As we move into the final two months of the year, the metaverse continues to expand before us. New developments in music and NFTs, along with Meta (Facebook’s) rebranding have deepened the significance of eclectic experiences and web 3.0 technologies.
A musical metaverse
One industry that’s seen new activity is music. Virtual concerts were of course one of the most popular early examples of the Metaverse, with artists such as Lil Nas X and Travis Scott playing for audiences everywhere. However, now the music industry is beginning to diversify its presence by venturing into new avenues. This week, Stage11 announced they have raised 5.7m in a seed funding round that will go towards key hires and artist/brand partnerships. They intend to collaborate with artists to build personalised worlds in which fans can create, see performances, play games and generally socialise.
On the side of the artists, the metaverse is providing a key opportunity to reach new audiences. The popularity of the metaverse among younger people, shown by Roblox’s success for example, has vastly strengthened this factor. With things like radio in decline, understanding where the new channels are is paramount for artists. Perhaps the future of music discovery is in the metaverse, where immersive worlds allow you to experience all facets of it. In addition to the music it could include the background information and the story of where it came from, along with the aesthetics of the artists.
Another key proponent of this will be the opportunity in these worlds to collect and use non-fungible tokens or ‘NFTs’. These digital tokens that are surging in popularity are offering a new revenue stream to artists, who can provide unique digital content for fans to collect and enjoy.
The surge of NFTs
But what exactly has led NFTs to be a $10 billion dollar market in the U.S? At first glance, NFTs seem a strangely modern concept. A unique digital piece of digital media stored recorded on a cryptocurrency’s blockchain. But when we consider their counterparts in the physical world, their nature becomes clearer. Collecting things like art and music has been standard practice for a great number of years in our world. So is it really so strange that this would be carried through into the Metaverse? In many ways they are a digital version of merchandise – something which previously the digital world had seemed to leave behind. Certain kinds of NFTs can also give someone presence in clubs or groups in the Metaverse; which has been a particularly defining trait of the internet.
Most NFTs are found on Ethereum’s blockchain, which is currently experiencing an all time high in its value. This has been largely down to the resurgence of the NFT market and the activity in the DeFi industry (decentralised finance). It’s also likely down in part to Meta (Facebook) latest rebranding, which has promised NFT support in their metaverse. But what exactly are Facebook trying to accomplish with this rebrand?
Facebook’ parent company will now be called Meta. Zuckerberg described the move as such – “The metaverse encompasses both the social experiences and future technology. As we broaden our vision, it’s time for us to adopt a new brand.” The first part of this quote discerns a crucial point about how people will actually interact in the metaverse. Plenty of attention has been paid to the kind of experiences that have been defining the first iterations of the metaverse. In most cases, people playing video games began using them to socialise. But gaming technology like this has existed for years, and for us to truly move to a new plane, the metaverse will involve the addition of a number of new technologies on top of these more diverse social interactions.
Consider Facebook’s, or ‘Meta’s’, 2 billion acquisition of Oculus a few years ago. This move was undoubtedly a marker of the significance of VR and other spatial web technologies in the building of the metaverse. But as with any convergence of emerging tech, there are challenges in how they are used together.
With persistence in worlds being a key characteristic of the metaverse, it requires the synergy of different data types and decentralised information that is becoming so common across the web. Underlying IT infrastructure will need to be prepared to network and scale these different sources of information. The latest news in the metaverse continues to tell a familiar tale of diversification of experience and emerging technology. Creating these worlds requires appropriate computation for each dimension. Some may require edge processing, while others hybrid cloud or on premise. The orchestration of this complex universe demands flexible and scalable infrastucture.