Empty seats and the entertainment industry

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The last few months have been difficult to say the least. Companies and brands’ reactions to the current pandemic have been both inspiring and heart-breaking in equal measures. One particular sphere I would like to draw focus on is the world of live events and how they have fought remarkably hard to adapt to an audience of, well…nobody.

Let’s take a look at the great English institution of the Premiere League. When the kick off whistle finally blew on June 17th, the empty stadium was cleverly adorned with sheets of advertising. The TV broadcast was filled with ambient sounds and artificial crowd noise. It seemed very peculiar but was a welcomed change from watching celebrities with their novelty backdrops and artists perform from a video conferencing platform from their homes.

One of the World’s largest sporting events, WWE Wrestlemania which usually sees a live audience of up to 100,000 people, made a bold, brave move to switch up the format and aesthetic as they decided to pre-record all 36 featured matches in a cinematic style in and outside of the ring.

By dialling up the drama and taking the risk they hoped to retain engagement with their fan base through their pay per view platform. Did it work? It sure did! Aside from shattering viewing records, WrestleMania 2020 also saw the most social media interactions for a single WWE event. According to the WWE, the two-night show saw a 20 percent year-over-year increase across its viewing platforms. Sometimes, it pays to take risks….

Another example of where live venues have thought out of the box in a bid to secure press on socials and address the greater concern of how do we sell out are theatres, is when Barcelona's Liceu opera opened this month for its first concert since mid-march, to a full house — of plants.

The Gran Teatre del Liceu filled its 2,292 seats with plants for a performance by the UceLi Quartet, which it called a prelude to its 2020-2021 season. The string quartet serenaded its leafy earthy audience with Giacomo Puccini's "Crisantemi". A great advert for the upcoming season as the performance was also made available to humans via live-stream.

However, in my opinion, it is Glastonbury’s legendary field ‘Shangri La’ who has come head and shoulders above the rest in the innovation stakes by creating ‘all the feels’ of what it is to be a human being by building a global virtual platform.

LOST HORIZON is a deep multi-layered experience, filled with wild dance-floors, secret headliners, hidden venues - a visual hybrid extravaganza of art and performance from the comfort of your own living room.

Inside this ‘Multiverse’ you can meet with your friends (remember that?!) and make new ones (not sure I even know how to do that anymore..) , blag your way backstage or find a shady corner to hang out in. Fully customisable avatars will transcend gender, colour and the limitations of the body - be whoever you want for the weekend!

This type of innovation, that catapults us in to 2050, is a stellar example of understanding what a consumer needs in this strange new age we find ourselves in.


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We Just Can't Carry On Like This