Mp3 Experiment San Francisco Details

Note: This page was for our 2008 SF tour date. For the 2013 event, see this page.

Here are the full details for The Mp3 Experiment San Francisco. Please take the time to read all of the instructions on this page. This event is happening in San Francisco on 10/4. New York details are here. Toronto details are here. Chicago details are here.

Please note: This is a participatory event. We encourage participants to leave their cameras at home and have fun participating. Same goes for the media. Let’s all enjoy the moment and resist the urge to document!

Date: Saturday, October 4 (rain or shine)
Location: Mission Dolores Park [map]
Time: The event will begin at exactly 2:00 PM. Arrive early! The event will be over at 2:45.
Wear: A Red, Blue, Yellow, or Green shirt
Bring: An umbrella and an uninflated balloon.

Full instructions below:

1. Download the Mp3: Download Page (Right click on “San Francisco” and save the link. If you just click on the link it will start playing in your browser. Spoilers! Mac users can “option-click”)

Note: The filename for the track is “mp3experiment_san_francisco.mp3″ and the album, artist, and track name will be “Mp3 Experiment San Francisco.”

2. Load the track onto your mp3 player (iPod, etc) or burn to a CD for use with a “Discman.”

3. Do not listen to the track.

4. On Saturday, wear a t-shirt that is one of the following colors: Red, Blue, Yellow, or Green. (Long sleeves / sweaters are OK too.)

5. Bring an umbrella and an uninflated balloon. (Any kind of umbrella. Any kind of balloon that can be blown up.)

6. Bring a watch with a second hand (or use your cell phone if it displays seconds.) Before you leave, sync it up to this atomic clock:

San Francisco

(If your browser doesn’t show the clock above, you can use this link to get the correct time; note that the hour is off, but the minute and seconds are correct.)

7. As 2:00 approaches, take a seat anywhere on the field. Spread out and don’t sit too close to others who look like they might be a part of it.

8. At exactly 2:00 PM, press play.

Frequently Asked Questions

Say what now?

If you’ve never heard of The Mp3 Experiment, check out our coverage of the past four years:


How will we know when to start?

You will have synchronized your watch or cell phone clock to the atomic clock above. Start right at 2:00:00 PM.

Do I have to have an iPod?

No. The event is designed for folks who own an iPod or similar portable mp3 player, but those of you with portable CD players can participate as well. Simply download the track and burn it to a CD. Don’t have a burner? Ask a friend to burn it for you.

I can’t find the track on my iPod. Where is it?

The artist and album are both listed as “Mp3 Experiment San Francisco”.

Should I listen to the track beforehand?


Can I listen to the track beforehand?

You really shouldn’t. Sure, there’s nothing we can do to stop you, but to really get the full experience of the event, you shouldn’t listen to it. It will spoil most of the fun. We know it’s hard to resist. Be strong.

What if I get to the event late?

Press play at 2:00 wherever you may be, and hurry up!

What if I don’t press play at exactly the right time?

That’s OK. We’re counting on everyone’s tracks being slightly off. Different mp3 players have different response speeds. It will be fun to see participants who are clearly ahead or behind. If you are significantly off, feel free to glance at a neighbor’s iPod and try to sync back up to the correct time.

What if I accidentally hit a button on my player during the experiment that stops the track?

We recommend turning on the “hold” button on your player after pressing play to prevent this from happening.

What if my player crashes or the batteries die during the experiment?

In the unfortunate event that this happens to you, we recommend you pretend like nothing is wrong and just go with the flow. There’s really no way to fix it, so why not have as much fun as you can anyway?

Can I take photos or video?

Please refrain from taking photos during the experiment. We will have photographers covering the event, and you’ll have more fun if you’re not taking photos. We take care of the documentation; you take care of the fun!

I’m coming with some friends. Should we all wear the same color t-shirt?

No. It won’t matter. You won’t be separated from them either way.

Can my shirt have writing on it?

Sold colored t-shirts are best, but it doesn’t really matter if there is writing or designs so long as it’s clear what color it is.

Do I have to RSVP?

Nope, but we did create a Facebook Event if you want to RSVP there. Bring as many friends as you like– this event is open to the public.

What if it rains?

Unfortunately we do not have a rain date. It will happen rain or shine at 2:00. You’ll have an umbrella with you anyway.

How old do you have to be?

