Sansar: Lost Horizon reaches an audience of 4.3 million

Lost Horizon landing zone

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).

Lost Horizon, July 3rd, 2020

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

Fatboy Slim and Chris ‘Tofu’ Macmeikan

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.

Sansar and VRJAM: of Lost Horizon and music festivals

Lost Horizon: Nomad Stage, Saturday, July 4th, 2020

Friday July 3rd and Saturday July 4th, 2020 marked the Glastonbury Shangri-La music festival in Sansar, my observations of which appear in Glastonbury in Sansar: post event observations. Others have also written about the event, but what most of us appeared to miss in the run-up to it, is that just a few days ahead of the event a press release was made by Wookey Technologies and UK-based VRJAM that revealed the event’s title, Lost Horizon, is intended to be a “wrapper” for a long-term partnership between the two companies, aimed at making the Lost Horizon name (brand?) “the world’s first turnkey VR festival venue.”

In particular, the press release, which I caught via Businesswire over the weekend, noted:

Lost Horizon, which kicks off July 3 and 4 with the largest arts and music festival in virtual reality, will continue to host live events and festivals this year – allowing countless artists the opportunity to monetize their performances through ticketing, tipping, and the sale of virtual merchandise.

– via Businesswire, June 29th, 2020

It’s not clear at this point in time what other events will be held under the Lost Horizon banner, but speaking to EDMIdentity, Robin Collings, founding director of Glastonbury Shangri-La, and one of the driving forces behind Lost Horizon itself, intimated that as well as purely digital / virtual events, Lost Horizon could in the future (presumably post-pandemic) add physical events in the mix:

We’d really like to tour a project next year and mix Virtual and Physical events in real-time… and we have some more really exciting events in the Lost Horizon world lined up! Watch this space! 

– Robin Collings, talking to EDM Identity

Wookey Technology Products website lists Sansar as a “subsidiary”, rather than a “product”, which potentially raises some interesting questions for future consideration

How such a mixing pans out remains to be seen. In the meantime, the press release also helps to understand just how broad in scope developing and executing Lost Horizon Shangri-La actually was:

For the inaugural show, VRJAM has utilised a team of 80+ people in 12 countries to deliver performances by over 70 music artists and a virtual reality music experience of unparalleled beauty and detail. The effort marks the first time a VR event will engage multiple A-list music artists simultaneously.

– via Businesswire, June 29th, 2020

The Sansar mobile app lets users view events from cameras positioned around the stage(s).

Another point of interest within the press release, relates to the the Sansar app (iOS and Android, and released just ahead of the Shangri-La event) and the direction planned for it – and potentially how central it may become to audience attraction.

Built using the Agora real-time engagement platform, the app is currently geared towards streaming events from Sansar to consumers. However, over time it will evolve to allow deeper levels of interaction, including chatting with other event attendees (watchers?), and (eventually) avatar creation – and thus, presumably, direct access into events from mobile devices.

This latter point clearly interesting: what capabilities will they have? How will they be managed? Sansar already requires some hefty computing capabilities; it’s hard to see mobile devices handling that kind of ompf directly – so might it be that Sansar may offer some form of back-end streaming capability, a-la SL Go (to offer a Second Life parallel)? If so, might this in turn open other opportunities for Sansar.

But even outside of such future considerations, offering direct, camera-based streaming out of Sansar venues (as seen with the Shangri-La event) could do much to leverage audience viewing of events, perhaps tied to some nominal fee for doing so, to help monetise things.

As mentioned above, there do not appear to be any further VRJAM related events in the Sansar calendar right now (or at least, none bearing the VRJAM logo); which is not to say there are no further “live” music events planned.  A glance at the Codex/Atlas page reveals a mix of music events in with the rest, including Monstercat’s on-going Call of the Wild sessions (which seem to be registering less in the way of advanced interest in the past, but I’ve no idea of actual attendance, not having been to one since last October(ish).

According to the Sansar app, some of these events will be offered for streaming – such as the July 17th/18th (or 18th/19th for those in time zones equating to AEST) “@ the Inaverse!” event. This will feature Dutch-Australian trace DJ Marlo Hoogstraten in what is being described as a “new virtual world”, suggesting these “@ the Inaverse” events will be a new regular Sansar feature.

