As concerts and live events return to the physical world in the United States, many in the tech industry have questioned whether some of the opportunities in the pandemic era around the virtualization of these events have been lost on the world. moment.
Based in San Francisco FlyMachine aims to seek out the holy grail of the digital music industry, finding a way to capture some of the magic of concerts and live performances in a live broadcast setting. The startup is hoping that pandemic-era consumer habits around video chat socialization combined with an industry in need of digital diversification can push their flavor of virtual concerts into the lives of music fans.
The startup’s ambitions don’t come cheap, FlyMachine tells TechCrunch it has raised $ 21 million in investor funding to fund its plans. The financing was led by Greycroft Partners and SignalFire, with additional participation from Primary Venture Partners, Contour Venture Partners, Red Sea Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank.
The virtual concert industry has not seen as big a lockdown moment as some had hoped. Spotify experimented with virtual events. Meanwhile, startups like Wave have raised huge VC funding to turn real artists into digital avatars in a bid to create more digital native concerts. And while some smaller artists have adopted shows on Zoom or have worked with startups like Oda who created subscriptions to live concerts, there was little mainstream success among the bigger groups.
Make FlyMachine’s virtual concert brand a thing, the startup isn’t trying to convert potential attendees of a show into virtual attendees, instead hoping to create an engaging experience for people who would normally skip the show. Whether those virtual attendees are too far from a location, can’t have a babysitter for the night, or just aren’t excited about a mosh pit scene anymore, FlyMachine hopes there will be enough potential attendees on the bubble to support startup as they try to blur the lines between “a night out inside and a night out,” says CEO Andrew Dreskin.
The startup’s strategy centers on establishing partnerships with branded concert halls in the United States – Bowery Ballroom in New York City, Club 365 de Bimbo at San Francisco, The Crocodile in Seattle, Marathon Music Works at Nashville and the Teragram Ballroom at Los Angeles, among them – and live stream some of the shows at those venues to a home audience. The FlyMachine team has deep roots in the music industry, Dreskin founded Ticketfly (acquired by Pandora) while co-founder Rick Farman is also the co-founder of Superfly which hosts the Bonnaroo music festivals and Outside Lands.
In terms of actual experience – and I was fortunate enough to experience one of the shows (pictured above) before writing this – FlyMachine have done their best to recreate the experience of screaming in the air for talk with your friends nearby. In the world of FlyMachine, it’s all about watching the show in a “private room” with your other friends streaming live in video chat bubbles from their homes. It’s well done and doesn’t distract too much from the gig, but you can adjust the sound levels for your friends and music when the weather calls for it.
The FlyMachine platform launch earlier this year, coming with many Americans having been vaccinated and many spectators preparing to return to normal, might have been considered a bit late at the moment, but the founding team sees a long-term opportunity that only further highlighted COVID.
“We weren’t in a mad rush to release the product while people were sequestered in their homes because we knew it would be part of the fabric of society going forward,” Dreskin told TechCrunch.