Waxing nostalgic about sanitary facilities aside, there is something about the shared experience at music festivals that almost feels transformative. Everyone remembers their first festival.
Most people likely considered losing music festivals during the pandemic to be inconsequential, but for millennials and Gen-Z, the music festival is a rite of passage.
No one knows this better than homegrown festival Rolling Loud. What started as a one-day event in Wynwood in 2015 turned into a global brand that has brought some of hip-hop's biggest heavyweights to festivals in Miami, Los Angeles, New York, and Sydney. The event, cofounded by Matt Zingler and Tariq Cherif, was set to return to South Florida May 8-10, but the pandemic forced it to reschedule to February 10-12, 2021 — with the roster, miraculously, nearly intact.
But what's a hip-hop fan supposed to do until then?
Earlier this week, Rolling Loud announced its partnership with the streaming platform du jour, Twitch.
"When we planned to bring Rolling Loud to the virtual experience, we needed to find a partner that could help create that energy exchange and understand the core DNA of Rolling Loud. It only made sense to partner with Twitch — a service that thrives off of live engagement with fans and champions a diverse collection of creators," Cherif said in a statement. "The Twitch team has been incredibly supportive in meeting our creative goals, and we're thrilled to be partnering with them."
The partnership promises weekly hip-hop content via Rolling Loud's Twitch channel. Fans can expect interactive streams centered on artists gaming, freestyle competitions, music drops, and industry talks. Announced programming includes "The Leak," hosted by Cherif, where he'll highlight up-and-coming talent; "Got Bars?" a six-month freestyle competition; and "Live From the Studio," which will feature producer, artists, and songwriters interacting with fans.
"Rolling Loud has a powerful community of hip-hop fans, and we're thrilled to partner with them for a first of its kind event that will bring their incredible live music brand to life," added Will Farrell-Green, head of music content at Twitch, in a statement.
Beyond the weekly programming, the Rolling Loud partnership with Twitch will bring to fruition three virtual festivals, with the first scheduled for Saturday, September 12, and Sunday, September 13. The full lineup will be announced on Tuesday, September 8 — the festival promises some of rap's biggest stars and more than five hours of performances each day.
According to Rolling Stone, the festival series will be called Loud Streams, and while it will be free to watch, fans can subscribe for $5, $10, and $25 for interactive access. Cherif says viewers can expect more than what most streams offer in terms of interactivity.
"Fans don't have any verification that the artist is seeing what they're doing," Cherif told the magazine. "We'll have a screen facing and simulating the crowd along with the chat, and artists will be carving time out of their set to engage with it."
Loud Stream. Saturday, September 12, and Sunday, September 13; rollingloud.com. Stream via twitch.tv/rollingloud.