Guest post by Matthew Moore (@MatthewrMoore).
For years, artists have been trying to do anything they can to bring a different twist to the concert experience. Whether it’s a stunning light show, going out into the crowd during a tear jerking rock ballad, or bringing people from the crowd onto the stage, they’re doing whatever they can to make that concert one you will never forget. One artist that has approached this idea in a very unique way is Washington, D.C. based singer-songwriter Andy Zipf.
If you ask Zipf about what it means to be a musician, his philosophy is simple: “As a musician, you are building a story. You are worth more than a few terabytes of information. Go be with people.” For many artists, technology gives them a chance to be close to their fans without actually being close physically; for Zipf it provides the opposite experience.
On his most recent tour across the Midwest, Zipf decided to make his solo shows much less…solo. His “Participate Tour” poster displayed four smartphones with the phrase “We’re all in this together” written on the bottom. The idea of the tour, which ran from March 3–21, was that fans were not going to just another ordinary concert, but a jam session with “the gang.” The two ingredients that brought the fans and the musicians together were something most people would never think could or should make it into a live setting: SoundCloud and YouTube.
“I’ve been getting folks to sing, clap and stomp along to my tunes for a few years now. This is not a new thing,” says Zipf when asked where his inspiration for this idea came from. “Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger set the tone in the ‘30s and ‘40s, then Bob Dylan came along, then multitudes of singer-songwriters…I’m just one of many trying to keep that tradition alive.”
So why use cell phones? “We are attached to our mobile devices, constantly sharing,” he says. “It’s great to be able to connect with so many people in an instant, but we are not truly together. So when I went out in March, I hoped to encourage participation in the music, using a little bit of the old tradition and some of the new.”
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