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Arena tech: The groundbreakers

The global live music business is in a state of technological flux, with innovations such as virtual and augmented reality, live streaming, blockchain and bots all being touted as potential new sources of revenue for an increasingly mature industry.

But while the monetisation of live-streamed concerts is, by most estimates, still some way off, a handful of pioneers in the arena space are already delivering concrete results through clever tech to some of the world’s leading entertainment venues.

Meet DigifoodArchaioRukkus, VertedaClair GlobalLiveStyledCastBottoms UpKontakt.ioYondr and Hurdl: eleven innovators working behind the scenes to make large entertainment venues smarter, more connected and more profitable than ever before…


Read the rest of this feature in the digital edition of IQ’s definitive guide to the European arena market, the European Arena Yearbook 2017:

Hurdl raises $2.5m after successful Techstars demo

Nashville tech start-up Hurdl – whose Pixl LED wearables and SMS-based marketing platform allow promoters and artists to connect directly with audiences at live events – has raised US$2.5 million in seed funding following its presentation at the Techstars Music Accelerator demo day on 18 May.

Hurdl was one of 11 music start-ups to participate in the new Techstars programme, which culminated with an LA demo day where businesses pitched to a room full of investors and music industry execs.

The new, unnamed investors are drawn from a range of entertainment and sports organisations, says Hurdl, including the National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, record label 300 Entertainment, production company PRG and broadcasters CBS and CNBC.

The company bills the Pixl, an illuminated wristband handed out to concertgoers on entry, as improving the live experience for both fans and artist/promoter/venue – the former by allowing a greater degree of interactivity with the event, and the latter through collecting all-important audience data.

After opting in using a code bundled with the Pixl, attendees are asked a series of questions via text message to gather data for the event’s organiser. The wristband, meanwhile, can be illuminated different colours by the show’s lighting director – including on the basis of the questions asked, turning attendees into a human light show with unique colours for specific genders, birthdays, musical tastes or favourite sports teams.

“Hurdl can collect unique data in a way that is engaging for fans and improves the overall live event experience”

It was trialled in April at a series of Deadmau5 shows at the Shrine Auditorium (6,300-cap.) in Los Angeles. Analytics from the events showed nine out of ten concertgoers completed five or more questions, producing a 364% increase in the number of conversions compared to traditional advertising, including ‘likes’ on social media.

“For example,” explained founder and CEO Betsy McHugh, a former CAA agent, at the demo day, “we learned that Deadmau5 has more PlayStation users [as fans] in LA than Xbox users, and that their favourite music streaming platform is Spotify, with less than 1% on Amazon’s new streaming platform.

“Insights like these enable us to connect artists and brands with highly qualified marketing leads, knowing how best to reach and engage with each individual fan based on their unique preferences. Perhaps most importantly, the Deadmau5 activation proved that Hurdl can collect unique data in a way that is engaging for fans and improves the overall live event experience.”

While the primary mode of interaction is by text message, McHugh says Hurdl also has an API that be integrated into mobile apps.

According to Crunchbase, Hurdl has so far raised $3.28m in two funding rounds.


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