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The Future of Live Events in a Post Covid-19 World

web streaming for virtual and hybrid events

Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic continues to put a stop to live events, many in our industry are asking what the future holds.

Will we be able to get back to normal? What is the new normal for events? How can we protect ourselves when attending these events? and so on…

The simple answer is – nobody really knows.

Covid-19 has changed our lives in more ways than we could have imagined. Simple tasks such as going for a bottle of milk or buying a new outfit have become more complex. Shops are having to limit the number of people in store or implement one way systems. During the height of lockdown 2.0, non-essential retail was forced to close apart from click and collect. Buying a new shirt isn’t as easy as popping into the dressing room to try it on, something we have done for decades is now a much more drawn out process. You have to order it online, either wait for delivery or go collect it, then try it on in the comfort of your own home. If you don’t like it, not a problem you can return it but you’ve then got to brave the weather to head to either a physical store or to a post office. You’ll then receive your refund in 7-14 days… but that refund is delayed so you then spend an hour trying to sort it out. You need a degree to be able to just fathom how to buy a shirt.

Needless to say, the landscape of the event industry has drastically changed. On the 13th March 2020 our diary emptied within 48 hours – 10 days before the U.K. officially went into lockdown. The phones went crazy with clients apologising that they were having to postpone their event as nobody really knew what was going to happen. We had a tour booked out across the U.K and Northern Ireland that had done only 1 day – this was postponed and then eventually abandoned until 2021. This was the same for other various events and our big summer jobs just got pulled.When we first went into this state of unknown I originally planned for 3 months down turn. This quickly became 6 months but I was still sure that we would be getting back out for our Autumn/Winter programme. How wrong was I? As I write this it’s coming to the end of November 2020 and I still don’t see live events coming back before May 2021. Even then I personally don’t think we’ll get back to normal in the corporate world. I think, for example, the smaller meetings and training events will go online – either solely virtual or a mix of hybrid and virtual. Bigger award ceremonies and events will return to the scale we’re used to but I don’t think this will be until August 2021 at the earliest, and even then there’s no guarantee that the guests will want to come. The industry will come back because human nature craves physical interaction.

Whilst meeting platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams give us the ability to be able to see and hear each other you still don’t get that atmosphere you do when your sat around a board table – be that a good atmosphere or one not so pleasant. Music artists have done many live streamed events but it’s not the same a physically being stood in the rain screaming to Bon Jovi or Little Mix. Weddings, funerals and celebrations are being streamed to loved ones but the inability to be able to give someone a hug in celebration or support isn’t possible. When you start digging into the reality of the impact Covid-19 has had on what we know as normal, you really start to see how things will change.

So what can we expect to see in the next 12 months for live events?

Streaming – and a lot of it.

At the start of September it started to sink in that we weren’t going back to work any time soon. With this, I decided that I had 2 options for the company. Option 1: Sit and ride this one through until we either went back to work or ran out of money or Option 2: head down the road of an emerging new generation of live events – Streaming. 

Until the pandemic hit, streaming was for gamers to show off their gameplay skills or influencers pushing the latest product from their sponsors. The live event industry had delved into some form of streaming and, as a company, we had done numerous global conferences, utilising streaming platforms, but this was only a very small proportion of events. Music festivals would always be live and the West End had streamed a couple of live stage shows to cinemas across the UK. Again, this was only on a small scale. Now, the world has literally turned upside down and I do think over the next 12 months we are going to see many more events coming online.

As an industry, we’re heading into the 4th industrial revolution – the automation and cyber era of industry. Manufacturing companies have been one of the sectors leading the way with robotics and computerised systems. Business administration has been heading to a paper free, cyber world for some time now and the live event world is starting to follow suite. To a degree, this isn’t a daunting task as adapting is something we’re used to, however this could dramatically change the corporate event world – and possibly a big chunk of music and other events.

There are, of course, advantages and disadvantages to events becoming digital. Online events are much more environmentally friendly, less travel for example, many platforms offer the option to record giving hosts a permanent record of their event and so forth. However, with great advantage does come a fair bit of disadvantage. Less physical events may mean less requirement for labour, therefore decimating a once thriving freelance market, or perhaps mental wellbeing. For example, when we can physically interact with people this can help to release endorphins which can improve general mood and mental well being.

I wrote an article back in August outlining key ways to ensure that guests would be safe at your event. These tips included one way systems, hand sanitisation stations and more – read the original article here

I can’t tell you where I see the event industry beyond 12 months time, but I’d like to see a comfortable balance of physical and virtual events in the corporate world and I do think that the big music, and other large scale, events will come back with a huge backing.

How has DSM Productions changed to follow the shift in live events?

Like many other production companies, we have also heavily invested in new equipment to facilitate streaming at both our own studio or on location with our clients. On the 2nd December 2020 we will open our very own purpose built streaming studio. Equipped with a stage, house lighting rig, audio, visual, green screen, LED Video wall basically anything a client could think of we can supply. A dedicated space, flexible enough to suit many different uses and clients. Music events to corporate awards and much more.

Our studio offers its own dedicated entrance, 56m2 of total space with a 20m2 stage. 4m of height and 3ph power giving us the flexibility to stage numerous events… we even provide the tea and coffee. Food can be arranged prior to the event and delivered to site by some of the finest caterers in the area. Simply put, we have taken what we know about working across many different sites and brought them all under one roof.

We’d relish the opportunity to get involved with your next online event so please give us a shout to see how we can bring your event onto the digital stage: events@dsmproductions.co.uk