How music got high tech

Thank you for the music

Do you remember the first time a song raised the hairs on the back of your neck? What about your first ever Walkman, the first time you watched a music video on YouTube, or the first time you streamed a track in just a matter of seconds.

As with most shows of progress, novelty soon becomes the norm and we now live in a world where anything seems possible. When it comes to the entertainment industry, the quicker we can get our fix – the better. Yet sometimes, nothing quite beats the real thing of seeing your favourite artist perform live to a sea of adoring fans, and why stop at just one from the bucket list? Cue British festival fever. 

Festival feels

With the music industry enjoying a 12% boost from festival audiences alone, a UK Music study found that live music events are worth a staggering £4bn to the UK economy. This, combined with the continued growth of pop-up commerce (worth a predicted £3.5bn by 2020), has seen a number of eclectic boutique festivals surface up and down the country – from this summer’s Peter Pan-inspired Neverworld in Kent, to electronic dance music weekend Houghton set in the grounds of a Norfolk sculpture park. Beautiful location and music aside, what is it that keeps fans coming back for more?

Festivals have become so much more than just live music in a field far, far away. Instead, they have become a form of ‘staycation’ in their own right, offering eager visitors an escape from the everyday grind with a pitch beneath the stars, (often) exotic cuisine to sample and a whole host of weird and wonderful activities to discover; laughter yoga at Glastonbury, building a giant octopus with the kids at Green Man, or smashing the world record for the largest HIIT workout at Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park (to name but a few). As a result, and thanks to advanced payment technology, merchant opportunities are in abundance – with contactless leading the way. 

The magic touch

With more than ten billion contactless payments expected to be made this year alone, festival merchants and fans alike are taking full advantage of ‘touch-and-go’ tech – and the convenience that comes with it. Not only does it save more room in the bum bag, but it also saves precious time; contactless is 7 seconds faster than Chip and PIN, and 15 seconds faster than cash. Whether it’s a craft beer or glass of Prosecco, that amounts to 3.5 hours a day of saved time for pop-up bars – but what about consumers? Saving a total of 30 seconds per two transactions (or rounds, if you will), that’s finding the perfect spot near the front of the stage, without getting left behind.

At Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park, the number of contactless terminals has risen 285% in five years – from 70 in 2013 to 270 in 2017. This huge hike illustrates the widespread adoption of contactless technology and its success in serving thousands of people in short spaces of time. With such technology fuelling the festival machine paired with the increasing demand for immersive experiences, the innovation doesn’t stop there. 

Techno, techno

From keeping in touch when you get there to holistic interactive experiences, new technology continues to inspire and refine the festival experience. remember where on middle-earth you pitched your temporary abode? The game-changing Find My Tent app pegs your spot, using GPS to navigate you back to your quarters; what’s more, it’s even designed to use minimal battery. When it comes to accessories, radio-frequency identification (RFID) bands are making their way onto the wrists of many a festivalgoer. With Isle of Wight Festival currently trialling the technology, attendees can use their bands to make contactless payments on-site with the simple wave of a hand.  

The experience economy

As technology consistently strives to scale new heights, the expectations of consumers continue to rise. The growth of the experience economy in recent years tells a story of customers who want more, and are willing to pay for it.

Secret Cinema is a prime example of taking an already-popular form of entertainment (watching movies on the big screen) and turning it into a lucrative, fully-immersive experience for film fans.

As further evidence of our appetite for action, pop-up offerings elsewhere in the UK continue to experiment with new and exciting ways to bring the silver screen to alternative new spaces. From 2013 until summer last year, the Floating Cinema encouraged communities to catch their films on a 60-ft barge that travelled around the nation’s waterways, holding both multimedia workshops and regular screenings; and from canal boats to castles, The Luna Cinema continues to host its programme of events from more lavish locations including manor houses, cathedrals and museums. 

Barclaycard Entertainment

Whether it’s film fans or festivalgoers, Barclaycard continues to help merchants and consumers alike through improvements to payment technology across a multitude of venues (and locations). By increasing the number of contactless terminals, fans are spending less time queuing and more time quenching their thirst for a first-class experience.

With a rich heritage in supporting live performances, the recent launch of Barclaycard Entertainment also offers music fans the chance to get more from live events across the country – from money back on tickets to food and drink discounts. What’s more, Barclaycard have joined forces with Attitude Is Everything for BST 2018, to ensure an exceptional experience for everyone. With improved viewing platforms, British Sign Language provision and a new ‘Ticketing Without Barriers’ coalition to provide an equal experience for deaf and disable audiences, inclusivity and accessibility are placed at the very core of the annual event.

Live music is no longer just the preserve of the hardiest, most-devoted music pilgrims, but an all-round experience enabled by emerging technology that gives consumers all they’ve come to expect, and more again. Let the good times roll.