As the university adjusts to the new normal, student organizations such as ACRN have been working to provide virtual entertainment to students. 

After classes moved online in the spring, ACRN had to cancel numerous live shows that they had planned, including LobsterFest. 

“We were planning on hosting our annual music festival, LobsterFest, at the union last April but obviously that fell through,” Catie Bugos, a senior studying recording industry studies and public relations director at ACRN, said. “We ended up doing a ‘quaran-stream’ series on our Twitch channel.”

ACRN brought in several artists to perform throughout the spring semester. They also started a go-fund me for artists who appeared on the stream. 

“People would donate to that and it would just go straight to the artist and it was wildly successful,” RJ Martin, a senior studying music production and music director at ACRN, said.

The quaran-stream series was such a hit in the spring, ACRN decided to bring it back for another show this semester. Their first virtual show of the semester aired Sept. 26, including performances by Bloodhounds, Birds with Vertigo and RJ Martin.

“Without in-person shows, it's the next best thing you can do,” Martin said. “We’ve been planning more as the year goes along.”

Without in-person shows, problems arose over how ACRN would conduct Battle of the Bands. BOTB is an annual contest in which local bands can apply and play a set in order to win over the audience and gain their vote. The event is typically held in Baker Center, however, this year things have changed.

“We’ve obviously had to learn to operate in a virtual realm,” Bugos said. 

This year, local bands must apply online by Oct. 15 at 5 p.m. From there, the executives at ACRN will work together to choose 6 bands who will have the opportunity to record 15 minute sessions with the production and visual media departments. ACRN plans to record these six bands in different outdoor locations, such as a parking garage. By doing this, it allows the executives to do their different parts in recording the band while still maintaining social distancing. 

“We’ll compile those into short performances and then premier them all on the same day,” Reese Clutter, a senior studying music production and production manager at ACRN, said. “I am engineering those outdoor performances, the capture, the mixing and the mastering of them with the rest of my team.”

After being recorded the event will premier in a stream on Twitch. 

ACRN has also changed how money is raised from the event. Instead of the audience raising the money, the bands will have to pay to participate. Each band who is chosen will pay a $25 entry fee. The entry fee will go towards the $125 prize for the winner (along with an in-studio performance with ACRN) and a $25 prize for the runner-up.

The audience will still have their say in the winner. Previously, each audience member received a ballot to choose which band they thought should win. This year with going virtual, ACRN is hoping to utilize something like google forms for audience members to vote. 

After BOTB, ACRN hopes to host a DJ party via Twitch in order to fundraise for the station. 

“We want to work with local DJs because I feel like Athens DJ scene is very prominent right now,” Bugos said. “We’re still working out the kinks for that one but that will be coming up soon as well.”

Switching to the virtual realm hasn’t been completely easy, but so far, ACRN has made it work. Each department may not get to meet as usual at the studio in Baker Center, but they continue to meet virtually. 

“We’ve been keeping our numbers up and I know we’re all really excited about Battle of the Bands coming up because it’s our first major push this year of actually getting something out,” Clutter said. 

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