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Chapter and Metaverse

Technology companies around the world are investing incredible amounts of money to develop engaging virtual reality worlds in the metaverse, and many have identified live music performance as integral to their plans. Here, IQ profiles 20 companies to keep an eye on as live concerts in the metaverse become more common.

DecentRaland
Touting itself as “the first fully decentralised virtual world,” Decentraland’s remit from day one was to hand over control to the people who create and play in its virtual space. Through its DAO (Decentralised Autonomous Organisation), users are in control of the policies created to determine how this VR world behaves: for example, what kinds of wearable items are allowed, moderation of content, land policy and auctions, among others. The organisation has a calendar of music events, including the DCL Music Metaverse Festival on 10 November.
Decentraland.org

AmazeVR
AmazeVR claims to be “ushering in the next stage of music.” Through its proprietary camera technology and software, the company produces virtual reality (VR) concerts, creating entirely new musical experiences that bring fans closer to artists than ever before.

Most fans of music don’t have the luxury of seeing their favourite artists in concert for a myriad of reasons – schedule conflicts, geographic location, or financial burden, to name a few. However, AmazeVR concerts offer the immersive experience of seeing your favourite artist up close and personal, even from home. The company’s goal is to allow fans to be able to experience their favourite artists anytime, anywhere.

The platform captivated fans earlier this year with the first-ever VR concert tour featuring Megan Thee Stallion in her Enter Thee Hottieverse tour across 15 major cities in the US with over 15,000 concertgoers. Moving forward, these VR concerts will be accessible online, and the developers envision them be- coming a key component of all artists’ release strategies and album rollouts, setting a new paradigm for both artists and their fans beyond the existing live, in-person concerts.

With the VR market topping nearly 15 million active users in the Meta Quest ecosystem alone, artists can expect even more diverse opportunities to reach their fans via VR and the metaverse and build their brand through exclusive online interactive events, digital merchandising, and revenue sharing from VR app marketplace activity.

AmazeVR is preparing to launch its music metaverse service across all major VR app stores in the first half of 2023 with a line-up of established and emerging artists, both from the US and Korea (through the company’s joint venture with K-pop giant SM Entertainment), including, again, Megan Thee Stallion.
Amazevr.com

Dot Big Bang
With over 2m plays on its main hub and incredible performance in just a browser, dot big bang offers artists a chance to reach fans from across the globe – no matter the technology they own. As long as fans have a browser and an Internet connection, they are able to be a part of dot big bang’s online world and take part in an artist’s performance.

Promoting accessibility above all else, dot big bang offers players an experience they can have anywhere, anytime.

dot big bang is the chosen collaborative platform for 13.4m subscriber YouTuber PrestonPlayz, who has successfully hosted a number of sessions, with his audience jumping into custom games by clicking a link on his social channels. dot big bang offers instant engagement and collaboration all through the click of a link – and no sign-up is required, meaning fans and performers can quickly host and join an event whenever they want.

As a game development platform as well as a collaborative gaming platform, dot big bang can be used to create the perfect venue experience for fans, thanks to its accessible development tools.

You can reach out to dot big bang at [email protected] or via Twitter, Instagram or Discord.
Dotbigbang.com

Epic Games’ Fortnite
With first-of-its-kind music experiences such as Travis Scott’s Astronomical and the Rift Tour Featuring Ariana Grande, Fortnite remains a pioneer in bringing interactive experiences to the virtual space. Since its beginnings, Fortnite has become a coalescence of popular culture – amassing over 400m registered accounts globally – and has continued to expand its reach into music alongside film, fashion, and beyond.

Working with a series of international artists through the Soundwaves Series (finishing this impressive musical line-up with French-Malian singer Aya Nakamura), Fortnite has introduced its worldwide audience of millions to a variety of music from across the globe. Each experience is carefully crafted for each artist through Fortnite’s impressive creative toolset, which places the experience-building capabilities in the hands of any creator or brand that wants to realise their own unique virtual experience.

