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100k fans tuned into Firefly live stream, says Mandolin

More than 100,000 fans tuned in to a live stream of AEG Presents’ four-day Firefly Festival, according to Mandolin.

The US festival took place in The Woodlands of Dover International Speedway, in Delaware, and offered performances from the likes of Billie Eilish, Tame Impala, The Killers, Lizzo and Phoebe Bridgers.

As the festival’s official partner, Mandolin users were able to get instant access to the live stream and new fans could tune in for free by creating an account on the platform.

Mandolin says the festival stream was watched by more than 100,000 fans across the entirety of the event, which covered 70 artist performances spread across four stages, according to Celebrity Access.

Those fans tuned in for an average of 78 minutes each, with a total time watched of 1,771,980 minutes, which works out to 29,533 hours of viewership.

The majority of views were attributed to Billie Eilish’s headline performance

The festival’s live stream drew an international audience, with fans from 134 different countries around the world watching the festival.

Most fans tuned into sets from the festival’s main ‘Firefly’ stage and the majority of views were attributed to Billie Eilish’s headline performance.

Marc Rebillet, Cage The Elephant, Wiz Khalifa, Roddy Ricch, Diplo, Glass Animals, Megan Thee Stallion and Machine Gun Kelly also performed at Firefly.

In addition to streaming, Mandolin also offered virtual VIP meet-and-greets with select artists on the line-up via its VIP Suite —the latest addition to the Mandolin Live+ platform.

Launched in the summer, the Live+ platform offers new products and enhancements built specifically for the “hybrid event future” of concerts and festivals.

This is AEG Presents and Mandolin’s second partnership in the virtual concerts space, having first teamed up to stream A Night at the Ryman with Lauren Daigle and Friends earlier this year.


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Study to examine viewer reactions to streamed gigs

A new research project will examine the physiological reactions of viewers during various streamed concert formats to determine which is closest to the effect of a gig experienced live.

The study proposal states: “In times of the corona pandemic, digital formats are the only way for cultural workers to reach an audience at all and continue to retain them. However, which offers work and which ones could actually be future-proof has so far been largely unexplored…How the concert industry can continue to assert itself as a form of culture and a social forum under the rapid pressure of digital change is a topical and essential question for artists, organisers and cultural policy.”

The international study, entitled Digital Concert Experience, will see participants watch an exclusive concert film of Alban Gerhardt & Friends string quintet performing works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Brett Dean and Johannes Brahms in six different streaming variants while experts monitor the effect on the virtual audience.

The six streaming variants include: an on-demand stream; a ‘social event’ stream where audience members can digitally interact during the break and afterwards; a ‘know more’ stream accompanied by a conversation with composer Brett Dean; a virtual reality stream; a ‘digital house concert’, intended to be watched in-person with others; and a stream in the laboratory where researchers will collect physiological data.

“Which [digital formats] work and which ones could actually be future-proof has so far been largely unexplored”

The research project is led by Zeppelin University (ZU) in Germany, which previously conducted a similar large-scale study, entitled Experimental Concert Research, measuring the concert experience by conducting preliminary and follow-up surveys, measurements of heart rate and skin conductance, movements and emotional states from participants.

“Earlier studies have already shown that study participants smile significantly more frequently at live concerts and have stronger physiological reactions than during concert recordings – now we want to find out which virtual formats are closest to the effect of the concert experienced live and to what extent streamed concerts become a format of its own,” says professor and doctor Melanie Wald-Fuhrmann, director at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Germany.

The Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics will also be involved in the experiment, alongside the University of Bern in Switzerland and the University of York in the UK. The project is in partnership with the German Music Council and is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and the Aventis Foundation.

The main study will take place on 15 January 2021 and is accepting volunteers now.


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Fraudsters target UK’s festival season

A number of UK festivals that have been forced to go online due to coronavirus restrictions have been targeted by streaming scammers.

The scams involve fraudsters setting up fake Facebook pages and unofficial events, charging individuals to view free live streams or old footage, and posting comments or links under the guise of fans.

