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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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Go behind the scenes of Sensorium with David Guetta

Sensorium Galaxy, a new VR ‘social metaspace’ in which users can attend alternative-world concerts, nightclubs and festivals through a VR headset or streaming, has shared behind-the-scenes footage documenting the making of David Guetta’s avatar.

Last autumn, Guetta revealed a partnership with Sensorium Cooperation that will see him create a series of exclusive performances in the metaspace, which is set to launch in Q2.

Guetta will appear as virtual representation for his exclusive performances in Prism – a ‘content hub’ in the Galaxy dedicated to music concerts and festivals, which is being developed in partnership with Yann Pissenem, CEO and founder of The Night League and creator of nightclubs Hï Ibiza and Ushuaïa Ibiza.

The company has now shared a behind-the-scenes video offering a glimpse into “the crazy experience” of developing Guetta’s avatar, capturing his facial expressions and mapping his signature moves and DJing techniques using cutting edge technology.

Since its foundation, Sensorium Corporation has raised over $100 million in private investments

The Grammy award-winning DJ and producer was the first artist announced to join the platform, followed by contemporaries Carl Cox, Armin van Buuren and Black Coffee among others.

Since its foundation, Sensorium Corporation has raised over $100 million in private investments, making it ‘one of the world’s best-funded startups in the VR space’, according to the company.

Among its backers are Forbes-listed billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay-Z’s streaming service Tidal, which spent US$7 million on tokens issued by the platform’s company, acquiring access to broadcast its content within the platform.

Sensorium has also announced the closed beta trial which will allow selected users to access the platform and explore the worlds of Prism and Motion, an underwater world dedicated to mindfulness. Applications for beta-testers will open next week.

Alongside preparing for his Sensorium debut, Guetta has been busy with his lockdown livestream series, United at Home, which has raised more than US$2 million for charity to date. Read more about the success of the spectacular charity concerts here.


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Live music to start 2021 with a (virtual) bang

Tomorrowland, Big Hit and Lost Horizon have each announced virtual New Year’s Eve events to close a year of hugely successful livestreamed events.

Belgium EDM giant Tomorrowland has announced New Year’s Eve celebration ‘31.12.2020’, which will see more than 25 DJs perform across 27 time zones to usher in the new year.

The festival will start at 8 pm local time in all zones and will close at 3 am after performances from Armin van Buuren, CamelPhat, Charlotte de Witte, David Guetta, Diplo, Major Lazer, Martin Garrix, Snoop Dogg aka DJ Snoopadelic and more.

The festival will be hosted on Tomorrowland’s website and performances will be streamed from four stages in Naoz, a brand new digital entertainment venue in which “some of the festival’s most iconic themes” will feature.

Tomorrowland held its first-ever digital festival, Tomorrowland Around the World, in July and saw 1 million fans pay to attend – 150% more festivalgoers than usual.

K-pop superstars BTS are also expected to expand on the success of their 2020 virtual events, which have seen them break records and earn millions.

The group’s management Big Hit yesterday announced that artists from its roster would come together under one banner for the first time for a hybrid New Year’s Eve event.

Big Hit announced that artists from its roster would come together under one banner for the first time for NYE

The concert, presented by Weverse, will be livestreamed and limited seating will be available, in accordance with the government Covid-19 restrictions. If restrictions change, preventing the in-person aspect, the event will go fully digital.

Nu’est, Enhypen, Txt and Gfriend have already been confirmed for the event, with more line up announcements expected tomorrow (12 November).

BTS performed on New Year’s Eve last year, headlining Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest in New York’s Times Square alongside Post Malone, Sam Hunt and Alanis Morissette and more.

Lost Horizon, the VR music venue created by the team behind Glastonbury’s Shangri-La, will also be hosting a special New Year’s Eve event to end a season of virtual events in December.

