Is Technology Changing Our Relationship With Music?
Assistant Professor Brian Moon of the University of Arizona's Fox School of Music shares some insight about how our relationship with music might be changing with technology.This article originally appeared on Futurity
Technology has helped drive the popularity of music festivals, while also revising the experiences people have with live music, according to Brian Moon.
Events like the SnowGlobe Music Festival in California, Decadence New Year’s Eve in Colorado, and Bestival in the UK’s Isle of Wight will share a massive infusion of technology and social media: live streaming to expand views, new perspectives offered by custom-made camera rigs, mobile apps, and wearable listening systems that customize a user’s experience, and scannable RFID wristbands that help reduce wait time and limit ticket fraud.
What has not changed, however—from Woodstock to Coachella—is the festival industry’s effort to create an all-sensory experience “getting into the realm of sight, temperature, feeling, and smells,” says Moon, an assistant professor in the University of Arizona’s Fred Fox School of Music.
Moon answered a few questions about the changing culture of music festivals, and how such events are reshaping how people engage with the music industry via technology and social media
Q: How has new technology had an impact on music festivals, and how are festivals changing?
Broadly, technology has, in some ways, driven the popularity of music festivals, allowing festivals to become larger. The technology that amplifies sound has allowed for better experiences for huge outdoor venues. You can steadily see festival sizes growing.
In terms of technology, I also suspect that there are links between the ways people relate through social media, which creates bonds between fans as they document their festival experiences. For example, Coachella builds itself as a “music and arts festival” as a means of drawing attention that there is going to be more going on.
And I do see that music festivals pick up on the culture of the moment. For example, Woodstock seemed to reflect the peace and love movement in the 1960s culture. But festivals are also an alternative to the mainstream popular music culture.
Q: How has technology affected and influenced musicians?
We’re still finding out what technology is doing to the industry. In the past five years, the number of times you visit a band’s Wikipedia page can tell if a band is going to break in the next year or so. For instance, about eight months before The Weeknd began to play across radio stations throughout the country, there was a huge spike of views on their Wikipedia page. And there are now firms that create analytics of data of the number of YouTube clips that are played.
Another way record labels or representatives of an artist are able to tell if an artist is going to break is through the use of Shazam (an app that identifies the media playing around you). Shazam is able to show the most “Shazamed” song in your particular area.
For instance, in Tucson right now, “Guys My Age” by Hey Violet has been Shazamed more than any other song in Tucson. With this data, a record label or artist representative is able to promote the artist or their music by showing this data in the hopes of getting it released nationally.
This is very different from pre-social media and the pre-internet era, because technology creates data that the industry can use which reflects actual taste and not instinct. In the past, record executives would instinctively know this song or artist was going to be a hit. But that led to repetitive-sounding music that often was the same thing time and time again. Now we have songs and artists that sound really distinct, and that diversity is in part because it’s possible for the data and technology to draw attention to people’s taste.