When Facebook announced its rebranding as Meta in late October it got people talking in and out of tech. The new name plants a flag referencing the “metaverse” and with it the company pledged $10 billion this year to lay the foundation for the online ecosystem widely seen as the future of digital social connectivity.
In the simplest terms, the metaverse is the next version of the internet, one in which we will be able to virtually interact with friends and coworkers across the globe, seemingly face to face. It’s a big idea that, at this point, is all theoretical, and, despite the hype, little of it actually exists yet. But if you’ve seen Ready Player One or similar science fiction movies, you’re headed in the right direction. A combination of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), the metaverse will sit as a layer above the physical world, interoperable with how we currently live.
Instead of sitting on a Zoom call with a colleague in Europe, you’ll be able to put on a pair of VR glasses and have a chat with them as if you’re standing right in front of them.
Want to see that Rolling Stones show in Rio De Janeiro? Avoid the flight and purchase virtual front row seats that you can experience from your couch in 8K resolution with Spatial Audio.
Can’t make it to Thanksgiving dinner? Pop in as a life-sized hologram in the real world and make an appearance.
You aren’t camera-ready? Send your avatar to the meeting instead.
These are all possibilities in the metaverse.
The use-cases for the music industry are numerous. Music will be streamed and concerts will be viewed, offering traditional revenue streams a new ecosystem to monetize. You may have a virtual home in the metaverse, which will need to be decorated — a likely profitable sector for the burgeoning NFT market. (Who wouldn’t want a digital Thriller jacket in their virtual home, for example?). Want to throw a party in the metaverse with your friends from around the world? Hire a DJ, who may be able to do three or four shows a day from the comfort of their home. The metaverse, if it goes as many in the tech industry expect it to, will be a second world with many of the same monetizable aspects as real life and new revenue streams we haven’t even conceived of yet that will push the music industry to new heights.
The world’s trillion-dollar corporations are heavily investing in the metaverse, hoping to claim a stake for themselves in what likely will be the future of the internet. Microsoft is betting on the corporate side of the metaverse, building versions of key products like Microsoft Teams and Office for virtual spaces (Xbox will also be a key factor for the company in the metaverse). Apple is developing both a mixed reality (combining virtual and augmented reality) headset and a pair of AR glasses, according to Bloomberg and The Information, which should both be released within the next few years. And, using part of that previously mentioned $10 billion budget, Meta will release its own mixed-reality headset, currently called Project Cambria, sometime next year, the company announced at its annual Facebook Connect event in October.
With billions of dollars in investments and the full force of the world’s most valuable companies trying to make it a reality, the metaverse will likely come to fruition. The biggest question now is whether the metaverse that becomes reality will match our expectations set by science fiction.