Beginning later this year, VR entertainment app company NextVR, concert company Live Nation and Citi will begin producing as many as 10 live virtual reality concerts, accessible on the Live Nation Channel on the NextVR app.
Artists have not been announced, though NextVR cofounder David Cole said that the live concerts will include coverage of both the stage performances, and backstage views of the artists before the shows.
“It’s a precedent-setter in terms of bring live shows to the VR audience,” Cole said of the "Backstage with Citi" initiative. “This for us is moving beyond the experimental, one-off phase.”
And the live VR concert series will also mark something new for NextVR: Currently available only on the Samsung Gear VR headset, the app will be available across every major VR platform by the end of the year, Cole said. “We’re developing across all of them, and launching accordingly,” he added. “By Christmas, when you unbox your VR device, you’re going to … have our app available.”
NextVR plans to eventually distribute the "Backstage with Citi" concert series outside of its own app, and if all goes well with the live VR work, the company will look to make live VR concerts a permanent, dedicated thing.
“Ultimately this will lead, in the next six to 12 months, to a regular programming schedule, so you know that if you tune in every Tuesday night, there’s going to be something to watch … something live or that was live and is now available on [VOD],” Cole said.
He added that the reason the company has been focused on Gear VR, and hasn’t launched on Google Cardboard, or the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, concurrent with those device launches, for various reasons. Google Cardboard can’t deliver the quality NextVR’s content partners call for, and until recently, the company has been in wait-and-see mode for the high-end PC VR headsets.
“We will be releasing for both of those platforms … the numbers don’t demand an immediate launch, but we absolutely will be launching on both,” Cole said. “The plan is to be ubiquitous in terms of the app offering.
Cole went on to add that by the end of the year, apps like NextVR and others that offer live VR presentations, and the further proliferation of VR headsets, will see the virtual reality market truly take off.
“It’s incredibly early days, with every parameter, the user base, device capability, the diversity of applications, the breadth and depth of the things you can do with VR, on all of those gradients, I’d say we’re literally at the beginning of the beginning,” he said. “Nobody in the space, even the largest companies involved, has their hands around the products that this will be used for. It’s the wild west, and there’s a lot of ground to be built on.”
The concert series announcement comes after Live Nation and NextVR inked a five-year deal in May to broadcast live VR performances around the world.