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Facebook surges ahead in race to create metaverse

Facebook plans to hire 10,000 people to accelerate its development of a so-called metaverse  – a virtual world in which people can work, game, play and even watch concerts.

The word ‘metaverse’ – made up of the prefix ‘meta’ (meaning beyond) and the stem ‘verse’ (a back-formation from “universe”) – is typically used to describe the future iteration of the internet, made up of permanent, shared, 3D virtual spaces linked into a perceived virtual universe.

Using technologies like virtual and augmented reality, Facebook says it hopes to create a greater sense of “virtual presence” in the metaverse that will “mimic the experience of interacting in person”.

Facebook has made building the metaverse one of its priorities, investing in virtual reality through its Oculus headsets and building VR apps for social hangouts and for the workplace.

In 2018, the tech giant expanded into VR live events, including concerts, with the launch of its social events app Oculus Venues.

Facebook invested $50 million in funding non-profit groups to help “build the metaverse responsibly”

The app enabled users of its Oculus Go and Gear VR headsets to watch live music and sports alongside other virtual-reality avatars.

In 2020, Occulus partnered with artist-owned streaming platform Tidal to bring a series of exclusive and intimate live performances that can be streamed in virtual reality to fans’ homes.

More recently it invested $50 million in funding non-profit groups to help “build the metaverse responsibly”.

However, Facebook claims the metaverse “won’t be built overnight by a single company” and has promised to collaborate.

A number of massive tech-centric companies that have vested interests in music, such as Tencent and Alibaba, are also investigating how to build a metaverse.

Roblox’s global head of music told IQ in January that he thinks the metaverse will be bigger than the internet and mobile

Over the course of several years, Epic Games has been expanding its hugely popular online multiplayer game Fortnite to host virtual concerts and brand events within its own virtual world.

Ariana Grande, MarshmelloTravis Scott, Steve Aoki, Deadmau5, Easy Life and J. Balvin are among the artists that have delivered virtual concerts within the game.

Other games are getting closer to a metaverse idea, too. Roblox, for example, is an online community where people come together to play, create and explore millions of 3D virtual worlds together with their friends.

The online gaming platform has also incorporated virtual concerts into its offering with performances from the likes of  Royal Blood and Lil Nas X and Twenty One Pilots.

Roblox’s global head of music, Jon Vlassopulos, told IQ in January that he thinks the metaverse will be bigger than the internet and mobile.

Startup companies including Stage11, AmazeVR, Stageverse and Sensorium have also announced ambitions to develop a metaverse.

 


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AmazeVR to create virtual experience for Megan Thee Stallion

AmazeVR has inked a deal to create an immersive virtual reality concert experience for Grammy award-winning artist Megan Thee Stallion.

The ‘one-of-a-kind’ experience will be developed for cinemas outfitted with haptic motion chairs and VR headsets, and will also be available via a ‘music metaverse service’ using at-home VR headsets.

The virtual reality content service and the Roc Nation artist are set to unveil the experience to the public early next year.

“Megan Thee Stallion is a true artist,” said Ernest Lee, co-CEO of AmazeVR. “We are putting together a show unlike anything that’s been done before. It will be an epic, yet personal, performance that allows anyone to feel like they are right there with Megan for a shared experience.”

“We are putting together a show unlike anything that’s been done before”

Megan Thee Stallion added: “Creativity is limitless in the world of virtual reality, which means the concepts and ideas I have can also be limitless. I am so excited to work with AmazeVR to take my wild ideas and make them into a virtual reality for all my fans to see. Get ready!”

The news comes shortly after AmazeVR secured $9.5 million in new funding to accelerate the company’s growth in the world of virtual reality concerts.

The LA-based startup says it is investing the funding in talent and tech – hiring the industry’s best VFX artists, video production teams, engineers and creative talent.

The company recently announced a collaboration with creative director Lewis James, who is known for his work with artists such as Beyonce, Jay-Z, Travis Scott and Post Malone, and will oversee the Megan Thee Stallion experience.

The company has also said it plans to make upcoming shows available to more viewers through a partnership with Canadian company D-Box Technologies, which manufactures haptic motion systems used in cinemas, theme parks and simulation devices.

 


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AmazeVR secures $10m for virtual reality concerts

LA-based startup AmazeVR has raised $9.5 million in new funding to accelerate the company’s growth in the world of virtual reality concerts.

The virtual reality content service specialises in ‘the highest-fidelity performances in surreal CG worlds’, which can be viewed on the AmazeVR immersive tour bus, in cinemas and via the AmazeVR app.

Last week the company announced funding from a number of global investment firms including Murex Partners, We Ventures, Bass Investment, and Dunamu & Partners. Existing investors including Mirae Asset Venture Investment, Mirae Asset Capital, Partners Investment and Timewise Investment also participated in the funding round.

According to the company’s announcement, the funding will be used to hire additional staff as AmazeVR “rapidly scales to meet demand, secures top artists for future projects, and invests in product innovation to ensure the highest quality productions”.

“As more consumers gain access to VR technologies, there is enormous potential for immersive concerts”

According to PitchBook Data, the latest funding round brings the total amount raised by the company to just over $34m since 2015, when the company was launched by the founders and former executives of South Korean-based mobile platform company Kakao.

In 2019, the company underwent a rebrand and honed in on virtual concerts as its primary focus before partnering with hip-hop duo Ceraadi on its debut immersive concert, the following year.

Ceraadi’s debut immersive concert experience, initially scheduled for release in late 2020, has been rescheduled for later this year when it’s safe to hold an in-person launch.

The company said it plans to make upcoming shows available to more viewers through a partnership with Canadian company D-Box Technologies, which manufactures haptic motion systems used in cinemas, theme parks and simulation devices.

“As more and more consumers gain access to VR technologies — be they through headsets, theatres, or even their phones — there is enormous potential for immersive concerts,” AmazeVR co-CEO Ernest Lee said in a statement.

 


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