Brands, EDM, and the Future of Live Events
Jordan Kelley, Content Director, BrandStorytelling.tv
With music festivals on hold for the foreseeable future, 2020 has turned out to be an opportunity for those in the business of innovation in live music experiences. The sudden onset of the pandemic may have stopped activities in their tracks, but avid Electronic Music fans didn’t suddenly stop wanting to gather and connect. The same can be said for brands – the country’s need to put the economy on hold in order to ensure the health and safety of the public didn’t solve for the needs of brands still looking to connect with consumers. Fortunately, there’s a solution at the intersection of the EDM community and brands: innovative brand activations. And while those activations have previously been live, adapting with the times means bringing the innovative brand activation out of reality and into the virtual, digital space.
In a discussion for the Elevate Summer Session, Brand Storytelling was recently joined by Rich Thomas (Vice President of Communications, Culture & Content at Insomniac Events), and Heather Shaw (Founder, CEO, and Chief Designer at Vita Motus), as well as Ty Braswell (Founder, Creative Digital Strategies), who discussed the experience of entertaining and engaging a dedicated audience such as the EDM community when live events are on and how companies are making innovative leaps to help connect brands while live events are off.
The first important thing to know about the EDM community and demographic is that it is one that is hyper-engaged on social media. Members of this community find one another and stay connected on social, using it to schedule gatherings and attend concerts together. For the right brands, ones that are a natural fit for the elder-millennial-and-younger, EDM community leaders and fans often function as brand ambassadors. They are a demographic that is fiercely loyal, and the right brand has the potential to become synonymous with the scene.
One example of this adoption of a brand is Red Bull, its products, and cultivation of the “World of Red Bull.” The product (an energy drink) is in line with the demographic and can be found readily available at EDM events that go late into the night, but its Red Bull’s creativity as it revolves around experiences that sets the brand apart. “Working to match the event and match the culture makes them a mainstay at insomniac events” said Rich Thomas, who started out attending Insomniac Events before working there. “Another is Jägermeister,” said Thomas. “They worked with the performance team to introduce characters that welcomed festival goers to a treehouse biergarten complete with a slide out of the treehouse.” It's creative applications of story to experiences that has made brands like this welcome in the electronic music event space. What do Red Bull and Jägermeister have in common? “The common thread is open communication between brand and creative,” says Thomas. Brands willing to invest in taking a creative leap seem to reap the most rewards in this demographic. The next leap to take is one that reaches audiences where they are right now: at home, longing for an event to participate in.
Enter companies like Vita Motus. Vita Motus traditionally works with companies like Insomniac Events to design and execute elaborate live sets that make for immersive musical worlds. The process of creating these sets first involves digital modeling, a tool that is coming in handy during stay-at-home orders issued during the pandemic. Using their virtual demo building software, Vita Motus has been able to create virtual space-scapes that function as a landscape that can be traversed and even entered into physically, reflected back to the user on screen. From dropping a live DJ into a 100 foot obelisk to enabling fans to wander through a glowing night-time music garden, the digital worlds created by Vita Motus help create the authentic dance music experience from home, and gives festival workers an opportunity to get back to work without leaving the safety of home. Experiences like the ones created between partners like Insomniac Events and Vita Motus that could once be attended in real life are now coming online – the only thing left is for brands to come along with them.
Brands haven’t been highly receptive at the outset of these virtual experiences because these innovations are untested and unproven. However, it’s clear that every brand needs to pivot in this moment and entities like Insomniac and Vita Motus are at the forefront of innovation when it comes to capturing the hearts and minds of the live event audience. There is a major incentive to put brand experiences inside these virtual spaces as more and more people from the EDM audience are seeking to enter and engage with these virtual spaces. If the future of live events is virtual, brands ought to start connecting with leaders in the space to determine how they best fit within it.
About Jordan Kelley