700,000+ attend virtual May Day concert in Helsinki
At least 700,000 people – around 13% of the population of Finland – celebrated May Day (1 May) by watching a Fortnite-inspired virtual concert by Finnish rap duo JVG.
JVG, among the biggest hip-hop stars in Finland, were forced to cancel eight arena shows in April due to the impact of the coronavirus. The virtual concert – put together by the band’s promoter, Fullsteam Agency, virtual-reality studio Zoan and the city of Helsinki – was viewed by more than a million people simultaneously at its peak, while a further 225,000 people saw it online over the weekend, for a combined total audience of 1.4m.
“I have always thought that we are in the business of bringing people together, and it feels incredibly comforting to be able to do so in the middle of everything that is going on at the moment,” says Rauha Kyyrö, head promoter at Fullsteam, which has been forced to cancel or postpone over 500 shows this summer, including its festivals Provinssi and Sideways.
“It’s only love that gets you through, but it’s music that makes you move.”
“It feels incredibly comforting to be able to bring people together”
Utilising Zoan’s Burst Live and Virtual Helsinki platforms, the band performed against a green screen, while a virtual stage was set on Senate Square in Helsinki.
Inspired, says Zoan, by “the success of gigs in gaming platform Fortnite” (which also hosted a live performance, by Diplo, at the weekend), concertgoers were able to choose avatars and interact with the artist with different gestures and emojis. According to Google Analytics, the audience used the interaction features over 10m times during the one-hour show.
“The first of May is one of the most prominent public holidays in Finland. People have generations-long traditions of celebrating Vappu [Walpurgis Night] in large groups, outside, in restaurants and with picnics,” explains Jan Vapaavuori, the mayor of Helsinki.
“By combining Helsinki’s collaboration with Fullsteam, Zoan and our tradition for new technology experimentation we were able to create a virtual experience that brought together some of the traditional elements of Vappu to a new virtual reality.”
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