How three of the world´s largest music festivals use contactless technology 16. November 2016


Festival-style concerts, with their multi-performer format and party-on atmosphere, have become one of the biggest trends in entertainment. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world, from just about every age group and demographic, attend some kind of music festival each year.

The infrastructure planning for music festivals is serious business, since individual events routinely create gatherings the size of a small city. To help manage the enormous crowds while enhancing the fan experience, many organizers turn to contactless technology, in the form of online ticketing, wristbands, and other wearables.

We profiled three big-time festivals, in Austria, the Philippines, and the U.S., and asked them how contactless technology helped them streamline event access, reduce waiting lines, and increase safety.

Austria:                         Electric Love Festival in Salzburg, July 2016
Attendees:                     150,000 in four days
System integrator:         Revolution Event/ Global Event Technologies
Technology:                   MIFARE Ultralight® C

The event used contactless technology to support payment and access control for all attendees and festival employees in 2014 for the first time. Contactless is a growing trend in Austria, but not yet the standard way of doing things. For many attendees, it was their first time using tap-and-go technology at an event, but the effectiveness of the format and ease of use helped increase their confidence. Contactless systems always impress crowds of big festivals – from the immediate access granted with a quick scan of a contactless wristband at the entrance to the reduced waiting time when you purchase a drink or T-Shirt.

Since contactless is still fairly new for many Austrians, the organizers emphasized the importance of finding the right technology partner, to ensure seamless operation. It’s their view that demand for the format will continue to increase as more fans have positive experiences with contactless technology. Watch the video from Global Event Technologies to find out more about how they enable contactless events.

The Philippines:           Paradise Festival in Manila, April 2016
Attendees:                     10,000 in one day
System integrator:         Pouch
Technology:                   MIFARE Ultralight® C

For attendees of this hip-hop festival, which headlined names such as Kanye West and Wiz Kalifa, the contactless experience began before the music started. Concertgoers bought tickets online, and received a preconfigured wristband in advance. The wristband was used for guest verification and registration, access control, and cash payments (with the ability to add more money as needed), and as part of a photo service. When guests had their photo taken, the photographer tapped their wristband to trigger an email with the photo attached. Transaction data from the wristbands was used by event management for detailed analytics and ongoing improvements. The festival organizers view contactless technology as a way to create better events and, at the same time, develop lasting relationships with their audiences. See how Pouch creates unique contactless event experiences in this video.

The United States:       Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee, June 2013
Attendees:                     85,000 in four days
System integrators:        ID&C (wristbands), Intellitix (software & readers)
Technology:                   ICODE®

Building on several years of using contactless technology, the 2016 version of the festival issued pre-configured wristbands for ticketing and access to social media. For added personalization, attendees could create and print their own wristband designs. The wristbands eliminated the need for paper tickets, helped combat ticket fraud, and kept waiting lines to a minimum at entry points. One interaction enabled fans to tap their wristbands to check in at various stages, which in turn automatically posted the corresponding line-up to their Facebook timeline. Attendees also used contactless technology to upload music playlists to Spotify, the commercial music-streaming service provider, and post tweets on Twitter. In all, the wristbands generated 1.9 million Facebook likes at the event.

The RFID Journal did a write-up of the festival’s use of contactless technology. Read the article.

Related links
NXP’s ICODE portfolio
NXP MIFARE Ultralight C