As the two-year anniversary of the global COVID-19 pandemic begins to hurtle toward us, we are no closer to knowing when our social lives will return to normal or what will the new normal be. The effect this has had on businesses like nightclubs, music venues and musicians have been immeasurable. With crowded in-person events either made impossible — or far more difficult and laborious — at many points over the last two years, changes to the industry that were already set in motion have been accelerated. Namely, the music industry’s adoption of digital instruments, among others and, increasingly, the Metaverse.
First coined by science-fiction author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 cyberpunk novel Snow Crash, the Metaverse is described as a virtual world where individuals could interact with each other in the form of avatars on a successor form of the internet in order to escape a dystopian (see disease-ridden) world outside. Sound familiar?
Thirty years on from his prophetic vision and in the mid of a global pandemic with restrictions that continue without an end in sight, now is the time to bring the music metaverse to life. With live music revenues not expected to recover until 2023, one way of supercharging its recovery — and providing a new tech-enabled alternative to traditional live events — would be to take more of our events into the virtual world.
Debates rage on about what this Metaverse should look like. On one hand, there are libertarians, crypto-enthusiasts and the privacy-minded who are arguing for a decentralized future of Metaverse with no one individual or entity in control. On the other hand, there is Mark Zuckerberg (and likewise) who is pitching for Metaverse to be a successor of Facebook and centralized version of which would be a natural option. If we are all going to be spending much more of our time there, the best option is clear: One in which we all have a say.
Related: A letter to Zuckerberg: The Metaverse is not what you think it is
In a way, the Metaverse is already here. (Although…