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Study to examine viewer reactions to streamed gigs

A new research project will examine the physiological reactions of viewers during various streamed concert formats to determine which is closest to the effect of a gig experienced live.

The study proposal states: “In times of the corona pandemic, digital formats are the only way for cultural workers to reach an audience at all and continue to retain them. However, which offers work and which ones could actually be future-proof has so far been largely unexplored…How the concert industry can continue to assert itself as a form of culture and a social forum under the rapid pressure of digital change is a topical and essential question for artists, organisers and cultural policy.”

The international study, entitled Digital Concert Experience, will see participants watch an exclusive concert film of Alban Gerhardt & Friends string quintet performing works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Brett Dean and Johannes Brahms in six different streaming variants while experts monitor the effect on the virtual audience.

The six streaming variants include: an on-demand stream; a ‘social event’ stream where audience members can digitally interact during the break and afterwards; a ‘know more’ stream accompanied by a conversation with composer Brett Dean; a virtual reality stream; a ‘digital house concert’, intended to be watched in-person with others; and a stream in the laboratory where researchers will collect physiological data.

“Which [digital formats] work and which ones could actually be future-proof has so far been largely unexplored”

The research project is led by Zeppelin University (ZU) in Germany, which previously conducted a similar large-scale study, entitled Experimental Concert Research, measuring the concert experience by conducting preliminary and follow-up surveys, measurements of heart rate and skin conductance, movements and emotional states from participants.

“Earlier studies have already shown that study participants smile significantly more frequently at live concerts and have stronger physiological reactions than during concert recordings – now we want to find out which virtual formats are closest to the effect of the concert experienced live and to what extent streamed concerts become a format of its own,” says professor and doctor Melanie Wald-Fuhrmann, director at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Germany.

The Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics will also be involved in the experiment, alongside the University of Bern in Switzerland and the University of York in the UK. The project is in partnership with the German Music Council and is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and the Aventis Foundation.

The main study will take place on 15 January 2021 and is accepting volunteers now.


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