Wireless Wizardry Takes the Stage

  • by June 26, 2007

Moving beyond big-screen video monitors, glitzy special effects and sets with sophisticated hydraulics, concerts are going high-tech in a whole new way. Take Fergie’s 20-city spring/summer tour.

Verizon Wireless, sponsor of the tour, set up a wireless ticketing operation so that concertgoers don’t show paper tickets but instead, flash a special bar code sent via picture message to their mobile phones to gain entry into performance venues. Inside, fans get a chance to dance and sing with Fergie in a music video aided by computer technology and a big screen; the short videos then get uploaded to their phones. Verizon also created opt-in promotions, post-concert text messages from Fergie, and offered downloads of video clips, songs and other content.

Verizon also launched Fergie-TV, a new channel on its VCast video-on-demand service that delivers style and relationship tips from the artist, as well as an interactive text service that allows fans to ask Fergie questions.

But Fergie and Verizon aren’t the only wireless tech acts on the scene. This spring, emo rockers Fall Out Boy enabled fans to send text messages to screens on either side of the stage at a venue in Ohio. The result? A continuous crawl of mash notes, declarations of love for bassist Pete Wentz and the odd marriage proposal. On U2’s last tour, fans text-messaged support for anti-poverty initiatives — and their names popped up on huge video monitors.

Music fans going to the Virgin Festival in Baltimore on August 4-5, sponsored by Virgin Mobile, will receive updates via their mobile phones. Festival-goers will be able to share text messages and photos through so-called “picture-to-screen” technology.

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