Move On Up, Music Video, and Make Way for VR Music Experiences
The time has come for the music industry to revolutionize the music video and embrace the Metaverse.
There appear to be a couple of reasons why the music video as we know it has become an old and tired fad, lingering between the oxymoron of seeming a necessity to the music industry while no longer being taken seriously. It simply hasn’t had an opportunity to evolve technologically as a medium since its toddler years. Yes, music videos have graduated to digital, but to this day they’re viewed in flat 2D, having been predominantly bypassed by such innovations as 3D or 4K, confining them to be aired on TV or streamed on the internet. MTV, the platform which championed the music video to become a hot commodity in the first place, no longer caters to what made it ravenously inhaled by teenagers and young people of the 90s and 2000s. Instead, it floods the airwaves with sensationalistic reality shows. So it’s no wonder that music labels will only dish out a couple thousand dollars to create a music video when once they didn’t shy away from spending millions. The days of the revered music video director are long gone; now music videos are thrown like unwanted remnants to anyone who owns a video camera, willing to “build a portfolio.”
But hang on before we sing a eulogy to our old friend. There’s a glimmer of hope. The introduction of virtual reality (VR) as a mass medium has opened up the potential to return the music video to its glory days. It will, however, require the music industry to relinquish how it has done things in the past, and start thinking about music videos in a whole new way. And if it does? The potential is endless.
With both the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive released at the beginning of April, we’re finally at the dawn of virtual reality on a large scale. Google Cardboard and Samsung’s Gear VR have been on the market for longer, but their capabilities fall short of what the other two headsets can offer as far as interactivity and the ultimate promise of VR. It’s only now that we can start speaking seriously of VR as a consumer medium, and industries across the board are taking notice. This is no wonder; revenue forecast for global VR headset purchases this year alone are predicted to reach $895 million, while overall augmented/virtual reality revenue is predicted to hit $120 billion by the end of the decade.
The music industry, desperately in need of a revenue boost, is in no way deaf to the buzz surrounding VR. It has taken notice and is making sure to not to miss out on the opportunity virtual reality promises to offer. Music stars like Taylor Swift, Björk, and U2 have already released 360-degree music videos, and Universal Music Group and ReverbNation have announced plans to integrate VR as a major asset to their slates. Coachella and Lollapalooza, meanwhile, have launched VR content which allows participants to live-stream behind-the-scenes footage and watch sets onstage right next to their favorite artist.
“One of the greatest things about technology is that it allows us to change the conversation around music. We can transform the listening experience to something more immersive. We think that over time VR will be one of the main ways people consume media, and we want our ReverbNation artists to have early access to it.” — Mike Doernberg, CEO and co-founder of ReverbNation
But there seems to be something the music industry is missing out on: the opportunity to earn revenue through revolutionizing the music video and creating new and unique VR music experiences, which could then be taken on tour as immersive virtual reality installations.
So far it appears only U2 has taken the first step towards offering their 360° music video beyond Youtube 360, Facebook, or an app downloaded to your smartphone. When U2 toured the UK last October, a double-decker bus was parked outside each venue, and fans were invited to put on a headset with some headphones to take a ride through their 360° video ‘Song For Someone.’ It was extremely popular and offered us a first, yet limited, glimpse at the potential of this kind of venture.
I say this glimpse was limited because U2’s VR experience was only a 360° video. 360° video is immersive as far as vision is concerned, and finally matches music in that it’s also surround, but it misses the interactive component of VR. To unfold the full potential of the evolved music video, it needs to be not only immersive but also interactive. It is interactivity which takes the participant beyond the ‘aha’ moment and lets them have a fully disruptive experience. They become an active agent of the story and the world they’ve entered. In this way virtual reality makes people feel something powerful, and leaves them deeply moved. It’s this kind of impact that the music industry should be after. Music fans are part of a culture continually seeking experiences to wow them, and they will buy into and eat up those elaborate VR experiences for that same reason.
“I think this technology could welcome back the glory days of the music video. Used correctly, this is a chance to properly share the creativity and imagination that the musician represents or another artist has instinctively conveyed from listening to the music. Users are totally immersed in this medium, and that’s pretty powerful. If you use it to make people feel something, then you’ve created an impression and a memory. That’s compelling for any marketer.” — Patrick Milling Smith, President and Co-Founder of Vrse.works
This is not to say that VR will supplant its 360° cousins. We need content which can be consumed immediately, and those experiences will act as enticement for fans to engage with the full versions of the VR music experiences. But just like we will see large festivals offer virtual reality tickets to fans around the world who want to experience it all from the comfort of their home, bands like U2 will have the opportunity to offer premium tickets to VR installations as part of live shows. All it will take is for the industry as a whole to jump on board to reimagine the music video.
The first step to making this type of venture profitable is to lay the groundwork and convince the world of what it’s missing out on. I’m certain that I’m not alone in seeing the potential of virtual reality in the context of music, and I hope many other artists are already partaking in creating the future of music.
We at FoolVR have created an immersive VR music experience for the new song ‘Falling Out of Love’ by the band Aloud, which will be going on tour as an installation with them later this year. For those of you not able to come to one of the shows and partake in the VR music experience, we will offer versions on YouTube 360, Facebook, and Gear VR. If you want to find out more about the ‘Falling Out of Love’ VR music experience and keep up-to-date on tour dates, visit www.FoolVr.net. We’ve also launched one of the first Indiegogo campaigns in support of a VR music experience, and are inviting you to become an active participant in the revolution of music videos. Together, let us show the world what music in the future of the Metaverse will look like.
guest post by Skye Von