How Tech is Shaping Live Events

How Tech is Shaping Live Events

There is no doubt that technology touches our lives on a daily basis, and it certainly appears to be making our lives easier in many ways. For example, let’s take a moment to bow down and praise Spotify streaming for satisfying our constant need for music, or Netflix for being our significant other on sick days and late nights. Not only has technology changed these platforms, but it’s also altering the way that we experience live events. In an age where millennials crave experiences, it is fascinating to see the way that technology can enhance these live experiences to make them more personal for the fans – not to mention all of the ways that it benefits industry players themselves.


Lady Gaga’s stellar Super Bowl LI halftime show was one of the first times viewers experienced drones as part of a performance. Though Intel’s Shooting Star Drones (and Gaga’s huge jump) were actually recorded earlier in the week due to Federal Aviation Association’s regulations on drones during game days (CNET), this performance still demonstrated one of many ways we can expect to see drones enhancing live experiences in the future. According to Intel, these drones are equipped with LED lights that can create over 4 billion color combinations – and we’re now wondering how that many different combinations are even possible?! Each drone weighs 280 grams (less than a volleyball) and can fly for about 20 minutes (Intel).

Yet, let’s not forget the original reason we all became fascinated with drones in the first place: photography and videography. Drones can create content at concerts that can allow fans to look back on their experience and potentially even find themselves in the crowd, allowing them to relive the energy of those exact moments.

RFID Wristbands and Tech Wearables

When I entered my first Coachella festival by holding my wrist up to the sensors as I walked in, I thought that was the extent to which I could use this “magic bracelet.” By my second year, I had loaded all of my cash onto my RFID (radio frequency identification) wristband in order to avoid carrying cash with me all day; the next thing I knew, I bought a (delicious) burrito simply by touching my wrist to a sensor and received a personalized email receipt three seconds later. These RFID wristbands are not only totally eliminating the need for paper tickets and allowing festivals to become cashless, but they are providing venues and vendors extensive data on attendees to allow them to cater their event to fans in the future. While RFID wristbands are mostly used by large scale festivals, clubs are becoming interested in these informative wearables as well. In the future, we can expect to see new opportunities such as fans walking up to specific camera stations in venues and tapping their wristband to receive digital copies of specific event photos. This way, fans can focus less on taking photos themselves and live in the moment. Essentially, each bracelet can hold useful data for vendors and venues, but can also become a convenient storage house for personal keepsakes of the fans’ experiences as well. Double win.

Tech wearables beyond RFID bracelets are also becoming a hot market. Artists such as Taylor Swift have used tech wearables during their tours in order to light up the crowd in different ways throughout the performance. This made fans feel included in the performance and, quite honestly, just looked really cool. However, wearables are evolving and are expected to actually pick up the energy of the crowd during certain points of a performance and thus directly cause specific triggered reactions in the visuals and technology in real time during a show. Imagine this used for DJ sets at EDM concerts…

VR, AR, and Live Streaming

In 2017, it is difficult to ignore VR and AR as they are about to become mainstream technology. They offer a fascinating opportunity to gamify any experience in a way that puts the user directly in a specific setting without actually being there. The best way to utilize VR in the live events space is to offer users a look into places no one gets to go, such as backstage with an artist right before stepping out on stage. Check out the “The Armin Effect,” YouVisit’s first VR concert recording of Armin van Buuren’s 2015 TomorrowWorld set which was debuted at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2016.  

AR offers more opportunities for fans to interact with technology while being present at live events, whereas VR instead provides an alternative experience to a live event. Similarly, both fan live streaming and professional live streaming provide fans a similar substitute. The best thing about Facebook Live or Snapchat is that users can tell their own story to their personal network, which provides a much more realistic view than an edited 30 second hype video published by the venue or artist. People care more about what their own friends are up to anyway, therefore making fans some of the most powerful storytellers and marketers of an event.

However, there is absolutely nothing that can replace the energy and experience that physically attending an event provides. While VR or live streaming is certainly the next best thing, the sense of community and personal memories formed at live events is absolutely irreplaceable. Luckily, advancements in live streaming are not necessarily a threat to the live events space. In fact, when TomorrowWorld released their virtual tour online, most fans engaged with the video for a surprisingly high timespan of ten minutes, which helped build immense excitement and generate greater ticket sales for the next year’s festival. 69% of millennials agree that seeing a live stream makes them more likely to go to the real-life event in the future (Forbes), thus this platform is an incredibly inventive marketing tool to inspire that exact craving millennials have for live events!

2017 is all about making live experiences as personal and exciting as possible. It’s about giving fans the opportunities to interact with artists and venues in ways they never have before. It’s about testing the boundaries with technology. There truly is nothing that can replace the experience of attending a live event, and technology is helping to keep this belief alive. Though some technological advancements may be more controversial, such as Apple’s recent patent on developing technology to deactivate iPhone cameras at certain live events, most goals exist to generate the best and most irreplaceable live experience that you have only dreamed of.

Thank you to Eventbrite, Forbes, and Huffington Post for providing insightful studies and information on this topic.

About Paige Allenspach

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