How Aussie punters could soon be tapping into concerts via virtual reality

Get the latest from Beat

How Aussie punters could soon be tapping into concerts via virtual reality


Just as the Australian live industry urges patrons to get off their fat sofas and head out to gigs, along comes news that will tempt folks to upgrade their social media status to “stay-at-homes”. Britain’s MelodyVR, which has the largest VR music library in the world, announced last week that it is expanding to Australia.

In five years the company has struck licensing agreements with all three major record companies and independent, and worked with 650 acts including Post Malone, Wiz Khalifa, Blake Shelton, Kiss, The Chainsmokers, Fall Out Boy, Imagine Dragons, Rag’n’Bone Man, The Who and Bloc Party.“We are always looking for new ways to bring our fans into the live experience,” says Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds. “There are only so many days in a year and a lot of places to tour. Working with MelodyVR means we can give a more immersive experience to our fans who may not otherwise get to be there in person.”

MelodyVR sells tickets for concert viewing in 360-degree. Fans choose if they want to be in the front row or balcony or moshpit to standing onstage next to the musicians. They can mix the sound to turn up (or down!) the guitar or drums. They can hang out with musicians backstage, and, soon, watch them go back in time or travel in space.

Its founder and CEO Anthony Matchett insists that virtual reality is not about trying to stop people from going to concerts. “It’s about the next best thing, of being there, especially when the venue sold out immediately or you’re on the other side of the world. It’s all about offering alternative options without paying five times the price [from scalpers].”

Research shows that consumers are most likely to use VR for sports or computer games. You really need a super high-speed internet connection, and do you want a concert experience which is insular and without crowd interaction? But down the track, venues overseas that change their in-house technology for VR sports events will offer it as course for concerts. Could we one day see concerts and festivals offer a Virtual Reality tier ticket, so those who sell out can still share their experiences?

Other VR companies are adding experiences that could be musical ones. Magic Leap which combines real and virtual experiences to stunning effect worked with Sigur Rós to create the DNA of their sound to a new reality called Tónandi. WaveVR users can transform a venue from nightclub to outer space and create fantastic light shows.  It’s been called “a mesmerising and trippy take on the future of music festivals” which offers the chance to experience acts, host parties and attend how-to DJ workshops.

UK start-up DoubleMe’s facility HoloPortal creates 3D virtual doubles of still or moving objects including humans and pets. A performer could perform by hologram at another location and interact with them. DoubleMe’s forthcoming LoopSpace app also lets creators collaborate on recordings and music videos with people on the other side of the world.