The pandemic has forced the music industry to change and adapt in almost ever aspect, none more so than live performances now being replaced almost entirely by live streams. Festivals are no different.
Whilst the replacement to live streaming events certainly doesn’t replicate the same vibe and energy of a truly live show, it does have its logistical and financial advantages. Newly born live stream festivals Five4Five Fest and Fearless At Home Festival wouldn’t have existed before, but admittedly the rejig of Download Festival into a digital presence – whilst certainly entertaining – was a far cry from walking in inches of mud, drink in hand on the hallowed grounds of Donington.
Initially intending to return for its second year a few months back, the colossal spanner in the works that is COVID-19 has forced Bad Pond Festival to go ahead in 2020 a little later in the year, and to also adopt the live stream model. The best part? It’s free.
We had a chat with organiser, Small Pond Records label and bookings manager, Dave Jackson (also of Delta Sleep and InTechnicolour) to talk about adapting the festival, and the obstacles of COVID-19.
DP!: First things first, how are you coping with the madness that is 2020?
DJ: I’m bored of it now. Can it end so I can sit in my pyjamas and play Goldeneye 64?
DP!: When did the idea of putting Bad Pond Festival ahead for 2020 as a live stream go ahead?
DJ: It was pretty last minute, probably early October when the idea came about and we set to work.
DP!: Were any plans in motion for it to proceed as a normal, in-person event during the year?
DJ: Oh, yep, behind the scenes Bad Pond festival has been rescheduled three times now. In March 2020 people were very optimistic and the general feeling was this couldn’t last more than a few months, but it became pretty clear early on this was here to stay. We booked a few provisional dates ranging from September 2020 to the end of 2021, and I think we have a date that works now!
DP!: What obstacles did you face putting this together as a live stream that you don’t need to consider for a normal, live event?
DJ: Keeping it interesting for the fans. At a live event you get to hang out with friends and drink beer all day, you’ve always paid top dollar! Live streaming is different in that respect, especially ours as it’s free, but also because between bands there’s dead air, and drinking alone from 2pm isn’t advised… (but you totally should) so it was our job to make it interesting throughout. We’ve got a bunch of interviews with the bands playing the event and some extra bonus content for good measure.
DP!: Did this factor into putting the line-up together?
DJ: Not really! To be honest, our main factor was trying to keep it as local as possible so you’ll see what the majority of the bands on the line-up are from Brighton, and that goes for every Bad Pond Festival event. The music scene in Brighton is so strong, and I feel we play a part in representing that as local promoters.
DP!: Why did you decide to go ahead with making the event free to view as opposed to charging tickets?
DJ: We were lucky enough to get funding help from Arts Council England, which is the main reason an event like this has come into existence.
DP!: How has the pandemic most effected you and your business?
DJ: For the majority of 2020, Small Pond has had to close its doors to the public which has massively affected our business. As a customer-facing business we were pretty much screwed from day one. Thankfully, restrictions have started lifting and we are able to get back on our feet, but I know some business haven’t been so lucky. It’s been a shit show for everyone really, hasn’t it?
DP!: Do you think that live streams will still be a common place thing in a post-COVID world?
DJ: Yes and no. Live streaming will always have its time and place, but once live gigs – real live gigs – are back, I want to spend zero time on Zoom or bloody Skype. In fact, I might just throw my laptop in the sea and get a fax machine.
DP!: Any final words?
DJ: Do you know a good place to buy a fax machine?
This year’s Bad Pond Festival will take place on December 19th 2020 and can be streamed online for free from YouTube, starting at 2:30pm (UK time).
There’s also a Facebook event page set up which you can find here.