Thomas de Vrij (Hymn): ‘There is a need for an online theater’

Since corona, virtual concerts have become commonplace. However, the Dutch Hymn wants to take the phenomenon to a higher level. With international ambitions. “There is room for new virtual art forms,” said co-founder Thomas de Vrij.

Thomas de Vrij also had virtually no work from one day to the next as a result of the corona pandemic. His company Badbirds develops video clips, live streams and aftermovies for festivals and dance events by deejays.

In the spring of 2020, Badbirds still became involved in the sets that deejay Martin Garrix provided from a luxury yacht, which could be seen via a YouTube channel. This unusual spectacle Live on Dutch Waters tasted like more. “After that, I set aside all my time to think about a virtual theater for exclusive live performances,” says De Vrij.

In addition to Garrix, there were more appealing examples, such as the livestream of Niall Horan (of the boy band One Direction) from the Royal Albert Hall in London and the Rolling Stones’ performance in Cuba in 2016. De Vrij: “The Stones realized that poor Cubans could not afford such a concert at all. So they turned it into a media spectacle that has been broadcast worldwide.”

Although Hymn focuses purely on musicians, the brand new platform doesn’t just want to broadcast live concerts. They must be real spectacles. The first Hymn by the Rotterdam singer Davina Michelle, who recently treated Eurovision Song Contest viewers to a spectacular performance during the intermission of the first semifinal of the Eurovision Song Contest, came from the Euromast and a submarine and was immediately seen in 31 countries. .

Not all artists are eligible for this type of performance, emphasizes the media entrepreneur. The digital media format is real art for Hymn and thus a guiding principle for the shows. “This is not something you just do on the side. It requires a lot of preparation, also from a technical point of view, because those streams must not falter. We go for quality, not quantity. You should see us more as Carré than ArenA.”

The exclusive concerts will not be offered through other channels afterwards, De Vrij assures. You will soon be able to look back at most via your own platform.

Nevertheless, he does not want to charge exorbitantly high prices for the streams with his company, as is common practice at concerts these days. Because of the potential mass reach Hymn asked a modest 14 euros for the performance of Davina Michelle.

25 people now work for the Amsterdam-based company. Chief Operating Officer Luc Peters was Reinout Oerlemans’ right-hand man at Eyeworks for seven years. And co-founder Harald Dunnink is a driving force behind De Correspondent and design agency Momkai. Well-known lighting designers and directors also work for the company. Further expansion will require external financing.

De Vrij thinks there will still be interest in virtual concerts when the pandemic is over. “Everyone longs for live concerts, me too, but that doesn’t alter the fact that there is room for new virtual art forms. I can also imagine that we will soon have many more hybrid concerts, which you can follow both live and virtually.”

Photo: Vincent Boon (commissioned by Emerce)

* This article originally appeared in the June issue of Emerce magazine (#184).

Source: Nieuws – Emerce by

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