Is This the Future of Concert Venues?
The owners of New York’s Madison Square Garden revealed plans for a new Las Vegas venue that will harness the most cutting-edge technology in an attempt to offer the most personal concert experience ever.
The 18,000-seat MSG Sphere will feature audio directed to specific locations in the room, bass signals transmitted through the floor and internet connections for every seat, allowing the audience to share their experience with the outside world – and even take part in shows.
Described as a “game-changer” for audiences, the Sphere is set to open in 2020, with construction beginning soon, USA Today reported. Madison Square Garden Company CEO James Dolan spoke at a recent demonstration of sound technology developed by German organization Holoplot, which, instead of broadcasting audio at high volumes, directs sound to specific parts of a room. It's referred to as "beamforming," and the hardware makes it possible for a person standing in one location to hear completely different audio from a person standing nearby, without the need for earphones and without causing unpleasant interference.
Dolan said Sphere plans were inspired by EDM concerts where “all of the artistry actually occurs prior to the show. … And then the show is essentially run.” He added that the success of those concerts had led him to believe they were more about shared experiences than the music itself, and began imagining a venue where that experience could be enhanced. “"It's no longer just about what is happening onstage,” he said. "It's about what is happening inside the entire audience."
The exterior of the dome will house nearly 36 miles of LED lighting so that it can be transformed into any image performers want; projection systems will be able to “virtually cloak” the building with images from the surrounding city, making it seem to disappear. An 180,000-square-foot screen will take up almost the entire interior roof. The high-speed internet connections served to each seat will offer audience members the chance of becoming part of the show as well as the ability to share experiences live on social media.
Dolan noted that his company plans to open a similar venue in London, but their ambitions don't stop there. “We're building very large spheres now, but we can build ones that are half the size, a quarter," he said. "Ultimately, we may be able to put one right in your home.”