Rolling Loud Will Air Virtual Music Festivals Exclusively on Twitch
Video game streaming company Twitch has secured its latest victory in its ongoing push into the music industry, announcing a content partnership with hip-hop festival Rolling Loud on Monday.
Rolling Loud will air three virtual music festivals exclusively on Twitch, which the organization is calling “Loud Streams.” The first of the three will air on September 12th and 13th, and the full lineup will be announced September 8th. Rolling Loud will also air various podcasts and streams on Twitch for weekly content.
These include “The Leak,” a show Rolling Loud co-founder Tariq Cherif will host to showcase previews for new music from upcoming hip hop acts; “Got Bars,” a freestyle competition that will give the winner a chance to perform at a Rolling Loud festival; gaming show “Loud Gaming”; behind-the-scenes show “Live From The Studio”; and a livestream podcast called “The Rotation,” hosted by Cherif and fellow co-founder Matt Zingler.
“Prior to the pandemic starting, we knew we wanted to get more into the media space, the growth of our brand was going beyond just a festival,” Cherif says. “Then the pandemic hits and boom, now we need to pivot. We have a strong brand and we’re going to be able to apply that throughout our weekly programming schedule and through these digital festivals.”
For Rolling Loud, founded in 2015, the partnership represents a further push to expand their business beyond physical festivals. Some of the previously more ancillary parts of its business like digital ventures and merchandise have been steadily growing. “We’re gearing up on merchandise, becoming more of a lifestyle brand with creative content, but what we’re known for is concerts and that’s what we’ll continue to do,” Zingler says. Cherif adds: “Post-Covid, It’ll be more of a blend. We’re doing digital a lot stronger, and we’ll see that more in our concerts because we’ve learned it a lot better in the pandemic.”
The festival shows will be free on Twitch, and Rolling Loud is offering elevated experiences to its subscribes for $5, $10 and $25. Though almost every Covid-era livestreamer has promised to offer the most interactive digital experience on the market, the Rolling Loud co-founders say their concerts would offer unprecedented interactivity for fans and artists by employing similar tech to the NBA’s bubble games, where virtual fans make up the crowd so that artists can see attendees’ faces.
“A lot of these livestreams we’re seeing aren’t a two-way street, they aren’t an energy exchange,” Cherif says. “Fans don’t have any verification that the artist is seeing what they’re doing. We’ll have a screen facing and simulating the crowd along with the chat, and artists will be carving time out of their set to engage with it.”
Asked about monetizing the shows, Zingler says the upcoming festivals aren’t about making money but rather providing content for fans in a time of no live music and encouraging them to stay indoors. But Cherif says he sees Rolling Loud eventually making good money through shows like these.
“Twitch basically gave us a budget and we spent it all,” Cherif says, with a laugh.
Twitch is quickly becoming a prevalent partner for artists and music companies looking to break into the digital space. Logic, who announced his retirement earlier this summer alongside the release of album Under Pressure, inked an exclusive deal with Twitch to become the company’s first music signee.
“Streaming on Twitch transports viewers into a live concert atmosphere and creates an experience for artists to interact with fans in ways only possible on Twitch,” Twitch’s head of music content Will Farrell-Green said in a statement. “As in-person concerts are put on hold, we’re working to create an incredible backstage environment that fans can access from anywhere in the world. Rolling Loud has a powerful community of hip-hop fans, and we’re thrilled to partner with them for a first of its kind event that will bring their incredible live music brand to life.”