Although it has taken a while to catch on, mobile devices are now beginning to prove themselves as essential tools that have essentially transformed the live concert experience. Venues used to ban the use of cell phones from their shows, but now, the tide is turning, and venues, artists and promoters alike are seeing the benefits of a creatively integrating mobile and live. At a live show, excited fans always have the dire need to get closer to the band and be more involved with the overall concert experience. People constantly are trying to push their way to the front, get backstage, yelling out to the band, and throwing things on stage. The fan wants to be involved, and with some recent experiments with mobile devices, this is becoming immensely popular, and there seems to be more possibilities than ever before.
Popular jam band, Umphrey’s McGee, is on the forefront of this new technology. At a series of shows, concert-goers could influence the playlist by texting ideas for the act to improvise on during a jam. In a crowd of 50, the band had about 400 responses, and will continue to apply this experiment to their upcoming shows in the year ahead. As reported by Billboard’s Antony Bruno, and according to Umphrey’s McGee’s soundman Kevin Browning, “a lot of successes today we owe to the fans, and mobile technology helps us better understand their wants and communicate in an intimate way” Acts can use such experiments as a launch point for encores, and think about giving a twist to the making of live music videos in fron of a crowd. crowd.
Mobile technologies have also shed new light to opportunities of advertisers. Instead of the usual banners and kiosks at shows, mobile communications will allow advertisers to track engagement and build their exposure and contact lists. During a Keith Urban tour, sponsors KC Masterpiece and Kingsford Charcoal backed a sweepstakes where fans could enter to win a barbecue featuring a performance by Urban by sending a text to the artist’s Mozes mobile fan club. Throughout the tour, posters and banners covered the venues telling fans how they could get involved. Signing up for such sweepstakes via mobile phones allows the sponsoring companies to collect data, having consumers choose to sign up for alerts from the company.
There has also been development of purchasing tickets via mobile devices. Sites such as Tickets.com have seen a sharp increase in traffic on its mobile website, and the purchase of tickets the day of a show. Some venues have adapted separate entrances for mobile ticket holders, and allow them an earlier entrance, which have led to an increase in mobile ticket sales. All of these new developments have shown that technology and creative mobile experiments are developing a new way of live music experiences.
See Antony Bruno, “Mobile Comes Alive”, Billboard, Nov. 7, 2009, 8
By Kerry Fee