Businesses across the world are finding safe, creative ways to reopen, and now it’s time for music venues to do the same. If they don’t, their early-pandemic strategies to raise funds may not sustain them. Sadly, our government hasn’t been a reliable ally. But America’s concert venues are closing and I can’t bear to see them all go out of business, so that’s why I want to help by offering my technology and ideas.
I love listening to music so much that I decided I wanted to watch it too. Over the past five years, I created real-time LED music visualizers in many shapes and sizes. My technology directly analyzes the electrical signal of music through an aux input, detects and measures the beat, and autonomously rotates through various animations that visualize different frequencies within the song.
From my very first reactive LED strip, to my latest circular infinity mirror, my friends and I have found that by transforming music into a synesthetic, audio-visual experience, it becomes much more enjoyable, invigorating, and powerful. In 2019, I left my job at NASA and started a company with the goal of spreading my visualizer technology because it brings me an immense amount of joy and accomplishment to watch peoples’ faces light up.
My one-of-a-kind infinity room installation (seen below) was on display at Wunder Garten in DC from July 2019 — March 2020, and I loved talking to people as they came out, as they were often beaming after a great experience.
The Tough Situation For Venues
The problem music venues face is two-fold; their product (artists) cannot go on tour, and their revenue (fans) cannot go within 6' of each other. Until COVID-19 is virtually wiped from the country, neither of these will be remedied.
Here’s the good news: music venues still have world-class sound systems, still pay for the rights to play music, and they still have large open spaces where their patrons can be physically distant.
While the following ideas may not be quite as profitable as pre-pandemic times, I believe the goal is for venues to stay as lean as possible, activate community support, and generate enough revenue to survive until the pandemic is over. So what’s my main idea?
On a venue’s unbooked days, I want to provide my installation so they can can offer an audio-visual tech-art experience.
With a large-scale LED music visualizer installation in the center of the floor, and/or additional LEDs around the space, venues could offer incredible experiences by simply pressing play. They could sell a limited number of tickets for 1–2hr time slots, and these time slots could feature certain artists, albums, genres, or specially curated playlists. They could also let people choose their own music like a jukebox. They could rent out the whole venue to friend groups and corporate clients looking for safe ways to get together. They could engage the community and play the music they want to hear, offer ways to support artists, offer artists a way to debut new music, and even offer local DJs a chance to reunite their fans.
Here’s the installation we have ready for whoever wants it:
Here’s what a venue’s lineup could look like:
I’m confident about this idea because art-tech exhibits are booming across the world, with fast-expanding brands like Artechouse, Wonderspaces, and Meow Wolf that offer fun, immersive experiences. However, these businesses offer the same product for months at a time, slowly rotating the art or experience they offer. If a music venue becomes an experiential exhibit, they can play EDM one hour and 80s Synth Pop the next, drawing in wide ranges of fans. That also means they can attract repeat customers who want to see more music, of which there is no short supply.
This tragic pandemic has provided so many challenges, but oddly enough, this seems to me like a great opportunity for a venue who’s bold enough to give it a shot.
Whether you’re an owner/manager at a venue or you’d like to help bring this concept to life in another way, I encourage anyone to reach out to me through email at Dan@diod.design.
More Pivot Ideas
- With touring artists on the sideline, embrace local artists and give them chances to play shows on a big stage to smaller audiences. Stay lean by not hooking them up to the sound system, and instead let their sound come directly from the stage.
- Offer the most epic karaoke nights. (I’m not a karaoker myself, but I know of competitive karaoke leagues in DC.)
- Let groups rent out the venue, like small artists with their friends, local recitals for schools, local vaudeville shows. See who wants it!
- Partner with yoga teachers, fitness instructors, meditation groups, etc..
- Not a pivot idea, but why not activate local business support and become sponsored like a sports arena for a couple years?
It’s time for music venues to realize what they have to offer and pivot from their previous business model for the time being. Fortunately, we are seeing that life can go on with some resemblance to the ‘before times’ if we all wear our masks. But it will certainly take some creativity and bold actions.
P.S. It would be very much appreciated if you can share this with your network.