Connect with us

Technology

How digital avatars could be the future of touring

From a Tupac hologram to ABBA avatars, Theo Tzanidis and Dr Stephen Langston look at how technology could provide new experiences for music fans and disrupt an industry.

Click here to visit The Conversation.

A version of this article was originally published by The Conversation (CC BY-ND 4.0)

It was a technological feat that made history, wowed audiences and brought a dead rapper back to life. In April 2012 at the Coachella festival in California, Tupac Shakur took to the stage with Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre. He’d been dead for 16 years, killed in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas.

But this was Tupac the hologram, foul-mouthed and lifelike, performing before a “shocked, then amazed” crowd.

Since humans first delighted in the sound of music, advancements in technology have managed to make musical expression immortal. Throughout history, innovators have strived to create original, accessible and eternal performances.

As engineering knowledge developed, musical instrument design advanced. Many classical composers introduced pioneering instrumentations into their scores, adding depth and colour that broadened the listening experience.

Accurate systems for notation matured, offering music an essence of immortality through printed manuscript. In 1853, Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville’s phonautograph pioneered an audio recording technique.

In 1912, WC Handy composed Memphis Blues, a song that took the US by storm and influenced the development of popular music. Published on paper, it was wildly popular in the dance halls and soon every band in America was asked to play it. This public demand was recognised by a fledgling recording industry, which soon flourished.

Technology and creativity

A breakthrough in the quality of music capture came with the advent of hi-fi and stereo. Those who embraced the technology artistically could transport a lifelike performance experience into the homes of the masses.

One of the biggest bands of the 1970s and 1980s, Swedish supergroup ABBA, embraced pioneering recording techniques. Behind this technology was the creative genius that produced millions of record sales and performances dominating the 1970s and beyond.

After the apparent demise of the group, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus expanded into the theatrical genre, composing musicals. Along with their interest in emerging technology, this sowed the seeds to recapture and reinvent the ABBA machine 40 years later.

May 2022 sees the latest technological advances in musical immortality when ABBA return to the live stage after a 40-year absence. But this time they return as humanoids – the digital hologram ‘twins’ of the original global phenomenon.

George Lucas’s Industrial Light and Magic has created holographic lookalikes that interact with a live band in a specially designed purpose-built theatre in east London. Benny, Björn, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Agnetha Fältskog have provided the pre-recorded vocals and motion-captured movement, which will then be reproduced by the digital avatars.

The doppelgängers are more youthful in their appearance – around their 30s, when the band were at the peak of their fame – raising an interesting conundrum concerning ABBA’s human mortality against their new immortality in the metaverse.

ABBA’s music is undoubtedly timeless; the simple tunes with incredibly complicated structures appeal to millions. The ‘Abbatars’ are a reinvention for a new audience, but will they continue beyond the lives of their originals with new creators pulling the strings?

Besides ABBA and Tupac, there are other instances where digital twinning has been identified as a key money-making strategy. The digital band Gorillaz’ 2006 Grammy performance blended flawlessly with Madonna’s. And Richard Burton’s hologram performed on a global tour of War of the Worlds in another 2006 performance.

Music in the metaverse

Customising 3D avatars has become a unique way for artists to create virtual brands across several digital platforms. They can connect virtually with fans and increase loyalty and engagement, while fans can interact, express themselves and experience new things.

This is now achievable using AI software to make holograms, as researchers at MIT demonstrated in an experiment that created holograms fairly instantaneously.

Ziva Dynamics, a pioneer in simulation and real-time character creation, employs synthetic AI-powered avatars to create autonomous and complex movement simulations based on real muscle, fat, soft tissue and skin contact.

In 2021, in a project called Lost Tapes Of The 27 Club, Google’s Magenta AI was even used to compose songs in the styles of musicians who died at the age of 27, including Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Amy Winehouse.

These technologies have the potential to create realistic synthetic and AI holographic representations of departed artists, allowing them to continue creating, influencing and performing for future audiences.

Epic Games, creator of the phenomenally successful Fortnite, predicts that digital twins will combine with the metaverse, an emerging network of fully immersive digital worlds.

Disrupting the music business

Whereas live tours are time intensive and costly for new artists, a low-cost metaverse ‘tour’ might be a new way for music lovers to see live performances. Virtual performances by Justin Bieber, DeadMau5 and The Weeknd have already become popular recently.

