Amp’d app aims to connect artists to audiences at concerts
"Phones aren't going away at concerts," Amp'd co-founder Steven Revare said. His app allows fans to see the setlist and song lyrics or share the experience on social media.
You snag front-row seats to a concert, but what's on stage soon takes a backseat to what's on your phone. Somewhere in between tweeting, taking photos, and searching for lyrics to the song that just played, you look up. The show's over, and you just spent the bulk of it glued to your phone.
Steven Revare of Prairie Village, Kan. has been there before, and he knows he's not alone.
After one such concert, Revare began to ponder how smartphones could be used to bring fans closer to the action on stage. "I realized I was spending the whole time staring at my phone instead of watching the show," Revare said in a phone interview. "And so I thought, 'Well, I wonder if there's an easier way to share … to make you more involved in the show and enhance the experience instead of distract from it.' "
When concert-goers at participating shows open Amp'd, which is free to download in the App Store and Google Play, they find a feed populated with a real-time setlist that includes links to song lyrics, the option to purchase any song and the ability to share pre-populated tweets or Facebook posts with one click. The feed can also feature a link to let fans vote on the performer's encore. Plus, perofmers can push out other polls, quizzes, messages or giveaways. Amp'd also has a "lighter mode," which enables fans to wave their phone screens in the air like high-tech Zippos.
The app includes two features that are particularly important from a revenue-generating standpoint. First, fans can browse and purchase concert-specific merchandise without leaving their seats. Second, bands or venues can post special in-show offers like seat upgrades or post-show VIP meet-and-greets.
For artists, that creates revenue opportunities that Revare said would not exist otherwise. Amp'd takes a cut of the proceeds.
Amp'd users can peruse a feed for the show they're attending (left) and do things like vote on the encore (right).
"As concerts become more and more important to artists as a source of income, we want to help them succeed," Revare said. "We're live music fans. We're passionate fans."
Currently, the Amp'd team must oversee the creation of each concert or event for which the app will be used. But Revare said the startup, which has bootstrapped to this point, is seeking funding that it will put toward automating more processes. Additional automation will alleviate the burden on Revare and Epstein, who currently make up the full-time contingent of the Amp'd team, and put more control in artists' hands.
"As concerts become more and more important to artists as a source of income, we want to help them succeed." - Steven Revare
Revare contracted Cremalab of Kansas City, Mo. to build Amp'd, which was created with input from musician Vienna Teng. Amp'd launched just before South by Southwest in March of 2011, and new iterations of the app have been used since then at a handful of shows, including the Kanrocksas Music Festival last summer, where it was downloaded 10,000 times.
A revamped version of Amp'd is due out in the fall, and Revare said four acts, who will play before a combined total of 500,000 fans, have given "soft commitments" that they'll use it.
Amp'd is up against plenty of apps with similar offerings. Live Nation, for instance, has an app that provides seating information and live set lists and facilitates venue check-ins. But Revare said Amp'd is unlike other offerings in how closely it's aligned with the artist's interests.
"Phones aren't going away at concerts … and this is a way for artists to embrace the technology because fans really obviously are wanting to use their phones to share the experience and tell their networks about it," he said. "So what we're trying to do is help that happen in a way that's least distracting from the show."