We’re big fans of live music at DesignScene. (Who isn’t?) Our staff includes ex-music industry folk, our founder started his career lighting gigs and nightclubs, and there’s even an ex-music journo among us. So the absence of festivals and gigs this summer has been keenly felt. What else would you expect from an experiential marketing agency? But, while we’re missing live experiences for the buzz and entertainment value, it’s musicians themselves who have been suffering the most. Because, for every global superstar webcasting from their Malibu beach house, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of jobbing musicians out there who rely on performing live for their income. And lockdown has well and truly hit them where it hurts – in the pocket.
We’re a committed bunch here, too. Which is why we work with AIM – The Association of Independent Music – on their awards show each year. They’re a not-for-profit who represent the UK’s independent music sector, and we work with them on a not-for-profit basis. Typically, the AIM Awards take place at Camden’s Roundhouse, an iconic venue, and deliver all the hoopla you’d associate with a live music awards show; boozy dinner, acceptance speeches, fantastic live acts, lights, cameras and action. The entire production put together by DesignScene’s crack team.
Of course, this year is different. No live events means no award show, no live music, no dinner. The plight of all those under-employed musicians means it’s not the right moment for a lavish VIP celebration anyway. Yet the achievements of the UK’s independent music sector, in all its rich vibrancy, creativity and diversity, still deserve to be recognised.
Why should we let COVID-19 take that away from us?
Which is why – and you’ll never guess – this year’s AIM Awards are digital. And DesignScene are more involved than ever. We’re designing, producing and delivering the entire experience, but we’re also an Official Partner and Category Sponsor with the Best Independent Remix award up our sleeve.
Yes, the awards are digital… but not as you know digital from the webinars that have been sucking your soul out all summer. Because we’re embracing what digital can deliver in new and innovative ways, seeking to push online events to a whole new level.
Naturally, we’re delivering live music performances for the awards show audience, featuring the likes of the legendary Damon Albarn, the pioneering Little Simz and the revelatory Arlo Parks. Performances that are a little more compelling aurally and visually than the ‘webcam from the garden shed’ variety we’ve seen too many of this year.
These were captured in the COVID-19 safe environment of Creative Technology’s facilities near Gatwick Airport, and utilise their hi-tech digital studios to full effect.
Working with AIM, the tech gurus at Evoke and artist management, we’ve created live performances and a presentation environment that are enhanced using Extended Reality (XR) technology. This is the next stage in the evolution of what ‘live’ can look like. Taking a professional digital studio and enhancing it with 3D graphics that are rendered live during the performance. Background and foreground objects placed so that the presenter or artist can move in and around them. Environments re-drawn during their live performance to put them wherever they would like to be and enhance the story they want to tell through their music.
It’s exciting, eye-popping stuff, with almost unlimited potential for future creative exploration, and AIM nominee AJ Tracey is taking full advantage. XR means that artists can now travel without moving in an era when going anywhere has suddenly become fraught with logistical (and legal) complications. It feels like the perfect hybrid of real life and digital, combining the visual storytelling of a promo video with the energy, authenticity and one-off were-you-there-ness of a live performance.
After all, if you can remix music, why not remix reality, too?
It certainly beats yet another zoom call. If you weren’t able to join us for the AIM Awards live, all is not lost. You can experience what went down on demand at the SBTV Youtube channel. Or contact us to hear exactly how we helped to put the experience together.