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The program emphasizes concerts' communal aspect, bringing fan interaction into the Oculus experience.
Virtual concert experiences may well be the future of live streaming and on Thursday (March 8) social music VR platform Endless Riff took a big step in expanding its reach with its addition to the Oculus Store for Samsung Gear VR.
Since launching last year, Endless Riff has brought more than 100 shows at New York's Rockwood Music Hall to second life, recreating the venue's second stage in virtual reality where attendees have been able to witness concerts from artists including Umphrey's McGee and Lettuce. To celebrate the launch of Endless Riff on Samsung Gear VR, on Thursday night the platform will live-stream performances by artists William Wild at 8:30 and Chris Morrissey live from the Rockwood, as well as a remote performance from Flor de Toloache.
The Endless Riff app recreates the social experience of attending concerts with friends and strangers. Users first design avatars before meeting up with friends in their virtual RV home base, where they may converse and consume content on a TV inside before heading out to an event. Once they're at the concert, they may walk around the space and communicate with others while ambient 2D video is streaming of the live show. There is also a 360 video stream that users may jump in and out of. Once a room is filled to capacity, it will spawn another version of the room to accommodate more attendees. Down the line, gestures and emotes will be added, allowing fans to dance along stop a show from the comfort of their own home.
Currently Rockwood is the only venue available with Endless Riff CEO Mark Iannarelli calling it Endless Riff's "lab venue" where they can test production workflow and equipment, but the larger the implications are that in time other venues -- real or fabricated -- will enter the platform, with the possibility of artists or brands customizing their own performance space and even creating virtual music festivals. As well, fans will soon be able to play games, buy merchandise and even donate money towards charitable causes in the app.
While Samsung Gear VR is expected to have more than 10 million units sold by the end of 2018, Iannarelli says with Oculus Rift bundles currently selling for $399, one of the biggest impediments to Endless Riff catching on right now is the cost. But once the hardware is more affordable, the expectation is to shepherd fans watching live streams on Facebook and YouTube currently into these more immersive virtual experiences with an enhanced social aspect.
"We're really now in a nascent stage of just live video in general ramping up on socials," says Iannarelli. "So now all of a sudden we're sort of presenting an even more compelling embodiment of that and with a social experience that has more real estate to monetize."