Artists use FireChat to chat with their fans at music festivals

As the NH7 Weekender festival kicks off on Saturday in Delhi, India, not just attendees, but the bands and artists taking the stage are coming armed with the FireChat app. At big outdoor festivals, cellphone coverage is often spotty and capacity is severely limited, but FireChat overcomes that network problem by letting smartphones link together directly in big Wi-Fi and Bluetooth mesh networks.

FireChat may have become famous as a protest organization tool in Hong Kong, but it has cut its teeth at festivals before. At this year’s Burning Man, 4,000 burners used FireChat to exchange messages without any kind of internet connection, said Christophe Daligault, CMO of FireChat creator Open Garden. What makes NH7 unique is that artists and organizers are getting in on the action, Daligault said.

Bands like Indian Ocean, The Raghu Dixit Project, Reggae Rajahs are using the app to live chat with their fans attending the show, While there are plenty of social media apps such as Twitter and [company]Facebook[/company] artists can use to broadcast information to their fans across the globe, FireChat lets performers fling themselves directly into localized conversations taking place at a festival or concert. Instead of broadcasting to the world over the internet, they’re only communicating with nearby festival goers logged into FireChat’s ad hoc network.

FireChat is extending its verified ID program to celebrities, providing a unique handle that clearly identifies their messages to fans. When an artist types a message, FireChat uses a peer-to-peer connection to beam it to the closest smartphone with Open Garden’s software installed. Those devices in turn pass the message onto other smartphones within Wi-Fi or Bluetooth range, and so forth. In a situation like NH7, with thousands of active, engaged fans, FireChat can create an ad hoc communications grid covering the entire festival.