Friday, April 24, 2015

Headphones to create a new experience at concerts

A friend sent me a link to this clip by the jazz group Snarky Puppy. I don't know if you like jazz or not - for me it's ok in moderation. But the thing that intrigued me wasn't the music but how it was being enjoyed by the audience. They are wearing headphones. I did some quick research and found that this could be a trend. Audience members listen to the performance through headsets connected directly to the engineer's soundboard. That way they get to experience the live event with clean, clear sound - as the artists intended.

Just a day before I had lunch with a buddy and noticed he was having a little difficulty hearing what I said in the yum cha restaurant when he wasn't looking directly at me. Or he may have been ignoring my comment about The Eagles - which is also very likely, as a DJ he is picky in his tastes. I asked if he could hear ok. He told me he had some hearing loss and was using hearing aids - he showed me the delicately wired phones. I asked if it was the result of DJing. He replied that, more likely, it was the result of years of gym classes - with pounding, loud music.

Wearing 'cans' at a musical event would make sense. Aside from transmitting the sounds pitch perfect it would also mean that you could select the volume you prefer. Combined with a smart phone app maybe you could interconnect with with friends in the audience and enjoy a private conversation - or group chat mixed in the audio stream - selecting whether to allow the intrusion or not. Maybe you could include a voice to text option so that you can so 'This bit reminds me of our holiday in Venice' isn't mixed into the stream.

It might seem anathemic to concert purists for whom feeling the music in their chests amongst 10,000 other AC/DC fans is the point, rather than intimacy or sound quality. But most mid size events aren't like that. The experience of a gig could be augmented by using cans - much in the same way that 3D glasses change the way you enjoy a film.

With revenues from recordings falling (Spotify and other streaming services barely register on bands balance sheets) concerts are part of the experience economy that is growing.
What do you think. Would you entertain the idea?


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