Music, and the artists that make it, have always had tremendous power to influence our culture, our emotions, and even our morality. Recycled Percussion is a band that has taken that responsibility very seriously for years as they seek to use their influence for good. And now, they are combining their talent, influence, and cutting edge technology to take it to another level – online.
About Recycled Percussion
Recycled Percussion was founded by Justin Spencer in 1995. The band’s popularity exploded during Season 4 of America’s Got Talent, finishing in third place. Their unique style of using almost anything as percussion instruments on stage (buckets, power tools, ladders, trashcans, etc.) combined with a sense of adventure and willingness to do all sorts of crazy stunts draws fans worldwide. They have toured all over the world, and achieved much success in Las Vegas over 10+ years, performing over 4,000 live shows.
In their desire to influence positive change, Justin and his cousin and fellow band member, Ryan Vezina launched a TV show in 2016 called ‘Chaos & Kindness.’ The idea was to entertain while inspiring people to have fun living life while giving back. The show has won six New England Emmy awards and has been nominated for several others. Each episode features a heartwarming story of kindness, delivered with a dose of spontaneity and high-energy zaniness. And the team spreads kindness in other ways as well, like when they strapped drums to a flatbed trailer and cruised around performing and collecting warm coats at every stop for families in need this winter and in the process achieved a world record for the longest parade performance. The band actually has several world records: one for the most shows performed in a day (45), one for the fastest to perform all 50 states in the US (12 days), and one for the most countries performed in a single week (25).
Pivoting to digital
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Recycled Percussion had to cancel over 150 shows between America, Mexico and China. However, they decided to turn the chaos of Covid-19 into an opportunity to do something completely new – exclusively online. In June of 2020, the band performed a 24-hour live stream concert with tons of entertainment and interactivity. Leveraging IBM Video Streaming, the live stream started at 9am Saturday, June 27 and ended at 9am Sunday, June 28. The setlist included music from the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, guest performers, a dance lesson, a game show element, a mental health discussion, and non-stop drumming. From planning their setlist that included more than 350 songs (many of them requests from fans), to hunting down ridiculous costumes, and pushing their bodies to the absolute limit, this was a show like no other! The talent on stage also featured close friends of the band, Jimmy Melchionna (aka Jimmy Love) who has William’s syndrome, and Davin Cox who has Cerebral Palsy. They both often tour and perform with the band, bringing delight to live audiences.
To pull off a 24-hour online concert, the Recycled Percussion team needed to make sure the live streaming technology would reliably stream non-stop high quality video for the full 24 hours. The team at IBM was up for the task. The result was 28,881 viewer hours on the live stream from 10,230 unique devices across the globe, including the US, Canada, UK, Germany, The Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand and Mexico. The live stream also heavily utilized IBM’s live chat feature so that fans could interact with one another while watching the live show. The first 23 hours was only available to those who purchased tickets, but the last hour of the show was open for anyone to see. And, after 24 hours of straight performance, the band ended up with some pretty significant, but well worth it, blisters!
And for New Year’s they will be hosting another amazing LIVE stream concert straight to fans’ living rooms. The show will start at 6pm Eastern Time and end when the clock strikes midnight. The show will again be streaming live on the IBM Video Streaming platform with interactive chat.
And coming soon in 2021, Recycled Percussion will be streaming a special music video featuring their fans performing with them! That’s right, fans were able to submit videos of themselves performing from home to be uploaded to the IBM platform in advance and then streamed as if they were performing with the band. Each fan that signed up received a home kit complete with drum sticks and some recycled “instruments” to play. Many were actually given as Christmas or Hanukkah presents. Although this requires 100s of hours of editing and uploading all the individual fan videos, it will all be worth it when the music video launches in 2021!
This band has some very special fans! The team spreads kindness one person at a time and in the process truly brings out the best in the human spirit. They inspire people with their music, their hearts, and their sense of adventure. They instill in all of us that in a world of chaos – especially this year of pandemic chaos, it’s important for each and every one of us to continue to show kindness.
“The live stream concerts we are doing are a way for us to give back to fans as well and just give people the opportunity to have entertainment,” Spencer said. “This year, I think a lot of us have been starving to have some kind of culture, some art in our lives.”