Written by Camden Cassels
Before, fans had to attend a concert venue to see their favorite artists play live. Now, MelodyVR is bringing you up close to live performances from the comfort of your couch. An Oculus Headset and the MelodyVR app can transport fans to the concert venue through virtual reality technology. How will this affect the live performance market? What does this mean for artists and fans? What will this experience look like? Here’s what you need to know:
Virtual reality is now a living reality in the music industry. The technology used in healthcare, education, business, architecture, and countless other fields has finally broken into music, led by MelodyVR and Founder/CEO Anthony Matchett. On December 19th, MelodyVR teamed up with ex-One Direction star Liam Payne to create the first live virtual reality concert.
Promoted as a secret live show with virtual reality capabilities, Payne performed at Koko, one of London’s most popular venues. A few hundred lucky fans received free tickets to attend the show, but the focus that night was on the fans NOT in the building. Equipped with 360-degree cameras throughout the room, fans with virtual reality goggles, the MelodyVR app, and an Internet connection could tune in for free to watch the concert in real time.
This technology has the capability to shake up the current structure of the live concert industry. Some fans and industry professionals may be quick to assume that virtual reality is a threat to the live experience, but the opposite effect may take hold. Virtual reality has the power to promote live music while providing an additional outlet to connect the artists and fans.
MelodyVR hopes that its technology will supplement the live music space, not overtake it. CEO Matchett says, “It has never been there to replace live music. We don’t want people to stop buying records, stop music streaming, or stop going to shows. We are saying that this is a new way to experience music with the latest technology that is really immersive. Nobody else can do this.”
Virtual reality with MelodyVR will aim to serve as a partner to the live music scene, offering access to people outside the venue. Numerous obstacles can keep music fans from attending concerts. Illness, location, ticket prices, and other circumstances can stand between a fan and their favorite artist. Further, fans with disabilities may not have the same opportunities to enjoy shows and MelodyVR hopes to alleviate some of those obstacles.
Normally restricted to designated handicapped areas, fans with disabilities can access center stage with VR headsets and avoid environmental challenges. Matchett says, “There are so many fans who can’t get close to the artists they love. The fans may be on the other side of the planet. Perhaps it is not affordable or the show has sold out. Many of the artists we work with have tours that sell out in minutes. When you can’t get into a stage show, festival, or even an exclusive VIP session, we can put you onstage.”
The personal cost of the virtual reality experience will be high initially, but even that price can be cheaper than one ticket to a megastar’s concert. Many VR systems can be enjoyed for around $200, and can be used over and over again. At the time of writing this article, only one ticket was available for less than $200 to Justin Timberlake’s Madison Square Garden Show on January 31st, and that seat rests in the nosebleeds.
MelodyVR aims to sell their virtual concert experiences in both live stream and recorded show formats. Currently, recorded concerts are selling for $7.99, so users will be able to virtually view dozens of shows for the price of one arena ticket.
The specifics of purchasing a virtual reality concert are not yet clear, but multiple options exist for how it might work. Virtual Reality shows will likely break down into tiered tickets, much like in-person concerts. For example, a fan might be able to pick from a selection of seats priced $7.99, $10.99, or $14.99 depending on the quality of the view.
Also, MelodyVR has implemented technology called “jump spot,” allowing fans to adjust their viewing experience to different locations in the venue. A concert-goer can enjoy the show from multiple angles, something that would have never been an option while attending an in-person show. This feature will likely be priced at a premium since multiple cameras are at work for one viewer. Even further, as was the case in Liam Payne’s inaugural VR show, a VR camera will film from the stage. Fans will not only have the ability to watch from multiple angles in the crowd, but they can see the concert from the point of view of the artist.
While VR concerts remain in their infancy, the technology has the capacity to grow rapidly in the mainstream music world. The VR experience can serve as a tool, providing access to thousands of people who otherwise would never have seen a show. This technology can also bring additional income to artists who choose to stream their show through VR. MelodyVR’s founder Matchett insists, “It is a great revenue driver, but it is supplemental to everything else and just helps build that deeper sense of connection between artist and viewer. The artists, label, and songwriters get a cut, so everyone benefits.”