Music-focused virtual reality startup MelodyVR has announced its latest partnership: with Microsoft.
The pair are describing it as a non-exclusive “global partnership and Windows Mixed Reality App Collaboration Agreement” that will see MelodyVR launch its app for mixed-reality headsets using Windows technology: Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP and Lenovo are among the hardware firms working on these devices.
“In addition, Microsoft will provide MelodyVR with funding and technical expertise to support the partnership,” explained the announcement from MelodyVR’s parent company EVR Holdings this morning. Microsoft will also use MelodyVR’s app in its marketing, from retail store demos to advertising campaigns.
“We view this agreement as providing recognition and validation from one of the world’s largest companies, of the quality and opportunity that MelodyVR represents for music fans, VR users and our shareholders alike,” said MelodyVR CEO Anthony Matchett in a statement.
“The VR/AR device market continues to develop at an exponential rate and with Microsoft entering the marketplace alongside other global technology companies such as Apple, Facebook, Google, HTC, Samsung and Sony, we remain extremely confident in the mainstream adoption of virtual reality technology as well as in the long-term success of our hardware-agnostic virtual reality music platform and original content strategy.”
The question now is when MelodyVR’s app will launch – both for Windows devices and other VR headsets. A closed-beta version launched at the end of 2016 for a small group of testers in Europe and the US, using Samsung’s Gear VR headset.
Since the closed beta started, MelodyVR has agreed a licensing deal with Universal Music Group – its second major deal following Warner Music in 2016 – and raised £5m of new funding by issuing new shares.
“The proceeds of our recent fundraise will be used to fuel the global expansion of our business, to reach more artists, more partners and in turn, more consumers,” said Matchett at the time of that funding.
“We’ll be investing further capital into our original content as we seek to grow our vast library of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. We’ll also be investing into additional resourcing and staff on a global basis.”
The MelodyVR app enables music fans to watch a range of live performances in 360 degrees, from different vantage points in venues. MelodyVR has been filming hundreds of performances to build up its catalogue ahead of its commercial launch.
In an appearance at the FastForward conference in February, MelodyVR’s COO Steven Hancock outlined the company’s planned business model: an a la carte operation like Apple’s iTunes Store, where fans might pay 99p to watch a single song, or up to £10 for a whole concert.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to work very closely with Facebook, Oculus, HTC, Google and Sony PlayStation, and today there’s a phenomenal appetite for people to pay for things in VR,” he said then, while admitting that there was also potential for charging by the hour rather than by the song, or using an all-you-can-eat subscription model.