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Yuri van Geest is a leading thinker and innovator from the Netherlands. He is the main initiator of Singularity University Benelux (think tank of NASA and Google), bestseller business author with Exponential Organizations (of which 300,000 units have been sold) and much in demand speaker and thinker – for example at the World Economic Forum in Davos for topics like digital platforms, digital ecosystems and quantum technologies. He is also co-founder of De Buitenboordmotor, a foundation that wants to retrain 1.3 million Dutch people in a radically new way within 10 years to help improve social cohesion in the Netherlands. I spoke with Van Geest about the future of dance and festivals, which innovations will play a role in this industry and also how dance music itself will change. You can read his expectations, scenarios and tips in this report.
Technological revolution is urgent for festivals
Van Geest’s enthusiasm becomes noticeable when it comes to technological innovations. “New technologies are going to have an impact on the dance industry,” he says. “Festivals that do not innovate will lose the competitive edge. Smart festivals are already building a network with startups developing relevant technology. Holograms for live artists at a party or festival were once expensive, but now also become more commonplace. That applies to more innovations such as sensors, solar nanocoatings (50x cheaper than the current solar panels), drones for crowd control etc. Smart brands have the scoops, so that they remain relevant for their audience. On the other hand, there will also be a market for pure non-technological festivals, but within it other innovations will play a role, such as organizational, the setting, the music choices and the artists. ”
What innovations are we talking about? “Telepathy is coming. Within five years we can read rudimentary feelings and thoughts from others, if we have connected a device for this such as the revolutionary startup OpenWater.cc. For festival visitors it means: you no longer have to send a photo of a certain stage, because thanks to your thoughts and especially feelings, friends can see if this DJ is worth it. This neuro-technology (BCI) is already being used in monkeys, is still rudimentary, but is becoming more concrete. You will probably see this again at festivals within ten years.
Another very important technology is photonics, the world of light particles and photons. This goes beyond lasers at festivals. People are partly light beings (biophotonics), we emit light and we can measure that, we also communicate via light. In the long term, this offers more than fantastic opportunities for the public at festivals and parties. Literally more spiritual. ”
The acceleration accelerates
According to the innovation expert, a development that is more revolutionary than the invention of electricity has already taken place: the invention of the quantum computer. “These machines are located in China and the US and, like other computers, calculate things. But these computers do that much much faster: it is exponential on top of exponential. They are accessible via the cloud. This allows us to solve most complex and data-intensive issues in a very short time, also at major festivals. Thanks to the quantum computer, the width and depth of all kinds of data can be used and its real-time character can fully utilized. This is done through the combination of quantum computer with artificial intelligence software.
“Climate change causes increasingly harsh weather conditions. You can predict that better and sooner thanks to this quantum computer. Other applications are safety issues and in the long term also hyper personalization of services, workshops and content at a festival, even on the basis of personal biomedical data from visitors. The question is whether we all want this, but technically it will be possible. “
AI makes music and finds musicians
Even without the quantum computer, algorithms (also called artificial intelligence) can be useful on traditional (super) computers today. Algorithms use pattern recognition in data as people do. This means that more and more business functions and processes are becoming faster and more effective. Examples: product innovation, marketing, sales, support, purchasing, finance, HR to legal. We see productivity improvements between 30% to 90%. They do not completely take over human work, but supplement us, they scale us.
“It is even easier to have music made with an algorithm. Creative AI is becoming commonplace and provides an abundance of dance music, which is likely to put pressure on the price. The role of curators, such as festivals and labels, is therefore becoming more important. Who then ensures that you see the forest for the trees? And strangely enough, this makes the human dimension in music even more important to be distinctive. Technology leads to commodity, people to individuality. This is one of the reasons why recent dance music (hits) are less predictable and symmetric than in the past. Taste, storytelling, purpose (how are you going to improve the world and how?), quality, guts, risk, authenticity, imagination and intuition will ultimately become even more important for all artists due to the rise of algorithms. In line with this, a fantastic new wave of innovation and quality is coming in dance music, just like in the late 80s and early 90s. ”
Not only will it be possible to release even more music thanks to smarter algorithms, it will also be possible to spot an emerging artist even faster (as was already the case in the novel De Club, ed.). “Develop next-level AI and monitor platforms such as Spotify, SoundCloud and Beatport, so that you can see who is coming up. If you know how to find such an artist as a label or festival, you are a real buyer. Spinnin “took the first steps in this area, but there is still much room in this area.”
