Festival organizers: Digital festival can't fully replace regular events

Tõnn Kuuli, Meelis Kubits, Martin Ruus, Kristjan Hallik, Helen Sildna.
Tõnn Kuuli, Meelis Kubits, Martin Ruus, Kristjan Hallik, Helen Sildna. Source: Kaader videost

A recent seminar found that while digital festivals cannot replace regular events, they are still here to stay and in need of further development.

On September 29, a Music Estonia seminar entitled "Future of festivals: live versus digital" took place, and saw Estonia's festival organizers and the representatives of the Cultural Partnership Foundation, together with mobile phone service provider Telia, shared their experiences with offering festival experiences in hybrid forms.

What the experiences of artists, organizers, the public and service providers were, and if this situation is sustainable for the organizers, were the topics for discussion at the seminar, where Martin Ruus from Intsikurmu music festival, Kristjan Hallik from the Estonia National Symphony Orchestra (ERSO) and Pärnu music festival, Helen Sildna from Tallinn Music Week, Meelis Kubits from the Cultural Partnership Foundation and Tõnn Kuuli from Telia all took part and discussed the matter.

The seminar emphasized the need to improve digital festival culture - as things stand, the consumer doesn't know what to expect from a digital festival and the habit of consumer digital content for free has a negative effect on purchasing tickets to virtual festivals.

Participating in a digital festival also can't be compared to going to a regular festival because the content is usually consumed in parts, and the listener is not likely to sit in front of a screen all day. In addition, the organizer is not able to fully predict the preferences and the public's behaving patterns of the audience due to the new situation, the seminar found.

The fact that through a digital platform more people can see and hear a concert than they can in a concert hall speaks for the success of hybrid and digital festivals. Furthermore, people who usually can't participate in the events can do so in digital ones.. Another aspect which was brought out was the exportability of the festivals, where they can be seen in different areas of the world.

The participants inthe discussion circle conceded that people's wish to meet with each other is great, and a digital festival doesn't fulfill that wish. The future is for the organizers that are able to find meaningful and engaging hybrid solutions, which will offer additional value to the consumer.

Simply broadcasting a concert does not work; it is rather the festival's digital broadcasting service working to ensure that those who would not otherwise have been able to take part in the event can also take part in the event. In the new situation, new solutions should be created, and it should be considered what a new generation's digital service could look like in terms of cultural consumption.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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