When you take a step back, the evolution of livestreamed music has been startling during the Covid-19 pandemic. We’ve gone from kitchen performances and DJ sets to full stage sets, with plenty of experiments around fan interactivity, audio quality and immersive viewing tech. There are a couple more interesting examples to report on today.

Sony Music is working with US telco Verizon on a virtual concert for artist Madison Beer, which will see her avatar perform in a computer-generated recreation of the Sony Hall concert venue, with fans able to watch using an Oculus Quest or PlayStation VR headset. It will launch in the coming months.

Meanwhile, League of Legends publisher Riot Games is preparing for an ‘experimental music and art festival’ called wwFest: Valorant, which will air on YouTube, Twitch and Amazon Live on 15 January. Based around the game Valorant, it will include performances from artists including Madeon, with drones used to film them: the schtick is that each drone will capture the view of the performance from a different Valorant character.

Fans of coincidental linkage will relish the fact that earlier in her career, Madison Beer was one of the human musicians voicing the avatar members of Riot Games’ virtual pop group K/DA, performing live at their debut at the League of Legends World Championship in 2018. She’s an avatar veteran!

It’s fair to say that both her new Sony concert and wwFest: Valorant are to some extent tech showcases, produced to show off what Sony’s technology can do in the former case, and to promote a game in the latter. Their current relevance to sustainable livestreaming for the majority of artists is limited.

That said, the technology being tested here, and the lessons being learned, will be useful in the future – because even when live concerts return at scale, livestreams look like they won’t be melting away as a Covid-only trend. Even for artists whose budget doesn’t currently stretch to a fleet of drones or pixel-perfect avatars and venue recreations, these experiments may have some pointers for the future.

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