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Glitchy Glastonbury – tech issues can mar any event

They tried their best, but Glastonbury organisers just could not succeed in pulling off a Livestream version of the much-loved music festival.

The £20-per-ticket Live at Worthy Farm event was set to provide ‘festival-goers’ with five hours of entertainment with sets from the likes of Coldplay, Damon Albarn, HAIM, Jorja Smith and Michael Kiwanuka. Each set was performed in different locations around the iconic venue and money raised through ticket sales would help the festival stay afloat after two cancelled years.

But it wasn’t meant to be. On Saturday 22 May, invalid passwords left punters scrabbling for answers and a glimpse of the live music they had so sorely missed throughout the pandemic.

Organisers put a message out on the streaming platform apologising for the technical difficulties and explaining that there would be an update ‘soon’. After a while, a public stream was sent out and the audience was able to enjoy the last parts of IDLES’ set. But it was not the event anybody was expecting nor wanting.

Driift has since issued an apology and said it’s not making any financial gain from the event. Festival organiser Emily Eavis wrote on her personal Twitter page: “I am so sorry about the problems with the stream tonight… We will obviously make sure we show the whole film again from tomorrow too and give you the chance to catch up on any bits you missed. I really hope you can enjoy the rest of it tonight. And, again, I’m just so sorry to anyone who’s had issues.”

And apologise is all you can do. Live at Worthy Farm wasn’t the first online event to be marred by technical difficulties and even 15 months into using digital platforms to replicate previously offline experiences, I doubt it’ll be the last.

While many audience members voiced their anguish on Twitter, with a few even demanding refunds, many took social media to show their support to the organisers. One disappointed audience member said: “I could understand if it was £100, it’s £20 guys. Without things like this happening at the moment then we may not have festivals in the future. I know it’s disappointing but can’t be helped. It’s not “unprofessional” it’s out of their control.”

But was it out of their control and where does the blame land?

Twitter was abuzz with opinions on exactly whose fault it was that Live at Worthy Farm ran into problems.

Some argued that if it was a server overload error, with too many people logging on at once, then organisers should have foreseen it and planned for it.

Another argued it was entirely the technology service provider’s fault. “Actually it’s hugely unprofessional of the tech company that was paid to provide this service. Glastonbury can quite rightly recoup funds from them.”

And others claimed nobody is to blame, it’s simply one of those things. “IT glitches happen. Glastonbury has given the world so much over the years and does its best for everyone. Shame to see people asking for refunds because others got it free. That always happened anyway before the fence! Do they really want to see it bankrupt?”

It’s not the experience Emily Eavis or the Glastonbury team wanted to give anybody, and we imagine there are a few headaches at HQ today, unfortunately not from celebratory drinks.

But we move on, we learn from our experiences and we acknowledge that it can happen to anyone.

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