Friday July 3rd and Saturday July 4th, 2020 marked the Glastonbury Shangri-La music festival in Sansar. It’s an event I’ve covered a couple of times of late in these pages (see Glastonbury in Sansar: post event observations and Sansar and VRJAM: of Lost Horizon and music festivals), which in turn offer my own thoughts as an observer of the event both in-world and out-world, and the longer-terms hopes for Sansar, VRJam and the Lost Horizons event banner.
Now we’re learning some of the official feedback on the event, courtesy of the likes of Businesswire and IQ On-line, both of whom report that the Lost Horizon Shangri-La event was witnessed by an audience of some 4.3 million world-wide.
As I’ve noted from my own (admittedly high-level and subjective) observations, average in-world attendance in the six Shangri-Li environments in Sansar appeared to be between 200 and 400 per hour, with potentially higher peaks during the sets by the more well-known names (e.g. Fatboy Slim, Pete Tong, etc.). But, even when taken in terms of cumulative numbers of avatars, these figures are unlikely to exceed a few thousand – so where did the 4.3 million come from?
The answer isn’t hard to find (it’s right their in the report headline on Businesswire: Sansar Delivers a Next-Level Festival Experience to 4.36M Fans Globally Across PC, VR & Mobile – that is, the majority of the audience came from those watching / listening to the event through the various out-world channels such as the Sansar mobile app for iOS and Android, and platforms like Twitch, Beatport and You Tube, Facebook, and so on; and audience encompassing over 1,100 cities in 100 countries.
While the fact the majority of the audience likely came via external sources, rather than through people directly attending the event through an avatar presence might cause some to dismiss it, like it or not, 4.3 million is an impressive figure (and again, to add some balance on this, the much-touted 11 million audience at the Marshmello / Fortnite event of February 2019 was likely made up of a high proportion of people catching the available live streams of that event, even with the organisers working from a larger active user base to start with).
As a slight aside, in my observations of Lost Horizon, I noted the DJs didn’t appear to be using avatars, but were offered in flat-form 2D projections. However, the Businesswire release indicates that custom avatars made for at least some (if not all) of the performers to allow them to have a little fun while attending. In this, Fatboy Slim noted:
Thanks to the Lost Horizon crew for popping my VR cherry. The experience had almost the same euphoric feeling as being at a real festival. For those interested or in there with me, I was the one with Halle Berry’s body and a big smiley head, dancing my t***s off, mind slightly blown by the experience of watching myself DJ. As surreal and trippy as a real late adventure in the Shangri La.
– Fatboy Slim, Businesswire, July 10th, 2020
Lost Horizon broke so many firsts we’re still counting. It is the closest you can get to being at a festival without leaving your lounge. We all worked really hard to create this next-level thing to see our friends and raise money for the Big Issue and Amnesty. I’m old and remember seeing colour TV for the first time, but this is 100 times better.
– Chris ‘Tofu’ Macmeikan MBE, Lost Horizon and Shangri-La director,
IQ on-line, July 10th, 2020
It’s clear from both of the articles – and others that have appeared quoting the Businesswire release – that all of the organisations involved in Lost Horizon – Glastonbury Shangri-La, VRJam, Wookey / Sansar, Orca Sound Project, etc. – view the event as an appreciable success.
Of course, the big question surrounding the event is its effectiveness in terms of revenue generation. While it is all very well having something to entertain people, at the end of the day, people need to be paid and Sansar itself needs to prove it can be attractive as a revenue generator, both for Wookey Technology and Sansar’s clients. The Businesswire circulated release points to this in glowing terms.
For Sansar, the event demonstrated the massive scale and monetization its platform supports – everything from in-world commerce (ticketing, tipping, merchandising for artists) to broadcasting and stunning visual fidelity. Over the two days of the show, sales in the platform rose by 10x, highlighting the alternate revenue streams Sansar can offer talent, labels and management as they look beyond traditional live events.
– Sansar Lost Horizons release, Businesswire, July 10th, 2020
On the one hand a “10x” increase in sales through the platform sounds impressive – but this again should be balanced by the consideration that on the whole, Sansar’s daily audience isn’t actually that big. Which is not to say things cannot grow, or that broader avenues of monetisation cannot be found.
Again, looking back at the Marshmello / Fortnite event of February 2019, additional monetisation was leveraged through the sale of physical world merchandise as well. Further, ticketing for this kind of event is still in its infancy; this particular Lost Horizon event was available free-of-charge, rather than via paid ticket, for example (although “premium” tickets with associated goodies were available for those wishing to support the event’s charities).
It’s going to take more events to see how all this comes together. fortunately, we may not have long to wait in this regard; more Lost Horizon branded events are promised for the summer and later in the year, and other events involving “acts across multiple genres” are apparently in the works. So those curious / interested should keep an eye on the Sansar event pages.
With thanks to Loki Eliot for the IQ On-Line link.