From Singing Along to Lighting Up: Audience Tech Gets Interactive

Artists innovate ways to get fans involved

Written by Kelsea Lee • Photography by Jordan Nicholson, Live Nation • December 28, 2016

Audience participation at shows has been an essential element to performances throughout the history of concerts. What used to be limited to crowd sing-alongs and volunteer participation has now become a method to showcase innovative and interactive displays.

With modern day technology, there are many creative ways to incorporate and engage the crowd. As the distance between artist and audience gets smaller and smaller, the trend towards fan-driven experiences is growing quickly.

Most shows and concert experiences these days employ LED technology of some sort. LEDs are a preferred light source because they’re energy efficient, small, cool and durable. They have many uses in everyday life, but they’re especially well-suited for concert lighting.

With advancements in visual and lighting effects being used on stages, the same technology is being applied to incorporate concertgoers. Companies like Crowd Sync, PixMob, and Xylobands now are using LED wristbands as an integral part of the concert experience. Wristbands given to audience members are programmed to strobe, fade and flash in sync with the music, turning the crowd itself into an extra-large LED wall similar to those on stage. By transforming and scaling each of the wearable objects into pixels, the crowd becomes a display.

PixMob debuted the use of their interactive devices in concert back in 2011 with Arcade Fire. The team held hundreds of PixMob balls above the crowd and released them onto the audience during the band’s encore performance of “Wake Up.” Attendees were able to bounce the flashing, colorful balls around, creating a new type of collective crowd energy.

Xylobands, the company behind Coldplay’s LED concert experience, and Crowd Sync have also started incorporating RFID technology into their wristbands and lanyards, combining ticketing, payment, and social activation into a light-up device that concertgoers can take home with them.

Light-up wristbands are getting increasingly sophisticated, with control options now including sound activation and motion activation in addition to manual control. For the wristbands to light up in sync with the music playing, techs can run an audio feed to a control unit. For more control over the choreography of the lights, lighting directors can manage the effects through a control pad or lighting board.

Though these devices make for a great light show, what’s really special about them is their ability to foster a sense of community and energy among the crowd. Bringing people even closer together through the power of music? We can all get behind that.

