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Most folks think the majority of the buzz out of CES this year is going to be in the VR space. I tend to agree not only because I’m a huge VR fan, but because of the press releases filling up my inbox. I’m getting about one release related to VR for every four or five I receive. Considering the amount of space that’s allocated across Las Vegas to accommodate all the companies presenting at CES, that’s a staggering number.
Some very exciting news out of CES today in the VR space. Universal Music Group (UMG) and iHeartMedia just announced a partnership focused around virtual reality (VR) that will enable the companies to connect artists, music fans and brands and sponsors in a series of revolutionary, fully immersive entertainment experiences.
The announcement was made today at CES 2016 by Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of UMG, and Bob Pittman, Chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia.
Together, the companies will leverage their respective strengths – including UMG’s deep music expertise, world-renowned roster of superstars and new artists and industry-leading music library, and iHeartMedia’s 245 million monthly broadcast listeners, nearly 90 million digital uniques, 80 million social followers, roster of nationally-recognized marquee events, and the consumer relationships its personalities have with listeners — to drive innovation in both music and VR. The companies will create entertainment experiences that leverage cutting-edge technology, making immersive VR performances and experiences accessible to U.S. audiences for the first time at scale.
In addition, UMG and iHeartMedia will invite brands to partner with them to develop, produce and distribute these one-of-a-kind entertainment experiences, using integrated approaches to connect their brands and products to both artists and consumers.
Through this initiative, one VR experience by a UMG artist will be added to each major marquee iHeartMedia event in 2016, including the iHeartRadio Music Awards, the iHeartRadio Country Festival, the iHeartRadio Summer Pool Party, the iHeartRadio Fiesta Latina, the iHeartRadio Music Festival and the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Tour, with this first-ever VR music series launching at the iHeartRadio Music Awards on April 3, 2016 which will broadcast live on iHeartMedia radio stations nationwide and on TBS, TNT and truTV. The companies will collaborate on full shows from four individual artists, shot and distributed in VR, at the iHeartRadio VR Concert Series held at the iHeartRadio Theater in Los Angeles.
“At UMG, we are focused on harnessing cutting-edge technology to pioneer new creative and commercial opportunities for artists, labels and fans,” said Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group. “By combining iHeartMedia’s music events and hundreds of millions of listeners with the ability of our artists to forge powerfully emotional connections with their fans, we are ideally positioned to use VR technology to create authentic experiences that benefit our artists, consumers and marketing partners.”
“Our greatest strength at iHeartMedia is that we curate for our listeners – in this case, working with UMG to create a completely new entertainment experience using state-of-the-art VR technology,” said Bob Pittman, Chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia, Inc. “And now, as advertisers seek to tie their brands and products to music and artists in innovative ways, we can use our industry-leading reach and best-of-breed music events to unlock the combined power of music and VR as a revolutionary marketing tool. We’re excited to work with UMG in a partnership unlike any in the music and entertainment industry.”