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The Future of Live Music, Art & Tech, San Francisco

Our recently-launched nonprofit arm, The Village Impacts, often blogs about the intersection of art and tech. Their most recent post was particularly relevant to the events industry, so we wanted to share it with you. We’re working with The Village Impacts to develop some awesome programming designed to support artists and public art programs in San Francisco, so be on the lookout…

As the worlds of art and tech become more and more intertwined every day, one industry where they are virtually inseparable is live music. As fans now have multiple options (legal or otherwise) when it comes to listening to recorded music, they’re spending less on CDs and downloads and more on concert tickets. Over last four years, spending on live music has increased by 66% and it’s expected to make up 70% of total music revenue by 2019.

With numbers like that, musicians, venues, and festival organizers are looking for new ways to create unique experiences to set their events apart. It’s becoming commonplace for concerts and festivals to feature art installations, projection mapping and light shows, new forms of interactivity, or some combination of all of the above.


Back in October, 2015, we hosted a sold out performance from electronic artist, Nicolas Jaar at The Village.

He and his production team made use of lasers and fog machines to fully envelop the entire venue in a hazy, otherworldly glow, which fit perfectly with the musician’s persona and his brand of dark, experimental electronica

Projection Mapping

Nicolas Jaar’s light show, however, is just scratching the surface of the many ways musicians are using technology to enhance their live shows.

Over the last decade or so, projection mapping has been huge in live music, especially EDM. While most artists in this realm started out using simple projection screens, many artists today use large-scale custom fabricated stage structures to display complex 3D projections. The video below shows one of the most impressive examples we’ve seen of projection mapping for a live performance, developed by creative studio, Obscura Digital for the electro/world music fusion band, Beats Antique (both from the Bay Area). With the ability for the musicians to control projection effects on stage, the production seamlessly melds Beats Antique’s music with Obscura’s visual storytelling, creating a unique experience at every show.

Interactive Experiences

Artists and musicians are also using technology to create new ways for fans to interact with music. In August, a group of artists, designers, and developers from New Museum’s New Inc incubator in NYC opened a 3-day interactive music installation called DELQA. The project allowed the guests to “get inside the music” of electronic artist, Matthew Dear, using Microsoft Kinect technology. With Dear’s music playing, guest were able to walk through an environment where they could climb on objects and push on mesh walls to manipulate the music.

While this wasn’t a live concert per se, this idea and technology have the potential to be reimagined and reapplied on larger scale for live events.

Fully Immersive Art Installations

While featuring art installations at music festivals is nothing new, most of the time those installations are designated to a certain area or thought of as an addition to the experience. Day for Night, a new music festival in Houston that debuted in December, 2015, dubbed “a music festival inside an art installation,” flips that idea by fully integrating art into the design of the event. The festival, “specifically designed around the merging of technology and sound and how audiences experience them,” featured 3 stages and 20 immersive and interactive art installations using the latest tech in lighting and sound. By making large-scale art just as much a part of the identity of the festival as the music, Day for Night set itself apart and is likely to grow in the coming years.

Fully integrating immersive art installations with live music is an idea we love… In fact, we’ve got something big in the works right now! Check back soon for more details or subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to hear about it.

#SanFrancisco #Technology #Music #TheVillageVenue #Visuals

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