Having been around for more than 20 years already, Virtual Reality (VR) is finally becoming affordable for the mass market, with products such as Oculus and Samsung Gear. Today, festivals like Coachella, as well as young bands like Years and Years are making great use of the technology. Of course, some still voice the nagging worry that a VR option for a festival will affect tickets sales, but it’s hard to believe there are any grounds to such a concern. After all, while society seems to be going gadget-crazy, most people crave real-life experiences. Let’s face it, you’re not going to prefer this
Are you? Mind you, there’s no doubt that VR has its merits. It offers, for example, a great opportunity to those who couldn’t get tickets, and lets those who attended the live event relive the experience. Plus, it provides on-stage and backstage views you can’t get from an audience seat. It’s also another promotional tool. As this format gathers momentum, it will probably evolve into free (with advertisements) and premium (ad-free) versions.
Like VR, RFID (Radio Frequency ID) technology is hardly new – it’s already used in literally hundreds of ways. And now it’s beginning to find serious applications in the festival world, too. For example:
Advances in the technology mean that it’s now possible to do things like determine which artists attract the biggest crowd, which areas people spent most time in, and whether there enough toilets were provided. With the right data analytics, RFID also allows organisers to make minor real-time adjustments on the day, or large-scale changes for the next day.
With RFID, it’s possible to to offer attendees Meet & Greet, free F&B, and other perks, depending on the package purchased, or other conditions.
RFID offers the possibility of contactless payments using RFID bracelets, such as the PayPal bracelets used at Amsterdam Open Air festival.
3. Live streaming/Streaming Apps
Today’s broadband speed allows streaming of festivals with fantastic quality and without drags or delays. While it’s true that it’s not as immersive or engaging as VR, live streaming offers the opportunity to share the experience with friends by turning your home into a ‘virtual’ festival area.
And, of course, the webcast itself is just the start. Organisers are also taking advantage of apps like Periscope and Snapchat to give a feeling of exclusivity. It’s pretty common now to get behind-the-scenes feeds from celebrities, or other VIPs, that you just wouldn’t see otherwise. It’s innovations such as these that are boosting sales figures, as people who couldn’t attend a particular festival are stimulated to be involved in the next one. Coachella is, again, an excellent example of this effect.
4. WOW! effect
People love surprises (the nice kind!). This, of course, is hardly a profound observation, but it’s an observation that’s being used to great effect by many show and festival organisers. That’s because, by introducing surprise content, they create a ‘Wow! factor that prompts people to share on social media and turn an audience into brand ambassadors. So, what constitutes Wow! content? This will vary with the show, but it naturally needs to fit in with the overall concept behind the event, and to be of a consistent standard and quality. The power of delivering Wow! content is demonstrated by the increasing use of surprise performances in festivals, such as the unusual and unlisted collaboration of Drake & Madonna at Coachella 2015 – a great example!
Not that all Wow! content is a planned surprise. Sometimes it’s a completely unplanned (and potentially disastrous) surprise. An example of this was when Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters broke his leg during a performance in Gothenburg. Far from retiring for the evening, Dave merely took a short break, then continued – much to the delight of the audience! What could so easily have been a disaster was, instead, a triumph!
5. 70-20-10% Rule
Many of the best-known world festivals, such as Tomorrowland, Glastonbury and Coachella, tend to follow this rule. Basically, it’s a ‘formula for success’. And it’s this:
70% of festival content is based on experience and proven acts. This gives a good base of known quality which can be relied upon to make a favourable impact.
20% of content is the implementation of new acts based on feedback and analytics.
10% of content is made up of ‘wild card’ ideas. These are acts which could be either the Next Big Thing, or go completely unnoticed (or anywhere in between). It’s wise, however, not to go completely overboard and go for something with disaster potential, like Kanye West announcing himself the greatest living rock star on the planet at Glastonbury Festival 2015!