Coolest New Technology at Music Festivals
With the start of summer comes the start of music festival season. From Coachella to Lollapalooza to Rolling Loud, music festivals attract over 32 million attendees each year. With a number this large, festivals are constantly looking for new ways to bring in advanced technology to make these experiences safer, more efficient, and more fun.
Here are some ways that music festivals have advanced in recent years amidst their growing popularity among music lovers.
Flying drones have been a crucial part of Coachella’s security since 2018. These drones, monitored by local police, give security remote access to the festival’s parameters. Police said that the parameters are where drones are needed the most, as what takes an officer minutes to get to can take a drone a few seconds.
More recently, drones have assisted with crowd management and control. Coachella’s attendance has increased from about 125,000 attendees per weekend in 2018 to around 250,000 in 2023. With this increase, drones provide an added safety measure by monitoring the movement and density of large crowds.
The introduction of Coachella’s drones is a result of a deadly shooting at a music festival in Las Vegas in 2017. Since then, police have aimed to take extra precautions when monitoring festivals, and drones allow for live and recorded surveillance 24/7.
Festivals have been prioritizing virtual tickets and contactless payment through Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) wristbands. These wristbands are ideal for events and festivals as they’re powered by electromagnetic energy emitted from RFID scanners rather than by batteries. Wristbands not only increase efficiency by speeding up check-in lines, but ensure physical payment methods or tickets won’t get lost amongst the crowd. They also add a level of security by allowing festival officials to collect data and track a visitor’s movements.
Austin City Limits is one festival that utilizes wristbands for entry, food, and merchandise payments at the tap of your wrist. Additionally, you can load emergency contact information onto the band for increased safety measures.
The Tomorrowland festival also uses wristbands but offers the ability to connect with fellow attendees on Facebook through the bands. Simply press the heart-shaped button on your wristband when in close proximity to your new friend, and their Facebook information will be sent to your account.
Most festival-goers look forward to the immersive experiences within the concerts. Augmented reality heightens the magic and entertainment of these moments through hypnotic visuals and sounds. Artists can use AR to showcase their vision through attendees’ smartphones.
Snapchat partnered with Lollapalooza in 2022 to provide fun filters and add tools to ensure a safe and organized festival experience. The AR Compass showed a map of the festival park as well as key landmarks in the area. The Festival Planner allowed attendees to plan out each festival based on the performers and restaurants present on that day/time. Finally, the Friend FindAR helped locate nearby friends from their distance to you.
In 2022, Coachella introduced Coachellaverse, which gave festival-goers and home audiences an interactive experience through the Coachella app. Attendees could see the festival space through a heightened lens, traveling through portals and going on quests. Fans at home had access to Instagram filters made in collaboration with Spark AR Creators such as Alexis Zerafa, Luke Hurd, Paige Piskin, and Helena Dong.
Finally, live-streamed concerts made possible through advanced cameras allow fans to experience the fun from the comfort of their home. This gives an option for those who can’t afford the pricey festival tickets, or who are unable to make the trip out there.
Coachella has live-streamed its shows since 2016, recently adding 360-degree live streams for select acts. Through YouTube, users can choose which performs they want to watch as well as see weekend highlights and schedules.
In 2022, Flume took his Coachella live stream performance to the next level by partnering with Unreal Engine to add massive psychedelic imagery to his performance. Large parrots that floated around the artists were exclusive to live stream viewers and changed the game for what can be created through technology.
Music festivals provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience for attendees, and their safety and fun are enhanced with the help of new technologies. From drones to augmented reality, technology has become a vital part of driving audience retention at festivals. Furthermore, companies like Instagram and Snapchat have the opportunity to partner with festivals to bring added magic and push their brands. With the recent rise of artificial intelligence, we can expect the coming years to be filled with further unique and remarkable music festivals.