Long dead singers playing ‘live’ in concert: The future of the music you love.
WOULD YOU GO to see your favorite band perform live? Most people would jump at the
chance. But what if they were dead? Creepy as it sounds, it appears that for many
people, the answer is still yes. Whether it’s virtual reality shows or streaming
algorithms, music tech is moving fast. If you caught Roy Orbison’s recent Dublin concert,
you know how realistic a hologram performance can be. The long-dead Orbison went
on a European tour, “performing” his greatest hits to a packed 3 Arena with a live orchestra
playing alongside him.
Hologram tours have so far received mixed reviews – one reviewer described Orbison’s
show as “a live hologram performance that’s as dead as can be” – but many have heralded
them as an exciting step forward that will form a huge part of the future of live music.
The very much alive ABBA have also recently announced that they will go on a holographic
tour next year, and if Ed Sheeran has weekend plans, there’s no reason a hologram
couldn’t perform in a thousand sold-out locations across Ireland in his place. But even
if hologram gigs don’t kick off, virtual experiences such as augmented and virtual reality,
whether live on stage or through music videos, will likely have a role to play in the
future of music.
“Mixed Reality experiences using tech like binaural sound and smart glasses will most
likely outlive the more gimmicky and obstructive staring through a phone screen to
provide intense supporting visuals that are part of the performance,” says Kenn Davis,
CEO of beatvyne.
“It has the potential to play a huge part as the audience will be used to these types of technology from home entertainment within the next few years. Especially bigger artists, such as U2, are already exploring
Augmented Reality in their live concerts or bring fans closer to their music through Virtual Reality experiences
think the stunning close up performance of Bjork’s Not Get or the potential of music videos such as the fully immersive Saturnz Barz of Gorillaz that could be adapted for live performance.”
However, he adds that tech in live performance “will have to be as seamless, invisible and experiential
as possible, as, after all, it is still the direct artist – fan connection that counts.”
The real difficulty with tech and music currently is how to maintain or replicate that connection between the artist and the crowd. No matter how realistic an ABBA hologram might be, it’s not going to interact with the
fans – at least, not for a while.
A similar problem is becoming evident with how we access music to begin with, which is also on the cusp of big changes. Although streaming platforms pose a challenge in terms of revenue generation for musicians – one
which may be fixed by platforms like Kobalt, for example, which provides artists with 100% of the rights to their own music while also allowing transparency in royalty collection – they are also adaptable, accessible,
and as AI and algorithms improve, hard to resist.
Spotify has made significant investment in its algorithms which have helped it to beat off competitors, and these are only set to become more specific to our musical wants and needs. Google’s YouTubeMusic has begun a staggered launch this week as a rival to Spotify, and is taking on a similar streaming approach based on AI rather than its previous focus on music videos.
It also claims to aid in the discovery of new music – but we have yet to see the extent to which it will accurately find and predict our taste. “AI-controlled music suggestions and the increasing usage of voice control might lead to difficulties in music discovery,” says Isabel Thomas, CMO and COO of beatvyne. ”The visual interface is missing and people will need to know how to look for new bands if they don’t trust into potential monotonous and data-driven AI.” But as playlists become more accurately tailored to our tastes, we might also see music become tailored to these algorithms. We have already seen plenty of AI-generated songs and even artists, such as Japan’s Hatsune Miku but there’s potential for this to go further, and for producers to target algorithms directly rather than audiences. AOptimiseLab is a Canadian startup whose first product, Timbre, is aimed directly at music producers and claims
to accurately predict music popularity scores.