Secret Cinema: The Changing Nature of the Live Experience
10th July, 2013
Last month, I was fortunate enough to get tickets for the first night of Laura Marling’s eagerly anticipated ‘immersive live music experience.’ For their most recent venture, the magical minds behind Secret Cinema – ‘a growing community of all that love cinema, and experiencing the unknown’ has teamed up with Miss Marling to launch Secret Music, alongside the release of her album ‘Once I Was an Eagle.’
Through their relatively short existence, Secret Cinema has grown a fan base of epic proportions and, if my experience last month was anything to go by, I can understand why. Secret Cinema has an innate ability to transport attendees into a different world, delivering first class events based upon a truly unique model, which in my opinion, is beginning to alter the future of the live experience.
After purchasing my ticket for the event, I received an invitation dated 1927, a dress code of Vintage Black Tie and a list of required objects that ranged from a bouquet of flowers for the mistress of the house, a photograph of an ex-lover and a satchel filled with unwanted clothes. The venue for the evening was the ‘Grand Eagle Hotel’ an old school that was filled with butlers awaiting your arrival, giggling maids, croquet on the front lawn, a smoking room with women lazing on chaise lounges watching gentlemen play chess and pool, rooms named after Marling’s songs filled with film projections, wild leaves and tree trunks. Actors milled in and out between guests playing out narratives and creating whispers of secret happenings – and then, of course, a beautiful set from Marling herself.
Yet aside from the immense production throughout the evening, one thing stood out for me, the complete absence of camera phones. Upon arrival, each guest was politely asked to hand over all technology, which meant the entire evening was void of irritating flash and smartphone screens shining on your face, everyone was there simply, for the experience – and it was wonderful.
The banning of camera phones has begun to be implemented at more and more gigs, with bands such as Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Savages championing their absence – requesting that guests fully immerse themselves in the live experience.
From a sponsorship point of view, this is an interesting occurrence. At its core, sponsorship is about engaging with audiences, and enhancing the overall experience of events – and in many instances low budget filming disconnects attendees from this. What is more, in many cases, videos popping up around YouTube ruins it for all those with tickets eagerly awaiting the event.
The ban of camera phones at events also allows rights holder/artist to use video content and photos in an interesting and unique way, delivering it to the attendee as a kind of gift. As you can see below, each evening, the Secret Music team take a photograph of the audience and post in on their Facebook the following day for attendees to enjoy. Alt-J have also championed this with the creation of a new piece of technology called Soundhalo which delivers an entire live set for download immediately after it is performed.
For sponsors, having ownership of such precious memories allows them to communicate this back to event attendees, allowing the brand-consumer journey to continue further than the event itself.
I was well and truly immersed into another world for the Marling-Secret Music venture and I welcome more of these experiences in the future.