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CES: Sony bows VR concert tech, LG introduces virtual DJ

Among the music-related innovations at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which is taking place online from 11 to 14 January, are an ‘immersive reality’ concert experience by Sony, a virtual influencer and DJ created by LG, and Samsung’s in-car Live Interactive Virtual Experience (LIVE).

Japan’s Sony Corporation used motion-capture technology to recreate US singer Madison Beer as a CGI avatar for a performance of her song ‘Boyshit’, placing her in a virtual replica of Sony Hall (1,000-cap.) in New York, as seen in the video above.

The event was spearheaded by a newly launched division of Sony Corporation of America, Sony Immersive Music Studios.

A longer performance by Beer, who is signed to Sony Music-owned Epic Records, featuring a medley of songs from her upcoming debut album, Life Support, will made available on Oculus VR and PlayStation VR, as well as 2D platforms, later this year.

Sylvia Rhone, Epic’s CEO, says: “Madison Beer is raising the bar of what’s possible in a virtual concert performance and we couldn’t be more excited. With this cutting-edge collaboration of music and technology, Madison has brought her innovative vision to life in a unique way while taking it to new heights.

“Madison Beer is raising the bar of what’s possible in a virtual concert performance”

“This is another example of Epic’s commitment to empower our artists with groundbreaking opportunities to expand their creative options and engage fans through immersive experiences.”

In addition to the Madison Beer event, CES also sees Sony make available a live performance by Zara Larsson (another Epic artist) in 360° immersive sound as an on-demand stream.

For Samsung, CES represented another opportunity to showcase Harman’s LIVE technology, which, as IQ reported last week, would enable concertgoers to interact with artists from behind their steering wheels.

Elsewhere, compatriot LG introduced Reah Keem, an entirely fictional person who hosted the company’s livestreamed CES keynote unveiling its range of CLOi UV-C robots.

As seen on her Instagram page, Keem introduced herself as a songwriter and DJ (as well as a keen international traveller) who’s “so excited to be showing you some of the latest and coolest

from LG”.

Despite being entirely computer generated, Keem does have music to listen to: check out her (so far) only single, ‘Comino Drive’, on her SoundCloud account.

reahkeem · COMINO DRIVE

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Samsung reveals new drive-in concert tech

Harman, the Samsung-owned consumer electronics giant, has unveiled a suite of in-car audio products designed to capitalise on the drive-in concerts boom.

Two new platforms, Live Interactive Virtual Experience (LIVE) and Personal Audio Headrest, made their debut as part of Drive-Live Concert ExP, a concept which premiered at yesterday (7 January)’s virtual Harman Explore event alongside other prototypes for in-car gaming and audio recording.

According to Samsung, all three concepts could be incorporated into Digital Cockpit 2021, a tech-heavy dashboard interface would also allow drivers to check their health, make a conference call and edit video clips from behind the wheel. The 49” display “allows you to enjoy real-time gaming, online concerts, live broadcasts and more at a level of immersion that makes you feel like you’re really there,” says the company.

Harman says LIVE, in addition to offering high-quality audio and video from a choice of angles, would enable drive-in concertgoers to engage with artists in “entirely new ways”, including making requests, voting for the next song played or even “request that a specific instrument be featured in the next solo” (good luck with that one).

“We’ve entered a new era of music enjoyment, with live concert streaming and drive-in concerts taking centre stage”

5G technology, meanwhile, would provide real-time access to additional information, including lyrics and recommendations for similar music.

By combining in-car concerts with livestreaming (the technology would allow fans to watch virtual concerts in their cars, whether or not they are actually at the show), Drive-Live combines the best of both formats, says Harman, overcoming the space restraints inherent to drive-in shows but increasing the interactivity of livestreamed and virtual events.

“With traditional live events being put on pause, the demand for live music experiences is higher than ever. As a result, we’ve entered a new era of music enjoyment, with live concert streaming and drive-in concerts taking centre stage,” says Frank Moffa, Harman’s senior vice-president of car audio.

