During my downtimes, when I am not interviewing artists about their music, I am learning about how listeners consume music. I think back to my experience at the Governors Ball Music Festival and recall observations of what people did in adjacent to enjoying concerts. Aside from the various bands and I artists I caught on video, The Strokes being one of my favorite sets; I noticed the scads of individuals, myself included, who used their smartphones to capture musical moments and publish them on social media. On this note, I am happy to show my footage of Fitz and the Tantrums and The Naked and Famous from a view within third and second row standing area in front of the stage.
According to Mel Johnson, a writer for Brooklyn Magazine, the Governors Ball founder, Jordan Wolowitz told a Reuters reporter that “fans are “digesting more music and their palates are more diverse than ever” and that Governor’s Ball is “indicative of how people digest music in the 21st century” (Johnson, 2014).
While Johnson agrees with Wolowitz’s statement, she also questions how today’s concert-goers are translating their individual music experience of a live show. She asks, “Perhaps the festival-goer relentlessly hops from stage, to stage, to stage, one after another – he gets the perfect Instagram shot, but was he really listening? Or, was he just devouring each experience, contemplating its previous place within his personal feed?” (Johnson, 2014). In an attempt to give insight to Johnson’s second question, I turn to Twitter for valid proof of what people most likely did with their smartphones and digital devices while they attended concerts.
I look back to see what people Tweeted under the search terms, “Governors Ball Music 2014” and “Governors Ball 2014.” Between June 6th and the 10th, many concert-goers posted pictures of their experiences at the festival, whether it was watching an artist perform, looking at the fashion other attendees sported or the additional activities. Further, some consumers who showed interested in capturing concerts and sharing them with their friends and social media followers, evidently acted more like valuable sources of information than mere social content hogs.
An independent writer and Librarian from North Carolina video recorded Bastille’s performance of their two songs, “Laura Palmer” and their cover of TLC’s “No Scrubs” at the Governor’s Ball. Aside from attracting more than 2,400 views on Youtube; on September 17th, a young woman from Malaysia, whose favorite band happens to be Bastille, posted this Southern guy’s video of the British band in a Tweet. Meanwhile, a young American woman retweeted a video of Childish Gambino’s performance with Chance the Rapper, which was initially tweeted by RIAffiliated.com, and originally recorded by the blogger Pursuit of Dopeness. Then, the Editor-in-Chief of the new music reporting website Fresh New Tracks, posted self-made videos of Axwell & Ingrosso’s set.
Pursuit of Dopeness accurately captured an example of smartphone and app usage at work in real-time. So, who are the people in this clip using their smartphones to enhance their concert-going experience? Or, I should ask, who might they be? Returning to Twitter, and looking to Brandwatch for help, I examined who Tweeted content which included Governor’s Ball. I gathered some quantitative and qualitative research on user demographics. For example, Twitter users who are likely to search queries like “Governors Ball Music Festival,” “Bastille,” and “Janelle Monae” will either live in the U.S., UK, Canada or the Netherlands. They will have an interest in music (no surprise there), books, business and sports. Profession-wise, they are most likely to be artists, executives, students, or journalists (Trutescu 2014).
The mention of journalists comes as no surprise, especially since my own Twitter research shows that The Rolling Stone Magazine, The New York Times and Billboard received plenty of attention with their Tweets about performances. On June 9th, The Rolling Stone experienced 95 retweets and 157 favorites of their article “30 Best Things We Saw at Governors Ball 2014” which included highlights from sets by Outkast, Jack White, and the Strokes and 29 additional acts. This article was more a compilation of quality photographs with thoughtful and compelling captions. The New York Times, experienced an average of 59 retweets of 8 of their most popular Tweets during the Festival, and an average of 13 favorites between June 9th and June 16th. The majority of their content covered artists and fashion, and, unlike The Rolling Stone, included more written critiques while pics were second. Billboard experienced an average of 55 favorites among their 11 Tweets – from June 7th to June 10th – which included original video interviews with The 1975, Janelle Monae, Outkast, Bastille and more. However, the retweet rate for Billboards’ posts averaged only at 28.
What does this light social media research say about the average concert-goer? It says the festival attendee will always show an interest in quality music content whether it parallels their own music experience or effectively delivers a report about a concert they could not attend. These findings also provide additional insight. The favorites Billboard received from Tweeters regarding their video interviews with musicians suggests people are most likely to state their “like” of the medium that is the quickest and easiest. However, written content, will perhaps experience more retweets, and if the media source is one that is recognized for delivering quality reporting on music news, like The Rolling Stone, that will come out as the most accepted and liked among Twitter-users.
The shortcomings to the information I have gathered and analyzed above includes the difficulty in determining who publicized these Tweets in real-time at the Festival. I can only use the data I found to infer that those who were publicizing their experience at Governor’s Ball Music Festival in real-time fall in the demographics of those Twitter users mentioned above. Looking forward to my future research of the music consumer, I would like to analyze data on the smartphone/ and social apps activity among concert attendees in real-time. Most importantly, I would like to tell a story about today’s music listener and how they enhance their concert-going experience with social media.
Briefly returning to Johnson’s question, I would say the users who “devours each experience, contemplating its previous place within his personal feed” will most likely be a journalist, a writer, an editor, a blogger, somebody who aims to act as a source of information for a group of readers. To all the individual concert-attendees who do not affiliate with a news outlet, and have publicized their concert incessantly, I say keep up the good work! All my readers will know that an A&R representative from any label will rely on social media to examine the popularity of a talented artist or band, whether they attend a band’s performance or not (refer to “Dive Into The Minds of Industry Players,” 2014, para. 9-10). As for independent writers, bloggers and reporters producing valid referential resources, I encourage you all as well – continue capturing these moments, whether they be through pictures, written reviews, and videos, so that they become a part of our rich and exciting music history.
Johnson, M. (2014, June 13). “Showing Up for the Selfie: How Social Media is Changing Live Music.” Brooklyn Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.bkmag.com/2014/06/13/showing-up-for-the-selfie-how-social-media-is-changing-live-music/
Trutescu, P. (2014, July 9). Who Benefits From Your Content? Demographic Data Can Help! [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.brandwatch.com/2014/07/demographics-dashboard/