In this emerging branch of the music industry, record labels and marketing firms could be replaced by decentralised autonomous organisations. DAOs are online organisations that operate like cooperatives, making all decisions jointly.

DAOs are already disrupting the music business – along with NFTs, which are a way of transferring property between people online. In October 2021, PleasrDAO – a collective of decentralised finance leaders, early NFT collectors and digital artists – paid $4m for Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, a one-of-a-kind album by New York hip-hop legends Wu-Tang Clan.

While the release of the album predates the rise of NFTs, PleasrDAO now owns the rights and has imposed strict restrictions on duplication, distribution or public exhibition.

A music-focused DAO like Pleasr may acquire bulk concert tickets, finance and organise events and manage fan-owned record labels and marketing agencies to secure investable commodities like first-edition LPs, artwork and instruments. This has the potential to benefit fans, new music genres and artists alike.

This creates a new, decentralised route to the market for artists free of corporate interests or interests of individual producers, developing a fairer landscape for the future. With digital avatars likely to be at the centre of this new vanguard, it will be fascinating to see how it develops in the months and years to come – and whether it will be enough for music audiences.

The Conversation
By Theo Tzanidis and Dr Stephen Langston

Theo Tzanidis is a senior lecturer in digital marketing at the University of the West of Scotland. Dr Stephen Langston is programme leader for performance at the university.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Source link

Culture

Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.


Continue Reading

Culture

European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


We Can’t Thank You Enough For Your Support!

— By Darren Wilson, Team VoiceOfEU.com

— Contact us: info@VoiceOfEU.com

— Anonymous submissions: press@VoiceOfEU.com

Continue Reading

Current

China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending ‘Taikonauts’ To The Moon From 2030 Onwards

China Reveals Lunar Mission

The Voice Of EU | In a bold stride towards lunar exploration, the Chinese Space Agency has unveiled its ambitious plans for a moon landing set to unfold in the 2030s. While exact timelines remain uncertain, this endeavor signals a potential resurgence of the historic space race reminiscent of the 1960s rivalry between the United States and the USSR.

China’s recent strides in lunar exploration include the deployment of three devices on the moon’s surface, coupled with the successful launch of the Queqiao-2 satellite. This satellite serves as a crucial communication link, bolstering connectivity between Earth and forthcoming missions to the moon’s far side and south pole.

Unlike the secretive approach of the Soviet Union in the past, China’s strategy leans towards transparency, albeit with a hint of mystery surrounding the finer details. Recent revelations showcase the naming and models of lunar spacecraft, steeped in cultural significance. The Mengzhou, translating to “dream ship,” will ferry three astronauts to and from the moon, while the Lanyue, meaning “embrace the moon,” will descend to the lunar surface.

Drawing inspiration from both Russian and American precedents, China’s lunar endeavor presents a novel approach. Unlike its predecessors, China will employ separate launches for the manned module and lunar lander due to the absence of colossal space shuttles. This modular approach bears semblance to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, reflecting a contemporary adaptation of past achievements.

Upon reaching lunar orbit, astronauts, known as “taikonauts” in Chinese, will rendezvous with the lunar lander, reminiscent of the Apollo program’s maneuvers. However, distinct engineering choices mark China’s departure from traditional lunar landing methods.

The Chinese lunar lander, while reminiscent of the Apollo Lunar Module, introduces novel features such as a single set of engines and potential reusability and advance technology. Unlike past missions where lunar modules were discarded, China’s design hints at the possibility of refueling and reuse, opening avenues for sustained lunar exploration.

China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending 'Taikonauts' To The Moon From 2030 Onwards
A re-creation of the two Chinese spacecraft that will put ‘taikonauts’ on the moon.CSM

Despite these advancements, experts have flagged potential weaknesses, particularly regarding engine protection during landing. Nevertheless, China’s lunar aspirations remain steadfast, with plans for extensive testing and site selection underway.

Beyond planting flags and collecting rocks, China envisions establishing a permanent lunar base, the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), ushering in a new era of international collaboration in space exploration.

While the Artemis agreements spearheaded by NASA have garnered global support, China’s lunar ambitions stand as a formidable contender in shaping the future of space exploration. In conclusion, China’s unveiling of its lunar ambitions not only marks a significant milestone in space exploration but also sets the stage for a new chapter in the ongoing saga of humanity’s quest for the cosmos. As nations vie for supremacy in space, collaboration and innovation emerge as the cornerstones of future lunar endeavors.


Continue Reading

Trending

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!