One of the most significant breakthroughs that came out in recent years is virtual reality. While the idea of VR has been around for decades, it was only in 2016 that it was able to stand on its own. Unsurprisingly, it immediately had a significant impact in the gaming and movie industry.
While the technology has already influenced several industries, like fashion, education, healthcare, and the military, the music industry is still feeling its way around VR. However, it seems the effects of VR and music are now coming to light.
Virtual Reality Makes Experiencing Music Better
The majority of today’s consumers prefer to spend to their money on experiences rather than objects. One study even revealed that 78 percent of millennial customers are even willing to pay more money on this. The caveat is that these experiences should provide real value to the user. It’s why Snapchat and Pokemon Go are so popular among young consumers.
Virtual reality has the capability to provide the same unique experience to music fans.
Take for instance the collaboration Queen did with Enosis VR and Google Play several years ago. They worked together to develop a virtual reality rendition of the band’s groundbreaking hit, Bohemian Rhapsody. The interactive music video utilized 2D and 3D animations, ballerinas filmed using motion-capture technology, and a Freddie Mercury decked in neon colors.
The Queen video aimed to immerse fans in the “subconscious mind” of the late great Mercury, with the narrative changing as the viewer moves the VR headset around.
According to Dylan Southard, the creative director of VR Playhouse, there’s “a powerful sensation to watch something in 360 degrees.” He said that the virtual reality effect was far better than just viewing something on a flat screen since you feel like you’re there. It makes things more “emotionally intense.”
Aside from offering music aficionados mesmerizing videos, VR can also push live music to greater heights. Music moguls understand that people are more than willing to pay for experiencing a concert in virtual reality. It could even be a significant revenue generator in the future.
Ways the Music Industry Can Use VR
There are several ways that musicians can put the virtual reality effect to good use.
- Bring Music Closer to People: VR-enhanced music videos can help artists gain more followers by bringing their work closer to people. With this technology, music lovers won’t just be listening; they could even become part of the video itself. Consumers can also enjoy a more engaging experience, as they watch the video using special glasses that would make it seem like the singer is right in front of you.
- Innovative Advertising: VR can also be a novel way to introduce a new artist or to launch an album. For instance, marketers can take a page from Pokemon Go. Instead of looking for elusive creatures, the technology can make it possible for fans to search for exclusive content. This kind of innovation will get people talking and can generate positive press.
- Better Listening and Viewing Experiences: Virtual reality can also drastically alter how people will watch concerts in the future. For instance, musicians can bring shows to their fans all over the world without even leaving their studio. Fans can connect their VR headsets to their laptop and log onto a particular site and voila! They’re instantly transported to the concert venue.
- Educating the Next Generation: VR and music education can also go hand in hand. One Japanese company has developed a hologram that teaches students how to play the piano. Imagine studios taking this one step further and developing programs wherein several of today’s premiere musicians will teach students. Think of Lady Gaga teaching you the piano or being shown how to play the guitar by Duff McKagan. It will be amazing!
Challenges of Mixing VR and Music
VR technology is still very young, so pinpointing the kind of effect it will have is always tricky. One challenge to VR and music is that the conventional tools and storytelling methods don’t apply to it. Since VR is a whole new medium, it needs new tools, techniques, and understanding of the creative and technical processes.
Incorporating virtual reality into music brings a whole level of complications to the mix. For instance, the camera placement has to be considered for the audience to feel like they’re there. Capturing the best lighting and sound is also vastly different with VR. Directors would also have to consider where to place the film crew as they obviously can’t be seen in the shot. Editing and post-production work is also too complicated.
Bear in mind that the VR experience is vastly different from what people feel in 2D. Once a person straps on the headset, they’re engaged immediately. They’re not mere spectators; they are part of the story.
What the Future Holds for VR and the Music Industry
VR and AR technology are still relatively new, but the top brass in the music industry already sees the myriad possibilities it can bring. Bands and solo artists will be able to connect with their fans on a much deeper level. VR could even help music artists cut down on touring expenses while still being able to promote their songs worldwide.
However, there are still several obstacles standing in the way of music aficionados genuinely receiving the full benefits of VR. First and foremost is the hardware. Most of the headgear out in the market now are still bulky and needs a power source. It’s also still expensive.
There’s also the question of whether today’s artificial intelligence is enough to create a genuinely immersive music experience. The infrastructure or software to create a physical likeness of the musicians also needs to be refined.
Mostly, the technology has to improve before VR-backed musical entertainment can go mainstream. As Mybronic’s Mr. Szirtes explains, they need “lighter, smaller, more comfortable headsets that are cheap to produce.” This development is in addition to more creative content designed with the medium in mind.
One Last Thing
These are exciting times with regards to VR and music. The technology is on the verge of being able to offer music fans a whole new way of experiencing music – one that’s immersive and will bring people at the very heart of the artist’s vision.