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Technology Metaverse Festivals

Is the music metaverse this summer’s biggest headliner?

By Nicola Murray | Managing Partner, M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment

M&C Saatchi Group

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July 8, 2022 | 5 min read

Following Glastonbury’s epic return after a two-year hiatus, M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment’s business director Nicola Murray assesses the role that festivals play, and how the metaverse can work to expand their reach.

M&C Saatchi on the return of festivals and how they can utilize the metaverse. Image: Danny Howe/Unsplash

M&C Saatchi on the return of festivals and how they can utilize the metaverse / Danny Howe via Unsplash

Festivals are back. Without even muttering the G-word, everyone knows this summer is going to be the one that sees back-to-back weekends in fields entertained by your favorite bands, DJs, bars and a random man in a tutu.

Most festivals have been on a hiatus for the last two years, and during this technology and the metaverse were moving on at light speed – particularly in the music space.

In April 2020, Fortnite seized the industry’s attention when a virtual event starring a Travis Scott avatar brought in millions of new players. There was also Roblox, which booked Lil Nas X for a digital gig attracting 33 million viewers. Such events became the norm, and with many music venues closed worldwide, it wasn’t just gamers or tech-heads soaking up a livestream.

Since then, things have escalated. Bloomberg has predicted that the metaverse – loosely defined as an always-on internet made up of 3D virtual worlds where users take the form of digital avatars – could be a market worth $800bn by 2024.

It’s all headed in the right direction, with predictions that such a marriage between the worlds of the metaverse and festivals will be a sure-fire hit. But whether or not there are exciting opportunities for brands is yet to be proven.

Cue California festival Coachella and the activation from its long-standing partner Absolut. The vodka brand brought the festival into the metasphere with Absolut.Land – a Coachella-inspired experience matched with a festival collection of digital fashion wearables. Designed by cult New York designer Susan Alexandra, the range consisted of three dresses and accessories all to be worn by your avatar.

It’s a brilliant example of a brand taking on the creative thinking and costs that a festival itself could likely never afford. The metaverse has opened the minds of creatives, whether that be for a brand or the artists themselves. Flume’s DJ set at Coachella was surrounded by augmented reality (AR) birds and flowers that enveloped the main stage.

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From a brand perspective, Absolut.Land is a unicorn in its field. Breaking festival conventions and taking brand activations into the metaverse takes a hefty investment, but following Coachella’s lead and baking innovation into the festival DNA (the festival has its own head of innovation) is something UK brands and festivals can learn from.

There are huge opportunities for brand partners to bring immersive digital experiences to the great British festival landscape. After all, our offering is the best in the world, with the perfect synergy of hedonistic fun and headliners.

For the rights holder, a brand sponsorship deal will be judged on how it has added value to the festival fan – yet for the brand it’s becoming increasingly important to create activations that carry impact beyond the festival fields.

Through timely planning, great ambition and integrated innovation, there is every opportunity for a brand to take center stage.

Technology Metaverse Festivals

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