As the live music industry continues to adapt to pandemic restrictions, Rob Cyrynowski, president of Livestar Entertainment Canada, recently announced a new unique venture in partnership with Canadian software and ticketing company Showpass. Hotels Live aims to give concertgoers a safe way to experience live music, by utilizing hotel rooms with balconies overlooking a centralized pool deck, atrium or courtyard.
Audience members who book a room for a Hotels Live event can then enjoy the show from the comfort of their own private balcony, while at the same enjoying a staycation. The Hotels Live Concert series kicks off July 1 at the Ramada Plaza Calgary Downtown with a performance by the Tragically Hip tribute band, The HIP Experience. The series plans to run throughout the summer at hotels across Canada, with more dates and artists to be announced soon.
Cyrynowski compares the concept to watching a concert from an arena’s private box suite, with the hotel layout providing a safe social distancing environment complying with all Covid-19 health and safety guidelines, while also alleviating drinking and driving concerns. The aim, he says, is to provide a temporary bridge for music fans until concerts can resume normally, while at the same time giving hotels a much-needed boost.
We spoke with Cyrynowski to find out more, and to get full details on dates, locations and ticket packages, go to hotelslive.ca.
How did the concept of Hotels Live come together?
Like most of us, after the initial shock, I came to terms with what was happening to our beloved music industry. The fears, frustrations and anger began to set in. I felt helpless and like a victim. After 25-plus years of booking and promoting concerts across this great country, I was ultimately faced with leaving this business altogether, but couldn’t seem to turn my back on it. I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself, let go of the fear and become creative again. I started having conversations with positive minds and exploring new possibilities. One of those conversations was with a fellow colleague, Joel Jelinski, who just started at Showpass, an innovative software and ticketing company also based out of Calgary. They proposed the concept to me and were having some discussions with local hotels on the viability. What it boiled to was reimagining the notion of a VIP box suite with private washrooms and room service. You can drink, dance and then spend the night. What more do you need, right? I felt that it was one step further than the drive-in concert models and a better full live band experience overall.
What have been some of the challenges pulling it off in terms of staging, social distancing, etc.?
Every situation is and will be different, as we basically retrofit a stage and venue model where it wasn’t designed to be. We need to consider the layout of the hotel, how many rooms with balconies face a pool area or rooftop, staggered check-in/out times, how to deal with elevators, where to set up the stage, engineering specs for weight, getting enough power, mapping things out for the artist staff and crew and of course following Provincial and Federal Health Services protocol for everyone while we do it. Communication, signage, floor stickers are all in place for everyone on site to follow as well.
The events you have booked so far are tribute shows. Are there any plans to work with original artists?
Absolutely! We are already in discussions with various agencies to see what the next steps look like. Budget is always a factor though when you only have 100 rooms. As we gain momentum, and attract partners and sponsors, the sky’s the limit. I can see us doing corporate events, artist album release concerts, family-friendly kids shows, etc. The experience is cool for the artist as well, as they are now projecting a show vertically. We will have LED screens angled up and will also look to stream our event and even connect to the TVs in each guest room at some point, plus more.
The initial series of shows was to create themes and experiences that scream fun and that were not going to break the bank. That’s another reason why we went with tributes, to begin with. They are all musicians too and we need to help everyone up right now. People need to heal, and they need hope and inspiration. I hope that somebody can help bring live music back to the people right now. We all miss it dearly. With that said, we are also creating jobs in our industry for artists, musicians, production, crew, agents, promoters and of course the hotel and hospitality sector who have been hard hit as well. They have always been hand in hand together. Live music is the catalyst to healing our souls, to sing, dance and now come back together in a safe way with a cool live experience. I don’t want to wait until 2021 to do that. Do you?
Obviously, the hotel and tourism industry is being hit hard by the pandemic. Do you foresee things like Hotels Live becoming more common to reassure people that hotels are safe?
I sure do. Everybody likes staying in hotels. That excitement is usually tied into a vacation, a wedding, a road trip or a concert. I know I wonder what will the room look like, what the view will be like, if I can order some room service or just have some peace and quiet after the workday. People will come back. We all will come back as we let go of the fear. We may need to change things a bit, but we will adapt and that’s what we are doing here with Hotels Live. Accepting, adapting and getting creative, but not at the full expense of the live experience. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start. In some ways, it’s even better because you don’t have to drive and you can bring your own food and beverages if you want, with a bed to crash in afterwards. For the time being, we are doing staggered contactless check-ins, pre-ordered food and parking, room service, extra sanitization measures, 48 hours between room use, and lots of communication and signage.
As a live music promoter, what are your biggest fears right now, and what do you expect the live music scene to look like in a year or two?
I don’t have any fears. Live music will always find a way to survive. The only limitations are the ones that we put on ourselves. There’s no question, things will be different. They already are. Look at this concept. Whatever the case, as long as we don’t stop dreaming, anything is possible and live music will rise again!