‘Music is core to us’: Peex CEO on enhancing the live experience
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.”
C3, Red Light, Another Planet invest in Mixhalo
Mixhalo, an audio tech start-up founded by Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger and his wife, Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger, has raised US$10.7 million to fund its mission to “democratise” concert sound.
Investors in the series-A investment round, led by Foundry Group, include US promoters C3 Presents (Charlie Walker), Superfly (Rick Farman and Rich Goodstone) and Another Planet Entertainment, UK artist management firm Red Light Management, and venture-capital outfits Cowboy Ventures, Sapphire Sport and Defy Partners, reports TechCrunch.
Pharrell Williams was also an early investor in the company, as were WME’s Marc Geiger and mega-producer Rick Rubin, which has raised a total of $15m to date.
Similar to European start-up Peex (which additionally enables listeners to create their own mixes), the Mixhalo app allows fans to listen through headphones to audio direct from the soundboard – ie the mix artists hear in their in-ear monitors – rather than through speakers, for improved sound quality.
“Mixhalo envisions a world where everyone experiences great live audio, regardless of their seat or ticket cost”
The platform also allows artists and concert organisers to offer multiple mixes for a single concert, or feeds from multiple festival stages, allowing users to tailor their concert experience to them.
Mixhalo CEO Marc Ruxin says the company is “definitely solving a problem in music that people don’t realise they have”, comparing it to watching television in the pre-HD age. “Now, sports that’s not in HD looks crappy,” Ruxin explains.
Mixhalo has been deployed at shows by Charlie Puth, Incubus and Metallica, as well as Aerosmith’s current Las Vegas residency, Deuces are Wild.
Ruxin tells TechCrunch he is currently focused on music and sports, but is also open to other working with other sectors, as the technology can also installed in, for example, a theatrical musical with “no technical tweaks.”
“Mixhalo envisions a world where everyone experiences great live audio, regardless of their seat or ticket cost,” comments Ruxin. “We are democratising sound at live events.”
Peex partners with Amsterdam arena Ziggo Dome
Music tech startup tech Peex has announced a new partnership with the 17,000-capacity Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam, making Peex tech available for all artists performing at the venue.
The first Peex-powered concerts at the Ziggo Dome will take place on Saturday 8 June and Monday 17 June, two of the dates for Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour.
Peex Live enables concertgoers to create their own five-channel mix of the live concert sound, using Peex’s wearable tech, the rX, together with a mobile app. Fans at the Ziggo Dome will be able to rent the rX device for €10 per show, booking either at the venue or in advance via the Peex website.
A 20% preorder discount for fans booking online in advance with the preorder code ‘ELTON’.
“The ultimate goal is for our attendees to have the best possible experience they possibly can, and we see Peex as the perfect technology to help achieve this”
“Partnering with a globally recognised venue that can accommodate up to 17,000 people will allow more fans to experience the Peex technology,” says Peex chief executive officer, Pieter Hamelink.
“We are thrilled to announce this and it is a testament to the progress we’ve been making, but also reflects the positive engagement we have received from the industry and beyond.”
Ziggo Dome’s Ronald Fiolet comments: “We support new and innovative technology that enhances the experience for fans. The live music experience is becoming richer, with deeper immersion and interactivity fuelled by exciting technology trends.
“The ultimate goal is for our attendees to have the best possible experience they possibly can, and we see Peex as the perfect technology to help achieve this. We are sure this will be hugely popular.”
Peex will also power Elton John concerts in Italy, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Ireland, Wales, France and Austria.
Peex comes to Europe on Elton John farewell tour
Peex, the tech start-up which allows concertgoers to create their own audio mix of live shows, has announced its launch in Europe on Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour.
Launched last May, the Peex Live platform enables fans to create their own five-channel mix of the live concert sound via a piece of wearable technology, the rX, and a companion app.
Introduced at a special price of €10 per show, the rX will be available to rent at select dates on Sir Elton’s European tour this summer, starting with a 1 May show in Vienna and continuing to Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, Italy, France, the Republic of Ireland, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.
Pieter Hamelink, Peex CEO, comments: “We are thrilled to be able to showcase our technology to even more fans across Europe. Feedback from the US leg of Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour was overwhelmingly positive and we are now pleased to take the next step in offering PEEX to European fans.
“I’ve been working with the talented team at Peex, who have developed an incredible new technology”
“Our special introductory price is designed to attract attending fans to experience a much more immersive and enhanced show.”
“Throughout my 50-year career, playing live has always been so important to me. I am passionate about giving my fans my best possible performance and making sure they get the best possible experience,” adds Sir Elton John.
“Over the last four years I’ve been working with the talented team at Peex, who have developed an incredible new technology that will revolutionise the way fans listen to live music. Make sure you check it out.”
Peex’s official European launch follows years of development and testing at over 80 live shows and more than over 15 major venues in the US and Europe.
The company is also offering a 20% pre-order discount by using the discount code “ELTON” for fans booking online in advance on the Peex website.
Five tech-powered live music trends for 2019
The live music experience is becoming richer, with deeper immersion and interactivity fuelled by exciting technology trends. Over the past few years, the industry has been increasingly open to adopting the latest innovations to amplify the live music experience for fans – with the likes of augmented and virtual reality, wearable devices, advanced mobile apps, blockchain and a myriad of other emerging technologies.
More than ever, fans are expecting more memorable and intense live music experiences – and the industry is taking note.
David Johnson, COO of Peex – a music tech start-up that offers gig-goers high-quality audio and real-time mixing via a wearable device – offers his thoughts on five technology-powered trends within live music set to gain momentum in 2019.
