WordCamp Austin 2020 is putting out a call for musicians, alongside its call for speakers. The event’s organizers are rising to the challenge of creating a unique experience for attendees, while working within the constraints of a virtual format. Because the city prides itself on being “the live music capital of the world,” due to its abundance of music venues, the camp’s organizers are inserting a little local Austin flavor into the schedule.
English poet Robert Browning, in his poem Balaustion’s Adventure, wrote, “And who hears music, feels his solitude peopled at once.” Music has a way of bringing a human aspect to virtual events where people are sitting alone behind glowing screens, hoping to connect with others during this protracted time of isolation. WordCamp Austin’s organizers are aiming to pepper the schedule with a diverse selection of performances for attendees to enjoy.
Musicians from anywhere in the world are invited to send an audition video (or schedule a live audition) for the opportunity to perform 2-5 songs at WordCamp Austin between sessions. Those who are selected will have the choice of performing live (with technical support from the organizers) or submitting pre-recorded performances. Organizers are also accepting auditions from singers, beat-boxers, rappers, and anyone who plays a non-traditional instrument.
“We want WC ATX to be put on the map so that it will drive more attraction when we can get back together in person,” co-organizer Ben Moore said. “Like all other major events, 2020 will be the catalyst for more virtual events. Virtual, in-person, and a hybrid mix of the two will emerge after all of this.”
WordCamp Austin organizers are planning to use Hubs Virtual Rooms by Mozilla to create a unique environment for attendees.
“I think it will be a lot of fun and allow everyone who is burnt out on Zoom to get something different,” co-organizer Cousett Hoover said. “We have a lot of dedicated folks but venues in Austin are super expensive which makes it hard to coordinate a WordCamp. This allows us to get more support and with a star group of organizers we can come back even better next year.”
WordCamp Austin’s use of Hubs Virtual Rooms will be an interesting experiment to follow, as most other virtual WordPress events have opted for Zoom.
“One of the more exciting parts of Hubs is the spacial audio feature,” Moore said. “We hope this can create a more interactive experience for people as opposed to everyone having to hear everything being said. People will be able to ‘walk’ around, gather in groups, and have smaller conversations without the need for a moderator to designate breakout rooms. We hope to imitate an ‘in-person’ environment but remain virtual.”
WordCamp Austin has been running since 2012, with a few gaps in between when they were not able to make it happen. Most other city-based WordCamps are on hold right now, but Hoover said she sees an opportunity in the present circumstances for newer community members to attend virtually.
“I think it is a beautiful opportunity for so many who might otherwise not know about WordCamps or not have one close by to be able to attend,” Hoover said. “Personally, I work with a lot of Mompreneurs who use WordPress daily for their livelihoods just like many other WordPressers but so many do not know about the incredible community that WordPress has and these events are an opportunity to save on travel and time and still be able to participate a bit.”
Organizers are planning two tracks, with 8-10 sessions separated by musical interludes. Applications for WordCamp Austin’s musicians are due by September 4. The deadline to submit auditions is September 11 and performers will be notified of acceptance by September 15.