Defected hosts virtual festival to connect people during social distancing

Brand makes shift towards digital during coronavirus pandemic.

Defected: performances broadcast from empty nightclub
Defected: performances broadcast from empty nightclub

Defected Records is to host a virtual festival from an empty London nightclub in an effort to connect people during a period of social distancing.

The record label has cancelled all of its live events in March and April, including house and disco show Glitterbox, amid the coronavirus outbreak. 

The Defected Virtual Festival will be 12 hours of music live-streamed from the Ministry of Sound on 20 March. Fans can tune in via Facebook and YouTube.

Defected is ensuring that all the DJs involved arrive at the venue at different times. 

James Kirkham, chief business officer at Defected, told Campaign: "We still want to bring the smiles to the faces and bring people together through music."

The festival was initially planned as a collection of pre-recorded material, but after the initial announcement a number of DJs had expressed their wish to be involved, leading to the decision to create a nightclub broadcast instead.

Kirkham said: "We’ve had such an incredible reaction. It is as much about well-being, being socially connected, sharing a common passion. Our events and our parties are something special and will come again, but this is also pure opportunity to innovate our way out of this. We’re pushing our team to be creative and hugely bold with their thinking."

It has taken the team five days to solve this logistical challenge. However, it's not completely new for Defected, which has previously run live broadcasts of CamelPhat and Sam Divine playing at the top of Tower Bridge. 

Kirkham continued: "We’re expecting [fans] to really get involved and will elevate our fans through the 12 hours too, encouraging their own content and layering it in our broadcast. YouTube and Facebook have been super-positive about this, making sure technology is the perfect conduit at this time."

Defected has made the the decision to cancel its March and April events, but is still optimistic about its Ibiza residency in the summer, and Defected Croatia in August. Its immediate commitment to digital has already reaped rewards, however – since the virtual festival was announced, more than 20,000 new users have joined its online communities.

Kirkham added: "For our community, we will continue to create and provide content, continue to demonstrate our vision and purpose, and to provide a service through the medium of music – be it records, playlists, radio shows or other. We are still here. We are still here for them."

The brand's ongoing digital focus will include a special extended version of the Defected Radio Show, a weekly programme presented by Sam Divine that is also available as a podcast.

No plans have been made to monetise its first virtual festival, but with more ideas in the works it is something that Defected would consider, as long as any partnership adds value to the consumer.