The technology boom rocked the music industry to its core. While the advent of Napster created a wave of panic, it didn’t kill the music industry as many had feared. Instead, the file-sharing service served as a harbinger of major changes to come.
Some in the industry criticized technology as more harmful than beneficial, but as music and technology began to work together, the technology that was once feared became a boon for listeners and the industry alike.
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Today’s advancements bring people together in ways previously unimagined, helping us create better music, challenge industry standards, and interact with brands and artists hundreds of miles away. The relationship between technology and the music industry continues to grow, affecting music creators and lovers in four distinct ways:
People love convenience. Festivalgoers at Coachella, Bonnaroo, Sasquatch, and Tomorrowland no longer have to fiddle with tickets and cash. New technologies like RFID and NFC let attendees scan in to shows from their phones and pay vendors through a chip in a wristband. At 2014’s Coachella, music fans could check in at RFID “hubs” and access exclusive Spotify playlists and digital postcards from the event.
Other wearable technologies, such as smartwatches outfitted with Bluetooth headphones, provide music lovers options beyond their smartphones for tracking their fitness activity and staying plugged into their favorite songs while they work out. Technology is helping keep us tuned in wherever we go.
2. Deeper consumer engagement
Brands and advertisers want to speak to people who pay attention to their ads, and nothing captures attention like active engagement. Apps like Shazam not only help people recognize songs they want to hear again, but they also allow people to interact further with their favorite artists and brands by offering interactive content and the ability to buy and share items.
This increased engagement through tech benefits listeners and artists. Cloud-based collaboration platforms like Splice help music creators work together in ways that were previously impossible by solving the compatibility glitches inherent in sharing files among multiple computers. It also fosters play among musicians, encouraging them to change melodies and create remixes without worrying about losing their work.
3. Memorable experiences
Studies show that people, especially Millennials, vastly prefer spending money on experiences over products. Brands today provide experiential activations for their customers by hooking them with music, then creating unique experiences using modern technology.
Virgin Mega recently gave fans an unforgettable experience using mobile technology. The company, along with rapper Cam’ron, sent fans on a treasure hunt around New York City looking for Killa Crunch, a fake cereal bearing the rapper’s image and containing prizes. The promotion boosted the artist’s exposure while connecting fans with his music, creating a product beyond his songs by giving listeners an experience to remember.
4. Data and personalisation
Anyone with a smartphone now has access to millions of songs anywhere, anytime. Streaming services like Spotify and Pandora can track listeners and their favorite songs to deliver better, more customized experiences. In July, Spotify unveiled Discover Weekly, a two-hour personalized playlist designed to offer the listener new discoveries based on the songs he loves. The music service is pushing its technology toward refining and perfecting recommendations to make playlists sound like they were compiled by a listener’s best friend.
Recently, Pandora made advances in live engagement by creating concert presale campaigns targeting bands’ existing fans. The service rolled out Rolling Stones concert tickets early for the rockers’ devotees and targeted the followers of a lesser-known band, ODESZA, letting its true fans in on a special offer.
The future of music technology
As technology evolves, music remains a powerful cultural tool that continually illustrates the real value of that progress for people. For example, festival attendance is on the rise, and many festivals are also offering live streaming services to those who can’t attend.
How long will it be until music lovers can attend festivals through virtual reality devices? It might sound like a distant dream, but if technology continues to develop and grow faster than people can explore it, the answer is much sooner than you think.
Many of the technologies available today have yet to make their way into the music world, prompting speculation: How will music take advantage of 3D printing or advanced sensors (i.e., beacon technology) at concerts?
Coachella gave the world the Tupac hologram, Michael Jackson appeared posthumously that way at the Billboard Music Awards, and Chief Keef has made plans to beam his live performances across the country, so don’t be surprised by what comes next. Those who stream Netflix and Hulu programming into their living rooms might next enjoy watching live concerts from the comfort of their couches. What do you see in the future of music and technology?