Question 2: Will VR become an actual reality for the industry in 2017?
The possibilities of Virtual Reality (VR) are an increasingly hot topic for the live and recorded industries. The major players are clearly onboard- it was announced in late December last year (link to http://www.wmg.com/news/melodyvr-and-warner-music-sign-pioneering-virtual-reality-deal-21981) that Warner Music have signed what they describe as a “Pioneering Virtual Reality deal” for creating content with Melody VR- a start up that is making waves in this area.
The partnership will see a number of exclusive experiences via the MelodyVR app, including a library of content created with Warner artists. Perhaps more interestingly, Live Nation and on demand video service Hulu announced ON STAGE- a new VR ‘docu-series’ that will focus on the creative process of an artist’s live music experience, their inspirations and all of that (link to . http://www.hulu.com/press/news). The first episodes will feature Lil Wayne and Major Lazer, with the latter being an experience that will follow the group as they perform in Kingston, Jamaica and will explore the roots of dancehall and the inspiration of Jamaica on the group’s music.
Cool idea, but what are the implications of this talk of transcendence and immersive journeys? The Gen’s take is that VR will not displace the live experience or effectively recreate the communal experience of experiencing a gig or festival. There are possible exceptions to this, as evidenced by the millions of people who watch Glastonbury on the iPlayer.
There is clearly the potential to enhance and tell interesting stories around the artist incorporating live elements using VR, especially as labels adapt to becoming story tellers that must keep people engaged with their artists beyond simply pushing out a press release.
However, we’d all do well to remember that more advanced tech does not necessarily mean better storytelling or a superior experience- see cinema’s attempts at 3D films, which rarely add value to the experience.
With major investment from the likes of Sony, Facebook and other tech titans, there is a feeling that VR is too big to fail and mass consumer adoption a matter of time. Currently, VR remains in an early adopter stage and is likely to have an impact on gaming and other sectors before making it to music. What this is likely to mean for the industry in 2017 is enhancement as opposed to disruption.
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