Glastonbury Shangri-La Takes Music Immersion to the Next Level

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Glastonbury Shangri-La, the futuristic after-hours pleasure city of Glastonbury Festival, is to produce the world’s first 3-D Immersive Festival app. The After Hours Zone partners with UK tech start-Up, Immersive Album Limited, to capture the music, circus performance, DJ acts, light shows and street art of Glastonbury Shangri-La, in an interactive app.

This is about making audio and the visual experience of an album interactive, reactive and immersive; bringing gaming technology and thinking into music.

For the first time ever, people will be able to experience the After Hours Zone of Glastonbury Shangri-La, in a virtual 3-D, interactive App. The App uses games technology to allow listeners to tap, swipe and move on-screen graphics to swap beats and basslines, reveal new mixes and immerse themselves in the imagery and sets of the Shangri-La After Hours Zone.

Shangri-La’s Robin Collings explains, “Shangri-La is an interactive world that really comes to life after dark. Built by over 1,500 crew and artists, Shangri-La is a truly unique wonderland; its unrivalled originality, artistic quality and attention to detail, have been highly influential in UK festivals. For some time, we've been looking for a technology partner to share some of this in a digital world and at last we think we've found them."

Immersive Album, a UK startup, founded in June 2012 by two former Sevenoaks School friends, Ali Clarkson and Ben Dawson, and joined by media entrepreneur, Chris Cragg, is looking to revolutionise the way music is created and experienced. The company has developed software that combines music with games technology to produce content-rich, interactive Apps, that are affordable. Unrealistic? Maybe not. The company is starting to receive serious backing from music industry leaders. Judge Jules, a pioneer of dance music technology, shares Immersive Album’s vision and believes that the company could literally change the way dance music is both created and experienced. Judge Jules with Co.Lab Marketing, are heading up an Immersive Ambassador Programme, using some of the world’s biggest DJ’s to push and shape the Immersive Technology and reinvent dance music entertainment both in clubs and at home. “This is about making the audio and visual experience of music, interactive, reactive and immersive; bringing gaming technology and thinking into music.” (Ali Clarkson-Immersive Album)

Whilst Festivals and Dance music are the natural early adopters for this technology, the company's ambitions don't stop there; the company wants to help create a new industry format - the Immersive Music Format. Ben Dawson explains: “We’ve seen trailblazers release the first App albums, but for us, there is a bigger picture; we’re developing software that will allow artists and their creative teams to make their own interactive, multi-sensory albums, EPs and singles. We want the power of this technology in the hands of artists. This Format has a place across genres for new works and even updating classic albums for a new generation. Remember the joy of opening up a record sleeve? We think our technology can help recreate that magic. Ultimately, we see Immersive releases in media players, on tablets, phones and home entertainment systems. We think this is about giving artists the tools to express themselves in an easy and intuitive way, so they can concentrate on what’s important; the music, artwork, storytelling and creating an experience for their fans.”

Whilst the recording industry has changed in many ways over the past century, the basic premise has actually remained the same. Music is still captured using a microphone and recording equipment and then prepared to be distributed on a medium, be that reel, vinyl, mini-disk, cd or digital download. Essentially a static recording is prepared and distributed. Chris Cragg of Immersive Album believes this is about to change: "Imagine if the way you listened to a track changed based on your position in the room, your heart-rate, or your mood? If running for your bus swapped the beat? if raising your hands in the air brought in an orchestra? or that swiping your hand across the screen changed the vocalist or moved the sounds around your living room? Imagine if you could travel into an album and see the lyrics, videos, interviews, artwork and fans?"

The Company is currently working on adding geo-location, augmented reality and 3-D social plug-ins. As Ali Clarkson explains: “Entertainment devices are becoming more immersive and we want music to be there at the front.” Using the power of gaming technology the company is bucking the trend of low engagement streaming music models to offer a revolutionary way for a fan to experience music and performance.

The company is due to release 6 Immersive products over the summer. The Shangri-La After Hours App is planned for release at the end of August and is being funded using Kickstarter. “We chose Kickstarter as it seemed to short-circuit all the other channels; our philosophy is all about collaboration between music, technology, art and fan…it’s all there on Kickstarter. We wanted this App to be artist and fan driven.” (Chris Cragg, Immersive Album)

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