The Mp3 Experiment Six

Produced by: Charlie Todd and Matt Adams
Original Music and Sound Design: Agent Walker
Digital Video: Agents Adams, Shafer, Haskel, Person
Digital Photography: Agents Sokoler, Fountain, Chigirev, Hambly, Liu
Lone Wolf: Agent Scordelis

For our Sixth Annual Mp3 Experiment, over 2,000 people of all ages downloaded the same mp3, pressed play at the same time, and had a blast together. This year’s event took place on Roosevelt Island, a thin strip of land in the middle of the East River. Enjoy the video recap first, and then check out the full photos and report.

If you’ve never heard of The Mp3 Experiment series, you can read about it here: The Mp3 Experiments.

This year’s location was Roosevelt Island. It’s a really beautiful place, situated in between Manhattan and Queens on the East River. There are about 12,000 residents on the island. To participate in this year’s experiment, agents were given these instructions. Everyone synchronized their watch to the clock on the instruction page, downloaded the mp3, wore a red, blue, yellow, or green shirt, and then traveled to the island. At exactly 4:00 PM, everyone would press play from wherever they happened to be on the island.

It’s always fun to spot other participants in the hours leading up to the event. Everyone was told to wear red, blue, green, or yellow shirts. It’s pretty easy to figure out who will be participating.

By 3:30, the crowd started to get really huge. There is one subway stop on the island, and each arriving F train brought tons of colorful folks.

Participants exiting the subway station

One participant managed to find a quiet spot all to himself
We had a wonderfully diverse group of people show up again this year. All ages, races, and backgrounds were present. We had newborns, children, high school kids, college students, 20/30somethings, parents, and grandparents, all playing together.

Mom, Dad, Son, Dog
I always enjoy participating alone and try to sit away from anyone I know personally. I took a seat on the west coast of the island right next to a family who had a red-shirted dog with them. He was awesome!

The Brown twins (Human Mirror agents!)
4:00 arrived, and participants scattered all over the island pressed play. After the awesome opening song by Tyler Walker, Steve (the omnipotent “voice from above”/narrator of every Mp3 Experiment) introduced himself and led us in some light breathing and stretching.

Participants stretch their groins

Condo residents look down at the masses on their courtyard
Steve had us jump to our feet like popping popcorn and throw our hands in the air.

Jumping up from the ground

A woman throws her hands in the air in reaction to the field of participants doing the same
Next up was the traditional geography test. Participants were asked to point to the sites of some of the past Mp3 Experiments and then towards Nicaragua, the direction of which many sadly haven’t learned yet!

Next up was the “audience interaction” phase of the experiment. Participants were instructed to high five as many non-participants as they could find. Part of the fun of the Mp3 Experiment each year is seeing the looks on the faces of those who happen upon us and have no idea what is going on.

This guy got MANY high fives
Some folks even went into the stores and cafes on the island to give high fives. The next task was to form single file lines behind non participants, making them an unknowing leader in a short game of Follow the Leader.

On my section of the island, there were a half-dozen really funny lines of people. It was hilarious walking on one side of the street in a giant line and seeing another line across the street walking in the opposite direction. Many of the non-participants were laughing at the other lines, while not realizing they had a hundred people lined up behind them as well!

Two lines formed behind two public safety officers

At first, this guy didn’t realize what was behind him

Thumbs up!
The next activity was square dancing. Participants dosey-doed with as many people as they could while a silly square dance song played. It was fun constantly switching partners, and the laughter was infectious.

Steve then called for “Nap time!” Everyone dropped to the ground at the same instant and took a fifteen second power nap.

Notice the one woman on the bench
It was time for everyone to take a walk together to the southern tip of the island. Steve went to grab his favorite soda while his estranged cousin Dave entertained everyone with a story that took place on Roosevelt Island many years ago (or not.) You can listen to the story (written by Tyler Walker) here: Peters and the Wolves.

