The Future of Music Events
Music festivals have grown immensely in popularity over the past decade or two and, no matter whether it’s major American festivals like Bonnaroo and Coachella or European giants such as Glastonbury and Roskilde, today’s modern music festivals have almost nothing in common with Woodstock and other early predecessors. Nonetheless, the extreme speed at which technology is advancing our world means that music festivals are likely to undergo even more dramatic changes in the coming years. For this reason, it is interesting to do a bit of predicting to try to see what future festivals might look like.
Widespread Use of Wearable Technology
Already we’re seeing wearable technology being employed at numerous festivals around the world. Festivals like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits have been employing RFID wristbands for several years now, while Coachella and others have also jumped on the bandwagon more recently.
These RFID wristbands are first and foremost a replacement for the traditional festival wristband. When a person arrives and presents their ticket, they are given a wristband that contains their ticket info and allows them access to the festival grounds. However, these RFID wristbands do much more than just act as a ticket as they can also be used to sync with your social media accounts to allow you to connect with people around you.
The Future is Cashless
Another major advantage of these RFID wristbands is that they can be directly connected to a person’s bank account. More and more festivals are going cashless in an effort to speed up and simplify service, and these wristbands are a huge part of why this is possible. For festival goers, the wristband makes it easier to manage their money and eliminates worries about losing a wallet or purse, while festival organisers continually report increased profits due to the cashless system.
The Rise of Silent Discos and Other Festival Technology
At this year’s Glastonbury Festival, much of the news focused on a particular Jeremy Corbyn chant that apparently originated in the venue’s silent disco. For those who are unaware, silent disco events are a staple of most festival scenes these days, where partiers dance to music pumped through headphones instead of typical speakers. Often referred to as a headphone disco, these silent discos are just one example of the ways that technology is not just changing the structure of festivals, but also how people party.
Hologram performances are another example. Coachella Music Festival made headlines in 2012 when it featured a hologram performance by deceased rapper Tupac Shakur, while Ronnie James Dio’s hologram has performed in both Germany and the United States since the man himself passed away last year. Although some people view these hologram performances purely as a gimmick, it still shows the extent to which technology is changing music festivals and how people interact with music in general.
Virtual reality technology also seems certain to play an increasingly important role in music festivals. Already some events are allowing people to take virtual tours of the grounds using an Oculus Rift or other VR headset. The fact that many festivals are already being broadcast on television or online means that it probably won’t be all that long before anyone who can’t make it to the festival can don a VR headset and get the full festival experience without leaving their home.
Expect More Environmental Responsibility
One major criticism that has long been launched at music festivals is the huge amount of trash and waste that they create. In response, more and more festivals are attempting to ‘go green’ in an effort to answer the growing criticisms. While recycling programs can be found at most every major festival nowadays, some festivals have taken things one step further by completely banning plastic bottles. Similarly, others have put in place programs to prevent food waste.
The fact that many festivals tend to attract a slightly more affluent crowd means that the calls for more environmental responsibility are only likely to grow louder in the future. This means that we’re likely to see the use of solar powered stages and lighting become more commonplace. Already we’ve seen some festivals using quite innovative methods to meet their growing energy needs. For instance, at Denmark’s Roskilde Festival and various other European festivals, anyone who wishes to use the available computers or take a hot shower must first generate enough power to cover their needs by riding a stationary bike connected to a generator. In this way, fans are brought into the equation and given a fun incentive to help out.
What Else Can We Expect?
The truth is that technology is currently changing at such a rapid rate that it can often be impossible to predict what will happen one or two years from now, let alone what might happen 10 or 20 years down the road. Nonetheless, if the current evidence gives us anything to go by, it appears almost certain that technology will eventually revolutionise the festival experience in so many ways that future festivals will have as much in common with today’s festivals as today’s festivals do with the original Woodstock.