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With music in new realities, we can go deeper together | ARPost

With music in new realities, we can go deeper together | ARPost

A look around the media landscape will show that virtual reality has become a major player in the music industry and virtual concerts are on the rise with performances by major artists on popular games and other platforms.

However, with all the hope promised by the “metaverse”, these events not only fail to make optimal use of virtual reality innovation, but also fall short of using music to help create immersive social spaces for people to come together virtually where they feel connected to each other and their humanity.

Today, virtual reality associated with music and augmented reality content falls into 3 main categories:

  1. Virtual concerts and music videos of popular artists from the mainstream represented by their avatar;
  2. “Rhythm games” and music-making apps that focus on popular music;
  3. Music Fantasies.

Fans and artists are still adapting

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing, many artists are including virtual and hybrid events as part of their tour schedules.

Last year, United Talent Agency (UTA) polls indicated that three out of four people attended online events during the pandemic, and of those, 88% planned to continue even when in-person events returned.

Given the investment in this virtual space by companies including Meta, HTC, ByteDance’s Pico and soon… Apple with its expected headphones likely to be announced in 2023, the AR/VR market is a major player in the music industry, Even the “Best Metaverse Performance category is in the 2022 MTV VMAs.”

With virtual concerts on the rise, major artists such as Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Travis Scott, Ariana Grande, and BTS are offering in-game music events – albeit with mixed results.

See also: NCSOFT Uses Extended Reality to Bring Its First K-Pop Concert to UNIVERSE

Some of these events are called nothing more than “cash grabs for kids,” leaving audiences wanting more of a virtual experience that will truly benefit from virtual reality as a new medium and form of expression.

Possibility of a new discovery mode

However, there are thriving examples of innovative and thoughtful approaches to VR/AR music experiences. Sigur Rós and Magic Leap’s 2018 collaboration, Tónandi, demonstrated what could be possible with an immersive and interactive AR music experience, although it’s not currently available on all platforms. This ambitious project showcased the Icelandic pop-rock band in a music experience of a cutting-edge AR device that brings music, visuals, and interaction on equal terms to create a harmonic experience.

Explore an interactive audiovisual tunande

One of the promises of the Metaverse is to virtually bring people together. Traditionally, live music events have been a place where people can gather for a community experience. This is the missing piece in current virtual reality music events, which have yet to find an organic way for audience members to interact with the artist and with each other.

Then there is the possibility to bring music tracks into virtual spaces, to connect with people’s psyche and emotions as music has done in concert halls, movies and TV shows for so long.

Music and… mini golf?

Although not a music-focused app, Mighty Coconut’s Mini golf tour – The virtual reality game for which you have prepared the original score – Gives an example of how virtual/augmented reality can become a gathering space for people to experience visuals and music while exploring the virtual world or just hanging out together.

VR and Music - Walkabout Mini Golf
VR Mini Golf Walkthrough

Each course offers a captivating world with a distinct mood, created by music, visuals, and course design that offers an alternative to typical VR/AR games and musical experiences. Players see it as a place as much as a game, and their association with the soundtrack has it streamed on various services just to bring them back to that sense of place.

The VR music experience is here to stay

Virtual reality music experiences are here to stay. While virtual/augmented reality is currently heavily associated with games and major companies, there is a lot to hope for in content provided by studios and independent artists, who can be more flexible in adapting to changes in technology and audience demographics. This virtual space will offer new and exciting possibilities to musicians and audiences.

See also: Are virtual reality parties the future of live music?

Anyone who invests in music going forward – artists, academia, fans, bookings, labels, music moderators and even advertisers – is advised to observe virtual/augmented reality and start learning about what is happening in the field.

Like music and movie albums, these tools are just another way for artists to connect with audiences, and hopefully encourage people to connect with each other.

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About the author(s) guest


Chris Rayman

Chris Rayman

Chris Rayman joined UT’s music department as an assistant. Commercial Piano Professor in 2014. He is also a composer, and has written works for jazz, improvisation groups and orchestras. He has completed grades in two award-winning short films, “Pigeon Impossible” and “The OceanMaker”. Complete the music for Undocumented Freedom, a documentary by Laura Postillos. The Memory Box is a short film by Angie Reda Torres. and “Storm Riders”, an immersive movie experience by Austria-based ATTRAKTION!.



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