As everyone began merging together on the paths on either side of the island, it started to become clear just how many people were participating.

It was about a fifteen minute walk to get to southern tip (longer for those who were in the back.) Participants walked along the river, enjoying Manhattan skyline views. They entered the gates to Southpoint Park and passed the old, abandoned Renwick smallpox hospital.

The crowd then followed a short path over the hill and found themselves in a beautiful green space with stunning views in every direction.

Southpoint Park (minus our participants)

People watch as 2,000+ participants arrive in the park

A picnic is interrupted
The park was mostly empty. I’m always surprised at how few people are there, considering how cool it is. There were a few people milling about, and a group of folks sitting in the grass. Hopefully they enjoyed the spectacle. If not, we were gone 20 minutes later anyway.

After everyone had arrived, a game of freeze tag broke out, with the different colors taking turns being “it.”

After all of that running around, it was time for another power nap!

It’s really tough to show just how many people were at the experiment. Unfortunately we didn’t have access to any tall buildings across the river, so we couldn’t get a proper overhead shot. The pictures from the ground level don’t quite capture how ridiculously packed the park was.

Steve announced it was time for a dance party, but first he had to tell a couple of secrets. He had the red/yellow and blue/green groups take their headphones off in turn so he could speak privately to the other group. Blue/green were told to dance like they were from the 1920s and red/yellow were told to dance like they were from the 2020s. What followed was a 2,000+ person dance party for flappers and robots.

Party like it’s 2029
For the finale, Steve introduced everyone to a new game, Bats vs. Hammers. The red/yellow team headed to the northern part of the field and received 700 inflatable bats while the blue/green team went to the southern part of the field to receive 700 inflatable hammers. I figured 1,400 weapons would be enough, but hundreds of people didn’t get a weapon and had to participate in spirit.

Rob blows up his bat

The red/yellow team

The blue/green team

Agent Phire leads his team into battle

Agent Mike the Man charges with his hammer
Steve interrupted the fight suddenly. “Why must we hit each other with inflatable objects every Mp3 Experiment?” he said. He told the crowd that while they were fighting, the Lone Wolf (a character mentioned in the story they heard earlier) had made his way to the park. It was time to unite against a common enemy! Steve had everyone remove their colored shirts to reveal their white shirt underneath. Everyone was now on the same team!

Participants wave their shirts overhead as they prepare to fight the Lone Wolf
Through a cloud of smoke, the Lone Wolf appeared on the staircase at the southern tip of the island.

A couple of thousand people beat on the wolf (he was wisely wearing a cup.)

The attack on the wolf captured by someone across the river in Queens (via)

The Lone Wolf is dead!
Steve instructed everyone to celebrate their victory in slow motion. While some Chariots of Fire-ish music played, the masses high fived and hugged each other at quarter speed.

The dog wasn’t so good at slow motion
The experiment came to an end as the crowd all shouted “goodbye!” to Steve in unison.

We were blown away by how many people came out to participate. We can’t thank you enough for supporting Improv Everywhere and coming out to play with us. It’s just so cool to see all sorts of people young and old getting together to do something so ridiculous, just for the fun of it.

Unfortunately we were not able to tour The Mp3 Experiment this year, but hopefully we will again one day (The 2008 tour was so much fun.) We do enjoy bringing The Mp3 Experiment to new places, so if you know a festival or university that wants to hire us to stage an experiment in your area, let us know. We’ve recently staged experiments at festivals in Berlin and Australia.

And if you’re a fan of Improv Everywhere, show your support by buying or new book!

Agent Erde poses with Agent Todd and Agent Scordelis (still in wolf costume) after getting his book signed following The Mp3 Experiment
Finally, I just had to share this photo I randomly found on Facebook, clearly taken a bit later on in the evening.

Mission Accomplished.


