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Behind-The-Curtain: Charivari Worldwide on The Future of Virtual Festivals

Festivals across the world have had to revise their plans this year, from locations to livestreams. In the era of transforming physical gatherings into digitised alternatives, how can we bring music lovers together in isolation? 

As they gear up to kick off their Charivari Thanksgiving Mix running from 25th – 27th November, Charivari Worldwide give us insight into their annual electronic music festival, Charivari Detroit and share a first-hand low-down on how you can make the most out of running your very own live-streamed event on Mixcloud LIVE.

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Tell us about Charivari – its origins and how it has evolved over the years?  

Charivari Detroit is an annual DJ focused electronic music festival held in Detroit during the first weekend of August. We started in 2014 to first and foremost be a celebration of our city and its contributions to electronic dance music. Techno is a Detroit creation and Detroit is flush with the pioneers and present day masters of the genre. Detroit is also a hub of many of the most talented and respected DJs and producers of house and all forms of electronic music. 

Over the years we have evolved into a multi stage three day weekend of music, art, yoga, food and fun! The Charivari Worldwide brand intends to spread our brand of fun and festivities across the world thru the festival, branded gear, artists, music, radio and events. Charivari Detroit weekend is the greatest assembly of Detroit based DJ talent ever! The Charivari family is a bond. The bond and growth of the community. Support and engagement. Above faction, friction and fad. The people. The music. The dancing. The DJs. The crowd. The culture. Our mantra is #letyourselfgo

Earlier this year you went digital for the first time in Charivari’s history, hosting a mammoth month-long, 24/7 DJ livestream on Mixcloud Live. What was the process like translating a physical event to the online sphere? 

The first hurdle was the “where” in planning the transition from the physical to the internet. Mixcloud was a perfect fit, teaming with an internet platform and brand that respects both the artists and the legal use of music. The second and most time consuming was assembling an amazing roster of talent.  There were many new fronts that required quickly educating yourself.  Streaming technology, worldwide publicity, artist outreach and film and sound production. 5 Mag, Fusicology, Ransom Note were key in getting the word out. And the DJ community rallied and showed out. We smashed the internet with the largest number one streams in August and October. 

Community is at the heart of Charivari — how did you bring that grassroots ethos and atmosphere so unique to the festival to your Mixcloud Live program?

We have always tried to make Charivari operate as an extended family.  So the community aspect was one of the easiest in putting this together. We put out the call to our DJ network and extended the invitation. The response was overwhelming. Thanksgiving will be our third Virtual Festival and as we plan forward to the future!

Running a 24 hour stream brought a global feel, meaning anyone could tune in from any time-zone — tell us about the logistics in managing that? Our initial plan was not as robust as it was eventually presented. But thinking about the vast accessi-bility of the internet and electronic music fans scattered across multiple time zones took us back to the drawing board. The last stream – Sweet Sixteen was 128 DJs/24 hours a day presented over 16 days. Global!

There must have been challenges along the way, what was the most difficult part of digitising your programming? 

The team here at Charivari is resilient by nature and we meet the challenges head on. We started first by incorporating the foundation with leading edge technology offering the highest quality performance, sonic quality and optimization. Our stream is 8K ready and capable of 192rate/ 32bit as well as Dolby Atmos delivery. Second, the technology is all coded and developed proprietary in-house in our C.O.O.L (Charivari Online Operations Lab) facility. We aren’t followers but innovators. Third, having a great service to broadcast our content and that’s where Mixcloud has come in. One of the main factors in choosing Mixcloud was the ability for the artists and producers to be compensated for their work. Other services exist but they don’t benefit the creators and artists just the big corporations. 

What are your three “Pro Tips” for anyone looking to run a live-streamed festival? And, are there any “watch-outs” for someone starting out that you learned the hard way? 

There are so many!! but here’s the top 3 with some tips to get people started: 

  1. Quality. You can have top tier talent but if the sound and productions aren’t up to your standard, they reflect on your overall brand but most importantly the artist. Invest in quality gear; a stream filmed in portrait view on a phone takes up 1/3 of the screen and the mic is for a phone call. We try to let artists express themselves but also provide some best tips. This is a work in progress some understand, and some don’t. As we move forward, we have become more selective and follow up with the artist on tips to improve and retry.
  2. EGO. Leave it at the door! (and don’t answer the phone in the middle of your set) If you’re trying to recreate your physical festival with some fancy lights and everything that you’re “used” to doing it won’t translate well. You have to envision what the audience, in this case a viewer on either a phone, tablet or computer is watching. People don’t play video games with light shows. You have to think creatively — what is the viewer of your content looking at? Are they looking at a festival stage on the screen for an hour or is there a story being told?
  3. Just do it! The best way to learn is to invest time in the craft of streaming. If you’re thinking this is a fix until the big festivals come back, you’re not innovating. Think of streaming as practicing your craft whether it’s DJ’ing or learning an instrument there’re shortcuts, the shortcuts are obvious, and it shows. Streaming is not new it is evolving so like anything embrace mistakes and learn from them.

What does the near future hold for Charivari? And thinking more long-term as the industry bounces back, what are your ambitions for the festival and what does a hybrid physical/digital future for the event look like? 

The future for Charivari is an ever evolving landscape of possibilities.  We plan to continue to innovate, increase outreach and expand our brand worldwide. We will be a real force in 2021. Some things we have to keep secret, but the future is bright!

We would love to host our live 2021 Detroit festival as we head into our 9th year in August. That being said, we are committed to a hybrid immersive experience and streaming will remain a permanent part of our growing entertainment menu. This is not a band-aid for us and something we embrace with passion and drive. We’re innovating every day with multiple media vehicles and currently just launched Charivari Radio, our 24/7 Online Radio Platform incorporating selectors throughout the world. Our 20 City Initiative Multi-City Global Tour is next creating immersive experience revolutionizing the industry.

You’ve got another event this weekend on Mixcloud LIVE, what are you most excited about closing out your last event of 2020? 

Yes, we have the Thanksgiving Mix followed by a soon to be announced Winter Holiday Stream. This is what excites us about streaming and the virtual world, the ease in which you can make spontaneous plans and provide access to a growing worldwide audience.

Tune into Charivari’s Thanksgiving Mix on Mixcloud LIVE from 25th-27th November.

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