As part of the Kingston University Bright Ideas competition, I entered a business idea with my classmate and associate, Fernando Trueba. Over the Trigger weekend and the weeks leading up to the final, we discussed a concept that had been in my peripherals for a while – Virtual Reality Live Studio Sessions.
Running a start-up music Studio, what really interests me are the opportunities that new forms of technology present us with, and I enjoy hunting for ways in which we can leverage these to differentiate ourselves from the competition. For better or worse, digital advancements have changed the way the music industry functions on an elementary level. The digitization of media, file sharing and the recent social media revolution, have all forced a kind of democratization upon the music industry. Where extensive networks of industry incumbents, vast quantities of high-end technical gear, and years of experience and knowledge were once necessary to bring an artist’s work to market, these days a single individual with laptop can self-record, self-publish, and self-promote all from their bedroom (and often even without using an instrument!). Now this doesn’t completely invalidate the resources of the big industry players, but it certainly empowers the smaller producer and has led to an increase in the proliferation of new bands who are now able to create their own platforms to launch careers from. Fairlight Studios, as one of the new-age recording studio start-ups, is in a great position to take advantage of these developments given our relatively flexible nature as a company at the current stage. We are not alone in paddling out to surf this wave of democratised music however, and we are always on the lookout for ways to add differentiating value to our services.
Interestingly, in the last 5 years, live music events in the UK have exploded in popularity. It is my theory that this is largely to do with the sense of community that springs up around festivals and concerts via social media, combined with music consumers seeking out a real, tangible experience to associate with their favourite bands now that buying a track is essentially an unsatisfying and instantaneous digital transaction. People go to live music events for the same kind of exclusivity and demonstration of devotion that queuing for the first release of a new record gave them. Fans need to prove to themselves and to others that they are truly part of ‘the club’. These live pilgrimages are all too often expensive, hard to get to, and force attendees to endure conditions that are acceptable only to the more open minded and mud-loving of individuals however, and that’s where our idea for FairlightLive comes into its own. Similarly to the music industry, digitalisation has changed the landscape of film production. Cameras are now more portable and affordable than ever, and with full frame DSLRs that can shoot 4K video and GoPros that are smaller and lighter than our phones, independent filmmakers are using new filming techniques to push the craft to great new heights – often literally using controversial new drones. But all this stuff is essentially already out there in the mainstream, and while it’s all awesome, we need to find another way of differentiating ourselves. To this end, Fernando and I are looking to borrow a bit of tech from the electronic games industry. That’s right, we’re finally getting there. Virtual Reality.
Our Fairlight Live idea is to use the VR technology being pioneered by games developers, and to adapt it for use in our live studio sessions. We want to film bands from all angles, sew the images generated together into a 3D recreation of the real life scenario, and then stream this content to audiences all over the world. If we are successful, we will be able to bring the intimacy of a live gig to the comfort of your living room, completely privately (until we can find a way of working HoloLens technology into the mix!), and with the facility for two way communication between audience and artist. It is our hope that fans’ greater connection with their favorite bands in this way will increase artists’ popularity as well as allowing for potentially unlimited ticket capacity to a virtual live event. We would be capitalizing on the rising trend towards live music experiences while appealing to a demographic of first users who are already becoming increasingly familiar with VR tech as the core market of the games industry. Our idea is without a doubt in its early stages, but it’s certainly exciting to get to grips with the kinds of opportunities on offer in an industry that is only just beginning to find its feet again after the music-streaming revolution of the early 2000s.
Watch this space and hold onto your virtual hats! With a bit of luck Fairlight Studios will be bringing you VR live music in the not too distant future!