Kevin Tate, the editor of Festival & Events UK, told The Guardian he uncovered approximately 39 fake links to the Bristol event Love Saves the Day and more than 41 links to Reading and Leeds festival, which featured footage from previous years.

Tate says many of the fake pages were set up close to before the event started, and often registered to countries such as Bangladesh. He says individuals have had varying amounts of money taken from their accounts for free services, ranging from £2.95 to £7.50.

“I do know some festivals have had live streams over the weekends, and I do know people are clicking on the links and getting charged different amounts,” he told The Guardian. “One person will get charged a couple of pence, and the other will get charged pounds.

“This may seem a small amount, but if you think about it, if the scammers get 100 people to click on their link, and people are charged different amounts, then it’s all going to add up.”

“If the scammers get 100 people to click on their link, and people are charged different amounts, then it’s all going to add up”

According to Vicky Carter, a freelance reporter for the BBC, festivals including Glasthomebury, Shindig Festival, and Boomtown Festival have also been targeted by streaming scammers.

The streaming scammers issue first emerged in July when two fake pages, one posing as Universal Music Group (@GroupMusicUniversal) and the other going under the name of Live Concert Music were uncovered.

The sites listed live streams for Rolling Loud Portugal, Michael Kiwanuka and Jill Scott, Cage the Elephant, Montreux Jazz Festival, Nickelback, Robbie Williams, Brad Paisley and Dave Matthews Band, among others.

Almost all streams were listed as happening on the same day, with links landing on pages for sites called Eventflix and Stream Concert. A section below the supposed streams showed comments from “fans” – almost identical for each one – discussing the lack of lag, commending the quality of the stream and recommending the service to others.

Viewers were encouraged to register for free in order to view the content, leading to a page asking for contact details and other information.

Members of the public have been encouraged to protect themselves against streaming scammers by joining Friends Against Scams, a free online initiative that provides training to help people take a stand against scams.


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BTS earn GWR for most-viewed concert live stream

Korean boy-band BTS have achieved a Guinness World Records title for attracting the highest number of viewers for a music concert live stream ever with their recent Bang Bang Con: The Live show.

A total of concurrent 756,000 viewers from over 100 countries tuned in to watch the online performance on 14 June, which was broadcast live from Seoul, South Korea, featuring a 12-song setlist and allowed fans to switch between six viewing angles.

All three-quarter of a million viewers paid to watch the show via fan community platform Weverse, with tickets priced at ₩29,000 (€21) for members of BTS’s ARMY fan club, and ₩39,000 (€28) for members of the general public.

According to the Korea JoongAng Daily, the concert grossed at least ₩21.9 billion, or €15.7 million.

The band currently holds multiple Guinness World Records, including being the first K-pop act to reach number one in the US album chart; having the best-selling album in South Korea; reaching one million TikTok followers in the shortest amount of time (three hours and 31 minutes) and the most used Twitter engagements over a 24-hour period, with the band’s #TwitterBestFandom hashtag being tweeted over 60 million times in a day.


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Mojo partners with Vodafone for virtual concert platform

Dutch promoter Mojo has teamed up with telecommunications giant Vodafone to launch Larger Than Live, a virtual concert platform allowing for direct artist-to-fan interaction.

Larger Than Live makes its debut on 9 July, with a concert from Nielson at Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome, which recently reopened for audiences of just 30 at a time.

Other acts to perform via the platform include De Staat, De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig, Maan, Frenna Deluxe and Rolf Sanchez. Acts will perform on a custom-built stage in the 20,000-capacity arena, which is equipped with state-of-the-art technology to ensure high-quality images, sound and lighting.

Larger Than Live allows fans to switch between camera angles while watching a show, as well as providing the opportunity for interaction with the artists.

Larger Than Live allows fans to switch between camera angles while watching a show, as well as providing the opportunity for interaction with the artists

Tickets are available now, priced at €11, along with a full listing of upcoming shows. Anyone with a ticket can access the relevant show via their smartphone, tablet or laptop. The stream can also be cast onto televisions or beamers.

