Are virtual events becoming the new normal?
We spoke to the top ticketing platforms who shared how virtual events are becoming the new normal amid a global pandemi...

Are virtual events becoming the new normal?

We spoke to the top ticketing platforms who shared how virtual events are becoming the new normal amid a global pandemi...
  • Outdoor entertainment has come to a complete standstill, live events and experiences have moved online. We spoke to the top ticketing platforms who shared how virtual events are becoming the new normal amid a global pandemic.
  • Virtual events have helped artists and fans transcend limitations of location, accessibility and seasonality. These events combine live streaming technology with interactive features that allows participants to engage with each other and creators.
  • Organisers are bringing music, elements of theatre such as dramatised readings, monologues, poetry recitals, stand-up comedy sessions and other performing art acts live to the safety of their viewer’s homes.
Extreme times have pushed every industry to come up with creative solutions to sustain their businesses. When it was announced that IPL was indefinitely postponed, ticketing platforms were one of the first ones to be hit badly. The second blow came when the lockdown 1.0 was announced in India and outdoor entertainment came to a complete standstill. Artists, organizers and the entire experiential industry found themselves baffled. Their core job was to get people out of their homes and partake in an event.

As per Event and Entertainment Management Association (EEMA), the Indian events and exhibition sector is expected to take a ₹1 trillion hit this quarter.

However, shortly after the outbreak of COVID-19, industry experts started reimagining their line-ups and came up with a creative solution -- virtual events and they are slowly and gradually becoming the new normal.

In this time of distress, a lot of people are looking for an escape. Virtual events offer interaction, intimacy and a two-way-conversation with your favourite artists. Ergo, there is a rising demand for these events on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and Facebook.

To meet this rising demand, BookMyShow launched virtual properties such as ‘Live From HQ ’and ‘#LiveInYourLiving Room’ and saw participation from various stars ranging from Prateek Kuhad to Vir Das to Indian Ocean.

“Under the circumstances, ‘Live from HQ’, ‘Theatre Live’ and other such virtual initiatives are the best option. They are unique for their intimacy, interactivity (social media platform-supported) and for the real glimpse it gives you into the artists’ most intimate space - his/her home! We have seen multiple instances where viewers have requested for their favourite songs or a poem, which have been gracefully honoured by the artists. We have seen a great traction for the Q&A sessions as well, bringing fans up close and personal with their favourite artists. And then, there are surprises too - Prateek Kuhad dropped his latest single during his performance in ‘Live From HQ’!,” shares Albert Almeida, COO – Live Entertainment, BookMyShow.

BookMyShow’s maiden Live from HQ event had close to half a million viewers tuning in. After adding more features on its platform and seeing an increase in engagement on the size of its community, Almeida is hopeful that the platform will breach the million mark in a few days.

On the other hand, for Paytm Insider, it was easier to transition to virtual events as they had launched ‘Digital Events’ a year ago. It now allows organizers to publish, ticket and manage digital events. However, it wasn’t their main focus until the outbreak of coronavirus.

Telling us how the idea took shape, Shreyas Srinivasan, CEO, Paytm Insider, said, “About a year ago, even before all of this transpired, we started working on a feature called Digital events. So in the last month, we have completely switched our focus to digital events. The idea was that digital offers you the type of interactivity which physical events don’t -- it's hard to obtain scale. So if you are in a physical event with 10,000 people and you want to collectively as a musician, figure out what is the next song the majority of this audience wants to hear, it's very difficult to get that consensus. So that’s why we had started building this feature called Digital Event, which is basically a layer of interactivity on top of a live video. This allows us to experiment. We did a theatrical show where people watching it decided how the story went.”

While the established artists have found a way to connect with their audience via technology, smaller artists in Tier II and III are struggling. StayIN aLIVE is a platform that is helping artists to come together, with the help of BookMyShow and Paytm Insider, and use their skills and creativity to aid the spreading of correct, verified messages about battling COVID-19, the issues surrounding the pandemic, precautions one can take as citizens.

Roshan Abbas, MD, Geometry Global and Founder, Kommune, a performance arts collective, explains, “The live entertainment industries have been very badly hit. I was reading a report today that said over 4 million people but that doesn’t include the people who listen to Gurbani to people who perform in villages all the way to the people who are performing at concerts and shows, etc. That is such a large number right now. Most people also don't know what to do. And the problem is that the people who have some idea of the internet at least are trying to be relevant. But revenue is bound to see a fall for almost anybody.”

StayIN aLIVE, although now digital, will also help artists do physical events once we resume normalcy. However, Abbas says that this new normal will never be the same for the events industry. This period has pushed consumers to reconsider their habits.

“The new normal will not be the same as what we were used to. Many of us will choose efficiency over entertainment. So do you really want to go to a seminar? Or do you want to go for dinner in the evening? Do you want to go for the awards show at all? Or are you happy to be with us here? Awards have anyway become a television spectacle because people stopped going. So the consumers will start making even more informed choices. And again, this is where people who will build transmedia properties that go from online to offline, offline to online, to build communities both offline and online will succeed,” said Abbas.