Soundscape Enhances Concert Experience With Musical Metaverse
Sure the latest initiatives from the Teslas, Apples and Googles of the industry tend to dominate the tech news space — and with good reason. Still, the tech titans aren’t the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.
In an effort to highlight up-and-coming tech companies, Built In launched The Future 5 across seven major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five early-stage tech companies, nonprofits or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing. Read our round-up of Colorado’s rising companies from last quarter here.
* * *
Participating in virtual reality experiences in the middle of a desert is uncommon, but that’s exactly what Eric Alexander offered to music lovers attending Burning Man in 2011. After the successful art installation there, Alexander turned this idea into a business and launched Soundscape.
Soundscape is a musical metaverse where the users are in control. Through a computer, television or VR headset, users download Steam or Oculus, log into the Soundscape platform, create an avatar and select from six different worlds ranging from an ocean scene, space or the middle of a forest. Users bring their own music to the platform be it from their computer, Spotify account or own collection, Alexander told Built In, and the world around them responds to it.
“Everyone has their own idea of the ideal music experience. So from the start, we built this technology called Sonic AI that allows you to go into these worlds,” said Alexander, Soundscape CEO and founder. “You teleport into this massive world where … there are all these art installations and things you would see at music festivals. The music brings the world to life. You can play any song you want and the world starts reacting to the music and creating this kind of psychedelic visual experience.”
In addition to playing your own music, Soundscape has hosted VR concerts with electronic artist GRiZ and rock bands SLASH and Evanescence.
Prior to launching Soundscape, Alexander had a career in food science as a microbiologist in Chicago. He said while the work was interesting initially, it wasn’t enough to keep him satisfied. So, he turned to his love of art, music and gaming and began exploring ways to combine these three passions.
“I was afraid of what happens if you do take this passionate thing and turn it into what you do for your money,” Alexander said. “So initially, when I started creating Soundscape it was just fun. It wasn’t meant to be the next big thing.”
But after showcasing his idea at Burning Man, Alexander realized this was something he enjoyed and that it could be a hit among other artists and music lovers. Alexander said he spend years learning how to run a business from product development to marketing and PR.
Soundscape’s team has since grown from Alexander to 15 employees and contributors. Alexander said he wants to have 45 employees within the next year. This will include hiring for various positions, including engineers, production specialists and liaisons to work with artists.
Future plans for the Evergreen-based startup include partnering with more artists to showcase their artwork and music. Soundscape will also launch additional features in the near future, including new stages and worlds and full-body avatars.
When Soundscape launched in 2017, music and concerts weren’t a common use case for VR technology. Today, VR is changing the music industry and Soundscape is at the forefront.
“I always imagined the year 2030 as really the time when [VR] would become more mainstream,” Alexander said. “I never had an illusion that virtual reality was going to be in everyone’s hand in the early 2020s or even before 2020. … I knew that this was going to take time, but I have absolute confidence that when the 2030s roll around, VR will be the new smartphone as far as popularity.”