In a different version of reality, by now we should’ve cheered to the matches held by the biggest EURO2020 ever, we should’ve lost our voices singing alongside our favorite bands, or we should’ve made new friends while getting lost within the biggest music festivals. In the current version of events, Sheldon’s germaphobia doesn’t seem so ridiculous anymore and for some, even the thought of being that close to a stranger gives anxiety.

While cautiosly isolated at home, one cannot help but wonder how much everything has changed. As marketeers, we cannot state to foresee this new reality as the future new normal, but we can pinpoint the changes that are currently taking place and come to some assumptions into how many industries may change due to this global crisis. And while it’s easier to never leaving the bed in mourning of your lost fun, it’s our duty to observe what’s happening and to come up with solutions.

The global music industry is worth about 30 billion $ each year, while the sports one was estimated around 450 billion EUR today.

While strong in numbers, we can now see the vulnerabilities of these industries being highlighted as never before. Jobs, infrastructure, events, merchandise, licensed products, all affected by the current state of things.

In a time when Spotify hit 130 mil paid subscribers but at the same time saw a dent in the listening consumption, one might restrain himself from shedding a tear. Streaming has become the ideal way for an artist to make his music known and to gain fans, but this notoriety doesn’t come with a big financial benefit behind, as streaming companies pay only a fraction of a penny per play. And most of times, about 80% of that goes to the record label. Nonetheless, before the crisis hit, blue skies ahead as the music industry showed progress into adapting to the streaming era, while deals were made for events and tours – so that the artists and the other industries that rely on their work – would benefit as well. Needless to say, that was shattered with the new restrictions being imposed due to security issues. And hurtful as it may be, this comes as a learning, in order to make matters better in the future for the ones that create the soundtrack of our journeys or give us goosebumps through their songs.

Now, looking at sports, the situation isn’t quite as jolly either, with most tournaments and competitions cancelled or annulled, and no certain news for a while. While reports started coming in, both for the financial loses in sponsorships or advertising, and for the emotional void felt by the fans, the need for action coupled overcome the fear of the pandemic. Unfortunately, this may prove to come at the expense of our stars’ safety, as more and more sportsmen to date are being confirmed with the novel disease.

One might argue that we should just accept the fact that we won’t get entertainment anytime soon, in the form that we are accustomed to and surrender the battle. But that would just be a wrong course of action. What we should aim towards is adaptation and progress – new ways of interaction that are both safe and rewarding for our consumers.

OK but how?

It is certainly not enough to just change mediums, and each new change must come with a thorough understanding of the consumers’ needs and barriers. As we all learned quite well during these last few months, it is not enough to watch a singer livestream a concert on Youtube, when what you crave is intimacy, energy, connection.

” I see you pressed against the cold front rails. I see you air-drumming along to your favorite songs in the distant rafters. I see you lifted above the crowd and carried to the stage for a glorious swan dive back into its sweaty embrace. I see your homemade signs and your vintage T-shirts. I hear your laughter and your screams and I see your tears. I have seen you yawn (yeah, you), and I’ve watched you pass out drunk in your seat. I’ve seen you in hurricane-force winds, in 100-degree heat, in subzero temperatures. I have even seen some of you grow older and become parents, now with your children’s Day-Glo protective headphones bouncing on your shoulders. And each night when I tell our lighting engineer to “Light ’em up!,” I do so because I need that room to shrink, and to join with you as one under the harsh, fluorescent glow.” Dave Grohl

In order to keep the entertainment industries alive, we need to change the tools for conversation. To test everything until we reach a version of interaction that would not be a compromise, but a parallel design that recreates the same feelings, or gives you the chance to experience new sensations.

We can already see a big number of initiatives that strive to change the way we get our entertainment:

  • Different models of virtual concerts and digital experiences: Global Citizens Together at Home, BBC’s Big Weekend, Geo-blocked streams from artists’ homes, a BTS digital concert that generated close to $20M
  • Drive-in concerts: Live Nation – which offered extra space around the car so that participants can dance, AEG also switched to this type of concert format
  • Digital concerts as movies – Electric Castle launched an online movie concert format, named A festival for no one; The drum&bass Arena launched a movie about the history of the movement
  • Music joined e-sports platforms – While Travis Scott held a concert in Fortnite, several EDM artists collaborated with Call of Duty for a charity tournament benefiting COVID-19 relief
  • E-sports tournaments – athletes from pro sports are showcasing their interest in e-sports, NBA players joined streamers
  • Engaging fans – through tactics from increased mic’d up access, to ”virtualized fans” in the stadium, unique commentary access, even streaming on Twitch

The question that remains is how can we create an environment that gives fans a genuine entertainment experience?

Sources:

MOMENTUM mPulse Global Study, May 2020 – Sports Fans React to COVID-19

MOMENTUM COVID-19 State of Sports and Entertainment Report, July 2020

https://www.it.kearney.com/communications-media-technology/article?/a/the-sports-market
https://www.esquire.com/uk/culture/a32360709/coronavirus-music-industry/?fbclid=IwAR1QYqvWEVLgX8cqUgq7QLDymcXqRzwHqJpYc8lbzPlR8hhi84_vLspPsUs
https://www.theatlantic.com/culture/archive/2020/05/dave-grohl-irreplaceable-thrill-rock-show/611113/
https://www.bbc.com/sport/51605235