In the dark ages before the internet, Bell Telephone’s famous tagline was “it’s the next best thing to being there.” Decades later, the classic slogan aptly describes action in pandemic-era events, as innovators find virtual ways to put on big shows without the COVID-averse crowds.
With dozens of artists pivoting to livestreamed concerts since 2020, virtual concert platform AmazeVR announced Tuesday (Jan. 11) in a press release that it has closed a $15 million bridge funding round ahead of plans to outfit AMC Movie Theatres with its suite of experiential virtual reality (VR) tech, turning them into small concert halls.
Taking the wraps off its plans last summer, AmazeVR announced a pact with AMC, Roc Nation and Grammy Award-winning artist Megan Thee Stallion for an immersive virtual concert experience achieved by outfitting movie theaters with VR tech that recreates the real thing.
“This first-ever VR concert tour springs from years of R&D that resulted in proprietary 9K cameras and in software that can automate complex Unreal Engine-based visual effects and run more than 100 headsets at a time,” AmazeVR said in the release. “Using this technology, the company plans to scale its content creation, releasing new VR concert experiences weekly by 2024 to both in-theater and at-home viewers.”
AmazeVR co-CEO Ernest Lee added in the release that the new bridge funding “puts us in an ideal position to take full advantage of VR and the metaverse’s growing popularity, as we deliver breathtaking VR concerts from major artists, first to theaters, then to homes worldwide.”
This new direction in virtual events follows other recent efforts along the same lines, namely the Fortnite virtual concert series that has featured superstars including Travis Scott, Ariana Grande and others. The musical duo Twenty One Pilots staged a virtual concert in Roblox.
Everyone is getting in. As Rolling Stone reported, “Fortnite has heavily adopted music as it looks to evolve beyond a video game into a broader metaverse where its audience not only plays the core game but also takes to the virtual world to congregate and socialize more casually. As live music resumes, virtual concerts and other video game activations will likely remain as record labels look to gain a foothold in the gaming industry to bolster their digital marketing efforts and reach new audiences.”
With more music moving to the metaverse — in some cases passing through movie theaters on the way — technology makes or breaks the spell, and stakeholders are acutely aware of it.
As Lee said in the release, “we can evoke a real sense of presence you can’t get from a screen, the feeling that your favorite artist is right there, face to face with you. This opens up a new dimension for music, one of the first new ways for artists and fans to connect since recordings appeared.”
In this latest announcement, AmazeVR also teased its Series B, set for “early 2022, bringing its mobile theater guised as an artist’s tour bus to potential investors in Silicon Valley and beyond.”