Part 1: How will the raves of tomorrow look like?
We’re going through strange times. The world faces a pandemic. Events are cancelled worldwide. Promoters, technicians and venues are losing money due to those cancellations, and the same goes for artists. Everybody’s concerned by this situation, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
These dark times offer us time to think about the ways we listen, make and especially promote music. Times in which we have to think about the current situation and the future of drum & bass events. Indeed, promoters are probably the most affected. Who could have imagined that, within a month, parties went from earning thousands each month, to nothing.
We’ve been partying since the early days of humanity. Our ancestors were partying, and our children will do as well. Gatherings have been happening forever. And this is exactly why the current situation won’t destroy us, but make us stronger.
Plenty of artists have already understood the power of technologies and have started using them. But, have we really realised all the potential and impact they could have on the way we think about events?
Currently, live streaming is the most relevant example. We’ve known channels like Rough Tempo or Bloc2Bloc, which specialized in DJ set streams. Drum & Bass Arena have also been in this game for years. But what we couldn’t imagine a few weeks back was that artists themselves would take streaming very seriously. A non-exhaustive list : Friction, Voltage, Kyrist, Doc Scott or Unglued have been streaming on their own Facebook or Twitch. Something rare but necessary in this situation.
Promoters have to understand it better than anyone else, the cancellation of Rampage is a perfect example. They could have just decided to call off the event and leave it there, but they smashed it and offered two live shows on the same weekend. Was it a necessity? Of course not, but they did.
If we recognize the potential live streams have to offer, we can see very interesting uses. Three weeks ago, Andy C dropped one of the three recorded sets from his XOYO residency on his facebook page, Forbidden Society released a live promo mix for his album launch, Upgrade made a fun Q&A session live stream on RAM’s page, and, the last week-end, Hospital and Ram started their own live. Even Original Sin launched a Facebook group called Lockdown DNB to share live streams during the quarantine. The group has hosted Ben Snow, Ego Tripping, Paul T & Edward Oberon, Original Sin and Taxman. This creates a very close and engaging relationship with the crowd and it’s a good thing.
These kinds of shows are definitely the best alternatives we have to a real party. But what can we imagine in the future? Step by step, live streams are taking a very important place. Twitch is becoming the preferred platform to showcase live sets. We saw it with Emperor, Dossa & Locuzzed and Submarine. TeeBee even played at the “ReConnect” festival, hosted by Beatport. But, what’s the point to move from platforms like Facebook, Youtube or Instagram to Twitch? Well, Twitch makes it easy for people to donate to their artists, support them, which is essential during this time. All artists make drum & bass for the love of music, but don’t forget they also need money to survive. So, what if tomorrow, promoters used platforms like Twitch to make real stream shows? People could buy their tickets online and enjoy the show, just like if they were in the party but on their couch. Wouldn’t it be nice?
This is where you must be thinking: “But what’s the point of making an online party?”, “Isn’t this a great way to increase the feeling of loneliness?”, “Isn’t raving in a club the only way to rave?”. Well, spoiler alert : it isn’t! Last weekend,“Stay at Home Festival”, proved us all that online partying could be a thing. And let’s look at different perspectives. Some people hate clubs. But they do love drum and bass and therefore couldn’t enjoy their experience to the fullest. Streaming is their solution. No need for them to have to bare with a crowd, yet they can enjoy a set from their favorite artist. For everyone else, partying is often a weekend activity. With live streaming, you could party on Monday or Tuesday from 6 to midnight. Indeed, artists’ income mostly comes from gigs. More gigs, even live streamed, ensures them some more revenue, and we can hope for more music. It’s a win-win situation.
Different perspectives with another technology: Virtual Reality. Recently, promoters stepped into virtual reality to promote a 2-days dubstep festival in the online game Minecraft. It can be surprising, but EDM DJ Marshmello played a gig last year in the famous game Fortnite. And what if tomorrow, drum & bass promoters united and organised something as big in GTA ? Or in collaboration with Nintendo, in Animal Crossing ? Picture it; Andy C, Ed Rush & Optical, Technimatic, Kasra, Alix Perez, Dimension, AMC, Neonlight, InsideInfo, Hybrid Minds, Pythius, Levela and Halogenix, all together for one night in a game ? A virtual dream coming true.
This might just seem like something that only happens in theory (or in articles like this one). We’re not saying we have to remove real parties. These are just ideas. And for the traditional ravers, what about improving the real raves with new technologies ? What about VJs? We mentioned virtual reality, but in a close future what about augmented reality? And what if tomorrow, we mixed VJs and augmented reality?
Augmented reality is a known technology. Everybody remembers Pokemon Go; 1 billion downloads and more than 100 million regular users around the world in 2019. 100 Million Users! The concept is seducing, and we get why. Now imagine you are at Let It Roll. You download the “Let It Roll Go” app. And just like that, through your phone, reality became something different. As mentioned earlier, you can add VJs on the app, but not only VJs. You could add short stories, quizzes or games on the app.
Nowadays, we can only picture augmented reality through phones, but this could become available on glasses or – black mirror anticipation – contact lenses! And at that very moment, the whole world could be changing. Think about the last movie you went to see in 4D. Similar idea. Imagine you are at Fabric, 2029, for the 25 years of Shogun Audio, but instead of being in a dark room, you’re at Bora Bora, surrounded by artificial sand, ocean, and all the ravers on the beach. Augmented reality could clearly change the future. Possibilities are endless.
People sometimes think that it could destroy everything we know from traditional raves. But, sometimes, we have to destroy something to rebuild it better. We have so much to take from this technology from new ways of seeing raves, education, or games. Let’s take what is offered.
Let’s wrap this with a last technology that can improve the future of events : Holograms. Yes, we know, they’re quite a fantasy for now. But are they really ? We’ve already seen it spread. Not in drum & bass, but pop, rap, classic and soul music have already embraced holograms, at least once. The most recent shows were Tupac in 2012, Michael Jackson in 2014, Maria Callas in 2018 and Amy Winehouse in 2019. We know those artists died, and having them brought back through holograms involves ethical questions. But what if we could see Marcus Intalex, Dominator or Optiv again, would you say no? Benefits could be given to their family or for medical research!
It’s not the only way holograms can be used. Artists could play multiple shows at the same time. Promoters could promote the same line up, the same night in London, Tokyo, Paris or Calcuta. It could allow foreign people who can’t travel to shows to attend as if they were there. Why not make the whole planet dance at the same time when you can?
There are no right or wrong answers to all of these questions. Technologies only offer possibilities. And the way we use them can redefine an entire system. Streaming, VR, AR or holograms are tools given to reimagine the way we party. Promoters can choose to use it or not, but, after all, in a constantly changing world, thinking about how we rave is thinking about how we enjoy music.