Grab Your Ticket Now? The VR Music Festival
Could Virtual Reality (VR) technology change the way we interact with the world forever?
Facebook certainly thinks so, having invested in the headset manufacturer Oculus Rift for a sizeable $2.3 billion. More recently in 2017, Mark Zuckerberg doubled down on a new goal for VR growth at the Oculus’ Connect conference announcing the company’s goal for 1 billion people using VR.
Yet like self-driving cars, the mass uptake of this tech always seems to be just shy of arm’s length. In 2019 Zuckerberg admitted that Facebook’s massive investments in VR were taking “longer than [he] thought” to pay off. At the start of the new decade “The Next Big Thing” was starting to look just a Little Last Week.
However, as the world was hit by a new virus last year, demand for virtual experiences shot up. Sales of VR headsets rose 350% in 2020. Even as the tech brings in new users, the range of experiences it can offer is expanding too.
No longer only targeted at the gaming market, VR now promises to bring the excitement of a live event to the world’s living rooms. Theatrical productions, trade shows and even weddings have all been broadcast live, allowing guests to be “in the room where it happens” without leaving their sofa.
And Investors are taking note.
MelodyVR, a UK start-up, is a clear example of the growing market interest in the world of VR events. The company recently raised over £6 million in investment after acquiring US-based Napster in a £70 million deal last year. The company specialises in live music events, offering fans “front row seats” with full 360 videos and audio capture technology.
The app hosts VR events with artists like Khalid and Panic! and the Disco and has provided the infrastructure for the Wireless Festival’s virtual incarnation in July of last year, which attracted a global audience of over 150,000.
The question now facing the industry is can VR sustain this resurgence post-pandemic?
With COVID-19 likely to linger as UK Health Secretary claims, perhaps some fans will continue to feel uneasy about crowded gigs – VR, therefore, offers the potential public to attend events without putting the audience at risk. Another surprising upside is for venues.
While VR companies may be taking a cut of any ticket sales, VR offers the potential to sell tickets well past a venue’s capacity and geography. Venues can then monetize highlights from a concert in the months that follow.
Finally, CO2 emissions dropped by almost a third when planes were grounded in the first lockdown. Understandably, there is some reluctance to see that number return to pre-pandemic levels.
In a lower carbon world, we may be flying less, with VR increasingly representing a cheaper way to “travel” and participate in live experiences.
A technology that allows us to connect more easily might be the tool we need to stay further apart.
Header Image: Khalid is an artist that users can watch via Melody VR, Image via Khalid Instagram.