The music industry is embracing augmented reality that invites consumers to experience music not just through sound, but sight as well. AR experiences create opportunities for brands and artists to engage their fans in new and authentic ways.

According to IFPI’s annual state of the industry report, innovation is the key to broadening appeal in the music industry.

“There is also a concerted willingness on the part of the labels to engage with digital innovation of all stripes,” the reports says, “to make sure music is not only a part of cutting-edge new services—but a legitimate, licensed and monetized part.”

“We’re seeing a big new wave of start-ups coming to us wanting to talk about how music, or music video, can be a part of their offerings, apps, social messaging, virtual reality [and] augmented reality products,” Ole Obermann, chief digital officer and EVP of business development for Warner Music commented in the report.

AR utilizes the smartphones consumers already own and its novelty can be utilized in a number of ways.

Album Art Comes To Life

Sony Music Entertainment and Michael Jackson’s estate have partnered with Shazam to create an AR experience for Scream13 of Jackson’s greatest hits and a mash-up by The White Panda. This partnership marks the first global AR promotion of its kind for Shazam or for a Michael Jackson album.

Each Scream CD and glow-in-the-dark 2LP vinyl packaging contains an exclusive poster that will unlock an animated clip through the Shazam app. Billboards promoting the new album will also include billboards and posters, each with the Shazam logo that launches a second AR experience.

Guerrilla Marketing

Earlier this year, singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran returned to social media after a one-year hiatus with a teaser for his new song hidden in a Snapchat Lens. The lens overlayed sunglasses onto a user’s face, along with animated lines and a clip from the song Thinking Out Loud.

Rather than outright market his new song, Sheeran launched the Snapchat Lens without any branding and allowed fans to discover it for themselves. Once found, the news quickly spread. When Sheeran’s album, “÷” (read as Divide), dropped in March, the artist became the first to have two songs debut in the US top 10 in the same week.

AR Exposure

Now emerging artists can book a virtual concert anywhere in the world. In Dublin, a startup is bringing AR concerts to the consumer through a new app called Firststage. Artists sign up for free and are curated by professionals. If selected, the musicians are filmed performing against a green screen and added to the Firststage app. Specially marked cards can be printed and placed anywhere, allowing users to watch performances anywhere from a table to on top of a sleeping cat.

Users who like a performance can request more songs, donate to the artist and purchase the song, all through the app.

“We were both musicians ourselves and learned that one of the only ways to make money anymore was by playing live gigs,” Neil Harrison, co-founder of Firstage told Irish Times. “However, myself and my partner, Keith Lawler, had some advertising experience too and saw an opportunity—what if artists could be playing different gigs simultaneously anywhere in the world? AR provided the necessary tech to make this possible.”