Benefits of immersive technologies outweigh challenges to rightsholders, says expert

PRS Explores: Immersive Technology panel - Parable VR’s Nicholas Minter-Green, BBC Television’s Digital Creative Director Will Saunders, creative rights specialist, Ben Green, Stuart Dredge (Music Ally), PRS for Music’s Director of Broadcast and Online, Andy Harrower, artist/producer Chagall, chaired by PRS for Music Director of Corporate Strategy, Graham Davies.

The benefits of immersive technologies on the music industry far outweigh the challenges for rightsholders, Parable VR’s Nicholas Minter-Green (pictured, second-right) has said.

The co-founder of the virtual reality studio made the comments at last night’s (Wednesday) PRS Explores: Immersive Technology panel, where a host of experts discussed how developing technologies could make an impact on the current music market.

‘Think about all these virtual rooms that are going to be created where your music will play, that would never have existed. There may well be challenges about exploiting every last percent of the rights, but the good side is that there’s going to be almost an infinite new set of places where music can be experienced,’ he said.

The panel pointed to current examples of where immersive technologies have already been used successfully by artists, including Ed Sheeran for his recent single Shape of You, which was first unveiled to Snapchat users when they tried out one of the platform’s new filters.

‘Snapchat had about 150 million daily active users at the time. That was a massive scale use of music with augmented reality but it didn’t need a headset or anything expensive’, said tech journalist Stuart Dredge (Music Ally).

‘As an artist, this is the best time to experiment while it’s still early days,’ he added.

Producer and singer Chagall, who uses new technologies such as Imogen Heap’s Mi.Mu gloves to render electronic sounds, effects and visuals during her live performances, brought her insight to the panel, arguing that immersive technologies have the potential to re-engage listeners.

‘I want to use Virtual Reality [VR] to assist people to stay in the moment,’ she said.

Speaking about the challenges from a rights point of view where new intellectual property might be created, creative rights specialist Ben Green said: ‘For me, we’re in an experimental phase for this platform.

‘If you had a VR concert and the user came up on stage and potentially created some new music with you on a guitar, what happens with that intellectual property that the user created? Is it covered under the user agreement when they check a box to say, “I’m using this material on this platform”? You start to see the implications are massive here.’

Elsewhere, PRS for Music’s head of online licensing, Nick Edwards, commented on the society’s position on licensing music for immersive technologies, saying it must work with the industry as it develops.

‘We’re seeing a huge change and a huge opportunity that’s not clear where it’s going to go.

‘We’ve got to work with the industry to make sure that the structure and the rights packages that we’re able to deliver are robust enough to cover the type of content that’s being made available, and that the remuneration for our members is at the right level and allows them to get paid where their music’s exploited.’

The PRS Explores: Immersive Technology event also gathered panellists Will Saunders (former BBC and DCMS digital strategist), Chris Helm (COO and co-founder of Blend Media) and moderator Graham Davies (PRS for Music) at the collecting society’s Kings Cross headquarters in London.

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Posted by PRS for Music on Wednesday, 8 November 2017