For the music fan, the digital revolution brought about a wealth of new ways to discover and enjoy music. But the focus was largely solitary – individual experiences heard in front of a computer or on a mobile device. The most social of musical experiences, the live concert, was a relic left more or less untouched by digital innovation.
Until recently, that is. In the past few years, several digital products, including wearable technology and apps, have shifted how we interact at live concerts and given us a reason to use our smartphones for something other than watching the concert.
Here, we look at a few of the most recent:
Vyclone is a mobile app created by Joe Sumner, son of Gordon Sumner (a.k.a. Sting). The app was conceived by the younger Sumner while he was touring with his own band, Fiction Plane. "Every night at shows I was staring out at hundreds of people filming everything with their smart phones," Sumner told CBC Music. "I dreamed that instead of seeing one angle you could step inside a place, explore everybody's viewpoint and really get immersed in an event. I had no other motivation than making something that was awesome."
So he and some partners set out to build an app. Vyclone enables video crowdsourcing and takes raw footage from several phones and mashes them together using algorithms to create a finished, multi-cut video. One of the applications for Vyclone has been concert videos, where several fans at the same concert upload their shots from various angles.
As for other applications, Sumner recounted a few of the standouts: "We've seen tons of baptisms, proposals, crazy dancing waiters, skateboard tricks. My personal favorite is a guy called Swaggmatser26 who makes hilarious videos about cosmetic products. I think the best is yet to come from when people on Vyclone start to bump into each other by chance and collaborate in ways that we couldn't have imagined."
Launched earlier this summer, Amp'd dubs itself the "audience relationship solution." The app allows a fan to follow an artist's setlist in real time, buy exclusive merch, make song requests and vote on which songs they want to hear for encores. The app, available for iOS and Android, also serves as a "concert lighter" and provides an area for trivia and a space for exclusive prizes.
The Dan Deacon App
Electronic artist Dan Deacon debuted his new iOS/Android app this week, timed to coincide with his latest North American tour. The app, available for iOS and Android and simply called Dan Deacon, syncs your smartphone to what's happening during his performance and uses your phone's screen, LED light and speakers to transmit a unique light/sound output based on where you are in the venue.
There's an added bonus to those music fans without great data plans – the app runs without reliance on a network.
Think of Coldplay's Xyloband as an app you wear. The Xyloband is a wristband that begins to glow in time to concert events planned out by the band. The invention was actually created by a fan of the band, Jason Regler, who dreamed it up during the British act's performance at Glastonbury in 2005. It was introduced on the Coldplay's recent world tour. Fans are given the band on entrance and leave with it. While meant to be activated during the performance, there have been instances of Xylobands seemingly taking on lives of their own. Here is our full report on the Vancouver premiere of the Xyloband.
Yes, Google+ has received some flack for being less inhabited than other social networks, but the numbers show plenty of engagement. And while musicians have been using livestreaming to broadcast performances over the internet for years, Google+ provides a place – including an app – to stream concerts that can be influenced by an audience from anywhere, and allows the artist to build a fanbase.
Case in point: indie singer-songwriter Daria Musk, who used the platform to go from performing in sparsely attended coffee shops to a Google-fied audience of 200,000.
Tell us about your favourite concert app and how you use it. Or perhaps you think smartphones have no place at a concert. Have your say below.
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