Bottlerock is the next big music festival. The May 9-12 event is taking place in Napa Valley, California, and will feature more than 60 bands, three stages and, of course, food and wine. Highlights include the Black Keys, Kings of Leon, the Flaming Lips, Jane’s Addiction, Alabama Shakes, the Shins, Jackson Browne and Primus.
And the person producing the whole thing, Michael Williams of Musiek Media Group, just happens to be based in Las Vegas.
“BottleRock is probably the biggest thing we’ve ever done,” says Williams, who is Musiek’s founder and visionary alongside business partner Shawn Wayne. “It’s almost as if you’re producing multiple events at the same time for the Olympics. It’s that challenging, but we’re loving it.”
In addition to producing the show, Williams and Musiek will be live-streaming it in high definition online. “It’s our vision that live music should be anywhere and everywhere at all times,” Williams says.
In order to achieve that for BottleRock, Williams is employing a production crew of more than 150 people. The biggest stages will have 12 cameras, creating an effect akin to a music video.
Williams got his start in the entertainment industry as a performer. He plays multiple instruments, was in a traveling show choir, danced at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City, has worked as a choreographer and has performed in numerous musicals. Williams even snagged a production deal at age 19 in 1987 with A&M records. At 22, he signed a multimillion-dollar-five-album record deal with Island Records, but it stalled after the first album.
When Williams got married in 1993, he moved behind the scenes in search of stability. He went from sleeping on friends’ couches to being a family man. In Williams’ case, that meant becoming Snoop Dogg’s co-manager and business partner. In 2002, Williams discovered streaming technology through a business contact. He had found his niche.
“I did believe back in 2000 that the Internet would become the next delivery platform of the future, that it would bridge the gap between entertainers and their fans,” Williams says. “When this guy approached us with this technology, I thought this is exactly what the future is going to be.” It took about seven years to make streaming a reality. In April 2009, Williams debuted the first multi-camera HD stream using Microsoft Silverlight with Snoop Dogg and Friends Live From the Avalon in Hollywood. “This was way ahead of everybody,” Williams says. “To put it in perspective, Jay-Z just streamed his first concert in 2012. … In 2012, it was relevant; in 2009 it was new, innovative and people were unsure if it was actually something that they were going to use in the future.”
But being in front of the curve has paid off. Today, Musiek streams about 20 to 40 live concerts a year, with plans for more. Looking toward future tech, Williams predicts that, among other things, mobile media will become even more pervasive than it already is. But wherever technology takes him, it’s Williams’ entertainment expertise that keeps him au courant. “We’re from the entertainment industry,” he says. “We’re not technology people trying to do the entertainment industry. We’re not entertainment people trying to do technology. We’re pretty much everything.”
BottleRock in Napa Valley, May 9-12, $139 for single-day pass, $329 for three-day pass, $399-$599 for four-day pass. To watch the show streaming live, visit BottleRockNapaValley.com.