Additionally, fans can sign up to join a virtual Golden Circle via a live video connection, enabling artists to see audience reactions in real time and feature fans in their live show.

Vodafone customers receive access to a virtual backstage tour prior to the show and are entered into a competition to win an online meet and greet and the chance to attend the show in real life at the Ziggo Dome as a VIP.

The initial concert series will be followed by others at a range of different venues and festivals. Mojo plans to make streaming tickets available for shows even after live events are able to start up again, to give fans more choice and to avoid capacity limitations.

It is believed that the Dutch government will announce the scrapping of current capacity limits tonight (24 June), provided that venues can undertake health checks and maintain a 1.5 metre distance between guests instead.

Photo: Shirley de Jong/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0) (cropped)


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Amsterdam’s DGTL goes digital

The organisers of DGTL festival, which was scheduled to take place from 11 to 12 April at Amsterdam’s NDSM Docklands, have announced they are hosting an online event in its place, Digital DGTL.

DGTL Amsterdam was among a number of Dutch festivals to be cancelled at the end of last month, following an extension of a governmental ban on all public gatherings until 1 June.

Now, DGTL is joining a growing number of festivals – including South American events Lollapalooza Chile and Colombia’s Estéreo Picnic – to provide fans with online content on the original dates of the cancelled event.

Over two days from 2 to 11p.m. (CET), fans will be able to access live streams from 28 different artists across three “stages” via the Digital DGTL website.

Over two days, fans will be able to access live streams from 28 different artists across three “stages”

Those “attending” Digital DGTL can also sign up to alerts to notify them of when their favourite artists are about to perform. Acts playing the virtual event include Jasper Wolff, Luuk Van Dijk, Deniro, Adriatique and Nicolas Lutz.

DGTL has partnered with Absolut vodka and Kornuit beer, as well as local catering establishments, allowing “festivalgoers” to pre-order food – all vegetarian – and drink for delivery during the festival from a digital bar and food court. Festival merchandise is also available to buy via the website.

Using the hashtag #KeepDistanceStayDGTL, organisers remind fans to keep to their own homes while tuning in to the festival.

Organisers also call on viewers to make a donation to Erasmus MC (Erasmus University medical Centre) during the online festivals, for their work in developing a vaccine and other medicines to fight coronavirus.

Photo: Hanna Norlin/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) (cropped)


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“Go live and go live often”: Livestream pioneer chats ‘hybrid’ touring

In early March, British pop singer, songwriter and online content creator Emma McGann announced her Duality tour – featuring a first-of-its-kind ‘hybrid’ touring format that combines traditional, in-person shows with a virtual option: a £20 ‘Virtual Tour Pass’ offering 360° front-row views for fans unable to attend in person.

Within hours of announcing, the physical component of the Duality tour – which visits theatres across North America – was off, a casualty of the coronavirus. The virtual part will, however, go ahead – and sales of the Virtual Tour Pass have already recovered losses from the cancellation of the physical trek, according to McGann.

Fans who buy a virtual pass also receive, among other perks, their name written on McGann’s guitar case, a handwritten postcard from the road, and a charitable donation, in the form of one tree planted with every purchase.

At the time of writing, McGann has already racked up more than 11.5 million views from streaming her shows live on YouNow, which she has been doing for the past six years. With the corona-hit live industry looking towards virtual shows to fill an increasingly empty looking spring calendar, IQ caught up with McGann to discover the secrets to her success…


IQ: How did you first get into livestreaming shows, and how do you look back on those early experiences?
EM: I began livestreaming almost six years ago. I’d been independently touring around the UK taking on any gig I could, sleeping in the back of the van, using everything I had to make it happen. One evening, I hosted my first post-show livestream from the back of the tour van. In that one-hour broadcast, I reached more eyeballs than one whole week of touring, saw more hits on the website, and sold more merch than I had with me on the tour itself. And there were no overheads. No venue fees, no petrol costs, no unpaid shows… Just a simple camera set-up, me and my guitar, and I was getting myself out there and earning as an artist.

