Majors back VR to revolutionise the music biz

Majors back VR to revolutionise the music biz

A number of leading executives have backed VR to revolutionise the industry, with each of the three majors outlining their vision as to how the technology will shape the music biz.

Though VR has yet to make a tangible impact on the music industry, some of the biggest players in the business are adamant that that’s about to change.

Warner’s ambitions are outlined by, amongst other things, a partnership with content creation specialist MelodyVR and the appointment last year of former Sony stalwart Ole Obermann as chief digital officer and EVP, business development.

He said: “I see three potential applications: firstly, archiving the live music experience. Imagine if the first Glastonbury or Woodstock was available as a VR experience? We can now capture these culturally relevant, historic events in a way that will allow future generations to experience them as if they were there.

“Secondly, access for fans who can’t be at a show. And thirdly, the augmented music experience while you’re at a show. Once headsets become less obtrusive, fans will be able to go to a show and experience things at that show that they can’t do today, things like going backstage, a setlist, different camera angles.”

While not quite as active in the VR market as Warner, Sony is currently weighing up its options on how best to approach the sector.

James Bassett, head of digital creative, said: “We’ve worked with a partner on a proof of concept and we’re investigating a few artist-specific ideas at the moment. I’d imagine that, by the end of 2017, we will have released a handful of VR projects.

“VR has been the subject of so much chatter for so long, but it’s still very early days. Ultimately, its success will come down to the quality of content. All new technologies need a killer app to attract consumers – and VR’s killer app is yet to come.”

At Universal Music, Chris Horton, VP of advanced technology, said: “Part of the excitement of VR is it’s like the early days of the web, there’s this feeling of endless opportunity. Already there’s a spectrum of possible music-related VR/AR projects, starting with live events and visualisers, to spatial audio, music videos, interactive worlds and games.

“The industry is still experimenting and learning about what resonates with fans. I see a lot of opportunity for VR to establish new connections between fans, artists and music – to transport viewers to another world and heighten the emotional experience of your favourite songs.”

The company’s most notable move in the sector was last year’s launch of VRTGO, a dedicated VR app. Monica Hyacinth, UMG’s senior VP of digital marketing innovation, commented: “We believe the consumer market is finally ready for a VR platform dedicated to music.

“We wanted to democratise VR, so we designed VRTGO in a way that allows anyone to view content, with or without a headset. We’ve used cutting edge technology, including spatial audio, to give artists exciting new ways to connect with their fans like never before.”

For more on what the major have to say on the future of VR, as well as commentary from the biggest names in the live sector, pick up the latest issue of Music Week or click here.

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