Virtual reality has helped to re-imagine and revolutionize multiple industries, including healthcare, sports and film. One useful application for Virtual Reality in music is of course immersive music videos, such as Queen’s 360 video rendition of The Champions in 2017. However, this is more of an artistic choice than a change of the industry and is something that has been covered and publicized a lot, so we’re going to cover two other uses for the tech that are helping to shape the music industry, both in terms of monetization and production of new talent.
As the result of illegal downloads, live events have become the most lucrative revenue stream for musicians, but even for the most well-established artist, they have limitations. The main limitation is space. Virtual reality can remove the limit on attendance, exponentially expanding the capacity of venues beyond walls. This means that the music industry can now monetize everyone who can’t obtain a ticket, or who simply just doesn’t feel like leaving the house. I’m sure it’s a feeling everyone can relate to, you book your ticket to a concert six months in advance. The night finally arrives, and you don’t feel like leaving the house to travel to a venue miles away. So, VR can not only increase the revenue of artists, but it also saves you from wasting money on a gig that you don’t even attend. Convenience is key.
A high-profile example of how VR can be utilized for a music event is Post Malone’s recent use of the technology. The platinum selling rapper streamed a leg of his Runaway Tour through the Occulus Venues app last month. Other well-known acts that have favored Virtual Reality include Imagine Dragons, Liam Payne and Panic at the Disco, making it clear that the technology is now at the forefront of the industry and not just an experimental fad or gimmick.
Meanwhile, WaveVR’s latest collaboration is with Grammy winner Imogen Heap. Her VR Performance is a more intimate approach, allowing you to see pieces of the artist’s living room as she appears right in front of you. Her voice makes the walls of her house splinter and her image breaks apart, evaporating into the space around you. This all makes for an otherworldly, dreamy experience. These kinds of immersive adventures allow fans to connect with artists beyond seeing them on a stage and it could be argued that they could actually be more intimate than a live gig.
There are a number of different companies vying for supremacy within this space. Wave VR, Next VR, Melody VR and Occulus Venues are five of the biggest names. The Melody VR app is priced from $7.99-$14.99 depending on the profile of the acts you are watching. The company have already gained over $90 million in backing and are due to introduce a subscription model later this year, as has become the norm with entertainment services. They are also signed with three major record labels. This all further signifies the music industry’s investment in VR going forward.
Another ingenious application for virtual reality is education. VR can now be used to breed new generations of musicians by making learning musical instruments more engaging and immersive.
Teach-U:VR provides individuals with an engaging way to play piano and drums in Virtual Reality. With the use of Google cardboard, users of the application can play their choice of instrument and interact with other in a shared virtual space. Again, this is a convenient and cost-effective alternative to the traditional way of learning through a tutor. It is a great tool that you can pick up and use anytime you want, negating the need to book in time slots or leave the house.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles-based VR company Survios have created an app called Electronauts, where users can use different sound manipulation tools to create their own original music. The immersive aspect of this app is led by the creative content used to display the music, all of which is played by astronauts that appear in different psychedelic settings.
These apps will redefine how we learn and create music. Artists and music lovers will be able to truly experiment beyond imagination and break through walls of unexplored creativity and immersion. These apps will also enhance their musical abilities and musical development in a fun, engaging format.