TheWaveVR used this year’s Game Developers Conference to host a live demo of its music virtual reality experience, which allows a DJ to play live music in an evolving colorful virtual reality landscape. It’s like a rave inside your headset. The company is demonstrating its technology at VRLA this weekend.
Now backed by a seed round of $2.5 million from KPCB, Rothenberg, RRE, Presence Capital and Joe Kraus (Google Ventures), the VR music platform is expanding its team and adding hip hop and pop music to its initial EDM focus.
“After we began showing the first demo of the experience, we generated so much interest from not only members in the tech and VR community, but also musicians and the music industry at large,” Adam Arrigo, CEO of TheWaveVR, said. “Artists are always looking for new ways to reach their fans, and in electronic music especially, technology can be this empowering force from both a revenue and creative standpoint. So our goal as a company is to use these resources to best serve both artists and their fans.”
The platform creates a VR venue where artists can perform live music by importing their tracks, customizing the visuals and sharing virtual shows. Everyone at the company is a musician, which was also the case at Arrigo’s previous company, Harmonix, makers of music games like Rock Band, Dance Central and Disney’s Fantasia.
“We’re all inspired by how music has this incredible power of bringing people together—whether it’s for a concert, party or a video game,” Arrigo said. “My time working at Harmonix taught me the incredible social power music has, and how much room there is to innovate in the interactive music space.”
Co-worker Clarke Nordhauser (aka GRIMECRAFT) is a popular video game DJ who streams his shows on Twitch. He sets up his webcam feed alongside a music visualizer and has cultivated an impressive community of fans who tune in weekly, subscribe to his artist channel, and socialize with other fans. And he doesn’t have to leave his living room. He’s also found that a lot of the fans come to his shows -—and meet up with each other—in real life.
“We thought VR could take this experience to the next level in a ton of different ways,” Arrigo said. “Imagine being able to be co-present with those people in VR and attend multiple artists’ shows, flipping through them with the click of a button.”
TheWaveVR separates itself from the pack of early music VR experiences by creating an interactive platform set within a video game-style world, rather than employing 360-degree video. Arrigo said his platform adds a third dimension to how music experienced through interactivity. The first two dimensions are audio and video.
“We’re offering the ability to not only hear the music or watch a music video, but actually be inside the music and interact with it —and other people—in totally new ways,” Arrigo said. “For example, people love using glow sticks at shows. In TheWaveVR, you can paint your own light shows in 3D space, and collaborate with other attendees on creating custom visuals.”
Arrigo said the platform is being designed to generate revenue for music companies. Being able to host and attend shows from anywhere lowers the barrier of entry to engage with live music content.
“Think of all the fans who can’t see their favorite artists because of factors like physical location, age, cost or fear of large crowds,” Arrigo said. “There’s a huge amount of untapped revenue in serving these groups. Most importantly, we’re building the tools that let artists create this new type of content that is equal parts audio, visual and interactive.”
The platform will also open up opportunities for sponsorships and brands.
“We’ve discussed brand integrations and sponsorships as being a revenue opportunity for the future,” Arrigo said. “Right now we’re laser focused on creating the most engaging experience for music lovers.”
TheWaveVR is working directly with artists like Morgan Page, who has provided user feedback on what they need to perform their music in VR.
“We’ve found that being able to customize the visuals of the venue is equally as important as audio-related features, so we engaged David Wexler (Strangeloop), one of our advisors, to help us build out some of the visual features,” Arrigo. “We’re working with a select group of artists on developing the world’s first VR concert series, which we’ll be launching soon.”