All posts by Eddie Burns

A Young Man’s Take on Live Experience, the Digital Space, and the Future of Branding

Last weekend I attended an amazing art and technology festival, hosted by The Creator’s Project in DUMBO, Brooklyn. All were taking time to appreciate the use of technology in the creation of the event, but what I found most striking was the role of technology in the experiencing of the event.

As my eyes dodged iPhones (4S, duh.) to try to catch glimpse of the stage, it made me wonder about the role of live entertainment and the digital influence on our experience. For example, why do so many of us insist on recording concerts on our phones? If I really wanted to see a video of Florence + The Machine (amazing show, by the way) why wouldn’t I just go home and Google “Florence + The Machine?” I’m positive the production value of her music videos is way better than anything my phone can capture.  Or in my case, why would I rather have my picture of Bradford Cox (left) on my phone over one I can get off the internet that’s clearly way better (right)?

A digital experience will never replicate or replace a live one

In exploring this further, let’s just clarify some generally upstanding truths. We meet people in real life before we friend each other on facebook. We’d all rather go to a concert in person than watch clips on YouTube. A Google image search of Willem de Kooning will never replace viewing the work at the MoMA. The people are the same. The music sounds the same. The art looks the same. The difference is in the context of experience.

We prefer to first experience in the live space, then catalog in the digital space

Taking my cues from the upcoming digital-earthquake-inducing tremors of facebook timeline, the digital space is a data warehouse, meaning its social impact lies less in actually experiencing, but more so where we document, discuss, and remember. This ‘space’ is the brain that never forgets. Based on this experiencing and cataloging model, I’ve developed what I call “The Lifecycle of Live.” It’s really not a new concept, just something worth spelling out.


Through the aid of technology, every phase of this process happens fast and penetrates deep. Dispersion takes seconds, sharing occurs on scales of thousands, archiving is effortless; all based on the power technology has vested in our fingertips. So what are we doing with all of this cataloging?


We are no longer branding ourselves with logos, but with experiences

This relationship between live experience and the digital space allows us to brand ourselves lesser so by the logo on our t-shirt, but by what we did last weekend and who we did it with.  It is the same reason why location check-in applications are used, despite their general complete lack of function. We now seek out and collect experiences as a means of self-expression to others, made possible by the fact that we can carry our one thousand closest friends (conveniently, the very people we want to express ourselves to) around with us in our pocket.

What does this mean for brands? Could this position live entertainment and experience as the future of branding? Obviously not solely, but as we all live to collect and gather experiences to catalog and display digitally, there is definitely huge opportunity. In terms of my “Lifecycle of Live,” brands must:

1.     Create or sponsor experiences worthy of attending

2.     Aid in or facilitate some other part of the process (documenting, discussing, etc.)

3.     At the very least, be present in ad space as the experiencer goes through this process.

If brands can be a part of live experiences worthy of cataloging, they have the opportunity to be stored in the digital brain. The one that never forgets. Experiences stick, and now are remembered and displayed forever.