FIND TICKETS FOR

Explore More From Shell FFWD

The Power of Questions
Live Events Go Green
Smart Earplugs? Yes, Smart Earplugs
Can Live Streaming Pay Off?
Get interactive with Jennifer Hudson, Steve Aoki and more!
Remix your own “Best Day of My Life”
Get interactive with Jennifer Hudson, Steve Aoki and more!
What are other musicians doing today in order to promote a clean, sustainable environment?
Artists Supporting Sustainability
What are other musicians doing today in order to promote a clean, sustainable environment?
Lights, DJ, Action!
Music Apps—From Bizarre to VR
Twitter Moments Go Mobile
The innovative #makethefuture campaign from Shell brings gravity-powered light to Kenya
Sometimes, Great Ideas Do Fall From the Sky
The innovative #makethefuture campaign from Shell brings gravity-powered light to Kenya
Now Playing: The Soundtrack of Your Life
Music & Environment: A Community-by-Community Initiative
Musical Instruments of the Future
The Nigerian singer talks innovation, collaboration – and why the Shell #makethefuture initiative is so close to her heart
Yemi Alade: ‘I’m pleased to be part of the energy train’
The Nigerian singer talks innovation, collaboration – and why the Shell #makethefuture initiative is so close to her heart
New remix app relieves royalty-related worries
Mix It Up With 8Stem
New remix app relieves royalty-related worries
Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson and Brazilian superstar Luan Santana have teamed up with Shell to #makethefuture by championing groundbreaking energy innovators and initiatives that will help provide cleaner and more sustainable energy.
6 Artists Join Shell in an Energetic Collaboration
Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson and Brazilian superstar Luan Santana have teamed up with Shell to #makethefuture by championing groundbreaking energy innovators and initiatives that will help provide cleaner and more sustainable energy.
Get the rundown from phonographs to smartphones
Innovations That Changed Music
Get the rundown from phonographs to smartphones
Music and Art Connect via Kinect
Learning from the Best with Masterclass
Groupmuse: Uber for Live Music?
The musician, working with #makethefuture, helps spark interest in renewable energy via the world’s most popular sport
Akon and Shell Light Up Lagos
The musician, working with #makethefuture, helps spark interest in renewable energy via the world’s most popular sport
Nano What? Printed Electronics Are Here
Green Day Gets Greener—with Coffee
Music Meets Innovation in Rio’s Santa Marta community
Rio Gets Lit, Sustainably
Music Meets Innovation in Rio’s Santa Marta community
If you already know and love Shazam, you’re about to love it even more
Songkick + Shazam: Like a Song? See the Show!
If you already know and love Shazam, you’re about to love it even more
The historic music studio is making its place in the future
Abbey Road Red: Fueling the Future of Music Production
The historic music studio is making its place in the future
Entrepreneurs find inspiration in unlikely places
Six Energy Innovations That Will Help #Makethefuture
Entrepreneurs find inspiration in unlikely places
Here One: Recognized as one of Time Magazine’s Best Inventions of 2015
Bionic Earbuds of the Future?
Here One: Recognized as one of Time Magazine’s Best Inventions of 2015
Does high-definition audio really matter? That depends on you.
HD Audio: Is the Best Yet to Come?
Does high-definition audio really matter? That depends on you.
Get acquainted with FestEvo!
New App Enhances Festival Fun
Get acquainted with FestEvo!
Secrets behind Daft Punk, Katy Perry and Beyoncé costumes revealed
Tour Wardrobe Taps Tech
Secrets behind Daft Punk, Katy Perry and Beyoncé costumes revealed
Sasquatch, Treasure Island and Outside Lands are doing it...
Festivals Are Going Green
Sasquatch, Treasure Island and Outside Lands are doing it...
Never miss a live stream from your favorite artists
Heads Up! Facebook Live Gets Predictable
Never miss a live stream from your favorite artists
Phone-blocking gadgets could change the concert experience
Thumbs Up for Phones Down?
Phone-blocking gadgets could change the concert experience
We’ll keep you connected to people and events moving the industry forward.
Shell + Live Nation Present Future Forward
We’ll keep you connected to people and events moving the industry forward.
What AI Evolution Means for Machine Music
Future, Meet DJ-Bot 3000!
What AI Evolution Means for Machine Music
GitHub Turns Traffic Into Tunes
Berklee College encourages students to make positive impact
Teaching Music Gets Greener
Berklee College encourages students to make positive impact
RFID—Your New Favorite Band?
Wearable audio technology could change the way we experience music.
Coming Soon: Body-Rocking Beats
Wearable audio technology could change the way we experience music.
Coming to a Stage Near You
Holo-Tech, The Next Generation
Coming to a Stage Near You
The recording artist and his wife Kim will receive an award for their work promoting sustainability
Jack Johnson Recognized for Being Green
The recording artist and his wife Kim will receive an award for their work promoting sustainability
Music recommendations are reaching a new level—here's how.
Music Apps That Think! (Or Very Close To It)
Music recommendations are reaching a new level—here's how.
Amazon Music Unlimited is set to rival any of the best out there.
Amazon's Music Service Ups the Ante (With Discounts!)
Amazon Music Unlimited is set to rival any of the best out there.
Imagine: watching any artist on VR, at any concert, at any time.
VR Concerts Coming Soon…Finally!
Imagine: watching any artist on VR, at any concert, at any time.
Here's how tech can help artists in the business!
Hey, Mr. DJ: Do You Take Cryptocurrency?
Here's how tech can help artists in the business!
Six stars. Seven clean energy initiatives. It's time to #makethefuture brighter.
Jennifer Hudson, Steve Aoki, Pixie Lott, and More Team Up with Shell to Cover “Best Day of My Life”
Six stars. Seven clean energy initiatives. It's time to #makethefuture brighter.
She and Jimmy Fallon push technology to the limits.
Ariana Grande Made a Music Video Using Only Snapchat Filters
She and Jimmy Fallon push technology to the limits.
We hopped a bus to Chance's extra special Chicago event.
Take a Look Inside Chance the Rapper's Magnificent Coloring World Event
We hopped a bus to Chance's extra special Chicago event.
Music. Energy. Innovation.
#makethefuture with Shell, Jennifer Hudson, Steve Aoki + More
Music. Energy. Innovation.