Emerging Tech Offers New Opportunities For Artists [Cortney Harding]

2As newer tech like drones and VR increasingly infiltrate mainstream culture, the potential for branding partnerships between artists and the companies behind these technologies could be good news for musicians in search of further revenue streams.

By Cortney Harding

For 15 minutes a day every day this week, viewers on Facebook Live will have a chance to soar about Brazil, taking in the sights of the country as it prepares for the summer Olympics. In addition to checking out new stadiums and historic sites, users will also hear original music by a number of Brazilian artists, including Lucio K, Coletivo de Tambor & DJ Mangaio, Superlage, and Furmigadub. The artists were all commissioned by GE, which is heading up the project, and the Barbarian Group.

We’ve had the same discussion about artists working with brands enough times that we all know the drill — brands are the new artist partners, the ones who can fill in the revenue gaps left by the decline of recorded music sales. But this partnership signals a new trend, and one that could be highly beneficial for artists — the marriage of music with emerging tech. In the future, we’re likely to see more drone casts and videos needing great music, just as we’re also likely to see the VR industry explode, and all of those experiences require soundtracks.

1 (1)With the rise of drone technology and the increasing number of live streaming platforms to showcase it, the sky is perhaps literally the limit when it comes to what artists can do. Soundtracking drone flights is a great place to start, and the grandiose experiment GE is conducting in Brazil is only a fraction of what can be done. And while providing music to accompany a drone sweeping over Christ the Redeemer or a soccer stadium might be a tougher gig to get, there are plenty of more everyday drone uses that still need sound. For instance, many real estate agents are using drones to record videos of houses and apartment buildings to show to prospective buyers, and while it’s not as sexy, it’s great work if artists can get it. Lots of sporting events, from marathons to bike races, use drones to shoot aerial course footage — but in the future, they might have speakers attached to them to play music for athletes every step of the way.

The explosion of virtual reality content will also offer opportunities for artists, much like the explosion of big budget video games did years ago. Even if they don’t want to be at the front and center of a VR experience, artists will be able to write or license the backing music for any number of experiences, ranging from games to documentaries. The sheer amount of content that will be produced in the next few years in staggering, and artists should start reaching out to VR shops soon if they want to take advantage of the opportunities it presents.

As tech shifts and changes, artists should always keep an eye on where they can leverage it for exposure and revenue next. In five years, scoring a key drone soundtrack or VR gig could be the equivalent of a big-name sync deal, and might even provide more room for creativity.

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