Is the future of music festivals digital?

Have online music festivals during lockdown changed the industry forever?

Music festivals are the highlight of the year for thousands of people in the UK and are a big source of income for the businesses organising them. Over the past 18 months, many music festivals have been forced to cancel due to the pandemic, which has left a lot of people missing out and instead staying in listening to more music at home in an attempt to get their festival fix.

This is true as over the past 18 months there has been a huge shift to hosting festivals online, meaning people are able to watch wherever they are. Multiple festivals switched to either fully or partly online – most notably BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend, which was held virtually for the second year running and free to watch, and Glastonbury, which had a full weekend line-up to relive past festivals on the BBC.

So, are online festivals here to stay? Here are five trends we could see in the coming years.

1. Live streaming of major festivals

Live streaming of major festivals could become more of a trend after the pandemic as people still want to enjoy live music, without being there in the crowd.

Even smaller festivals, like the EA Festival of art and culture, in Hedingham in Essex. This festival took place over the summer as a hybrid event, with tickets sold for both in person and online. People could attend the event, but the festival was also livestreamed in real-time using County Broadband’s network to service this feature.

Live streaming also enables musicians to speak to their fans wherever they are, whether they are on the go or at home, and fans can still have the festival experience.

Major festivals have had to forgo their plans of thousands of people attending their venues over the past 18 months. There has been a big gap in the music festival calendar, but some festivals have gone fully or partly online instead meaning that they can still engage with their audiences wherever they are.

2. Enjoying festivals on the move

Radio 1’s Big Weekend was available to stream on Radio 1 and the BBC Sounds app for the second year running in 2021 due to the pandemic. These festivals were not smaller in scale, and still drew in big names with Ed Sheeran headlining one of the days.

It’s expected this trend will continue over the coming years as streaming services now dominate a lot of the TV and film industry, and streaming platforms like Spotify have increased in popularity by 24% during lockdown.

Spotify has also announced a move into virtual and live concerts as it tries to differentiate its services from Apple Music, which could bring in more business for the already hugely popular streaming service.

Streaming is continuing to grow even as lockdown comes to an end as people can watch shows, films or listen to music and podcasts on the move. This is the same for music festivals.

3. Festival partnerships

As gaming has skyrocketed over recent years, especially during lockdown, a new trend has emerged where artists partner with video games, playing immersive concerts on the game’s platform.

Taking music festivals to a whole level is the game Fortnite, where fictional and real-world celebrities come together in a battle royale game, which you can play free. Fortnite’s multi-verse realm incorporates many different levels of storytelling, adding to this have been one-off event concerts with Marshmello and Travis Scott, but most recently and notably, was a concert with Ariana Grande as part of Fortnite’s Rift Tour which tied in all the multiple aspects of Fortnite.

Watching the clips back from the concert, it wasn’t just a concert, but a big piece of the game’s storytelling and multi-verse charm.

Video game concerts could mean big business as artists can express themselves in a creative way and engage with fans in an immersive social setting.

4. Watching festivals together with friends

These concerts via video gaming or live streaming could also mean getting together with your friends virtually, to stream or play a game and watch a concert. Watch Parties or Game Parties could be a new trend as gaming has increased in popularity over recent years. In fact, the UK has the sixth-largest gaming market Worldwide.

If games like Fortnite continue to come up with new ideas to entice new people or make the game relevant to different audiences, then this trend could grow and grow.

5. 3D holograms

Imagine sitting in your living room to watch a concert, but instead of watching it on your TV, a 3D hologram of Beyonce, Foo Fighters, or your favourite artist is projected into your living room.  This could be another trend for future music festivals or concerts. During the pandemic, concerts couldn’t take place as usual, but if you could project a hologram of your performance into people’s homes, then that is another way for artists to engage with fans.

Live streaming concerts and playing games to watch concerts highlights the importance of full fibre broadband for reliable streaming and high quality audio.

The speeds you need are changing and they’re changing quickly. Your existing may be just enough for day-to-day internet usage with one device working from home, but for multiple devices and larger households it falls short.

That’s why we’re changing the way broadband is delivered across the East of England. Superfast broadband, also known as Fibre-To-The-Cabinet, contains Victorian copper cables which are not designed to deliver a broadband speed.

The only solution to accommodate our data hungry devices is to build new full-fibre networks, free of copper, which can deliver 18 times faster speeds up to 1,000 Mbps. Connectivity is also far more reliable and you’re therefore less likely to see dropouts during peak times. 

That’s why we’re accelerating the rollout of our full-fibre (we call it REAL FIBRE) networks. But building them takes time (up to 18 months) so we need to start now because otherwise it will be too late.  

The good news is we’re well underway with our rollout across the East of England. Click here to find out if we’re coming to your village and see how you can help digitally future-proof your community.