Like an electric charge running through the city, electronic music festival Sónar descends on Barcelona every June. A futuristic fusion of music, technology and digital arts, in 2018 the festival will host four days of live music, conferences and light shows. Furthermore, for the first time in history, the festival will even attempt to make extraterrestrial contact. Featuring star-aligning performances from over 150 artists including Thom York, Gorillaz and Diplo, this year the festival celebrates its 25th anniversary, and fourth year embracing cashless payment and advanced event technology with Glownet.
Founded in 1994 by music journalist Ricard Robles, the first edition of Sónar Barcelona attracted 6,000 attendees. In over 20 years the festival’s capacity has increased to over 20 times the number of its first edition. Last year Sónar welcomed over 123,000 people, the most the festival has ever experienced.
In a unique and definitive set up, the festival is divided into three parts: Sónar by Day, Sónar by Night and Sónar +D. The day programme hosts live performances and DJ sets, whilst the evening activities carry Barcelona’s ravers on into the early hours. Sónar +D, the festival’s exhibitionary counterpart, runs alongside the daytime events, hosting workshops, conferences and artistic and technological displays.
Partnership with Glownet
Sónar’s philosophy is built on embracing new technology, which is why in 2015 the festival decided to partner with Glownet. Since then, Glownet’s smart technology has helped Sónar to cultivate the ultimate event experience, ensuring the smooth operation of the festival. In 2015, Glownet delivered RFID cashless payment systems to the festival for the first time. This enabled consumers to load money onto their wristbands and pay for refreshments and merchandise onsite. Without the faff or danger of handling large amounts of cash, Sónar has been able to significantly reduce queues, transaction speed and theft. In 2016 Sónar added Glownet’s access control tool and check-in systems. This allowed the festival to regulate and restrict attendance for certain areas, which tackled problems such as overcrowding. Last year, Sónar added staff accreditations, the final part of the Glownet package, allowing the festival full usage of all that Glownet has to offer.
Ventura Barba, Executive Director of Sónar
“The implementation of cashless solutions and access control is undoubtedly one of the factors that has made Sónar Barcelona 2015 -2017 a great success. Glownet has great technology, excellent implementation in the field, and a continued focus on innovation. We are really happy to continue partnering with them for our 25th anniversary and have full trust and confidence in their platform and industry experience.”
Stars align for Sónar
But this year Sónar is going beyond the boundaries of implementing advanced event technology. Sónar is taking techno to the stars. Sónar Calling GJ273b is the festival’s cosmic project to celebrate its 25th anniversary. The festival will send music from 38 artists to star GJ273b, a star which could potentially hold extraterrestrial life. The star is conveniently situated 12.5 light years away from Earth. Therefore, if alien life receives Sónar’s message and emits a response, the reply will be received 12.5 years later. This will coincide perfectly with the festival’s 50th anniversary in 2043. Contributing artists include British rapper Kate Tempest, Modeselektor and The Black Madonna.
The future of all festivals?
With less than a month to go, the multi-dimensional festival is paving the way for all festivals in the future. Whilst not all festivals are set to send music into space, more and more are adopting smart technology. The undeniable benefits that Sónar has seen from working with Glownet prove that festivals need to embrace new technology in order to keep up with the market.
Alongside all that encompasses their quarter-century celebrations, Glownet are proud to be partnering with Sónar this year. Once again, Glownet’s technology will ensure the optimum event experience for organisers and attendees alike. With a truly stunning set up for 2018, Sónar promises to be quite literally, out of this world.
By Poppy McAlister