Written by Jeff Sparks
Out of all the popular streaming services, Hulu is doing something that none of its competitors are doing-streaming live music at multiple festivals throughout the summer. Earlier this year the service streamed the Bonnaroo festival which was a great experience to watch except for a few setbacks, namely that only two stages were being streamed at a time so it was a roll of the dice on whether you’d get to see your favorite artist or not. I figured that a couple of months later the presentation of Lollapalooza would be overhauled but unfortunately, it was identical, if not worse than what we got during Bonnaroo. Starting with the good, it’s such a treat to be a subscriber to Hulu while they’re continuing with these streams. As a fan of live music, it’s nice to be able to turn on the TV and see a live band within a matter of clicks. That feature alone gives the service an edge over the others that are available. Netflix, Max, Disney+, and the others are giving you the same old selection of movies and shows while Hulu is trying to reinvent the wheel. The structure of the two available channels was serviceable once again. Host Hannah Rad spiced things up with her vibrant personality during her frequent monologues and interviews throughout. The rare sketch was also a welcome feature such as one where Louise the Child worked at a local Chicago restaurant. As for the music itself, there was quite a variety that offered options throughout the festival depending on your tastes, although there were perhaps too many DJs streamed. I know I can’t be the only one unhappy that two were being played simultaneously. None of my personal favorite artists were streamed but I did enjoy multiple sets that I saw whether it be the powerhouse performances from Band Maid and Lainey Wilson or the theatrical performances from New Jeans and Rina Sawayama. Even if you’re unfamiliar with many of the artists being streamed during these festivals, at least you might find new music for your playlist by tuning in
While it’s exciting to see huge festivals being so accessible on a major streaming service, the feature is far from perfect. Lollapalooza has nine stages and only two were being streamed, not to mention that the second channel was often a previous recording from earlier in the day. The fact that there are replays shows that Hulu understands there are certain artists that viewers want to see more than others. Two channels just don’t cut it when streaming these festivals is supposed to be a selling point, which leads me to what made Hulu’s stream lackluster by the time that Lollapalooza’s four days were up. Neither of Sunday’s headliners, Lana Del Rey and the Red Hot Chili Peppers were streamed. It’s unclear whether that decision was made by those artists or by Hulu themselves. No matter whose at fault in this situation, not having two major headliners resulted in an anti-climactic and disappointing presentation overall. Advertising festivals like this and then not having the headliners did not go over well with Hulu’s subscribers. If Hulu wants these streams to bring in new customers they need to find a way to stream more acts live and do what needs to be done to make sure that they acquire the rights to stream the headliners. Until then Hulu’s music festival streams will be a welcome feature with mixed implementation.