Killswitch Engage are touring and performing veterans, but tonight, April 17, the band ventures into new ground during their Killthrax Tour with Anthrax. For the first time the Killswitch show (Anthrax will not be included) will be broadcast live in virtual reality from Houston's House of Blues starting at 11pm CT.

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This week I fly out to Toronto (unfortunately, on United Airlines...wish me luck) for my third Canadian Music Week, the annual music business conference and festival.

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In addition to having the pleasure of being on the panel, "Brands in the Music Space: A Debate on the Pros and Cons" (sorry, couldn't resist the plug), attending sessions, reuniting with our unofficial music festival family (you know who you are), and hearing Live Nation's Michael Rapino speak, catching local Canadian bands and international acts is a top priority.

Coca-Cola's Media & Digital Marketing Deputy Dir., Ernesto Almada Brito, shares how the company continues to expand innovation and adopt new technologies like VR live streaming to stay relevant and connected to consumers.

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Recently, the 131 year anniversary took place for the first batches of Coca-Cola were concocted by the company’s founder, John Pemberton, taking his Wine Cocoa recipe and remaking it for the non-alcoholic prohibition era. On May 8, 1886 the new Coca-Cola beverage made its way from the vats to the lips of Pemberton Pharmacy’s customers in downtown Atlanta.

Today 1.7 billion servings of Coca-Cola products are consumed every day by Coke fans around the world.

Even in those very early days, the concept around the marketing and branding of the infamous company was percolating. Frank Robinson, the company’s accountant at the time, not only came up with the idea of naming the drink Coca-Cola, but also created the Spencerian script logo, believing that the logo’s icon of two Cs would work well in adverting and promotional branding.

Robinson was spot on, and over the last 131 years the Coca-Cola brand has made its way into the fabric not only of American culture, but it has become intertwined into international societies. Coke’s marketing and branding ingenuity and innovation has continued to evolve as the world evolves, which no doubt contributes to those 1.7 billion servings a day.

In less than one week the Coachella gates will open, letting the people flow in and letting the magic begin for the first of two consecutive weekends taking place April 14-16 and April 21-23. Festival promoter, Goldenvoice, will be live streaming performances once again during the first weekend of Coachella with returning sponsor, T-Mobile.

Last year the made waves with the introduction of their Coachella VR app that accompanied the customized Coachella Google Cardboard VR headset (and headset owners of Samsung Gear VR).

By downloading the app, fans from around the world could experience 360-degree views of various areas within the festival grounds, artists’ performances, and check out VR video created by attending festival-goers.

It was the live streaming VR agency, vantage.tv, that had worked with Coachella since 2015 when Goldenvoice decided to bring VR into their continually evolving technical production.

In 2017, Coachella has taken the next step in the evolution process, working again with vantage.tv on their next-generation VR mobile app that now has augmented reality (AR) capabilities.

Big thanks goes out to all those that attended our SXSW Workshop providing a Deep Dive into Live Streaming and it's impact on Brands, Promoters, and Fans, and a ton of gratitude goes out to the SXSW folks for helping us make it happen. For those of you that want a refresh of the session or for all the folks that couldn't make it, here are the slides from the presentation along with the recording of the entire workshop.

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SXSW is almost upon those of us who are attending, so we’re trying to keep up with emails and RSVP's while prepping our bodies for the marathon and packing major doses of vitamin B12.

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For those who can't make the trek to Austin, there will be a number of opportunities to experience the minute-by-minute happenings, performances, and exclusive video that even the people there on the ground won’t have access to. Plus, audio streams broadcasting live will give everyone in Austin and beyond, stories, news, and music they can take in on the go.

Now in its 16th year, FADER FORT returns with four full days of musical performances from March 15 - 18. Since 2001, FADER FORT grew in popularity, expanding its footprint with massive crowds showing up to check out the artists and the FORT experience, following Twitter rumors of evening shows with suprise appearances, all of which contributed to the magic of SXSW.

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This year they return to their roots in a "nod to The FADER’s inaugural showcase in 2001," moving the festivities to a more intimate venue at 1209 East 6th Street (Volcom Garden) while still presenting a multi-use, indoor and outdoor environment to mashup music, the arts, drinks, lounging and playing.

It was November 1, 2014 at a downtown Los Angeles Halloween rooftop party where, according to Dann Saxton, the Co-founder and Head of Content for VRLIVE, the first VR 360 video live stream took place.

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“It was called the Zombie Prom,” Saxton said, telling the story of that night. “600 people on the roof with a full stage, live music, a full bar," and a night of the living dead featuring prom queens and kings, all live streamed in VR 360 video out to the entire world.

“It has been ELEVEN days, Stephen,” Jon Stewart said during his January 31st guest appearance on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show, “Eleven. Fucking. Days. ELEVEN!” And then, looking into the audience and the camera, he stated what we were all experiencing, “The presidency is supposed to age the president, NOT the public.”

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That was only eighteen f*#king days ago. What’s happened since then plays out like a TV reality show based on a mashup of “Hunt For Red October 2: Defecting TO Russia,” “Dumb and Dumber,” and “ Liar Liar.”

Having been one of the lucky ones to win an Echo at the Capital One House activation at SXSW last year, I’ve called on Alexa to start my morning every day since. “Alexa, play BBC Radio 6 Music,” and she complies, pulling up the British station on TuneIn. Amazon’s Alexa made a lot of waves (no pun intended) at this year’s CES as the voice assistant expanded its support offerings, from cars and refrigerators, to Lenovo’s similar device to the Echo.

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Amazon Music Unlimited and Alexa became the hot topic of conversation between Billboard, Jeff Bezos, and the vice president for Amazon Music, Steve Boom. Coming in at number 12 on Billboard's 2017 Power 100 list, the two execs discussed how Amazon Music Unlimited has some differentiating, cloud-based, machine learning architecture planned for its service that, when combined with the Echo, enables a user to create unique playlists, “Alexa, shuffle British Grime from last year,” or by your mood, “Alexa, play sad shoegazer rock from the ‘90s,” all through voice activation versus manually searching for and setting up a playlist on Spotify or Apple Music.

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