✖️ A sense of belonging in virtual events: project density
And: TikTok is the new SoundCloud; Why is Spotify's stock down?; Is Web3 really Web3?; DAOs to redefine artist-fan relationship; Gaming & Gamification
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If you’ve attended a virtual concert or an in-game concert one thing you may have noticed is how few other people, or avatars, were there with you. Think of Marshmello, Travis Scott, or Ariana Grande in Fortnite. Millions of people checked into the game at the same time on each occasion, and yet the actual experience shows roughly 50 to 100 other players with you enjoying the experience.
So while total server capacity is an issue in terms of the total number of people who can join in a virtual event, the communal experience is hampered by how many people can attend within a single server at the same time. And to create that true sense of belonging that a massive audience brings with it you need numbers.
In February last year I wrote about the potential of MILEs (Massive Interactive Live Events) for music. I took the example of Dream, an interactive play performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company which worked with both interactive audio and interactive visual elements. At the end of that piece, I concluded that a lot of the potential for MILEs would be constructed into the narratives built around and for them:
“we will need to come up with a narrative that will allow large groups of viewers to actively engage with the music and with each other while they collectively adapt that music as the story unfolds.”
Now, almost a year on, let’s see whether that narrative is shifting to incorporate genuine massive interactive experiences instead of events that include a lot of people in separate servers.
Let’s start by having a look at what prompted me to think about the potential of MILEs again. The gaming company Improbable has worked with the KPop star AleXa to host a global fan party. The company tried to tackle the issue of density, which is about getting as many participants as possible into the same digital space. This is hard, because it requires tremendous amounts of data to be sent back and forth at the same time between various pieces of hardware. The solution for Improbable was to assume a ridiculously high number of operations per second – where an operation indicated whenever something changes in a world, e.g. when you move your avatar or when a door opens, etc. – and work backwards from there. To make this high-level density in a digital space workable they then designed their own software to deal with that high number of operations.
As you can see in the video, the AleXa event just feels different than other examples of virtual concerts. The main reason for that is, even though it’s not even the first-person view, that there’s so many avatars around. If the video would have been in the first-person the level of interaction between the various players would have been even clearer. Increasing the number of people you can interact with within the digital world where a concert, or other event, takes place is one of the key elements in bringing MILEs to the masses.
Going back to Fortnite, the level of growth in terms of player interaction is significant when we look at the development of experiences from Marshmello through Travis Scott to Ariana Grande. In the latter case, the intricacy of gameplay was evident both on a musical and on an experiential level. Of course, the music still wasn’t performed live, but that might not even be relevant for players of Fortnite. It could, however, be that being able to actually perform live will help MILEs develop their unique feeling. At some point, these examples – such as Dream or the AleXa fan party – have to stop being examples and start to become the norm. To make that happen, however, the fan who experiences the event will have to see the value in interacting with artists in this way. An inverse question here is who will be responsible for getting these fans to interact in massive interactive and immersive live events. Is this another skill for the music creator to learn? Or will this be the prerogative of start-ups and big-tech companies alike?
No matter who gets to lead these developments, the first growth will definitely come from gaming companies like Improbable and Epic. And as those companies look to develop solutions for their in-game players music will remain a fantastic use-case to prove new technologies work. As the developments continue, let’s pay close attention to how they present new opportunities for artists and fans to connect with each other in our ever-expanding digital worlds.
🔥 2022 State of Music: TikTok Is the New SoundCloud (Urska Jaksa)
“The lion’s share of engagement and fanbase growth belongs to just 1% of all analysed artists. The long tail of streaming and social media therefore challenges emerging artists to build solid promotional strategies for breaking through and reaching audiences.”
There’s a lot more about the trends in the full report published by Viberate, and which you can download here.
🎤 DAOs Primed to Play Key Role in Artist-Fan Relationship: ‘It’s Not About Remaking the Old Industry; It’s a Whole New Thing’ (Jeremy Gilbertson)
“Think of DAOs like artist fan clubs with omnidirectional capability, meaning that the interaction is not just a broadcast from artist to fan. It is a deeper experience with all members providing value and participating in the results. Imagine one fan is a marketer, another a graphic designer and a third is an attorney all participating in a DAO created by their favorite artist. Through a thoughtful and equitable governance system, these contributors could be rewarded for applying their skills to the DAO, all while helping their favorite artist.”
🤺 TikTok is working on avatars, live audio streams, new creator tools and more (Amanda Silberling)
“The other leaked ideas, like avatars and audio-only livestreams, point toward other potential avenues for TikTok’s expansion. If they can do livestream video, why not try to capitalize (pretty late) on interest in live audio? Also, it’s about time we can group message on TikTok.”
📉 Spotify Stock (SPOT) Has Lost Nearly 25% of Its Value In 2022 and 45% Over the Past Year — What’s Going On? (Dylan Smith)
“Bringing the focus back to recent developments concerning Spotify specifically, a number of issues are emerging. After years of surging subscriber growth, the numbers are plateauing in wealthier nations like the US. Diversifications into arenas like podcasting also remain speculative.”
🕸️ Is "Web 3" Really "Web 3"? (CRITIQ)
“I’ve been asking myself: what does it mean for a platform to be web3 and “fully decentralized”? Here are just a few things that I’ve identified as important to me. My list may change and you may have your own list.
Data portability and platform independence.
Profit share skewed towards creators.
Now that I had a rough draft of the list, I wanted to start testing it against existing companies in the ecosystem … The first platform that stuck out was naturally Audius, a streaming service whose tagline on Twitter reads as follows: “Audius is a fully decentralized music platform. Own the masters & the platform”. This seemed like as good a place as any to start.”
I’ll end today with two related articles about gaming and gamification. Both are terms that carry a lot of nuance, but which are both often thrown around in discussions around music and tech. The spectrum is broad, ranging basically from utopia to dystopia. It’s important to understand the nuances and reading through the following two articles can help uncover some of these.
🎮 Will our future lives be like a video game? (Kit Wilson)
“Imagine being rewarded for picking up litter with, say, one crypto-token for each item binned — crypto-tokens with which you could then purchase Nike shoes for your metaverse avatar: a true sign of status. Imagine every time you went jogging you could 'collect' levitating gold rings, Sonic the Hedgehog, snaked along the pavement in front of you thanks to your augmented reality goggles — and could see, in real-time, a league table of how many your friends had gathered that week. Imagine being able to monetise everything you produced by minting it as an NFT, thereby being able to trade your funniest tweets, your cutest dog videos, or your hottest memes, for cryptocurrency.”
🎰 How 'Gamification' of Everything Is Manipulating You (and How to Recognize It) (Stephen Johnson)
“As much as we like to compete with others, we also crave a sense of community, a drive that corporations are eager to exploit. Like the rest of these gamification tactics, it’s not that companies are just discovering that people like to feel like part of a like-minded group, but the artificiality of attempts to manufacture “community” is concerning.”
I always get up from my chair when I hear real house music. Kush Jones has the latest in the HOA series from Haus of ALTR. Let these tracks bend you!