One of the first exhibit speaking events SXSW Music covered two very popular topics in the world of music and entertainment at the moment, live music festivals and live streaming.
SXSW Music kicked off its 30th year on Tuesday as tens of thousands of music fans made the annual pilgrimage to Austin to flood its hotels, music venues, bars, halls and houses with loud music all week long.
While corporate parties and showcases played out across town, the educational aspect of the festival began before any shows did on Tuesday morning in the much friendlier air-conditioned confines of the Austin Convention Center, where the tradeshow element of the festival is held.
Both entertainment outlets have converged successfully with one another in recent years with technology making it possible for fans all over the world to experience their favorite festivals in real-time, high definition streaming on their phones and computers at home.
Industry veterans John Petrocelli (CEO of Bulldog Digital Media), Karly Tuckness (Director of Sponsorship Sales at C3 Presents) and Raymond Roker (Head of Content at Goldenvoice) all took the panel to discuss how emerging technology and trends in social media and online viewing habits are changing the game for how fans can and should be able to experience their favorite music festival performances from the friendly and in-expensive confines of their own home.
As the conversation began on the current stare of where festivals are at, Roker was quick to point out the basics of what their goals are going into each festival season.
"The conversation of what music festival you're going to attend this year is on everybody's lips and now the question is how do you webcast or broadcast that festival to these global audiences. I think the jury is still out on where the connection points are, how do brands integrate with that, and what are the financial models. I think a lot of that is in an innovation stage right now."
While streaming has certainly taken a huge step forward in overall entertainment, its presence in music is still somewhat new, especially in broadcasting live events and finding ways to effectively monetize it without making home audiences feel like their experiencing an un-authentic portrayal of what the festival experience really should be. Petrocelli made points on how that area is still almost like the untamed West, just waiting to be utilized.
"I think we're still on the launching pad," Petrocelli mentioned. "I think the first number of years we were building the pad and rocket ship while blowing up some rockets along the way. It was really to see and explain the benefits of (streaming) to artists, promoters, platforms, and to fans. We're past that now though. The value is clear; the brands have just begun to appreciate how this can amplify the impact of their message."
Of course there's always the argument that streaming is just another way that artists are struggling to find success in old business models such as the recording industry's struggle in monetizing off of streamed music. Petrocelli was quick to point out however that it's not necessarily the case when it comes to live streaming hurting ticket sales.
"One of the reasons I feel this is good for artists, is that is sells hard tickets to their next show, now that's a big things for artists. The CEO of LiveNation said just this year when asked if live streaming cannibalizes ticket sales and he said 'It's just the opposite', and that's coming from a guy who sells more tickets than anyone else in the world."
Karly chimed in agreeing with her colleague that streaming music festivals doesn't necessarily have to carry the same stench of bad PR that streaming recorded music is getting in 2016.
"Like (John) said there's nothing that can take away that experience of being at the festival, going and seeing your favorite band live. That's not something you can replicate in front of your computer screen or device, BUT you're opening it up for the millions of people around the world who want to be at events like Lollapalooza, which sells out in like an hour, and can't either because they couldn't get a ticket in time or they live in Germany. So when you live cast, it's essentially the best promotion you could do for your event as you're giving everyone around world watching some hope that maybe one day I'll get to be there too."
Live broadcasting music festivals may still be in the early stages in its valued potential, both in the eyes of promoters as well as the fans. Of all the entertainment industry realms, the music industry seems to be the slowest to adapting to change. As we're well into the streaming era at this point with brands like Netflix and Hulu making it increasingly difficult for Chairmen of cable companies to sleep at night, the potential for festival and performance exposure is limitless when one thinks of how many more eyes, and ears, these enormous festival performances could reach.