In one possible dystopian future, a single ticketing company has come to dominate the live music space to the point that concertgoers have no choice but to attend virtually.
Concert 2012, which puts forth this vision, was one of the more curious apps to emerge from Music Hack Day San Francisco this past weekend. This fun little web app turns concertgoers into avatars, so they can walk around, bump into each other, buy “beer,” and check out the various sounds at an online music festival.
The app was purportedly designed to make a point about the danger of letting any one company control too much of the ticketing space, but it actually packs some pretty neat technology, in addition to building on the Turntable.fm concept of music fans as avatars listening to the same music in a virtual room.
When you walk around the festival using the arrow keys on your computer, you’ll hear the music pan across your headphones; and if you walk past someone, you might hear them shouting something. If you walk past the beer tent, a virtual salesman will try to hawk you a virtual beer.
“In the year 2021 a major Ticket Corporation has taken over the world, and all good concerts will have to be virtual,” according to the official description of Concert 2021, which was created by Johannes Wagener, Lee Martin, Hannes Tyden, and Justin Street. “Move your avatar around this virtual festival to hear different sounds and songs.”
Concert 2021 mainly plays “White Limo” by Foo Fighters, although you can hear another song if you venture over to the boombox (all of the music and other audio apparently comes from SoundCloud). To rock out by waving your hands around, you can press the ‘a’ and ‘d’ keys.
As you move about, the sound of various people and objects pans from side to side, which is a neat feature. The avatars are comically pixelated, and it can be hard to figure out which one you are at first. It’s also annoying that you have to press the arrow keys over and over to move instead of holding them down in order to move around. And when your character shouts, it’s as text (audible would be nice).
Still, Concert 2021, built over a 24-hour period at this past weekend’s Music Hack Day, succeeds in demonstrating one area of virtual live music that has potential: panning sound around like a videogame does, making the environment more realistic. If all the good concerts migrate online, as this app supposes, we’ll have that going for us anyway.