Virtual Reality is Going to Change our Music Experience, Forever

In the first edition of MUSIC x TECH x FUTURE, I took a wide view on why VR is music’s next frontier. Now, I want to take it a step further. VR is going to change product offerings, in-demand skill sets, live music and what it means to be a successful artist. Here are 4 key domains that are about to evolve and change beyond recall.

Music videos
Music videos are not merely going to become more immersive. Consumer adoption of VR will create a whole new branch of audiovisual song experiences. Music videos have always played a dual role of being part-promotion, part-product to be sold. Now we’re going to see more advanced business models added from the artist’s side, as well as from business who will spring up around this phenomenon. Examples:

  • A music video with various characters. The free version lets you experience it from one character’s perspective. Pay-to-unlock to see it from other perspectives.
  • Customize your video: pay $2 to put your friends’ faces on the band, then share it to them so they can see it for free. Can also function as a good viral, so you could opt to make it free like The Ugly Dance.
  • Music videos where fans can contribute: give people a paint brush for the first half of the song and then send them through a world of fan art in the second part of the song. Just imagine a more interactive VR version of Jack Ü & Bieber’s Where Are Ü Now. This will obviously require some moderation(NSFW), though.
  • A Netflix for VR music videos. This could come in the form of a more expensive tier on existing music streaming services, also.

Quite simply: at this point there is no standard, no default, so there will be a lot of experimenting until we land on a preferred format. Good days for creativity.

Dynamic music
If you’ve tried video games with 3D environments, you’ve probably experienced music shifting from one composition into the next as you change areas. This is called dynamic music. It has not yet had much application outside of video games, but I’ve mentioned some in an article on Techdirt last summer.

It’s going to become a lot more normal for people to enter into virtual 3D environments. This gives opportunities for people who want to explore alternate ways of music composition. This will be a very hot skill set for industries interested in building immersive virtual experiences, from gaming, to advertising, to Hollywood.

Registrations of concerts are about to get a lot more valuable. Crews with 3D cameras are filming them and creating VR experiences, so you can experience your favourite bands from the first row, backstage, and on stage from your living room couch. A VR concert subscription service makes a lot of sense.

Bad news for those hoping to livestream these concerts: it’s going to take an enormous amount of bandwidth to stream this. I don’t think we’re quite there yet, but there are promising developments.

Virtual parties
Many of us have probably spent a weekend locked inside the house, playing music with strangers or friends on instead of going out. Although died, various internet communities have continued to set up special virtual events called URL shows or URL parties through social music services like (relaunching soon) and

The world’s biggest promoters and festival organisers should definitely paying attention to this trend. A good place to start is with Grimecraft, who made history this month by livestreaming the first DJ set performed entirely in VR.

I asked him about what he thinks VR will bring us:

“It will make shows more accessible for musicians who dont tour or fans who live in areas where their favorite DJs don’t tour. The biggest concerts ever could potentially happen in your own living room in VR.”

The next “social music services” will not be simple music sharing platforms, no, they will be platforms where people can organise and host virtual raves and shows. The gaming industry might be way ahead of the music industry with this one. Case in point: Grimecraft’s livestream was on game-streaming platform Twitch and not on a music platform.

Virtual reality is going to change our music experience, forever
The next couple of years are a very exciting time. A lot of the innovation in this new part of the music business will come from the fringes. There are so many different applications and things you could be doing, that’s why I don’t really believe in creating a music VR standard just yet (sorry, Benji).

Anything is possible and we don’t know what’s going to come out on top. Make your mark. Now.