Billie Eilish and Dua Lipa will give CES attendees a reason to come out and play online
The CES show will go on, with a little help from Billie Eilish and Dua Lipa.
On Monday, MediaLink and iHeartMedia announced that they secured two of the biggest names in pop music to headline an event at CES 2021. The upcoming CES, which is usually hosted in Las Vegas, will be an online-only show, but organizers are trying to do what they can to recreate the energy of a live gathering. MediaLink, which is owned by Ascential, is responsible for the biggest CES parties and events.
On Jan. 12, the official public opening night of the virtual CES, there will be a Zoom networking event that starts with Ryan Seacrest interviewing Dua Lipa, followed by a performance by Billie Eilish.
“Rather than a typical Zoom call, the experience will draw on new technology to take virtual events to the next level with interactive elements,” MediaLink said in its invite. “Think gathering around a speaker or topic, running into each other and catching up, and slipping off on a whim with others for smaller or one-on-one chats.”
The event is technically not on Zoom. CES is working with SpatialWeb to host the shows, and organizers want tech to make the program more interactive than a simple livestream.
CES is moving to an all-virtual affair this year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted almost every tentpole conference important to the media, technology and advertising industries. The Consumer Technology Association is still hoping to attract big-name sponsors and at least 150,000 professionals to attend online.
In Las Vegas, iHeartMedia and MediaLink are known for producing lavish parties with significant star-power. In recent years, MediaLink has hosted concerts with Gwen Stefani, Mary J. Blige and others—just a fraction of the type of talent that plays CES every year.
This year, organizers have created a digital conference based on Microsoft Teams that will allow people to schedule their itineraries and follow the panels and talks. It will undoubtedly be a smaller footprint than the extravaganza that takes over the Las Vegas Convention Center and Strip.
Media companies and ad agencies still plan to host virtual tours of the latest technology, and there are keynote addresses from big firms like Verizon and General Motors. On Monday, Procter & Gamble also announced its planned participation at the event. While many familiar names will be on the schedule, a number of tech companies that are usually active in Las Vegas plan less visibility this year, including Facebook, Twitter and Amazon, according to people familiar wih those companies' priorities.
The iHeartMedia session starts at 6:15 p.m. ET and runs through 7:30 p.m. ET on Jan. 12. The organizers said that more details would follow on how attendees could register for the event. CES says the performance part of this event will be open to all attendees, while the panel portion will have more limited availability.
Last week, CTA hosted a media event to show attendees how the conference will work in a virtual setting. “We’re feeling the effects of the pandemic like others, and we’ve had to cut back on things, but one thing we invested in was this venue, this platform that allowed exhibitors, customers, attendees, business people, startups, retailers, the investment community, and of course media, to connect,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CTA.