Are Virtual Reality Concert Events Something Worth Chasing (for now)?

The 8/8/2016 edition of The Guardian published an article by Brian Wise that examines recent efforts to incorporate virtual reality into the live concert experience along with preparing recorded material for use with virtual reality headsets.

Adaptistration People 017According to the article, around half a dozen orchestras in North American and the UK have been dipping a toe into this pool, including the LA Phil, London Symphony, and Toronto Symphony. Yet being at the very edge of a new and still undefined market carries a good bit of risk, not the least of which being the disproportionately large costs that usually accompany such efforts.

But unlike other tech related fields, getting in on the ground floor here doesn’t carry the promise of unusually high rewards.

For example, are you able to name the first professional symphony orchestra to make a fully digital recording (digital recording, use digital mixing, and digital transfer)?

I can’t, although I would be surprised if the seemingly endless pool of knowledge among the readership doesn’t chime in via comments with an answer.

I was happy to provide a small contribution to the article in the form of a passive reminder that for most orchestra, even large budget groups, there are plenty of digital channels that deserve resources before casting an eye toward virtual reality programming. After all, if you’re losing ticket buyers because actually buying a ticket is a frustrating online experience, don’t worry, you’ll have a virtual audience soon enough.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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