As live music tech continues to develop and reshape the music industry, it becomes increasingly important for artists to stay ahead of the curve and tuned into how these new trends can be utilized to impress fans and increase profits.
Guest post by Rachel Grate on Eventbrite
Live music technology is transforming the industry. Those who stay ahead of the curve have a huge opportunity to impress fans, simplify their work, and increase profit. So, how can you get smarter about how you use technology to produce and promote live shows?
To find out, we interviewed 20 music and technology leaders who are on the cutting edge of music technology. We also surveyed nearly 50 live music venues about their top challenges, and how they’re using technology to solve them.
Here’s how tastemakers predict music technology will change the business — and which tech they say is worth your investment now.
1. RFID technology will move to the club space
RFID (radio frequency identification) technology has already taken over music festivals, and venues are next. 80% of the venues we spoke to believed capturing more data about fans with RFID would be impactful in coming years.
“We’re starting to explore how RFID applies to smaller venues,” says Angela Gonzalez, the Box Office Manager and Director of Patron Experience at National Sawdust in New York City. “You could use RFID as a multi-point check in solution to streamline between venues, even with different ticketing accounts. It would help create greater community within our neighborhood.”
To understand RFID’s future, Kat Tooley, the Senior Director of Event Production at spo, says we should look beyond the music industry.
“I believe we’re going to see additional offerings in the RFID space, like at Disneyland,” Tooley says. “For example, you could hit certain “easter eggs” throughout the event site to open up content on your phone, or discover a surprise show somewhere. Or… you can tag your wristband and get photos [so people can] put down their phone and enjoy the moment.”
2. “Drone selfies” will take over social media
“Social sharing in concert environments will evolve,” says Josh Greenberg, the Global Director of Experiential Marketing at Spotify. He predicts fans will move towards telling “a story of group engagement instead of singular engagement.”
By enabling fans to use visuals to embed their personal story in a larger moment, you leave them more satisfied at the end of the night. “Everyone wants the Instagram photo, but imagine a drone showing yourself in the festival and zooming in,” says Jesse Kirshbaum, Co-Founder and CEO of NUE Agency. With drone photography, the fan can place themselves within the group and the larger context of the event.
“Some of our most successful posts on social are performance shots that include the audience,” says Neal Cohen, the Marketing Director at Superfly. “It compels people to want to say they were there, so you get the ‘Hey, that’s me!’ reaction. Between RFID and Drones, soon we’ll be able to actually zero in on that feeling, with photos that place the fans in that exact moment in time.”
3. Wearable tech and light-up wristbands will add a whole new dimension to live performances
“Light-up wristbands are giving a whole new dimension to lighting at a show,” Rob Bonstein of Paradigm Talent Agency says. “Artists will always come up with new ways to wow an audience and bring them into a show.”
One new way to use wearable devices at shows is to create a “heat map” of how the audience is moving to the music. By using phones or wristbands, performers could see how the audience is responding to their set in real time. This could influence the content shown on stage in real-time. “We’ll allow the audience to impact the show as the tech gets cheaper and smaller — the visuals and music will be more reactive,” Max Pollack, a Founding Partner of MATTE Projects in New York City, says.
For DJs in particular, this tech could be used to affect the music performed as well. “One of the big push backs on EDM is that it’s canned,” Jesse Kirshbaum says. “If the audience can interact with the DJ, then the DJ would be creating energy, not just pushing buttons. That will be a huge win for EDM culture.”
4. Beacons will help venues connect with sponsors at scale
$1.4 billion in sponsorship dollars go to music in the U.S. But “very little of that money trickles down to independent artists, venues under 3k, or brands that aren’t as big as Pepsi and Budweiser,” says Mat Thomas, the Founder of ConcertPass.
The problem is, those smaller venues and artists may still want to engage with sponsors. In fact, two thirds of venues we surveyed want to increase revenue beyond ticket and bar sales. And one in five venues specifically want to increase sponsorship revenue using technology. But only one third of venues currently rank sponsorship as a “very important” revenue stream for their room.
That’s where beacons come in. By using apps and beacons (small wireless devices that use Bluetooth in mobile phones), individual rooms have the opportunity to craft appealing packages that can bring venue sponsorships to scale.
Consider the “dual screen” phenomenon: when people are watching TV, they’re still looking at their phones. “As everything goes to mobile, the dual screen component is another thing I think could see being used much more in the event world,” says Chris Carver, the Co-Founder and CEO of Lennd, an event operations company. “We can expect phones to be more incorporated in the experience. It’s not just about serving up ads and commerce, but creating a better, more personalized experience for the attendee.”
This personalized experience can be brought to fans by sponsors, and across venues. New technology like ConcertPass will connect artists, venues, and brands to serve relevant information to fans, before, during, and after events. “This is a way for brands to more effectively spend more marketing dollars on artists and venues while getting better ROI,” Mat Thomas says. “It’s a win-win-win.”
5. Fans will purchase tickets on their favorite sites
Streaming and social media platforms have become the go-to destination to discover concerts. But “we’re going to see a shift in how music discovery integrates with the day-to-day needs of a venue,” predicts Rami Haykal, the Talent Buyer for PopGun Presents.
One upcoming shift will be the ability of fans to buy tickets the moment they discover a show — through the platform they’re on in that instant. 98% of surveyed venues said enabling ticket sales on other platforms will drive growth in coming years, with nearly three out of four calling it extremely impactful. “The fewer clicks it takes to get a ticket, the better,” says James Moody, the owner of Mohawk in Austin.
Luckily, technology companies are listening. “The advent of social media and music streaming give the average music fan more information about their favorite artists than ever before,” says Jordan Gremli, the Head of Artist Insights at Spotify. “But all that information can be overwhelming. At Spotify, we feel that organizing all of that information for our users will be beneficial for both our users and for artists. To that end, we’ve recently launched several features that help users find shows near them featuring artists they love.”
The potential of these platforms doesn’t end with helping users find shows — they can help users buy tickets to shows as well. “Our primary focus for Facebook Events is helping people connect and spend time together in the real world,” says Hema Budaraju, the Product Manager for Facebook Events. “Enabling the ability to buy Eventbrite tickets on Facebookprovides consumers a convenient and safe way to go to events that interest them, and helps event organizers and promoters sell more tickets.”
So what does this mean for the future of ticketing? Heath Miller, the VP of Concerts at Webster Hall and Excess dB Entertainment, envisions a more open marketplace similar to the travel industry. “Let’s say I go to expedia.com,” Miller says. “I can buy the same ticket through Travelocity, Tripadvisor, Continental — it doesn’t matter if I buy it direct or from a third-party travel agent… I’m a big preacher of creating a more democratic atmosphere for ticketing as a whole.”
6. VR and AR will gamify live shows
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have been buzzwords this year, with search traffic for both spiking around the summer release of Pokemon Go. But despite all the buzz, no one in the music industry has tried to use this tech to gamify live shows yet.
Venues could use AR to activate challenges within the venue for rewards, or artists could tour with 3D glasses and use a 3D screen behind the performance. Or, the performance itself could become part of games that fans already know and love. “VR will get interesting when you get to play Guitar Hero on stage with the Red Hot Chili Peppers at Coachella,” says Josh Greenberg of Spotify.
Either way, Chris Carver of Lennd says he looks at the gaming community for future trends in the events industry. “In terms of livestreaming and virtual reality, there’s a way to gamify the experience more,” Carver says.
Live music technology is getting smarter — are you? Check out the full report, “The Future of Concert Technology,” to stay ahead of the curve with all eight can’t-miss music tech predictions from industry tastemakers.