The birth of the Soundscape Universe wasn’t just intended to explore the exciting intersection of music and technology, but to evolve the industry by putting power directly into the hands of artists and fans. What started as an immersive music visualizer has continued to evolve into something much more. Here at Groove Science Studios, we’ve been combining art and music in imaginative VR spaces for nearly seven years now, leading the world in the exploration of this technology. Since our very first live event at Burning Man 2017, a gifted art installation showcasing the power of music, art, and love, we’ve continued to double down on our community-driven platform for good.
Today I’m announcing the start of a new ongoing partnership with Conscious Alliance, a Colorado charity fighting hunger that provides meals for underserved communities. Together we are a movement of artists, musicians, and music lovers on a mission to end hunger, gifting hyper-immersive audiovisual experiences to heal the world. Starting today, every time someone makes a purchase inside SVR supporting our art, they will also be fighting hunger at the same time, helping those who need it most. I’ve been so impressed by the incredible work of Conscious Alliance, and I can’t imagine a better partner to join forces alongside in an ongoing commitment. To celebrate the start of this great collaboration, I’m going to be kicking things off with a $10,000 donation.
For years we’ve been designing the platform with the goal of empowering artists, and the need for that has never been more apparent than during this difficult time. We are democratizing touring and live musical performance, allowing any musician to tour globally from home while putting more money in their pocket than traditional touring. We take no cut of revenue generated by any artist on our platform, resulting in lower fees for fans, and higher payments for artists. We’re going to be continuing to roll out new artist features over the summer and fall that expand our already industry-leading capabilities.
One of the fundamental differences between Soundscape and other tech platforms is our company values related to responsible technology user privacy. We don’t harvest and sell user data, we don’t bombard users with intrusive ads, we don’t limit free speech on our platform. We can do this since we are not beholden to ultra-rich corporate investors, choosing to remain an independent company that has the freedom to choose to do the right thing, rather than the thing that milks the most money.
As Founder & CEO, I’ve been personally responsible for the development of this platform since inception, and I’m proud to say I have never taken a single paycheck for my labor of love. I have no doubt others will arrive to the industry soon driven by the prospect of making billions, but the Soundscape Universe will always be first and foremost a platform for good. Our audience of over 50,000 users, some of the most passionate and dedicated fans of music, have already proven how much authenticity matters in VR. Thanks for making history together with us, and for helping to make the world a better place.
Have you ever been to a concert and found yourself with your eyes closed? Maybe it was to allow yourself to be pulled deeper into sound, maybe it was completely involuntary, or maybe just to forget for a moment about that 6’8″ person’s head (and shoulders) blocking your view.
When I set out to create Soundscape, I knew the visual intensity must be on a wide spectrum so that each person would be able to choose from a range of options to match their sound selection. On one end you would have complete immersion, an uninterrupted, unimpeded, and unfiltered visual extravaganza where no outside forces would exist to distract you from the performance at hand. On the other end, the player would have the ability to shut their eyes at any moment and freely escape, heightening senses like hearing even further. It may surprise you to hear Soundscape is intended to be played with your eyes closed or open, facilitating those wonderful moments of escape! And not only that, but also giving you the freedom to adjust your pose – sitting, standing, or even lying down flat on your back! Every piece of music warrants a different ocular approach, there is no right or wrong way to play. In Soundscape, the player has all the power.
By layering different levels of visual effects on top of one another where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole, we’ve managed to create a visual arts experience that is constantly changing and can feel fresh indefinitely. With over 10 million combinations of visual effects to date, you could stay inside Soundscape for a year straight and still not see everything that exists!!! It’s that replayability that keeps people coming back time and time again to discover new audiovisual magic.
One of the most attractive aspects of Soundscape VR is the unique advantages it offers compared to the current state of the live music experience. Live music has been a hallmark of our existence for as long as recorded history suggests, and while it has evolved over decades of participation, it is not infallible. In the last decade, the live entertainment arena has been the setting for some of the worst tragedies experienced by music loving fans: The Sugarland Stage Collapse in 2011 (7 killed, 58 injured), the Paris Eagles of Death Metal Concert (150 killed), Ariana Grande’s Manchester Arena bombing (22 killed, 59 injured), and more recently, The Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas where more than 50 were killed and more than 500 people injured. And in the past month alone, we’ve seen some of the biggest music festivals in the world entirely shut down (SXSW, Ultra, Tomorrowland) or forced to postpone (Coachella) due to the impact of the COVID-19 virus.
