With the live music industry in shambles, musicians are turning to immersive tech to connect with fans.
The live music industry has been hit hard by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Concerts both large and small have been canceled for several months now, leaving many musicians isolated from their fans. In these unprecedented times, VR has proven to be an effective tool for musicians looking to connect with audiences on a more intimate level. After all, there are no social distancing rules in a virtual world
Major Lazer, the global dance music trio comprised of Diplo, Walshy Fire and Ape Drums, is one such group taking advantage of immersive tech to perform live in a post-coronavirus world. Teaming up with immersive content company Supersphere, the group will be performing a one-of-a-kind live performance in a social VR environment designed to replicate the feel of the Major Lazer World Tour.
At the beginning of 2020, Major Lazer had an extensive road calendar ahead of them. A tour was planned that included 50 shows spanning 11 countries around the world.
However, the year did not go as planned. With COVID-19 decimating social gatherings around the world, people who counted on those types of gatherings were hit the hardest. Everything from work conferences, restaurants, schools, movies, and of course, the music industry, came to a complete halt. In an official press release, Ape Drums of Major Lazer said, “This pandemic made everyone rethink how they were going to pursue their career from now on.”
In an effort to connect with fans while adhering to proper social distancing orders, Major Lazer turned to Supershere, a company responsible for numerous live VR events featuring artists and public figures such as Billie Eilish, Post Malone, Paul McCartney, Wiz Khalifa, and Michelle Obama to name a few, to bring their vision of a large world tour to life in VR.
Using Supersphere’s ArcRunner – a platform designed to bridge artist performances in both the physical and virtual world – Major Lazer’s goal is to replicate every element of their planned tour in VR through Venues. This includes the massive stage layout, set design, dancers, lighting grid, special effects, and more.
This allows the trio to deliver a show that meets their extremely high expectations while providing a safe environment for their fans. “We really love what we do. We love our dancers, we love performing with each other, and we want that love to show in VR, said Grammy-winning artist Walshy Fire.
Since the global pandemic began, music fans and artists have been jonesing for a fully-built stage show. Major Lazer’s approach using Supersphere ArcRunner could end up being the norm for the music industry, and potentially open new revenue streams for artists.
Lucas Wilson from Supershere talked about this opportunity saying, “Enabling Major Lazer to bring the full stagecraft of their live show to digital worlds like Venues is one of the major strengths of the ArcRunner production platform,” adding, “we’ve seen first hand how devoted Major Lazer’s entire team is to delivering a killer show for fans, and we’re excited to provide the technology to help them do that at a price point and on a production schedule that works for them.”
SocialVR platforms like Venues are already proving to be amazing tools for musicians looking to connect and engage with fans all around the world. Just recently Sam Smith launched the first-ever Spotify AR experience, and artists such as John Legend and Carl Cox have already turned to VR platforms like WaveXR and Sensorium Galaxy to host live music events.
In the case of the Flaming Lips, they put their audience in individual bubbles during a show. But that isn’t very practical. First off, the bubbles take up a lot of room, which means you lose ticket sales. Plus you’re in a bubble. That’s fun for maybe 15 minutes?
VR technology serves as a far more practical solution, both in terms of convenience and price. The only real obstacle is buying a VR headset, but with the new Oculus Quest 2 coming in at just $299, it’s never been cheaper to join the VR ecosystem.
Major Lazer is set to perform live on Facebook’s Venues on November 28th at 6 pm PT. For more information visit here.
Major Lazer’s latest album, Music Is The Weapon, is a hip hop, reggae, electro groove-infused record bursting with energy. Bringing that contagious energy to VR will no doubt be a blast.