Let me start by saying that I love Charlie Puth. His music is awesome, he was awesome, he’s an amazingly talented musician/singer/performer/producer. It’s the entire reason why I woke up at 2 a.m. UK-time to watch his live-streamed virtual concert on yoop.app.
I've missed performing for you guys so I'm excited to announce my live virtual concert with Yoop on March 31st! Check out the Yoop package options here: https://t.co/yFIRwYY2tx pic.twitter.com/S6clh81mIw— Charlie Puth (@charlieputh) February 10, 2021
But despite a set packed with great songs, the whole experience left me feeling less than enthused.
The global pandemic has caused every one of us to adapt and change our usual routines, and the entertainment industry was one of the hardest hit since mass gatherings in stadiums and arenas has left live music limited to Instagram streams.
In an attempt to bridge the gap between virtual and live events, yoop.app seems like an ingenious stop-gap solution. The platform allows performers to put on a live show that’s so much more than the one-way streams we’ve all gotten used to during this pandemic.
The set-up involves a stage or theatre decked out with all the usual lights, settings and live band that you would expect from a live concert, but in place of a packed audience are a set of large video screens that allow the performer to see their virtual audience in real-time.
This means the performer can see and sometimes hear their fans as they cheer, applaud and sing along to their music.
All this sounds and looks like a great idea. However, despite Charlie’s best efforts and brilliant music, the whole experience still felt like yet another online experience that can’t compete with real life, in a similar vein to pub quizzes on Zoom and online birthday parties.
When Charlie took a few minutes to interact and speak to his virtual audience, all the usual problems reared their ugly virtual head. One audience member couldn’t figure out how to take themselves off mute, another made small talk about random objects in their background, and all the while international pop star Charlie Puth was awkwardly trying to get them back on mute and back on with the show.
While there were a few technical difficulties at the start, the stream itself was clear and smooth, although there was a noticeable time delay between what we saw and what Charlie saw –– he obviously had better broadband than most of the audience.
Even though there’s a potential end in sight for lockdown restrictions, virtual concerts could still have their place in our future. They allow creators to connect more easily with fans across the globe and they make the process of buying tickets secure and safe from ticket scalpers.
The interaction is much more intimate and dialling into a concert is much easier and more affordable than a trip to LA specifically to see your favourite artist.
We’re also starting to see a number of pre-recorded virtual live music events pop up across the summer. Glastonbury has recently announced a ticketed ‘live’ concert in May with a reduced lineup, but the performances won’t be streamed directly.
Instead, they’ll all be filmed beforehand and edited together into a seamless, five-hour concert film, which will then be live-streamed to ticket holders. Not only will this lead to far fewer live-streaming issues, it will also allow for a much higher quality, artful production. How very Glastonbury.
All this said however, virtual events will never fully replace the in-person live music experience, so let’s hope life gets back to normal as soon as possible.
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