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.


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

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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?

  5. 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! :]

  6. “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.

  7. @danieleran,

    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.

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

  9. 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?

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

  11. @mcas,

    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.

  12. 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.


  13. 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.

  14. @Cassie,

    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.)

  15. That widget just displays the computers clock on the following two computers:

    Safari or Firefox 3 on OSX Leopard
    Firefox 3 or IE7 on Vista
    (both machines have the latest Flash installed)

    From that small sample I would take it that pretty much anybody viewing this page is going to see the same.

    I’m going to try to come on time despite this :-)

  16. Regarding the clock: I don’t know what to say. It’s the same clock I used in NYC last year as well as NYC and Toronto both last weekend. No one complained of it being wrong in any way. As I said, click the other link below it to double check you have the right minutes/seconds (hopefully you’ll know what hour it is!)

  17. OK, I just changed my system clock and see what you guys are saying. Changing the computer clock changes the embedded clock temporarily, but a simple refresh will correct the clock back to the atomic time.

  18. Is this event only for humans? I’d really like to attend, but I’m not quite like everyone else. I’d do my best to fit in, though!

  19. I am soooo pumped for this tomorrow!

    If you are planning on going, feel free to meet up with me, my friends and their friends at 1:30pm at the basketball courts on the north side of the park.

    Here is a Facebook event if you’d like to meet up:

    See you all tomorrow. :)


  20. I was instructed to take pictures of the event for my high school newspaper but it specifically states numerous times that it would be best if people left cameras at home. Is it really that big of a deal?

  21. too bad it might rain, see you all there, i am the guy with the fro!!!!!!!! so excited, i am already to go!

  22. Man…I found about this the day before yesterday and was REALLY excited to go…then remembered I have work from 12:30 to 9 tonight. Right now I’m trying to figure out ways to get out of it…or at least be late.

    Unless there’s a chance that you guys are going to throw another one of these in Southern CA next year or something? I just don’t want to miss what could be my only chance to be in the Mp3 Experiment, y’know?

    If I don’t show up, though, everybody have fun. It looks like a complete blast.

  23. @mckenzie,

    If you really want to take pictures that’s up to you, but I recommend showing up and focusing on participating. Agent Nicholson will be taking tons of photos, and I’m sure he’d be happy to let you use one in your high school paper.


    We’d love to come back again, but who knows? There are no plans as of now. Call out sick!

  24. Thanks for the response, Charlie! I totally would, but I just got over the head-cold I’ve had for about a week…so I’ve already called in 3 times this week…hahah…

    I’m still hoping to work some magic, though.

  25. Omg, 3 and a half Hours, going to be there for sure, taking BART, and walking 3 blocks! w00t, I’m GOING TO BE GREEN!

  26. Aw, man. Lovefest and Hardly Strictly BLuegrass were both on that same day. I didn’t know what to choose.

  27. I left LoveFest around noon and went to Powell/Market to try and find a bright blue shirt. Fashion and her mute Fall colors would not let me, and I finally had to buy a Burberry summer polo because I didn’t want to be late.

    Then towards the end of the experiment, when everyone was lying down and it got all quiet, I overheard some girl saying “ugh; they’re totally ruining the Autumn palette with their bright shirts. Go away fashion rejects.” She sounded like Gossip Girl too. I laughed out loud.

  28. Of course, I listened to the mp3 beforehand – I’m a bit too far from SF to have made it a go. The pictures look great, and I bet everyone had a great time. Was there coverage in the SF Chronicle?
    One question – I particularly like the piece of music from 00:14 to about 01:25. Is that available for purchase anywhere?
    Love you guys and your work! Thx!