Big ticket festival, SXSW in Austin, announced that it will be a adrone free zone resulting from growing concern about airwave congestion and safety. The primary issue with drones for SXSW is the airwave interference from the remote controls frequency spectrums, that could potentially interrupt the musical performances. While the traffic in the sky is a justifiable concern, the risk of potential injury seems to be relevant in the industry as well. Recently, during a tour stop in Tijuana Mexico, Enrique Iglesias reached up to grab a drone being used to capture aerial views of the crowd, slicing his right hand, resulting in a serious injury that then required a skin graft and reconstructive surgery. The same small DJI Inspire 1 Drone used at Coachella to capture aerial shots of performances, has flown dangerously close to Londons Heathrow Airport, crashed on the White House lawn, and hovered above unsuspecting fans in a stadium packed MLB game. These instances pose the questionable risk of injury to festival talent, and or attendees and more often than not, industry professionals are now encouraging promoters, venues, and artists to acquire additional insurance coverage should an accident occur, thus creating more critics than fans of the developing technology.
While some festival organizers are aware, and left feeling uneasy about the liabilities associated with drones at events, not everyone shares this perspective. In South Africa, music festival OppiKoppi, created a drone that used GPS to deliver beer to attendees integrated with the festivals smartphone app. ATT is currently working on a technology called COW (cell on wings) which will provide improved LTE wireless coverage to fly drones at festivals to provide the large live events with data. With opportunity to create a more memorable experience, and sponsorship involvement, some festivals see the benefits carry more weight than the latter.
XLIVE will be welcoming industry experts in the panel Eye on the Sky, to discuss the practical applications for drones at festivals.