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Driift CEO and virtual Glastonbury producer Ric Salmon to headline The Meetings Show

Ric Salmon, co-founder of the live music streaming platform Driift, has been announced as the keynote speaker at this year’s The Meetings Show.

On 1 October 2021 at ExCeL London, Salmon will take to the main stage to share anecdotes from his music management career and share his pearls of wisdom for overcoming colossal challenges when running virtual events, notably at Glastonbury Festival’s online edition Live at Worthy Farm in May.

When we caught up with Ric ahead of The Meetings Show, he indulged us in some of the content attendees can expect from his keynote speech at the October event, explained how he overcame those panic-inducing challenges at Live at Worthy Farm and revealed what he’s learning from his time in the live-turned-virtual-events industry.

Having moved into the virtual music streaming sphere in 2020 in response to a pandemic-enforced lack of live events, Salmon and his business partner Brian Message from ATC Management found themselves producing sell-out, never-been-done-before virtual concerts.

Artists on the roster at ATC Management include well-respected names such as Laura Marling and Nick Cave; the two creative guinea pigs that Salmon and Message trialled the ticketed live-streaming concerts on initially. Following a brilliant audience response from the Laura Marling and Nick Cave concerts, Driift was formally created, and the guys began producing more sophisticated concerts – namely a £600,000-budget live-stream for Andrea Bocelli.

“It really set the tone for quite how far you can take this format. The concert was deeply emotional and visually spectacular. It really got our creative juices going and it was off the back of the Bocelli gig that I had a hair-brained idea that we could rule the world,” explained Salmon.

And by ‘rule the world’ he meant being the first producers to live-stream Glastonbury Festival. Driift approached Glastonbury organisers, Emily and Nick Eavis, in December 2020. By March 2021, the contract had been signed. Glastonbury Festival was going online as Live at Worthy Farm on 22 May 2021.

“It was an incredibly ambitious and remains a very ambitious concept. It was an absolute joy to be a part of it and it was the greatest honour. But you’re dealing with the crown jewels of live music with Glastonbury Festival,” Salmon adds.

On the day of the live stream – after months of recording artists’ performances, late-night editing and satellite-streaming checking and rechecking – something went wrong. A database malfunction meant 20,000 UK audience members couldn’t access the live stream of world-renowned artists, including Damon Albarn, Jorja Smith, Coldplay and IDLES, that were performing at Live at Worthy Farm.

“It was the biggest challenge of my life, professionally and it was absolutely brutal,” explains Salmon.

The trials of online events aren’t a secret and any event planner who has made the virtual pivot in the last 18 months knows this. But it’s about overcoming those challenges.

Driift has since made adjustments that will eliminate this error at its live-streamed events in the future, with more details on this to be revealed soon.

With triumphs and challenges, 24-hour working days and almost a year to reflect, not just on Driift but where the pandemic has left the live events industry, Salmon has some informed views on the future of virtual events.

“Live streaming was never a replacement for live. That was never the point. It’s more a case of it being a new format that is this kind of long-form narrative storytelling,” he explains.

You can hear more from Ric Salmon including his thoughts on virtual events, anecdotes on overcoming very public production hiccups and his golden advice for event professionals at The Meetings Show 2021 at ExCeL London on Friday 1 October, followed by a Q&A session with the audience.

You can register for The Meetings Show here.

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