AmazeVR talks about the future of VR concerts
The virtual reality world is expanding and making more room for musicians to reach larger audiences with less travel and expense.
by Janelle Borg from AmplifyYou
Virtual reality concerts are becoming a hot commodity for the world’s top superstars. With Travis Scott’s virtual concert grossing over $20, hosting a virtual reality concert was profitable and reached millions of fans. To learn more about this growing niche within the music industry, we caught up with Joe Choi of AmazeVR – the company responsible for Megan Thee Stallion’s “Enter Thee Hottieverse.”
Can you tell us a little about your role in AmazeVR?
My name is Joe Choi, Senior Strategy and Operations Manager at AmazeVR. Previously, my role primarily focused on leading the in-person performance of the first-ever virtual reality concert tour with three-time Grammy Award-winning artist, Megan Thee Stallion, in her “Enter Thee Hottieverse.” Since the completion of the tour, my role has been primarily focused on helping with the strategy and direction of our next lineup of artists for our upcoming VR concerts.
How did the company come about, and what was the gap in the market that led to the creation of AmazeVR?
AmazeVR was founded in 2015 by the co-founder and early executives of Kakao (the #1 instant messaging app for smartphones in Korea and now a multi-billion dollar company). Kakao had their IPO, and while largely successful, the founding members (AmazeVR) still had a thirst to create innovation that could impact the global market.
Coincidentally, after experiencing a virtual reality (VR) headset called GearVR (an early version of the VR headset made by Samsung), the founding members saw the potential for this technology to create a personal screen become what can replace TVs and monitors – just as smartphones have replaced all mobile phones. Driven by this belief that VR can be used to “distribute offline experiences” beyond just viewing typical 2D content, a dream was born and the team officially settled in Silicon Valley.
What was it about the music industry that appealed to you?
Music is one of the most promising sectors for future development in the VR entertainment industry. Along with games, there is a paradigm shift in the music industry, and many companies have tried to innovate the next “big thing”. The pandemic has only accelerated this shift, as we’ve seen many efforts ranging from live streams to virtual concerts to Fortnite shows. However, all of these other solutions only provide incremental value from what already exists, and no other solution truly captures the core value for fans – a human connection.
Before the pandemic, the global market for live music was $28.56 billion. We believe that the VR concert business has more potential than the live concert business as there are no physical limitations. Compared to the number of live concert audiences, artists have many more fans willing to pay for high-touch experiences, and VR concerts will be one of the best experiences for all fans.
You recently worked with Megan Thee Stallion on “Enter Thee Hottieverse.” In what ways has Thee Hottieverse helped shed light on VR and its use in the music industry?
Working with Megan Thee Stallion and the entire Roc Nation team was an extremely rewarding experience as we were challenged, both internally and through great external feedback, to bring our VR concert to the level of quality that a superstar like Megan is expected. We knew for our first effort that we wanted to blow people away, and Megan’s professionalism and feedback pushed us into areas that allowed us to collaborate and create an amazing experience for her fans.
As a result, we were able to learn and improve our proprietary camera technology, Unreal Engine-based VR VFX Tools and AI modules to automate manual tasks and produce best-in-class visual fidelity. Visual fidelity is perhaps the biggest contributor to the sense of presence and the belief that the experience is real – in our case, to convince fans that they have really just met their favorite artists.
SM Entertainment is known for pushing the envelope and being one of the first entertainment companies to incorporate the metaverse. How will your partnership with SM continue to expand K-Pop’s influence not only IRL, but also in the metaverse?
We have always maintained close relationships with the K-pop giant, SM Entertainment, and the joint venture was a result of these relationships and the future they see with what VR (and the metaverse) can bring to the music industry.
With the VR market surpassing nearly 15 million active users in the Meta Quest ecosystem alone, we see this as a great opportunity for artists to anticipate even more diverse opportunities to reach their fans in VR and the metaverse. In addition, we are preparing to launch our music metaverse service in all major VR app stores in 1H 2023 with a range of established and emerging artists, both from SM Entertainment and in the US – a great opportunity to support this rapidly growing community to achieve
How does AmazeVR contribute to creating a new music economy?
AmazeVR ushers in the next phase of music. Through our proprietary camera technology and software, we produce virtual reality (VR) concerts, creating entirely new musical experiences that bring fans closer to artists than ever before. Most music fans don’t have the luxury of seeing their favorite artists together for a myriad of reasons – scheduling conflicts, geographic location, or financial burden, to name a few. However, our VR concerts offer the immersive experience of seeing your favorite artist up close and personal – even from home. Our goal is to allow fans to experience their favorite artists anytime, anywhere.
AmazeVR promotes a business that produces and distributes music artists’ immersive concerts both online and offline, based on our proprietary VR technology. We want to position ourselves as a company analogous to both Spotify and Live Nation – but for VR.
We wowed fans (many of whom were first-time VR users) in 2022 with the first-ever VR concert tour featuring three-time Grammy Award-winning artist Megan Thee Stallion on her “Enter Thee Hottieverse” tour through 15 major cities in the USA, with more than 15,000 concertgoers. In the future, our VR concerts will be primarily accessible online, and we envision them becoming a key component of all artists’ release strategies and album rollout, setting a new paradigm for both artists and fans beyond the existing live in -person concerts.
Janelle Borg know a thing or two about the music industry. Involved in the industry since the age of 13, she is now involved in a variety of music related projects and is always keen to share industry tips and tricks with fellow musicians.