How Far Off Are Virtual Reality Concerts? (Or Are They Already Here?)

The music industry has always held an interesting spot in the marketplace. In contemporary times it relies heavily on means of production, creation, and distribution it’s no longer in full control of.

Third party companies have often led the industry’s innovation, and music was produced to sell both the means by which you listened to it and the latest format, from vinyl to compact disks, turn tables to hi-fi sound systems.

The big three record labels are under ownership of French water companies, Japanese conglomerates, and American private equity groups. Control is a mere mirage for many in the music business. Naturally, when creative minds are tethered to quarterly projections, things can go awry. Big ideas and ground-breaking innovations can be misunderstood, leaving opportunities un-seized.

Fortunetly for the entertainment seeking populace, this doesn’t seem to be happening with virtual reality, the burgeoning field that has seen investments come in from the likes of Facebook, Creative Artists Agency, and an abundance of venture capital firms — many located in California. According to TechCrunch, 1.2 Billion dollars have been put into virtual and augmented reality firms in the first quarter of 2016 alone. With so much of this frontier belonging in Silicon Valley it’s only right neighbor Hollywood get in on the action.

While larger acts like Coldplay, U2, and Jack White have been filming “360 degree videos,” and “virtual concerts” in some form or another for the past couple of years, few have incorporated the interactivity and hyper realism that Deadmau5 achieved in his collaboration with liquor brand Absolut. And let’s not forget their idea incubator and creative wing, Absolut Labs.

As streaming music was once a vanguard platform, the tug-of-war that is royalties, publishing rights, and artist payment are shaping up to be just as interesting as they were – and still are – for streaming as they will be for virtual and augmented reality.

Some companies like NextVR release content for free, while Vrtify is “experimenting with subscription and pay-per-view models” as well as copyright splits with creators of content, according to the New York Times.

As we can see, virtual reality is taking root all around us. It is posed to be the most revolutionary technology since the computer or the internet (!,) and in conjunction with other rising game changers like self-driving cars and various ways to harvest renewable energy sources, we could be living in a very different world even just twenty years from now. These revolutionary technologies aren’t household items just yet, but simply put things are looking bright and their trajectories seem virtually unstoppable.

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Eric Cullen is a multimedia artist and musician, known as Cully on the stage and in the hearts of many. When you're done reading his wonderful musings on music, art, and culture you can check out his music on Soundcloud under the moniker Coolest Cully.

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