Cultural changes in dance
According to the innovation expert, technology is just one of the drivers of cultural change. “As dance becomes more and more digital, the value system of people becomes important again. Because of this technological change, organizations have more time for creativity and innovation. Basic things can be arranged well with technology, which also creates more contact between fans and between fans and an organization. Connection becomes more intensive. We are moving from communities to tribes that are closer. “
The spiritual dimension (read: deep consciousness, connecting with the universe, with nature, in nature and with people themselves) is also becoming increasingly important, says Van Geest. “Festivals, movements and locations that implement this well are Wildeburg, ITW, WooMoon / Cova Santa (collective meditation in illuminated caves at a dance party, no matter how fat!), Gardens of Babylon, Afterlife (TaleOfUs, a trip into your core being and consciousness), Fusion, Monastery, Boom Festival and Burning Man. This spiritual wave is (in part) the counterpart of technological innovation. It leaves the model a bit where everything is fully programmed, with concepts such as checking, efficiency, manufacturability and money leading. For example, Wildeburg is based on nature, art, playfulness, serendipity, synchronicity, the DJ is less central and there is a stronger we-feeling. Collective meditation for a festival becomes more normal. Tribalism and shamanism in all facets is becoming stronger. “
Tribal music, DJ Aztec
Polarization in society will increase in the short term and can be seen in dance, says Van Geest. “On the one hand you see yuppies and yuccies going to Wildeburg and on the other side there are more escapist parties in the province, where you can also hear other music. In the first group, the craving for spirituality increases and there is also a reappraisal of ancient cultures. The Incas, African tribes, Indians and Aztecs are becoming relevant because the new generation wants to learn from them how they can be ecologically inclusive, live more in balance with nature and themselves. Generation Z attaches greater importance to creativity and nature than the previous generations. They are literally more plant-based. This fits in nicely. “
You can also hear these developments in dance music. “The number of BPMs will fall, between 120 and 125 the sweet spot is now because it fits better with spiritual development. Slower music makes introspection, feeling and the journey inside easier. Young people are also looking for other music. Think melodic, new progressive, tribal music, African music, music from the Middle East, China, deep-house, minimal and downtempo. In fact, there will be a convergence of those trends. At some parties you can already see Indian shamans rushing up the audience such as at WooMoon in Ibiza, while they wear the most exotic clothing.
According to Van Geest, the future of hip hop is positive and harder. “There is even more purpose and authenticity, the music will go back to the (social) content. Also think of De La Soul’s positive hip hop. ”
Develop a purpose and sell vegan food
Sustainability, purpose and transparency play an increasingly important role in dance. Companies and systems must become more honest or are no longer relevant for the next generation. “It is therefore a no-brainer that festivals have to offer very good food. Vegan and sustainable are no more than normal in a while. That also has to do with the strong self-awareness of younger generations, who want to improve the world. They expect the same from the festivals they visit. Only organizations that have a clear purpose are able to build a relationship with fans. “
Venture Capital funds also see that social objectives of companies are rewarded, notes Van Geest. “Unilever made sustainability a top priority. It was not for nothing that it ended up in the global top three employers. Brands must have a purpose and be transparent. Companies with a sincere purpose also have 20-40% more profit as a side effect because the best people come to you instead of the other way around, so lower transaction costs. In addition, the lifetime value of your employees, partners and customers is higher due to your purpose, also a financial windfall. ”
Conclusion: keep renewing
Key words the festival 2.0 cannot ignore are: universe, nature, natural food, purpose, authenticity, tribal music, consciousness, spirituality, meditation and innovation. “Lowlands has been experimenting for 25 years, but I expect festivals to experiment and innovate even more. More small workshops should contribute to a sense of community that becomes more important. We go from I to WE. The outside world gives way to authenticity, sharing, connection, tribal values and nature. The emphasis is even more on purpose. Children from the age of 8 are also increasingly seen at popular parties such as Namaste and Cova Santa in Ibiza and ITW. Of course with earplugs, their parents and even grandparents 😉
The heyday of flat hedonism and escapism for festivals are over. For DJs, that kite also applies: “Even as a DJ you also have to have purpose, learn to combine genres and be aware of the rise of tribal music movements. The fact that more music becomes available through artificial intelligence means that DJs can present themselves as curators or gatekeepers. Co-creation and a desire for equality take the DJ off his (financial) pedestal. ”
Technology, spirituality and sustainability will go hand in hand – and that will be noticeable in the dance industry. Or, as Van Geest summarizes in the coming period: “we are going back to the past, but in a new and more beautiful way. Back to the Future.” In other words: “Dance will change radically thanks to technology and the new generation”
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