The future of live music SXSW 2022

Exclusive: The Future of Live Music at SXSW 2022 with AEG, Warner, Wave XR and Microsoft

While some pro audio brands have a presence at SXSW 2022, typically it’s dominated by conversations around spatial audio and speakers such as Dolby when it comes to audio technology. Shout out to distributor Adam Hall and livestream app BlueJeans (now owned by Verizon) for making the effort to attend the show this year.

The Future of Live session marks something new as, post pandemic, there’s much talk about virtual events and hybrid events and how they relate to live. And it’s worth noting that this is the first music keynote session at SXSW without an artist which reached capacity and required an encore session on the same day.

Here’s the highlights of what the keynote speakers had to say when speaking about virtual events, augmented reality at live shows and the current appeal of live shows…


slugga tv

Leila Amirsadeghi: Microsoft, Head of Experiences and Events 

“We’ve been doing a lot of experiments around live technology. We’ve just done a project with Naughty by Nature called Slugga TV”

”I don’t think we’ll ever replace live events – but feeling seen by an artist is new, the ability to have a shout out in the virtual space”

“Carbon footprint is a benefit – you can add more (virtual) shows without impacting the environment”

“Having the opportunity to do more events, even press junkets are good and there’s the ability to create more revenue. You can see some incredible numbers. The virtual space or Metaverse is not a new concept – it’s the next level of the internet”

“The phone can be your companion rather than taking you away from the experience in AT experiences. And it’s not for everyone, I can’t imagine my mother wanting to see dragons flying around the live space”.

“I look forward to the day where the screen or the device is invisible”

“I have not yet had my mind blown by a virtual experience”


Marisol Segal: AEG, Head of Digital Partnerships

“I think you’ll see more virtual connections with live festivals when you go to them”

“Accessibility is important for people who can’t get to a show or can’t afford one, these (virtual) events unlock the opportunity to see shows”

“A virtual live show shouldn’t just be a replication (of live) in a virtual environment – it allows us to reach more people, even younger people that can’t go to a show yet. That’s the thing that I’m most excited about. One of the challenges for the event virtual space is the time and team needed”

“Real world practical solutions are really useful – AR maps on site at a festival is useful and it’s going to unlock incredible things I think. AR is not just about fun for me, the utility aspect is useful. With 5g and what’s coming out now, I think we’ll see lots of development”

“I think NFTs are an incentive to turn up early – turn up first and you get ‘this’ etc. It’s progressing at light speed, this is not just a normal development”


Jillian Rothman: Senior Director, New Business and Ventures: Warner

“My aim is to support anything an artists wants to do. Is live coming back or going to change? I think both. Sweating and drinking will be still be here but there will be new ways to incorporate new technology in live. Whether it’s the way it’s shared, whether it’s AR glasses while we’re are actually there etc. I don’t think the reasons why we go to live events will change. The last couple of years have shown us with necessity comes creativity”.

“The one thing that virtual brings is a new way to tell stories. One of the cool things about the 21 Pilots show we did with Roblox, they had incredible lore – the entire thing was bringing to life this story and it kicked off their world tour. It brought it all together, and that’s one of the big things that virtual does”

“Virtual is like a silent disco, digitally enhanced. I think there will be events like when you’re the first group of people in, you’ll get something or the event happens when a certain amount of people arrive. I think that kind of stuff will come”

“It doesn’t need to be everyone – you want to superfans to do the extra fun stuff. Let’s let everyone in with the paper ticket but the superfans can take the next step”

“The licensing process is a problem for virtual events, it’s very fragmented”


Aaron Lemke: Wave XR

”I wanted to be a drummer and I grew up here in Texas. Lots of room for improvement in the music industry and that’s why I set up Wave XR”

“Teflon Sega only performs as an avatar – this is just the beginning of this kind of thing as in using avatar characters to express new things”

“I think about all the kids that saw their first concert in Fortnite”

“Working with Justin Bieber – his fans are crazy – we couldn’t reveal the location as fans would have stormed the gates. It’s hard to find the accessibility with those fans, the connection the fans crave. Virtual is offering a layer of almost protection for these bigger artists”

“If AR can solve finding your friends at a music festival, I’m in”

“How do we turn fans into creators? Anyone is able to throw a concert from their bedroom. All these game engines are free, they could be concert creators but making virtual concerts is complicated and hard so I’d like to see more tools out there”