Deezer Is Using RFID Technology to Track Your Every Festival Move…

Deezer knows what you listened to last night. And you weren’t even on their application.

Here’s another reason to cry over your lost music privacy: as subscription services become ubiquitous, more and more people will know what you listened to, when you listened to it, and how you accessed it.  Which has lots of benefits and can be totally cool, until it suddenly isn’t. Spotify already faced a listener meltdown after over-sharing listening habits on Facebook, and users have voted to keep at least some their guilty pleasures private.  Which could mean a privacy tug-of-war ahead, but like most things internet, this is all seems headed in the direction of open happyness.

Just this morning, Deezer shared details of a total tracking concept involving major festivals.  Through the use of RFID chips, Deezer will know every single spot you stood at a festival, what you were listening to and when, and play it all back to you the next day.  And, share that information with festival organizers, labels, and others interested in tracking these details.

It’s called ‘Where was I last night?’ and it’s being piloted at Eurosonic Noorderslag, a pop-focused festival happening right now in the Netherlands.  Intellix is powering the RFID strap-on, and in correspondence with Digital Music News, Deezer outlined some of the exciting possibilities.  “RFID has never been used in this way at a festival before,” an executive at the company relayed.  “The personalized email update will contain content and contact details for every artist the attendee saw the night before.”

Which means, you can actually remember what you checked out (even if you were otherwise checked out).  And of course, so can others, including advertisers and festival organizers.  “If successful as an A&R tool, the technology has the potential the revolutionize the festival experience for music fans,” Deezer continued.

The RFID initiative comes at a critical stage of subscription hyper-growth, one that features Deezer as a potential throne-bearer.  Deezer now claims 3 million subscribers on a global spread that doesn’t even include the US (yet).  And, just like Spotify, a mountain of millions to burn.

8 Responses

  1. Corey Tate -

    As long as people are made prominently aware of this, and have a clear ability to decline tracking, I see no problem with this. It’s so often overlooked that younger generations of fans don’t mind being public and giving up this info. They see it as a benefit in having band info sent to them.

  2. SoSoMa

    Ha! Deezer will of course have to SAY this permission based but they already have your email account waiting for activation not to mention your wristband probably comes with RFID pre-intalled.

  3. tonefive

    Very interesting, I don’t think festival attendees would be bothered by this idea if it lets them obtain personalized information about the music that they actually care about.

  4. MichFi

    Sounds pretty cool to me, it’s an opt-in service anyways. They’re not going to forcefully put an RFID bracelet around your wrist. ;)

  5. Visitor

    It will make an interesting animated graphic. In addition to showing people moving away from lousy bands and towards better ones it can show:

    Waiting in line to buy beer. Waiting in line at the bathroom. Waiting to leave parking lot.

  6. John Scott G

    If you’re interested in RFIDs, here’s a link to my article about this topic from a few years ago:

    If I do say so myself, the title of the piece (“Your Panties are Broadcasting on my Frequency”) is the best headline in the history of articles.

  7. Greg Parmley

    There’s often a lot of misunderstanding about RFID and its use, but this could be the most ill informed piece of ‘journalism’ yet written on the subject.

    To repeat a few clearly stated facts from the press release that Digital Music News received but chose to ignore, this service is entirely confidential to the user, no information or data is shared with anyone, and it’s entirely optional – users opt in or opt out to the service as needed.

    This is a creative tool designed to allow attendees enjoy additional content from the new bands they saw perform each night; bands that are busting a gut to have their music listened to by the very same people these emails can go to. It’s a tool designed to help artists and spread good new music.

    Somehow, Digital Music News’s founder seems to have forgotten all basic tenets of journalism – facts, research etc. – and jumped to the conclusion that 2+2=a great hairy ball of paranoia.

    So, to address a few gross inaccuracies and knee jerk conclusions:

    1. You cannot track the whereabouts of someone wearing an RFID wristband. The RFID tags being used at live events are passive and have a read range of approximately two inches (four centimetres). Consequently, unless the wristband wearer actively places their band close to a reader (such as at a festival entrance to validate their entry ‘ticket’, or to connect directly with a new band or on social media) their location is unknown. Cider drinkers can still get happily drunk and wake up in a hedge with no one being any the wiser…

    2. Data sharing is optional. No data about a patron is shared with a third party without their express permission or knowledge. Should a patron choose to share their data with a band or sponsor, it would entirely up to them. The heart of the festival experience remains unaffected by RFID unless a patron wants to benefit from some of the many benefits that it offers. The experience is nonetheless optional. Using a mobile phone, buying anything online (including a ticket) and owning a credit card involves sharing far more data than having fun at a festival while wearing an RFID wristband.

    3. If you don’t want to participate, then don’t! RFID brings a load of cool potential to live events, but if you’re convinced that, rather than build a businesss, promoters or music brands are actually going to go behind your back, break the law and sell your details to criminals, then don’t take part. And seek professional help.

    Deezer didn’t write this response, I did. I work for Intellitix, and the philosophy behind everything we do is improving the live event or festival experience for the consumer.

    Thanks for reading. I hope this makes more sense than the erroneous text at the top of this page.

    Greg Parmley

    ps – there’s more here if you’re interested: