Extreme scaling – streaming and hybrid events at G Livelab Tampere

COVID-19 pandemic has forced event organizers around the world to rethink their operations and rescale their activities to fit the prevailing conditions. G Livelab Tampere music venue in Finland has responded to the challenges by scaling its events, limiting its capacity and organizing hybrid concerts combining concert streams with limited capacity public events.

From June to November 2020 G Livelab Tampere was able to arrange events held with a small audience capacity, taking into account safety distances. Advance arrangements, safety distances and enhanced hygiene solutions aimed to guarantee the safest possible concert experience for customers, musicians and staff. With our own G Livelab app we offered our customers the opportunity to order food and drink directly at the table, thus minimizing extra movement in the space. Our capacity varied between 70 and 100 people, which was less than half of our normal capacity. In addition to these limited capacity concerts we arranged streaming concerts and hybrid concerts in May-November 2020.

In December 2020 Finnish authorities banned public events for more than 10 people. G Livelab Tampere reacted by opening a winter terrace and providing app orders for small groups in six outdoor greenhouses.

After a two-month concert break the music venue continued to organize live music concerts on an experimental basis. After lengthy and controversial authority negotiations, the permitted audience capacity at our venue was set at 20 people, which was divided and arranged in two separate audience spaces, the hall and the balcony. Most of the artists agreed to perform several times in one day, which allowed us to sell up to 80 tickets per day. The gigs were also streamed on G Livelab’s website and mobile app. The prices of streaming tickets were from 10 to 15 euros, with a higher price for concerts with on-demand rights.

The live streamings were mostly carried out with our own streaming equipment at the venue, including three robot cameras, a streamer and a mixer. In addition to the hall sound technician, two technicians were involved in the streaming production, one responsible for multi-camera control and the other for mixing the sound going to the stream. A streaming studio was built in the club’s downstairs training room.

We conducted an audience survey in early 2021. The responses revealed a great need for live music events in Finland. Only 15% of respondents had not attended any concerts during the pandemic, and as many as 60% of respondents had attended at least two gigs during the pandemic. The survey also examined audience attitudes toward streaming as well as its ticket prices and user experiences. Almost 90% of the respondents gave at least four point to the technical implementation on a scale of 1-5. The common opinion was that the concert stream is a good live music substitute during pandemic but does not match the live experience.

Because of high production costs the VAT on streaming tickets in Finland (24%), building a smart revenue logic is challenging. However, the demand for streaming tickets has grown concert by concert, and in recent times streaming ticket incomes have already covered the production costs. Streams have also been watched abroad. This supports the international career of artists when foreign tours are not quite possible.

This pandemic has thought live music industry that the return to “normal” is not coming any time soon, if ever. We cannot wait for it, but we must scale our actions to the circumstances, as we believe that live music helps us over the crisis.
Annamaija Saarela, CEO, G Livelab Tampere

Photo: (c) Laura Vanzo / Visit Tampere