Virtual concert

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Gorillaz performing at a virtual concert in 2018

A virtual concert, also called V-concert or virtual live, refers to a performance in which the performers are represented by virtual avatars. Virtual concerts can take place in real life, where digital representations of the performers are projected in on stage, or within fully digital virtual worlds. Real life concerts are popular in South Korea, where performances by groups such as Girls' Generation have attracted thousands of fans.[1] Performers in virtual concerts may represent real individuals, but can also be entirely fictitious characters like Hatsune Miku.[2]

More recently, virtual concerts have taken place in video games. Games like Fortnite Battle Royale and Minecraft have been used by artists as venues to reach wider audiences and offer interactive experiences for attendees.[3][4]


Early beginnings[edit]

Within the K-pop music industry, V-concerts were first introduced by several South Korean record labels such as SM Entertainment and YG Entertainment. In 1998, SM Entertainment attempted to kick start its first holographic debut with H.O.T. (a now-defunct boy band), but failed to do so.[5]

South Korean revival and expansion[edit]

On January 5, 2013, a breakthrough occurred after SM Entertainment held a virtual concert in Gangnam District with life-sized images of Girls’ Generation projected onto the stage, attracting thousands of K-pop fans.[1]

After its first virtual concert featuring Psy's "Gangnam Style" took off at the COEX Convention & Exhibition Center in May 2013, the South Korean record label YG Entertainment announced that it plans to establish 20 venues for virtual performances of its K-pop singers by the year 2015 in North America, Europe, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand.[6]

On July 20, 2013, YG Entertainment launched a permanent virtual concert at the Everland theme park in Yongin, South Korea. Under the slogan "K-Pop Hologram: YG at Everland", virtual performances include Psy's "Gentleman" and "Gangnam Style" as well as virtual concerts by Big Bang and 2NE1.[7]

In video games and virtual worlds[edit]

A concert performance in Second Life

Since the mid-2000s, virtual concerts have also been held in virtual worlds instead of physical locations. The first major band to perform live in a virtual world was Duran Duran, who performed in Second Life in 2006.[8][9] In the same year, Phil Collins appeared in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories performing his single "In The Air Tonight"; the concert is accessible as part of the game.[10]

In January 2019, a virtual music festival called Fire Festival (named as a play on the infamous 2017 Fyre Festival) was held on a dedicated Minecraft server. Organized by Canadian producer Max Schramp, the event was held in support of LGBT suicide prevention organization The Trevor Project.[11] The following month, on February 2, EDM producer Marshmello held a ten-minute concert on the main map of third-person shooter Fortnite Battle Royale. The concert was viewable to anyone playing the game during that time, and a special variant of its "Team Rumble" game mode with respawns enabled was provided for the event.[12]

Virtual concerts grew in popularity through 2020 and 2021 due to restrictions set by the COVID-19 pandemic that made it difficult to hold traditional concerts.[4] More concerts were held in Fortnite featuring artists including Travis Scott,[3] BTS,[13] Diplo,[14] and Ariana Grande[15] as interactive experiences. Fortnite would continue to host virtual concerts on a smaller and more social-oriented side map called "Party Royale."[16] On April 16, 2020, American singer-songwriter Soccer Mommy collaborated with Club Penguin Rewritten fangame to host an in-game concert for her album Color Theory.[17] On the social platform VRChat, a number of groups have organized digital nightclubs and music festivals with live streamed DJ performances by users and producers, hosted in specially-designed worlds on the platform that mimic real-life venues.[18][19][20]

Many virtual performances have begun experimenting with virtual and augmented reality. TheWave, a dedicated platform for virtual reality concerts, launched in 2017. Artists who have performed on the platform include Imogen Heap,[21] The Glitch Mob, and Kill the Noise; the service shut down in 2021, with the company stating that it was focusing on distributing its productions via "popular streaming platforms" instead.[22][23] In August 2020, Canadian singer the Weeknd collaborated with social media platform TikTok to hold an interactive augmented reality live stream titled "The Weeknd Experience" on various dates, with the first occurring on August 7, 2020.[24]

On July 14, 2023, the company named AmazeVR launched their VR concert application,[25] featuring real footage of artists in virtual worlds created using Unreal Engine. The app currently offers access to free songs, as well as the option to purchase full VR concerts featuring artists like Megan Thee Stallion, Upsahl, Ceraadi, Zara Larsson, and T-Pain.

On October 27, 2023, the startup named Sensorium premiered a show developed in collaboration with Carl Cox. The 30-minute show, titled 'Intermundium[26],' showcases tracks created, produced, and performed by Carl Cox, who is represented through his avatar taking center stage during the performance. The show was made available in VR, VR-360 and 2D formats.

On November 22, 2023, it was announced that Eminem would make an appearance in Fortnite during its Chapter 4 finale.[27] The Eminem show was part of 'the Big Bang Event',[28] which launched on December 2, 2023. The event attracted 10 million Fortnite players. However, the entire event's duration was only 10 minutes, with Eminem's performance lasting just 3 minutes.[29] Additionally, there were reports of difficulties in accessing the initial launch of the show.[30]

On December 2, 2023, KISS unveiled their digital avatars at the end of their final concert at Madison Square Garden in New York.[31] While the 4 members of KISS had left the sage, the avatars performed a song on-screen. The performance ended with the text “A NEW ERA BEGINS”.  No details have been announced yet about the future use of these avatars. The avatars were designed by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM).[32]

Production costs[edit]

A virtual K-pop music video costs over US$180,000 and is about two to three times more expensive than a normal K-pop video.[33]


