August 30, 2018

Virtual Reality Comes To The Live Music Space

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) developments continue to provide exciting enhancements to the live event space. For example, earlier this year StubHub launched an immersive AR product that allows event-goers to visualize seating in local stadiums. Also this year, we continue to see the media focus on live concerts broadcast through VR. In this blog post we have gathered nine fascinating articles about the crossroads between the music industry and VR innovation:

1. What’s it like to put on a VR headset and see a band live?

Wired put out a great article in the summer of 2017 that summarizes the basics of the VR concert experience.  Plenty of similar VR concerts still exist, but some notable changes have become available this year. Last May, Mashable covered the first VR concert streamed by Facebook’s Oculus; and the experience has evolved to include solo and social options (via avatars situated next to each other) that address the feeling of isolation in VR concerts. There’s a strict conduct code and the potential to connect as Facebook friends with others streaming simultaneously.

2. The Pros + Cons of VR Concerts:

VR opens live music to a wider audience. In this Billboard article, MelodyVR CEO Anthony Matchett shares his company’s origin and its focus on the large number of fans who do not get the opportunity to see the artists they want. The article also discusses the attraction to VR’s lower cost of entry per live VR concert. Those in the industry predict that consumers will take more chances with artists they do not know if VR choices are available.

Alternatively, Mashable’s article has a terrific “But What’s Missing?” segment that recounts the charming (and sometimes inconvenient) components one will miss about a live event.It points out that concerts can also be lengthy and not every participant will easily wear a headset for the entire span of a concert, which relates closely to this CNN article about health-related risks associated with immersive technology.

3. It’s about more than the music:

Many say that the VR industry is not aiming to replace live music. Instead, it tries to create novel interactive content. Multiple platforms broadcast content as bonus material for VR concerts (see MelodyVR, Oculus Venues, and Citi Backstage.)

Other designers have been dreaming up experiences that do not stem from live concerts.Take a look at Pitchfork’s deep dive into the musical landscape created by “art-rock” band, Sigur Rós and startup Magic Leap in 2017. The resulting art is described as a dreamy and fantastical environment made of sound that activates according to the movements of each participant. The contention is that any content that draws in fans is a positive as it gets fans more excited about live events.

4. What does it take to shoot a live VR concert?

This article from The Verge illustrates how camera crews create a VR experience with purpose-built equipment. And this video from Fortune Magazine includes some interesting live-streaming VR information.

5. What’s the future of immersive technology look like?

This Forbes article describes the fate of VR concerts this way: If virtual concertgoers have a good time, they will certainly spread the word, and they will brag about it to those who did not attend. Reaching the key milestone of successful virtual live venues can certainly contribute to VR adoption. But if the experience is not crisp and engaging, the viral effect could be negative. This is a great example of how technological developments depend on consumer participation.  Before we realize it, holiday shopping will begin and buyers will have new trendy VR devices to add to their wish lists. We’ll have to stay tuned to see if the market will help accelerate or slacken the pace for VR concerts in 2019.