Coachella Reveals Rising Role of Technology for 2015 Summer Concerts

Kristin Houser Writer & Editor, LA Music Blog

How festivals are using technology to connect fans, broadcast music and share the love.

Now that the California desert dust has settled from the Coachella Music and Arts Festival, fans are looking forward to the rest of Summer 2015’s musical adventures. From interactive live-streaming to customized experience apps, festival organizers tune into tech keep the summer festival experience rockin’ — both offline and on.

Coachella festival-goers sent more than 4 million fest-related tweets and shared almost half a million photos. When not lighting up social media, they were navigating the grounds using an interactive map on YouTube or accessing features via the fest’s official app — including wristband activation, friend finder, shuttle tracker and meal planner.

“Technology is allowing festivals, artists and creators in general to connect even deeper with their audiences,” says Matt McLernon, YouTube’s communications manager. For the past five years, YouTube has livestreamed the festival, so anyone beyond the 99,000 daily attendees could catch performances via three dedicated Coachella channels.

“YouTube just started rolling out features like 360 degree video and letting you select different camera angles as the video is playing — giving the viewer more control of how they’re uniquely experiencing the moment,” McLernon said.

Fans not at the show could also check out interactive artist profiles and shareable custom Coachella avatars.

YouTube Map

A 360-degree virtual reality experience called Coachella Explorer allowed festival attendees to use the app to roam the festival grounds, watch live footage or relive the experience using Google cardboard or Oculus Rift DK2.

Coachella may be the longest-running live-streamed festival on YouTube, but many major festivals are now streaming their sets — and they’re no longer sticking to just one platform.

Other channels diving into the live stream include UStream, which focuses on live events, including San Francisco’s Outside Lands. Jumping from gaming streams into the festival sphere, in March Twitch hosted the Ultra Music Festival.

This summer, fans can watch live festival performances, exclusive artist interviews and behind-the-scenes coverage from Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival by tuning in to Red Bull TV. It’s the first time the fest has streamed through the platform, which features curated clips and streams (as opposed to YouTube’s library of user-uploaded videos).

Music festivals must live-stream now if they want to be seen as credible and extend the reach of their events, said Patrick Dentler, director of marketing at concert promotion company C3 Presents in a recent Mashable interview.

The majority of Coachella-related tweets during the festival’s Weekend One came from fans watching at home. To get people talking, summer festivals are working harder (with bonus features and exclusive coverage) to make sure fans are watching online.


Whether heard via live stream or in-person, a stellar festival lineup is worthless if you can’t hear it, so in another tech-based initiative this year, Coachella partnered with “hearables” company Doppler Labs to give attendees an exclusive first use of their DUBS Earplugs.

These concert earplugs, which protect hearing without diminishing sound quality, were distributed to fans in welcome boxes at both Coachella weekends. VIP attendees could activate a feature letting them listen to simulations of their future diminished hearing if they don’t take action to protect their ears now.

The company recently announced a multi-year partnership to make DUBS the “official earplugs” of both Bonnaroo and Outside Lands Festivals.


Tech is also taking festival fan participation to a new level. Through a partnership with online platform TeePublic, fans can upload their own Bonnaroo T-shirt design ideas to a community-driven online art store. Festival organizers will sell shirts imprinted with their top picks, with the designers earning royalties on their sales.

Generate App Screenshots

Fans at Vancouver’s SEASONS festival in April were able to upload and add features to their festival photos and videos via an editing app created for the festival. Users could then share via social media and see them projected on a wall along with other attendees’ creations as part of a live audiovisual experience.

For anyone looking for their perfect summer festival, Everfest, an Austin-based startup, has a website and app users can use to connect with other festival-goers, rate the festivals they’ve been to and share their own “festival stories.”

“Revelers use technology as a means to extend the authentic experiences they encounter at festivals,” says Greenspan. “It should enhance the experience and provide an avenue for sharing. Have fun — and then show everyone how much fun you’re having.”


As the Co-Founder and lead writer/editor for LA Music Blog, a Los Angeles-based music news and review website, Kristin Houser’s life revolves around music and technology. She is very pleased to share her latest music obsessions and all the ways technology allows her to discover and enjoy music with iQ’s audience.


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