In the meantime, those wishing to get a journalist’s view on the Lost Horizon Shangri-La event should check out Kyle Melnick’s write-up for VR Scout, or watch his video, below.

My thanks to Loki Eliot for the pointer to the EDM Identity interview with Robin Collings.

Glastonbury in Sansar: post event observations

Lost Horizon: Nomad Stage, Saturday, July 4th, 2020

Friday, July 3rd and Saturday July 4th saw Sansar host Glastonbury Shangri-La – the night-time festivities traditionally held during the UK’s Glastonbury Festival (cancelled in the physical world due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic) – across four stages and provide some 24 hours (12 hours per day) of live electronic dance music (EDM) to anyone wishing to attend.

Organised in conjunction with the team behind Glastonbury Shangri-La, led by Creative Director Kaye Dunnings and VRJAM, the free-to-attend or view event featured some headline names in the DJ world including Fatboy Slim (Friday 3rd July) and Pete Tong (Saturday 4th), along with Peggy Gou, Carl Cox, Seth Troxler, and Skream for a total of 50 DJs across the two days. Basic admission to the event was free, but those wishing to receive “VIP” access could optionally pay US $10.00 for goodies, the money going towards donations to Amnesty International and The Big Issue.

Lost Horizon: landing point and stage portals

Called Lost Horizon, the event actually comprised six areas in total, with five comprising:

  • The main stage – modelled after the festival’s famous Gas Tower stage.
  • The Freedom stage.
  • The ShiTV stage, home to films, documentaries, theatre, live art, and comedy.
  • The Nomad stage – a “special” for the event, dedicated entirely to UK culture and drum’n’bass music.
  • ShangrilART – featuring 200 visual art pieces on the theme of human connection.

All of these could be reached either directly through the Sansar Codex (the directory of places and events available for users to visit) or via the fifth physical space offered to visitors: the Lost Horizon landing point. This formed a general gathering point for those coming to the event via the Sansar Nexus (the main landing point for incoming new users / existing users who do not use the web-based Codex (Atlas) to select where they want to go prior to launching the Sansar client), and which in turn offered portals to each of the four stages.

Lost Horizon: The Gas Tower, Saturday, July 4th, 2020

In addition to being open to people to come into and enjoy via their avatar presence (desktop with or without a VR headset), the event was live streamed across a number of platforms, including You Tube, Twitch and Beatport. Further, Lost Horizon was used to introduce / showcase the new Sansar streaming app for iOS and Android devices – an app I’ll be writing about in due course, as my own use of the Android version for this event wasn’t too successful.

A High-Level Look at the Numbers

EDM / trance / techno is hardly my kind of music, so I confess I didn’t spend much continuous time at the event per se – rather, I hopped in and out over the two days for periods of between 10 and 20 minutes, and also tried to keep a watch on things via the Codex (which reports active numbers at events and in turns of the individual instances of the event), and through things like the Steam stats page for Sansar. Unfortunately, I was unable to visit / observe Fatboy Slim or Pete Tong, which may have shown things at variance to my observations on numbers here.

  • The average hourly attendance I noted was within the 200-400 for the event. This was based on periodic checks by dropping in to Lost Horizons, or via checks on the web Codex / Atlas during the following time spans:
    • Friday: 19:30-02:00 BST (11:30-18:00 PDT).
    • Saturday: 17:00-19:00 BST (09:00-11:00 PDT) and 20:00-02:00 BST (noon-18:00  PDT).
  • Checks between this times (around between 2 and 3 per hour – if only perhaps one actually in-world at any given hour) tend to give the following approximate breakdowns of attendance:
    • Gas Tower: 140-200 across an average of five instances.
    • Freedom: 60-70, generally running two instances.
    • Nomad: around 40 in a single instance, sometimes popping up to 45-55 with two instances.
    • ShiTV: appeared to be below 40 most of the time and a single instance.
    • Landing Area: generally a single instance (so no more than 60), at times just tipping over into a second instance with a handful or avatars.
A moment in time: a snapshot of the Lost Horizon Gas Tower attendance figures via the client Codex, giving a breakdown of instances / avatar numbers. Generally, throughout my time checking / observing, 2 or 3 of the instances were running at full capacity (sometimes dipping to 38-39) and the remaining two tended to hover in the 30s and 20s / teens respectively

Continue reading “Glastonbury in Sansar: post event observations”

Glastonbury comes to Sansar for 2020

The Glastonbury Shangri-La Gas Tower in Sansar. Courtesy of Lost Horizon

Those who attend the annual Glastonbury Festival in England are likely aware that the SARS-CoV 2 pandemic has caused this year’s event to be cancelled in the physical world. Nevertheless, one part of it will be going ahead within the virtual realm – and the venue for it will be Sansar.

