We live in the future. With our smartphones we can purchase any item, speak to any person, look up every piece of information, and output our own thoughts and ideas to the world from any place, at any time. Our transportation system allows us to reach any location in the world in under a day, and we have breached the bonds of our own planet and ventured further into the solar system. The rapid rise in technological advancement over the years has allowed our population to begin reshaping our own global culture using our unlimited access to the world’s online information and resources. Innovation and the constant adoption of new technologies has become the norm, and it has found its way into our daily lives, our careers, and our passions. One organization that has truly exemplified this current revolution and used it to enhance their goals and effects on consumers is SFX Entertainment Co. and its Tomorrowworld Music Festival.
As anyone who’s visited a dance music festival in recent years knows, the scene undoubtedly has room for innovation and improvement in multiple areas. In environments such as these where wifi connectivity is laughable, overcrowding is a given, and the handling of tickets/money/personal items is a hassle, the general consensus urges for increased simplicity and ease on the logistical end of the festival experience. Luckily for attendees and fans, SFX has started implementing revolutionary new additions to their network that have the potential to change the scene from the inside out.
As of last year, Tomorrowland’s tickets now come in the form of “wearable tech” wristbands that feature a boatload of exciting capabilities. On the procedural side, these wristbands employ personal ticket information, allowing attendees to simply scan their way onto the festival grounds. Not only does this save paper, as well as decrease instances of ‘lost tickets’ and subsequent lines at the Help Desk, but it gives festival-goers one fewer thing to worry about during the weekend. In addition, these wristbands can facilitate a ‘cashless’ environment, where all money used to buy food/drinks and merchandise is uploaded to the wristband itself, again shifting the focus back to the music and experience.
The wristbands also emit UHF radio frequencies that allow wearers to connect with one another when they simultaneously press the bracelet’s heart-shaped button. Using their unique, personal information stored inside, the attendees each receive an email linking to the other’s Facebook account so that they can make their festival friendship official later on. While this feature does not automatically add them directly through Facebook, and is glitchy at times, it’s an impressive and innovative first step towards making the festival community even more inclusive. Finally, the wristbands all include a responsive LED light that can be remotely activated by the festival, producing incredible light shows from within the crowd at some of the most attended sets.
While these advancements drastically improve the vibe at the festival, SFX hasn’t forgotten about their fans who can’t make it out to the grounds. Last year, the company teamed up with the virtual tour startup YouVisit in an attempt to extend the festival experience to those at home and to those who want to remember it. YouVisit’s senior director of operations, PJ Morreale, set up a customized camera rig of multiple DSLR cameras with the ability to capture high-res, interactive photos with 360 degree rotation. Using their browser or smartphone, fans at home can drag their way around every Tomorrowland stage, campground, art exhibit and more. As the marketing manager of the festival Joe Silberzweig put it:
“Millennials are an experience generation, they want you to take them somewhere totally unique.”
With this new, interactive way to view the entire festival environment, SFX is taking more steps to connect with their fans on a personal level than ever before.
With the birth of virtual holograms at Coachella, vastly improved and astonishing screen visuals at shows like Excision’s, and the incoming inclusion of Oculus Rift technology, it’s clear that music festivals are becoming a breeding ground for the experimentation and implementation of brand new technological ideas. Hardwell said it best when he noted that, “Technology has grown to play one of the most important roles in the festival experience. From lighting to visuals to live streams, it has added an entirely new dimension to live performances.” As this year’s festival season quickly approaches, we look forward to seeing what else the tech market has to offer.