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Augmented Reality (AR): The future of live music?

With Apple's announcement of the upcoming Vision Pro, we've all heard the buzz about all the different ways we'll start to use it in daily life. There is one thing though that most people haven't realized: Augmented Reality (AR) has incredible potential to allow people who share space to interact in new ways.


Musicians haven't quite begun to grasp the possibilities of AR for live, in-person concerts. Music began as a collaborative art - much like dance. And AR, more than any other technology, has the potential to bring music back to its collaborative roots.


The way we consume live music in Western society is highly unusual. We self-segregate into specialists (musicians) and non-specialists (everyone else). Specialists get to make music, non-specialists get to enjoy it. These roles are rigid and immutable.


However, chanting in support of your favorite sports team or singing as part of a church congregation is, well... an almost spiritual experience! The depth of it simply does not compare to the feeling of passively listening to music performed AT you.


The Vision Pro is Mixed Reality (XR), not Virtual Reality (VR). And as an XR device, it has significant AR capabilities. Those have been deeply underrated by the first wave of public reaction. Granted, that's because it's a big bulky device that looks a lot more like Meta's Oculus than Google Glass.


But it DOES have an AR component, and AR allows you to not only experience the world from a distance. It changes your perception of things in your immediate vicinity.


In the future, audiences will be empowered to enjoy live, in-person concerts in new ways. The passive "go to the concert and let the music wash over you" experience is never going away. However, tech will enable audiences to take an active part in MAKING music.


Imagine a world where putting on an XR headset at a concert lets you interact directly with the artist and fellow listeners.

  • Want to sing along? Real-time lyrics flash before your eyes.

  • Want to join the dance? You can see the appropriate dance move at every turn of every song.

  • Want to see the musicians up close? Switch from your personal point of view to any number of cameras around the venue.

  • Want to react to the amazing cadenza? Send a reaction for other listeners to see. Speak a chat message for everyone to read.

  • Want to jam? Play an intuitive virtual instrument that only you and your friends can hear. (Adventurous acts might even let you jam with them publicly- within constraints, of course.)

You can already do most of these things on a smartphone using Cicada, the live music digital space.


However, using Cicada on an XR headset instead of a smartphone is going to be an even more magical experience. Yes, the Vision Pro needs to become 5x cheaper and 5x smaller for that to happen, but it will happen.


Until such time - if you are a musician, check out what Cicada can do for you right now. It's so hard to stand out from millions of inspiring artists doing incredible things worldwide. There's no excuse to NOT use already existing tech to augment your concerts.

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