The season will take place in VR event platform Sansar and will play host to DJs, underground acts and visual artists, before culminating with ‘Chasing Midnight’, a 24-hour global celebration on New Year’s Eve, taking in 12 time zones and 12 countdowns.

Lost Horizon launched its premiere festival in July, a four-stage event in Sansar featuring artists including Carl Cox, Fatboy Slim, Pete Tong, which reached 4.36m viewers, according to organisers.

 


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Lost Horizon announces season of VR events

Lost Horizon, the VR music venue created by the team behind Glastonbury’s Shangri-La, has announced its first season of virtual events in VR event platform Sansar.

The season will take place throughout December, playing host to DJs, underground acts and visual artists, before culminating with ‘Chasing Midnight’, a 24-hour global celebration on New Year’s Eve, taking in 12 time zones and 12 countdowns.

Lost Horizon launched its premiere festival in July, a four-stage event in Sansar featuring artists including Carl Cox, Fatboy Slim, Pete Tong, which reached 4.36m viewers, according to organisers.

Commenting on the upcoming season of events, Robin Collings, co-director of Lost Horizon, says: “We are incredibly excited to launch the second phase of Lost Horizon with a raft of exciting shows in December, plus we have some huge plans for 2021 and beyond. In these troubled times, our mission is to bring some joy and real culture into people’s lives.

“In these troubled times, our mission is to bring some joy and real culture into people’s lives”

“Lost Horizon’s virtual platform offers so much more than other VR events, allowing people to connect with their friends and meet people from around the globe, you can literally chat, live using your computer’s mic and speakers, to other people in the virtual world, while watching some amazing DJs and live music! Real events in a virtual world”.

The acts, which are yet to be announced, will perform across six customisable areas in the virtual venue, including festival stage Freedom; 360-degree digital arena the Gas Tower; media centre SHITV; underground club Nomad; plus a virtual open-air art gallery and the interactive Landing Zone, which features merch stalls, art, seating and info points recreating the festival experience.

Viewers can explore the interactive, multi-stage venue in Sansar via PC and VR, web browser or app. The season’s events will also be streamed live, globally.

Prior to Lost Horizon’s season of events in December, the virtual reality venue will host the 18th edition of London Mela, the UK festival of South Asian culture.

For 2020 London Mela – usually held in Southall Park, west London – becomes Melatopia, a VR event taking place online on 7 and 8 November 2020, and featuring the same mix of music, dance and culture from the Indian subcontinent and surrounding countries.

 


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Mad Zoo unveils its biggest Minecraft festival yet

Mad Zoo, a startup specialising in virtual live festival experiences, has announced the line-up for Stratosfest, an event taking place within the best-selling video game of all time, Minecraft.

Stratosfest will take place on 23 and 24 October, featuring exclusive sets from Above & Beyond, Ferry Corsten, Ilan Bluestone, Tritonal, Gabriel & Dresden, Darude, Qrion, Attlas and Mad Zoo founder, producer and DJ, Mat Zo.

The immersive event will feature a “never-before-seen” skybound Minecraft realm, live Video Jockey-controlled visuals, and interactive mini-games.

The startup has already produced three Minecraft festivals including Mat Zo and Friends, Hospitality: In The Void, and Mad Zoo: In The Void.

“Every event we put on is a step up from the last, but Stratosfest is by far the biggest step up we’ve taken so far”

“Pure luck brought our team together. Everyone’s unique skill sets and experiences have amounted to the dream team. We’re all perfectly suited for this, as artists, gamers, programmers and fans. It all feels like it was meant to be,” says head of Mad Zoo, Mat Zo.

“After producing three successful Minecraft festivals, it feels really great to be able to go bigger than I ever dreamt for the fourth edition. I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to work with such a skilled team, and with artists who I admire.

“Every event we put on is a step up from the last, but Stratosfest is by far the biggest step up we’ve taken so far. I can’t wait to share what we have in store for everyone.”

