Live & Touring

Social Media Check-Ins At Major Music Festivals Signal Next Phase For RFID Wristbands

Bonnaroo-photo-stationIn the last few years RFID technology has made a strong move from industrial applications to ticketing solutions for large scale outdoor music festivals in the form of wristbands. Their use is driven by the ability to cut down on gate crashing, manage lost tickets, offer cashless payment systems and, most recently, provide a social layer of check-ins.

Though mainstream use of RFID goes back almost a decade, its widespread adoption at major festivals including Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and Eurosonic Noorderslag is offering new opportunities for companies such as Intellitix.

The full story of radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags is way too big for one blog post, even if I focused on music festival adoption alone. RFID tags got their first big boost with Walmart's adoption in 2003 for inventory tracking and management. Use at music festivals goes back at least to 2004 when SXSW adopted RFID-chipped wristbands to reduce counterfeiting and manage growing crowds of attendees.

Intellitix Technology in Action

This year adoption grew but the big news was their use in enabling social check-ins via Facebook. Though recent press coverage seems to tie such developments to particular festivals, the reality is that RFID wristbands created by such companies as ID&C combined with entrance portals, check-in stations and handheld readers from companies such as Intellitix are changing the festival ticketing game across the board.

Given that their initial introduction at SXSW was focused on counterfeiters and crowd control, it's interesting to see that concerns about surveillance have already been reduced to "half-brained conspiracy theories" by media outlets that seem to have only recently discovered the use of RFID wristbands at music festivals via breathless press releases from sponsor publicists. Clearly the important thing is to remember that this is all for your own good and will never be used for evil.

Though I actually followed Walmart's adoption of RFID tags at the time, the widespread use of RFID wristbands at music festivals is a relatively new topic to me. From my limited investigation it seems that Intellitix is the true powerhouse behind music festival adoption working with a range of wristband providers. Their list of clients includes Austin City Limits, Bonnaroo, Coachella, Electric Zoo, Eurosonic Noorderslag, Festival d'ete de Quebec, Lollapalooza, Moogfest and Outside Lands. Additional festival adoptees in Canada and Europe are featured in recent press releases.

This year Intellitix powered Facebook check-ins via their "Live Click Stations" for both Coachella and Bonnaroo though apparently not for such gatherings as the Essence Music Festival which also introduced check-ins at kiosks using RFID wristbands. Intellitix' social media and marketing capabilities go beyond Facebook status updates and can include various tie-ins with sponsors and off-site partners.

At Coachella, over 30,000 concert goers registered to use the Live Click Stations to update their status on Facebook at an unprecedented scale according to Intellitix. Bonnaroo took things to another level with 74,000 registrations for check-ins at the "largest Live Click Stations ever made ."

Bonnaroo also saw the introduction of Live Click Photo Stations (see above thumbnail) allowing participants to take and post pictures of themselves on Facebook. These stations were sponsored by the Ford Escape and their use suggest that we are at the beginning of a whole new phase of the RFID game at live festivals.

However I'm just scratching the surface here. Other developments include the use of RFID wristbands for cashless payment systems and the ongoing development of techology to use mobile phones for ticketing purposes potentially eliminating the use of wristbands. It's starting to look like Intellitix and any other companies providing similar services will be major players whether wristbands, mobile phones or subdermal implants win the day.

Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) maintains a business writing hub at Flux Research and blogs at Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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