The music industry and technology come together to offer artists a new pathway for income.
The first time I stepped into a Wave concert was in 2017. I jumped into the VR platform to check out a live performance by Iranian-born electronic artist, Ash Koosha, as he performed a one-of-a-kind VR concert enhanced by trippy visuals, jaw-dropping soundscapes, and amorphous 3D objects that seemed to interact with the audience throughout the performance.
At the time it was one of the most mind-blowing things I had ever experienced, offering an otherworldly live music experience impossible that audience members would never be able to experience in the real-world. More recently the platform has teamed up with numerous big name acts such as dancing violinist Lindsey Stirling, EDM duo Galantis, and singer-songwriter Tinashe on a series of high-profile performances, expanding Wave’s position within the VR music scene.
As if that weren’t impressive enough, Wave has now raised $30 million through a recent series B funding campaign led by Maveron, with investors that include Griffin Gaming Partners, Rick Farman, co-founder of Superfly and Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin. The platform as also captured the attention of other big names such as Scooter Braun, who has worked with Justin Bieber and The Wanted, as well as former baseball superstar Alex Rodriguez, who is actually a well-known businessman with his own reality show helping people become successful in business.
According to recent research conducted by NPR article, the conventional live music industry currently finds itself in precarious position as the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and social distancing practices continue to threaten the closure of independent venues. The article states that 90% of venues, promoters, and talent buyers may close by the end of the year, if not sooner.
Virtual concerts and platforms like Wave could be the solution to all of this. Artists such as Weezer and Travis Scott have turned to virtual platforms to connect with fans, and in 2019 a DJ Marshmello concert brought together over 10 million people in the Fortnite.
Along with the additional $30 million in funding, the company recently announced a new partnership with Warner Music Group and Roc Nation to host virtual concerts as part of Wave’s OneWave series, which can also be streamed to Twitch, YouTube, and social media sites such as Facebook.
In a recent Facebook post Wave CEO, Adam Arrigo addressed our current political landscape and talked about how music could help heal and unite us saying, “This isn’t a time to celebrate, but it is a time for change and innovation. We believe in the power of music to unite us and we are working tirelessly to push the envelope, build incredible experiences for artists and fans, and amplify a diverse set of voices through our platform. We are truly humbled to partner with some incredible people on this mission and grateful for the opportunity to step into the moment. We are all in.”
What this means for Wave is that they now have the resources to continue to deliver VR performances that transform the way we experience live entertainment from the comfort of home.
Expectations are high. Music journalist Kirsten Ferguson told VRScout, “I would like to have an immersive music experience through VR that I can’t get elsewhere, especially in a time of pandemic,” Ferguson adds, “VR has so much potential for the music fan! Also I’m excited for the possibility of dance music festivals in VR. People tend to zone out in their own worlds during DJ sets anyway.”
Live concerts in Wave are referred to as “Waves.” In addition to catching live performances by some of their favorite musical acts, visitors can also chat with fellow concert-goers and artists, play mini-games, and vote on scene changes.
Scooter Braun told The Hollywood Reporter that he wanted to work with the most forward-thinking leaders in music and technology, and looks at Wave as the future of the music industry.
According to Braun, Wave bridges the gap between the VR and live music industries, offering transformative experiences for the next generation of concert-goers with a refreshing “artist-first” approach.
All types of artists will be able to use Wave’s VR platform to perform in front of fans. It’s designed to be artist friendly because Ariggo himself is a musician. “We started the company with the sole purpose of helping to make artists money,” said Arrigo in a TechCrunch interview.
Most artists make most of their income through live performances, and with COVID-19 preventing artists from performing, Wave could be an exciting new pathway for income.
So far Wave has hosted over 50 live events, including performances by electronic artists such as Tinashe, REZZ, and Lindsey Stirling, with shows reaching audiences up to 400,000 people. But Wave could be used for bands/artists such as Wilco, the Foo Fighters, or Cage the Elephant; even small independent artists could use Wave to host a show.
Production costs for a Wave show are actually much cheaper than a real-life show. There are different tiers musicians can select depending on their specific budget and needs. This additional $30 Million in funding should help create even more opportunities for artists of any level to begin hosting their own Waves.
Music is entering a new era of live performances; it will be interesting to see which artists begin to migrate over to the VR performance scene. The music industry’s future’s so bright, you gotta wear shades.
You can check out the upcoming Waves calendar on the Wave website along with some killer concert art.
Image Credit: Wave