Minecraft first hosted a music event in 2016, and has since provided the setting for virtual festival Fire Festival; produced charity events Block By Blockwest, featuring Pussy Riot, Idles and Sports Team, and Square Garden, with 100 Gecs and Charli XCX; and organised dance music festival Electric Blockaloo, featuring Diplo, Maceo Plex and Tokimonsta.

Selling more than 200 million copies since being released in 2011, Minecraft has over 40% more monthly users than free-to-play online shooter Fortnite (78.3m), which has hosted record-breaking concerts by rapper Travis Scott and EDM star Marshemello, indicating a potential to draw yet more viewers (although fans did not need to pay to attend the Fortnite shows).

 


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Tidal partners with Facebook’s VR platform Oculus

Artist-owned streaming platform Tidal has joined forces with Facebook’s virtual reality platform Oculus to bring a series of exclusive and intimate live performances that can be streamed in virtual reality to fans’ homes.

The series will be available later this year to stream in virtual reality on the Venues app (available on the Oculus Quest) and in 2D video and high-quality audio on Tidal.

“At a time when livestreamed performances are seen as the new norm, Tidal’s partnership with Oculus provides music lovers an elevated concert experience with more interaction and dimension than past livestreams,” says Tidal COO, Lior Tibon.

“Oculus is revolutionizing the live music experience and matched with Tidal’s HiFi audio quality, members will be able to remember what it feels like to stand in a large crowd at a concert venue.”

“Members will be able to remember what it feels like to stand in a large crowd at a concert venue”

Tidal, whose artist co-owners include Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Rihanna, Calvin Harris, Daft Punk and Coldplay’s Chris Martin, promises the series will feature “some of the biggest names in music”.

Facebook launched the Venues app, described as “the companion app to live events,” in June this year.

Elsewhere in the VR world, Tidal recently spent US$7 million on tokens issued by the company behind Sensorium Galaxy, a new VR “social metaspace” in which users can attend alternative-world concerts, nightclubs and festivals through a VR headset.

Through the purchase, Tidal has acquired access to broadcast their content within Sensorium Galaxy, which is due to launch publicly in early 2021.

 


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Major streaming services to branch into virtual events

Spotify is developing a feature that will alert fans to an artist’s upcoming virtual events, according to a tweet by reverse engineer Jane Manchun Wong.

The streaming service ordinarily lists an artist’s live events on their profile page, but according to Wong (via TechCrunch), it is now transforming that feature into virtual events discovery.

The platform already works with ticketing partners including Ticketmaster, Songkick, Resident Advisor, Eventbrite, AXS and Japan’s eplus, and therefore virtual event listings wouldn’t be difficult to implement.

The feature isn’t yet available in the public-facing version of the Spotify app.

Elsewhere, Jay-Z’s streaming service Tidal has spent US$7 million on tokens issued by the company behind Sensorium Galaxy, a new VR “social metaspace” in which users can attend alternative-world concerts, nightclubs and festivals through a VR headset.

Through the purchase, Tidal has acquired access to broadcast their content within Sensorium Galaxy, which is due to launch publicly in early 2021.

Sensorium says that its “Social VR technology” is poised to “provide unprecedented ways for artists”

Lior Tibon, COO of Tidal, says: “Our relationship with Sensorium provides Tidal with the opportunity to gain exclusive rights for its stellar artist roster to have their shows and music broadcast exclusively within Sensorium’s themed virtual entertainment worlds.

“The Sensorium Galaxy is a next-generation platform for entertainment consumption which will elevate the connection fans have with their favourite artists, and bring artists’ vision to life in a new and exciting way.”

Sensorium says that its “social VR technology” is poised to “provide unprecedented ways for artists, performance venues, game publishers, and virtual influencers to entertain and engage fans globally across interactive environments”.

Alongside Jay-Z, Tidal’s artist co-owners include Lil Wayne, Rihanna, Calvin Harris, Daft Punk and Coldplay’s Chris Martin.