Fortnite also offers additional ways to discover music through its in-game car radio, playable character outfits (e.g. Silk Sonic and Coachella Cosmetic Sets), Emotes, and Lobby Tracks. UK’s easy life and O2 experience gave fans a brand-new song, exclusively made as an in-game Lobby Track.

Fortnite is available on console, PC, Android, and cloud-based game-streaming services, making it easily accessible to the core fan or casual audience.
Epicgames.com/fortnite

Meta
So confident was Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg about the prospects for the metaverse, that he last year rebranded the company as Meta to highlight its shift in direction.

The corporation is investing billions of dollars in the development of the metaverse and has already recognised music as central to engaging users. In addition to launching its own platform for virtual gigs – Horizon Venues – Meta has acquired music VR operations Beat Games and Supernatural, as it looks to secure market share in the environment.

The company recently rolled out its new Meta Quest Pro VR headset, to mixed reviews, while another new function is its Avatar Store, which could have interesting possibilities for virtual merchandise for any artists that choose to use the platform.
Meta.com

Napster
While there are no historic VR gigs on the Napster platform, the company recently hired Roblox music chief Jon Vlassopulos as its CEO and disclosed it has raised an eight-figure sum in new financing, which it will use to fund acquisitions in the Web3 sector, as it looks to follow the Roblox pathway into hosting live music content. Indeed, Vlassopulos has stated that he hopes to make music as popular as Web3 gaming within the next 24 to 36 months.
Napster.com

Niantic
Niantic is the developer of the world’s most successful mobile AR game, Pokémon Go, and is expanding its reach into the live music sector. It’s already run a project with Ed Sheeran in late 2021, while its Lightship software development kit has been used by the likes of Coachella Festival and Warner Music Group. Niantic has also reportedly invested in Pixelynx – another early adopter of Lightship.
Nianticlabs.com

Pixelynx
Pixelynx is a new venture that is focussed on blurring the lines between music, blockchain, and gaming.

Founded by a number of electronic music luminaries, including artists Richie Hawtin (Plastikman) and Joel Zimmerman (deadmau5), Pixelynx is “building technology and acquiring equity in a range of start-ups that will form the foundation of how music is experienced in the metaverse”.

The company says it is building a global network of artists, visionaries, and start-ups that are passionate about re-imagining how the music industry evolves through Web3 and the metaverse. Its goal is to establish a transparent alternative to the metaverse services that are being developed by the “monolithic giants that control the current network of platforms that musicians, fans, and gamers rely on.”
Pixelynx.io

Ristband
Ristband is a music metaverse platform where events taking place in the real world can have a digital twin of the physical world happening in real time, combining the excitement of a live event with the power and reach of digital social experiences.

The Ristband team includes artist Roman Rappack as its chief creative officer. His band, Miro Shot, has experimented extensively with AR, VR, and mixed-reality technology at its concerts for a number of years.

The company is the recipient of a grant from Epic Games, which it is using to help create a metaverse that can be used by independent artists, rather than just the A-list acts that dominate charts and airwaves.
Ristband.co

Roblox
Spearheaded by former global head of music Jon Vlassopulos, gaming platform Roblox has leveraged its global appeal to facilitate a number of album launches and virtual performances, with the likes of Lil Nas X, Tai Verdes, Twenty One Pilots, David Guetta, George Ezra, Charlie XCX, and Lizzo, to name but a few, enjoying various degrees of success with their events.

