If you haven’t heard of the hot mess that was Fyre Festival, you are in for a treat. What was supposed to be an all-inclusive luxury island getaway and music festival for wealthy millennials and trust fund babies turned out to be all flash and no festival. None of the infrastructure for the event had been built, no musical acts had shown up, the accommodations were really FEMA-style tents with few beds and even fewer amenities, and the promised land of a private island was mostly dirt.
For the first time in their lives, rich people had to fight for resources. All in all, it was great for those who could not afford a festival ticket priced in the four digits, but could monitor the mess unfold on social media from the comfort of their own homes. More importantly, though, it was the perfect example of what not to do when putting on a live event. So what can we learn from this debacle?
Know your target audience. You wouldn’t sell a business seminar to a bunch of dogs in suits, just like you wouldn’t expect college students with $60,000 in student loan debt to pay thousands to party with Bella Hadid (or not). Have a clear idea of what your event is about and what it should look like. What category would it fall under? What is the main goal of the event? When is the right time and date to broadcast? Think these through and generate a relevant title and theme for your live event and stick to it. It doesn’t have to be fancy or gussied up with the promise of supermodels.
Putting on an event is also more expensive than you think. Marisa Laureni, owner of Romela Events, said in a statement to Eventbrite that Audio/Video components can be the most expensive aspect of live streaming an event, but paying big bucks for high quality equipment generally pays off. Just don’t overextend and promise Beyonce when you only have the budget for a Beyonce impersonator.
Having the time to plan is possibly the most important aspect of putting on any kind of event. According to Eventbrite, your timeline can be estimated by your predicted number of attendees as follows:
- 200-400 attendees: 6-8 weeks
- 400-800 attendees: 3-4 months
- 800+ attendees: 6 months to 1 year
- As early as possible!
- Promote—but not too much
If you’re on Instagram, chances are that you’re no stranger to the concept of brunch or that of “influencers”. Influencer is another term for tastemaker, which is another term for model on social media who gets paid for promoting weight loss teas. It’s not a bad gig. The most damning mistake made by Fyre Festival developers aside from, well, everything, was allocating the majority of their budget to marketing and leaving none for execution of the actual event. Paying Instagram influencers in swimsuits to hang out on a yacht for a promotional video is cool, but having people pay to do the same only to show up and find The Hunger Games is asking for a lawsuit.
Promoting your event and live stream doesn’t have to break the bank. Release details in small increments to boost interest in your event as it approaches. Spread this information (making sure to include the time and date) everywhere—advertise it on your website, in newsletters, and on social media. Create a landing page for your event and provide a link to it in your promotions. Essentially, keep your expectations realistic and your promotions accurate. Unless you’re Ja Rule. Then screw it and scam a bunch of rich kids out of millions of dollars and donate it to charity. Whatever.
- Accommodate your audience
If you promise five-star gourmet dining experience, make sure that it isn’t just a bunch of cheese sandwiches that prompt your clients to go all Lord of the Flies. Similarly, if you’re advertising a live stream experience that provides something of value to viewers (especially if they’re paying for it), take all the steps to ensure that that’s really what you’re providing! You may also want to spend time considering how your live stream will look and sound to viewers. To guarantee a positive viewing experience, check lighting conditions and noise levels at your event location well in advance. Location also matters. Keep your surroundings in mind, as this is the backdrop your audience will be looking at the whole time.
- Test your equipment and connectivity
Quality cameras and mics are standard for a well-planned live stream. Nobody will want to watch something that looks like it was produced by Kim Kardashian and Ray J. (On second thought, a lot of people would, but that’s not the aesthetic we’re going for here). Make sure all of your equipment is working and, if possible, have backup equipment just in case. Check if you have the bandwith to support HD streaming, but keep your viewers in mind, as they may not have the same level of bandwith. Offer an alternate stream in standard definition. It is possible to capture content in HD and stream it in SD. Shooting in HD and converting down will look significantly better than shooting in SD.
- Do a practice run
Rehearsals exist for a reason. Whether it’s for an elementary school play or a wedding, there absolutely has to be a dry run-through to make sure everything runs smoothly on the scheduled day of the event. If you’re lucky, your cheating ex will only show up to ruin your rehearsal dinner and not your actual wedding. Having a practice run leaves less room for technical mishaps and human error. It also gives you a chance to make sure that any guest speakers or performers you may have are prepared. If your guests are musical acts like Blink-182, make sure they show up. Pay them on time. And definitely make sure there’s an actual stage for them to perform on. Who’s listening to Blink-182 in 2017, anyway? We need to talk.