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Seven Music Artists Who Have Harnessed the Power of Mixed Reality

The future of music art is here, and it's more engaging and intimate than ever before.

Augmented reality is the latest trend taking over the art world, and now the music industry is harnessing it to help musicians reach their fans in new ways. Artists are not only using AR to enhance their marketing artwork, but they’re also trialing it for music videos and even live shows. In light of the last year’s impact on live events, AR gives musicians new and exciting ways to interact with their fanbase and share their music online, making it more inclusive and intimate than ever before. 

Here are some of our favorite musicians using AR to bring their music to life:

1. Dua Lipa

When pop superstar Dua Lipa released her single, ‘Hallucinate’, she wanted to create an AR filter experience to make her fanbase feel like they were part of the song. Dua tasked the global Talenthouse community with creating this - with the brief requiring a sharable, immersive, and engaging AR Instagram filter to celebrate the single. As usual, the community did not disappoint, bringing the song to life by creating both a face filter and hover filter for the album cover. 

Warner Records said: “It's been the most fun seeing creators from every level and all over the world participate in this campaign. We kept the brief pretty broad because we wanted to see things we might not have envisioned ourselves, and I think we definitely got that!”

You can see the impressive submissions from our community here

2. Travis Scott

With the Covid pandemic putting a blockade on live music and the entertainment industry, artists and labels had to develop new ways of engaging with their fanbase. For those who could afford big productions, this came in the form of AR performances, giving fans concerts as we’ve never seen before. In 2020, rapper Travis Scott collaborated with gaming Gods Fortnite to create an entire live virtual reality show, where Scott appeared as a giant virtual holographic image. A record-breaking 12.3 million players attended while Scott performed as an avatar, using special effects to move him around the game.

3. Gracey 

For her recent single ‘Empty Love,’ rising-pop star Gracey and her team used an AR-style filter and imagery for the artwork, video, and marketing. The song is about presenting a version of yourself online that might not be true (something many of us can relate to). A geometric AR mask was created, alluding to putting a false and computerized identity on before going online. This use of AR is an excellent example of how art technology has been used to enhance the listener experience and messaging of the music.

4. Gorillaz

Music legends Gorillaz lead the way for the industry to trial the use of AR with their music video for ‘Saturnz Barz’. Released in 2017, it was one of the first-ever VR music videos made and racked up over 3 million views in the first 48 hours. Although VR and AR capabilities have significantly developed since the release, it demonstrates how using new and creative ways to release music can create a buzz and stir around new records. 

5. Haim 

As their latest record, ‘Women in Music, Part III’ demonstrates, Haim can do no wrong. Never a band to shy away from trying something new, Haim and their label, Polydor, created an AR filter to bring to life the LP and CD of the record, demonstrating how new creative technology can enhance the old. A clever way of tempting fans to buy physical copies, the AR phone filter makes things on the album artwork move and come to life when hovered over. It’s an impressive example of how physical and digital can work together to encourage more profit for the band.

6. John Legend 

John celebrated his new album ‘Bigger Live’ by doing a live virtual concert experience in June, 2020. The concert was in collaboration with ‘Wave’, a technology that transforms artists into digital avatars, and creates an immersive live experience for fans. The fantasy-like illusion is definitely not for everyone, but with an unpredictable events industry, the shows offer some kind of live experience for fans to involve themselves in. 

7. Billie Eilish 

Even prior to 2020 and its very strange events, artists were trying to find new ways of reaching a global audience. In 2019, superstar Billie Eilish and the Oculus Venues app announced it would stream her concert to users live from Madrid using VR technology. Fans were able to choose between social or solo mode, enabling them to interact with others on the app who were shown as avatars. The app also offered 180 degree views, but the show didn’t come without some technical difficulties, with an attending fan writing:

“Although it was a good social VR experience with some great music to accompany it, the technology isn’t quite there to be a de facto form of live entertainment...There’s definitely work to be done from Oculus on the backend for a smoother experience, but it serves for now.”

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