How is Technology Impacting the Future of Live Events?

 How are VR devices, RFID bracelets, and holograms used in live events?
How are VR devices, RFID bracelets, and holograms used in live events?

Concerts and live events have been a social staple in the American culture and is currently a booming industry. According to Statista, the industry has seen a steady revenue growth of around $0.3 billion per year, with a reported ticket sales revenue of $8 billion in 2017. Nielsen also reports that at least 32 million people attend concerts and live events in the U.S. per year. Among those 32 million people, 46% of the concert goers are between the age of 18–34. This age range can roughly be classified in the millennial group and Global Data reports that 79% of millennial are more likely to try out new innovations and experiences (they ranked the highest compared to the other age groups!). These statistics are great indicators of the direction that the live events industry is heading towards in terms of adopting new technologies to disrupt the current market. The advancement of technology will continuously improve the concert-going experience, which in turn will increase ticket sales and attendance.

The goal for most concert venues and performers is to create a memorable concert experience for the concertgoers. Since most venues hosts at least 100 performers per year, they must leverage technology to create that memorable live experience and differentiate themselves from others. The traditional format of standing in the crowd while listening to the performers sing on the stage is very outdated and basic. Nowadays, venues and performers use new technologies to highlight their performance, engage with the audience, and enhance the customer service experience. The industry is currently experimenting with technologies such as RFID bracelets, facial recognition, phone applications, virtual reality, holograms, and social media to improve their overall operations and create value for the customers.

On the venue side, some of them are using RFID (radio frequency identification) devices to store and transmit user information for purchase decisions, security, and even social media. RFID devices are usually designed as bracelets and as the name suggests, uses various radio frequencies to connect to a scanner to transmit user information such as payment options, social media accounts, and general contact information. Commercially, this device can be used for contact-less payments (like Apple Pay), seamless check-in to live events or hotels, and marketing research. While RFID has the potential to increase a company’s profit margin, the technology has some security flaws. For the RFID to transmit the information inside the chip, it needs to connect to the scanner. This process allows the data inside the chip to be easily intercepted by a hacker if they have their own scanners or if the owner loses their RFID device. While it’s very risky for users to store sensitive information in the chip, it still has the potential to be used as a simple identity verification device. The best way to use RFID devices would be as keys or an identity verification device. With that said, technologies such as facial recognition or fingerprint scans can perform this function more efficiently.

Some venues have already implemented a face recognition system to improve their security and operations. Face recognition shares a similar potential as RFID devices, for commercial use, but it’s far more secure. Rather than storing your information on a bracelet (which can get lost or stolen), your face is the ticket. Venues can use the technology to accurately speed up transactions and improve security check-ins. They can also use the data for analytical purposes and design strategic marketing decisions to personalize their customer’s concert experience. Airports are already using facial recognition stations to speed up their immigration lines and has gained traction with a lot of airport goers.  While the technology has potential, there are some guidelines when using biometric tools for public use. Companies must be transparent with the process and that it must be optional. Since customers need to be assured that companies aren’t using face recognition for mass surveillance. While some people might object to having their faces scanned, most of them wouldn’t mind if they’re informed about the process and if it’ll improve their concert experience.

Performers have also been leveraging innovative technologies to improve the quality of their performance. Recently, companies have been using holograms to create concerts for popular performers who have passed away. Iconic performers such as Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse are being revived through cutting edge holograms devices to simulate a semi-realistic concert experience. The industry approached a modern problem with a modern solution since it’s a tech phenomenon that could be compared to virtual reality and 3D films. Some of the barriers to using holograms would be the production and legal costs. It’s also very risky because hologram concerts could be disrupted by power outages or technical failures whereas it wouldn’t be that big of a deal for traditional concerts (the show must go on!).

With the emergence of virtual reality technology, performers like Imagine Dragons and The Chainsmokers are recording their concert performances using VR technology. Users can use VR platforms such as Next VR or Melody VR to stream concerts and be in the moment with the performers. While this experience isn’t the same thing as watching the performance live, it’s a viable option for people who are concerned about safety or costs. How cool would it be to VR stream Beyoncé’s concert and dance along with her at the comfort of your own living room?!

All the technologies that have been discussed are currently disrupting the live events industry as venues and performers are racing to identify the next innovation that can elevate their business or performance to the next level. The research data shows that the market conditions are optimal for the emergence and adoption of new technological innovations. The live events industry is booming, the customers are willing to participate in the “new” thing, and the technology is becoming more feasible and creative. The future of the live events industry will revolve around how venues and performers will effectively leverage technology to create an optimal customer service experience.

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