With virtual reality headsets finally trickling out to the masses, content creators are searching for the Next Big Thing beyond gaming. Is it 360-degree film, in-depth immersive journalism or next-level live coverage? NextVR and Live Nation are betting big on the latter with plans to stream hundreds of live concerts of over the next couple years. In this new world of VR content, NextVR is a leader. The company previously streamed a democratic debate in VR — with mixed results — and joined up with the NBA for some virtual coverage. Now, it's bringing that same idea to concerts, covering hundreds of shows put on by Live Nation, one of the world's biggest live entertainment outfits. The shows will start broadcasting this winter.
This isn't virtual reality's first taste of 360-degree music-making. Another startup, Jaunt, worked with Sir Paul McCartney to bring a concert only millimetres away from your eyeballs. NextVR previously worked with Coldplay and Samsung back in 2014 to livestream a concert in 360-degrees.
The idea comes with obvious benefits. Even if NextVR charges a small fee at the door (the company hasn't specified what this will cost), it helps people who maybe couldn't afford to attend a show, or live too far away experience the music. Have you seen what Sigur Ros tickets have been going for lately? Ridiculous. Not to mention the fact that services like Ticketmaster are a complete dumpster fire.
While concert-going in virtual reality doesn't sound immediately appealing — 270-degrees of drunk people singing the lyrics out of key is probably something you'd rather not experience — a camera smack dab in the middle of the stage would give you a whole new feel for live music. And as companies like Google continue to focus on improving binaural audio for VR systems, the music itself could sound surprisingly good.
The bad news is that Gear VR will be the only headset to get these streaming concerts, though NextVR promises more platforms are coming soon.