Today’s music industry will sound as old-fashioned as a cassette tape once the Metaverse can take full advantage of 5G technology, says a music industry lawyer.
Aarash Darroodi, executive vice president and general counsel of Fender Musical Instruments, says it’s too early to tell what the future holds for music in the metaverse due to current hardware limitations. However, he expects drastic changes once cheaper, faster and smaller devices allow developers to fully exploit 5G speed. T-Mobile likened 5G wireless technology to riding a rocket ship versus riding a 4G scooter or 3G bicycle.
“While carriers are delivering 5G, the true capabilities haven’t been released yet, the absolute super-fast speeds,” he says.
Darroodi notes that the software is lagging but will likely catch up soon. The problem is the hardware. No one has been able to create a comfortable and effective virtual or augmented reality device that allows for a fully immersive digital experience.
“It’s not there yet,” he said.
Darroodi thinks the ultimate virtual reality device will be some kind of goggle. He says a partnership with a major fashion brand could help with adoption.
“If you can convert it into a fashion statement, it’ll be much more easily embraced by the masses than by the techies,” he said.
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Darroodi describes the Metaverse as a fully immersive 3D experience compared to today’s 2D flatscreen internet. It will change the way music is created, shared and consumed. However, the music will remain a shared experience.
“It’s ultimately the next evolution of humanity’s connection,” Darroodi said.
He explains that people have always come together to share their experiences. Many houses still have hearths even though they are not needed for heating because the hearth is a traditional gathering place.
The metaverse will enhance these experiences. For example, Live Nation’s Ticketmaster unit recently canceled ticket sales for Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour” following a system crash that left many Swifties empty-handed after waiting for hours in the waiting line.
Darroodi says the metaverse will never replicate the thrill of attending a live concert, but an immersive 360-degree environment can satisfy those who can’t attend the live event.
“It will democratize the experience for many people who otherwise geographically or economically cannot afford to experience this,” Darroodi said.
He expects live concert promoters to look to the digital realm to create top-notch experiences that will look nothing like pioneering efforts today.
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Live music generated the most revenue in 2019 before the pandemic: $28 billion compared to $20 billion for recorded music and $6 billion for music publishing, according to London consultancy Enders Analysis.
Ariana Grande held a metaverse concert on gaming platform Fortnite, a unit of Chinese company Tencent Holdings, in August 2021, with users attending via their custom avatars.
Other artists followed. Former Elon Musk partner Grimes and rapper Travis Scott performed concerts during Metaverse Fashion Week in March 2022.
Enders Analysis reported that 28 million people attended Scott’s Fortnite concert, compared to 700,000 who bought tickets for his live tour. However, his live tour brought in $54 million in ticket revenue compared to $20 million in merchandise sales from his Metaverse concert.
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Darroodi claims that Metaverse Gigs are monetizable through access fees, real-time merchandise advertisements, and the sale of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
“It’s exciting to be able to connect to e-commerce in real time with the concert experience,” he says.
Musicians are also adopting NFTs to increase their income. They sell token versions of their music, art, and/or bundles. Artists on OpenSea, the first and largest NFT marketplace, include Snoop Dogg, Shawn Mendes, 3LAU, Deadmau5, Grimes and Steve Aoki.
NFT music sales on Open Sea generated $86 million in 2021, according to Water & Music.
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Fender has entered the metaverse. In June, the company announced Fender Stratoverse, built inside Meta Platforms Horizon Worlds. The guitar-shaped island offers a one-of-a-kind co-playing audio experience for creating original musical riffs.
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Darroodi trademarked Fender for cryptography to protect the company’s headstock name and designs to protect its intellectual property and provide consumer convenience.
“I need to understand where the technology is taking the world, so I can protect the business from a legal standpoint,” he says.
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