Virtual Circle blog — Will virtual concerts ever replace physical concerts?
A Virtual Circle blog article
While virtual concerts may be an accessible way of allowing performers to reach millions of new listeners and generate new fans during the COVID19 pandemic, it is probably fair to say that nothing will replace the demand for physical concerts. But can they live in harmony with one another?
Digital concerts have become an inescapable part of our lives at this time, and leaps and bounds have been made with digital concert technology and the development of audience interactive features. Artists and producers have also faced these challenges head-on, and are creating content especially for virtual spaces, involving audiences in the best and most imaginative ways they can. But nothing can truly recreate being in the same room as an artist. Many pundits in the industry are predicting that virtual concerts and events will become much more prevalent, especially with the sophistication of the platforms now emerging.
For many musicians, pivoting their concerts to fit within an online format is a challenge. It’s also hard for fans accustomed to travelling to a physical venue, who might not enjoy an online streaming experience – for many, the numbers of fans attending a digital concert are much lower.
In-video game transactions, such as buying merchandise including t‑shirts and avatars, have long been a substantial revenue stream for video game platforms like Twitch and Fortnite. If digital merchandise is incorporated within concert platforms, this would certainly help artists keep the wolves from the door as well as creating memorable moments for fans. It’s a concept we have taken to heart at Virtual Circle. We have balanced the opportunities for artists to sell albums within the platform alongside avenues for fans to find out more about an artist — they’re given access to exciting content, special introductions, Q&As, and can show their support during a concert by sending a ‘clap’.
“The interactive medium, the virtual medium, is the future of music — hands down”
The future of virtual concerts
Technical issues such as latency will need to be addressed in order to make virtual concerts accessible to all. There are many beta-version platforms trying to solve this problem so that live music can be felt in “real time”, without the delay.
When agents and promoters continue to dismiss virtual concerts as lacking the energy of live performance, they’re missing the most important point: Generation Z music fans — the very audiences concert halls, orchestras and artists are trying to reach every day — have moved past the solely live entertainment model. They have grown up in the world of Google, smartphones and social media. For them, online interactions aren’t a problem and they’re entirely comfortable with virtual experiences. Video games have been an important platform for introducing people to music since the 1990s, but now gamers can interact with the music and not just listen to it.
The future of virtual concerts and events is very exciting and is already pushing the boundaries of technology to meet user and artist needs. We don’t think that physical concerts will disappear but it’s important to acknowledge that digital concerts are not just a COVID19 whim: their growth and development has only been accelerated due to these unprecedented times and we probably would have ended up here anyway!
The race is on to see which online platform developments will stand the test of time, but we are also very excited to take our seats at a physical concert in the very near future.