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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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Meta to host VR concert ft Notorious B.I.G avatar

Meta has announced a virtual reality (VR) concert featuring a ‘hyper-realistic’ avatar of late rapper Notorious B.I.G.

The digital event, dubbed Sky’s the Limit, will premiere exclusively on Meta’s Horizon Worlds VR platform as well as on Facebook on 16 December.

The VR concert will take place some 25 years after Biggie’s murder in 1997, and is produced in collaboration with his estate.

Diddy, Latto and Nardo Wick are among the artists also set to appear in Sky’s the Limit, among other special guests.

“The wonder of Web3 is that it gives us an opportunity to celebrate his music with visuals that Biggie never got to make”

Biggie’s avatar will perform a setlist which spans the full breadth of his discography. The avatar will also lead attendees through a virtual recreation of Biggie’s Brooklyn hometown, in what’s been billed as a “narrative journey” across a day in the rapper’s life. Biggie’s narration will be voiced by writer and music journalist Touré.

Voletta Wallace, Biggie’s mother, said in a statement: “Having the ability to create a variance of new opportunity to showcase my son Christopher’s music through the advancement of technology is hard for me to grasp at times. However, I’ve found so much excitement in the process of developing his avatar, understanding the value added for fans to experience him in ways unattainable until now. Thank you to all who have contributed to bringing this project to fruition.”

Mark Pitts, Biggie’s manager and president of RCA Records, added: “It’s amazing to create new content for B.I.G. The world was robbed of an opportunity to watch Biggie grow and evolve as an artist. The wonder of Web3 is that it gives us an opportunity to celebrate his music with visuals that Biggie never got to make.”

Watch the teaser for Meta’s Notorious B.I.G. VR concert:

 


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Live biz urged to embrace digital opportunities

A raft of top execs have urged the live business to embrace the opportunities of the digital world, amid the pandemic-accelerated convergence of tech, streaming, gaming and music.

Covering a range of hot topics from ticketed live-streaming to in-game concerts, the forward-thinking ILMC 34 panel Convergence & new frontiers explored the place of live performance in a post Covid-19 universe.

Moderated by freelance journalist Mark Sutherland, the session brought together the live and recorded music strands of the biz with speakers Jackie Wilgar of Live Nation, WME’s Levi Jackson, Tiago Correia of Warner Music UK and Jane Kinnaird of Meta.

“In our mind, even before the last couple of years, that opportunity for digital to really extend live – and its definition – has always been there”

“From the time we started Live Nation, the question we posed was, ‘What is the definition of live?'” said Wilgar, LN’s EVP marketing & consumer technology – international. “And can the digital world, in fact, allow us to expand that definition – whether that’s reaching people in markets and places they’ve not been able to attend a physical live show, or whether it’s taking the physical live show and just extending it beyond its current physical presence?

“So in our mind, even before the reality of what’s happened in the last couple of years, that opportunity for digital to really extend live – and its definition – has always been there.”

Creative strategist Kinnaird elaborated on the “huge” potential for combining the physical world with the metaverse.

“For me, it’s how you can augment a live experience for the people that are there,” she said. “The thing that I really want to explore is how you can enjoy something with someone else – it might be that one of you is at the live event but the other is at the augmented metaverse version.”

“We’re always about providing more avenues for fans to connect”

Correia, of Warner’s global digital business development team, discussed the rise of in-game concerts such as those seen on Fortnite and Roblox over the past couple of years (the label made an “eight-figure” investment in Roblox in 2021).

“There’s an entrenched audience in those games,” said Correia. “We don’t know if that audience is a fan of Tones & I in the case of Fortnite, for example, or a fan of Aya Nakamura. So there’s naturally a big opportunity to say, ‘Let’s try and capture those that aren’t and try to engage those that already are.’

“We’re always about providing more avenues for the fans to connect. And part of that is giving avenues for the artists to express themselves in new ways. Of course, it came in at a critical time where no one was able to do physical. It is not substitutional in any way. But, for a brief period of time, some people who couldn’t go to live, went to these virtual concerts in the hope that they could have some semblance of what those experiences are. I’m glad we were able to provide that service to them as well, because we were very happy with the results.”

He added: “There is still a bit of taboo and shame around games, because maybe we played them when we were young and we’re no longer that person. I think that that’s going to change. It’s not just a generational thing, look at the capabilities that you can do in games that you can’t do otherwise, I think people will understand that it’s quite a very important part of the entertainment industry as a whole and, as a music industry, that’s why we’ve done a lot in gaming. We need to be very, very aware of what’s happening and we need to be driving part of those conversations.”

“You’d be crazy not to look at gaming as an opportunity for distribution or inclusion”

“You’d be crazy not to look at gaming as an opportunity for distribution or inclusion,” agreed Wilgar. “Now, if the artists you’re working with are more relevant to a 65-year-old-plus crowd, maybe that’s not your right platform. But if you’re looking for distribution and reach, the reality is gaming is up there with sport. It is the fastest growing lifestyle reality of anything that exists worldwide right now. And it’s not just 12 to 16-year-olds playing games – the age demographic tends to be 24 through early 40s, or 40 through early 50s, in terms of the biggest growth areas for gamers.”

On the subject of live-streams, meanwhile, WME’s Jackson suggested that licensing hurdles had stunted the growth of the market and deterred some acts from embracing the format.

“Despite two years of live-streams through lockdown, people’s understanding of ownership and how we get the right licences in the right territories has been such a challenge… And it just puts people off,” he added. “If we could figure out a way to encourage everyone to participate and help each other there, it will probably encourage a bit of creativity to do it. Because at the minute, it does feel somewhat clunky. It’s enough for any artist that wants to look at this space to say, ‘I’m okay for now.'”

 


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