Universal Music Group has launched a dedicated virtual reality app called VRTGO, working with startup VRLive on the Android and iOS release.
It’s launching today, and on Thursday (27 October) will showcase a performance by Avenged Sevenfold, which will be streamed live in VR through the app, with Nokia’s OZO camera used to capture the action.
This isn’t Universal’s first experiment with virtual reality, though. In January the label group announced plans to film a series of VR events with iHeartMedia, with brands on board as commercial partners.
VRTGO appears to be the app home for all Universal’s VR content from now on, including live broadcasts (like the Avenged Sevenfold gig) and made-for-VR videos.
At launch, the latter include videos for OneRepublic, Shawn Mendes and DNCE, with Jack Garratt and Logic listed as coming soon.
The videos can be watched in landscape mode on the viewer’s smartphone, moving the device to look around the scenes in 360 degrees. A ‘VR’ button switches to a dedicated virtual-reality mode for compatible headsets like Google Cardboard and Samsung’s Gear VR.
The app is entirely free, with Universal seeing it as purely promotional for now: “a truly immersive and creative platform for our artists to tell their stories and invite their fans around the world to experience live performances and music videos like never before,” as the label group’s SVP of digital marketing innovation Deborah Hyacinth put it.
VRTGO won’t be the only route to fans for this kind of content, however. Avenged Sevenfold have already announced that they’ll be streaming a 360-degree / VR performance to fans on their website on 27 October, for example – the same event as the app.
The biggest source of viewing for these videos will surely come from Facebook and YouTube for some time yet. While VRTGO will be a direct channel for UMG’s VR content to reach owners of the Gear VR, Google Cardboard / Daydream and other headsets, its value for the label group may be something else.
Creating the videos – and broadcasting live events with VRLIVE – will give UMG important insights into the costs of VR production, as well as a chance to experiment with the creative language of a still-evolving new medium.
Plus, VRTGO will provide valuable data on how people are watching this kind of content, which can in turn feed back into the creative process in future, if and when VR becomes more mainstream.