Electric Daisy Carnival is the largest electronic dance music festival in the United States, welcoming 100,000 fans to Las Vegas for a trip to the psychedelic world, mostly after dark.
But just like at any big music festival, finding the right stage and meeting your friends in the crowd can be a real pain. That’s why concert company Live Nation teamed up with Snap to transform Snapchat into what you might think of as a 21st century flyer: it’s a reference tool that gives you basic information like how the show is running, extra content developed around it, And a platform for future marketing opportunities.
With a few new shots, Snap will help you navigate to the correct stage, check the set list, and even cut through the crowd straight to your friends.Of course, the app will offer some Snap’s Fantastic AR LensPlay EDC’s own imagery, and three floors of bioluminescent mushrooms will sprout from the ground you tap, and a dragon-sized owl will fly across the sky to take your photo.
The work was teased earlier this year as Snap announced a multi-year partnership with Live Nation to bring AR experiences to its shows. Despite all the unrealized hype surrounding augmented reality, the scale and impact of this particular partnership should not be overlooked. With at least a dozen music festivals planned so far, the efforts of both companies represent the true future of the concert experience, where AR will not only provide some fun flair for selfies, but will also serve as a tool to enhance the user experience of visiting a A crowded concert.
“We’re using the screen, not making it a distraction,” said Kevin Chernett, executive vice president of global content at Live Nation. “It’s about discovering, walking around and discovering new things. Our fans are turning on Snap no matter what! That’s the reality.”
Regardless, Snap is the largest AR company in the world—perhaps the only one that really succeeds. About 250 million Snapchatters use their AR Lenses a total of 6 billion times a day. Meanwhile, Live Nation bills itself as “the world’s leading live entertainment company.” The company, which had $6 billion in revenue last year, has snowballed over the past decade to oversee the end-to-end concert experience. Live Nation owns many venues, sells its own tickets, and manages many artists.
With all this control, Live Nation wants to make sure its fans have a good time. As busy as music festivals may seem, these are highly planned and controlled environments—which in many ways make them the perfect testbed for pushing the boundaries of augmented reality.
We saw this in Snap’s first AR “lens” for EDC. This is a 3D map of the festival featuring 20 animated landmarks, including a giant light-up sculpture and stage. Load it up and the map rotates in your hand until it aligns with your primary direction. Tilt your phone slightly and you can get a clearer top view. Click on any stage and the map will pull up a list of schedules and settings. If you still don’t know how to get to the stage, you can pull out a compass to show you the way. As you walk, a number plate keeps track of your distance from your destination.
“We’re not just thinking about how we can use AR to enhance your experience of communicating with your friends. . . but how can we solve [practical] said Jeff Miller, general manager of Arcadia, Snap’s creative collaboration studio. “Finding shows that excite you is a common hurdle. . . [the] The compass is essentially a personal guide for each festival-goer. “
For any concert, this map and compass would be handy (in fact, the festival is incorporating a map tool more regularly). It will be essential for EDC to keep the map as a cherished secret until the gates are opened.
In order not to spoil the surprise, we agreed to publish this story without the map visuals. All I can say is that the on-screen map is dizzying – more detailed than many video game maps. It’s also 1:1 accurate to the festival venue, as Snap imported the exact model created by Insomniac Events that developed most of the EDC’s hands-on experience. Snap also built the underlying technology so its maps and wayfinding should be reliable, even in crowded concert environments with overloaded cell towers.
In addition to maps, Snap will also launch a beta feature called FriendFind AR. In short, it’s a compass that doesn’t point you to the stage, but directly to Snap friends in the area.
“Trying to find your friends at music festivals is a big problem we’ve been trying to solve for years,” Chernett said. “It’s only a 1.0 release, but over time we’re really focused on making it a great product. We’ve heard from fans that they want this.”
The feature is effectively a repeat of Snap’s existing Snap Map, which displays your friends’ locations on a 2D map. (It’s an opt-in experience where you only see friends you’re friends with.) FriendFind AR takes the same information and maps it into 3D space where you can use a compass to navigate to others. Yes, it’s a compass again, not a more detailed path to a destination.
But Miller points out that’s by design. When squeezing through a crowd, it’s much easier to refer to cardinal directions than some overworked turn-by-turn directions. And as with any concert space clutter, the app also vibrates your phone when you’re facing the right direction, reducing your reliance on pixels. The only potential problem is that FriendFind AR requires a data connection to work, so its reliability can be erratic.
Neither Snap nor Live Nation want to spoil the in-person experience of the festival, however, in the future, they are eager to push the limits of this 21st century flyer.
“There are a lot of ideas we can combine to enhance the business,” Chernett said, noting that soon you might be able to virtually try on an item at a concert and buy it without navigating to a merchandise booth. He also added that Live Nation is currently working with several independent artists to study how AR can enhance tours in stadiums, arenas and amphitheatres.
“It’s all live engagement, the music, the artists, the performances, the fans: you’re in a live environment. That’s our livelihood as a company,” Chernett said. “But there are so many ways to be involved in a live broadcast. It doesn’t always have to be a show.”