Roblox has also been embraced by the likes of The Grammys and the BRIT Awards to attract a different audience, while Electric Daisy Carnival pioneered the way for festivals to become involved.
Roblox.com

Sandbox
Built on the blockchain, The Sandbox offers a wide range of exploration across its metaverse, consisting of 166,464 unique pieces of LAND, each belonging to a user. Founded in 2011, it is a community driven platform where creators can monetise Voxel assets and gaming experiences.
Sandbox.game

Snap
Snapchat’s parent company has teamed up with Live Nation to launch AR experiences for the likes of Lollapalooza, Wireless Festival, Rolling Loud, and Electric Daisy Carnival. Say no more.
Snapchat.com

Stageverse
Stageverse is attempting to attract artists and bands to create their own unique virtual environments in the metaverse, providing ‘Stage’ land plots for interested parties that will represent their address in the metaverse. Each individual plot of land has specific coordinates and a listing on the Stage map.

“Stage land plots act primarily as gateways to other expansive spaces via portals, and landowners can personalise and build on their plot in many different ways to promote the ‘front-door’ to their expansive world,” explains the company.

Among the first acts to partner with Stageverse were Muse, who used footage from a 2019 concert to offer fans different viewpoints, as well as various items of virtual merch.
Stageverse.com

Tencent Music
In addition to its investment in Wave, music stream- ing monolith Tencent rolled out a virtual festival called TMELAND last new year. Tapping into the popularity of its karaoke business, the company also announced it was developing a metaverse feature that would give users their own individual rooms where they could invite friends to meet and interact.

The company has also teased the possibility of establishing virtual showrooms that artists could use for the likes of album launches. Tencent has more than 600m users.
Tencentmusic.com

TikTok
While there appear to be no plans for the video-hosting service to develop a metaverse platform, Chinese parent corporation ByteDance has dipped its toe into the market with the 2021 acquisition of VR headset manufacturer, Pico. Watch this space…
Tiktok.com

Unity
A games industry stalwart, Unity is marketing its development platform as an ideal toolkit to create music experiences and earlier this year revealed it had inked a partnership with Insomniac Events, whose festivals include Electric Daisy Carnival and Wonderland. The new partners are apparently working on “a brand-new, persistent metaverse world” specifically for live music.
Unity.com

Vatom
Vatom has been helping artists and brands make their metaverse dreams come true since 2015, and has hosted concerts and meet & greets for artists including Mary J Blige, Macklemore, Ellie Goulding, and Silverstein, as well as global events for brands such as Volvo, and always-on workspaces including Arup Associates.

While most people hear the term ‘metaverse’ and immediately think of a handful of people using avatars to interact in a gaming environment, the Vatom philosophy is different. At Vatom, online gatherings are not just about high-fidelity, they are part of a feature complete ecosystem that is fully scalable to support events with more than 10k attendees. Vatom ‘Spaces’ support digital collectibles, custom avatars, spatial audio, and have a full team of Vatom experts on hand to help your event run smoothly from the box office to the main stage.

Whether you are looking to host your first event and rent one of the venues in Vatom’s Soundtown – everything from the rooftop pool to the recreation of legendary Los Angeles jazz bar, Harvelles – or want to take the next step and build out your own always-on global lounge for your festival, Vatom has your back. If you want to add Smart NFTs, and a custom marketplace to drop virtual merch, they do that, too.
Vatom.com

Volta
Volta is a self-serve XR creation platform that gives artists and creators the ability to design and broadcast experiential content that goes beyond the 2D screen and reaches into the metaverse. Volta integrates seamlessly into artists existing workflows, allowing them to build new immersive worlds that were previously unimaginable. What once required a state-of-the-art production studio and a six-figure budget, is now free.

In the coming months, Volta will be introducing a feature that will enable new forms of engagement and revenue for artists. The company has already built the ability to let fans have an impact on visual content via the chat window in several streaming platforms (Twitch, YouTube, etc.). Fans type in keywords of an artist, choosing to enable one-to-one interactions (“boom” = a futuristic explosion of light); many-to-one interactions (the more people that type “boom” the bigger the explosion when the beat drops); and unified interactions (eg fans can literally play tug of war with the virtual camera angles).

