Photo courtesy AmazeVR – Amazing:
With haptic motion chairs and VR headsets, AmazeVR takes fans up-close into the surreal CG world of Ceeradi’s virtual concert.
Virtual concert platform AmazeVR is continuing its mission of building the next evolution of music and creating a new class of artist experiences with the news announced today that the company has raised $9.5 million in funding from a number of global investment firms including Murex Partners, We Ventures, Bass Investment, and Dunamu & Partners. Existing investors including Mirae Asset Venture Investment, Mirae Asset Capital, Partners Investment and Timewise Investment also participated in the funding round.
Thursday’s announcement notes that the funding will be used to hire additional staff across all areas of the company as AmazeVR “rapidly scales to meet demand, secures top artists for future projects, and invests on product innovation to ensure the highest quality productions.”
After partnering with Roc Nation R&B/hip-hop duo Ceraadi last year, AmazeVR is in talks with several artist management groups regarding strategic investments.
AmazeVR was founded in 2015 by the founders and former executives of South Korean-based mobile platform company Kakao. After initially launching with a few dozen interactive virtual reality experiences available through a subscription service – including being the first VR platform to carry the animated short film “Gloomy Eyes” narrated by Collin Farrell – AmazeVR recently shifted its model to focus to creating new immersive experiences for recording artists.
While many companies have pivoted during the pandemic, Ernest Lee, co-CEO of AmazeVR, points out that AmazeVR had already made the switch a few years ago.
Lee tells Pollstar that after noticing that VR music experiences hadn’t really improved all that much from the early days, it give AmazeVR the motivation to dive into a focus on music and give fans the chance to connect with artists on a deep level.
“We all know that the music industry has been due for disruption,” Lee says. “I think by looking at NFTs, virtual concerts, livestreams, it all points to that. … We’ve actually been focused on our immersive concerts pre-pandemic since 2019. We really believe that it’s providing a certain value that fans can’t have in their life by allowing fans to come up close and personal with their favorite artists to have the shared, intimate experience.”
He adds, “We call our shows immersive concerts, but honestly, we see them as something completely different from the live shows. … we want to try to create something that provides additional value to artists. Our vision for the future is that every artist will have an Amaze immersive concert as a core part of their overall strategy to connect with and delight the fans.”
AmazeVR collaborated with Ceraadi, filming a VR performance in late July, as the company worked to build the foundation for what immersive concerts will look like. Lee refers to the duo as very collaborative and the “most amazing people to work with,” praising the sisters, Sayir and Emaza Gibson, for their positive energy and their fun chorography – which is a great fit for VR.
Ceraadi’s debut Immersive Concert Experience, which was initially planned for fall 2020, has been rescheduled for later this year. Lee says an exact date isn’t set yet but it will take place “once it’s fully safe to do so and makes sense for Ceraadi with their schedule.” After an in-person activation is held, the online version will be released for fans to enjoy at home via a VR headset.
AmazeVR’s next big project that’s yet-to-be announced is with a Grammy-award-winning artist that will have an entire offline/online roll out including a theatrical release in 4DX movie theatres that are outfitted with haptic motion chairs.
“We’re building strong relationships with major theater chains around the world to distribute through movie theaters that have these haptic motion chairs in them,” Lee says. “And we can outfit it with our own operating system, with our own headsets, with the entire immersive console package to really transform the auditorium into an artist immersive concert venue, essentially.”
The company’s timeframe for the theatre run is either late this year or Q1 of 2022.
AmazeVR’s vertically-integrated distribution channels also includes a mobile pop-up tour bus outfitted with haptic motion chairs and VR headsets. Use cases for the bus include taking it to cities not included on an artist’s tour routing so the artist can reach more fans or bringing the mobile-pop up to music festivals for an added perk at the event.
“We think that live shows are incredible, but with this technology, you’re not limited to the rules of reality,” Lee says. “Anything that you can dream of, you can create in VR. Your own imagination is the only limitation for what you can create in this in this new medium.”
AmazeVR’s investors also include South Korean entertainment agency YG Entertainment – whose management clients include K-pop stars Blackpink – and South Korean conglomerate CJ Group, whose film subsidiary, CJ Entertainment, produced the Oscar-winning film “Parasite.”