For as long as there has been rock and roll, there have been music festivals. While the festival themes and locations change, and the artists performing come and go, the public's appetite for mega-concert events has not diminished one bit. One of the most popular music festivals of the last several years is Bonnaroo, which this year plans to open up performances to the public through a live-streaming video deal with Vevo.
Bonnaroo is actually right in my backyard, just a short drive down Interstate 24 from my home town of Nashville, TN. It's held in Manchester, TN, which is a pretty small town whenever the festival isn't going on. However, when Bonnaroo hits, Manchester turns into a twisted, sleep-deprived college town and the entire economy benefits greatly.
For festival attendees, though, the experience is a mixed bag. The music is almost always great--say the critics and fans--but what attendees sacrifice to see the bands can be difficult for some to swallow. Traffic, for instance, is a horrible problem. In the days leading up to Bonnaroo, I pity the poor sap traveling on I-24 for any reason other than the festival, because they're going to sit in deadlocked traffic for miles.
In addition to the travel issues, most attendees sleep in tents (and, at the risk of being too gross, many of them happily throw personal hygeine out the window for three days). The June weather in Tennessee is dreadfully hot and humid, which can make concertgoers pretty uncomfortable, and if it rains during the event... you're going to see a mud-fest that would give you nightmares.
There's also a high degree of alcohol and drug use that goes on. So all in all, it's not an environment that everyone feels comfortable in, no matter how big a fan they are of the bands that may be headlining.
Which makes Vevo's new announcement something to cheer about. This year, you can "go to Bonnaroo" without ever leaving your living room. Vevo will stream select live performances and artist interviews on their website and through their mobile applications. There will also be a ton of not-live-but on-demand content available, and most of that content will also play on YouTube, AOL, and Last.fm.
This year's lineup includes:
- Arcade Fire
- Widespread Panic
- The Black Keys
- My Morning Jacket
- Neil YoungRobert Plant
- The Strokes
- & many, many more
There's a reason why YouTube's initial push into live streaming video is so heavy with concert content--and that's because people love music, music videos, and music performances. ReadWriteWeb just recently published a list of the Top 10 YouTube Videos of All Time (based on view count) and all but two of them are music videos. Charlie Bit My Finger and Evolution of Dance are still hanging on by a thread, but even those two viral stalwarts will eventually be supplanted by music videos.
So I would expect this Bonnaroo coverage to do well in terms of viewers. Technology is nowhere near the point yet where a live-streaming video can truly replace the experience of being there in person, but what it can do is deliver the music without any of the traffic, heat, and dirt. And that has to appeal to an awful lot of music fans around the world.