These interactions can be gated by keywords, as well as things like Twitch Bits, YouTube Superchat, etc. So, whether your artists are livestreaming or using Volta on an LED wall at a gig in real life, they can give their fans control of the visual 3D world they are performing in from anywhere on the planet, earning money in the process.

Volta has worked with acts such as Bonobo, Jamie Jones, Nero, Archie Hamilton, Sasha, Patrice Bäumel, TSHA, and DJ Yoda, and it is planning tours with iann dior and Richie Hawtin to name a few.
Volta-xr.com

Wave
Originally known as WaveVR, the company rebranded in 2019 when it became apparent that it would not solely use virtual reality as the lure for fans to enjoy its events.

Wave shows enable artists and fans to collaborate in, what it refers to as “the creation of the most interactive live performance experiences in the world.”

Waves are live, interactive, and immersive shows it promises are unlike any virtual concert that fans have ever experienced – combining the best of live music, gaming, and broadcast technology to transform the live entertainment environment.

The shows can be livestreamed globally on wave.watch, as well as across popular social and gaming platforms including YouTube, Twitter, Twitch, TikTok, Facebook and Roblox.

Chinese online giant Tencent Music is an investor, while artists who have used the platform include The Weeknd, John Legend, Lindsey Stirling, and Justin Bieber.
Wavexr.com

XRSpace
Founded in 2020 by the former CEO of tech specialists HTC, Peter Chou, XRSpace has already brought a 5G VR headset (XRSpace Manova) to the market and launched its own virtual reality headset called the XRSpace Mova. One of the virtual worlds it has created to provide content for that headset is PartyOn – a music event metaverse that offers opportunities from karaoke parties to VR concerts.
Xrspace.io

 


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Korea’s CJ ENM invests in AmazeVR

South Korean entertainment giant CJ ENM has bought a stake in US-based virtual reality (VR) content platform AmazeVR.

The move is intended to enhance CJ ENM’s presence in the metaverse and expand opportunities for K-pop and unscripted content, according to Variety.

Los Angeles-based AmazeVR claims to be the first and only company using its exclusive and proprietary technology, to capture hyper-real 9K+ live-action footage of artists performing. This gives fans front-row seats in 3D stage environments, making VR concerts easily scalable and faster to produce.

The startup has previously developed immersive experiences with Megan Thee Stallion and worked with Korean girl group Aespa on real-world and virtual concerts.

It recently formalised a joint venture with K-pop juggernaut SM Entertainment to produce upcoming VR concerts for other K-pop artists.

“We are talking to iconic names in music to continue to bring the best experiences to their fans”

In January this year, AmazeVR raised US$15 million, bringing the amount of capital raised to nearly $31m since its debut in 2015. It has attracted other Korean investors in earlier funding rounds – Mirae Asset Management and Quantum Ventures Korea.

CJ ENM, which operates music TV channels, organises music award shows and the KCON conventions, says the investment in AmazeVR is part of its strategy to expand its digital and technology-related business sectors related to AR/VR tech, metaverse, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and other tools.

Earlier this year, it acquired a minority equity stake in Hyperreal Digital, a US-based metaverse firm developing ‘digital humans’ technology.

“We are excited to partner with AmazeVR, a company that is leading premium VR content production technology, to lead a new paradigm in the entertainment industry,” says CJ ENM CEO Kang Ho-Sung.

AmazeVR CEO Ernest Lee adds: “With the support of our dedicated investment partners, we’re excited to enter the next age of VR concert production and deliver some really amazing performances. We are talking to iconic names in music to continue to bring the best experiences to their fans.”

 


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AmazeVR teams with Korea’s SM to launch Studio A

Los Angeles-based virtual reality concert platform AmazeVR has teamed with K-pop juggernaut SM Entertainment to form joint venture Studio A.

Based in Seoul, South Korea, the “industry-leading VR concerts production deal” will pool AmazeVR’s technology with SM’s extensive artist network.

