Over the past decade, our lives have drastically shifted to a “digital” and “connected” life online. This has been significantly accelerated due to the ongoing global pandemic which prevented people from leaving their homes and Facebook’s recent rebrand to Meta is now adding jet fuel to the fire. With a mission to merge our physical reality with our digital lives, the Metaverse could be set to change how we experience many aspects of our lives. So what does the Metaverse mean for the future of Music?
When the Pandemic caused the world to go into lockdown it was difficult for everyone, the freedom to enjoy daily life was limited to the confides of the couch. It was extremely tough for entertainers that relied on live events to make a living and in order to promote their music. As such both the Artists sought new ways to engage with their fans and create and income and their fans alike were forced to seek out alternative means to find enjoyment.
For some sectors of the entertainment industry it was simple: when the casinos in Las Vegas were shuttered, people could head over to online casino, and instead of going to the cinema they could hit play on almost any show via Netflix or Hulu. However for musicians and their fans, it was not so easy. While there were a variety of virtual “pre-recorded” performances, these fall far short of the ambience and experience of attending a live event – nor justify paying for it.
What is The Metaverse?
We don’t really know what it will become yet, however what the Metaverse is promising is both a virtual world and a way which will blend the digital world with the physical through a glass-type device that might just replace the mobile-phone. For now we can imagine this virtual world in which you could go shopping, play a game or watch a concert with your friends from around the world together, all while not leaving the comfort of your house. The metaverse is your digital life and a technological shift in the way people socialize, connect and experience life.
While this all sounds like something out of a futuristic sci-fi and was literally an episode of Netflix’s Black Mirror, billions of dollars are being poured into this right now. So there’s a high chance you’ll be joining office meetings in a virtual office in the metaverse in the not too distant future.
Virtual Music Events In The Metaverse
Over the last two years countless artists held “quarantine concerts” on platforms like Facebook and YouTube, but most failed to keep viewers attention. So Artists and event organizers were forced to “invent” enticing performance experiences from the bottom up, and the outcome was a glimpse at how the real world might interact with music performances in the Metaverse.
Travis Scott held a wildly popular event inside the free-to-play shooter game Fortnite which as attended by millions, French electronica icon Jean-Michel Jarre has held concerts in virtual reality, Minecraft played host to a festival called Blockely and Tomorrowland, the biggest annual EDM event held its 2020 edition in a bespoke digital world that (paying) attendees could access on their computers – or through their VR headsets.
Second-Life was one of the first to create a concept of a digital-life, and it’s creators Linden-Lab were developing Project Sansar which started out with the goal to become a fully-fledged metaverse. They imagined it as an immersive, VR-first virtual world – much like Second Life, only bigger, better, and much more elaborate. However they abandoned the project before it was ready, choosing to focus on their existing metaverse, Second Life – which has around 900,000 active users today. They sold Project Sansar to Wookey Technologies – who, in turn, transformed it into a platform for virtual reality-based live events.
Today, Sansar offers its users access to everything from the usual stuff like emotes and custom avatars to events ranging from watch parties and movie screenings to DJ mixes and virtual (reality) concerts. Its partners include Spinnin’ Records, Pioneer DJ, Roddenberry Entertainment, Intel, and eSports brand Fnatic.
These virtual shows proved to far more entertaining, putting the viewer in a new world rather than simply reminding them of the reality of the world. As the music and live entertainment industry continues exploring digital alternatives to in-person events, these upcoming “metaverses” may just provide the new platform they are looking for.
Undeniably VR hardware hasn’t reached widespread adoption by the everyday user yet, so only a small few will have really had a true insight to how these experiences are. This might not be for long though, with Facebook’s “Meta” and many emerging players in the space developing creative applications for VR headsets, a drastic rise in the coming years isn’t unlikely.
Even when the pandemic ends (if ever), there will be people who would love to attend a show, a screening or an open-air performance that can’t be there because of the costs or logistics involved. Metaverses will allow them to be part of the experience in a more immersive way than even the highest-definition live video stream can offer.
Non-Fungible Tokens, Next Generation Merchandise
Artist also sought to find new ways to cash in on their music and brands in other ways online during the last two years. NFT’s (Non Fungible Tokens), which are essentially a digitally, verifiable file stored on the blockchain have exploded in popularity and price. Artists quickly realized a single NFT could be more profitable in a minute than what music streaming services were paying them in a year.
In the real world NFT’s might be scoffed at for being just a JPEG or MP4 file, but in the crypto-community the right NFT is a symbol of class, they have perhaps become the new Rolex. Hundreds of famous artist including the likes of Don Diablo, Steve Aoki, 3lau, Alesso have hosted NFT sales netting them millions in minutes. Content that would have once been referred to as digital promotional tools in years prior is now a direct and major source of income. However one problem existed for the buyers of these NFT’s – how can you show them off?. Enter the metaverse.
Other Metaverse platforms emerging out of the Blockchain community such as Bloktopia are in development and seeking to create a one stop online world that will connect with platforms such as Sansar with virtual storefronts, online gaming and more. The projects teaser video gives us a glimpse of what this new online world could look like in action.
In the Metaverse, you’ll be able to show off your NFT purchases while you roam the virtual world. Companies are already buying offices in virtual skyscrapers, and soon you might be able to buy a virtual house where you can store your digital gold wether that be a digital art piece or an exclusive NFT by an artist.
A metaverse (not the metaverse, mind you, because we still don’t know what Meta’s upcoming VR/AR social network has in store for us) may just be what the music industry needs. Metaverses will be able to offer fans the possibility to show of their collections much as they did with records and also participate in physical events virtually, perhaps even half a world away, in some degree of “in-person”.
While the whole experience is still far from being a viable replacement for actually being there at a concert or a party, we are still at the very beginning of its evolution – so we can expect it to improve more and more in the future.