How Virgin EMI put on their three-day livestream festival

How Virgin EMI put on their three-day livestream festival

Virgin EMI has staged one of the biggest label livestream events since the coronavirus lockdown kicked in. 

Lockdown Live was put on over three days (April 3-5) last weekend and featured artists performing from across the roster, including The Vamps, Tori Kelly, Jay Pryor, Alessia Cara, Wauve, Twin Atlantic and New Hope Club. The event was in support of Global Citizen and the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

Here, Betsy Chadbourn, EMI digital campaign manager, reveals how it was all organised remotely in just a few weeks… 

How did you manage to pull Lockdown Live together so quickly?

“A lot of sleepless nights, 3am emails, and frantic Zoom calls! We certainly couldn’t have done it without the support of our amazing team, everyone at Virgin EMI, and all the partners and people that jumped in along the way. It all started with a passing comment during a team meeting; we were pretty down about Glastonbury, and it was like a lightbulb had turned on. We wanted to keep each other creative, inspired, and (mostly) sane during this strange and unprecedented time, and organising a festival seemed like the perfect distraction. I believe it was 15 days from that call, to the first act going live on the Rhapsody Stage on day one of Lockdown Live. We're so proud of what we pulled together. It's honestly been incredible to see what can be achieved from our bedrooms, and in such a short amount of time!” 

What were the main challenges, how did you coordinate everyone involved in Lockdown Live?

“We knew it would be a challenge, but we were determined to create something fun for all those fanbases we've spent our careers cultivating, and most of all, we wanted to do something that would give back to all the heroic people working tirelessly in the fight against Covid-19. I think the biggest challenge was curating the line-up, alongside setting up 32 advanced live streams, sometimes with artists in completely different time zones. Our roster was so keen to be involved, we were making line-up amends the day before launch. All wonderful issues to have, of course, but I certainly have another level of admiration for people in the live sector

It’s quite beautiful how together you can feel when you’re not actually together

Betsy Chadbourn

“The partners jumped to be involved from there. Alongside the blessing from Global Citizen and the WHO, we're lucky to have had support from VT, the BRITs, YouTube, Seasonedbf, Ticketmaster, Dice, Virgin Red, and so many more. Something that began as a small passion project completely blew up to unprecedented levels. Our content team have done some of their best work on the social assets. We had a top class site imagined by Pretty Good Digital that all the sets were streamed into. Without such a strong, tight-knit team, we couldn’t have made it what it was.”

What were the highlights for you across the weekend?

“I think we were all super impressed by Olivia Dean – she’d never done a livestream before! She was a total natural, breezy and relaxed, and don’t even get me started on the raw talent. Special mention to Brad Simpson, who hosted the stream on behalf of The Vamps. He’d really been thoughtful about his set, and again, he’s an insanely talented multi-instrumentalist. We had so many Tweets afterwards saying that he’d made people’s weekends. 

“In terms of figures, we had 300,000 views on the live streams, almost 250,000 visits to the Lockdown Live website, 23.9m reach across socials, 25,000 people talking about the festival online, and over 7,800 clicks to take action on the Global Citizen website. We couldn’t be more thrilled with those results.” 

Are there any more events planned? 

“Not in the near future… I think we all need a second to collect ourselves! But we’re certainly not opposed to it. We really enjoyed the whole process, not to mention the reasons behind why we did it in the first place. If we’re still in lockdown for the foreseeable future, you might see some more from team Lockdown Live…”

And is there anything you can do with those performances?

“All of the performances are on YouTube as VOD. We’re going to be using them in digital advertising to help drive awareness and growth across social media channels. We’ve seen some really great uplift across our developing artists’ socials following the festival – hopefully we’ve retained some new fans that might not necessarily have discovered them otherwise.”

What advice would you give to anyone else staging a livestream event?

“Plan, plan, plan, but be prepared to be adaptive! Nothing will go how you expected it to, but that’s part of the excitement. Oh, and make sure you have a rock solid team behind you. It’s quite beautiful how together you can feel when you’re not actually, you know, together.”

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