In March we carried out a survey asking people how they felt about going back to live events. One interesting thing we found is that audiences are open to attending events online with 27% willing to attend despite never having done so previously and 40% happy to continue streaming.
This is backed up by other surveys, including Indigo's Cultural Restart Survey with 33% of recent respondents saying they would continue to engage online even when they can attend in-person, and a further 59% saying they would still consider it.
It seems online events and live streaming have the potential to support and contribute to the output of cultural organisations. So what are the benefits?
Benefits of online cultural events
As it stands audiences are still unsure about booking events and actually attending in person. This may change as restrictions continue to loosen, but for now, it is clear that the public needs some encouragement or accessible options that they are comfortable with. We see that there are many benefits in resuming online cultural events during this easing and in a post-pandemic world.
Adding streaming on as an additional experience could help attract uncertain audiences who cannot attend whether that be because of the time, location, cost, accessibility, personal responsibilities (carer/childcare), mental health issues or ticket availability. Going to an event can cost a lot, you have to travel, be there for a designated time, often be in large crowds, use shared facilities and navigate around the different rules and restrictions of each venue. This can be off-putting to some people. Live streaming can provide a nervous audience with an opportunity to engage in a format they are comfortable with which is inclusive and offers them the chance to get a real sense of what an in-person experience could be like.
Alongside this, organisations are able to broaden their audience, reaching demographics that may not have previously felt welcome. Arguably some people may have felt put off by attending cultural shows they have not grown up with (the Ballet or Opera, for example). By giving online access to these shows it opens up the opportunity to create a new fanbase and future attendees.
Ultimately this will give unsure audiences, whether their uncertainty is because of the pandemic, their own personal situation or fear of the unknown, the opportunity to engage with content in a way they are happy with. This can result in committed online audiences, conversions into attending in-person, or groups that are happy to do both.
A win-win for audiences and event hosts.
Combining in-person and online events
With the right set-up, streaming does not have to be expensive. If the event is already running, it's a small price to pay to generate additional revenue or engagement which, in turn, would help to create a larger community and build a reputation beyond the physical venue.
There are a number of different platforms available to facilitate live streaming. From paid-for services such as Dacast through to free (but ad-based) sites like YouTube. Depending on the organisation's size and budget, there is an option available to suit everyone's needs, and they shouldn't require too much additional time and set-up to run.
Offering a more engaging experience
Alongside the benefits of opening out shows to be more inclusive, this could be a great opportunity to offer audiences a far more exclusive and immersive experience. If approached in the right way, venues could give people access to additional footage, backstage access, interviews with performers and so on. Think 'meet and greet' / VIP experiences but digitally. Fans want to get closer to the things they love in a more authentic way, currently, they'll look to get access to this through performers social media and fanbase sites, but by offering this directly organisations can retain audience engagement. This additional content could also be repackaged and used as dynamic marketing content across social media and the website for future performances. This helps to continue to build a dedicated audience, who feel connected to the events, artists, venue and brand regardless of where they are based. Resulting in loyal and committed advocates for your work.