didn’t want to leave. On the last day, Kraviz added an extra hour onto her set, later saying: “I just played a closing 3 hours set at one of the most special places on earth.
“Thank you wonderful Exit Festival team for trusting me and inviting me to close this outstanding festival that has been uniting so many people from all over the world.”
Following Exit 2018’s success, sister event Sea Dance Festival will take place in Montenegro from 30 August to 1 September.
Giddings: Rod’s got a train set—I’ve got a festival
John Giddings has said he has no plans to step down from Isle of Wight Festival, as he celebrates a “bumper year” for the long-running UK event.
Giddings – speaking to IQ in a brief moment of downtime amid a five-night run for Phil Collins at Lanxess Arena (18,000-cap.) in Cologne – says his day job with Solo Agency, whose other upcoming shows include Iggy Pop, Little Mix and U2, means the festival remains a “hobby” rather than a moneyspinner: “Every penny I’ve made from the festival I’ve invested back into it,” he explains. “Rod Stewart’s got a train set – I’ve got a festival!
“How many other people can say they can pay artists far too much money to come and play on the Isle of Wight and invite all their mates…?”
If social media is anything to go by, Giddings’s friends weren’t the only people who had a good time at the 16th festival, held over four days last week (8–11 June).
Although he “never gives out” attendance figures, Giddings (pictured) says the 2017 event had a “very good atmosphere” and points IQ towards social media – on which he keeps a keen eye throughout the weekend – for a sample of attendee feedback. (A quick look on the festival’s Facebook page sees visitors saying they had an “awesome weekend” at a “fantastic” event – and lots of praise for the surprisingly clean loos.)
“It’s good to have a visible promoter – it gives the festival an identity”
“You need to read social media,” continues Giddings. “It’s the first thing people will turn to if they have any complaints – so if they’re congratulating you, you know you’ve done well.”
Giddings’s personal highlights of the festival include Friday-night co-headliners Run-DMC and David Guetta (“five out of five”), Arcade Fire, who made their Isle of Wight debut on Saturday after “a number of years’” worth of approaches, and Rod Stewart, who closed the festival on Sunday night.
He also praises the new talent on display, including The Amazons, The Sherlocks, Bang Bang Romeo and Judas, all of whom got “great reactions” from the crowd.
As with Download, held concurrently in Leicestershire, there was a beefed up police presence at the festival, with armed officers from Hampshire Constabulary deployed throughout the festival site. Giddings says the police “behaved so well”, both in making attendees feel safe and getting into the festival spirit (a selection #policeselfies were posted on the @FestivalCop twitter account).
Isle of Wight Festival 2017’s policing commander, Hampshire’s Supt Simon Dodds, says the support his officers received from festivalgoers was “overwhelming”. “The fact that the policing family and the public were able to communicate so well has made the experience all the more safe, reassuring and enjoyable for all,” he explains.
Giddings resurrected the long-dormant Isle of Wight Festival brand in 2002 after a 32-year hiatus – “I’m lucky because I’ve got an iconic name from the 1970s, so it’s on everyone’s bucket list,” he jokes – and agreed to sell a majority stake in the festival to Live Nation earlier this year.
“You need to read social media … If people are congratulating you, you know you’ve done well”
While that deal is now under investigation by the Consumer and Markets Authority, Giddings has no regrets about joining forces once more with the world’s biggest promoter, using the metaphor of a train leaving the station: “it was either get on board [with Live Nation] or be left on the platform.”
Along with Download’s Andy Copping, Bestival’s Rob da Bank and the Eavises at Glastonbury, Giddings is one of the few UK festival promoters well known to (and easily contactable by) the general public – a status he embraces. “It’s good to have a visible promoter,” he explains. “It gives the festival an identity.”
Returning the theme of social media, Giddings explains that he welcomes criticism from festivalgoers, saying feedback from attendees is key to continually improving the event. “I don’t think I’m perfect,” he says. “I appreciate constructive criticism, because I want to make it better for everyone.”
With many festival bosses already having a rough idea of what they want their 2018 line-ups to look like, Giddings says he hasn’t had time to even “start thinking about next year yet”. Does this mean he’s looking to step down any time soon, IQ wonders?
Not so, explains Giddings, who says he has “no idea” when he might hand over the reins. “Nobody would do this job for the money,” he concludes. “We do it because we enjoy it. So I’ll stop doing it when it stops becoming enjoyable…”