So this year, YesterdazeNews.com was approved as official media to cover Wacken Open Air Festival in Wacken, Germany. As some of you may already know if you follow along on our Facebook page where we do quick updates and interact with readers a lot, literally the day before flying out to Germany (2 days before the start of the festival) I had a medical condition that had me grounded from flying. It was too late to assign another photographer and get travel arrangements for anyone to substitute covering the festival. It was a crushing and very sad moment for me to accept because Wacken is an important metal festival to cover, but things happen in life we have no control over and I am now looking forward to Wacken Open Air 2017.
But whilst this year’s festival was missed in person and I could have just curled up in the fetal position whilst nursing my pains away with as many Beck’s as I could have drank, it gave me an idea. I decided to take a look at a completely different side of the Wacken Open Air festival that gets overlooked by many of us working in media that really deserves to be talked about. What is that, you ask? I am talking about Wacken Open Air’s online streaming option. As some of you know and some of you don’t know until now, W.O.A. has a great way for fans who can’t make it to the festival in person to still participate and interact with those working, attending onsite and also fans watching online from around the world. W.O.A. live streaming and social media. It was something I’d never really considered before this year. But I really didn’t want to miss the entire festival and wanted to participate on some way, especially with my local Seattle guys Metal Church performing. Plus I wanted to see all of the other bands that were on the live stream, some of them you will never see outside of Europe. So whilst not being able to cover the shows in person, I decided to watch the W.O.A. live stream this year.
One thing I did find out and wand to mention is that whilst I was watching from back home in the states, I found I was on my social media a lot talking about the shows, broadcasting the schedules and posting reminders as each new set was about to start. I was able to engage my followers and readers to get them to watch the streaming. We all get a little caught up in all that’s going on in our daily lives and it is easy to forget to catch a live stream, so for me being able to be in real time with folks was good. Some of my local friends even chuckled as I posted screen shots from live streams and about how I refused to lose out on the experience. Some of those same friends also joined in watching the streaming, go figure. So for me, my social media accounts were busy and it was great engaging.
This year W.O.A. streamed 19 of the scheduled bands full sets for fans all around the world to watch. Live and in real time. Whilst it’s not the same as the full W.O.A. experience, it’s a real and viable option if you can’t make it there. I was really surprised what a great option it turned out to be. This experiment gave me some clarity about the value the ARTE.TV live streaming adds to W.O.A. as well as thoughts for a marketing opportunity to add additional features to the festival should they choose to do so. So let me break it down to all of you.
The schedule of bands this year was:
Thursday: Hämatom, Saxon, Panzerballett, Phil Campbell’s All Starr Band (aka: Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons), Iron Maiden, Therapy? and Born To Lose, Lived To Win: A Tribute To Lemmy Kilmister.
Friday: Entombed A.D., Axel Rudi Pell, Eluveitie, Bullet For My Valentine, Tarja, Blind Guardian, Ministry and Testament.
Saturday: Buffalo Summer, Girlschool, Borknagar, Metal Church, Therion, Steel Panther, Clutch, Triptykon, Parkway Drive and Arch Enemy.
Live streams were available for use from various devices (mobiles, tablets, ipads, laptops/computers) through the W.O.A. website at stream.wacken.com and through ARTE.TV’s website http://concert.arte.tv/de/wacken as long as the viewer had an internet connection that could support the live streaming quality fans had no issues. I tried watching myself using different devices to see how the good the streaming was. I really found not difference between my devices other than on my mobile and with my mobile provider. If you plan to use your mobile, you need 4G/LTE or equivalents to stream smoothly. Wifi and ethernet (hard wire connections) had no real issues. I did at one point on Saturday night have to refresh my browser as it appeared there was a minor delay between the video and audio which made the audio not match the video. After my refresh it was resolved and I had no other issues.