It was clear to me in that first broadcast that there was something to it, so I decided to build livestreaming into my strategy from then on. Looking back on those early experiences, I’d started adapting the same mentality of taking on any gig I could, but just in a virtual sense. My theory was that, if I wasn’t live, then I could be missing out. So I began a regular broadcasting schedule – even factoring in hitting different timezones at peak times.

It was pretty intense at first, but it helped me reach more people than I ever would just touring in an old van around one country. It meant I could comfortably do things on my own terms, too.

“Community is still the thing I love most about livestreaming. It connects you to one another”

Beyond the numbers, what else about livestreaming appealed to you as an artist?
The biggest appeal for me was interacting directly with those watching. To this day, community is still the thing I love most about livestreaming. It connects you to one another. I think viewers really value living in a real-time moment with you. As the artist, I loved the fact that I had complete creative control over the virtual show itself, too.

Six years ago, we just weren’t seeing any artists push out regular high-quality audio or video for music performances via livestreaming at all. So, we decided to do it ourselves with the rig we’d usually take out to gigs. It was a weekly full-band performance in a dedicated studio space that made my broadcasts really stand out against other standard webcam set-ups. Having that creative free rein and connection to the audience was what appealed to me the most.

From the point of view of an early adopter, how has the ‘virtual concert’ scene come along in the six years since?
Back then, I made up my own rules as I went along, for sure. I quickly discovered that I didn’t need to confine my broadcasts to one standalone set-up. I started getting creative with it pretty early: livestreaming BTS [behind-the-scenes] music-video shoots, hosting music game shows, a multi-cam radio show and the full band performances I already mentioned. Whatever the content, I definitely went through some trial and error to try and get things perfect – figuring out what worked for the audience and what worked for me as the person in front of the camera.

It was a really fun process, and it’s crazy to think we were doing all of that six years ago when livestreaming wasn’t even a blip on the radar for most people. It feels special to have been experimenting with it that early on.

“It’s actually really cool to see the world dipping their toes into a medium I’ve been using for so long”

What do you make of the rush towards livestreaming concerts amid the current pandemic?
The sudden rush is no surprise to me at all. It’s been a saving grace for a lot of artists. Like many out there, I had to postpone a tour. It would’ve been the biggest of my career to date: a 21-date tour in the US, scheduled originally for April. On the night we made the decision to postpone, that’s when I began to understand how much livestreaming would be a saviour for people, and how lucky I was to already be doing it.

Livestreaming is the perfect medium for people to stay connected right now. Particularly for artists to stay connected with their audience. It’s the most human way we can express ourselves in a one-to-many fashion. And it’s the closest thing we have to emulating a real-life concert, at this point.

It’s actually really cool to see the world dipping their toes into a medium I’ve been using for so long. I think we’ll see many artists recognise the benefits and hopefully see them integrate it into their existing strategies in some way in the years ahead. I’ve taken this time over the last couple of weeks to help and mentor artists on how they can set up their own livestreams in the wake of Covid-19.

When the coronavirus hit, it must have been obvious for you to go the livestreaming route…
The livestreaming route was already a part of my plans this year of course – but in a bigger way than my usual streams. Early last year, I began building a touring format that could benefit the online ‘influencer’, whether it be a YouTuber who’s also an artist or an Instagram star wanting to head out on their first tour.

“Virtual tickets sold have made up for the cost loss due to having to reschedule because of Covid-19”

The 21 dates I’d had scheduled for this year was for my Duality tour – an in-person tour with simultaneous virtual concerts that viewers could still enjoy if they were on the other side of the world. My thought process started with those viewers who might not be in the country where a tour is happening, or maybe they just can’t afford to come out. There will always be that viewer wishing they could’ve been there. But it’s not financially viable for an independent artist to tour every country that every fan of theirs resides in.

As an artist who grows their audience online and not via traditional routes and touring, I realised early on that even though you can grow big numbers online, those fans are spread all around the world. It leaves you with hotspots dotted sporadically around the world, making it almost financially impossible to tour.

