Home >Industry >Media >Music, dance festivals go online as virus rages

NEW DELHI : With no opportunity to hold large-scale events owing to physical distancing norms, several winter music and dance festivals have gone online. Bacardi NH7 Weekender, a platform for independent music, will be held virtually in December just like BREEZER Vivid Shuffle, a hip-hop festival. Sunburn Goa, slated to hold an on-ground event this December, which is now cancelled, had brought out a two-day virtual edition of the electronic music festival this July called Sunburn Home.

Events industry experts say brands, though spending 50% of what they did on sponsorship deals earlier, are no longer interested in physical editions of events that do not justify costs and see that digital events are backed by both rich content and technology. Even medium-sized events can now command budgets of 15-20 lakh, from 2-5 lakh at the beginning of the pandemic.

“Brands are figuring out how workable this is, especially if it is a company that is looking to drive experiences and a certain kind of messaging," said Gunjan Arya, CEO, OML Entertainment that is working on Weekender. Arya said liquor company Bacardi had been their title sponsor for years and the event is looking to close more deals with time, details of which she did not disclose. Sunburn Home, meanwhile, had Fastrack, Mountain Breeze, ZEE5 and Spotify on board.

Apart from acting as ticketing partner, Paytm Insider will bring out a platform to showcase the Weekender event that will allow users to switch between three tabs or ‘stages’ and host virtual parties during the stream, play games, take pictures in a virtual photo-booth, and join live parties along with artistes.

Mint had earlier reported that liquor brands are taking their offline events online this year, and continuing some of their collaborations with DJs, musicians, influencers and bar-tenders as they seek to capitalize on in-home drinking occasions. Companies such as AB InBev, Bacardi and others are trying to stay relevant even though offline events lack consumer connect and prohibit brands from generating trials for their beverages.

“Experiences are a big growth driver and the entire category would spend quite heavily on them. As consumption has moved a lot more in-home, and how digital has really scaled up—is informing our marketing strategy," Abhishek Shahabadi, vice president, and portfolio head for luxury and premium brands, Diageo India had said. Diageo has properties like Black Dog Easy Evenings, a series of comedy shows that it has taken online.

Roshan Abbas, president elect, EEMA (Event and Entertainment Management Association) said on-ground entertainment, like movie theatres, is unlikely to see a resurgence before March. According to a report by the organization, more than 54% of industry players expect their business to come down by 75%.

“Brands are taking cognizance of the conversations online events can generate on social media and the fact that they get access to data easily (on engagement) that they can further integrate into their strategies," Abbas pointed out. So, they may not always recover their investments, but it is good for presence, he added.

Event organizers have estimated that the 199-499 range works well for tickets to online events, though there can always be innovations. Weekender, for instance, has three kinds of tickets— 199 for viewing the event only, 999 to view, purchase some memorabilia and avail discounts next year and 1,999 for all of the above plus tickets to next year’s event. Platforms have witnessed engagement of around four million viewers for decent-sized events in the past few months and see the numbers growing steadily. The Weekender view-only tickets priced at 99 initially, were sold out on the first day of announcement.

However, most organizers are hopeful of returning to on-ground events soon.

“We have to adapt to changes in the overall plan and structure for some time but (physical) events are a desperate necessity to bring people together in this asocial world where our screen time has already gone up so much. It is difficult to recreate the same experience on screen," said Harindra Singh, chairman and managing director, Percept Ltd, creators of Sunburn Asia.

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