So with the quality being great, what about the actual video that was being streamed to the masses? Was it worth watching? Did I feel like I was involved? Well let me answer those questions both with a yes! The set up of the cameras onsite at Wacken Open Air were perfect. Not just for live stream viewers but in person viewers watching monitors on the stages. W.O.A. has somewhere between 80-100 thousand visitors on site, they need those giant monitors for onsite fans in the back to see too. It wasn’t simply one or two cameras sitting in a static position simply broadcasting either, there were cameras in so many different angles from on stage, to the front of the stage, from the lighting booth set back from the stage in the crowd and even some what appeared to have been drone video. With all these angles anyone watching felt like they were as close to being there in person as they could be without actually being there.
I have to go as far as even to say that I believe many of us viewers even had better views that those at the festival next to the stage barriers. It was like being even closer than front row. The cameras got great up close shots mixed with the massive crowd shots from all angles. I even gasped seeing the stage fields were mud bogs again this year and how people were covered in mud. That part, I can gladly skip. But of course, you don’t get that in person festival feeling that you get when you are there, even with the mud. Anyone who’s ever been to a major festival knows that feeling I am referring to, it’s euphoric. If you haven’t been to a major festival, imagine the best concert you’ve ever been to and all of the energizing surroundings from the music, the people, being outside and the smells of great food and beer all in one and multiply that feeling by 1000. That’s about as close as I can describe it that feeling. They even ran additional content interviewing artists and recaps’ of the day that added to the experience. So bravo to W.O.A and ARTE.TV, the video streaming schedule and quality were amazing! It’s a wonderful offering to your fans.
Fans also had a chance to chat over Facebook and Twitter while sets were going on. W.O.A. social media managers were engaging fans and encouraging them to talk about their experience at the festival as well as fans viewing from around the world. Many fans enjoyed using their social media to share their experiences. Many onsite fans shared photos on Twitter of their time at the festival while online fans were lighting up Twitter by tweeting screen shots from live stream shows and talking about what they were seeing. It was a great way to bring many fans together.
Now when I mentioned earlier that I thought there was an untapped marketing opportunity here, I really meant it. The 19 bands that were shown over the live stream this year were free to all fans who wanted to watch. Well what if next year they offered full festival streaming, but of course at a cost to the viewers? I say still keep the 19 or so bands as free to all, but sell a “Full Metal Streaming Pass” to those fans who want to be there, but either couldn’t get tickets or can’t travel to get there for whatever reason. I chatted with a lot of fans on social media who were watching the live stream and they said they’d be willing to buy a pass to watch the festival from where they live. It’s like pay-per-view for a festival. It was mentioned by W.O.A. that they chose to only do the 19 bands because of the costs they incur to stream just the 19 they did. I know some fans will complain about selling a pass, but it’s not cheap to produce and it would offset the costs. So I propose this to W.O.A., put your feelers out to the fans and have your marketing people investigate this option of selling a viewing pass for online streaming. I know there are always a few bands that also want no part of live streaming, ever, and that’s ok too, but you could have the potential to increase your fan base and revenue if marketed well and with planning. I know that I would have paid for streaming the entire festival since I had to miss being there in person this year. Just a thought that may have never been considered before. But I do believe if it’s offered, it should only be done so after all festival tickets are sold out for the year. Then and only then do I see offering a streaming pass so it never takes away from the in person festival experience.
So there you have you have it. How to survive missing Wacken Open Air in person. It’s wasn’t a total washout for me this year and I learned a lot more about W.O.A. and their offerings than I had known before this year. So although I had to miss the in person show, I still got to experience the festival via another route and talk to my friends who were there in person about it whilst making new connections through social media who were in the same situation I was in as far as the festival was concerned. This experiment was a success!
I am posting a gallery below of shots I took with my device during the streaming so you can see the what we saw while watching this year from a device look. Some shots are from a monitor, some from the streaming from a mobile device. Not the high quality I normally take as a professional concert photographer (I will be working very hard to get media approval again for 2017 so I can do Wacken in person photo justice), but these will give you some sort of an idea. You can also view the sets from Wacken Open Air 2016 on ARTE.TV, which I highly recommend so you can see the quality of the videos, they are posted in there site here. Might I suggest you start off with Metal Church’s set?