What’s the deal with the BLACKPINK, Bad Bunny LED wristbands?
Two decades ago, Vincent Leclerc went to Burning Man and saw how attendees were standing at the symbolic burning of the large wooden structure known as “The Man” and asked, “How do I bring fire to the masses in a safe way?”
In 2010, Leclerc started PixMob, a Montreal-based company that connects fans to bands during live performances through LED wristbands and other items. The company has provided services to artists such as Bad Bunny, Arcade Fire during the band’s 2011 performance at Coachella, Tiësto, Coldplay and more.
The company provided 90,000 wristbands to festivalgoers — free of charge — ahead of Bad Bunny’s headlining performance on Friday and 50,000 ahead of BLACKPINK’s headlining set Saturday during Weekend 1 at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
The wristbands light up and change color through signals sent by infrared transmitters on the delay towers at the Coachella Stage. A lighting designer positioned at the stage controls the patterns and preprogrammed cues through a console.
“It’s so cool to bring this stadium experience to the festival grounds,” said Hila Aviran, director of tours & entertainment for PixMob. “The goal was to make sure everybody feels like they’re part of the Bad Bunny show. When you look around and see color, you can see the rhythmic movement in the lights around you. We watched the stream the following morning and there were incredible aerial shots of (almost) 100,000 people leading up to the beat of the music.”
Aviran said Bad Bunny prefers to have everything triggered live and BLACKPINK uses the rhythm of the songs for the light patterns.
The wristbands are back for Weekend 2, but the company won’t have an idea of how many were used until the end of the weekend.
So how much does it cost to provide this experience? Aviran said the company doesn’t provide the total expense for each show, but added the cost of each wristband has come down from $5.
“When we were starting out, the pricing was not optimized for these mass gatherings, but I would say over the last three years and coming out of the pandemic, we have products that are super scalable, which allows us to tour with global artists doing 50 to 100 shows on a tour. Seven years ago, it was $5 a person and we are not even in that range anymore.”
Fans can toss the wristbands into a receptacle after the show or keep them as souvenirs. But PixMob has the environment and sustainability in mind. Designers changed the original wristbands from all plastic to straps made of fabric and the LED casing is made from recyclable plastic.
“We decided sustainability is the future, and in order to make a future happen, we have to take action. That means reducing the amount of single-use plastics we produce and give out to the world,” Aviran said. “We’ve recycled an estimated 3 million units since launching our recycling program. On the Coldplay tour we’re on right now, we’re reusing the wristbands and designed a wristband for them made out of compostable materials.”
There is also room for the technology to grow in the future and Aviran said “we obsess over it every single day.”
“Five years ago, we had to preprogram every pixel to a seat and place it on a seat in order to create these movements in the crowd. We eliminated that by creating transmitters that are motorized and we can control so we can physically trigger them to move and paint invisible light on the audience,” Aviran said. “Our research and development team is constantly churning things out. We are working on something else that will be coming out in the next few months and even after that, we are constantly trying to innovate the actual product to make it even more sustainable, more cost-optimized and bring people more value.”
Desert Sun reporter Brian Blueskye covers arts and entertainment. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @bblueskye.