The digital trend, live events industry and covid-19


Livia Corbelli

Livia Corbelli

Digitalisation has been embedded in the realization of events for years now, but covid-19 has speeded up and expanded such trend. What is the kind of evolution expected?


                      Locked down in our houses for about two months, we have all experienced the power of the online as – trait d’union -, not only between people but also between people and institutions, services, brands… In brief, during the quarantine, the digitalisation became a sort of glue and a tool for the communication of emotions, ideas, information, goods and services. It became the primary channel of people’s participation to the world, the only possible “place” where to conceive, realize and spread events. Let’s give some examples: gyms started online trainings; delivery services got many more requests; although it is a bit restrained by restrictive measures,  the e-commerce made a leap forward, at least in terms of awareness; public figures and experts of any kind offered free courses; not to mention distant-learning and smart-working. Without neglecting some impactful real time marketing campaigns, such as the digital solidarity[1] offered by the government, the shared screen on Netflix or the remotely-shot Vodafone’ spot. Our daily life has been digitalized and it has turned – I’m taking the freedom to say it – into a sum of events.

However, if we want to speak of events, we should turn our attention to other, more interesting, ones.

We can think of cultural initiatives such as #Prendiamolaconfilosofia[2], a live streaming festival organized by Piano B in collaboration with Tlon that connected Italian and international philosophers and influencers. With the same format they also realized the celebration of the Earth Day and that of the Liberation Day (from Fascism), allowing the intervention of the spectators with an open live webcam[3]. We can also think of the launch of new products in an absolutely innovative and unconventional way as the performance of American rapper, Trevis Scott, for his new single inside the video game Fortnite[4]. Or again: the European Council of 23 April, the celebration of Easter, the tribute of Pesaro musicians to Mirko of the iCamillas band[5] – these are just some of all the events that have been digital reconverted. As a direct and, I would say, predictable consequence of the quarantine, this has led to further consequences in a sort of chain effect that calls for reflection on the future.

the tribute of Pesaro musicians to Mirko of the iCamillas band, who died of Covid-19

April 2020 Digital Report available on We are social aims to give a global overview about the trend of this “digitalisation” (the report is based on surveys carried out in almost all over the world, considering users from 16 to 64 years old[6]). The report highlights the widespread and constantly increasing use of the online with respect to both the number of users and the amount of time spent on devices. Digital activities range from the most popular, such as watching streaming movies and using social networks, to relevant others, such as using messaging platforms and listening to music. Then, there also are gaming, videomaking, podcasting. Concerning contents, the digital feature is closely linked to the possibility of information; nevertheless, some of the most required contents are tutorials, funny videos, memes and replicas of tv shows and sporting events. Interesting is the fact that many users intend to carry on the new behaviours at the end of social distancing, impacting both social relations and the type of entertainment and communication sought and requested.

At the threshold of the “Phase 2″ where it is now clear that no gatherings will be allowed, these data are more important than ever for rework and re-think of events, respecting the rules and satisfying the demand. Taking advantage of the digital trend, it will be necessary to develop a proposal with valid content and tailor-made, engage users and keep costs reduced, preparing for a reversal of the trend of some current behaviours, such as video calling and online spending, and to face greater challenges to the reopening, such as the climate change problem. Creativity and pragmatism will have to guide the creation of new formats – as Live Streaming 24 and Interactive Events 24 of 24OreEvents[7] – and new methods of fruition, in an attempt to plug the problems related to the monetization of digital events and the cancellation of others, such as concerts, impossible to reproduce with compromise solutions. In general, it will tend to maintain the line of social distancing both on the short-term – turning sports into e-sports or promoting branding values instead of the promotional one – and on the long-term – starting to design private live experiences or new contactless methods.

Can all this be enough to let the live events industry survive?

Of course not, even because this industry keeps together many different realities (including cinemas, theatres, exhibition spaces, etc…) with equally different needs. But they have a common element: the live experience, impossible to give through digital tools. The problem arises from the fact that the live experience is still a dream right now. So, what to do while waiting for the reopening but lacking certain dates and official indications to reassure, especially economically, the thousands of workers in this sector?

Data from AstraRicerche, available on ADC Group website, highlight that 30% of events has already been cancelled, 21,5% is at risk to be and only 14% has been postponed. Also, the reopening will not happen before October, provoking a loss of 50% of turnover for 74% of those involved[8].

In this regard, an initiative has been created and promoted by the Club of Events and the Live Communication, Events & Live industry #Italialive[9], which intends to make the voice of the live-events industry heard by the Government[10]. It is, in fact, a strategic sector of the Italian economy that must be valued in all its forms: about 1 million small and big events are organized every year, moving 56.4 million people who participate. Yesterday, 27 April, an open letter has been sent to the Government and signed by all those who joint #ItaliaLive, aiming to suggest and make certain a series of proposals available on their website. In the next weeks, we will see if and when this initiative, largely spread on social media, takes any effect. And now, let’s go to enjoy another live speech on Instagram!

Livia Corbelli

Links to further readings and contents (in Italian):

– music industry move together:

– Marco Jannarelli, Presidente Next Group, on live entertainment industry:

– Salvatore Sagone at SkyTG24 talking about live entertainment industry:


[2] The Italian for “be philosophical”, “take it easy”

[3]  ,

[4] ,








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