Is Virtual Reality The Future Of Music Video?

When U2 toured the UK last October, they brought with them a new dimension in virtual reality.

Ensconced on a double decker bus outside each venue, fans were invited to stick on a headset with some Beats headphones and immerse themselves in a 3D, 360-degree video of the band performing ‘Song For Someone’.

It quite literally felt like you were sat on a stool in the middle of the O2 while the band were performing around you. If you looked directly ahead, The Edge was strumming his guitar to the opening chords. If you turned to your left, Bono was singing and if you swivelled around on your stool, both Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. were bashing away at the bass and drums.


As the video played out, you were greeted by a raft of musicians performing the track in various locations across the world. Again it felt like you were almost sat with them in their homes and huts.

This, folks, could be the future of music videos. To give you an idea of what this felt like, check out the video below and use your mouse to rotate the clip.

Song for Someone – 360 Version‘There is a light, don’t let it go out…’ Without leaving their homes, singers around the world join Adam, Larry, The Edge and Bono on the #U2ieTour stage for an extraordinary interpretation of #SongForSomeone by director Chris Milk. U2, Vrse & Apple Music reimagining the music video. You’ve got to see it to believe it… and you still might not.For the full VR experience, download GearVR in the Oculus Store or the Vrse app on your phone at

Posted by U2 on Thursday, 12 November 2015

Director and VR pioneer Chris Milk, who has previously worked with Arcade Fire, Kanye West and Beck, shot the video with his team in partnership with Apple Music, simultaneously across three continents.

“Edge was the one who originally reached out to me [for the idea] on this one,” he told NME. “After we were all happy with the concept, my team and I started canvassing the world, looking for great and interesting singers. I was looking for those great pairings: people on the opposite ends of social or cultural issues, people on different sides of the same wall. I wanted the video to be a unification of the people, a sort of ‘all as one’ piece.

“We had production teams dispatched to different faraway locations, and so it was feasible to actually get to the mountains of Israel and the living rooms of India while we were also filming the band.

He continued: “U2’s live experiences are always trying to touch the audience’s hand, get closer to the fanbase. I think they saw VR as another means to achieve that desire.”


And there are loads of other music vids out there like this, most notably Muse‘s recent single ‘Revolt’.

Again the experience is totally immersive. Drones whizz past your ears from every direction while a riot breaks out in front of your eyes. In the middle of all that, Matt Bellamy and co can be seen thrashing their instruments while chaos ensues all around.

“This isn’t a music video in the traditional sense, it’s an experience,” explains director Guy Shelmerdine. “You are riding around drones, flying through a riot as tear gas swirls around you, swooping within inches of Muse’s dramatic performance. It is an amazing new way of experiencing a track.”

He continued: “What I really wanted to do was present the band in an epic way. That was my priority because we’ve all seen a million music videos. We’ve all been to live shows, so I wanted to present them in a way that we normally wouldn’t get to see them. It was up close and personal and putting them on a big epic stage.”

The VR experience is not just limited to music videos. There is also huge potential for gaming and movies with the launch of the forthcoming Oculus Rift and Sony Project Morpheus VR headsets which are due out later this year.

Both will set you back a fair wad of cash but there are cheap headsets already available on the market in the form of Google Cardboard, which cost as little as £10 along with dozens of free apps like VRSE where you can download VR music and short films for free. Other apps put you in the front seat of a rollercoaster (Dive City Coaster) or allow you to walk with dinosaurs (Jurassic Virtual Reality).

“Gaming in this way will be huge but there is also a lot of opportunity for story telling and there’s a real market for VR music videos,” Shelmerdine explained. “As we see all these different hardware companies like Samsung, Sony, Oculus all launching this year, I think consumers will want to get immersed into experiences beyond gaming so you’re definitely going to see growth in bands wanting to present themselves in this medium.”

In the future, Hollywood will tap into the market with VR movies which will potentially immerse the viewer within the film itself. So you could find yourself in a 360 Star Wars universe one day soon, in a galaxy not too far away.

“There is scope for almost feeling like you’re inside a movie with this medium when Hollywood gets hold of it and they will,” Shelmerdine added.

“At the moment VR lends itself to a music video or a short film format but it will move into this longer format.”

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