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The music industry is growing interest in immersive technologies, such as that of virtual reality, because of its unparalleled ability to engage the public. Let’s take a look at three examples that show how the entertainment industry, both because of its vocation and out of necessity, is renewing its obsolete business models, in search of a new dimension, definitely more stimulating than the previous one.
The Beat Saber phenomenon: to the beat of Imagine Dragons
The combination of different multimedia formats is the basis of a strategy used more and more to promote a brand through multiple experiences. A business area that has yet to be explored has emerged, where a low-key production such as Beat Saber has become one of the best-selling VR apps ever.
Beat Saber is a rhythm game in VR that arms you with two lightsabers, a red and a blue one, with which you can hit the luminous blocks that come towards you at increasing speed. All that, to the rhythm of the music.
Music video games are certainly not breaking news. They actually have a very solid tradition, as demonstrated by glorious names such as Dance Dance Revolution (Konami) or Guitar Hero (Activision), which, among others, sold several million copies worldwide, targeting profoundly different cultures and markets. But no one had done it before in virtual reality, and in such an engaging way. Three young boys from the Czech Republic took care of that. At the core of Beat Saber is the idea of Jaroslav Beck, a young composer who created – together with the developers Jan Ilavsky and Vladimir Hrincar – Beat Games from scratch, a small indie company based in the heart of Prague.
The success of Beat Saber has inspired artists like Imagine Dragons to release a music pack consisting of 10 playable tracks, demonstrating that virtual reality gaming can constitute a sufficiently mature and effective media to create new experiences, for an increasingly heterogeneous public. An offer that adds on top of the official packs created by Jaroslav Beck and could represent a starting point for collaborations with other artists of the international music scene.
Enhanced VR at Muse live shows: Simulation Theory Tour
More and more artists tend to assimilate their offer to that of a real brand, positioning and differentiating their music through experiences that go far beyond the sound component. In 3D Stories we analysed how the American artist Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) is using a wide range of 3D technologies to give life to his imaginary world: Pharos, a surreal place where his fans can listen to his music while living a totally immersive experience, created with 3D projection mapping, virtual reality and augmented reality.
Popular rock band Muse could not miss out such a great opportunity to make use of technology, their professed passion. To name just a few key facts, they were among the first ones to broadcast 4K concerts in theatres, besides regularly dazzling their audiences with top-notch sets and stages, as in the case of the 2018 Drones World Tour.
For the tour of their last album, Simulation Theory, Muse decided to go the extra mile, offering a truly exclusive experience. Thanks to the collaboration with Microsoft, the Simulation Theory Enhanced Experience was born: a pre-show made of three VR games, based on the contents of the album, with a pop-nerd iconography that recalls Ready Player One also in the illustrations of Karl Lambert (who recently worked for Stranger Things, Ed). The Enhanced Experience of Simulation Theory, in keeping with its specificity, constitutes an authentic added value, available only to those who purchase a specific ticket, which in addition to the VR pre-show, also includes a place in front of the stage during the actual concert.
From Childish Gambino’s “democratic” experience to the elitist one of Muse, VR constitutes an experiential format capable of engaging its public exclusively. At the opening of the Simulation Theory Tour, frontman Matt Bellamy expressed quite an eloquent opinion during an interview with Billboard: “[We did] a lot of gaming when we were younger. Playing games, like Amiga computer games and things like that, some console games but I kind of got tired of it all by the time I was in my 20s. I kind of felt like it needs a breakthrough into the next dimension. And I think that’s what VR could be. […] I’m for the first time since my teenage years, into gaming again, and I think that’s because of VR. We’re living through a period of immense integration of technology into our lives”.
Concerts and live events in VR: always in the front row
Virtual reality allows you to wear a viewer and find yourself at the centre of an experience that would otherwise be very complicated, or even impossible, to live. An essential feature, which gave rise to platforms such as Next VR, offering a catalogue of immersive experiences for sports and musical events. Thanks to the Next VR app, it is possible to virtually experience the thrill of assisting a concert on the stage, an NBA game under the basket or a boxing match at ringside, all of that without leaving home.
Next VR produces Live Nation music events in VR and, at the time of writing, is available for iOS/Android, Daydream, Gear VR, Mirage Solo, Oculus Go, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Playstation VR and Windows Mixed Reality: quite an ample support, which fully demonstrates the intention to spread this kind of content as much as possible.
For more in-depth information on the use of immersive technologies in the music industry, please see – Real-time 3D – Music and Augmented Reality
Sources: NextVR, Live Nation, Microsoft, Muse, Beat Saber, Playstation VR, Steam, Forbes, Billboard, Road to VR, VR Room, Oculus, HTC Vive.
This post is also available in: Italiano