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ESNS 2024 Recap

Last week was ESNS 2024, the international music conference and showcase festival where more than 350 European artists perform annually and attract more than 40,000 visitors. Open Culture Tech was present at ESNS 2024 to discuss the views and opinions on new technology such as AI, Augmented Reality and Avatars backstage with artists. The Open Culture Tech team was also invited by Effenaar Labs to participate in a panel discussion about the value of immersive technology for live music. In this article we share the most interesting backstage conversations, experiences and conclusions from our panel.


Picture by Calluna Dekkers

The ESNS conference takes place every year in the Oosterpoort, one of the music halls in Groningen. But that's not where most artists hang out. You will find this in the Artist Village, a backstage tent near the conference. The Open Culture Tech team stood in the middle of the Artist Village with various prototypes that led to many different conversations, discussions and brainstorms with various European artists.


The first conclusion is that few artists work with new technology such as AI or AR. They don't have time for it, it is often too expensive or they don't know how to start. Even a lighting plan was a luxury for many artists. Most artists were not afraid of AI taking over their jobs as live performers on stage. Many artists were skeptical about the creative possibilities of many technological tools. Particularly around the risk of loss of privacy and intellectual property.

The conversations with artists changed the moment we asked them to come up with applications themselves, regardless of budget or technical limitations. What if they could do anything they wanted? These brainstorms resulted in a lot of interesting input that we try to incorporate as features in our Open Culture Tech toolkit. Such as a control panel (for example via MIDI or foot pedal) to control visuals. Or a simple application to translate 2D images (for example album artwork) into a three-dimensional version that you can animate for a video or place in Augmented Reality.


In addition to the artists who had little need for immersive technology such as AI or AR, there were many artists who did. The “what if” brainstorms show that many artists would like to experiment with new technology in their live shows but do not have the resources to do so.


There were also many interesting conversations with artists who are already working with new technology, such as the Polish band Artificialice. They use, among other things, 3D scans (LiDAR) of themselves and their bedrooms and incorporate these into their artwork. Or the German Wax Museum. With their latest album they also release an 8-bit version of their music and an online video game in which the band members appear as game characters. In the game, the player must look for a stolen disco ball. This story could lend itself very well to a mobile AR experience during their concert in which the audience can jointly look for a hidden Disco Ball in the hall. A virtual quest like in Pokémon Go. 'Hiding' 3D objects is therefore a feature that we will certainly investigate in the AR app from Open Culture Tech.

Picture by Casper Maas

The Open Culture Tech team was also invited to a panel organized by Effenaar Lab. With the Hybrid Music Vibes program, Effenaar Lab offers talents the opportunity to investigate how new technologies can contribute to their artistry. The panel included Julia Sabaté and De Toegift as participants of the Hybrid Music Vibes program, their manager and Joost de Boo on behalf of Open Culture Tech. The panel discussed the importance of crossover collaborations, the importance of education and sharing experiences.

Effenaar Lab's Hybrid Music Vibes program is an inspiring program in which participants conduct valuable experiments that we would like to share in this newsletter.


Read more about Julia Sabaté:


Read more about De Toegift:


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