Part of being a festival operator or concert promoter is knowing the risks involved, and thankfully, that’s why insurance exists. However, the staggering insurance premiums required to faithfully protect not just the promoter, but the fans, the artists, the vendors – are all typically passed along to the consumer in the price of the ticket or additional fees. And that’s assuming the promoter did in fact secure insurance in the first place! Virtual reality offers the unique opportunity to entirely mitigate issues like these when it comes to the live performance industry. And because it’s virtual, other factors like traffic, noise pollution, trash, and violence, immediately cease to be a cause of concern.
While SXSW is shut down and Coachella is postponed, fans must deal with the heartbreak of missing their most anticipated performances by their favorite artists. But the show goes on for VR users who are able to freely tap into a 24-7-365 music festival that never ends. When you just don’t have the budget for the ticket and the VIP camping, and the supplies, VR users can put on their headset and be teleported thousands of miles instantly to connect with friends. When flights are cancelled or travel is impossible, an artist can slip into VR and project their avatar across the globe, delivering a performance from anywhere on Earth. And why should having a family limit your ability to catch those favorite artists live? You don’t have to anymore. VR changes the paradigm when it comes to what is possible with experience and live music.
For music fans, VR offers wins across the board in convenience, immersion, price, flexibility, and audiovisual quality. And those advantages are only improving more rapidly as further technological development is incorporated into each new hardware iteration. With every feature added, VR’s list of advantages for fans and artists alike, grows even further. It won’t be long before serious music enthusiasts can no longer ignore the innovation that is happening with music and virtual reality. It’s hard to believe that it wasn’t too long ago where if you might have been called crazy for believing that movie lovers would regularly choose their living room over the theatre, yet that is the world we live in today. Cheaper technology afforded a clear path to replicating the experience at home, movies are now widely available at the touch of a button, and price gouging for cheap popcorn and name-brand soda are a thing of the past. The transformation took less than a decade. What Netflix is to the movie industry is what Soundscape VR will be to the music industry. Staying at home no longer has to be an isolating experience.
Each month, we feature new perspectives from our Developer Team at Soundscape VR. This month, CEO and Lead Developer, Eric Alexander discusses his ideas about the hot topic of isolation in gaming:
The relationship between technology and community has always been complicated and it’s no different with Virtual Reality (VR). Virtual reality creates a universe outside or in addition to the one we live in every day and, like any universe, can be adapted to serve the user best in that particular moment. VR certainly has the power to isolate and also build community like no other technology.
Its isolation potential already quite strong, and will only continue to increase with further hardware improvements as the technology matures. But is VR’s isolation potential a bad thing?
Isolation can be an amazing thing in small doses. To be able to disconnect from society at times is a necessity. With VR a user has the potential to be isolated in the greatest way possible, fully losing themselves in an experience. I originally set out to create Soundscape VR not for just its social capabilities but because I wanted to explore the power of music and isolation. VR can be a gateway to a zen universe with no distractions of the real world (including the otherwise ever-present cell phone), a place you can escape to and not be bothered with reality for ten minutes or for hours.
Most thing in life are better when shared with those closest to you so it was important to me to ensure Soundscape VR could be enjoyed in groups when users don’t want to be isolated. The connection potential that VR allows can be equal to or greater to that of phone calls, text messaging, or email. VR social worlds bring friends from across the globe together virtually into a shared space where they can escape together, unlike any other technology. VR can also help users forge new friendships with other users who have similar interests but would never encounter each other save for in VR. Nonverbal communication alone with a friend’s IK avatar is an incredible feeling that will blow your mind. It will not be too long until enjoying the company of friends in VR is a regular activity for many that bring them even closer to the people they care most about.
Isolation and shared experience available within technology, and VR specifically, are the yin and yang. People must have the freedom to have either kind of experience, and each person will have to be mindful of the balance that works best for them depending on a variety of factors. They must also have the discipline to use VR responsibly as we approach simulation superiority — the moment in time when the virtual world will begin to exceed the real one.