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Jam band Umphrey’s McGee selling live performance recordings via mobile

July 8, 2010

Umphreys McGee tapped Mozes for mobile engagement and commerce via SMS

Umphrey's McGee tapped Mozes for mobile engagement and commerce via SMS

Progressive rock/jam band Umphrey’s McGee is letting attendees of its concerts use their mobile phones to buy a recording of the live performance.

On July 3, the band co-headlined a Live Nation-produced event with Galactic featuring Cyril Neville at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, CO, with special guest The Wailers opening the show. As more fans arrive at concert venues with mobile phones in hand, live audience interaction is increasingly popular, and Umphrey’s McGee has been using Mozes on tour to engage fans on their mobiles phones by running contests and letting fans influence the music played by the band in real-time.

“We set out to push the limits of live concert interaction and redefine what it means to connect with fans by giving them more control of the music during our concerts,” said Vince Iwinski, band manager of Umphrey’s McGee, Chicago. “Besides the music, one of the tools we use to do this is Mozes, a mobile engagement platform we use to filter fan’s text messages in real-time and then display them on a large on-stage projection screen.

“We’ve done this at previous Umphrey’s live events—UMBowl, a four-quarter interactive concert experiment where the fans determined the song selection via real-time texted set lists and pre-show balloting, and like we did with our numerous Stew Art Series ‘S2’ events last fall,” he said. “We wanted to embark on a wholly improvised performance, driven by bi-directional texting.

“Our music, our fans, our crew and the Mozes technology all have to work together seamlessly for this to be a success—there’s nothing more exciting than watching our fans test our musical knowledge and live improvising skills, and seeing us step up and meet the challenge of their real-time text requests.”

Umphrey’s McGee has made available the digital downloads of its show recordings for many years now via our live music portal, and now the band is giving its fans a chance to relive their concert experience via mobile commerce.

Mozes specializes in mobile engagement around passion points such as music, sports, entertainment and causes.

Mozes customers include Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and EMI, along with dozens of music management companies, sports teams and brands such as Ford, Virgin Mobile and Clorox.

Linchpin Digital LLC provides marketing and strategic services to the entertainment and technology industries. It serves as Umphrey’s McGee consultant.

Mobile commerce at Red Rocks
The mobile commerce market is set to explode worldwide.

According to a study released in May 2010 by IT research and advisory firm Gartner Inc., the number of mobile payment users worldwide will exceed 108.6 million in 2010, a 54.5 percent increase from 2009.

Total transaction value will reach $245 billion by 2014, according to the report.

At the July 3 show, fans were prompted to send a text message to buy copies of the live performance in mp3 or the higher-quality FLAC format.

Once the purchase is complete, fans can download the recording from the band’s Web site, powered by, which has helped sell more than 1 million tracks during the band’s ten-year history of live shows.

Musical artists have been recording and selling copies of their performances online for years, but many fans would not know how to go about finding the recordings after they have left the show.

Mobile technology makes this a real-time experience.

“Mozes has provided us with a platform where we can immediately access our fans with up-to-date news, offerings, show information and much more,” Mr. Iwinski said. “Having used Mozes in the live setting where fans can direct the band’s musical direction has really given us a closer relationship with the fans.

“We intend to deepen this relationship as we further the use of mobile interactivity in the near future,” he said. “This is the first time we were able to offer the purchase of our live show recordings via Mozes, so we wanted it to be for a very special event.

“This being our first time headlining the magnificent Red Rocks Amphitheatre made for a perfect opportunity for us to give this a try.”

Mobile is also a fit for the band’s fan base.

“We are fortunate to have a wide array of fans, both young and old, male and female. On a nightly basis, you can see the variety in our show-going fans,” Mr. Iwinski said. “Looking at Facebook statistics, the majority of our fans fall in the 18-34 age range, and about two-thirds are male.

“However, because our musical influences include some classic and progressive rock legends like Frank Zappa, Genesis and Yes, you’ll find a number of older fans mixed in,” he said.

The fans had a choice when texting in: They could request to receive an email when the show was ready for download, which was around noon the day following the show.

Fans could also make the purchase on the spot using PayPal or they could go through a third-party credit card company set up by Mozes.

No charges were made through the users’ carrier and no charges will appear on their mobile bill.

The following message appeared on the screen at Red Rocks Amphitheatre multiple times throughout the night:

“Order tonight’s Umphrey’s McGee live recording via UMobile. Text UMROCKS to 66937 to purchase MP3 or FLAC audio. Receive bonus 7/3/05 show free!”

The band followed up with an text message to the fans when the show was ready that stated:

“Umphrey’s McGee: Order the Red Rocks & Blue UMLive download via UMobile & get 7/3/05 as a bonus. Text UMROCKS to 66937 (do not reply to this number) – via Mozes.”

“There was one main announcement from stage that I personally made myself,” Mr. Iwinski said. “I thanked the fans for being a part of this important event in the history of Umphrey’s McGee, and described the ease of the purchase process by texting UMROCKS to 66937.”

As a bonus, the band offered fans a copy of one of its first appearances at Red Rocks from five years prior, July 3, 2005.

“This night was truly one of the highlights of our career, and all accounts from the fans have been that this was one of the best Umphrey’s McGee shows to date,” Mr. Iwinski said.

“We were happy that we could simplify the process of reliving this night by offering the download of the show via Mozes—a true milestone for Umphrey’s McGee,” he said.

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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