Concerts will be distributed exclusively through AmazeVR and SM’s VR music metaverse services.

“SM is excited to expand our market to include metaverse content for artists using AmazeVR’s industry-leading VR technologies and proprietary concert creation tools. We’ve had a great interest in this market and see the opportunity for our artists in the metaverse,” says Sung-su Lee, CEO of SM Entertainment. “AmazeVR shares the same vision for this next generation of music.”

“We’re going to see some phenomenal VR concerts”

AmazeVR partnered with Megan Thee Stallion on her recently completed Enter Thee Hottieverse virtual reality concert tour, which took place in 10 cities across the US between April and July. Ticket-buyers were able to go to their local movie theatre, put on VR headsets and hang out in the “VR Hottieverse lobby” before watching the rapper. The VR concert performance featured a multi-song set that moved through a series of environments and featured custom wardrobes designed just for the show.

Leading entertainment company SM’s new girl group Aespa recently made their debut in the metaverse and played their first US live show at Coachella 2022. Other artists on SM’s roster include NCT, Super Junior, Girls’ Generation, Shinee, Exo, Red Velvet, SuperM, TVXQ, and BoA.

“We’re thrilled at the prospect of working with SM to collaborate with K-pop and other Asian artists, as well as other Asian music companies, through our new partnership.” says AmazeVR co-CEO Ernest Lee. “We’re going to see some phenomenal VR concerts. They’ve influenced K-pop globally, united the music industry across the continent, and brought unique and energetic performances to worldwide audiences,”

“Our JV partnership with SM Entertainment will deliver mesmerising, fully immersive VR concerts featuring mega K-Pop stars,” adds AmazeVR co-CEO Steve Lee.” Never before have fans been able to experience their favourite artists in such an intimate and personal way.”

 


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AmazeVR raises $15m for virtual reality concerts

LA-based startup AmazeVR has closed a US$15 million round of funding to support its vision for virtual reality concerts.

Funding was provided by Partners Investment, Smilegate Investment, Quantum Ventures Korea, ABC Partners, Everrich Group, and GS Futures – the corporate venture capital arm of GS Group, one of the largest Korean conglomerates.

In addition to these investors, AmazeVR has been backed by several other major investors: Timewise Investment, venture capital arm of CJ Group; LG Technology Ventures; Mirae Asset Capital; Mirae Asset Venture Investment; Murex Partners; Dunamu Partners; Base Investment; and We Ventures.

According to the company, the bridge funding was oversubscribed within three weeks. It includes $9.5m in previous bridge financing and brings the company’s total raise to $30.8m.

“This funding allows us to keep hiring aggressively,” says AmazeVR co-CEO Ernest Lee. “In 2021, we tripled our team in Hollywood and Seoul. We’ve been able to attract top talent from the industries we touch including creatives who have worked with artists such as Kanye and Cardi B; a former marketing director at Live Nation; a film buyer for Regal/Cinemark; and an AI engineer from NVIDIA.

“This puts us in an ideal position to take full advantage of VR and the metaverse’s growing popularity”

“This puts us in an ideal position to take full advantage of VR and the metaverse’s growing popularity, as we deliver breathtaking VR concerts from major artists, first to theatres, then to homes worldwide.”

AmazeVR’s first-ever VR concert tour is taking place in spring with three-time Grammy winner Megan Thee Stallion, it was announced last August.

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.

“You really need to experience our VR concerts to get a full grasp of how impactful they are. VR can finally blow all 2D experiences out of the water. Thanks to our tech, we can evoke a real sense of presence you can’t get from a screen, the feeling that your favorite artist is right there, face to face with you,” explains Lee.

“This opens up a new dimension for music, one of the first new ways for artists and fans to connect since recordings appeared. We’re thrilled that investors are grasping this and are supporting us as we innovate and grow.”

AmazeVR is planning to raise a Series B in early 2022.

 


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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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