Exclusive: Tomorrowland, YouTube Create Tomorrowland TV
Exclusive: Tomorrowland, YouTube Create Tomorrowland TV

Tomorrowland, the fantasy-themed Belgian electronic dance music (EDM) festival is joining forces with YouTube to create Tomorrowland TV, Billboard.biz has learned. The first-of-its-kind live-stream-meets-produced-program will run globally on YouTube throughout the event's three days, July 27-29, and remain available thereafter.

"The time is right," says Patrick Walker, Senior Director of YouTube Music, Europe, Middle East & Africa. "TV is underserving music, particularly EDM. Online and YouTube have become the premiere destinations for the consumption of music videos. All of these things together, plus a dream artist line-up, made this seem like a very natural partnership."

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This year's headliners include Skrillex, Swedish House Mafia (on their unofficial farewell tour), David Guetta, Avicii, Steve Aoki and Afrojack. But the festival, produced by ID&T (also behind Sensation, the hyper-produced white party recently brought to the States by Live Nation, for a two-night stint at the brand-new Barclays Center), is known as much for its production values as its lineup as the world's most eye-popping, a temporary, twisted amusement park-like event built in Boom's De Schorre National Park. Last year's event featured the requisite fireworks and pyrotechnics, as well as multiple stages, each theatrically designed (an evil clown, a woodland nymph with glowing eyes, a castle straight out of Candyland); over 450 DJs and artists; and even the Church of Love, where reveler couples could go to safely get their freak on (condoms provided).

It's the kind of fantastical setting that lends itself well to video content, as proven by last year's "after movie," or a dramatic, retrospective montage now common to all themed EDM festivals. Posted in August 2011, the 14-minute clip has nearly 43.2 million YouTube views as of this writing, made up mostly by views outside of Europe, including Brazil, the U.S. and Canada.

"Individual music videos can rack up tens of millions, but for an aggregated video that's 14 minutes long that's a replay of last year's festival to get that number of views is amazing," says Walker, who adds that the video's success lent to this year's partnership.

Tomorrowland founder Michiel Beers also relates this year's massive presale to the after-movie. "With the success of that, the festival really exploded worldwide. Presale began in April and we had over two million people queuing online." With festival capacity at 180,000, that left a lot of partiers disappointed. "With such a high demand, we couldn't give everybody a ticket, so it was important to us to bring them something high-quality they could experience at home. Because YouTube has an important part in spreading Tomorrowland worldwide, it was a natural choice to partner with them."

Each seven-hour day of programming will feature live performances from the stages, behind-the-scenes peeks, interviews with the artists, as well as packages being filmed now, showing various phases of the staff's preparation, including the stages being designed and built. During the event, 170 staffers will be onsite for Tomorrowland TV alone.

YouTube will monetize the programming by selling digital media packages to music-interested sponsors, including banner ad and pre-roll placements. Tomorrowland will share in that revenue, but stresses that "everything will be ploughed into making next year's Tomorrowland TV even bigger and even better," says Beers. With content that is basically "evergreen," according to Walker, the partnership is long-term.

Original, TV-style programming online begs the question: What happens when the second screen (usually the Web-connected device) becomes the first (the television)? But to Walker, that whole notion is not applicable to the new world of "always on" programming.

"We're like, screen-agnostic," he says. "Divvying up by screens is very anachronistic. From a young person's perspective, most people today are moving between devices not for different content but for more convenience with where they happen to be. TV, laptop, phone is actually a continuous screen. We want to make content available in the way that people consume it."