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UMG to produce virtual-reality live music

A partnership with radio giant iHeartMedia will see live performances by four Universal artists shot in VR

By IQ on 07 Jan 2016

Jeff Gattis, HTC, Vive, Maruizio Pesce

HTC's former executive director of marketing, Jeff Gattis, wears the Vive VR headset

image © Maruizio Pesce

Universal Music Group (UMG) and US mass-media giant iHeartMedia announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas yesterday a partnership which will see live performances by UMG artists shot and distributed in virtual reality (VR).

Full shows from four as-yet-unnamed UMG talents will premiere at the iHeartRadio VR Concert Series, held at the iHeartRadio Theater in Los Angeles, later this year.

A ‘VR experience’ by a UMG artist will be also unveiled at each of the company formerly known as Clear Channel Communications’ major events throughout 2016, including the iHeartRadio Music Awards, iHeartRadio Country Festival, iHeartRadio Summer Pool Party, iHeartRadio Fiesta Latina, iHeartRadio Music Festival and iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Tour. The first one, at the iHeartRadio Music Awards on 3 April, will broadcast live across the US on iHeartMedia radio stations and its TV channels TBS, TNT and truTV.

“At UMG, we are focused on harnessing cutting-edge technology to pioneer new creative and commercial opportunities for artists, labels and fans,” said Lucian Grainge, chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group, at CES. “By combining iHeartMedia’s music events and hundreds of millions of listeners with the ability of our artists to forge powerfully emotional connections with their fans, we are ideally positioned to use VR technology to create authentic experiences that benefit our artists, consumers and marketing partners.”

Many technology commentators believe 2016 will be the year when VR headsets begin to take off in a big way (even if they are causing some users to feel physically sick) Options for seekers of virtual-reality thrills include the Facebook-backed Oculus Rift, Avegant Glyph, Samsung Gear VR and HTC and Steam developer Valve’s Vive.