“At Harman, we understand that music and experience are deeply intertwined. Our commitment to ensuring the greatest experiences per mile is brought to life through our latest audio innovations. Powered by decades of acoustic expertise combined with our leading connected technologies, the vehicle can be transformed into the embodiment of a live concert with features that only Harman can deliver, ensuring fans can enjoy that undeniable energy and magic of a live performance no matter where they are.”

 


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Samsung debuts first ‘vertical stage’

Consumer electronics giant Samsung has debuted an Instagram-friendly ‘vertical’ stage, described as the world’s first, at its Samsung KX venue in King’s Cross, north London.

On Tuesday (3 September), Mabel inaugurated the new three-storey, 9m (30’)-high stage in front of a crowd of 2,000, with the British-Swedish singer performing alongside her dancers on one level, and her band on the other two.

Samsung says the creation of the stage was spurred by research that shows 94% of smartphone users take photos and videos vertically, and that 79% of people find vertical content to be “more engaging”. The vertical stage, then, is “optimised for the crowd to capture and share instantly across social media”.

“This experience was designed to give fans the ultimate performance tailored specifically for instant sharing”

Samsung KX’s Tanya Weller says: “We are thrilled to deliver a world-first music event for our guests at Samsung KX; this experience was designed to give fans the ultimate performance tailored specifically for instant sharing.

“We pride ourselves on creating innovations that defy barriers, and tonight’s vertical stage performance […] showcased how, if we work together, we can do just that. We’re excited to see how Samsung can integrate into their visions of a better future by providing a destination for the latest in local culture and innovation, powered by Samsung technology.”

You think discussions over festival bills can get heated? Try telling an agent their act is playing on the bottom storey of a virtual stage…

 


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Hi, Ticketmaster: TM integrates with Samsung’s Bixby

Ticketmaster has partnered with Samsung for concert discovery and ticket sales via the latter’s voice-activated virtual assistant, Bixby.

The integration – the latest in a long line of Ticketmaster partnerships with third-party apps, including Facebook, Spotify, YouTube and Bandsintown – will, using Ticketmaster’s API, allow Samsung Galaxy Note 9 users for events by artist, sports team, location or event dates: for example,“Hi, Bixby, find concert tickets in Los Angeles”, or “Hi, Bixby, what sporting events are happening in New York this weekend?”.

From the results returned, fans can choose a show or sports match and purchase tickets. The service is now live in North America, initially only on the new Note 9.

“By opening our platform over the past several years, Ticketmaster has greatly expanded our inventory’s reach”

“Ticketmaster is constantly looking for new ways to make it easy for fans to discover events and buy tickets, and voice is an exciting technology,” says Jared Smith, president of Ticketmaster. “By opening our platform over the past several years, Ticketmaster has greatly expanded our inventory’s reach, and we’ve built a best-in-class list of third-party partners.

“Bixby offers yet another avenue for fans to tap into the largest selection of live events available. We’re excited about this partnership with Samsung because fans will see a personalised experience based on the artists, teams and events that they love the most.”

 


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Festival Focus: Life is Beautiful, Off the Record

Las Vegas street festival Life is Beautiful has released details of its daily music line-up ahead of day tickets going on sale tomorrow.

The festival, promoted by Another Planet Entertainment and Las Vegas-based Life is Beautiful LLC, takes place from 23 to 25 September across 18 Las Vegas city blocks and will this year feature performances from Mumford & Sons, J. Cole, Major Lazer, The Lumineers, G-Eazy, The Shins, Flume, Empire of the Sun, Jane’s Addiction, Bassnectar and more.

