The Secret to Building “the Best Concert Ever”

It is the night of the big show.  You have been waiting two years for your favorite band ever to come back in concert and stop in your home city.   The day is spent with anticipation.  All you can think about is making sure you leave work on time to pick up your friends in order to make it to the venue so you can be there when the house lights go down and the stage lights go up.  That first chord on the guitar rings and you have just turned in to a 15 year old giddy girl at a boy band concert.  What ensues next is an overload of the senses between the lights, visual displays, and of course the music!  Three hours later you leave the concert super charged and full of exhilaration because that was the best show you have ever seen. ThinkstockPhotos-488154420

Now you are on such a high that you decide you want some memorabilia to take the experience home.  You stop by the merchandise booth and grab a t-shirt, the newest CD, and maybe a signed poster.  You also find out that once the tour is over a live DVD will be available to purchase.  This makes the night even sweeter because you’ll be able to relive all of those moments right in the privacy of your living room wearing your new cool concert shirt.

As a music lover and avid concert goer I never thought about what it takes behind the scenes to make sure that every time I leave a show it’s met with “that was the best concert ever”.  I never thought about how the band with all of today’s modern technology actually makes money.  These are the things the band and the crew worry about night after night.  Are the lights all working?  Are the instruments in tune? Are the PAs still working? Is the lead singer’s microphone turned up? Are all the visual display screens still functioning?  Do we have enough storage to hold all of our visual data?  Do we have an easy way to capture each show digitally with enough memory to store it?  Did we create enough excitement to push merchandise sales?  This is just a part of what the band and crew need to worry about.  The best strategy the band can have is to surround themselves with a top of the line crew, equipment, and reliable vendors.  At the end of the evening it’s not the ticket sales that are going to pay the band and the crew, it’s the merchandise, post tour DVDs, and content collections. 

When looking for an IT vendor bands have to keep the following criteria in mind:

  • Is the equipment easy enough to use so a non-technical crew member can run it?
  • Can the equipment be provided in a form factor that fits in a road case and can withstand being thrown around with the rest of the equipment night after night?
  • Will the storage capacity be scalable with each new night of footage?
  • Is the quality of the recordings clear and crisp both visually and audibly?
  • If the band wants to change up the set list will it be easy for the crew to manipulate the data in order to accommodate the change?

This may look like a daunting list but it is not impossible.  In fact Irish powerhouse band U2 found a solution that has been their secret weapon to running and storing flawlessly their stunning visual performance each night during their iNNOCENCE+eXPERIENCE Tour.  The show features animation which is displayed on two 23’ by 96’ LED screens.  Also 28 cameras are operated through robotics and crew members to record each and every show.  In order to do this, U2 has turned to EMC.  They use the EMC VNXe3200 All Flash Array to provide them with 22.9TB of capacity to store and drive the special effects and animation.  The cameras, which are collecting 500GB per hour, are backed up to an EMC Data Domain DD2500 to protect their show’s data. After a six week test pre show there has been no looking back for U2 as they’ve found a reliable storage partner with EMC.  You might start to think about your concert-going experience a bit differently now that you know a little about what goes on behind the scenes.  However, if the band and crew choose the right vendors you will quickly forget about the mechanics and get swept up by the visuals, the music, and the thought that “this is the best show ever”.

If you want to learn more about how technology goes on tour check out this cool infographic.

About the Author: Jamie Doherty