• Allyson Wynn

To Gather or Not To Gather

Will festivals happen in 2021?

Corporations that plan, promote, and host summer music festivals have pondered this question since large-scale events cancelled last summer. Attracting large audiences from across the country and the world has been a mainstay for the music industry. The connection between musicians and their audience is like no other, it’s electrifying. For the audience, the live performances and sharing of the experience with your favorite artists as well as with the crowd is pure exhilaration and a feeling many look forward to with exuberant anticipation.

Organizers are remaining optimistic about this year’s potential for in-person events. Festivals such as Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza have announced later dates for their events. Bonnaroo, the large-scale 24/7 event spread out across a 700 acre farm in Nashville, TN is moving its concert from June to Labor Day weekend. Lollapalooza at Grant Park in Chicago is planning a July/August date with its 170 bands covering eight different stages. Chicago’s PitchFork Festival with taste-making alternatives and emerging bands plans to rock out in September at Union Park.

Two of the biggest music festivals in the world, Glastonbury and Coachella have cancelled concerts for the second year in a row. Coachella takes place in California where COVID-19 rates are still too high. A public health official said, “the number of attendees and the nature of the venue would make it infeasible, if not impossible, to track those who may be placed at risk.”

What about hosting virtual festivals?

As we continue to gravel with the idea whether or not to host summer music festivals, outdoor concerts, food festivals, or outdoor art exhibitions there are other options that could be considered one of which is hosting a virtual festival.

With all the streaming platforms specifically designed to host online events, the option is certainly viable. Instagram and YouTube have streaming options built into their platforms. The idea is to use sites with easy access and greatest benefit for listeners. Even Facebook offers a ‘live’ streaming option that can attract huge audiences by clicking on a landing page. All that’s needed is a smart phone, laptop, and a good WiFi connection.

What about hybrid festivals?

As vaccination clinics open registration to all adults 18 years and older beginning May 1, 2021, there will still be lag time for those that want a COVID-19 vaccination. And, there’s no data available to date on how the vaccine will protect against virus mutations and the length of protection offered by the vaccines.

A recommendation by the CDC is to continue following mask protocol when in public settings, at events and gatherings, and anywhere you’re around other people. Even those who are vaccinated against COVID-19 are to continue wearing well-fitted masks and social distance while in public.

That being said, a hybrid festival could be a ‘best choice’ option for those in the planning process and interested in hosting a festival this summer. Having a reduced number of participation for the in-person event will hurt sales. To circumvent the loss, hosting a ‘live’ or pre-recorded event online will reduce monetary losses and increase reach.

What are factors to consider when hosting a hybrid festival?

The in-person audience is already energized. There’s nothing like a live event. It’s the artist, friends, and the music all in the same location. For the virtual audience, the event needs to be snappy. They typically have shorter attention spans so time will be a factor.

At this point, you may consider a pre-recorded event for the virtual audience. If being ‘live’ is a must, you could create chat rooms for participants or virtual games to play in-between bands or events happening at the ‘live’ festival.

It’s summertime and people are ready to stretch their limbs and leave their dens. It’s been a tough year and we’re all looking for some excitement. If the desire is to have a seamless in-person, virtual, or hybrid event, The Wynning Experience has your back. We want to help you create that experience no matter your needs.

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