The Mp3 Experiment is appropriate for people of all ages. If you are under 18, you should have your parent’s permission to participate.

Why is Yahoo! involved?

Our partnership with Yahoo! is making it possible for us to tour The Mp3 Experiment to three other cities. Yahoo! did not influence the content of the mp3. They are making it possible for us to do exactly what we want to do in four cities. We’re thrilled about it.

I have another question that hasn’t been answered!

You can ask it by leaving a comment on this entry.



This entry was posted in News. Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to Mp3 Experiment San Francisco Details

  1. Gulliver says:

    Yay I am excited! After years of following improv everywhere’s events I will finally get to participate in one – Woooooo!

  2. Burns! says:

    No Los Angeles? I want to play!

  3. Romanpower says:

    I am going! I might be the only one there with a fro!

  4. Yay! says:

    I am so doing this and inviting my friends…but umm i noticed a little typo..Step 4 says “On Sunday”. It should be Saturday.

  5. PigletAndPooh says:

    Any suggestions as to where to park?

  6. Connor says:

    Whoo! I’m so excited that instead of me going to NY to participate, they’re coming here! I’m getting all my friends to go as well!

  7. JC says:

    @PigletAndPooh: hello, take BART or MUNI! you can walk from the 16th Street BART station or hop on the J-Church MUNI Metro or MUNI #33 Bus!

    here’s a map:

    and a transit trip planner, courtesy of 511:

  8. yartgh says:

    so, uh, there’s nothing written about amplifying the music — do you intend for people to simply listen to the tracks on their headphones or what?

  9. Kat says:

    yup.. only headphones. that’s why they want you to sync your watch so we can all start at the same time. :D

    i’ll be there for sure! :]

  10. danieleran says:

    “Why is Yahoo! involved? Our partnership with Yahoo! is making it possible for us to tour The Mp3 Experiment to three other cities. Yahoo! did not influence the content of the mp3. They are making it possible for us to do exactly what we want to do in four cities. We’re thrilled about it.”

    What’s so hard about saying that Yahoo is a sponsor and that this is a buzz marketing event to draw attention to Yahoo’s MP3 music store?

    Being a sellout isn’t nearly as bad as hypocritically pretending you’re not with a line of bullshit.

  11. Charlie Todd says:


    I had no idea Yahoo even has an mp3 music store. This project has nothing to do with it if they do. We’ve been doing mp3 experiments for 5 years now in NYC, and taking on a sponsor is what gave us the funds to travel and bring it to your city this year. There’s no bullshit being served. We’re being upfront about the fact that there is a sponsor. If that bothers you, by all means don’t come.

  12. missfreckles says:

    suh-WEET! i’ve always wanted to participate in this, and now it’s finally in the bay area. thanks guys! :)

  13. Missy says:

    The clock above just shows the time on my PC clock. It changes when I change my own. Are you sure that’s the right link?

  14. Charlie Todd says:


    Can you see the actual clock? No one complained in NY or Toronto and it’s the same atomic clock widget.

  15. mcas says:

    Will footage from this event be used for a for-profit marketing/promotional tool by the organizers or sponsors of the event?

  16. Charlie Todd says:


    Footage from the event will be edited into a video that will be shown on this website, just like the last 4 years of Mp3 Experiments. Since Yahoo! has funded the tour, they will be mentioned and thanked in the credits of the video, and they will also host the video on one of their sites. We think it’s a pretty great arrangement, and we would not have been able to do this outside of New York without funding/sponsorship.

  17. Cassie says:

    I love IA, and so am happy to have you guys use this footage for promotion. YAY!

    However, just to clarify mcas’ question – Im totally cool with Yahoo! putting it up on their site – gets you guys more traffic – just want to make sure they aren’t using it for some commercial they will later do.


  18. Emily says:

    Actually, I’m seeing the same thing for the clock. I see the clock but when I change the pc time it changes the clock time too. But…. When I click on the link it has the right time. I think it’s probably just a glitch or something.

  19. Charlie Todd says:


    Nope, it won’t be used for a Yahoo! “commercial.” It’s just them putting the video on their own site as well as ours.


    Interesting. I’m not sure what’s up with that glitch. The clock is still exactly right for me. Click the link below it and make sure you’re matched up with the minute and second there (the hour is off though.)

  20. Cassie says:

    woot! Thanks Charlie. I’m there. :D