Agent Sokoler’s Photos
Agent Fountain’s Photos
Agent Hambly’s Photos
Agent Chigirev’s Photos
Agent Liu’s Photos
Roosevelt L!VE’s Photos

You can download some of the songs from The Mp3 Experiment on Agent Walker’s MySpace page.

Check out first hand reports from participants on the Recap Page. Add your own report if you were there.

Read David Pogue’s write up of the event for The New York Times

Agent Small did a secret sequel of Subway Art Gallery Opening in the F train stop for participants to see on their way home. Check out her photos of the project.

We regularly tour The Mp3 Experiment around the world to places like Berlin, Germany and Adelaide, Australia and to college campuses in the US like UNC and Texas Tech. If you’re part of an organization (festival, university student activities board, arts group) that is interested in commissioning an Mp3 Experiment, get in touch via our contact form.


  1. Awesome recap to a great time! One small note though: the blue/green shirted people were the ones told to dance like they were from the 1920’s…

  2. Amazing fun, This was my second one, I can’t wait for the next one. You might want to try a user-made one. Take the best ideas on what to do from people who visit the site. Love improv everywhere!

  3. This my first Improve Everywhere event and I LOVED it! A bunch of people who still want to play and have fun, it was a wonderful experience and I can’t wait for more.

  4. I don’t know how I missed this one. I LOVE Roosevelt Island & LOVE the mp3 experiments. Oh well… the recap was a blast to read. WELL DONE!

  5. I’m sitting in a public computer space and was seriously cracking up at all of these pictures. I am sure the weird looks I am getting now are not nearly as fantastic as the looks you all got. Sorry I had to miss it.

  6. You all seemed to have so much fun. Saw Charlie on TV promoting the book this week, too. Will join you one of these days, I sure hope! I am from New York City, but live in Pa. now. Keep up the good work, and the fun. Loved the wedding reception, too!

  7. I think Kelrick up there at June 15, 4:58 got it right with what might have been a Freudian slip, or maybe just poor spelling. IMPROVE everywhere pretty much explains what would happen if an mp3 experiment would happen everywhere.

  8. my favorite part was the lines of people following the people who were not participating…LOL!!!

  9. Hmm… cant wait till next year… COMEON Heaven, Hell, or Hoboken (i hate having to travel more than several hundred meters at a time….)

    Great vid.

  10. It was my first MP3Experiment and hands down, had a fuckin’ blast. Btw, I just wanna say, the last pic made me burst out laughing, literally. How the hell did you even come across it?! And yes, that’s me right there. Gettin slapped in the ass. With an inflatable bat. ooo la la

  11. This is wonderful!! The video is awesome. It doesn’t do justice to how long the experiment really was.

    And you can see me in the slow motion part. I look like an idiot. Bahahahaha!!!!!

  12. It’s times like this I wish I lived in NY. Absolutely awesome deal, once again. It’s brilliant to see so many people taking part just to have fun and enjoy themselves, not for any other personal gain. I am, as ever, in awe of your creative minds and incredible organisation.

  13. This is the worst of the Improv Everywhere events. It sucked so bad. A bunch of over-caffienated people jumping up and down like crackhead on a Sunny day.
    I’ll go shoot myself now.

    • I have to agree. I have loved Improveverywhere because it was always focused on the unsuspecting persons reaction to what was going on. This event seemed to be all about 2000 people beating up a wolf, with very little shock/surprise effect on the general public.

  14. Every time I see one of these videos I wish I lived in New York just a little bit more.
    I don’t know if it would work because the practicalities would be a nightmare, but it would be awesome if next year there was an MP3 experiment that could be done anywhere. I mean, a certain place in each of several countries could be set as a location, so there were still loads of people in one place, but everyone in various cities across the US/the world was pressing play at the same time… just a thought because I’m feeling left out!

  15. Awesome! The picture of the dog in slow motion is fantastic. And yes to whoever suggested Hoboken for a future mission site!

