MelodyVR Keeps Heightening Reality With VR Streams, ‘Live From LA’ Series

Courtesy MelodyVR
– The Head & VR
The Head & The Heart deliver a virtual reality performance at The Sylvee in Madison, Wis.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic put the concert industry on hold, MelodyVR was poised for a big year.

The company launched in 2018 with a simple premise: to harness the potential of virtual reality to help music fans forge deeper connections with the artists they love. In 2019, MelodyVR was already bringing events like London’s Wireless Festival and the “Good Morning America” performance by Marshmello and Kane Brown to remote viewers. This year, for obvious reasons, the demand for high-quality virtual concert experiences has skyrocketed.

“If for any reason you couldn’t get to a live show – let’s say it was sold out or maybe you live too far away or the tickets were too expensive, because the secondary market is crazy – that’s why we started the business,” MelodyVR founder and CEO Anthony Matchett tells Pollstar. “We hadn’t anticipated a situation like this where there would literally be no live music. That said, as a virtual events company, we fit in a bit of a gap here.”

MelodyVR boasts a vast library featuring archival footage of more than 800 artists, including Post Malone, KISS, Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson and Imagine Dragons, which users have at their fingertips on both virtual reality headsets and MelodyVR’s mobile app. Fans can virtually hop around venues, enjoying crisp concert audio and video from different vantage points, and several artists have made gigs available for free through MelodyVR’s On Stage series.

Livestreams have proliferated exponentially this spring, but there’s been little quality control, which Matchett says provides an opening for MelodyVR. 

“The managers, the artists and the labels I’ve spoken to, the kitchen or bedroom performances aren’t getting great engagement,” Matchett says. “They’re kind of cool, but it’s not something you’re going to do all year. The industry is certainly looking at how they can partake in something that’s a little more structured.”

After two months, the initial novelty of grainy, couch-shot footage has worn off, which – in conjunction with the gradual reopenings of various municipalities – helps explain why venues from Brooklyn Bowl Nashville to Fenway Park have started to host audience-less livestreaming events.

“A lot of these artists I see on Instagram, they’re used to being on stage in front of 50,000 people,” he continues. “Clearly, at home in your kitchen, you don’t have the same sort of show or even close to the same sort of performance you normally deliver to fans.”

MelodyVR wants to “take it one step further” to “create some content with a bit more longevity,” Matchett says.

Enter the company’s new “Live From LA” series, which debuted with a John Legend performance on May 16. Broadcast from a specially designed studio, the series provides safe, contactless production for artists, while providing virtual experiences for fans that are a cut above lo-fi livestreamed fare.

“MelodyVR was founded with the vision of providing fans with a new and exciting way of experiencing the live music they love, regardless of their location, age or financial means,” Matchett said upon the series’ announcement. “The current absence of concerts and festivals is extremely damaging to both artists and to the music industry, and as a company that’s dedicated to virtual events and immersive content, we wanted to utilize our unique technology to create a solution.”

The Score followed legend with a Live From LA performance Sunday, and MelodyVR already has Katelyn Tarver and Machine Gun Kelly lined up for the series.

Coronavirus has forced MelodyVR to adapt – see: Live From LA – but even if the specifics might differ from the original plan, Matchett says the crisis “hasn’t changed the rationale of our business.”

After all, with physical concert attendance largely off the table for the foreseeable future, music fans are clamoring for high-quality livestreaming performances like never before.

“There’s certainly a lot of people accessing the service, because they are keen to still see live music, even though it’s not physically happening right now,” Matchett says. “That’s why we’re here: to try to bring a bit of happiness and joy to fans.”