According to Janak Vora, CEO, Event Capital, if ground events are compared with digital events, revenue coming from digital event is 1/10th.
In-home concerts, virtual parties, online stand-up shows --- these concepts are redefining the live entertainment experience for all of us who are stuck at home due to the Coronavirus-led lockdown.
But are online events as lucrative as ground events for organisers, artistes or platforms like Paytm Insider or BookMyShow?
According to Janak Vora, CEO, Event Capital, revenue from digital events is 1/10th. “It is a huge drop for organisers as well as performers,” he said.
Soumini Sridhara Paul, Vice President, Hungama Artist Aloud, says: “Currently, those holding online events are doing so more to keep themselves busy. It is not that someone has been able to crack a robust revenue model.”
When it comes to paying for digital events, Paul said that the mindset is digital equals free.
Hence, it is important to make people understand that they can entertain themselves but it will be at their homes as it looks like social distancing is here to stay for at least two years, she said.
Vora has another point as to why online events are increasing. “A large event like a Bollywood Music Project might take a roll-out time of 3-6 months. A virtual musical event can be pulled off in two months. The 'I for India' concert which happened on Facebook was put together in 12-15 days,” he said.
But he, too, agrees that “while the number of events is going up, revenue is not as exciting.” The organisers are aware of the challenge and are now working on a viable price point, he said.
“For online music events, people are not ready to pay. They do pay for offline events, but that’s more for the experience than the music,” Paul said.
Recently, singer Sona Mohapatra urged music lovers to pay for online events as well and wondered why people are looking for free music -- be it music streaming or digital concerts. Also, she said that for musicians and singers, things will get tougher in the post-COVID days.
Hosting virtual music shows also has its set of challenges.
“Virtual events work for comedy-related events, but if it’s music- related, there are challenges,” Paul said. She gave an example of a show she watched recently on Facebook.
“I was watching RJ Nilesh Misra narrating a story. Along with him, there were three different artistes on three different windows on StreamYard, a live-streaming studio. While Misra was reciting, another artiste was playing an instrument that unfortunately sounded had a scratching noise. It did not sound musical. This is why more events are pre-recorded than live,” said Paul.
Tarsame Mittal, Founder, Truly Comical, too, thinks that hosting comedy show is easier than online music concerts.
In fact, Truly Comical had last month had organised a digital talent hunt called Mimicry ke Superstar, in association with Paytm Insider. As many as 700 viewers logged on to Paytm Insider to watch the show as well as vote for their favourite mimicry artiste.
Guess who won the first season of Mimicry Ke Superstar? It was Sidhant Lama from Siliguri. So, we can estimate the reach of digital shows.
Along with the reach, experts say that digital shows help in creating awareness about an artiste in markets where he/she is not known much.
Mittal said that recently they had organised a party for a client in Nairobi for 50-odd people. Singer Anusha Mani was participating and she received a lot of song requests from the guests.
He sees a lot of corporates jumping into the digital show bandwagon as the supply chain is resuming.
“Comedy is comfortable out of everything else. Plus, there are companies offering visual adjustments, whereby an artiste can show to the audience the background which can be anything -- even brand logos. All the artiste has to do is put up a green background,” he said.
“The ability of the digital medium to reach your target audience with maximum accuracy and business conversions are advantages. Brands historically investing on ground events will also soon start recognising the positives of investing a small portion on online events,” he said.
He gave the example of American rapper Travis Scott, who, in association with Fortnite, an online video game, did an online event called Astronomical Concert.
“Scott’s virtual event received 12 million views. This kind of concept is continuing to grow. The artist got publicity, the game developers loved it because it created stickiness for their game art and gamers loved it because they had a new virtual experience as they were playing their favourite game while listening to their favourite music,” said Vora.
“We all started with Facebook Live and Zoom. Now we are doing research in enhancing user experience of a digital event. Going forward, both online and offline event markets will settle down. I think in the next 12-18 months, a strong business model will emerge,” he said.