Earlier this week, it was announced earlier this week that streaming service Napster will be acquired by live music virtual reality platform MelodyVR.

The US$70 million acquisition will eventually combine Napster’s library of over 90 million audio tracks and Melody VR’s catalogue of virtual live music shows, to create a platform where users can stream music and experience immersive live performances.

 


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Immersive music startup MelodyVR acquires Napster

Live music virtual reality platform MelodyVR is acquiring Rhapsody International, which operates as music subscription service Napster.

The US$70 million acquisition will eventually combine Napster’s library of over 90 million audio tracks and Melody VR’s catalogue of virtual live music shows, to create a platform where users can stream music and experience immersive live performances.

“For music fans today, live and recorded music are intrinsically linked. We are as keen to see our favourite artists perform live as we are to listen to their albums,” says MelodyVR CEO Anthony Matchett.

“Our purchase of Napster, one of the music industry’s original disruptors, is born out of our wish to deliver the world’s foremost music experience, available seamlessly across audio and visual media and in turn presenting a truly next-generation music service.”

Napster CEO Bill Patrizio commented: “This is a tremendous outcome for two organizations with complementary platforms and loyal audiences, and we could not be more excited to be moving forward as one company.”

“Our wish is to deliver the world’s foremost music experience… a truly next-generation music service”

“The product, technology and cultural synergies of Napster and MelodyVR will bring tremendous innovation for music lovers, artists and the entire music industry. Good things come from being together, and we look forward to creating a powerful platform that combines our strengths and offers an even wider range of content to consumers, creators and advertisers.”

The UK-based MelodyVR broadcast its first live concert in virtual reality in 2018 with Liam Payne in London, after releasing its app – touted as the world’s first dedicated virtual reality (VR) music platform – in 2019, and subsequently partnering with O2 in the UK.

Since Covid-19 hit the industry, the company has delivered a digital edition of Wireless festival in London and live music VR series, Live from LA, which has featured artists including Cypress Hill, Kesha, John Legend and Tori Kelly.

The shows were available to watch in 360° for free via the MelodyVR app and VR headsets.

MelodyVR and Napster, which is currently 84% owned by RealNetworks, will operate independently for the foreseeable future.


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Final line-up for VR Wireless Connect revealed

Festival Republic and MelodyVR have announced the full line-up for Wireless Connect, a three-day virtual reality music festival taking place from 3 to 5 July.

The event will see exclusive performances – filmed in MelodyVR’s LA studio and custom-made studio in Alexandra Palace, London – from acts including Stefflon Don, Mist, Steel Banglez, Jay1, as well as additional footage from Wireless 2019 featuring Skepta, Young Thug, Rae Sremmurd and more. 

Other performances will come from Yungen, Unknown T, Big Narstie and Deno in the UK and from Saweetie, iann dior and 24kGoldn in the US. The full line-up and schedule can be found here.

Wireless Connect will be available in 360​° immersive virtual ​reality on smartphones and VR headsets via the MelodyVR app. It will also stream on the Wireless Facebook Live and YouTube channels.

Free to watch, Wireless Connect fans are encouraged to make a donation to the Black Lives Matter movement

Free to watch, Wireless Connect fans are encouraged to make a donation to the Black Lives Matter movement via a Crowdfunder, which launches at 5 p.m. BST today (29 June).

Radio station Capital Xtra will air artist interviews and provide the soundtrack to those bringing the festival experience to their home.

A celebration of rap, grime, hip hop and RnB, Wireless Festival was forced to cancel its fifteenth anniversary edition this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Acts billed to play the event in London’s Finsbury Park included ASAP Rocky, D-Block Europe and Lil Uzi Thug.

Ben Samuels, North America president of MelodyVR, was one of a number of music industry innovators to take part in the IQ Focus Innovation Session last month. All previous IQ Focus sessions can be watched back here.

 


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