The new venture by Music + Sport, also behind Cricket Live and The Jockey Club Live, will launch with Jess Glynne at Kingsholm Stadium in June
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“We don’t want to digitally replace live”: IQ talks to the CEO of music tech firm Peex about removing distractions from shows and the startup's “huge” festival potential
By Anna Grace on 25 Oct 2019
The live music space has been inundated with new technologies in recent years. In an era where virtual reality is bringing live shows to sofas, stages are becoming smartphone-friendly and holograms are bringing lost stars back to life, wearable tech firm Peex is returning the focus to the sound.
Peex, which launched in May 2018, allows fans to personalise the way they hear a concert in real time. Partnering with Sir Elton John on his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour and most recently entering into an agreement with Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome, Peex technology has been sampled by fans across Europe, the United States and Canada.
The way technology has changed how we live different experiences is “phenomenal”, says Vosgimorukian. However, the live space remains one of the “least disrupted” by consumer-facing technology, as people are wary of taking away from the live performance and diverting attention from the main event.
“We don’t want to distract from the live experience,” Patrick Vosgimorukian, the recently appointed CEO of Peex tells IQ, “we want to enhance it. In a concert hall, there’s always an element of compromise and the sound can’t be perfect for everyone.”
This imperfection is what Peex is striving to overcome, enabling fans to focus on certain aspects of a live show and to improve sound lost due to unavoidable venue limitations, tricky acoustics and, in some cases, noise restrictions.
Wearing a rentable Peex rX device and using the Peex mobile application, concertgoers can select which parts of a performance they wish to have enhanced – be it vocals, guitars, drums or any other element – through five separate premixed channels that are fed in from the sound board.
“In a concert hall, there’s always an element of compromise and the sound can’t be perfect for everyone”
What the company is not trying to do, assures Vosgimorukian, is distance the audience from the live environment.
“Our core ethos is that we do not want to provide a sound-cancelling experience, or isolate the user from the live environment,” says Vosgimorukian. Those using the Peex wearable device still hear everything that’s going on around them, while receiving the personalised, enhanced audio, something that has proved the “greatest challenge” for the Peex team.
The rate of synchronisation has also given Peex an opportunity to expand into another part of the live music space – festivals. “The festival environment is where most sound gets lost so Peex is hugely applicable to that format.”
Festivalgoers would also be able to tune into music at other stages, extending audience reach and allowing fans to make more informed decisions.
Is having a wearable device that works in conjunction with a mobile application not, by its very nature, distracting people from the live experience?
This has been a frequent topic of discussion for Peex, says Vosgimorukian. The fact is, concertgoers are already on their phones: taking pictures, posting to social media or messaging friends. “What we’re doing is focusing them on enhancing the live experience, rather than on escaping from it – harnessing this has been key to our ethos.”
“What we’re doing is focusing them on enhancing the live experience, rather than on escaping from it”
By using wearable tech, Peex is attempting to be as unobtrusive as possible. The device connects via bluetooth to the user’s phone, but the app can easily be closed while users continue to receive enhanced sound.
Customer feedback so far, however, has been mostly positive, with 85% of users reporting they “loved” the experience.
Another revelation is the type of customer interested in Peex, with the company discovering “zero correlation” between satisfaction with the product and age or seat type. “Everyone has a different reason for using it,” explains Vosgimorukian, “just as everyone has a different way of enjoying a concert.”
Usage of Peex devices is currently limited to 1,000 per concert, but the company is “slowly ramping this up”. Concertgoers can rent Peex devices for between €10 and €15 at participating concerts, but the company hopes to sell the devices in the future.
From estimations based on surveys before Peex went to market, between 30 to 40% of fans at any given concert would want to use the product. The product has also been a hit with artists with more “high-calibre” artist partnerships soon to be announced.
Asked why the device is proving so popular, the Peex CEO has a simple answer: “Music is core to us – the live experience is what we and our customers all have in common.”
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