Music festivals have always been about the experience, and today’s best-loved and fastest growing festival brands know that it takes more than big-name bookings to give fans the immersive experience they desire. Smart festivals are always looking for ways to incorporate cutting edge technology to deepen the festival experience. Nowadays, tech integration into the music festival experience often kicks in before the dancing even gets started and continues way beyond the festival grounds and into the homes of people around the world.
And it’s not just the big budget mega-festivals that are intertwining music, art, and technology in new ways. A number of independent and underground music festivals have tapped into the world of hackers, artists, scientists, and academics to create holistic events that encourage learning and growth as much as they do partying and good times.
Featuring hologram and augmented reality to blockchain and multi-sensory live experiences, here are the most tech forward music festivals of 2018…
Jul 27 — Jul 29, 2018. New York, NY
Although Coachella may get more headlines, promoter Goldenvoice’s NYC-based Panorama festival is far more tech-focused than its Californian counterpart. While big name headliners like Kendrick Lamar and LCD Soundsystem light up the main stages, much of the tech immersion is housed at The Lab, an interactive experience that combines technology, artistry, and design in five interactive installations and a massive 360-degree virtual-reality theater.
Jul 20 — Jul 29, 2018. Boom, Belgium.
One of the world’s most beloved electronic music festivals, and constantly breaking record for attendance, Belgium’s Tomorrowland has also led the way in a number of inspiring tech innovations. It was one of the first festivals to go all cashless, integrating wearable wristbands that automate payments and link fans to the digital Tomorrowland app — and they even light up! Tomorrowland has also been a leader in AR/VR experiences, allowing fans all over the world to immerse themselves in the festival experiences from their homes.
October 20, 2018. Berkeley, CA.
The first ever blockchain-integrated music festival, produced in collaboration with entertainment decentralization pioneer SingularDTV, Our Music Festival (OMF) is a tech-forward festival brand dreamed up by world-beating DJ 3LAU. The inaugural edition drops this October in San Francisco and will feature ZEDD, Big Sean, and Matt & Kim alongside 3LAU. Blockchain-technology will push the festival experience forward in every aspect from fairly traded tickets to tokenized rewards programs that will bring fans closer than ever to artists.
December, 2018. Houston, TX.
Houston’s groundbreaking Day for Night festival features interactive audiovisual experiences on the lineup alongside headliners like Nine Inch Nails and Thom Yorke of Radiohead. This year’s iteration boasted 19 installations, a suite of panels on music and technology, and brought the art to the dancefloor by inviting some of the most remarkable tech-inspired artists in the world like Tundra, Shoplifter, and Ezra Miller.
Sep 13 — Sep 16, 2018. Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The now-global Mutek traveling festival series is critically adored for its high-brow electronic lineups, and positions itself as a festival of “digital creativity” as much as electronic music. Mutek’s various incarnations in Mexico City and Montreal have grown to include the DIGI Lab music and tech symposium Mutek_IMG visual arts wing, and a VR Salon, creating an entire week’s worth of music and tech integration with every edition.
Mar 12 — Mar 18, 2018. Austin, TX.
A behemoth when it comes to music and tech, Austin’s annual SXSW has been the showcase for tech forward ideas for some time, brings the biggest tech brands in the world togerher, and in the process has done much to enshrine the growing culture of futurist entertainment.
Last year’s edition housed a number of panels featuring members of the SingularDTV team, including Blockchain and the Impact of a Decentralized World and New Financial Models for the Entertainment Economy. SingularDTV will be back at SXSW next year, and you can vote for next year’s panels now!
Sep 7 — Sep 9, 2018. Stockholm, Sweden.
Whereas many of the festivals on this list place music first and foremost with technology in a supporting role, the world-roving Music Tech Fest series has been about the integration of both since its inception in 2012. The seminal event series features a 24-hour hackathon, academic symposium, tech debuts and announcements atop a weekend’s worth of handpicked music alongside some of the world’s most respected academic institutions, technologists, and media-mixing artists.
May 10 — May 13, 2018. London, UK.
London’s Splice, an audio-visual performing arts festival entering its third year, features synesthesia-inducing cross-media performances over a week of shows at multiple venues. Splice also hosts panels and discussions, but much of the focus is on the cavalcade of mind-bending installations and performances from obscure and cutting-edge artists. The coolest part may be that Splice is put on with public help from the Arts Council England and the European Union’s Creative Europe Program.
May 17 — May 20, 2018. Durham, NC.
As may be expected by a festival put forth by one of the world’s most revered music tech companies — synthesizer legends MOOG — MOOGfest bills itself as a synthesis of music, art, and technology with a healthy love for hardware, the tech that makes music happen. Moogfest features a tech conference in addition to collaborative performances between tech-happy artists, a slew of build-events, and talks that range in subject from everything from music production to techno-shamanic spiritualism.
Aug 30 — Sept 3, 2018. Velho, Portugal.
Portugal’s Festival Forte — which takes place in a castle — features the best in underground electronic music, but also merges the medieval landscape with futuristic touches. The festival is known for turning the dancefloor into immersive art experiences with audiovisual flourishes, and is heavily inspired by the glitch and generative art movements. All together, the setting and tech-forward touches make Festival Forte a one-of-a-kind party experience.