Artists finding success on music streaming platforms through playlist placements are met with the same problem and see their audience grow in the same sporadic manner – it’s not like touring, where you can choose where to grow your audience. The evolution of music streaming means algorithmically curated playlists choose your audience. Most playlists are not human-curated, due to the sheer amount of songs being uploaded daily. This diversifies artists’ listenership globally.

So, I created the Virtual Tour Pass – an online ticket that would give viewers access to shows if they couldn’t make it in person to a tour. As the Duality tour would’ve been my first run in the United States, I planned to use the Virtual Ticket option to make the tour both more accessible and more financially viable as a first-time touring artist. Having these hybrid in-person/virtual concerts as a part of my touring strategy from the get-go has meant that I was set up and ready for the virtual concerts.

“Interaction and community is the most important part of your livestreams”

So, luckily, it’s fair to say that we were prepared once the outbreak hit.

How did your fans react to the tour cancellation?
I was actually livestreaming when Trump made the announcement weeks ago that travel would be restricted between the US and Europe. Fans pointed it out to me mid-song, and understandably had questions straight away about how this would impact the tour. I had to be straight up with them, there and then. Even though the UK wasn’t mentioned in that announcement, I had a fairly solid feeling it would progress and apply to us in the UK, too.

Their initial reaction was just like mine, really: We were devastated. But my viewers have been so supportive over the last month. Those who have picked up a Virtual Tour Pass have even enabled me to reschedule the tour for a later date. Virtual tickets sold have made up for the cost loss due to having to reschedule because of Covid-19.

What advice would you give to other people who are trying out virtual shows, and trying to monetise them, for the first time now?
Interaction and community is the most important part of your livestreams. Monetising that content will be difficult if you’re not consistent. Most livestreaming platforms have a criteria you have to hit before your channel is eligible to be monetised – but the community you build should be your first concern over the monetisation aspect.

“Having virtual tickets available almost extends the capacity of the venue you’re playing in to an unlimited number”

Calls to action during your streams can help to push traffic to your music, your merch store, or wherever your viewers can support you if you’re not already partnered or affiliated on whatever platform you’re using.

Don’t be afraid of trial and error, and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. You will definitely make a mistake. That’s just the nature of being live. Research the best set-up for you. Use any existing equipment you already have. And most importantly: go live and go live often.

So, are hybrid tours the future of concert touring?
I think my hybrid tour format could definitely aid artists in the future, for sure, if it’s done in the correct way. For smaller, first-time touring artists, it could make touring more financially viable. For larger artists, having virtual tickets available almost extends the capacity of the venue they’re playing in to an unlimited number.

Nothing beats a live show in person and nothing will ever deter us from going out to experience live music – but something like my Virtual Tour Pass gives fans on a global scale the opportunity to be there in the moment, too. No FOMO for any fan, anywhere.


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Livestreaming platform LiveFrom Events launches

LiveFrom Events, a new ‘streaming-as-a-service’ platform that aims to make it easy to livestream concerts and other live events, has launched.

“Livestreaming, as well as recording and serving up video on demand, is here to stay,” explains the company. “Right now it’s proving to be a vital lifeline, and creating a whole new ecosystem for the live music and events industries.

“Our vision is for artists, DJs, venues, clubs, producers and festivals to easily use the power of HD live streams to put their performance and events in the hands of fans wherever they are globally.”

“All you need is a laptop and internet”

As a software-as-a-service company, LiveFrom Events provides all the software and bandwidth needed to broadcast shows – whether free or paid, on a single channel or as a multi-‘stage’ festival.

LiveFrom also has the capability for private fan-club events, merch sales, sponsor presentations and more.

“All you need is a laptop and internet and you could be livestreaming right now,” the company adds. “And if you already have a video and audio set-up ready to go, even better.”

For more information, or to submit information about your event, visit www.livefrom.events.


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Why fan engagement is now more important than ever

As the coronavirus outbreak continues to gather pace, each day represents a step further into the unknown for the global population. Stock markets, industries and nations have been rocked by the all-too-necessary measures taken to contain, delay and ultimately eliminate the outbreak.

