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Fête de la musique: can the metaverse revolutionize concerts?

April 2020. Several million Fortnite players attend a series of concerts given by a giant avatar of American rapper Travis Scott. The images go around the world. If, a year earlier, the DJ Marshmello had also experienced the virtual scene of the favorite game of teenagers, two phenomena give at this precise moment a considerable echo to the performance of Travis Scott: a pandemic during which the majority of concerts were arrested, and the appearance of a word: “metaverse”, synonymous with “virtual world”. The “musicverse” was born.

Since then, artists like Twenty One Pilots and Lil Nas X have successfully emulated their bandmate. And investments are piling up, from the Warner Music label, which now owns a plot on The Sandbox, to streaming leader Spotify, which opened its own “music island” on the Roblox game in early May. According to a recent study by Snep, the National Syndicate of Phonographic Publishing, nearly a quarter of online video game players are interested in concerts on these platforms. What if tomorrow, the Fête de la Musique, the 40th edition of which is being held this Tuesday, June 21 in France, took place from these virtual countries?

Louis Cacciuttolo believes in it. The entrepreneur recently raised 1.5 million euros with his company specializing in virtual reality, VRrOOm, and aims to raise 30 more in the second half of 2022. His objective: to build a French platform that will give creators the tools to build their universes accessible in virtual reality. Like Roblox or Fortnite, VRrOOm would only be a host, but unlike the two previously mentioned, entirely devoted to music. “We want to be the YouTube of the metaverse”, specifies Louis Cacciuttolo. Jean-Michel Jarre, recently interviewed by L’Express, is the company’s ambassador. He is experimenting with the first tools with some success: his live in a fully digitized Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral, on December 31, 2020, would have been viewed nearly 75 million times.

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“Less restrictive and less discriminating”

VRrOOm is not the only one to have started. The American company Pixelynx, founded by the famous DJ DeadMau5, is currently developing comparable tools. In France, a start-up, Stage11, invests the same ground, with a small nuance. “In addition to the tools, we also want to create content with artists,” says his boss Jonathan Belolo, also head of the independent label Scorpio Music. Which would make it a kind of producer 3.0. The man lists the advantages linked to the metaverse: “The spectator is no longer obliged to move to see a concert – which is less restrictive and less discriminating – and this will also allow him to live, even to relive when he wants a privileged experience with an artist, by finding himself, thanks to technology, one-on-one with him”, he explains. The musician, for his part, “considerably lowers the cost of a live”, adds Louis Cacciuttolo. The rental of a Zenith often amounts to several tens of thousands of euros, not counting the technical teams that must also be paid. “On the metaverse, a musician will soon be able to create his scenography in just a few clicks”, opposes the boss of VRrOOm.

In the meantime, there is nothing wrong with trying. “On Fortnite, Travis Scott played in front of 27 million spectators for a few minutes against a check for $20 million. For his physical AstroWorld tour, between 2019 and 2020, his turnover is certainly $63 million, but it is at the cost of 57 dates, with concerts of 2h30 each time, and which have attended, in total, less than a million spectators”, relates the entrepreneur. On paper, the arguments of the “musicverse” are solid. At Stage11, the first renowned artist to take the plunge is David Guetta. The universe of the king of electro is expected by the fall. Its official avatar was presented at the VivaTech show, which was held in Paris in mid-June. Other stars like Snoop Dog, Akon and Ne-Yo will be there.

Building communities

However, it remains to be seen whether spectators are already ready to pay, regularly, for a virtual experience. So far, the vast majority of concerts have been offered for free, on video games. “The value proposition is not yet very interesting”, judges the economist specializing in culture Thomas Paris. Towards the real, first, but also vis-à-vis the livestream, which already makes it possible to enjoy concerts from a distance. “The success of shows on Fortnite or Roblox can currently be explained by the strong retention capacity of Internet users on these gaming platforms. The same phenomenon for music concerts alone remains to be proven.”

At the very beginning of the year, Young Thug, David Guetta (already him) and the EDM duo The Chainsmokers had taken turns on the Meta platform – rather designed for wandering or work – for a series of concerts, ultimately all shunned by fans. There are two reasons for this: due to a lack of adequate hardware, users cannot yet enjoy an immersive experience. Then the worlds, not connected to each other, struggle to be welcoming, as evidenced by the first images of the universe concocted by Meta.

The actors have understood it: the “musicverse” will not be able to be satisfied with being a simple online concert platform. Even if this would authorize all artistic madness. “Visually, wanting at all costs to fit aliens, exploding mountains or what not, is not always of great interest. A sober staging, an artist, alone, seated on a stool and crossed by a little light, will in my opinion have its place in the metaverse as well, underlines Jonathan Belolo. What is really important, in my opinion, is above all to succeed in linking, in the same space, the music, but also the functionalized by a social network and e-commerce. Allowing fans to be able to find themselves with their personalized avatars, their shoes, their equipment, gleaned elsewhere in the metaverse.” In short: their identity.

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“It is already this community bond that makes the success of large current groups, like the South Koreans of BTS”, notes in this regard Paul Muller, lecturer in economics at the University of Lorraine. “To bridge the gap, metaverse artists will not only have to nurture their community by offering ever more content, but they will also have the responsibility of ensuring that fans can develop bonds between them,” says the academic. Within the vast Web3, the new digital currencies, NFTs or DAOs will be a useful aid for this. All of these technologies are young, however. Especially the metaverse. “The technological challenges are numerous and it’s super exciting”, says Jonathan Belolo. “We are like the Internet in the early 1990s. It will take another ten years before the general public really takes hold of it.”


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