WOODSTOCK, NY (CelebrityAccess) — After the college concert world, like much of the concert industry worldwide, shut down amid the COVID-19 pandemic this March, the situation for Concert Ideas, one of the leading independent talent buyers in the college space, was no different.
“It was a slow, awkward process, but by late March everyone could see the writing on the wall, and soon after that everything was canceled,” said Concert Ideas’ managing partner Adam Tobey. “[It was] effectively a 100% loss in a matter of weeks.”
In response to the shutdown, Concert Ideas quickly pivoted to online events and launched a new program offering personalized virtual performances to colleges, universities, and corporate buyers.
Leveraging relationships built over years of bringing entertainment to college campuses across America, Concert Ideas offers events from a wide range of artists, from comedians to rock, country and DJs.
Events range from live concerts to lectures and inspirational speeches or even Q&A/audience interaction sessions.
“When all this started about eight weeks ago, no one- schools, agents, managers, or artists – really knew how to proceed or where this was going. It’s a pretty steep learning curve though, and we’ve been able to work with everyone to create viable, fun, educational, and entertaining options that work for all parties,” Tobey said.
While the concept of virtual shows is still in its infancy, Concert Ideas has already produced events with Bryce Vine, Diplo, Rico Nasty, Mike Day, and Michelle Buteau.
According to Tobey, the finances in the space are still fluid, with the cost to stage an event impacted by factors that include what sort of programming schools are looking for to what an artist feels comfortable with presenting in a digital medium.
As well, virtual events aren’t right, or even feasible for every act (I’m looking at you GWAR) but Tobey encourages artists to be open-minded to concepts such as meet and greets and remote Q&A sessions with fans.
Tobey conceded that the virtual college concert space faces some particular challenges amid the coronavirus pandemic as well.
“Practically every school is facing a fiscal challenge, the affordability of virtual performances is extremely important. Student life departments are under extreme scrutiny – if not complete freezes – so every dollar counts,” he said.
He also noted that virtual event production is a relatively new discipline that’s been spun up in response to a global crisis and may be reliant on what technical capabilities and infrastructure a school can bring to bear.
“Everyone is still learning: you can’t really build a strong set of best practices in a month,” he said.