U2 Rocks Global Tour with EMC’s All-Flash Technology

With declining revenues from recorded music, road tours are becoming more and more important. Historically, artists could expect up to 25% of their revenue to come from album sales; today they typically receive little more than a penny for 20 plays on YouTube. As a result, a t-shirt sale can generate as much profit as 25,000 plays. For big acts, the figures can be huge. In the first 11 nights of their iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour, U2 grossed $22 million and the band has recently embarked upon its European leg.

The staging of musical events is continually getting bigger and more complex, and no one has embraced this more than U2. Between 2009-2011, U2 travelled four continents with their unique 400-ton 360-degree stage and the world’s largest video screen. For U2’s current world tour, the band is pushing the live performance envelope once again with a combination of dazzling sets and special effects, all driven by increasingly sophisticated technology, which now includes flash storage and back-up systems from EMC.

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The EMC VNXe3200 all-flash array and EMC Data Domain 2200 back-up and archiving system – ruggedized in this special flight case for U2’s iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE world tour

Introducing All-Flash Array technology into U2’s current world tour has enabled the band’s creative team to move from relying on USB-based flash and hard drives to a single, centralized storage service.Infographic-Technology-On-Tour

The EMC VNXe 3200 is specifically designed to combine enterprise storage capabilities with radically simplified ease-of-use. U2’s creative team uses the all-flash VNXe 3200 with their MAC OS X and PC Windows 7 platforms, to create, store and deliver stunning visuals for each show.  The ability to easily access, modify and deliver the massive amounts of data required to drive the huge screens that are central to this tour gives them, and U2, a huge amount of flexibility and allows the group to evolve and tailor the set list and visuals for each show.

In addition to displaying the concert visuals, recording those visuals is also a challenge. Each show is recorded on over 20 high-definition video cameras focused on the band members with long and wide shots across the stage, as well as cameras capturing audience reactions. On a global tour, that can add up to thousands of hours of high-definition video.

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At each concert, video streams are recorded from every camera and stored on the VNXe 3200. The team achieves additional efficiencies by archiving each night’s show from the VNXe 3200 to an EMC Data Domain 2500 (DD2500) to ensure they can reliably access the creative content and images from every camera from every angle.

EMC’s DD2500 protects that valuable data and reduces storage requirements up to 30 times. With each camera at the show capturing around 1TB of data per night, the band needs just one device to manage all their data protection, while also eliminating the need to transport bulky excess equipment. The DD2500 has a maximum throughput of 13.4TB per hour and can protect up to 6.6 PB of data.

EMC is proud to be a part of U2’s iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour providing an end-to-end storage and archiving solution for concert visuals.  EMC has partnered with LiveNation to provide U2’s video team, led by Stefaan “Smasher” Desmedt, with an end-to-end storage solution that allows them to create, deliver and archive the stunning visuals that U2 bring to life at each stop on the tour.

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About the Author: Chris Ratcliffe