Metaverse, 5G to change music world, industry expert says

A Fender Musical Instruments executive has said that the metaverse will change how music is generated, distributed and consumed once 5G and wearable hardware are widespread.

Aarash Darroodi explained that once developers could fully leverage 5G, cheaper, faster and smaller devices would provide total immersion experiences. “Although carriers provide 5G, the true capabilities, the absolute superfast speeds, have not yet been unleashed,” he said, as quoted by Fox Business.

According to Darroodi, software development is trailing behind but will likely catch up relatively quickly. He added that the issue lies in hardware since the user-friendly virtual or augmented reality device capable of providing a truly immersive digital experience has yet to be developed.

Darroodi also maintained that glasses would be the ultimate virtual reality device. He was adamant that collaborating with a major fashion brand would help with implementation. “If you can convert it into a fashion statement, it will be far more easily adopted by the masses as opposed to just techies,” he said.

Speaking about music, Darroodi believes the metaverse will never be able to recreate the excitement of joining a live concert. However, a 360-degree immersive environment can appease those unable to attend the live event.

“It will democratize the experience for many people who otherwise either geographically or economically cannot afford to experience that,” Darroodi said.

Concerts in the metaverse

In recent years, the music world has embraced a variety of digital concerts. Ariana Grande performed a metaverse concert on the popular video game Fortnite in August 2021, with users participating via their personalized avatars.

Other artists soon followed. South Korean boyband BTS digitally released their hit singles “Permission to Dance” and “Butter” last year. The world’s most popular boyband also performed a surprise concert as part of YouTube’s ESCAPE2021. BTS members morphed into Minecraft avatars and performed their singles in Minecraft rather than in their human forms.

Justin Bieber held his first metaverse performance in Wave last year to promote his album “Justice.” Using Wave’s technology, fans could engage with Bieber during his performance. Fans could also join the singer live on stage and influence his performance. In contrast to previous metaverse performances, Bieber controlled the avatar in real-time using a motion-capture suit.

Rapper Travis Scott’s Fortnite metaverse performance set a benchmark for virtual concerts. The $20 million garnered by the nine-minute virtual shows surpassed all expectations. During his four-month Astroworld tour across 56 dates, Scott earned only $53.5 million.

The global superstar Mariah Carey has promised a “Festive Metaverse Experience” in her upcoming “Winter Wonderland” in Roblox, which will run for four nights starting December 21 at 7 p.m. ET.

According to Darroodi, metaverse concerts can be monetized through access fees, real-time merchandise advertisements and the sale of non-fungible tokens or NFTs. “It’s exciting where you can connect in real-time eCommerce with the concert-going experience,” he said.

Musicians can also use NFTs to generate more revenue. They can sell tokenized versions of their music, artwork and bundles. OpenSea, the first and biggest NFT marketplace, features artists such as Snoop Dogg, 3LAU, Shawn Mendes, Deadmau5, Grimes and Steve Aoki. NFT music sales on Open Sea generated $86 million in 2021, per data from Water & Music.