The events industry has been particularly hard hit, with globally famous festivals such as Glastonbury and Coachella proving they are not immune to postponement or cancellation. Each new revelation that forces promoters to change their plans understandably deals a blow to consumer confidence.

Many social media posts from music festivals, club nights, gigs, sports events and beyond are now littered with posts from concerned customers questioning whether the event will go ahead, asking for refunds or criticising the lack of clarity or communication.

Now, more than ever, fan engagement ought to be topping priority lists for promoters, event organisers and anyone else whose activities are affected by the fluctuations and permutations of coronavirus. Fans need promoters to provide clarity and peace of mind and raising morale through positive messaging is a valuable skill to have.

Here at Festicket, we are on the front lines witnessing cancellations unfold daily. We are seeing a desire for immediate information. Customers want to know whether festivals that are postponed will have the same line-up at the rearranged date, whether they are entitled to a refund if they can’t make the new date, and whether travel and accommodation will be refunded or valid for the rescheduled date.

There is, however, a great deal of support from fans for those promoters and ticket agents communicating openly and honestly, particularly those offering candid advice on whether the event plans to go ahead as normal, will be postponed until later in the year or is cancelled. Customers should be aware of their options for refunds or alternative arrangements.

We are seeing that there is more understanding from the general public than in normal situations

While the scale of cancellations and postponements recently is unprecedented, it’s worth remembering and learning from the summer of 2019, when severe weather forced the hands of several festivals including Boardmasters and Houghton. The Houghton team communicated as best as they could at short notice and later released merchandise and a commemorative book for the festival that never happened. What was clear from Houghton’s social media profiles was that their fans were a community – one that understood and appreciated the team’s heart wrenching decision to pull the event, even at the last minute, because they did so with their fans’ best interests at heart.

We are seeing now that there is more understanding from the general public than in normal situations. People are rallying around their local businesses and this goodwill is likely to extend to promoters if a strong bond has been formed and communication is handled well.

We are witnessing several practical steps from promoters and the industry which we believe will help to maintain or increase fan engagement and foster demand once we return to normality. Annie Mac Presents’ Lost and Found Festival recently fell victim to Malta’s travel restrictions and was forced to postpone the event. The organisers developed a goodwill incentive policy for fans happy to attend the new September date, whereby ticket holders can keep their ticket and receive €40 drinks vouchers on arrival, exchange their ticket for the 2021 edition of Lost and Found with a complimentary €40 drinks credit, or obtain a refund for their ticket money. The festival’s flexible and compassionate approach has been well received amongst fans.

The #SaveTheSummer campaign from Yourope, which we took part in alongside several artists and festival partners, asks people to stay home, stay safe and look out for one another so that we can hopefully enjoy a summer full of festivals. The campaign received a lot of positive feedback because it recognises the importance of staying safe at a time when it would be irresponsible to encourage people to go to large gatherings.

Festicket’s new FlexTicket is an initiative intended to give customers peace of mind when booking festival tickets; they can cancel their order for any reason while also having something on the horizon to look forward to. We have signed up more than 150 promoters to date and this number is growing every day.

This is a time to show our humanity and reach out to connect as best as we can

The festival season is slowly reshaping itself later in the year, towards the end of summer and into autumn. As the situation clears there is likely to be a huge jump in demand for people seeking to blow off some steam. There will also be a very busy schedule of events, with everybody playing catch-up for lost time, so maintaining a strong presence now in interesting ways will stand promoters in good stead amid increased competition.

Artists and labels are leveraging technology to reach their fans in new and innovative ways, including Chris Martin, who started the #TogetherAtHome hashtag by livestreaming a mini-concert via Instagram. This was picked up by John Legend shortly afterwards, and looks set to become a viral phenomenon. Artists as diverse as country singer Keith Urban and Yungblud have also livestreamed concerts from their homes.

