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Live streaming music festivals is the present and future of live music

live streaming at music festivalsMay through September is the biggest time of year for music festivals in the UK. That puts us about one month away from the start of the season. If you are an organiser, artist or venue, you might want to consider adding live video streaming of your festival to your to-do list.

The case for streaming

Sales of live music are expected to reach $23.7 (£16.5) by 2019. If people are so willing to purchase tickets to live shows, why would you want to offer streaming too?

To help answer that, I wanted to share a few quotes from experienced festival producers.

“Today’s audience wants all-access, a direct line into the lives and content of artists they like,” said Marco De La Vega who runs a venue in San Francisco. “Several artists have now built their careers using this [live streaming] as a format to monetize and engage… Exclusive branded content, interviews, secret shows, and showcases have become the norm.”

Parag Bhandari, founder of UphoricTV said, “We’ve seen the demand for festival content skyrocket. Festival attendance and revenues are meeting and surpassing some of the largest sporting events in the world. Being able to stream, cover, and bring these amazing experiences to festival fans around the world allows for newfound monetization for festivals, brands, and advertisers alike.”

So in their interviews with Eventbrite, these experts agreed that festival live streaming is one of the key trends in the industry.

High profile example

If expert opinions aren’t enough, here are some statistics from one of the largest music festivals in the US. Last year Coachella broke attendance records and earned over $84 million (£58.5M). The last four years they’ve extended to a two weekend event and have broken their own attendance record each year.

Since 2011 they’ve been live streaming the festival. That year tickets sold out in three days. The following year all tickets were sold in just a few hours.

Julia Hart, President of Eventbrite, commented in regard to Coachella, “[V]irtual experiences actually drive more interest in attending”.

It might be counter-intuitive that offering festivals via live stream can actually increase attendance at the real event, but that’s what it did for Coachella.

Beyond money

Another example of how streaming can benefit festivals comes from New Zealand. The Ngāpuhi Festival is a celebration of music and performance of the Ngāpuhi people. The festival has grown in size from around 8,000 to over 45,000.

This past January they live streamed the two-day festival for the first time. Their objective was to “reach out to Ngāpuhi all over the world, so that they could also enjoy the festival” according to an article on scoop.co.nz.

The streaming included interviews, film content, and performances. During the event the stream was viewed over 14,000 times from locations all over the world. They reached members of their community in all age ranges from under 24 to over 65.

The goal was not to simply raise attendance, but to share the event with those that could not attend due to their location. Live streaming brought the cultural celebration to the world, which went beyond raising awareness for ticket sales for the next festival.

Advances – 360° Streaming

Many in the industry believe that live streaming is just the beginning of the online experience and virtual reality and 360° video streaming are the future of festivals. In a blog on dancemusicnw.com, Heath Harshman discusses the possibility of 360° video for festivals. He says, “Eventually we’ll all be enjoying 360-degree HD live-streaming of many of our favorite major festivals via our laptops, phones, tablets, virtual reality headsets, and more.”

But, he also believes that the technology isn’t quite there. Well, to be more precise he doesn’t believe the infrastructure to stream it is robust enough to handle the bandwidth required to provide a good experience.

Not everyone agrees. Some see virtual reality and 360° video streaming as coming sooner rather than later. According to the Eventbrite report The Future of Live Music, “Using ‘augmented reality to create an activation’ could soon be the norm, according to Marc Weinstein of 90sFest. Virtual reality will allow fans to re-watch their favorite sets as if they were onstage, or immerse themselves in the crowd, escaping to an entirely different world for a few minutes”.

The report adds, “For remote fans, streaming live shows could become a new national pastime”.

Whether this advanced live streaming takes off sooner or later doesn’t really matter. The experts and the statistics agree that live shows and live streaming together are the future of live music. It may become more immersive over time, but in the end we all want to “be there” live. But when we can’t, live streaming still lets us be part of the party.

Oliver Burt

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