Peter Csathy, Special in the USA TODAY
Posted at 05:00 ET May 29, 2020 | Updated 12:24 PM ET May 29, 2020
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When Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Jason Isbell released a new album "Reunions" on May 15, he and his wife played the new songs in a live broadcast held at Nashville's Brooklyn Bowl, a bowling alley and venue. live events.
He and his wife Amanda Shires, a talented artist who attended Isbell's Grammy & The Unit 400's 2017 album "The Nashville Sound", were able to see some fans who tuned in to the performance on several big screens.
"I really love this interaction, where we can see everyone," said Shires, who had orchestrated his own daily online shows "I So Lounging" during the months of March and April in the barn on the couple's property. "We didn't have that at the barn shows. It's incredible."
Later, when some of the fans who watched online could be heard applauding, Isbell said, "I just heard you. Thanks, guys … You look great."
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When it comes to concerts and events, the real world has been shaken. In an instant, tours and festivals were canceled or postponed indefinitely. Now, the personal involvement of fans and artists has simply disappeared, not to mention all the ticket and merchandise revenues that flow from it.
Even the mighty Coachella was not immune and was forced to reinvent himself as a video-driven "Couchella" in April. Meanwhile, many industry experts believe that major live music events will not return until the fall of 2021.
Faced with this frightening new world order, musicians – and brands equally interested in reaching their fans – increasingly focus on virtual engagement.
Live streaming offers the most obvious path and can go far beyond the relatively passive Zoom video calls that we all use more and more to connect. As an example, the Grammy-winning Indigo Girls use the StageIt artist platform to sell a limited number of digital "seats" to watch unique and deeply personal shows broadcast live. In another, musician Ben Folds uses a service called Patreon that, true to his name, offers fans a direct way to sponsor his art.
Folds offers $ 10 monthly subscriptions that give fans access not only to live performances, but also to other exclusive benefits, including the chance to write lyrics for songs he will do.
For artists who already have a significant virtual audience on their social media platforms, brand sponsorship for live streaming events can become a new and profitable stream of income during these turbulent times. Many use popular social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube to broadcast their performances live to millions, usually from their living rooms.
Here's the thing: these passionate fans are precisely the young target audience that advertisers want to reach, but otherwise they can't.
But artists don't have to live by live broadcasting during our collective quarantine. Now, innovators can take things to a new level that is significantly more engaging and engaging. Musician Travis Scott, one of the headliners scheduled for Coachella this year, recently became the poster boy for a bold new virtual experimentation.
Scott reached over 12 million young fans on April 23 with a virtual concert at Fortnite, one of the most popular games in the world. His digital avatar debuted a brand new song live. Scott's Fortnite event – which reached almost 30 million – surpassed DJ Marshmello's live show, Fortnite, which raised the virtual bar a year earlier with more than 10 million players watching and listening.
And there is the promise of virtual reality (VR), which takes the involvement and interactivity between artists and fans even more. VR promised to teleport fans to shows and events that they couldn't physically reach. But those possibilities are finally at the center of the stage, as music fans anchored in the living room want new musical experiences at home.
That's why Apple recently acquired NextVR, a pioneer in live music and live sports events, and Facebook's Oculus has entered into a major partnership with VR artist Virvii, an artist-focused company. (Among the artists who have performed live events at Oculus Venue VR in the past: Billie Eilish and Post Malone.)
Virtual presence is not the only possibility here.
Los Angeles-based Redpill VR promises to be home to fully immersive and active social music experiences. Imagine dancing with your friends your favorite DJs and actually interacting with them on the live stage while they spin, all remotely, in the comfort of your own home. This is just not possible. Is happening.
For now, musicians and the brands that support them (and need to redirect their marginalized advertising dollars) must focus on creating and connecting with the audience, virtually.
And when they feel it is safe to meet again in the real world, that audience will follow and support them anywhere – online and offline.
Peter Csathy is the president of CREATV Media, a media, entertainment and business development company focused on technology, mergers and acquisitions and consulting.
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