Has Visible Set a New Standard for Pandemic-Proof Music Festivals?

Verizon-owned carrier virtually takes fans to Red Rocks Amphitheatre for a personalized viewing experience

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats perform at an empty Red Rocks Amphitheatre with projections controlled by viewers at home. Visible
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While watching prerecorded music performances on the couch at home has become the new norm for concerts, Visible is attempting to write a new pandemic-friendly festival playbook. For its latest experience, the Verizon-owned phone service has blended live performances from an actual venue with technology designed to give remote attendees control of their experience.

Visible is hosting its first Red Rocks Unpaused, a three-day music festival that digitally reimagines the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, a historic open-air venue built into a rock structure located just outside of the brand’s Denver headquarters.

The festival kicked off with performances by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats and Phoebe Bridgers on Sept. 1, and will stream sets by Megan Thee Stallion and Lil Baby on Sept. 2, and Sam Hunt and Brett Young on Sept. 3. Consumers can “attend” the festival for free by viewing the performances on Visible’s Twitter page or on a custom microsite, VisiblexRedRocks.com, where they’ll have multiple options to interact with the performers and the venue itself.

Visible’s head of experiential Kirstie Rivard said the primary goal with Red Rocks Unpaused is to drive brand awareness and connect with consumers through an interactive experience.

Experiential has been Visible’s preferred method in driving new consumers since 2019, when the growing brand made its debut at SXSW with a transparent music box; the brand also hosted a public, Instagram-friendly pop-up (remember those?) last fall filled with rooms inspired by smartphones.

“When Covid-19 hit, we thought: How can we give viewers an experience that’s innovative and technologically advanced, and deliver it in a way that would work in this upside-down year?” Rivard said. “Whether it’s for someone noticing our brand for the first time or a member, we want to offer a memorable experience and connection people haven’t been able to have with an artist this year.”

The microsite lets users choose their views, emoticon reactions and a chat to leave messages for artists.Visible

Visible partnered with creative agency Madwell and technology company VT Pro Design to produce the experience. The idea of having artists perform live, using a limited production crew at the empty Red Rocks Amphitheatre, was sparked by a partnership Visible secured with Denver Arts & Venues before the Covid-19 pandemic began in March.

To start, Visible wanted to give attendees an optimal viewing experience by placing the performance stage in the center of the stands. The microsite’s livestream offers three clickable options for viewers to change the camera angle to customize their viewing experience: a show cam for front row views, a high cam for nosebleed views, and a rock cam to see projections.

The brand then worked with its agency partners to make the stage and the rock backdrop a collaborative “canvas.” By using clickable tools on the microsite, viewers can activate art projections and lighting during each performance.

A behind-the-scenes look at setup and light projection testing for Red Rocks Unpaused.Visible

The site also allows attendees to send messages to the artists on stage, which are projected onto the venue’s rock facade for performers to see. Additionally, Visible has provided branded emoticons for viewers to use as reactions during sets, and a polling feature to vote on an encore song that artists will perform at the end of each night.

“This opportunity to innovate has been one of the highlights of a really bad situation,” Rivard added. “We’re leaning into doing things differently and getting people to interact in a way that hasn’t been done before, and leaning into the talent and skills people have to create that next level [experience].”

ian.zelaya@adweek.com Ian Zelaya is an Adweek reporter covering how brands engage with consumers in the modern world, ranging from experiential marketing and social media to email marketing and customer experience.