  16. I don’t get this mission, like I do most of the others. I understand it’s a long-standing tradition with IE to do this mission, but my interpretation of IE’s missions (even if it’s not stated like this) are to interact with the general public who is unaware that something is planned out. In some ways, I feel like this event is mostly self-indulgent, since it’s really just agents interacting with each other.

    That being said, I love the site, and I already ordered the book. I’m just looking forward to more events where the focus of the energy is towards non-agents, not between agents.

  17. This is my first time participating this event. I have a great time. This event is a bit different from the other ones because it is a massive scale participants being involved. I think the location is a bit of an issue. I live in NYC for over 19 years and I have never been to Roosevelt Island. Therefore, the chances of non participants in this island is way less. If this is in the other parks of Manhattan, there would have been more interaction with audience. But thanks for bringing the event to Roosevelt Island. I have never been there and get a chance to see the view of being in between Queens and Manhattan. It’s a rare experience indeed. Thanks for the link to my pics.

  18. I love it. Seeing people having so much fun. It is truly a wonderful thing. I thank everyone for sharing their fun with the rest of us. I love you all.

  19. @ Charlie: hahaha! I thought I made an impression when I bought the book & that it was the redonkulous shirt I was wearing & you somehow came across it and remembered I mean c’mon, Pimpboys? Rip off the Pepboys?! hahaha, yeahhhh it was the after-effect, CLEARLY taken a bit after the event.

  20. I do have to mention though before I got to Roosevelt Island I caught some sweet vids on my phone of some breakdancing group that got all up in my face just for the cam & in all honesty, I really thought it was for the F-Train stop. I fuckin’ loved the F-train for that.

  21. well done guys
    wish we had something like this in london!
    try experiential nights
    spread the word

    be well!

  22. i love all of ur videos. and i watched them all.. very inspirational. the togetherness. the participation. the effort. the peoples reaction.

    wow. amazing. keep it up!

    im in Malaysia. hope u can create a scene here too! or even inspire us to do the same.

  23. PLEASE do it in Houston TX! I would love to participate in ANY experiment! Maybe even closer like Manvel, TX. It looks like a blast and i really want to be involved in all the fun! PLEASE! xD

  24. woooohoooooooooooooooo found myself in the video and I’m so proud… was a great day .. Thanks

  25. Hi guys. A great video.
    Plz, what is the “square song” in the minut 2:01?
    I wanna the name of the singer (or group) too.

    Many thanks for the info!!!


  26. Hahaha! It all looks like such fun! I hope the MP3 experiment gets big enough to become world wide. Great work guys and congrats on a job well done. Here’s to the future of Improv Everywhere.

  27. i wish i was there, i live in san diego though. i cant wait for the next zombie walk though!!!

  28. i just saw one of your videos last night and now i couldn’t stop watching! i hope you guys could come to korea and do the “no pants” subway ride… that would be a real scene!

  29. Dubai (UAE) in winter is a gr8 place and time to do the mp3 experiment, there are a few gorgeous large parks here (surprisingly), plenty of gadget freaks here who want to get out and run about and meet new ppl by doin this and it would be awesome to have the opportunity to do it here!

  30. could i get a copy of the mp3 that was used in this experiment? im trying to get a copy and create my own version of it. i’m going to set-up this activity here at our town as part of my undergraduate thesis.. i really i hope i could get a copy. if you could, please email it to me asap. thanks!

  31. I was in the MP3 experiment six, and though i was one of the many people who did not get an inflatable weapon, i had a great time!

  32. i want to join the next mp3 experiment. im from los angeles, are you planning to one here?


  33. Carleton College (Northfield, MN) has a tradition like this during finals called The Silent Dance Party. This is the third year it’s been happening. Everyone starts in the quiet floor of the library and presses play on their portable music player of choice to listen to an hour long playlist made by the organizer. Then they all start dancing (silently) and dance their way through all the academic buildings and then back into the library, making a tour of all the floors.

    This one looks like a lot of fun too!