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1-4 June 2021

The digitisation of live eventsRISE Spotlight: Live Events Experiences, Reimagined

Taking as its theme ‘The digitisation of live events’, the ISE Reporter Roundtable at the RISE Spotlight on live events addressed some of the challenges of the past year, the surprises it brought and what the future of live events could look like.

With guest moderator Stew Hume, Editor of TPi, the expert panel featured:

  • Rik Salmon, CEO and founder of Driift,
  • Emma Bull, Artistic Director and Show Producer, and
  • Robin Collings, CEO of Lost Horizons and director of Shangri-La at Glastonbury festival.

In March 2020, live music events as we knew them came to an abrupt stop. Growing concern about the spread of COVID-19 and the national lockdowns that followed, meant that mass gatherings at concerts or festivals were not viable for the foreseeable future. The whole events industry was on its knees, and creative innovation was essential to make events happen.

Watch the full session here

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In the last year, the quality of digital events has accelerated. We have moved on from the days of artists performing live on their mobile phones; full-scale production of digital music events is here.

Rik Salmon explained how lockdown had an immediate impact on work at his live agency and management company, so he started Driift as a means of business survival. Without knowing the appetite for online events, he took a risk founding an online platform selling tickets for livestreamed events. It paid off and Driift has sold over 400,000 tickets since launch.

“Laura Marling trusted our vision for doing a live stream. We sold 6,500 tickets, which blew our minds at the time. It helped to get crew and venue operators back to work and the event was critically acclaimed, fans loved it. Then we sold 36,000 tickets for Nick Cave. At that point we realised this is an exciting new model for live music. New opportunity, new revenue stream – new everything. It’s a small ray of light in a pretty dark time for our industry.”

For Creative Director Emma Bull, one-off live streamed productions felt overwhelming at first but also provided a beacon of hope that she, along with her ‘touring family’, could finally get back to work. In November, Niall Horan’s live performance at an empty Royal Albert Hall was streamed.

Emma said of the event: “Being back in a rehearsal room with the sense that we were putting on a show, it felt big. In terms of how we traditional approach a tour, there were factors that we kept the same but the collaborations were very different and it felt liberating. For example, putting on a one-off show in an iconic venue means you don’t have to worry about the constraints of how the aesthetic translates between venues. From a design point of view you can work very much with the architecture of the building… it was unique.”

For Robin Collings, reinventing a virtual festival experience that still felt authentic presented new challenges. The team connected with VR gaming platform Sansar to develop a new experimental project.

“We started exploring the Sansar platform; it was amazing that you can still dance side-by-side with other people,” said Robin. “It allowed us to emulate elements of live events: you can still make new friends, explore live music performances, and experience the charisma of stage shows via the headset. A challenge was not to appear gimmicky, so we pushed for greenscreen functionality within the computer world which allows the audience a more authentic connection with the performer.”