With the live industry at standstill, MelodyVR – who film concerts for immersive home playback via their own app – are aiming to step in in the short term to help the biz fill a gap with fresh live performances audiences can stream from home.
Founder Anthony Matchett tells Music Week what they have planned, explaining "we're trying to give people a little alternative until it's business as usual." Read our Q&A:
What can MelodyVR do doing the shutdown?
"Obviously, we never started our business with this in mind or even considered it. It was for people who couldn't get to gigs when tickets were sold out, weren't old enough, etc, we wanted to give people what we thought was the next best thing to being at show. In this crazy world we're in right now people can't actually go to show so we're doing our best to work with artists and our label partners to deliver some new recorded content. There are concerns around things like safety which we're taking very seriously but we've had a lot of calls from managers and partners directly saying 'Is there something we can do?' Primarily because in any industry when times are hard people tend to come together and do what they can. In this instance we all think we have a big responsibility to the fans so there are a few initiatives we're working on. It's happening pretty quickly and reactively, but we're aiming to have some news out over the next week or so, but we're thinking about how we can make content available for free, how we can make live performances happen albeit digitally. Our hope is that it all blows over soon, but if it doesn't what can we do to fill the gap until it does is our internal thought process."
Rather than film live gigs, what is your plan?
"We have locations where we're all geared-up, and we're looking to have those geared up for the duration of however long this continues so artists can come in an create content either live or recorded. We won't have an audience for safety, we want to make sure we take all the precautions we can. We're working now on who those artists will be, it's hopefully something we can do pretty quickly. The dream is for all the people who have cancelled tours or could do shows is we can deliver a little bit of joy to their fans in times when they're stuck at home. We're trying to give people a little alternative until it's business as usual."
How can any artists get involved?
"We'll have a place where one to two artists can stop by each day, it doesn't have to be the biggest names, if you're unsigned, up and coming or Lady Gaga it doesn't matter. From our perspective it's about keeping things going and not letting it turn of the lights so to speak. It's not about money, we're hoping we can give it away free to begin with. If it continues long term, which we hope it doesn't, then maybe we will look at how we can generate more money for the music industry but in the short term it's just about trying to get as close to business as usual as we can."
How will consumers be able to see these performances?
"There are a couple of options. There's the VR headsets – we'd be naive to say everyone's got one, they haven't – and there's the Melody VR app for smart phones which you can download and watch our content there or cast it to your TV. So it's accessible and there's reach. All people have to do is download it. Since people have been sitting at home we've seen lots more people using the app already."