From making pilgrimages to the deserts of Indio to road-tripping to Tennessee, music festivals are no longer the domain of free-spirited hippies. In fact, it's estimated that one in every 10 Americans will attend a music festival this year, spending an average of $207 for a wristband.
According to Eventbrite, on-demand music streaming services in the U.S. (such as Spotify, Pandora, etc) rose by a whopping 93% in 2015. And while CD purchases and digital downloads are still on a steep decline (by around 50% over the past 4 years), live music continues on an upwards trajectory at 66% over the same time period.
Many festival goers attend music festivals as a welcomed break from technology and as an opportunity to bond over music in a non-digital way. However, technology is seeping its way into the music festival experience to both enhance the experience for fans—and as a way for festival promoters to collect data.
So what types of technologies can you expect to see from music festivals in the future?
1. Attending festivals from home through VR and streaming
For the first time ever, Coachella leveraged virtual reality as a way for remote attendees to experience live acts from a remote location. While it’s not commonplace for the general population to have VR headsets readily available, Coachella absentees now have this option given they have the appropriate technology. When remote festival attendees use the app, data points such as where users are located, their motion and how long they engaged with the app can be captured for future use.
YouTube also continues to stream music festivals, however this year they announced that they will incorporate a 360 degree view and spatial audio making the experience multi-dimensional. Depending on where the at home audience is “standing,” the sound and view will reflect accordingly by depth, distance and intensity.
2. Using social data to determine what artists you should see at the festival
Knowing which shows to see at a festival can be overwhelming and combing through hundreds of artists in advance can be cumbersome. Bonnaroo recently launched a Spotify app (designed by Umbel) that helps users select what artists they should see based on the registrant’s music affinities and music data. This app allows past listening behavior to do some of the legwork by matching your tastes to bands that are playing at Bonnaroo, offering a suggested lineup that matches your musical preferences.
3. Drones being used to promote brands and locate friends
While the Federal Aviation Administration currently doesn’t allow flying drones for profit unless it meets very specific criteria, there is still grey area around if the FAA is even allowed to enforce these laws. In the meantime, several companies are taking advantage of this fuzzy transitional period to fly advertising drones at music festivals.
Companies are getting creative by using drones to deliver beer or give those in the back close up footage or possibly even being used as light installations to add to the special effects.
Also, with little to no cell phone reception at music festivals, finding friends is nearly impossible. Don’t be surprised if you see (or hear) drones being enlisted to help track down friends or relieve the audience of taking selfies. Music festivals like Coachella restricted drones from this year’s festival, but there are a number of festivals that are willing to incorporate this technology into their festival experience, such as EDM festivals, where all things electronic might be more welcome.
4. RFID wristbands allowing festival goers to be wallet-free
Festival attendees can now leave their wallets behind thanks to RFID tracking wristbands that store their credit card information, making purchasing food and beverages extremely swift. This information gives organizers insights into attendance habits (what days and times did guest enter and re-enter), what types of food did each guest purchase, allowing them to associate what demographic prefers which foods, showing vendors and sponsor hard data about attendee trends. Another use is allowing attendees to use their bracelets to exchange Facebook information, making staying touch with their new music loving friends extremely easy.
5. New mobile apps to help you find your tent and monitor water intake
In an effort to help attendees have a safe festival experience, new apps are being created each year to remind you to do things like monitor your water intake or keep track of your tent location. Festival organizers have also been creating “official” apps for the last few years to help attendees organize what shows they want to see. By syncing Facebook data to artist preferences, concert attendees can also share with their network what shows they plan on attending.
What cool technologies have you seen at music festivals this year? Send us a tweet and let us know!