• Emily Arden Design

EAE's Super Official Virtual Event Platforms Review

I've been doing a lot of research on the most optimal virtual event platforms, both for my nine-to-five work, as well as for The Party Line. Make no mistake - I'm no expert on the subject. Which is precisely why I chose to write this. Because like so many of you, I've had to become uber-familiar with technology I didn't care one ounce about just three months ago. If you're looking to join in on creating the digital event experience, I thought perhaps an informal, un-technical review might be helpful for you.

At the very least, I hope it'll get you started down the long road to learning about all these software applications. And on the upside, if you haven't been sleeping well, having to do this research may just do the trick!

My biggest takeaway? There's no stellar solution. Now that I've cried all the tears I have over the loss of community programming culture, here's the best of what I've seen out there.

The Basics

If you were planning an event IRL and now need to transition to IVL (In Virtual Life) here's where I'd start.

Zoom - The best of the worst for creating some semblance of community in this digital space. The webinar option is your best bet for keeping everyone safe, but it's pricey. I have more to say on Zoom (spoiler alert - not good things), but I shall save that for a later post.

Twitch - The gaming platform seems to be well suited to DJ sets.

Vimeo Enterprise - They don't give up-front pricing, so I can't tell you what it'll set you back, but this one seems to have a slightly more robust live streaming experience than, say, YouTube. (It also allows you to stream to YouTube).

Of course, there's also streaming live directly to YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and now LinkedIn. And you can host a watch party via Netflix or Facebook. These options don't allow you to do anything fancy, but they don't require anything more than an account to get started, either.

Video Production Tools

If you have the time to learn, and have the team to support you, these may be good solutions. Depending on the subscription you opt for, you can 'mix' a live or recorded event and stream to multiple platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, etc.

StreamYard - Straightforward, allows for recording, and works with the WiFi you've already got.

Stage Ten - This one's seemingly got lots of bells + whistles, but you have to spend bigger bucks to get the record option. And, most importantly, you need a pretty robust internet connection to make the live recording not suck.

Performance Platforms

If you're looking for a virtual venue to host performances, and want the bonus of a built-in audience, these might be a good place to start.

Stageit - Share the stage with Common and Carly Simon (OK not really, but apparently they use it to offer intimate, up-close-and-personal concerts, so maybe you should, too?)

All Arts - Not a self-serve platform, but if you're feeling sassy, check them out and see if you can submit your work for streaming!

Now the real question is, who's developing the platform that WILL get rave reviews, and the one that (more importantly) will make the virtual event experience awesome?! Because let's be honest, even when we get back to some semblance of real life, the digital event world is here to stay. (Like, what I really wish? Glad you asked. I really wish for the ability to mix a live performance in real time from multiple locations. While connecting with an audience. Who's got that technology? Because, I hate to break it to you, but those videos you've seen of 'live' performances that are AWESOME? They are either previously recorded, or have a full professional studio behind them, making it look that good.) And who's got the time, or the budget, for all a that? Not me, and if you're here, I'm guessing not you, either.

Other Takeaways

I've had to remind myself that we aren't trying to replicate a live event experience - one that offers both a highly polished performance AND one that provides the sense of community we feel from being in the same space with an audience.

As an event producer, I have had multiple cringe-worthy moments experiencing this new reality.

A new reality that includes putting kids to bed while partying with your favorite DJ. Folding laundry. Wearing pajama pants. Or maybe no pants. Once we're able to shift expectations, though, it's my feeling that there's still so much JOY to be had in these connections creatives are fostering online. So.... I hope you do your thing, regardless of what platform you select! We need every bit of connection + artistry we can get in this crazy upside-down world we're currently living in.

*None of this takes into account technology upgrades that might be necessary to get the most optimal sound + lighting features for your feature.

*All opinions are my own - nothing on here is even remotely sponsored content. Nor do I have any technical experience to be offering you this advice.

Do you have a digital solution you like? Please share!

Updated 5/13/20.

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