Horror, video games and… music videos? Vrtify co-founder and CEO Facundo Diaz believes that virtual reality enthusiasts have long overlooked music, and his company aims to change that with a music-centric platform that wants to take on everything from live concert experiences to traditional music videos.
Vrtify was founded three years ago with an initial focus on VR games. The company built a lot of software to make games work across multiple VR headsets, and along the way also built its own VR camera and post-production tools — a somewhat typical evolution in a nascent industry where no standard tools exist, forcing founders to invent the screwdriver before they can assemble the car.
But as the excitement for virtual reality picked up, Diaz saw many startups focus on games or immersive video experiences. Hardly anyone focused on music, save for a few concert recordings. Diaz smelled an opportunity, and his team began to build what he calls “the first virtual reality music platform.”
During a demo for Variety this month, Diaz showed off an app that lets users tap into their existing MP3 music collections, or connect to Spotify to play one of the subscription service’s millions of songs. When the music starts to play, users can select from a catalog of animated environments. One of them featured three animated dancers, moving in sync with the beat, while another put the viewer in a world of flames and dragons, just waiting for those metal sounds.
The app also featured a more traditional theater-like environment that let users watch music videos from Vevo, YouTube and other sources. This experience was similar to VR cinema apps on various headsets.
A third area of the app offers access to live concerts recorded in 180-degree or 360-degree video — with a twist: Vrtify doesn’t just use its own video camera rig to capture these gigs, but has also developed its own audio recording setup, capable of recording what Diaz called “3D audio.”
The startup places a number of microphones in a venue to capture up to 60 separate tracks. Vrtify then uses these microphones as sensors, and their input as signals to remix the original audio from the mixing console based on the point of view and location of the user.
This could make for really interesting experiences, where a user could virtually wander around in a live concert venue, and hear the music differently based on where they are and which way they are looking. Vrtify has also developed its own media file format to distribute these kinds of experiences. Combined with video or even the types of animated music experiences the company has been experimenting with, this could lay the foundation to a new type of music video, hopes Diaz.
A lot of this is still under development. Diaz said that Vrtify’s app won’t be available to consumers until Q2 of 2016. The company aims to officially unveil its work at CES, where it will have a booth right next to Oculus, and a closed beta test could start around the same time.
However, investors seem to be intrigued. Vrtify secured a seed round of $3.2 million from Angel Ventures VC and additional private investors earlier this year, and is currently in the process of raising a Series A round of funding.