1. Expanding the breadth of the live music experience
The traditional gig experience is broadening to include meaningful fan-to-artist interaction before and after a show. No longer does the gig experience start when the fan reaches the venue. Apps with interactive features, streaming playlists, unique content and bundles with extra opportunities are enhancing the experience for fans. This trend is becoming more widespread.
For example, the London O2 arena is offering fans a single platform to engage with an upcoming show via exclusive offers, behind-the-scenes content, merchandise offers and even tech-enabled features like augmented reality, where fans were able to pose with Michael Bublé for selfies.
Post-show, the experience doesn’t finish. Expect to see more opportunities for fans to relive the magic of the show, accessing digital memories, content from the show, artist content, interactive setlists and professional photos. No longer will the fan have to focus on reaching for their smartphone to record the experience, rather than staying truly immersed in the energy of the gig. On top of this, venues are now collecting crowd data to help shape new forms of interactive and original content, which will deliver the best engagement with the fan.
Virtual worlds will continue to look to replicate the excitement of attending a show with friends
2. Enhancing the live music experience
Within live gigs, technologies such as wearables and augmented reality are offering fans a richer experience beyond the traditional set-up of sound and visual effects. Live music enthusiasts can expect new ways to better connect with their favourite artists and performances.
As an enhanced audio example, Peex uses an innovative wearable to synchronise and augment a gig-goer’s audio experience, providing high-quality sound anywhere in a venue. The fan can also personalise their live concert sound with real-time mixing of the audio coming directly from the stage. Imagine hearing the show as if you are plugged directly into your sound system, except your gig seats could be 50 metres or more away from the venue or festival stage.
Advances in video tech are also bringing greater excitement to live shows. The upcoming Abba 2019 hologram show illustrates how far improvement has been made in authenticity and audience engagement – like never before, a younger generation can experience an older artist as they originally were.
3. Increasing globalisation of local live music
The world is increasingly connected, making it easier for fans to engage with live shows despite their geographic locations. Technology platforms such as virtual reality (eg Oculus Venues) and advancing wireless technologies (eg 5G streaming) are helping place fans from anywhere into the centre of their favourite artist’s concert. Whether due to distance, the frustration of a sold-out gig or wanting to have greater viewpoints at lower costs, expect to see more opportunities to experience live music virtually.
Live music is a social experience, offering a challenge for distant attendees. Virtual worlds will continue to look to replicate the excitement of attending a show with friends, meeting new people and being part of fan communities. Expect to see traction in the virtual world – although the obvious differences between real and virtual experiences will undoubtedly create challenges for them to be replicated. (Will new tech features be developed to replicate enjoyable elements of the live music experience such as pushing in crowds and spilt beer?)
The technology clock continues to advance at a rapid pace
4. The continuing rise of the fan content creator
More than ever, social media is the dominant approach for fans to share content and experiences. New tools are becoming available to assist fans in embracing their experiences and sharing it with the world, allowing for higher-quality content to be developed in a much easier way.
There are an increasing number of apps built specifically for the live music scene. For example, some are focused on enhancing the quality of videos by introducing augmented reality camera effects, or through fan access to authorised professional audio streams. What was considered professionally edited a few years back will become the standard for more general audiences. We can expect to see more content creation tools developed which will help set the precedent in how fans create content.
5. Growing personalisation and protection of fan data
The promise of blockchain will continue to gain momentum within live music. How information is captured, structured, tracked and protected is paramount. While its use to its fullest potential is still a few years away, live music applications within ticketing and fraud prevention, cryptocurrency payment platforms and simplified live music transactions across fans, artists, event organisers and venues are continuing to move forward.
Blockchain, for example, can help ensure the true identification of the ticket purchaser, helping to combat ticketing fraud. We can expect to see more personalisation in this area next year, in addition to facial recognition for tickets and identification, voice-activated platforms and chatbots.
The technology clock continues to advance at a rapid pace. With the music industry more supportive than ever, it will be exciting to see richer, technology-powered live music experiences becoming more mainstream.
David Johnson is chief operating officer of Peex.
Peex launches with Elton John partnership
The live music platform Peex has launched this week with an exclusive partnership with Sir Elton John, ahead of the start of his final worldwide tour Farewell Yellow Brick Road. Via Peex Live and Peex ReLive the company aims to “improve the connection between fans and artists,” by creating personalised concert experiences through their augmented audio reality technology.
From September 2018, concertgoers at select dates of the Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour will be able to use Live to enhance their experience.
Live allows users to manipulate concert sound in real time, whilst still remaining completely immersed in the event. Using the wearable device – the Peex rX – and their app, concertgoers will have access to high quality audio and a five channel mix of the concert. The result is a completely personalised concert experience.
“PEEX [have] developed an incredible new technology that will revolutionise the way fans listen to live music”
Once the curtain goes down, users can purchase audio downloads of past shows via ReLive. Elton John concerts powered by the company will be available for download as well as future Live concerts. Additionally, to celebrate its launch and partnership with Elton John, ReLive will offer users the opportunity to purchase five never-before-seen recordings of past Elton John shows.
Peex’s launch in the UK, US and Europe follows years of testing and development at various shows and venues and with multiple artists. For three years, Sir Elton has worked with the company, saying: “I am passionate about giving my fans my best possible performance and making sure they get the best possible experience.
“…Peex [have] developed an incredible new technology that will revolutionise the way fans listen to live music.”
The app is currently available to download for free in the UK, US, Netherlands and Germany from both the App Store and the Google Play Store. Additional countries will be added throughout the summer of 2018.