The Metaverse has arrived, but what does that mean for music? While it’s hard to imagine making beats without an instrument or hardware controller, virtual reality music instruments are creating new opportunities for experienced producers and novices alike.
It’s a lot to wrap your head around, but luckily, we’ve crafted the ultimate guide to understanding music in the metaverse. Below, we’ll tackle everything you need to know about emerging instruments and virtual reality and showcase a couple of ways you might be able to benefit from making music in the metaverse. Grab your VR headset and let’s jump into it!
What Is A VRMI?
A VRMI or virtual reality musical instrument is a music-making device that’s primarily played by using a virtual reality headset, or other VR devices as the name suggests. These instruments aren’t clearly defined, and can mimic a preexisting instrument, like a standard guitar or drums, or represent an entirely new way of building sound.
Since there aren’t any physical components outside of technological access to a virtual space, VRMIs are fairly limitless. VRMIs provide both musicians and music lovers with an entirely way to consume and create music.
What Does That Have To Do With The Metaverse?
Generally speaking, the metaverse is any network of virtual reality worlds designed for digital connection. As the world of VR grows, so does the need for common-held experiences within that space, like producing or simply listening to music.
Big-ticket artists like Lil Nas X are already headlining digital concerts on VR-compatible spaces like Roblox. It also presents an opportunity for producers to create instruments, perform, and build songs all without having to take on copious amounts of hardware equipment.
With so much accessibility, the opportunities with music in the Metaverse are only going to grow, so it’s definitely worth adopting this technology early-on if you have the resources to do so.
Benefits of Music In the Metaverse
So, what’ the point of adapting music in the Metaverse anyway? Here are some compelling reasons why this technology is here to stay.
The Creation Of The Global Stage
With the metaverse hosted on the worldwide web, artists now have access to a truly global stage. While similar options exist with streaming concerts or online concerts, metaverse performances offer a more immersive experienced paired with the social opportunity to meet other users with similar music tastes.
This can also open up the door for fans who might not otherwise be able to get their hands on pricey tickets, and provide artists without a localized following the opportunity to monetize through “live” performances.
Expanded Opportunities for Artist Monetization
NFT based streaming platforms like Audius have already teamed up with VR platforms like Defi Land to bring streaming via a VR radio station. When artists aren’t directly profiting from tokenized transactions via NFTs in the metaverse, they are earning exposure through an entirely new market.
Direct Access To Gaming Communities
Being on the metaverse allows musicians to connect with one of the most engaged audiences available: The gaming community. With virtual concerts and connection, musicians can leverage their creations in one of the hottest advertising markets in today’s world.
Virtual reality music instruments don’t necessarily need to emulate instruments we already have today. Hence, we could be on the verge of the next 808 or big musicial breakthrough by providing musicians the opportunity to build their own instruments. The metaverse is also an exciting prospect for disabled musicians who may not have the ability to play physical instruments or hardware controllers.
Sometimes, the visuals alone draw listeners to a song or to the discovery of a new artist. We’re already starting to see a shift in visual accompaniment to music releases. Just take the 360 music videos from early adopters like The Weeknd. A more immersive experience leads to more time spent streaming.
Less Industry Gatekeeping
If we’ve learned anything from Tiktok’s domination of the music industry, it’s that gardening an online (or virtual reality) fanbase can lead to having one in real life. VRMI and VR performances in the metaverse provide indie artists with another opportunity to take their careers into their own hands.
Music in the metaverse certainly seems promising. However, there are some challenges. Companies like Zylia are working to create a realistic concert experience for VR users so that the sound isn’t static as you move through a space. It’s conceivable that listeners within the Metaverse will have multiple audio output modes, so as to experience the same virtual reality space in different audio modes according to a users personal preferences.
Some producers find it challenging to adjust to VRMI’s lack of tactile feedback, such as the feel of a guitar string when playing a chord. However, this opens up the market for more motion MIDI based controllers or flexible hardware equipment that’s compatible within metaverse spaces.
History of VRMI
While we're just starting to see virtual reality instruments catch fire, the technology has been around longer than you might expect. One of the earliest examples was created in 1992 by an early producer of VR headsets, Jaron Lanier. Lanier improvised on several virtual reality instruments through a performance entitled, "Sound of One Hand".
VR instrument development remained fairly quiet for several years, but musical VR enthusiasts banded together in 2007 to create the Avatar Metaverse Orchestra. In 2009, Tarrik Barri created an experimental VR environment for both composing and performing.
In 2018, Robert Hamilton presented Cortet, a flexible controller of sorts aimed at giving musicians physical feedback while performing in the VR space. We continue to see more VRMI's develop every year -- check out Connexion, Urchin, or EXA.
We’re already starting to see early adoption of virtual reality instruments and music consumption. Here are just a few ways you can currently take part of music in the metaverse.
Tools like PatchXR are making it easy for artists to build their own instruments within the meta verse. The community is hosting virtual workshops for artists, building a metaverse community rooted in music creation and innovation.
VR concerts pulling major artists like Ariana Grande and Travis Scott only proves that this technology is here to stay. Gaming platforms like Fortnite and Roblox make it possible for musicians to connect with a whole new demographic of typically younger, highly-engaged listeners.
This VR musical playground gamifys music creation, presenting more opportunities for novice music creators. You're also able to export songs from the platform, allowing the game to act as a virtual reality DAW.
VR Radio Stations
With NFT-powered streaming platforms like Audius partnering with DeFi Land, more exposure and monetization opportunities are presented to artists. VR radio stations allow artists to cross pollinate with niche communities that they might not cross paths with in day to day life.
Virtual reality music instruments and streaming are a positive prospect for musicians and creators. These new tools will open the door to new instruments and make it easier for just about anyone to start building beats. Enjoy making music in the metaverse!