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Last Updated : Nov 17, 2020 04:09 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

COVID-19 impact: Bacardi NH7 Weekender goes virtual for the first time

The virtual affair will be shorter and see fewer artistes and sponsors. However, tickets will be as cheap as Rs 99 — on-ground tickets usually sell from Rs 3,000 onwards. The virtual show means the events industry is still in the tunnel with no signs of light yet

For the first time ever, music festival Bacardi NH7 Weekender will be hosted virtually this year between December 5 and 6. The event will be streamed on a platform created by online ticketing platform Paytm Insider.

For the virtual edition, around 24 artistes will perform on three virtual stages: Bacardi Stage, The Dewar’s Stage and Breezer Vivid Stage.

Along with music, the 11th edition of the festival will keep fans engaged through virtual parties during the stream, viewers will be able to play games, take pictures in a virtual photo-booth, and also join live parties along with the artistes.


A truncated affair

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While the festival is trying to inject a buzz, the scenario is still not very exciting for the live events space due to the coronavirus scare.

For instance, the virtual edition of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender has many limitations. The number of artistes, which had around 60 at last year’s on-ground event, has been pared.

The number of hours of content too has been reduced. From a day-long on-ground event, the virtual edition will have three to four hours of content in a day.

Ticket prices are also low for the two-day digital festival. “Pricing is much lower than an on-ground event. Ticket prices range between Rs 99 to Rs 199,” said Manish Chandnani,  VP – OML Live, OML Entertainment, the company that organises Bacardi NH7 Weekender.

Last year for the on-ground events in Meghalaya and Pune, ticket prices started from Rs 1,200 for early-bird buyers for the Meghalaya event and Rs 2,000 for the Pune attendees.

Offers to keep fans interested

However, this year there are many offers for the virtual edition. A Weekender Warrior ticket, which is priced at Rs 999, will give a viewer full access to the festival stream and also a kit featuring iconic Weekender memorabilia, and an additional Rs 999 off on the purchase of the ticket to the next edition of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender.

Then there are also Weekender Forever tickets, priced at Rs 1,999, which will give the audience full access to the festival stream, a Weekender memorabilia kit, and a complimentary early-bird ticket for the next edition of the festival, which usually has tickets priced between Rs 3,000 to Rs 6,000.

Ask Chandnani if the digital event is seeing traction, he said that tickets are selling fast and Weekender Loyalist tickets, priced at Rs 99, were sold out on the first day.

Yet, the traction for the festival will not be as strong as for an on-ground event. Last year, the festival, which was hosted in Meghalaya and Pune, attracted 90,000 visitors overall.

For the virtual edition, Chandnani said that getting half of that number will make the festival successful.

Fewer sponsors

A virtual edition not only means cutting down the size of the festival but also means a fall in the number of sponsors. According to Chandnani, there will be a 50 percent drop this year in terms of number of sponsors.

This year, Bacardi NH7 Weekender has been able to get on board around four sponsors and is in the process of signing a few more, but the total will be less than last year.

“With the virtual edition, there are not enough touchpoints for brands as there is no opportunity for them to engage with the audience with their physical products.”

Things will remain virtual for now

Sponsorships are low and pricing is seeing a drop, but the live events industry has no choice but to continue to hold virtual events.

Big festivals, including Sunburn, which had announced an on-ground event in December, faced flak from people, which led to cancellation of the festival. Chandnani said that even the VH1 Supersonic stands festival cancelled for 2021.

“We (India) are still not ready to hold a large-scale event for a long period,” he added.

Keyboardist and producer Nirmit Shah and vocalist Ambika Nayak, who will be performing at the NH7 Weekender, believe there is no certainty for the next few months on the live events front. “There are a few stage shows happening here and there and there are open-air events, but I don't think things will open up before Diwali next year,” said Shah.

Commenting on the situation, Roshan Abbas, President, Event & Entertainment Management Association (EEMA), said: “The social events sector, which includes weddings, lost the summer cycle entirely. So, they are down by 50 percent of their billings because of losing one season.”

“Corporate events companies will not be beyond 25 percent of their annual targets as they could do business only between January to March this year. And people who have been able to adapt to digital events are able to only sustain without showing any profits,” he added.
First Published on Nov 17, 2020 04:09 pm