emergence of virtual reality (VR) has created a new channel for artists to
connect with their audiences. Live performances can now be streamed directly to
virtual headsets. Companies like NextVR, CEEK
and Enosis have
all been working on platforms and projects to produce interactive and
multimedia experiences. A growing number of production outfits and artists are
already trying out the technology.
however, comes to the industry as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, VR
expands the possible audience for a single performance. People need not be
physically present at the events to experience them in an immersive way. On the
other, it can also limit revenue from merchandise sales since these are greatly
dependent on people’s presence at live events. Fortunately, this is a conundrum
that a complementary technology such as distributed ledgers can help remedy.
want more from live performances these days; simply look at how the Super Bowl
halftime show has evolved over the years to see how far the envelope has been
pushed to create a stunning show. Unfortunately, people are now expecting something grand even from “routine” concerts and shows. It appears
that artists’ showmanship has become just as important as their musical talent.
is helping add a new dimension to live events. VR allows 2-D, 3-D and even
sonic artistry to be woven together with the performance to create a richer
experience for the viewer.
example, Enosis and Google partnered up to bring Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” to VR. The VR app features animated versions of the band,
including its late front man Freddie Mercury performing the iconic hit. NextVR
is also aggressively bringing VR to sports and entertainment. The company is
working with professional sports leagues like the NBA and the NFL to bring a more immersive way for sports fans to watch the games.
VR, audiences can experience events from different points-of-view. Instead of
just being limited to one specific seat and view of the live action, VR allows
them to see the performers’ view from the stage or a bird’s-eye view through
cameras on drones high above the stadium. Developments in the headset and
tactile technology even promise a multisensory future for such VR experiences.
the VR Experience
the technology can help deliver the extravaganza that audiences want, VR can
also cause disruption to the prevailing business models of live entertainment.
It’s not only in ticket sales that concerts and performances get their revenue.
Much of the money artists make from performances actually comes from merchandise. The sale of goods could even be higher than the revenue
from the tickets.
shift to VR could threaten this revenue stream. Merchandise may be made
available online through e-commerce, but the live events drive on-the-spot
sales. As such, a mechanism to push merchandise through VR must also be
developed in order to create a virtual equivalent to it. Besides, virtual items
could be used to help create a richer experience.
turned to blockchain technology for answers. Aside from its own VR
platform, the company is working on a blockchain-driven coin minting platform
that allows artists to create their own crypto tokens to facilitate
transactions. The feature, dubbed “Celebrity Coin Cast Minting,” leverages
blockchain technology to create an immutable record of the existence and trade
of these virtual items. Artists could even cryptographically sign items to give
them additional value as unique memorabilia.
Further Disruption to the Industry
and record labels may have just recently settled into the new economy brought
about by digital downloads and streaming. Yet, the industry seems poised for
further disruption through VR.
can offer the means to create a sensory experience similar to, if not richer
than, live performances. VR may even become a more cost-effective way to reach
out to audiences as VR events can be done without the expense of large venues
and concerns regarding logistics and security.
still in its relative infancy, the growing ecosystem of VR services is also
filling in the gaps to concerns such as monetization. The coming together of
the live audience and virtual spectator markets creates for interesting
convergence. The introduction of blockchains as a safe and secure means to
facilitate VR transactions could inspire more confidence from consumers to try
the experience for themselves.