The Participation Economy – Part 2

U2 Concert
by Kevin Roberts

I like to think of good ideas having a theme song. For the ‘Participation Economy‘ maybe it would be “Come Together” by The Beatles. But the manifestation of that spirit and energy has to be embodied by the current world tour by U2. It’s a lesson in participation with scale.

Stadium shows of yesterday were known to have poor sound quality and a vast distance between the performers and the rest of the crowd. But U2 wanted to innovate on that model and create something awe-inspiring.

U2 play upon a 164 foot tall stage positioned in the middle of a packed audience, nearly 70,000 strong. Bono says to the audience: “We built this spaceship to get closer to you.” It’s the biggest concert stage ever built, has no defined front or back and is surrounded on all sides by the audience. The stage design also includes a cylindrical video screen and will increase the venues’ capacities by about 15-20%. “The band is just sitting in the palm of the audience’s hand,” said Designer Willie Williams.

Mark Fisher, Design Architect for the U2 Tour, spoke about the set: “The inspiration was to make a set that was as intimate as we could make it in a stadium. So everybody in the stadium feels like they’re real close to the band and the band feels like they’re real close to everybody in the stadium.”

After the crowd sang along to “With Or Without You,” Bono had everyone hold up and wave their cellphones in the air saying “Turn this place into the Milky Way.”

One recent Chicago concert-goer blogged, “Once again it was a spiritual moment. There’s a vibe you can’t articulate.”

In an era of declining CD sales, the tour is expected to be a major source of income for the band. About 2.5 million people will see this current leg of the tour. And for anyone curious by all the massive trucks carrying the heavy stage around, U2 will, it seems, purchase carbon offsets to take into consideration the environmental impact of the massive production, which has been estimated to be up to 65,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide; approximately the same amount that would be emitted in flying a passenger plane to Mars.

To read Part 1 of the ‘Participation Economy’ by Kevin Roberts – click here.

Kevin RobertsKevin Roberts is the CEO worldwide of The Lovemarks Company, Saatchi & Saatchi. For more information on Kevin, please go to To see this blog at its original source, please go to

Kevin Roberts




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