One of the organizers said the July virtual reality music festival, Splendor XR, was not a one-off pandemic – it could be a model for a permanent addition to future Australian music festivals.
“Look at this space,” said Jessica Ducrou, co-CEO of Secret Sounds, the company behind major Australian music festivals, including Splendor in the Grass and Falls.
“I’m still overcoming it to be honest, putting the pieces back together, though [I’m] just trying to think about how you can take this and make it a great addition to what we’re doing in real life, as long as we’re allowed to run [again]”.
Ducrou was speaking at Indi-Con Australia, an online conference for the independent music industry, which lasted three days last week.
Splendor XR created a virtual North Byron Parklands, crafted by American developers, where users could dive into expensive virtual reality equipment or look through the “window” of a web browser. Visitors could switch between differentiated spaces, observe each other’s strange avatars and see a series of pre-recorded performances by artists such as Tash Sultana, Charli XCX, King Gizzard and Chvrches.
Ducrou said she was inspired by a visit to a gaming music convention where a fan had made a version of Splendor in Minecraft and “we all looked at it and said ‘oh, we just want to be there.'” But as the technical hurdles became clearer, he realized the magnitude of the challenge.
“I really believe that this is a new area where artists work,” he said. “We are very much in the early stages of understanding the best work of music … sport has broadcasting rights [and] the music has not necessarily nailed its broadcast part. You see it as an outreach option for your event to a global community. It will never replace “live,” but I think it’s a new area and a new way to win, and it’s just the early days. “
Less than a quarter of viewers accessed the full RV experience – the market is still small and the equipment expensive, despite large investments from companies like Facebook.