The weather is getting warmer and COVID-19 restrictions are easing as infection rates go down and people get vaccinated. Music event creators have a new way to offer concerts to fans who’ve been missing live music for the last year: pod concerts.
This new concert format emerging in the music sphere allows for social distancing and gives attendees the opportunity to attend live music events in person. There are still important safety concerns to take into account when planning a pod concert, but with careful organization, you may find that it’s the perfect setup for your upcoming music events.
Why pod concerts?
Pod concerts give attendees the opportunity to return to live concerts and purchase tickets in small batches, so small groups can attend the concert together while still remaining socially distanced from other groups. The Caverns, an event space in Grundy County, Tennessee, was originally known for its cave concerts. But now, it has pods that accommodate groups of two, four, or six people, within an open-air amphitheater. This allows for intimate pod concert dates or gatherings of friends and families.
The pod concert format offers advantages over drive-in concerts in that it typically allows for a greater number of attendees to gather safely within the venue, with the option to socialize with a small group comfortably. The amphitheater at The Caverns holds about the same amount of attendees as their original underground location but has the benefits of open air. Attendees are still required to wear masks when entering, leaving, or moving around the venue, and The Caverns staggers group arrival times to better control the flow of people into the site.
“We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on our pod-based approach to bringing live music back,” says The Caverns’ Marketing and Sponsorship Director Jeff Meltesen. “Many people enjoy having their own space which is separate from others.”
Managing merch and refreshments at socially distanced concerts
Events rely on the sale of refreshments and merchandise for a large part of their revenue, so how can you offer these add-ons to your attendees while maintaining crowd control? At The Caverns, they’re using an app that gives guests the opportunity to order food, drinks, or merchandise before or during the concert.
Pre-ordered items are already in the attendees’ pod when they arrive, and orders made during the concert are conveyed via contactless delivery. Food orders are pre-packaged in a COVID-19 safe environment to keep staff and attendees safe and happy.
Meltesen describes the process at The Caverns as a “VIP experience for all,” which allows attendees to feel secure while also enjoying themselves. “We’ve found a balance that’s working for all to bring back live music in a responsible way.”
What to consider when planning a pod concert
Though COVID-19 restrictions are easing up in many areas, safety should still be your top priority when hosting any kind of social distancing concert. Aside from staggered arrival times, The Caverns restricts the size and type of belongings attendees can bring from home in order to keep guests moving through security efficiently. Event staff meet guests at their cars for temperature checks and to complete wellness surveys to ensure the safety of all attendees.
The extra precautions that socially distanced pod concerts require could potentially increase production costs for creators. Meltesen says “ticket pricing has increased for pod-based concerts” at The Caverns, but “not all incremental costs are passed on to guests. We often say the artists, the venue, and the guests are all in this together.” Consider keeping the extra costs to ticket buyers reasonable as you plan your pricing.
Even if you keep your pod concert small, it’s a good idea to set up a livestream of the event for fans who are unable to attend in person. You can advertise your merch website via the livestream and allow virtual attendees to share in the experience.
Ready to plan a pod concert?
Check out how other creators and music venues have pivoted to new formats for 2021 concerts in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Then get started on your next music event.