Hybrid Concerts: The Future Of Live Concerts
2020 was on track to be the concert industry’s most profitable year ever, but live music industry experts are saying the summer 2020 concert season ended before it began due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The live music industry is built on social gathering and is struggling to cope with social distancing. Promoters all across the nation would like to plan on the concert world making a comeback this fall, but medical experts are telling them to hold off until 2021. In the meantime, a variety of entertainment venues and performers have moved to completely virtual concerts to keep their business going and keep their fanbase thriving. Other venues, including festivals, fairs, casinos, and theaters, are hoping for the best outcome possible to remain profitable with hybrid concerts.
A hybrid concert is a concert that has some in-person attendance at the concert, but also has a virtual audience online. Hybrid concerts are a viable option for venues in the future when group gatherings are less restricted. Many venues can hold upwards of 1,000 people at any given performance, but government and health officials may still limit group gatherings once the states begin to re-open as the COVID-19 pandemic passes. While venues may not be able to have 1,000 people in person at a concert, they can host many more than that if they offer a virtual concert option in addition to their live concert experience.
While there’s nothing quite like standing in a crowd of thousands, cheering for and singing along with your favorite band or musical artist, live concerts will look different this year as many concert-goers fear the health risks that are associated with crowds. Any concert you produce has to make financial sense — from the cost of hiring the talent to production expenses to the potential ticket revenue to the expected food and beverage sales. When moving to a hybrid concert platform, you want to set your concert up for success.
We want to think that science is in control when life returns to “normal.” However, there is a lot of uncertainty as we wait for a vaccine, try to minimize risk as much as possible, and still keep things moving along in our communities. There is so much unknown to where the state of our nation will be in five months, five weeks, or even five days from now, but it doesn’t hurt to start planning ahead and considering options for all scenarios. From our team of event professionals, here are some things to consider when planning a successful hybrid concert.
Negotiate Your Contract With Your Performer
Ultimately, you need your concert to be profitable for it to make good business sense. Touring for performers is the backbone of their income. Performers of all talent levels are adapting their scope of work to accommodate your limitations and expectations for a show. Whether you already had your show scheduled or you’re looking to book a new performer, be sure to negotiate as much as you can.
Not only can you discuss adjustments to the overall cost of hiring the performer, but you can request adjustments to their full audio, lighting, and stage production. If your concert was originally planned for 1,500 people, but you’re planning for less than 500 in-person now, the production can be scaled down to meet your needs. You will also want to negotiate broadcast rights to ensure that any virtual part of your concert is accounted for up-front. It may seem obvious, but any concert income is better than no concert income for artists. If you work with them, they should be able to work with you to come to a mutually beneficial agreement for your hybrid concert.
Indoor Vs. Outdoor Concert
In recent studies, concert-goers shared that they would feel more comfortable attending outdoor concerts than indoor concerts. This is a major factor as you decide to move forward with hybrid concerts later this year. Depending on your venue capabilities as an indoor or outdoor venue, you will have a variety of options for staging, lighting, audio, and video to accommodate the attendees that are there in-person and those who are attending virtually.
Sell Those Concert Tickets
If your in-person concert capacity is lowered to reduce risks for your performers and attendees, your seating layout will look much different. Based on CDC guidelines and your local government requirements, you may be looking at spacing your seating charts out and adjusting how your attendees choose their tickets, based on these adjusted seating arrangements.
Just because there may not be “front row tickets” doesn’t mean there can’t be special ticketing options. For example, instead of offering Meet & Greet passes with those who purchase premiere seats for your concert in-person at a higher cost, you could offer a merchandise package with a 1 minute Cameo video from the performer or other special downloads, like autographs or audio files. These specialty ticket packages do not need to be limited to those who purchase in-person tickets.
It’s important to understand: hosting a hybrid concert does not mean that the virtual side of the concert is free. For those who purchase virtual tickets to the concert, there will be the opportunity to email them a unique link to the concert to watch online — just like getting access to the venue. This digital connection also provides you the opportunity to cross-market to them for other upcoming events. You can also take advantage of playing sponsors’ video advertisements before, during, and after the virtual concert.
Keeping Attendees Safe
Before your hybrid concert, you want to provide important information to all attendees about what the protocol will be. For virtual attendees, it’s easy! Ask them to enjoy the concert in their pajamas at home with their favorite beverage in-hand using the link you provide them. For in-person attendees, things will need to be a little different and you need to provide them with an FAQ or Frequently Asked Questions overview prior to the event.
It’s natural that you may want to require temperature testing at the gate or require attendees to wear masks. This may be the new normal nearly everywhere during this COVID-19 pandemic and these public health and safety measures can help reduce the risk before anyone even enters your venue.
If you will be operating your venue with multiple entrances or gates, crowd control is a must. For the entrances, you may consider using stickers on the ground to help attendees understand where to safely stand to distance themselves in line and during the entry process. Once they’re inside your venue, you will need plenty of signage to ensure your guests are getting to where they need to be reducing their interactions with others. This may include fencing in the walkways or arrows pointing to bathrooms, seating, and other amenities, like hand washing and hand sanitizing stations.
EVENT PLANNING TIP: If you choose to offer your attendees branded face masks or hand sanitizers, this is a creative marketing idea to incorporate your event and venue sponsors.
Give Your Attendees The Service They Deserve
It’s only natural that your in-person attendees will be anxious to get a t-shirt from the merchandise stand or snag two icy cold adult beverages on the way to their seats. It’s a good idea to offer an online merchandise shop with an exclusive ordering code for concert-goers to safely shop online. This is the safest option for both in-person and virtual attendees. There is always the option to set up a merchandise stand with a plexiglass partition separating the in-person attendees from the merchandisers to offer pick up at the concert as well.
We’ve moved into the virtual world of online food ordering where it’s ready for pick up when you arrive. How about that type of service at a concert? With apps like OrderEm, Noble, and ChowNow, you can create custom menus for your concert including your food and beverage options. Think about how incredible it would be to allow your attendees to order from their seats and have your crew run their order to them and avoid the long lines. This eliminates the need for attendees to move around the venue and keeps them safely distanced from your food and beverage serving areas.
Ready to start planning your hybrid concert experience?
If you’re ready to take the next step and begin planning your hybrid concert experience, contact us today. We’re ready to help take your event to the next level.