The Metaverse will change the live music experience, but will it be decentralized?
As the second anniversary of the global COVID-19 pandemic begins to rush towards us, we are no closer to knowing when our social lives will return to normal or what the new normal will be. The effect this has had on businesses like nightclubs, concert halls and musicians has been immeasurable. With crowded in-person events made impossible – or much more difficult and laborious – at many points over the past two years, changes in the industry that were already underway have been accelerated. Namely, the music industry‘s adoption of digital instruments, among others and, increasingly, the Metaverse.
First invented by science fiction author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 cyberpunk novel Snowfall, the metaverse is described as a virtual world where individuals could interact with each other as avatars on a successor form of the Internet in order to escape a dystopian (see disease-ridden) outside world. Sound familiar?
Thirty years after his prophetic vision and in the midst of a global pandemic with continuing restrictions with no end in sight, now is the time to bring the musical metaverse to life. With live music revenue not expected to recover until 2023, one way to accelerate its recovery – and provide a new technological alternative to traditional live events – would be to bring more of our events into the virtual world.
Debates rage about what this metaverse should look like. On the one hand, there are libertarians, crypto enthusiasts, and privacy-conscious people advocating for a decentralized future of Metaverse without individual or entity oversight. On the other hand, there is Mark Zuckerberg (and likewise) who proposes that Metaverse be the successor to Facebook and whose centralized version would be a natural option. If we are all going to spend a lot more time there, the best option is clear: the one in which we all have a say.
Related: A Letter to Zuckerberg: The Metaverse Isn’t What You Think It Is
In a way, the metaverse is already here. (Although even with COVID-19, our world isn’t as bleak as the world Stephenson portrays.) Artists like Justin Bieber, DeadMau5, and The Weeknd have all been performing virtual concerts in recent months. And, while some of these events have broadened the definition of the Metaverse somewhat – less an immersive VR-powered experience and more a 2020s version of Habbo Hotel – it’s clear that the key ingredients are there for fundamental change. in our way of thinking about live music.
This prospect is particularly exciting for small groups. As any promoter or early childhood musician will tell you, touring is both a necessity for any musician who wants to make a career out of their art but also a time-consuming and expensive operation. A Metaverse “tour” (or a series of shows where artists cater to different time zones) in which overhead is minimal will remove barriers to live performance not only for fans but also for artists.
If you’re a small enough band that only a few large population centers have enough fans to make a live show worthwhile, the concept of a virtual concert – where fans from around the world can congregate regardless either locality – is an exciting possibility. This is where niche fanbases and quirky communities of music lovers will really win.
Organize events in the metaverse
Obviously, a decentralized metaverse can improve the music industry in many ways. But, another blockchain-based technology is worthy of attention: Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOS). DAOs are community groups that function almost like a board of directors. Only on this advice, everyone gets a seat at the table.
DAOs are the antithesis of centralized organizations like record labels or promotion companies since all decisions are made by the collective. Anyone can join a DAO simply by acquiring the necessary tokens to have a say.
Just like other rising stars in the blockchain world such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), DAOs have already started making their mark in the music world. In October, the deep-pocketed PleasrDAO pooled its resources to purchase the one and only copy of an album by hip-hop pioneer Wu-Tang Clan. Once upon a time in Shaolin was deemed so valuable that the 74 members of DAO collectively raised $4 million to nab before the act of minting property as NFT. But their application goes much further.
Related: Online Content Streaming Is Dead – Long Live Music NFTs
In the context of the live music industry, DAOs are almost as exciting as the concept of the Metaverse itself, and even more enticing when you combine the two. A music-focused DAO could, for example, buy concert tickets in bulk, finance and organize events such as concerts and festivals, including those in the digital realm, as well as buy investable products such as vinyl records, artwork, and first-edition instruments, while even operating as fan-owned record labels and promotional outfits.
The quirky communities I mentioned earlier—those that coalesce around niche music genres and the artists that innovate them—will get the most out of this new kind of fan community.
Related: Concerts in the Metaverse Could Lead to a New Wave of Adoption
And isn’t that what we could encourage and create? A world where the weird, the weird, the beautiful, and the live shows you’ve never seen can emerge? That’s a lot of what the internet did to music when it became a staple of our entertainment culture at the turn of the millennium. Web 2.0 has accelerated this diversification and democratization. What Web3 and the Metaverse can do is finish the job and create a live music culture where the possibilities have never been more exciting and open. More importantly, it could be a future where no one is in control. We could all be.
This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Alex Kay is the co-founder of Unpaired, the company behind Party Degenerates, one of the top earning NFT generative art PFP projects that aims to create a cultural multiverse that connects humanity while bridging the gap between worlds digital and physical.