Virtual Reality And The Implications For The Music Industry

3With some artists like Taylor Swift and Bjork already embracing the technology, it seem the music industry is ripe for the integration of virtual reality, although the technology will still face many barriers as it transitions form early adopters to the mainstream.


Guest Post by Carl Hibbert 

2016 is a major year for VR, as it pushes beyond the early adopters and reaches mainstream audiences, and crucially across a range of entertainment genres. Music has a great fit with VR and the pioneers in the music industries, artists, musicians and manufacturers, together with AV distribution networks and formats are already forging ahead, bringing VR, once a theoretical concept, to reality.

A number of key bands and artists have already welcomed VR technology with open arms. Taylor Swift created a 360 video app, that makes fans part of an interactive musical mansion tour. The Icelandic, musical pioneer, Bjork, produced the video for the track Stonemilker, in interactive 360 video together with surround sound audio and is currently developing a full VR album. And let’s not forget Paul McCartney, who now has a range of VR experiences available through VR pioneer Jaunt’s platform, including 360 video shot at a recent concert through to a documentary focused on the early days of the Beatles.  This is all good news for driving consumer awareness of the technology.

VR uptake is set to benefit from a range of headsets from basic £10 headsets that just need a smartphone to operate through to £700 units requiring the power of a high-end PC. With the price point broadly correlating to the level of quality and overall immersion of the experience. The price point range and wide variety of applications opens up the technology to a broad demographic – important in gaining mass acceptance.  Futuresource Consulting predicts that in Europe, 11.5 million headsets will be shipped in 2020, building to an installed base of close to 30 million.

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Major technology companies including Facebook, Google, Intel, HTC and Samsung are investing in the VR eco-system, connecting and contributing to this musical evolution. Companies are distributing developer kits to drive education in the design and creative communities and mainstream acceptance is starting to grow. Popular internet platforms such as You Tube 360 and Facebook 360 have growing subscriber numbers.  By 2020 Futuresource Consulting predict that consumer VR content – including gaming and video – will reach a market value of $8.3 billion.

However there is still more work to do in terms of consumer education. Consumer research results from Futuresource’s global market tracker for VR, indicate that in the UK only 7% of the nationally representative sample had tried VR. This rose to 12% for the under 35s. In terms of content that consumers would like to view in VR, movies, music/TV, sports and adult content came out on top – all of which are key genres of experimentation for the industry.


There is a great deal of hype and excitement around VR, and so there should be, but it is not a world without barriers and challenges that must be overcome. The creative communities need to create post production products, production processes and pipeline, that efficiently create VR and deliver VR content, especially considering the file sizes involved in a VR production.  In terms of monetisation consumers need to see the additional value in investing in VR devices and content. The tech is now out there but if the right content is not readily available then it might stall the adoption of HMD.


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