- With the return of live music, innovations in augmented, virtual, and mixed reality technologies (known collectively as extended reality technologies) are pushing the boundaries
- Reality-extending technologies open the door to reimagining how live music can engage fans and facilitate interaction between artists, brands, and consumers
- Authentic partnerships can benefit brands by strengthening their image, helping access untapped audiences, and differentiating themselves creatively from competitors
- These same partnerships benefit artists by growing their fanbases through more creative and engaging experiences while maximizing their global reach and reputations as creators
One of the hardest hit industries during the pandemic was the live event industry, in particular live music. The industry globally saw a loss of more than $30 billion in 2020, and the losses continued into 2021 as government-mandated shutdowns of public spaces made traditional live shows impossible to continue. The music industry was initially able to rebound through live virtual concerts and events, according to data from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
What really elevated these live virtual experiences, however, was the rapid integration of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) technologies, known collectively as extended reality (XR) technologies. These XR technologies transformed what was a passive virtual viewing experience into an experience where artists, brands, and fans were able to engage and interact in never-before-seen ways. The outlook is that these XR technologies will continue to be transformative for the industry even as live in-person music experiences start to return, given XR’s ability to uniquely enhance these experiences.
THE NEW REALITY OF SEMI-VIRTUAL MUSIC EXPERIENCES
When talking about the rise in popularity of virtual music experiences, it’s important that we make a distinction between ‘metaverse’ performances and XR integrations of digital elements into in-person performances. Metaverse performances came to the forefront during the pandemic, with a few of these entirely virtual performances going viral and having millions of people attend. However, outside of some highly successful examples, metaverse concerts have not gained mainstream acceptance just yet. Instead, XR integrations have become a crucial part of many recent live performances, starting with entirely virtual concerts and now as a part of live in-person experiences. These XR integrations include elements like augmented reality and virtual reality, but they blend these virtual elements into the physical world.
Take this year’s Coachella, one of the biggest music festivals in the world that showcased just what these experiences could look like. Organizers worked hard to bring in as many immersive elements as possible such as Instagram AR filters, on-site experiences for NFT holders, Snapchat filters, an in-game Fortnite experience, and a Coachella mobile app created by Niantic that lets you step into a portal and head over to the Spectra – a giant rainbow tower at Coachella – where you can watch a massive butterfly land on it. All these features were geared towards enhancing the physical experience of being at the festival with digital elements that create more engaging, fun, and memorable experiences for artists and fans alike.
While we will see an increase in metaverse-specific virtual performances in the years to come, we believe that XR integrations are the immediate future of live music experiences. There is no sign that demand for in-person experiences will slow down and these technologies offer live performances so many opportunities for showcasing artists’ creativity and changing the possibilities of how live music can be experienced. These extended reality integrations enhance the excitement and energy fans have for live music performances, adding value through their ability to engage fans on a more interactive level. The future of extended reality is bright in the live music industry.
THE NEW OPPORTUNITY: INNOVATIVE ARTIST-BRAND COLLABORATIONS
The benefits of extended reality integrations for live music performances are obvious when it comes to the fans, but what may be less obvious is how artist and brand collaborations in this space can benefit all parties involved. By teaming up, artists and brands can create these bespoke and innovative experiences for the fans, taking advantage of these new technologies to create increased fan loyalty and brand affinity, respectively. Here we break down in what ways each party can benefit from these increased partnerships.
- Can strengthen their brand image through association with beloved artists
- Can find new forms of communication and marketing strategies that evolve the brand’s voice and reach
- The right partnership provides companies with the opportunity to access untapped audiences and differentiate themselves creatively from competitors
- As brands increasingly use their voice to make social statements, a collaboration can serve to strengthen a company’s commitment to these social causes
- Can utilize the superior resources of brands to create more innovative fan experiences
- Can access the global reach of brands to grow their reputations and fan bases
- The right creative collaborations can offer fans new and different experiences that enhance the perceptions of artists through authentic partnerships
- Extended reality technology is helping expand audience engagement and the listening experience in the music industry, creating excitement for live music performances and enhancing the artists’ product sold to fans
Some of these new music experiences are already happening, with great success, while others are on the verge of being fully realized as new technologies become more fine-tuned and readily accessible. What will be crucial for these bespoke experiences are brands and artists working together to not only bring them to life, but to do so in a way that provides unique engagement opportunities between fans, artists, and brands.
While we can’t predict exactly how these virtual experiences will continue to develop and grow, we can confidently say that this is only the beginning of how digital tools are being used to create more creative, engaging, and interactive music experiences. If executed correctly, these technologies will transform the live music landscape for decades to come. We’ll see you at the show.