In the United States alone, there are over 800 music festivals with new ones popping up all the time. But, this year, due to the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic, the festival season will look a bit different.
Some of the country’s most popular concert festivals including Lollapalooza and Summerfest have been canceled/postponed until next year. That means the thousands of people who go to those shows (and plenty of other summer festivals) are craving some way to fill the void. One possibility is through a virtual festival.
In this world of ever-changing technology, virtual concerts are nothing new. We’ll touch more about how they have started to rise up in recent years and how technology is being used to change the experience of concert-goers.
While there is certainly nothing like being next to your friends and seeing your favorite artists in person, virtual music festivals may become the norm for a while until the risk of this pandemic has gone away. In fact, they may become more of a mainstream idea, even after the threat of the virus is gone.
The Popularity of Virtual Reality in the Music Industry
Again, virtual concerts are really nothing new. Back in 2017, Imagine Dragons, Prince Royce, and Third Eye Blind all announced that they would be broadcasting some of their concerts in virtual reality. It was a groundbreaking feat at the time, but the idea was to give fans of each artist an up-close-and-personal look at the concert experience. Using a VR headset and tuning into these concerts, fans could appreciate things like:
- Close-ups of the band
- Behind-the-scenes shots
- A “front row” experience without the high ticket price
People are becoming more comfortable with virtual reality, as a whole. It’s estimated that this year, over 52 million people in the U.S. will use virtual reality, while over 83 million will use augmented reality at least once a month. Virtual reality devices like the Google Daydream are easy to use, expandable, and great for entertainment. It only makes sense for concerts and festivals to jump no board and bring up-close experiences to music fans.
How Tech is Changing the Concert World
Music has always been on the cutting edge when it comes to technology. Remember Tupac’s hologram performance at Coachella in 2012 with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg? The idea of introducing different forms of technology into the concert world makes the experience more inclusive for everyone.
Tech is being used for everything from ticket sales to supply chain management for merchandise. While in many cases, technology is a business, it is also a way to make the concert experience better for everyone. In recent years, some of the most popular introductions of technology at concerts include:
- Radio Frequency Identification Wristbands (RFID) for access control, tracking behaviors, and making payments at concerts/festivals
- iBeacons for things to do around the proximity of the festival
Festivals can go on for several days, so being able to utilize technology for everything from finding nearby restaurants to making purchases on-site can be a big help for attendees, and it’s likely that as technology continues to advance, things will be made even more convenient and exciting for concert-goers. With that said, the evolution of VR isn’t slowing down anytime soon, meaning virtual concerts are also likely here to stay.
What to Expect From Future Festivals
No one needs to explain why the festival season in 2020 is a bit different. Already, major artists like Travis Scott have performed concerts on the popular video game ‘Fortnite,’ and there is set to be a dance music festival on the Minecraft game in July featuring artists like Deadmau5.
Other streaming concerts have already been going on all summer, which anyone can watch from the comfort of their own homes. In May of this year, artists like Jason Mraz and the Goo Goo Dolls performed during the Save the Children music festival live on YouTube. Also in May, the 320 Festival was announced and broadcast over platforms like Apple TV and Facebook Live. Not only did it feature performances, but workshops and educational sessions, too, with an underlying focus on mental health.
One of the unique things about virtual festivals or taking things online is that it can sometimes feel like a more personal experience for the concert-goer. Venues and festival promoters need to continue to take a personalized approach to attendees, not only through promoting events on social media, but by making people feel as though they all have the best seat in the house for any concert/festival of their choosing.
While concerts and festivals in person have been cancelled for this summer season, there truly is nothing like the real thing. There is no doubt that while virtual reality and the use of technology might make the concert experience different in the future, being able to go to a show in person is likely here to stay.
Written by Adrian Johansen