A look back at 14th edition of live event industry conference XLIVE 2017 held at Vegas

Game changers and prolific leaders within the live event and festival sphere convened against the illuminating backdrop of Las Vegas once again for the 14th annual XLIVE Las Vegas, December 10th - 13th, 2017. Taking place across four key days and covering five central themes critical to the evolution of live events, the 2017 edition of XLIVE solidified its place as the leading conference for live events and experiences.


Featuring comprehensive programming, XLIVE covered over 100 interactive sessions designed to help live events continually create extraordinary experiences for the community and fans at the intersection of festivals, Esports, Sports, the food and beverage industry, event technology and many more. A central theme visible throughout the course of the conference was that of brand activations and creating unique, memorable experiences at events. Opening XLIVE was keynote speaker Senior Vice President at Viacom Global Entertainment Group, Steve Raizeswho discussed his insights into Viacom’s growing experiential portfolio with Superfly’s EVP of Strategy PJ Loughran.
As the opening keynote set the tone for the remainder of keynotes and fireside chats taking place throughout the conference, other top discussions central to creating the ultimate fan experience included a Fireside Chat with Refinery29’s VP of Experiential Marketing Kelly Markus. The creative VP sat down with Founder of The Confluence, Russell Ward to examine how to successfully work with brands to create singular, immersive activations for the community, best seen in the hugely popular 29Rooms roving art gallery.
In line with the running theme of singular moments and brand activations was the panel  Holy Shit! Moments – A-Class Brand Activation at Live Events, which focused on how to provide attendees with value by implementing distinguishing factors into festivals and live events. Moderated by Joe Silberzweig, Director of Business Development at Live Nation, the panel converged top experts in activations to examine some of the best “Holy Shit” moments in live event history, such as amazing brand activations at Coachella, SXSW and unforgettable global events such as Red Bull’s Stratos.

Outside the realm of brand activations, XLIVE also brought together powerhouse females making a difference in the community to share their insights into how the entertainment space needs to diversify itself, seen in the keynote with Jennifer Justice, President of Corporate Development at Superfly and Stacy L. Smith, Ph.D., Founder and Director of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and further expanded on during panels such as The Future Is Female - How Women Are Playing A Crucial Role in the Creation of Extraordinary Live Events. Culturally topical panels such as these showcased how the XLIVE community is positioned to be a catalyst for change as the industry shifts to be more inclusive.

Another strong emphasis was placed on the world of event tech which hit $1.1 billion in spends in 2016. Panels such as Up Next In Event Tech and Using Technology to Create the ”Perfect VIP Festival Experience” brought experts from Thuzi, Showclix, AEG Presents, Fish and more to share emerging technologies that producers may use to further enhance the live event experience. Among innovations dissected were the rising trends in VR, AR and how to manipulate data currently in place to better understand fans and consequently deliver a better experience.

Other significant areas touched upon included the discussion of the rise in popularity of Boutique Festivals and how to tap into that market during We Want more! – Creating more boutique destination festivals catered to the rising demand. The panel garnered a huge turnout from festival producers which foreshadows the future of festival trends. Also prominent in the dissection of the future of festivals was Cannabis and the role it will play as it becomes legalized across the United States. Those interested in getting ahead in this emerging industry had the opportunity to check out panels such as A 420 Phenomenon – Understanding cannabis within the live event marketplaceand Riding High – Exploring the Rise of Cannabis Centered Festivals.

Exploring the future of festivals didn’t stop there as this year’s speakers covered fast-rising industries such as Esports, the emergence of Blockchain as it relates to the live event sphere plus a return to classical arts with an exposé on Burning Man Art and how technology and art can be used in conjunction to create magical memories. Attendees were able to witness the future firsthand at panels such as:

Booming Business – Getting Into the Game of Alternative Live Sporting Events
Blockchain – Understanding the latest in Blockchain Technology
Burning the Veil: A discussion of art and culture at Burning Man with Pablo Gonzales Vargas, creator of Mayan Warrior and Ilumina

Closing out the conference was the final keynote delivered by Eric Gradman, Co-Founder and CTO of Two Bit Circus. Self described as “a bunch of high tech clowns,” Eric took the audience on a journey through the latest in event tech, fan experiences, and the changing landscape of entertainment -- at home and beyond. Ending his discussion by encouraging everyone to go out, have fun and take advantage of the incredible activations emerging in the community, Gradman echoed XLIVE’s primary ethos of providing a platform for producers to continue to create extraordinary events.

Beyond education, XLIVE was also proud to roll out the first-ever FestX Awards, presented with partner Everfest and featuring emcee Chip Conley, Founder of Fest300 and CEO of AirBnB. He opened the ceremony by remarking “Festivals are a mirror of society,” and went on to give accolades to those festivals making noise across the world. The inaugural awards boasted 13 categories, 57 finalists and spanned nearly every size, vibe and genre - Congratulations to this year’s honorees: Oktoberfest, Panorama Music Festival + HP, "HP Lab,” New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Electric Forest, BlizzCon, Taste of Chicago, Coachella + Obscura Digital, "Antarctic Dome,” DGTL, Lost Lake Festival, Vive Latino, AFROPUNK and Firefly Music Festival.

Multi-faceted organization XLIVE will continue to revolutionize the way live event and festival organizations share expertise, learn, and most paramount, envision the future of the industry. XLIVE convenes with leading experts at the intersection of music, film, culinary, beverage, Esports, technology and the experiences that culminate at festivals and live events. Reflecting the passion of the vibrant festival community, XLIVE serves as a catalyst for curating unique, memorable and life-changing experiences within the growing, dynamic and influential realm of festivals.

Looking ahead, XLIVE will expand its reach to Europe (February 2018) and Asia (September 2018).

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