Imagine an event where the audience takes the reins, curating the perfect musical experience by making real-time requests and communicating with the band. Today, we’re thrilled to introduce you to uRequest Live, a groundbreaking platform that does exactly that.
In this episode of the Event Tech podcast, we’ll explore the journey of uRequest Live, from its inception to its evolution during the pandemic, and how it has transformed the event entertainment landscape. We’ll also discuss the importance of knowing your audience, adapting to changing expectations around event duration, and the future innovations that uRequest Live has in store. So, sit back and let us take you on a captivating ride through the world of audience-curated concert experiences!
What uRequest Live is All About
To start today’s episode, Will prompts Arthur to share what uRequest is all about. “The basic concept of it is an audience-curated concert experience,” says Arthur. This “allows the audience to collectively control the show’s outcome by making requests and communicating with the band in real-time.”
The Evolution of uRequest Live Through the Pandemic
Next, Arthur shares where it all began, starting with where the idea for the company came from.
“I came up with the idea pre-pandemic because I was in the entertainment business representing bands for weddings and corporate events,” begins Arthur. “I was working with this one band who were some of the best musicians I’d ever worked with.” He watched as people would endlessly request various songs and covers. “They’d always be like, ‘Oh yeah!’ And go right into it. So I thought, what if we allow the audience to make requests? That’s how the idea was born.”
Arthur isn’t a developer, so he didn’t create the app himself. But he began his search for a developer by looking at other applications that had functions similar to what he’d need. “I found an app with some features that could have worked.” He contacted that developer, who loved his idea. “So he built out an app, developed it, and it did really well. We toured all over Canada, the U.S.A., and now the world.”
But, much like the rest of the world, the pandemic pushed him to pivot. One problem he saw that needed to be solved was, “How are we going to entertain people at scale? I realized we could do what we’ve always done. So we started to push virtual events. But as the pandemic went on, I thought, ‘There’s another way we can use the band that’s even more engaging.’ So we decided to do more of a choose your own show style.”
The app would ask, “What decade is your jam? 80s, 90s, 2000s, 70s, 60s, or whatever. And they vote. Then we launch another poll showing the results in real-time.” Based on the results of the first poll, they would then offer another poll on songs from that era. “Every couple of minutes, they’re making a choice. That boosted engagement.”
“The next step was taking the virtual world to another level using platforms that would allow us to put the band into a three-dimensional environment.”
Knowing Your Audience
When executing successful events, knowing your audience is critical from start to finish. uRequest helps you do precisely that. “One of the things you said early on is one of the things we emphasize all the time. It’s this idea of really knowing your audience. Having that opportunity to truly ask your audience, ‘What’s your jam?’ rather than just guessing is a next level importance,” says Brandt.
Arthur agrees. “That’s an excellent point. We’ve collected data on the requested songs. There is a sort of unspoken repertoire amongst event bands, which includes certain songs. For example, Billy Jean, Celebration, Treasure, Superstition, all these staple songs that nobody ever requests. We have over 40,000 requests to date. We’ve got very few requests for Billy Jean. The number one requested song: Dancing Queen by ABBA.”
“What’s interesting to me is, because you’re dealing with data, if you start to see something rise, you can react to it,” says Brandt. “I have to imagine as corporate bands are sitting around going, ‘What do we want to add?’ If you’re not coming from a data standpoint, you’re just guessing at that point.”
“When I first heard about you, Arthur, someone used this analogy,” adds Will. “When designing entertainment for your event, you had these choices: the flexibility of a DJ or the classical and engaging performance of a band. You had to choose either one. This has been a hybridization of both. This creates such a highly engaging, customized experience that forces you to stay and watch.”
Navigating New Expectations Around Time
Because of the pandemic, attendee expectations have changed. One of those changes, Will says, is around how long attendees expect events to be. “As virtual events have started to shift from three-hour-long mega events to the shorter format of webinars, how are you thinking about doing entertainment in a time where people don’t want to stay in front of their devices as long as they did during the pandemic?”
“That’s a good question,” responds Arthur. “When we do the show virtually, it’s a 45-minute to 1-hour show, which gives us enough time to cycle through enough requests and give enough engagement. We have done a 15-minute high-energy break, but that’s an expensive 15-minute break.”
“For now, we’re telling people if you want to give people a virtual experience unlike anything they’ve ever experienced, 45 minutes to an hour. Our engagement is really, really high. People don’t usually log off until the end of the show.”
The Future of uRequest Live
As Will, Brandt, and Arthur wrap up, Brandt shares a fun way to utilize uRequest. “You could choose the walk-up music,” shares Brandt. “For example, you could choose for the executives. You get to choose the CEO’s walk-up music. If it’s “Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears, that’s what it will be.”
Arthur loves that idea. “We’ve done award shows where we’re just doing walk-ons and walk-offs. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the best walk-ons and walk-offs. The other feature we’ve built is the ability to gate the requests with a donation. So for a charity or a fundraiser, you have to donate if you want to make a request.”
“The margin feels like it would be high, versus sometimes you have to get these items from people and donate them or sometimes you even buy them,” says Will. But with uRequest, “you will be doing the party at the end anyways. Brilliant!”
“Arthur, thank you so much for coming on the show. It’s been such a pleasure getting to nerd out talking about entertainment. And thank you so much for listening as well,” concludes Will. If this episode on uRequest Live got your brain turning and you have thoughts you’d like to share, email us! We’ll catch you here next time for another episode of the Event Tech podcast.