Meanwhile, an initiative originating from Portugal – Festival #EuFicoEmCasa – promised to bring fans 40 hours of music from almost 80 artists, all livestreamed direct to fans from the artists’ homes, again via Instagram. The concept has proved immensely successful, with the new Instagram page garnering more than 225,000 followers in a few short days, demonstrating the huge appetite for interesting content.

Bringing fans artist statements, curated playlists, articles and, most importantly, news regularly over the next few weeks is a vital means of maintaining a strong presence and fan following; with so many stuck at home they will likely appreciate a distraction.

Above all else, however, the crisis has demonstrated the power of community. From videos of people in Italy gathering on balconies for mass singalongs to people leaving notes with offers of help for their neighbours, this is a time to show our humanity and reach out to connect as best as we can.


Luis Sousa is marketing director of festival ticketing and travel platform Festicket.

The show goes on(line): Concerts get creative amid global shutdown

In a matter of weeks, the global live music industry has come to a virtual standstill, with shows called off and fans forced inside by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

But while ‘normal’ concerts are off the cards, a wave of virtual events are springing up to take their place, taking advantage of social media, virtual reality and online worlds to bring fans closer to artists at a time when both concert performer and concertgoer are stuck indoors.

Sweet streams
By far the most popular way of connecting with housebound fans, many of the world’s biggest artists, including Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Pink, John Legend, country singer Keith Urban and Latin star Juanes have streamed live performances on their social media accounts in recent days.

Others, such as Miley Cyrus, Christine and the Queens and Lizzo, are broadcasting largely non-musical content that offering a glimpse into their self-isolating lives, while likes of Bruce Springsteen are making past concerts available for free. UK singer Yungblud, meanwhile, took the opportunity to create The Yungblud Show Live, an anarchic hour-long show (featuring a concert segment, drinking games and a cooking lesson) filmed in LA following the postponement of his upcoming tour.

In the classical music world, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra has made its ‘digital concert hall’ video streaming service, featuring over 600 concerts spanning more than a decade, free to all before 31 March.

“We already miss our public very much and hope that in this way we can remain in contact with our audience, at least virtually,” says Olaf Maninger, the orchestra’s principal cellist.

Elsewhere, in Europe’s clubbing capital, promoters have gone one step further by creating a 24-hour ‘virtual club’, dubbed United We Stream, in order to “save Berlin’s club culture in quarantine”. (The German capital’s nightlife been on lockdown since Friday 13 March.)

Launching today (18 March) at 7pm local time, the initiative will see the empty clubs streaming several hours of DJ sets and live performances every day, with the venue changing each night. Participating clubs include the Watergate (which will host tonight’s first show, with Claptone, Monika Kruse and Mathew Jonson), Tresor, Kater Blau, Salon Zur Wilden Renate and Sisyphos.

Fans are encouraged to donate €10, €20 or €30 a month in exchange for a ‘virtual club ticket’, with all funds going directly to a relief fund to support clubs and event organisers during the closure.

“We already miss our public very much”

Faces for radio
Miami’s Ultra Music Festival (UMF) was the first major western festival to fall victim to the coronavirus, having been pulled by city councillors just over two weeks out, on 4 March.

Now reborn as a ‘virtual audio festival’ on US satellite/internet radio platform SiriusXM, Ultra will take the form of an audio-only event, running from Friday 20 to Monday 23 March (its original dates) and featuring live performances by DJs scheduled to perform at Ultra Miami, including Afrojack, Major Lazer, Martin Garrix, Above and Beyond, Armin van Buuren, Nicky Romero and Oliver Heldens.

Ultra Virtual Audio Festival will be broadcast on a temporary SiriusXM channel, UMF Radio (channel 52), which will also air previous Ultra sets by stars such as Marshmello, the Chainsmokers, Kygo and Carl Cox.

Scott Greenstein, president and chief content officer of SiriusXM, says: “With the postponement of beloved events, necessary changes in people’s everyday life and need for social distancing, we know our listeners are seeking a sense of community more than ever.