The team behind Glastonbury’s night-time activities  – called Glastonbury Shangri-La – have teamed up with Wookey Technologies and VRJAM to stage a two-day virtual festival on Friday, July 3rd and Saturday, July 4th. The virtual event, called Lost Horizon, will take place across four purpose-built stages in Sansar. More than 50 music acts including DJs Peggy Gou, Fatboy Slim, Carl Cox and Pete Tong will play during the daily 12-hour sessions. In addition, the festival will also feature more than 200 visual art pieces, curated by the ShangrilART group on the theme of human connection.

As well as being available directly through Sansar as a ticketed event – those wishing to attend can get their free ticket via the Sansar website – Lost Horizon will also be streamed via You Tube, Twitch, Beatport and other platforms, will be viewable on a mobile app (to be made available from June 26th, 2020), and sets will be broadcast via radio.

Another view of the Gas Tower stage in Sansar, courtesy of Lost Horizon

The stages for the virtual event include Glastonbury Shangri-La’s famous Gas Tower, the focal point for event activities in the physical world. It will feature the likes of Fatboy Slim, and tech-house Ibiza favourites Jamie Jones and Seth Troxler. Alongside of it, the Freedom stage will feature Frank Turner, Alabama 3 and Coldcut. You can see the full line-up of acts on the Lost Horizon website, while the ShiTV stage will include films, documentaries, theatre, live art, comedy, animation and talks.

Glastonbury Shangri-La first took place in 2008. Over the years it has grown and evolved, offering those attending Glastonbury a rich mix of music and art in “after hours” sessions that take place overnight when the “main” sets have all finished.

With its roots deep in contemporary music, art and activism, Shangri-La has established itself as a legendary field in UK festival culture, engaging a truly dynamic community of artists, builders, and revolutionary creators and known for showcasing the latest “off main stage” acts.

– Lost Horizon, Glastonbury Shangri-La

Glastonbury Shangi-La Shitv stage in Sansar, courtesy of Lost Horizon

Glastonbury Shangri-La Creative director Kaye Dunnings conceived the idea for Lost Horizon shortly after the decision was made to cancel the physical world Glastonbury Festival in March 2020. Whilst the event is virtual, Dunnings hopes the same sense of activism that permeates the physical world event will filter through into the virtual as well.

While tickets to the event are free, attendees will be encouraged to donate to The Big Issue, the world’s most widely circulated street newspaper, raising money to offer homeless people / those at risk of homelessness, the opportunity to earn a legitimate income and helping them to reintegrate into mainstream society, and to Amnesty International.

Activism being so important to us, we wanted people to come and rave and interact and party and have a really great time. But we are also really passionate about being conscious, while you are doing that, of the world around you and how you can get involved in things. We want people to take action now more than ever. We want people to get involved in stuff outside the festival, so they come and have a great time but actually do something meaningful afterwards. We want to inspire people to actually take it that step further themselves.

– Kaye Dunnings, Glastonbury Shangri-La Creative Director

Dunning also recognises that as well as offering the opportunity to present Glastonbury Shangri-La during the pandemic, Lost Horizon could be the start of a new means reaching a global audience – much as how Linden Lab hoped, and the Wookey team continues to hope.

With Shangri-La presents: Lost Horizon, we’re delivering the music festival of the future: deeply immersive, fully on-line, accessible to anyone and anywhere with a PC or phone at their disposal. Shangri-La presents: Lost Horizon exists at the vanguard of something truly incredible, and we couldn’t be more excited to turn this page. The future of live events is virtual and we’re incredibly excited to be bringing it to fruition.

– Kaye Dunnings, Glastonbury Shangri-La Creative Director

Whether that is the case, remains to be seen. In the meantime all those interested in Lost Horizon can find more details below.

Related Links