Behind Matchbox Twenty's Techy Tour – One of the First Uses of 'Geofencing'

Matchbox Twenty band members, from left, Kyle Cook, Brian Yale, Rob Thomas and Paul Doucette. Credit: Justin Segura.

Matchbox Twenty may have been around since 1995, with its alt-rock grooves steeped in the post-grunge era, but their digital chops are firmly in the 21st Century.

The band, currently on tour, is deploying a dizzying array of digital tools to reach their fans, from augmented reality to QR codes pasted on the backs of T-shirts. The latest addition to the band's marketing toolbox is geofencing, the ability to sense where concert-goers are within the venue.

"We think they are the first artist to use geofencing," said Nick Lippman, vice president of Lippman Entertainment, which manages Matchbox Twenty. "We can talk to fans as they come in and out of the venue, welcome them to the show, give them a hashtag to participate. It’s a great way to get information to people without being uber-intrusive but also remind people what they can do to be an interactive part of the show. We’ve had killer fan engagement."

The geo-fenced-triggered messages pop up on mobile devices that have the band's app, provided that notifications are enabled. For now, the technology can only sense whether the device is within in the venue. The goal with the next app update is to refine that location further to, say, help people locate their seats or flash a discount if it senses that the person is at the merchandise table.

Most of the band's digital outreach occurs through its free app, available for iOS and Android devices. The app is developed by Mobile Roadie, with technology integrations from DAQRI (augmented reality), Fliptu (social aggregation) and Crowdzilla (geofencing messages).

"The goal is to have it all integrated in one place so fans don’t have to jump around," Lippman said. "We try to simplify things so people can enjoy the music and enjoy the technology without one superseding the other."

It's too early to tell whether this all-in-one, we-know-you're-here approach will move the needle when it comes to generating more revenue for the band. For now, Lippman said the idea is to create a compelling experience within the app, using digital tools that band members feel comfortable using as natural ways to communicate with their fans.

Live Nation Entertainment, the band's tour promoter, is supportive of Matchbox's experiment, but declined to say whether it will adopt geofencing for other concerts.

"Utilizing features like geofencing to open up communication with their fans at the concert can really enhance the experience," Live Nation said in a statement. "More than ever, app users are interacting with their artists and brands, including Live Nation, through some of the latest improvement to mobile technology."

Location tracking isn't new, but the technology is riding a new wave of popularity as retailers and brands begin gathering large amounts of data about their customers' habits in the physical world to divine new marketing insights. Companies such as Nordstrom, Family Dollar and Cabela's, for example, are combining video surveillance cameras with shoppers' cell phone signals to learn what customers are doing while in their stores.