Technology degree can put you behind the scenes of today’s biggest music events
Information technology has turned the concert experience up to an 11 creating a multimedia musical extravaganza for the average concertgoer. Through technological innovations, attendees increasingly connect with artists and fellow fans in new ways. From live streaming concerts that broadcast across the globe to holograms that bring artists back to life and back onstage, technology is changing the way people see and hear live music.
The Multimedia Experience Is in the Palm of Your Hand
The concert experience has become increasingly interactive with the introduction of new technological innovations, including smart phones. Fanfavorite music festivals, including Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California and Tennessee’s Bonnaroo Music Festival, use smart phones to provide an all-access pass to concertgoers, helping attendees sync up with artists, festival events, fellow fans, friends and family. T-Mobile recently released data that illustrates how people use their smart phones to create a more interactive music festival experience:
- Forty-seven percent text friends during the show.
- Thirty-two percent update their social media sites from their seats.
- Sixty-six percent use camera phones to take pictures during the festival.
Musicians also take advantage of smart phones during shows; many encourage fans to connect with them through this handheld technology. For example, the band Umphrey’s McGee regularly asks fans to text song requests during shows. Canadian-based electro-indie duo Data Romance gives away free songs via Bluetooth.
Smart phone applications (apps) create niche tools that allow concertgoers to fully immerse in musical experiences. Evolver.fm recently reported on a few apps that plug users into a more interactive concert experience. Some of the apps on their list remain in the beta phase, but their potential to generate industry-changing user trends has caught the attention of artists, fans and industry executives alike.
- Inaudible frequencies: This app uses inaudibly high musical frequencies to generate a unique user experience. In theory, users in different locations at a venue will receive different frequencies that trigger the app. The signal causes the app to take various actions, including playing prerecorded notes, displaying certain colors on-screen, taking photos and more.
- Physical crowd feedback: This technology measures and monitors attendee movement, creating a “real-time danceability meter” for the band.
- InConcert Ampd: This app gives the crowd a voice in the band’s set list through fan voting. It also allows attendees to answer quiz questions, display custom animations and purchase songs as the band plays them.
Smart phone apps can also keep users plugged in their area’s music scene with concert event updates, connections to other fans and ticket sales.
- Local Concerts: Touted as the number one concert app on the iPhone, the Local Concerts app uses music from a fan’s iTunes library to find concerts in their area they may want to attend.
- PreAmped: Fans on the go will find the PreAmped app useful to search for shows in new cities.
- StubHub: This app comes from the ticket purchasing giant StubHub and allows users to purchase tickets on the go.
- YP.com: From the creators of the Yellow Pages comes this app designed to help users create a fun-filled night out, including dinner, a show and a nightcap.
As smart phones evolve, they will continue to change and improve the way fans experience concerts and other live events.
Technology Brings Artists Back to Life and Back Onstage
Attendees of 2012’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival received a shock after Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog hit the main stage for a performance that they would not soon forget. Several minutes into the legendary West Coast rappers’ crowd-pleasing set, Tupac Shakur materialized onstage to join the duoäóîseemingly coming back from the dead. While music fans debated what this meant for some of their other favorite long-deceased artists, technology geeks buzzed about how the promoters of the festival produced such a high-tech stunt onstage.
The special effects production house Digital Domain worked with Dr. Dre to create the hologram, and AV Concepts projected his likeness on Coachella’s main stage. Digital Domain’s chief creative officer, El Ulbrich, told The Wall Street Journal that the fully digital image did not rely on the use of archival footage to create the resurrected Tupac. The projection created the magic of the hologram. The producers projected the image onto a Mylar screen onstage using an angled piece of glass on the ground.
Planning for Tupac’s surprise appearance at Coachella took several months and hundreds of thousands of dollars, and reports say that Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg have plans to take the virtual Tupac on the road for future concert dates. The positive response to Coachella’s most-talked about appearance has generated buzz within the music industry about bringing other artists back to life using this new technology.
The Virtual Concert Experience
Tech-savvy artists can take advantage of the expanded capabilities of technology to connect with fans and reach new audiences through a different platform. From cultivating an active presence on social media sites to giving live streaming performances, artists and bands can use technology to reach audiences in new ways.
Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter provide bands with an effective platform to promote shows, connect to their fan base and build a brand. Lady Gaga may be the best example of an artist who has established a solid brand using the power of social media to generate a strong fan base. She became the first person to reach 20 million followers on Twitter and has more than 52.5 million Facebook likes, making her a force in the virtual world. She even has plans to launch her own social media network in late 2012, LittleMonsters.com, which will likely draw millions of users.
Live streaming, another virtual trend in the music industry, places fans in the front row of their favorite band’s concert without going to a traditional concert venue. Many artists benefit from this new technology trend. U2 reached a record-smashing audience via a YouTube live stream from the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., in October 2009. A tour staff member reported that people viewed the event on every continent across the globe. YouTube reportedly employed the service of 24 cameras to film the concert along with an additional 24 closed-circuit TV cameras. More recently, well-known festivals have broadcasted their biggest acts through a live stream to increase anticipation and excitement for these large-scale events. For example, Coachella recently broadcasted its entire two-weekend festival through live stream, including the shocking reemergence of Tupac via hologram. However, bands do not have to be famous to benefit from live streaming. Independent acts often employ iPhone apps to live stream their shows straight to audiences for a more dynamic fan experience. These do-it-yourself live streams benefit underground artists who have limited marketing budgets and heavy tour schedules.
An Interactive Festival for Tech Geeks
Tech geeks now have a hub to discuss the newest innovations in interactive technology: South by Southwest. The annual conference, based in Austin, Texas, highlights cutting-edge technologies for websites, video games and startup ideas. The interactive festival couples with a music festival, which features a slew of independent acts and music industry heavy hitters.
The music industry continues to evolve with the introduction of new innovations, applications and approaches to business. Fans and industry players alike have long benefited from the constant evolution of the music industry. If you are tech-savvy and have an interest in music, consider earning a Bachelor of Information Technology from King College to garner new computer skills that you can use to change music for a new generation of fans.