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Behind the scenes with Edwin Tsang on virtual festival to save aquarium (Interview)

Edwin Tsang, owner of Gametheory Management
Credit: Edwin Tsang, Gametheory Management

DMNW: Can you walk us through what the Vancouver Aquarium fundraiser live stream was like from an organizing standpoint? 

E: Absolutely. So, I have no background in event planning or anything like that. I helped out with some parts of Proximity and Brownies & Lemonade’s Digital Mirage Festival earlier this year, but that was it. After that experience, I knew I wanted to throw my own virtual festival.

Around the same time, the Vancouver Aquarium announced it was going under because of COVID limitations to visits, which is their main revenue source. As someone who grew up enjoying going to the aquarium, I knew it was important to me to try saving it. It was the perfect cause for me to raise money for because I felt such a strong personal connection to.

From that moment, it was a lot of moving pieces coming together. Since Vanic is also from Vancouver and he’s one of the artists I manage, I asked if he’d headline the event. After some digging around, I sent the aquarium CEO a 5 page proposal. Because of heavy lockdown orders it was really challenging to organize a recorded DJ set there. But, it was important to show listeners what they were helping to save.

Then I got in contact with TrapNation (a huge YouTube music channel) to stream the event on their platform. Since they had an existing relationship with Vanic it felt like a perfect way to launch the event to a worldwide audience. The roster spun into a bigger network of artists like Kill the Noise and Ghastly, and the event took off from there.

DMNW: You had a gaming element too in your festival too, right? 

Gaming is something else that I love, and has influenced a lot of how I think about my management business. So we wanted to incorporate a gaming aspect into the festival too which was so awesome. That’s how we ended up with a Valorant tournament that gamers and artists like Zedd, Emongg, and Jericho got in on. Some other last-minute sponsors and partners came in before the event too. HyperX and Razer, two big gaming tech brands got involved and we could do some really cool giveaways.

The festival ended up pulling in an impressive $12,000 for the Vancouver Aqaurium in one day. The concept of a festival at an aquarium drew notable intrigue, as over 125,000 people tuned in over the day. Ocean Meets Music seemed like a huge effort to pull together, but worth it to support a local northwest staple.

Closing thoughts from DMNW

You’d be hard-pressed to find another manager who’s been hustling harder behind the scenes of the PNW music industry. Edwin’s staunch dedication to flipping problems inside out to find solutions makes him a force to be reckoned with. Whatever realm of music he may find himself in should be ready to see some big changes over his career.

As for the Vancouver Aquarium? Jim Facette, executive director of Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums, recently weighed in on the issue. “I’m confident that they’ll be back sometime in the new year,” he said, according to CBC. “When? I don’t know, but I’m very, very confident in senior management.”

Click here for ways to support the Vancouver Aquarium.

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