10 Benefits of Virtual Music Festivals You Don’t Get At the Real Thing

For the past two months, the world has been finding new ways to try to combat boredom. While many of the things people are doing to keep themselves sane in the COVID era have been around for a while – Netflix, food delivery services, making sourdough bread – there is one activity that’s suddenly incredibly popular now that was not really a thing before the Coronavirus pandemic hit (or probably not a thing at all).

Virtual music festivals have been playing on YouTube, Twitch, and other video streaming sites almost every weekend since mid-March. I, like many other people who miss going to shows, have been tuning in to these with groups of friends on Zoom and screen sharing, so you can “dance with” your friends through the screen.

While virtual music festivals obviously pale in comparison to the real thing, there are a couple of things they have going for them that don’t apply to music festivals in real life.

The last “real life” music festival I went to, Primavera Sound in Barcelona in 2019

1. They’re usually free.

Whereas most popular music festivals can easily cost half your rent to attend, most of the virtual music festivals that happened in the past couple of months (Digital Mirage, Room Service, EDC) have featured many of the same artists you may have been hoping to see on a stage this year – and for 100% free.

2. Okay, so it’s not quite the same as being all sweaty in a crowd of thousands of people, but you can see some top DJs without spending a cent.

Seeing Diplo up close and personal through a screen is nothing like being a few rows away from the stage, vaguely wishing you had a bottle of water and wondering where half of your friend group went. But whether it’s from behind a screen or not, being able to see some of the biggest artists in the world play a set for completely free is pretty cool.

3. You get to see a different side of some of your favorite artists.

Most of the sets at virtual music festivals are streamed live from the artist’s house, which gives you a literal glimpse into their lives, and it’s kinda cool. In a lot of the sets I’ve seen, the artist who’s performing starts dancing with their cat or has their grandma sitting in the background. Wholesome AF.

4. When you have to go to the bathroom, you don’t have to wait in a super long line – you can just walk down the hall to your bathroom.

We’ve all been there. You’re at a festival, you’ve downed three overpriced mixed drinks, and your bladder is starting to remind you more and more every time you bounce to the music that you’re going to have to pay attention it to it pretty soon, but you know that relieving yourself entails pushing through the crowd and waiting in the line for the porta potty for 20+ minutes just to squat a foot over the toilet seat while your friend holds the door for you from the outside because the lock is broken, and then shake yourself dry because there’s no toilet paper. This experience does not seem worth leaving the dance floor for, so you don’t – until you need to pee so bad you can barely walk straight, making the 20+ minute long line even more unbearable than usual. 

With virtual festivals, you can skip all that, tell your friends on Zoom you’re going to the bathroom, go pee, and come back. No lines required. Also, there’s probably toilet paper.

5. …And the bathroom is most likely not a porta-potty.

‘Nuff said. 

Betcha don’t miss navigating through this to get to somewhere you can pee. Hardly Strictly, San Francisco, 2017


6. You can drink water or eat without waiting in line or spending money.

When you get tired from dancing around your room, instead of waiting in yet another line to spend $9 on a water bottle, you can just walk to the nearest sink in your house and pour yourself a glass of water. And if you’re hungry, provided that you have food in your house, you can make yourself a snack and return to the festival without standing in line or missing too much of the action. Hell, if you’re hungry but also don’t want to miss any part of the set, you can even bring the festival to the kitchen with you. Technology is wild.

7. If there are several virtual events going on at one time, you can tune into as many as you want!

Now that virtual festivals are popular, there’s a good chance that more than one virtual show will be happening in one evening. Typically, if Melissa Etheridge and Borgore were playing at a festival in the same day, you’d have to pick which festival you’d prefer to attend. Sure, a lot of things have happened in the past two months that I never thought I’d see, but I still don’t think those two headlining the same festival is ever going to happen. BUT! With a virtual concert, if there’s two very different concerts or festivals happening at the same time, you can just switch back and forth from one to the other by simply closing one screen and opening another. Boom.

Outside Lands 2018 in San Francisco. I had a change of clothes in my backpack – but with virtual festivals, no alternate backpack outfits are needed. PLUS you don’t have to worry about carrying a backpack around.

8. You can change your clothes if need be.

In real life, whatever you put on in the afternoon before you leave for the festival is what you’re stuck wearing the rest of the day. If you forgot your jacket and it suddenly gets freezing, you kind of just have to deal with it. But with virtual festivals, if you get too hot or too cold or you decide you really want to wear a tutu for no reason (or a cow onesie), presumably your clothes are in your room, so you can just change. As easy as that.

9. You can “attend” the festival with friends in different cities you never get to see concerts with.

However, if you create a Zoom call with your friends and share the screen, it’s almost like you’re all there together, with the added bonus of not having to worry where the hell Kelsey went. 

Friends in 4 U.S. states and 6 different cities having a happy hour “together” over Zoom 🙂

10. When you’re done, your bed is right there!

I’m not sure what’s worse, the toilet paper-less pee-pee dance in the porta potty or waiting half an hour in the cold for an overpriced ride home when the alcohol is wearing off and all you want is your bed, some water that isn’t $9 and maybe a slice of pizza. With virtual shows, all you have you do is close your laptop. No Uber required.

Upcoming virtual music festivals and concerts:

Digital Mirage– June 12-14

The record label Proximity debuted the first Digital Mirage festival the first weekend of April, and now they’re back for round 2! The lineup includes Kaskade, Chromeo, Netsky, and many more. The festival was originally planned for last weekend, but they decided to postpone a week as to not take any attention away from the Black Lives Matter movement. This weekend, viewers will have the opportunity to donate as they watch, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the Equal Justice Initiative and Color of Change. RSVP for Digital Mirage here!

Rave Family Block Fest – July 9 – 12

300+ artists such as Diplo, Griz and Whethan will be playing on more than 30 virtual stages as part as the Rave Family Block Fest, a virtual festival presented by Rave Family in July. The best part? The festival is inside the game Minecraft. How sick is that?!

Not into electronic music and noticed that’s what most livestreams are? Check out this Billboard list of upcoming concerts, festivals and livestreams of a variety of genres.

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