Sound On in the Metaverse: Why It’s Just the Beginning for Virtual Concerts

Is this real life? Is this just fantasy? Trapped in the Metaverse. Welcome to our new reality.

The metaverse opens up a new portal for musicians and fans to experience concerts in a digital dimension. Several artists including Lil Nas X, Charli XCX and Foo Fighters have already hosted virtual concerts and many more have announced upcoming shows. That year, the 64th Grammy Awards were held in Roblox, and the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) introduced a new category for Best Metaverse Performance, solidifying the Metaverse as a venue for artists to host concerts and tours. What looked like a lockdown alternative is now here to stay, and with a shiny prize up for grabs, digital artists will be taking what a metaverse performance can offer to a higher level.

The MTV VMA Best Metaverse Performance Award recognized not only the artist but also the host platform, giving video games and virtual venues a reason to step up their efforts as the competition is literally on. According to MTV, the category received more than 320 million votes. The winner, K-pop band Blackpink’s performance The Virtual on PUBG Mobile was more than just a concert, with opportunities for contestants to show off their dance moves, decorate their avatars with angel wings, and play mini-games. The Metaverse interactive performance triumphed over five other competitors, including K-pop group BTS in Minecraft and Ariana Grande’s Rift Tour concert in Fortnite.

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“We saw an opportunity to highlight and honor some of the best and most impactful executions of it — and celebrate artists who have found creative ways to use these spaces — which led to the addition of the Best Metaverse category this year,” says one MTV spokesman said when the award was announced.

The concept of the digital concert is gaining popularity; According to a July 2021 global survey by Wunderman Thompson, 78 percent of people who have heard of the Metaverse say they would be interested in participating in one. Early live concerts in the game have already attracted millions of visitors. Marshmello’s 2019 show in Fortnite drew 10.7 million fans, while Travis Scott’s Astronomical 2020 appearance in the same game drew 12.3 million concurrent players, according to Epic Games.

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“I think fans want new experiences,” said Kimberly Knoller, chief marketing officer at music metaverse gaming platform company Pixelynx. “The passive experience of streaming music won’t be enough to keep fans engaged as they have so many places to spend their time.”

Existing video games have become an important stage for artists as there are already millions of dedicated players, but new virtual worlds are also launching as music venues. Pixelynx is an example of a company that offers virtual world platforms where musicians can launch interactive experiences.

“At Pixelynx, we firmly believe that the music metaverse offers artists a new canvas for creativity and a new format for fans to experience music that is immersive,” says Knoller. The company gives artists more control with its virtual ecosystem where musicians can launch and gamify their experiences.

Hosting in the Metaverse is also changing music production. Weav Music aims to empower music in the metaverse by allowing it to be adaptable and to function in interactive experiences such as video games and augmented reality. Weav’s work results in musical compositions that can change in real-time within a non-linear format, making the experience feel personal.

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Interactive three-dimensional virtual worlds have become destinations for live events, group gatherings, and creativity. These locations, powered by game mechanics, will pave the way for the next generation. “Everyone born today is a gamer,” says author Matthew Ball in a 2021 article, “which means there are 140 million new gamers every year.” This comment correlates with the rising number of active video gamers . In 2015 there were just over two billion gamers worldwide – according to a Statista survey, there will be three billion by 2022. By 2024 there will probably be 3.3 billion gamers.

The integration of social and interactive gaming experiences will be a crucial component of virtual worlds. As technology advances, so will the virtual stage of the future. “I think musical performances will continue to evolve in the metaverse,” says Knoller. “I believe that in the music metaverse, interactive and participatory experiences for fans will become part of the marketing mix for artists, just like music videos became when MTV came along.”

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