Before I begin, I’d like to apologize for using the term “metaverse”. I can’t stand that word and used it strictly for alliterative purposes only. I just can’t get the association of that word with the dreaded and rightly despised Facebook and its contemptable founder out of my mind. The most satisfying result of the Meta embrace of VR is that its stock tumbled and earnings plummeted, resulting in its founder and executives losing billions in equity. Makes my day.
Now that’s out of the way, the future of monetization for music in virtual reality (VR) is still uncertain, as the technology and its uses are still relatively new. However, some potential methods for monetizing music in VR could include charging for access to virtual concerts or music festivals, selling virtual reality music experiences, or using virtual reality as a way to enhance the sales of music or merchandise. Additionally, brands and companies may also partner with musicians to create sponsored VR experiences. As the technology and its uses continue to evolve, it is likely that new and innovative ways of monetizing music in VR will be developed.
The New York Times ran a very interesting story recently about how South Korea is the new ground zero for creating the most complex and adventurous music virtual reality content. Their primary vehicle is K-Pop, whose stars have had virtual counterparts, or avatars, for years.
As with all complicated technologies, VR is extremely expensive to develop. The South Korean government is investing in excess of $170 million into a special “alliance” of hundreds of South Korean tech companies for the development of VR technology and content. According to McKinsey, more than $120 billion was spent in the first 5 months of 2022 on VR development globally. I think it would be safe to assume that virtually none of that dough is going toward music content
By comparison, the U.S. is leagues behind South Korea in VR development. According to Andrew Wallenstein, the president and chief media analyst of Variety Intelligence Platform, media companies in the United States have so far only engaged in “light experimentation” so far VR. Users have yet to hit critical mass, which is dependent upon adoption of VR hardware and is a long way from being as ubiquitous as, say, mobile phones and tablets. Let’s face it; nobody wants to wear a heavy cumbersome, uncomfortable headset that has to be tethered to a PC. That’s just no way to boogie to Bruno Mars.
Yes, Oculus has a wireless headset, but the functionality is nowhere near as complete as tethered headsets (though they are becoming more powerful. This should start to change this year, hopefully. Among the many rumors floating around about Apple’s long-rumored AR/VR headset are:
1. The headset will be released in the first quarter of 2023.
2. Instead of handheld controllers, it will have up to 30 miniscule cameras ringing the outer rim of the headset for advanced facial and hand tracking.
3. The headset will be released at the WWDC in June
4. It will cost anywhere from $1500 to $3000
5. It will be powered by the M2 chip. It would be like having a Macbook Pro strapped to each eye.
6. It will be released in the third quarter of 2023
7. The device will have a focus on gaming and social applications
There are dozens more theories about the Apple headset. But one thing is for sure: it will redefine the entire AR/VR user experience. As far as music goes, I’m sure that Apple will not have a hard time finding musicians more than willing to be their guinea pigs.
Currently, the cost of developing special virtual concerts and environments can be astronomical. And everybody thinks that they can sell millions and millions of tickets. Artists and mangers expect that they’ll make exponentially more with virtual concerts, and that may be true. But not for a while. Here’s the thing. When a band or solo artists performs at a big venue like the Staples Center for example, the promoter looks at the potential gross revenue for a sell out and calculates the artist’s guaranteed advance. Now try applying that concept to a virtual concert. Not easy and the artist is smelling money from the get go.
And here’s the rub. Who is going to come up with the millions it would take to book the act and develop the environment for VR concerts?
Not the record labels. That’s for sure. Maybe the big players like Apple, Microsoft. Sony, etc. will fork over the cash, but that typically results with the big players monopolizing the space within their “walled garden”. And artists are very risk adverse when it comes to money.
I guess everybody needs a sugar daddy at some point.