Although there have been many experiments in music live streaming and virtual concert, after the o2o boom faded, this subset of the music industry fell into a slump.
It is not until 2020 that the live streaming/virtual concert industry saw some substantial change. On the one hand, the COVID-19 pandemic brought the live entertainment industry to a halt, which forces entertainers to seek opportunities online; on the other hand, 5D technology, 5G+8K technology, and AR/VR technology create a more solid experience which users want to pay for.
MiGu Music Awards, the 14-year old annual music awards show is taking advantage of this industry trend, reinventing itself to fit in the new era.
The core of an awards show is undoubtedly its content. At MiGu Music Awards this year, Chinese Basketball Association star Guo Ailun(郭艾伦), Chinese women’s volleyball team, as well as younger generation pop singers VAVA, Mao Buyi(毛不易), G.E.M.(邓紫棋), ONER, Wilber Pan(潘玮柏), and some virtual idols were invited to be on the show.
Mao Buyi performing at a MiGu Event
Even though sports and music seem unrelated, but the core spirit of these two areas are the same. Take basketball as an example, hip hop music, hip hop fashion are both closely associated with basketball.
The show utilizes virtual reality technology, to allow Wilber Pan to talk to Guo Ailun from two different spaces, virtual idol Xijiang (犀酱) also performed on stage and stayed through the rest of the event as a virtual host supplementing the human hosts.
Looking back on the development of music live streaming, there are roughly two phases.
Phase one is channel innovation, that is, filming offline events and broadcasting them online. While it makes live performance content more widely available, the experience of watching a live broadcast is far less engaging than physically being at the concert.
Phase two, the one we are in now, is the innovation in content production as well as operation, making a live broadcasting event feels more like an offline one. Some of the new features include high-quality video/audio, bullet screen comments, and call-ins.
In early 2020, the music industry hyped up live streaming due to the pandemic. Now that offline live events have resumed in China, live streaming events seem to be slowing down. But that doesn’t mean live streaming stops evolving.
Recently, Tencent Music Group invested in interactive virtual entertainment technology company Wave. Amazon Music also collaborated with Twitch to provide an interactive experience combining music streaming with live streaming. Music virtual reality company Melody VR acquired music streaming platform Napster, hoping to create a new form of virtual music experience.
This year’s MiGu Music Awards continued to innovate, adding several great features as well. In offline concerts, the artists sometimes bring members of the audience onto the stage, come down from the stage to talk to them or have the camera capturing random people on the big screen. In MiGu Music Awards, audience members will show up on one of the big screens in the show and get the chance to call in and talk to the artists via the streaming platform.
The new feature “virtual box” is particularly interesting. MiGu Music Awards show provides two types of “virtual boxes” which allows audience members to chat with others in the box through text and voice notes. The first type is an artist-specific virtual box with an unlimited amount of members and the second type is a personal virtual box with a very small amount of members.
The first type gathers fans with the same interest and gives them a place to support their favorite artist, the second one gives fans a place to share their thoughts and experiences with their family and friends.
The implementation of “virtual box” on one hand, solves the problem that fans don’t have anyone to share the experience with during an online event; on the other hand, it satisfies young people’s need for fun, interactive experiences and online socializing.
Before, the “virtual box” feature was already used in online sports broadcasting. This is the first time this feature is used in a music entertainment setting with some adjustments.
The reasons why people love offline performance is the ambiance and the atmosphere and physically being together with other people doing the same thing. The new features of MiGu Music Awards are taking virtual events a big step towards those feelings people love.
Of course, in terms of building a unique cloud experience, the industry is still in the process of research and development. Whether it is in software or hardware, technological innovation will no doubt unleash more potential for virtual events and disrupt the industry.
In order to achieve long-term sustainable growth, a music awards show has to have a healthy business model.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, should online performances be monetized and how has caused a lot of discussion in the industry.
There are two main ways to monetize. One is to keep it free for the audience to maximize the influence of the event and monetize from sponsorship. The other one is to charge the audience for tickets. There’s also a small number of events that don’t charge the audience or the sponsors but reply on user contribution and selling products to make a profit.
The biggest breakthrough of the MiGu Music Award this year is the multi-channel business model.
On the sponsorship side, MiGu Partnered with mobile game Shenwu 4 and mobile service provider M-zone, both of which have been with MiGu for a long time.
Since 2017, Shenwu and MiGu have collaborated on more than 20 live events featuring many artists. M-zone relies a lot on MiGu and the artists who perform at MiGu Music Awards to broaden its appeal to its core consumers: Gen Z mobile users.
Similar to the offline events, MiGu Music Awards also have different ticket tiers for different levels of services and experiences, giving fans more options that suit their needs.
Technology determines the upper limit of an industry, and the business model determines its vitality and health. We believe, with innovation and experimentation in both, virtual concerts one day will be as prevalent as sports live broadcasting, drawing in millions of viewers.
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