The thrill of live music isn’t just for ticketholders anymore, as virtual reality brings everything from festivals to music videos into a new era.
With 2016 being touted as the year of virtual reality (VR), the old adage “you had to be there” may become a thing of the past for music fans.
Now that VR in the music industry is accessible to the masses – via economical VR headsets like Google Carboard to 360-degree music videos – companies across all areas of entertainment are finding ways to incorporate the technology. Music fans now have unprecedented access to festivals, concerts and exclusive music events.
“We’re finally at a place that VR is really accessible to any person with a smartphone,” explained Manick Bhan, Founder & CEO of Rukkus, a secondary ticket marketplace using VR to improve the customer experience.
“Many of the barriers to VR for everyday use have been broken down since we’re all carrying computers in our pockets now.”
Coachella Music & Arts Festival
Wristband purchasers received special cardboard VR headsets that they could pair with the official Coachella VR app to enjoy 360-degree experiences from around the festival grounds in Indio, watch videos featuring artists on the lineup, and view VR experiences created by other Coachella attendees.
Fans unable to attend the fest could download the app and use their own VR headsets or purchase a Coachella VR headset via the site’s webpage.
In addition to augmenting the visual experience of Coachella fans, the festival also gave attendees the option to improve their listening experience by purchasing Here Active Listening earbuds, which offered exclusive listening experiences, optimized presets for specific festivals stages and special audio filters via the Coachella app.
EDMtv launched on the XETV channel on DirecTV in March 2016. The network’s electronic dance music-centric scripted shows, documentaries, broadcast-styled news and event coverage are bolstered by a strong VR component.
“A huge part of EDM is the visuals — projection mapping, LED panels, incredible lighting — all built by incredibly talented 3D artists who create the illusion of movement on stages and tents,” said Daniel Knox, EDMtv’s Chief Reality Officer.
“We’re cutting out the middle-man of reality and going straight to virtual reality.”
EDMtv users can buy virtual tickets, recorded packages, or season passes to access live television content, on-demand music videos, 3D 360-degree music videos, and live and recorded in 360-degree music festivals.
YouTube doubled-down on VR at the NAB Show in April, announcing plans to introduce 360-degree live streaming and spatial audio to the platform just a year after launching support for 360-degree video.
Livestream viewers can now see different angles of a feed in real-time, either by moving their phone (if using the YouTube app on a smartphone) or by moving the mouse (if watching via YouTube.com or an embedded video in Chrome).
YouTube’s new spatial audio functionality adds to this immersive virtual experience.
“Just as watching a concert in 360 degrees can give you an unmatched immersive experience, spatial audio allows you to listen along as you do in real life, where depth, distance and intensity all play a role,” Neal Mohan, Chief Product Officer at YouTube, wrote in a blog post.
Content creators across the globe will soon be able to test out YouTube’s 360-degree live streaming and spatial audio technologies for themselves. The technologies are being integrated into all YouTube Spaces worldwide.
Secondary ticket marketplace Rukkus has created the first e-commerce platform that allows music and sports fans to make ticket purchases with the assistance of VR.
Users log into the company’s app and select the seat they’re interested in purchasing.
By moving their smartphone as they would a camera, they can preview the entire venue before making a ticket purchase.
Unlike StubHub, which shows customers 3D renderings of the venue from a selected seat, Rukkus uses real photography.
“Real photography helps to take out any doubt a fan might have when looking at a seat view,” explained Bhan.
VR is already changing everything about how fans experience music, and the virtual revolution is only beginning.
“Think of when you got your first MP3/CD/cassette player and walked down the street with your headphones on, knowing that you were the only one hearing a song but seeing the world in a slightly different light because of it,” said EDMtv’s Knox.
“As virtual reality adopts music and music adopts virtual reality, we’re in for all of that, but much louder. Buckle up.”