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as fans enjoy face-to-face look for new immersive live event experiences, how will event organisers and performers keep up and continue to provide them?
It’s become more common to see the use of digital technology at live shows as event creators and performers look to provide a new level of immersive experience for their fans.
Despite a lengthy hiatus for live events across most of the globe during the Covid-19 pandemic, the return of sell-out festivals like Glastonbury and Coachella demonstrates lockdowns have done little to curb the desire for live entertainment amongst fans.
This bounce-back comes with studies showing that people of all ages are beginning to prioritise experiences over possessions in their buying habits. Likewise, the Live Nation brand has reported record earnings for the 2021 year and projects 2022 to be even stronger for business.
So, as fans enjoy face-to-face social opportunities and look for new and ever more immersive live event experiences, how will event organisers and performers keep up and continue to provide them?
One solution lies in the growing use of digital technologies to augment and improve live performances. Taking aside groundbreaking use-cases like Metaverse concerts, digital elements are already being incorporated into physical shows in a manner that redefines what live shows mean.
All kinds of live shows are beginning to fuse digital platforms with physical ones, from art shows like Lighthouse Immersive to musicians like Max Cooper; digital elements to performances are beginning to evolve live events.
The reason for the level of success that these live shows are having seems to be the greater sense of intensity that these shows offer which leads audiences to a new kind of experience unlike they have seen before. This can be seen in the upcoming theatre production Theatre of the Mind, which promises an experience based on sight, feeling, taste and hearing.
With consumers valuing experience over possessions, we can be certain that physical events will continue to utilise technology to achieve a greater show for audiences than ever before.
In fact, the ability to create a multi-platform experience is only becoming more and more accessible, even to smaller artists and events, as companies like Volta allow users to “design, perform and stream your own mixed reality experience in just minutes”.
It is a merger of more than one avenue of entertainment which is truly capturing the imagination of audiences. The War of The Worlds exhibit in London is in the top 10% of attractions in the world and has a 98% recommendation rating on Tripadvisor. Its experience fuses interactive visual scenes, iconic audio and live acting to give attendees an almost two-hour experience of a Martian invasion of planet Earth.
Interaction is beginning to be a key feature of successful experiences for audiences as it offers significantly improved immersion. Of course, creating shows that react to different audience inputs was explored previously in the interactive Netflix movie Black Mirror *SPOILER ALERT*, but it is something only just beginning to be used in live events.
Even in these early days, however, new technologies are also emerging, which could allow for even greater creative freedom for event organisers and performers in the form of Web3, VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality).
Web2 technology has allowed show creators to redefine what live events mean to audiences, but it will be Web3 that pushes the boundaries of what is possible as the technology that comes with it continues to develop, evolve and ultimately becomes more widely available.
Web3 is currently a catch-all term, and as with most new concepts, the definition of what it includes is still evolving. Some things, however, are already agreed upon. Underpinning the concept of NFTs and the Metaverse are the distributed networks known as blockchains which form some of the cornerstones of Web3.
It’s obvious where the VR and AR technology associated with the Metaverse can play a role in improving the experience for audiences. Virtual concerts are already fairly well established, and VR and AR technology can improve immersion and feel in a multitude of entertainment sectors. However, the ability to offer NFT airdrops and collectables is something that has the potential to add another layer to live experiences.
Many artists have already begun to use NFT airdrops and standalone collectables to provide value to fans or offer them exclusive perks and rewards. Dolly Parton has created the “Dollyverse”, and Ja Rule is also using various Web3 elements to create a closer connection to his fans.
It’s likely that the strong performance of the live event sector will continue for a while, in part due to a couple of years where live events were stifled, leading to a build-up in a desire to experience them again. However, while this might provide only a temporary boost for live events, the inclusion of ever-more complicated digital elements to add to the experience almost certainly will.
With fans more hungry for new experiences than ever before, the creativity of those putting on events will determine how technology can make even more immersive shows to satisfy this hunger.
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