July 10, 2020 The festival organiser has announced via a press release it’s decided to postpone the event, and says it will issue refunds “within 48 hours” to those who choose to receive one. Servers will continue to be supported for attendees that want to “continue to camp, fest, and dance”. This story has been corrected to reflect the latest artist lineup for the festival. Original story follows.
The inaugural, and enormous, virtual dance festival Rave Family Block Fest has come to Minecraft. The jam-packed event from organiser Rave Family brings more than 65 stages, hundreds of artists, and a whole long weekend of fun to the world of Mojang’s iconic block builder, with games, activities, dance, and more to get stuck into. Plus, the event’s giving festival-goers the chance to support a bunch of charities through ticket sales, as well as an opportunity to register to vote via HeadCount during the checkout process.
The festival (which it’s worth noting isn’t an official Minecraft event) is available to all members of the enormous Minecraft playerbase to attend, so long as they’re aged 18 years and upwards, and features some big names, the full list of which can be found here.
Diving in hinges on two things: owning a copy of the game, and paying a $10 cover charge, “over half” of which, the festival’s site says, “goes back to the artists who created the music and hooked you up!” The event’s teamed up with streaming platform Mixcloud to ensure the rights holders of the music played are paid for its use, the organiser explains in a press release.
A brief virtual tour of the festival, provided by Rave Family CEO Jackie McGuire, highlights just a fraction of the virtual venues, which, even by Mineraft’s high standards, are highly creative and colourful. The festival’s foyer embraces attendees with a blend of the sandbox game’s earthy grass, stone, and wood blocks and vibrant colour block patterns and signs, which usher them into the event.
“The thought was kind of making it some combination between Disneyland and Electric Forest,” the annual music festival held in the US, McGuire tells us. “Everything’s very colourful; at night everything lights up,” she adds, giving us a glimpse at the festival proper, which even has its own version of Red Rocks, with ‘Rave Family Block Fest’ etched onto it in Minecraft’s signature art style.
“When we started building personalised worlds for most of the artists,” McGuire explains, “I think that’s when things really took off, and they realised that it was a chance to curate an entire experience for their fans.” And it’s not just these various different “personalised” stages that’ll encourage festival-goers to go for a wander around and explore new areas, it seems – there are easter eggs and other goodies scattered about to be discovered, too. Plus, there’s a giant TARDIS plonked in the venue’s centre to help you travel around.
Impressively, most of the Rave Family Block Fest venue was built by volunteers, the CEO adds. “That’s, I think, the other thing that’s been really fun about this event,” she says, “that the vast majority of it has been done by volunteer musicians who are not touring right now because of COVID-19, and friends who are just bored and looking for a creative outlet.” In addition, McGuire says her three children have even added a little to the venue, too.
As for whether platforms like Minecraft might be a key part of the dance industry’s future, McGuire says she believes they will be, and not just because of the ongoing pandemic; she also adds that: “I don’t think music festivals are that accessible.” She explains that, while some fans might not be able to afford to go to big, often expensive festival weekends, this project is appealing to her, because it’s “more accessible for people”. In addition, she says, “Videogames and dance music are very closely tied together in some areas,” highlighting a few examples of DJs who also game, and that this can be a way of reaching fans. “I think the two communities will continue to become more closely entwined.”
On the topic of helping to “amplify the BLM movement and other causes within the event”, which the company mentioned in a press release, McGuire says: “One of the things that was really important to me was, one, making sure that artists were paid, but also that most of our profits were going towards good causes.” Alongside the 60/40 revenue share model, which according to the press release helps the festival’s artists to make money from their ticket sales, festival-goers will also be given the opportunity to donate to a number of causes when purchasing a ticket.
“One of the things that is really important to me is representation in music,” McGuire adds on the topic of the festival as a platform, additionally discussing the importance of some of the charities that ticket sales can help support, such as The Bail Project, Black Lives Matter, and ByeByePlastic.
The Rave Family Block Fest is live to dive into right now – or check out via performing artists’ live streams on the event’s site – and runs through July 13. You can find out more about the festival, like its artist lineup, schedule, and the causes it’s supporting, via its site.