Virtual Reality Technology is About to Change the Music Industry Forever
Virtual Reality technology was one of the most prominent themes of the 2016 SXSW Interactive, Film and Music Festival. Several discussion panels, presentations and brand activations explored and showcased this emerging technology.
Already commonplace in the gaming world, VR is now beginning to pop up more and more in the music industry as experts predict that 2016 will see the mainstream maturation of VR headsets. Yesterday, March 28th, the Oculus Rift headsets launched in 20 countries at the retail price of $599; Oculus VR is the headset maker that received a $2 billion investment from Facebook.
We have VR companies like YouVisit, which sees the immense VR potential with large festival experiences. YouVisit tried its first VR concert recording last year during Armin van Buuren’s 2015 TomorrowWorld set. The VR footage, which was labeled The Armin Effect (watch below), was displayed at the 2016 CES.
"We worked with [Armin van Buuren], his team, as well as TomorrowWorld to produce that VR experience," Abi Mandelbaum, CEO of YouVisit, told DigitalTrends. "It allows users to engage with artists like they’ve never been able to before. In traditional video you have the director who predefines every scene and the order of those individual scenes. Our software platform allows the viewer to be the director."
This year, we are watching the first major label and major festival incorporate VR technology. In January, Universal Music Group announced a partnership with iHeartMedia to develop a VR concert series. Later this year, they will be shooting and distributing the live performances of four UMG artists in VR at the iHeartRadio Theater in Los Angeles.
Coachella recently revealed the inclusion of Google cardboard headsets in this year’s welcome package. The corresponding Coachella VR app gives attendees the opportunity to take a virtual 360 tour of the festival grounds, pop in on exclusive interviews with artists and check out panoramic photos from last year’s event.
At SXSWi, it was clear that VR could very well be the future of both music videos and live concerts. As record sales continue to fade into the background and touring and sponsorships dominate the forefront, VR technology is likely to bring more opportunities for the music industry to earn revenue through creating new and unique live experiences.
VR live concert streaming is a little farther down the road, but not that far. In the next few years, we could very well see large festivals offer virtual reality tickets so fans around the world can experience it all from the comfort of their home. VR ticket buyers could control what they see with interactive options and get up close and personal to their favorite artists as they perform mainstage sets live.
Pair a VR headset with a Subpac and you can really bring the concert to you. Not only are your visual and auditory senses immersed but your entire body can literally feel the music.
VR goes beyond headsets and vibrating packs and chairs, too. Fulldome.pro exhibited a fully immersive virtual reality dome while Moveo showcased a one-person, virtual reality rocket ship at SXSWi.
Be it a 360-degree, interactive music video or a virtual concert experience that puts you right there in the middle of the action, VR has a bright future in music.
I'm a storyteller at heart, and music makes my world go round.