Is VR the future of live music?

As the live music industry undergoes a multitude of crises, interest in VR experiences has swelled. With streaming and virtual reality technology now allowing for greater interaction and immersion than previously thought possible, are we right to consider a world where the everyday attendance of VR gigs becomes the norm?



Does a future where you can experience the latest gigs of your favourite artists, stress-free from the comfort of your own sofa sound massively appealing, or does the idea of your headset-clamped eyes and ears, gazing at, in essence, a pre-recorded video (or quirky animated avatar) instead of sweatily bouncing along with several hundred other live music lovers, just sound like the most depressing image you could envision?

Your response will depend on what kind of music fan you are, and whether you’re capable of substituting the giddy thrill of a live show for a technological suspension of disbelief. Much of the discourse around VR live music often finds seasoned gig-goers criticise these artificial experiences in direct contrast to a real-life experience. “It was a good novelty experience, but that lasts for all of 5 minutes.” Wrote an underwhelmed, in a review of a virtual Post Malone show in the midst of last year’s lockdown, “After that you’re left facing up to the fact that you’re bopping around in circles in the middle of your bedroom at three in the afternoon looking like an absolute lemon.”

But perhaps those that disavow VR’s take on live music because of what it can’t do at this stage are missing the point somewhat. While VR gigs certainly have a long way to go before they’ll be able to replicate all those spontaneous magical moments that naturally arise at gigs, what they can provide, particularly in the social domain, can often exceed what’s possible in the real world.


We can all remember attending those nightmare gigs that weren’t bad because the performance was sub-par, but because of some additional factor. A ridiculously tall audience member, say. Or, a painful queue for the toilets or vicious circle pit tornado-ing the beer right out of your hand. While for some this is part of the fun, it’s true that for others, the unpredictability of actually being in a room full of other human beings can result in an infuriation that the VR dynamic totally removes. Though a shared, communal experience is still had via the use of animated avatars.

VR live music shows are typically captured by using multiple 360 degree cameras, placed at strategic vantage points. Throughout the performance, headset wearing attendees can instantly jump between any one of these cameras, to get a better view on proceedings. Again, this is quite the leap from arriving at a show late, and settling for standing several hundred rows back from punters who’ve paid exactly the same price for their tickets as you have. In the VR sphere, the experience’s intensity is a scaleable as you see fit.

Granting gig attendees the power to not only tailor their experiences, but to share in major global events they’d otherwise be unable to attend, is a major benefit to VR-world. One of the companies currently at the vanguard of VR from a music standpoint is MelodyVR. Founded in 2018, MelodyVR’s headset, iOS and Android app grants users the ability to choose from a global selection of shows. Driven by a core ethos of not seeking to replace the live experience, but instead allowing users to get ‘closer’ to the music they love, MelodyVR has already created interactive shows in collaboration with a vast array of artists, and their technology has been widely praised. Writing in City AM, Katherine Denham detailed the world she was presented with during her first MelodyVR show, “You can pause the show, select a different track, and choose where you’re positioned around the stage. One fun quirk about this technology is that you can even choose to be on the stage with the band, and I chuckle as I spin in my (real) seat and see the staff working backstage at the (virtual) gig. Rather than a window like a traditional broadcast, the cameras capture a sphere all around you, which means that you get a better feeling of being present.”

MelodyVR - A way of experiencing VR Live music
Inside MelodyVR (screengrab from

In other words, the MelodyVR experience isn’t really analogous to watching a live show on television, it’s more akin to the explorable world of a video game, as you’re provided with the freedom of observing across the complete 360 degree radius.


The MelodyVR-type VR live music experience isn’t the only way to attend a gig from the comfort of your own home. Stageverse constructs a socially-oriented world of connected 3D venues, and encourages users to wander around its cavernous halls in avatar form, interacting via a mic with other fans from around the globe. The so called ‘Stageverse Stadium’ plays host to a multitude of shows. The current flagship, being Muse’s Enter The Simulation live experience, which Stageverse exclusively showcases. “We are attracting forward-thinking partners such as Muse, Balmain, and Shantell Martin, who are looking to provide an elevated metaverse experience to their communities.” Stageverse CEO Tim Ricker explained to NME, Ricker also envisions a deeper sense of digital identity by offering the chance to invest in their virtual persona and artist-branded content, “By rolling out our NFT economy and marketplace next, we will unlock community capitalism to the fullest extent. When a customer becomes a participant through ownership of their digital identity and goods, they are motivated to invest and create value for themselves and in turn the entire community.”

Stageverse - a social VR Live Music experience
Inside Stageverse (image taken from

Some initial reviews of Enter The Simulation highlighted some of the limitations evident when witnessing what is, essentially, a 360 video within a massive virtual globe. bemoaned the clunky implementation of sub-par 3D assets, which were intended to enhance the action, as well as the odd-looking appearance of other viewers’ avatars. These aspects undermined the feeling of actually being there, thought the writer conceded that the overall experience was still somewhat exhilarating.



Inside VRrOOm’s virtual Notre Dame with Jean Michel Jarre (image from

You may have the impression that holding a show in VR is somehow considered an easier alternative than staging a real-world performance. The truth is that constructing a truly believable VR live music environment relies on the hard work and creativity of a team of passionate experts. Maud Clavier, the project manager of VRrOOm (pronounced ‘vroom’)’s dazzling Jean Michel Jarre virtual concert at the culmination of 2020, detailed the painstaking work that went into both creating and live-staging the event in the hour before the dawn of 2021, as well as directing a for-TV edited version from within a VR environment. “I explored every corner of the Cathedral, I thought about the shots we could make, both shots with our integrated cameras in the VRChat world (thanks to the Vstudio plugin), with cameras that rotate around the stage, and handheld camera shots (thanks to the VRClens plugin) to make close-ups.” Her article noting every facet of the show’s production is well worth a read if you want to glean greater insight into the technicalities of manufacturing immersive VR experiences.


While the VR live music experience is certainly still far from perfect, it’s certainly well worth your time investigating and exploring. Like it or loathe it, VR is here to stay. Or, in the words of Forbes Magazine, “I don’t believe that anyone is going to put this toothpaste back in the tube.” Forbes go on to raise an important issue – that being the unclear financial mechanics of VR (and in-game) gigs, “The real issue is going to be how the millions (if not trillions) of dollars generated from these activities will be apportioned amongst the various stakeholders (e.g., content creators and owners, distributors, marketers, event producers and promoters, venue owners and operators, ticketing companies, and the streaming platforms themselves). We’ll know soon enough.”

For now, we’d suggest that you don’t go in expecting a like-for-like usurping of the live experience. Instead, enjoy what these complementary virtual experiences *can* offer. Namely, an entirely fresh way to experience the music that you love. Not to mention, the chance to meet similarly like-minded music lovers – albeit in polygonal form!