Bacardi NH7 Weekender goes digital: From live shared experiences to global chats and watch parties, what's new this year

Now in its 11th year, Bacardi NH7 Weekender is set to follow the 2020 trend and has made elaborate plans to go digital over 5 and 6 December.

Lakshmi Govindrajan Javeri November 29, 2020 14:07:21 IST
Bacardi NH7 Weekender goes digital: From live shared experiences to global chats and watch parties, what's new this year

Never before have we been confronted by a crisis so massive that the possibility of returning to normalcy seems off the cards for a long time to come. As people resume some of their pre-lockdown activities gingerly — going to work, travelling by private vehicles on holidays, visiting the odd restaurant or two, etc. — caution hovers like the nimbus cloud, waiting to rain on our parade.

But the spirit of the happiest music festival on earth—the Bacardi NH7 Weekender—cannot be dampened. In its 11th year, the festival is set to follow the 2020 trend and has made elaborate plans to go digital over December 5 and 6. After all, even as several sectors have slowly begun to grind back to existence, the live events industry has reconciled with the fact that they’re going to be low on people’s priority lists for a long time to come.

Predominantly run on the principle of getting people together, often in hordes, the organisers Only Much Louder were clear about not endangering their audiences in any way, preferring instead to make a virtual outing out of it. However, if you think it’ll be just a series of concerts like an extension of compulsive YouTube watching, then you’re in for a surprise!

This edition of the festival will see major international and local artists across three different stages over two days. The likes of The Lumineers, Hiatus Kaiyote, Shruti Hassan ft. Murthovic & Karan Parikh, Prateek Kuhad, Raja Kumari, Phum Viphurit, FINK, Duckwrth, Kalamkaar Showcase among others, will perform exclusively curated sets befitting the virtual platform.

Says Manish Chandnani, vice-president, OML Live, OML Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, “The artists have been very forthcoming and equally excited to be able to deliver their set in this unique way. Most have sent us concept notes with ideas on how they wish for their set to be delivered to their fans. We’re very excited to have retained that new music discoverability aspect, which has always been a cornerstone of the festival.”

The artists are not the only new aspects to be discovered in this edition of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender festival. While an artist can broadcast his/her performance online, it still is an incredibly individual experience with people partaking in the music festival from the comforts of their homes. One of the most enjoyable aspects of a music festival has frequently been about interacting with fellow concertgoers, discovering music together, responding to artists live and finding likeminded people. The very humane nature of on-ground music festivals is missing in their digital avatars. This edition of Bacardi NH7 Weekender is about to change that.

Chandnani elaborates, “There is obviously no comparison to the feeling of being physically present at a music festival to a virtual experience. Having said that, we have been watching various digital experiences very closely and have managed to attend a few international ones. Besides these, the team has gathered a lot of feedback from producing and executing our own IPs, whether it was in the comedy space, or the conferencing or music space. We felt that the one significant aspect of going to a music festival is the sense of community and the shared experience. We’ve tried really hard to emulate that as best we could in this virtual edition. There will be various interactive touch points for the fans to interact with each other while enjoying the performances by their favourite artists. The team at Paytm Insider has made this possible.”

Bacardi NH7 Weekender goes digital From live shared experiences to global chats and watch parties whats new this year

While going to a live gig seems so far beyond the horizon at this point, such tech endeavours aim to create a warm sense of community in an increasingly virtual world. Paytm Insider founder Shreyas Srinivasan and his team were driven by two very fundamental questions that enabled them to see their innovative ideas to fruition. “Why is a shared experience so transformative? And how can that translate into a digital experience? These two questions are so fundamental to our thought process. Because when we address these, we address what is it about shared experiences that enable us to create ever lasting memories. How we build the tech was secondary. How we can recreate the magic was first and foremost,” he says.

The latest offering from ticketing platform Paytm Insider takes us as close to that as has been done so far in India. Pioneering their unique digital events offering in the country to address on-ground and virtual events seamlessly, they’re at the threshold of forever altering how audiences and brands consume live events digitally. Simply put, their homegrown technology is set to bring back everything we find magical about being at a live event. Suited to events such as music festivals, concerts, conferences, parties and more, Paytm Insider’s innovation will work across formats and platforms, thus reimagining the digital event experience as we know it.

Srinivasan adds, “Paytm Insider has always been committed to creating immersive shared experiences. The lockdown has accelerated our implementation of a vision where pathbreaking technology helps in the recreation of the best elements of on-ground activities at virtual events. A hybrid of these two is the future and we’re delighted to have created a platform that brings creators and consumers so much closer. Our latest digital events offering will be unveiled at the multiple stages of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender.”

So what exactly does this edition of Bacardi NH7 Weekender have that hasn’t been done before in India? To start with, it replicates the experience of moving from one stage to another by allowing you to shift between performances. One of the best parts about live shared experiences has been discovering new music together and finding people with similar tastes, as well as enjoying the performances with your own set of friends. All of these are addressed through the global chat and watch party options, respectively. Invite your friends to a private watch party, catch the attention of the Spotlight feature, participate in polls and quizzes, and stand a chance to compete for prizes. You may interact with friends and newly discovered fans, or you may quietly partake in the music without engagement with others.

“There is an audience available for every experience that exists out there. The amount of funding that virtual reality has received in the past few months is testimony for the number of people taking to these tech innovations. I personally think that there is not going to be a normal on-ground experience like we’re used to, any time soon; should things begin, there will be a new normal to adhere to. As much as we’ll all be excited to get back on ground, ideally once things open up again in the future these virtual technologies and experiences could possibly become a way to add to the live experience,” says Chandnani.

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