I like to consider myself a tech guy who is obsessed with music. Its always nice to see what new innovations can help us consume the audio art we all love so much, and at this years SF Music Tech Summit there was a lot to talk about. We learned about Wix’s new plan to help artists create websites in a DIY fashion via Wix Music, various ways promoters are using real time data and Geolocation to enhance concerts, and how virtual reality (VR) can change the way we experience music.
There is definitely an ongoing discussion about how ‘plugged in’ we should be at concerts. Here is an example that favors being on your phone during a show: what if the promoter knows that you’ve been sitting in front of the main stage at a festival for five hours waiting to watch the headliner, and sends an alert to your phone with a free coupon for water from any vendor near you? That is just one of many scenarios where Geolocation is being used to make concerts better for the fans. Another example works like a trip planner, where you can look up on your phone, based on where you are standing, how long it would take you to get to a shuttle (as well as how long you will be waiting for said shuttle). Services like Lyft and Uber are already using this technology to get people around town, so using it to make your concert experience more manageable seems like a logical progression.
Although there were many great companies displaying and talking about their products, one company stood out in particular. Vantage.tv COO Alexander Chung had a small area with a table and four chairs. On those chairs were headphones and a few pairs of goggles that resembled something out of Star Wars or Back to the Future II. He asked if I’ve ever seen a concert in virtual reality (VR). Now, virtual reality has been around for a while. I’m going to show my age here, but who cares! When I was growing up, virtual reality was either something you saw in movies or at arcades. You would go to the arcade (where they didn’t serve beer), and put on these googles that took you to another world. The only problem was that the graphics sucked, and it felt like you were stuck in 8-bit land. That was definitely not the case when I put on the Vantage.tv goggles and was immediately transported to a Florence and the Machine concert. The experience felt so lifelike that I didn’t want to take them off for fear of missing the next song. Instantly, I imagined people who love live music, but don’t like crowds being in love with this device. Or possibly someone who is handicapped, but still wants to receive the live concert experience.
Whether you’re a musician building a website, a promoter trying to improve how live festivals and concerts operate, or a tech company launching a revolutionary new product, the San Francisco Music Tech Summit is the perfect place for you to shine and contribute to the community. As a tech guy with a music obsession, this event always makes me feel like a kid in a candy shop. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next year.