“To encourage that, we are pleased to be working with Ultra Music Festival to provide our listeners with this virtual audio festival featuring the diverse line-up of artists the UMF delivers year after year, as well as exclusive fresh, new sets from some of the biggest names in dance music.”

UMF 2020 ticket holders will receive an email in the coming days offering access to UMF Radio and other SiriusXM programming.

In the UK, meanwhile, the cancelled Country to Country (C2C) festival – due to take place on 13–15 March at the O2 in London – was replaced a special show on BBC Radio 2, which was originally to have broadcast from the event.

Radio 2’s Country Festival, presented by ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris, Bobbie Pryor and the Shires’ Ben Earle, featured live performances from artists scheduled to play C2C, including Luke Combs, Eric Church, Darius Rucker, the Cadillac Three, Old Crow Medicine Show, Brett Young and Tenille Townes.

“We know our listeners are seeking a sense of community more than ever”

Game on
Passing the time while ill by playing video games is nothing new, but the current period of self-isolation will be the first time many experience a live event inside a virtual world. Marshmello’s groundbreaking Fortnite concert last year opened the floodgates opened for live music in gaming, with rock bands Korn (in AdventureQuest) and the Offspring (in World of Tanks), DJs Ekali (in Minecraft), Reggie Watts and Blasterjaxx and EDM label Monstercat (in Sansar) among those to have organised large virtual concerts since.

Mojang’s Minecraft – the open-ended world-builder which, with nearly half a billion players, is arguably the biggest game in the world today – is no stranger to hosting music events, holding its first live concert, with AlunaGeorge, Broiler and Lemaitre, in March 2016. It also hosted Fire Festival, with Ekali, Arty, Hudson Mohawke, Luca Lush and over 5,000 ‘festivalgoers’, early last year, with another 80,000 tuning in via live stream.

Upcoming live entertainment in Minecraft includes Second Sky-inspired music festival Second Aether, which will take place on 28 and 29 March, and an as-yet-unnamed festival set to take place at Club Matryoshka (a virtual nightclub hosted on a private Minecraft server) on 26 April.


Sansar, a virtual-reality online world from Linden Lab, the maker of Second Life, also plans to host several virtual live events in the months ahead. Sansar – which has partnerships with Monstercat, Spinnin’ Records and Roddenberry Entertainment (Star Trek), among others – yesterday (17 March) released a guide to creating an event inside the game, touting its credentials as a platform for “free virtual events amid [the] coronavirus emergency”.

“Sansar is no stranger to large-scale live events, and we’re here to help you and your audiences stay safe, productive and connected during the coronavirus outbreak,” says Sansar community manager Galileo Linden, noting that the game can accomodate “a conference for work, an educational workshop, a live performance or even a music festival”.

“We’re here to help you and your audiences stay safe, productive and connected during the coronavirus outbreak”

Reality check
Amid the gloom on global stock markets, MelodyVR maker EVR Holdings was one of few shares not in the red on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) today, its value surging with growing demand for concerts on virtual-reality headsets, according to the London Evening Standard.

In its Covid-19 update to the LSE, EVR says it has has seen a 56% spike in sales for MelodyVR over the past week as most major concerts were cancelled. “MelodyVR’s technology was originally created to enhance the live experience for music fans around the world who were unable to access performances either as a result of their location, age, cost of attendance or ticket availability,” the company explains.

“The restriction of both mass gatherings of the general public and international travel has already begun to adversely impact the global music industry, and while our vision was never to act as a replacement to live events, we believe that our technology affords fans the closest possible opportunity of experiencing the next best thing to actually being at a venue or show without physically being present.

“We have not sought to actively capitalise on the events of the last few weeks, yet having experienced a 56% increase in average sales over the course of the last seven days we anticipate this trend of MelodyVR platform usage to continue.”

Also having a good day is popular rhythm game Beat Saber, which announced today it has sold more than two million copies, cementing its reign as the best-selling virtual reality-exclusive title. “[T]he game has also proven to be a successful platform for artists to connect with fans, selling over 10 million songs through downloadable content,” reads an announcement on the Oculus blog.


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