Are virtual-reality music concerts ever going to be more than a niche? Some of the early evangelists of that notion have already diversified beyond it.
MelodyVR bought Napster to get into streaming, having also launched a mobile app to open its content up beyond VR headset owners. Meanwhile, Wave has evolved into a livestreams production tool capable of broadcasting to Twitch, YouTube and other platforms… to open its content up beyond VR headset owners.
There’s a theme here: whether there are enough VR headsets in use to make VR concerts a successful business, for now at least. That said, there is still innovation happening, and being funded by investors. Witness AmazeVR’s $15m funding round, which was announced this week.
TechCrunch reported that the funding comes ahead of the company’s first ‘commercial VR concert’ with Megan Thee Stallion, which will be shown in cinemas across the US this spring. The ultimate goal is to be releasing new VR concerts every week by 2024 for cinema and home viewing.
The news takes AmazeVR’s funding to $30.8m overall, with K-Pop music company YG Entertainment among the investors in a $2.5m funding round in January 2020, which was followed by a $9.5m round in April 2021. The latter came from traditional investment companies, but AmazeVR said at the time that it was keen to attract artist management companies for strategic investments too.
More than a niche? It’s clear that VR headset sales are picking up steam slowly but surely. Research firm Omdia estimates that 12.5m consumer (i.e. not industrial/business) headsets were sold in 2021, with owners spending more than $2bn on games and apps for their devices. The company reckons that by 2026, 70m VR headsets will be in use by consumers.
Music will undoubtedly be part of this, and not just with live or pre-recorded concerts. We’ve already seen innovation in gaming (Beat Saber), fitness (Supernatural, FitXR) and education (TribeXR) as well as around livestreaming and production (Volta).
AmazeVR’s news shows that the funding is still flowing to help companies figure out just how significant this technology can be for music – not necessarily as THE next big format or platform, but as one of a number of new revenue sources to complement traditional streaming.