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Wide Days hails virtual conference success

Scotland’s Wide Days music convention surpassed all expectations with its mix of conference sessions, showcase performances and networking opportunities, as organisers shifted the event online for its rescheduled 23–25 July gathering.

Originally planned for April, Wide Days fell victim to the country’s pandemic restrictions, although a stand-in Zoom event served as a handy trial for the convention team as they prepared for the three-day affair in July.

“We’re really pleased we decided to go ahead with Wide Days, rather than cancelling, which would have been the easier option,” says founder Olaf Furniss. “We had the same number of registrations, 360, as the physical Wide Days in 2019, but we anticipate that will creep closer to 400 as the people around the world play catch-up with the online content over the coming days.”

The convention prides itself in giving Scottish artists a platform to showcase their talent to the wider industry, and it seems that the online format worked a treat for those acts. “Normally, we have around 1,000 people attending the live shows, but within 48 hours of the first showcases being streamed we had 14,000 combined views on Facebook and YouTube,” says Furniss.

The Wide Days team also reports success with its networking programme – a tricky achievement in an online situation. Delegates had signed into one-to-one meetings on more than 250 occasions, with showcasing musicians among those to fully exploit the opportunities.

Screening panel sessions and allowing people to network remotely opens up a huge untapped audience for us

“Most of the networking and one-to-ones were done within our platform, which was a great result, and it’s particularly pleasing to see the way the artists used the networking side of things, while there was also a high level of industry delegates arranging meeting after meeting,” Furniss notes.

With ticket prices set at just £30 (€33) for the three-day programme, the virtual attendee list included delegates from 25 countries and Furniss says revelations about the numerous “resourceful and ingenious” creative solutions that people have developed during the pandemic restrictions were among his highlights from Wide Days 2020.

“Back in March, none of us had ever used Zoom, so to fast-forward four months and the whole team has pivoted to running a fully fledged virtual event is something that makes me immensely proud of everyone involved,” Furniss tells IQ. “Pre-recording the artist performances – which were the first live showcases staged in Scotland since lockdown – has provided those acts with a far superior asset to use again, and it’s something we’ll assess for future showcases.

“But we’ll definitely be utilising livestreaming at the next Wide Days: we had people in Europe joining us from their holidays, and, going forward, people will not be travelling as they used to. Screening panel sessions and allowing people to network remotely opens up a huge untapped audience for us, so the virtual aspect is 100% here to stay and be developed.”

Content for the 2020 conference and showcase event can be accessed through the Widedays.com platform for the next four weeks.


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