Are Online Festivals the Future of Entertainment?

Guest post by: Rosa Jameson

Back in March, the global pandemic forced the world to a screeching halt. CNN highlights the hit that the global economy has taken, which has resulted in millions of people losing their jobs. Many industries have shifted due to the mass lockdowns, which have kept people at home in hopes of slowing down the spread of the virus. This has caused many events, festivals, and concerts to be canceled much to the dismay of both the music industry and its fans.

However, this has encouraged artists and event organizers to be more creative with how they can bring music closer to the people. Their solution: online concerts and virtual music festivals.

Musicians and event organizers have utilized the digital space so that audiences from all over the world can enjoy live music from the comforts of their homes. Now, the question is whether this will continue in a post-pandemic world: are online concerts and virtual festivals the future of the industry or just another passing fad?

Current State of Online Entertainment

Before we talk about the future of online entertainment, let’s talk about where it’s currently at. Billboard has put together a list of live stream performances and virtual events, showing just how much musicians have taken to the internet in order to put on shows for audiences from all over the world. The list includes online performances from both mainstream pop acts such as Avril Lavigne to more obscure acts like Deerhoof and Grizzly Bear. This is a clear indication that both established artists and those with more modest followings can take advantage of the digital space to connect with their fans. With that being said, it’s time to talk about the events themselves.

One of the more prominent events to make the leap to digital is the electronic music festival Tomorrowland. Instead of outright canceling the festivities, Tomorrowland opted to put on virtual performances. Despite the fact that she had to perform on a virtual stage, Katy Perry still delivered a great performance at this year’s iteration of Tomorrowland as she made use of her Shure SM58 microphone, a microphone known for being the industry standard when it comes to vocal performances. This goes to show how big a part technology plays when it comes to bridging the gap between audiences and artists in the digital space. Acts such as David Guetta, Martin Garrix, and Armin van Buuren also played a range of new material for the festival.

Future of Online Performances

Now, there’s one flaw that’s blatantly clear when it comes to online performances: why watch online when you can go to the concert yourself? As we’ve already mentioned in Oliver Cable’s spring piece on festivals, there’s no denying that an in-person performance is a completely different experience over watching videos over your computer. This is where technology comes in. The future of online performances is not strictly limited to streaming live video performances.

Companies such as Wave have created virtual concerts wherein fans can interact with their favorite musicians in real-time. In fact, they’ve already organized virtual reality concerts with the likes of Tinashe and John Legend. Couple this with the fact that Facebook’s Oculus division continues to improve upon VR and their Oculus Rift headsets and you’ve got plenty of reasons to be optimistic when it comes to the future of online performances and virtual concerts.

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