V-concerts have been criticized by K-pop fans because singers do not appear in person and are only electronically projected onto a screen. Some claim that V-concerts could possibly endanger the quality of live music.[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Girls' Generation holds 'virtual concert' with Naver Music". Allkpop. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
  2. ^ Frank, Allegra (May 31, 2016). "What to expect at a Hatsune Miku concert". Polygon. Retrieved March 26, 2022.
  3. ^ a b "Fortnite Becomes The COVID Concert Venue For Gen Z And Millennials | Magid". April 28, 2020. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Fortnite Pandemic Rap Fest Shows Future of Gaming". May 7, 2020. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  5. ^ "Can holograms replace real K-pop stars?". The Korea Times. Retrieved July 23, 2013. SM has been experimenting with the holographic performances for more than a decade, although its first attempt to make H.O.T., a now-defunct boy band, a holographic debut failed in 1998.
  6. ^ "Can holograms replace real K-pop stars?". July 16, 2013. Retrieved July 23, 2013. NIK released its holographic images of Psy in World IT Show in COEX on May 23 before opening the exclusive theater for K-Pop Hologram-YG at Everland in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province this month. The Everland showcase will include the holographic performances of Psy's "Gangnam Style" and "Gentleman" in July and add more holographic content from Big Bang and 2NE1 in September. After launching the Everland theater, it will establish some 20 venues for virtual performances of its K-pop singers in major theme parks or others in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and North American and Europe by 2015.
  7. ^ "YG Entertainment to launch K-Pop Hologram: YG at Everland tomorrow". Yahoo! Singapore. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
  8. ^ Lombardi, Candace. "Duran Duran gets a Second Life". CNET. Retrieved September 20, 2021.
  9. ^ Correspondent, Nicole Martin, Digital and Media (September 13, 2007). "Second Life hosts world's first virtual concert". Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved February 2, 2019.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ "'GTA' Land Of Confusion: Why Is Phil Collins In 'Vice City Stories'?". MTV News. Retrieved September 20, 2021.
  11. ^ Yopko, Nick. "Over 50 Artists are Playing a Virtual Music Festival Inside Minecraft Tonight". - The Latest Electronic Dance Music News, Reviews & Artists. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  12. ^ Slatt, Nick (February 2, 2019). "Fortnite's Marshmello concert was a bizarre and exciting glimpse of the future". The Verge. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
  13. ^ Webster, Andrew (September 21, 2020). "BTS is coming to Fortnite". The Verge. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  14. ^ "Fortnite, surfing and virtual burning man: Diplo's pandemic year". France 24. August 9, 2021.
  15. ^ Webster, Andrew (August 9, 2021). "Ariana Grande's Fortnite tour was a moment years in the making". The Verge. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  16. ^ Webster, Andrew (September 8, 2020). "Fortnite is launching a concert series it hopes will become a 'tour stop' for artists". The Verge. Retrieved December 2, 2020.
  17. ^ "I was supposed to see Soccer Mommy live. Instead, I watched their concert on Club Penguin". The Diamondback. April 18, 2020. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  18. ^ Ewing, Jerry (January 5, 2021). "Jean-Michel Jarre celebrates 75million viewers for NYE show". Louder Sound. Retrieved February 10, 2021.
  19. ^ "Staying in to go out: exploring the VRChat club scene". NME. May 28, 2021. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  20. ^ "LONER Online Pushes the Boundaries of Gaming and Night Clubbing on VRChat [Interview]". Your EDM. November 27, 2020. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  21. ^ Deahl, Dani (August 23, 2018). "Inside Imogen Heap's cutting-edge VR concert". The Verge. Retrieved September 20, 2021.
  22. ^ "Wave to Close its VR Concert App". VRFocus. Retrieved September 20, 2021.
  23. ^ Lang, Ben (January 15, 2021). "Wave Deprecates VR App to Focus on Broader Distribution of Its Virtual Performances". Road to VR. Retrieved February 1, 2023.
  24. ^ Spangler, Todd (August 12, 2020). "The Weeknd Virtual Concert on TikTok Drew Over 2M Viewers, Raised $350,000 for Equal Justice Initiative". Variety. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  25. ^ "AmazeVR launches VR app with an exclusive concert from global superstar Zara Larsson". Yahoo Finance. July 14, 2023. Retrieved November 24, 2023.
  26. ^ "Watch Carl Cox's avatar perform in virtual reality with Sensorium Galaxy". Mixmag. Retrieved November 24, 2023.
  27. ^ Roth, Emma (November 22, 2023). "Eminem is coming to Fortnite's The Big Bang event". The Verge. Retrieved November 24, 2023.
  28. ^ Webster, Andrew (December 2, 2023). "Fortnite's Eminem concert teased the future of the game".
  29. ^ "Eminem's Concert Broke Fortnite Servers". December 3, 2023.
  30. ^ Kircher, Madison Malone (December 3, 2023). "What Happened With Fortnite's Eminem Concert This Weekend?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 4, 2023.
  31. ^ Sun, Michael (December 4, 2023). "Kiss unveil digital avatars at final ever show: 'We can be forever young and forever iconic'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved December 4, 2023.
  32. ^ Davis, Wes (December 4, 2023). "Kiss debuts 'immortal' digital avatars and plans to go 'fully virtual'".
  33. ^ "K-pop to go virtual with hologram theater". JoongAng Ilbo. Retrieved July 23, 2013. Holograms have yet to fully catch on, so making them is still expensive; one hologram video costs about 200 million won ($183,908) to make, which is two or three times more than a run-of-the-mill K-pop video.
  34. ^ Siow, Shannon. "The next big thing in Korea's music industry: Holograms". CNET. Retrieved July 23, 2013.