A music industry lawyer says that once the metaverse takes full advantage of 5G technology, today’s music industry will look as old as a cassette tape.
Aarash Darroodi, executive vice president and general counsel of Fender Musical Instruments, says it’s too early to say what the future of music will be in the metaverse due to current hardware limitations. However, he expects sweeping changes once cheaper, faster and smaller devices allow developers to take full advantage of 5G speeds. T-Mobile compared 5G wireless technology to riding a rocket to a 4G scooter or a 3G bicycle.
“Even though carriers are delivering 5G, the real potential is yet to be unlocked, definitely superfast speeds,” he says.
Darroodi notes that the software is lagging behind, but will likely catch up quickly. The problem is the hardware. No one has yet created a comfortable and effective virtual or augmented reality device that allows for a fully immersive digital experience.
“Not there yet,” he said.
Darroodi believes that the ultimate virtual reality device will be some kind of glasses. He says that a collaboration with a major fashion brand can help with adoption.
“If you can make it a fashion statement, it’s more readily adopted by the masses as opposed to just techies,” he said.
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Darroodi describes the metaverse as a fully immersive 3D experience compared to today’s 2D flat screen internet. It will change how music is created, shared and consumed. However, music will remain a shared experience.
“This is the next evolution that finally unites humanity,” Darroodi said.
He explains that people have always come together to share experiences. Many homes still have fireplaces, even if they are not needed for heating, because the hearth is a traditional gathering place.
Metaverse will enhance these experiences. For example, Live Nation’s Ticketmaster division recently canceled ticket sales for Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour” after a system crash left many Swifties empty-handed after waiting in line for hours.
Darroodi says the metaverse will never replicate the thrill of attending a live concert, but a 360-degree immersive environment could satisfy those who can’t attend a live event.
“It will democratize the experience for a lot of people who are geographically or economically unable to experience it,” says Darroodi.
He expects live concert promoters to move into the digital realm to create high-end experiences unlike today’s cutting-edge efforts.
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According to London-based consulting firm Enders Analysis, live music generated the most revenue in 2019 before the pandemic: $28 billion, followed by $20 billion for recorded music and $6 billion for music publishing.
In August 2021, Ariana Grande held a metaverse concert on the Fortnite gaming platform, a division of China’s Tencent Holdings, in which users participated through their personalized avatars.
Other artists followed him. Elon Musk’s ex-partner Grimes and rapper Travis Scott performed concerts as part of Metaverse Fashion Week in March 2022.
Enders Analysis reported that 28 million people attended his Fortnite concert, compared to 700,000 people who bought tickets for Scott’s live tour. However, his live tour brought in $54 million in ticket revenue from $20 million in merchandise sales from his metaverse concert.
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Darroodi says that metaverse concerts can be monetized through entry fees, real-time merchandise ads and the sale of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
“It’s exciting where you can connect real-time e-commerce with the concert experience,” he said.
Musicians also accept NFTs to increase revenue. They sell tokenized versions of their music, art and/or packages. Artists on OpenSea, the first and largest NFT marketplace, include Snoop Dogg, Shawn Mendes, 3LAU, Deadmau5, Grimes and Steve Aoki.
According to Water & Music, NFT music sales on the High Seas generated $86 million in 2021.
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Fender has entered the metaverse. In June, the company announced the Fender Stratoverse, built within Meta Platforms Horizon Worlds. The guitar-shaped island offers a first-of-its-kind collaborative audio experience for creating original musical riffs.
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Darroodi has filed a Fender trademark for crypto to protect the company’s name and headstock design to protect its intellectual property and provide consumer convenience.
“I need to understand where technology is taking the world, so I can protect the company from a legal perspective,” he says.