Life is Beautiful launched in October 2013 and bills itself as an “annual celebration where people from all walks of life – generations, orientation, race, religion and nationality – come together and create an experience centred in music, art, taste and ideas”. In addition to live music, it includes art installations, gourmet food stalls and seminars from “thinkers, doers and talkers” from the worlds of entertainment, business and science. (Major Lazer photo by Jared Eberhardt.)

Major Lazer, Coachella 2010, Jared Eberhardt

The teams behind three independent UK festivals, From the Fields’ Kendal Calling and Bluedot and Liverpool Sound City Ltd’s Sound City, have partnered with music magazine Louder than War for a new multi-venue festival for emerging music.

Off the Record, taking place in the Northern Quarter, Manchester, on 4 November, will feature a line-up chosen by 30 ‘national curators’ (including Guy Garvey, Lara Baker, Huw Stephens, John Kennedy and Tim Burgess) and also include a conference segment with delegates from the agency, promotion and label/publishing A&R.

Dave Pichilingi, Sound City CEO, says: “We’ll be keeping the line-up top secret until the morning of the event because we know that you trust us and we trust you to be interested in the future,” adding that festival will be a celebration of the new, and not the comfy cushion of the old”.

Grace Jones, Carriageworks 2015, Bruce

Afropunk and FYF Fest headliner Grace Jones will headline the second Metropolis festival in Dublin this November.

The indoor event takes place in array of warehouses and venues in the Royal Dublin Society Showground from 3 to 5 November. Also on the bill are DJ Shadow, Solomun, Moderat, SBTRKT (DJ set), Booka Shade, BadBadNotGood, Crystal Castles, The Sugarhill Gang, Fatima Yamaha, Fakear, Girl Band and more “to be announced”. (Grace Jones photo by Bruce/kingArthur_aus on Flickr.)

Biffy Clyro, Ancienne Belgique 2013, Kmeron

This week’s Boardmasters festival in Cornwall will be the venue for the debut of the “UK’s first immersive music video”.

Created by Biffy Clyro and Samsung using virtual reality (VR) technology, the installation will allow viewers wearing Samsung Gear VR headsets to appear alongside Biffy Clyro in their video for ‘Flammable’, which sees the band playing in a perspex box suspended above an abandoned warehouse.

The ‘Hypercube’ will also appear at Glasgow Summer Sessions and Bestival.

Ross Cairns, creative director at Samsung, says: “This project was born out of a desire to bring the best parts of live music to an audience so people can feel closer to the band than ever before. Biffy were the perfect partners for this.

“From inception we focused on marrying music and technology to appear effortlessly synchronised. We’re delighted to bring the wonders of virtual reality to a generation of music fans in this way and demonstrate how we are empowering people to use technology in a way that allow them to experience the extraordinary.” (Biffy Clyro photo by Kmeron.)

Molly Hatchet, Azkena Rock Festival 2009, Alberto Cabello

Close to 1,200 people have signed a petition addressed to ‘music festival organisers’ calling for the minimum age for UK festivalgoers to be raised to 21.

The petition was created by Chris Bell, the father of 17-year-old Megan Bell, one of two people who died at this year’s T in the Park.

“I strongly believe that an adult would not experiment [with drugs and alcohol] or adhere to peer pressure like a child would,” writes Bell. “Children as young as 14–55 are attending these events unsupervised [and] parents are not aware of what they are up to while they are [there]. Please help me in changing all of this.”

White Miles, Raise a Little Hell tour 2015, Julio Gómez Braojos

Another 10 names have been added to the 10th-anniversary edition of Welsh metal festival Hard Rock Hell.

Molly Hatchet, Warrior Soul, White Miles, Leader of Down, Broken Witt Rebels, Cherry Grind, Red Spektor, Cross Eyed Mary, Bright Curse and The Bad Flowers are the newly announced acts for the festival, which takes place from 10 to 13 November at the Haven Hafan y Mor holiday park in Pwllheli. (Molly Hatchet [top] and White Miles photos by Alberto Cabello and Julio Gómez Braojos, respectively.)

 


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