The Future of Music

Anne McKinnon

Roman Rappak

Cofounders of Overview Ark

Anne McKinnon and Roman Rappak are creating Overview Ark, a vibrant music-based ecosystem connecting artists and audiences around the world.

What are the origins of Overview Ark?

We began working with immersive live concerts and game engines in 2017, building prototypes, taking them to festivals, art galleries, warehouses and cinemas around the world, selling tickets and getting feedback from an incredibly diverse audience. Everyone from music lovers to gamers, concert and theatre goers, art lovers, and creatives, people of all ages and backgrounds, came to see our performances.

What was being in SXSW 2020 like?

At SXSW 2020 we had the first showcase to feature across all of SXSW’s festivals: music, interactive, and film. It reflected a genuine meeting of music and tech, and an unprecedented collaboration between these worlds.

What was a turning point in the trajectory of Overview Ark?

The real tipping point in the project was when everything was cancelled due to COVID-19. We saw what was happening to the music industry, and also experienced it ourselves first hand: events rescheduled, touring stopped and millions of up-and-coming artists no longer had a way to reach their audiences, all in the span of a few weeks. It was devastating.

When we saw that artists were already using our tools and platform to reach audiences for safely distanced, live immersive concerts and hybrid (live and online) performances that was an “ah ha” moment. Our project could help all artists reach their audiences and the 2.5 billion gamers who suddenly became potential virtual concert goers.

In June 2020, we launched Overview Ark to make our tools and platform accessible to the entire music industry, gamers, and fans- as the Overview Ark ecosystem. We are continuing to develop the Overview Ark ecosystem and holding pop-up hybrid events.

When you encounter skeptics, how do you convince people that this is the future of concerts and entertainment?

We show them this 5 minute where we cover virtual concerts, the industry, the opportunity and what we’re up to!

Quick summary of video:

  • Travis Scott’s performance in fortnight attracted 27 million people, that’s 54x more people than attended Woodstock. Scott’s performance was recorded weeks before the actual event premiered (Read more about Scott’s performance here).
  • Live streaming ≠ virtual concert
  • Virtual concerts should be: interactive (move within the space) & social (interact with others at the show)
  • The music industry has been declining while the video game industry has been growing tremendously, approx 2.3 billion gamers in the world
  • The world is playing 3 billion hours per week on online games. Imagine if one of these hours was spent watching, or virtually attending, an artist's performance.
  • Virtual Concerts = Music Industry x Gaming Industry
  • Virtual Concerts will not replace real in-person concerts but are a supplemental / additional form of entertainment ex: music videos don’t replace the artists album

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Chris Lubin

Strategy Lead at Spotify

I've been curious about the rise of music startups, but how can they actually compete in the market and be lucrative?

There have been a ton of new startups particularly within music tech and on social media. They are each competing in their own lane and are formed in response to changing artist and fan behavior. These startups can definitely have longevity if they continue to adapt to changes we're seeing - particularly changes around the Creator economy and the ways in which we discover, consume and share new music.

Do you think streaming will look different five years from now?

Yes, because it looked different five years ago. Artists and labels innovate. New technology pops up. Fan taste evolves and changes over time. I think you're going to continue to see the rise of influence of TikTok breeding mega pop stars, the continued dissolution of traditional genres, and a move towards hyper personalization across DSPs (digital service providers).

How much of success in music is actual talent versus having a very smart team behind you who knows how to market you?

I think it's always been a bit of both. It always has to start with some level of talent, or at least the appearance of it, but you can't underestimate the value of having a good team. There are 40,000 songs uploaded to DSPs every year, and you increasingly need a team, or understand yourself, on other ways to break through. If you look at the world today, it’s increasingly more common that music is not the starting point. You can find fame as a social influencer and leverage that for a music career.

Why do some people say the music industry is dead?

I think people have been saying that at every major inflection point in music, particularly as new formats arrive. And yet the industry continues to be resilient. I think you'll see continued evolution and innovation from individuals as technology changes our interactions with artists and their music. I wouldn't bet on the music industry dying anytime soon.

Joshua Rothstein

CEO/Founder of Ice Cream for Dinner

a concert promotions, music management, and marketing company.

Partnership Marketing Manager at Primary Wave Entertainment

Toured with country superstar Luke Bryan and has worked with artists including Galantis, Charli XCX, and A$AP Ferg.

What do you think the future of music looks like?

I’m very excited about the future of music. It’s getting easier and easier for artists to take control of their own careers, and there are so many exciting ways for an artist to get discovered. The industry as a whole is waking up and beginning to empower artists more.

I give credit to artists like Taylor Swift, Chance the Rapper, and Dirty Honey, among many others, for showing how to advocate for themselves, all while taking very different and unique career paths.

How are the best music partnerships made?

The best music partnerships all share one very important trait: they are organic. An artist should never promote a product or company they don’t actually like - it comes through as inauthentic and the consumer can easily tell. Partnerships should always be mutually beneficial and never viewed as just a cash grab. If both parties are truly invested in the success of the deal, the partnership will perform much better.

What is the best food to have backstage?

This is a tough one, but I’d say chips and guac. When I’m going to a show, especially in a new venue, you never know how the food will be or what you’ll get in your dressing room. When I put together a rider, I always try to add things that will be consistent regardless of where you get them from, and it’s pretty hard to mess up chips and guac.

What is your best post-show story?

Best post-show story is another tough one. When I was on tour with Luke Bryan summer 2019, we had a show in Indianapolis that got rained out. Rather than let the rain cancel all the festivities, the first opener Jon Langston decided to perform a pop-up concert at a local bar. Word quickly spread about what was happening and the place was packed. Jon crushed it and Cole Swindell even stopped by to perform a few songs.

What is your favorite venue in NYC?

Although I am not a performer, I’m lucky to have worked at many amazing venues in NYC. My favorite is probably Central Park Summerstage. Besides the fact that it’s walking distance from my apartment, there’s something so special about performing in Central Park and being surrounded by beautiful trees & plants while seeing the city skyline.

I can’t wait to get back to working shows there!

How do you discover different artists to sign?

We are always looking for more artists to book and work with on marketing! I’m constantly going to shows, listening to music online, and listening to the music my friends send me. Feel free to reach out at josh@icecreamfordinner.com if you’d like to work with us!

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