Augmented Reality Is Here To Take Over: An Interview With Fermatta Digital

By: Seamus Fay

Simply put, augmented reality, or AR, is a clear glimpse into what the future of marketing and visuals in the music world are on their way to becoming. This mind-bending technology has graced its way into our lives in ways that we may not even have realized so far, and even in the Massachusetts music scene, we experienced a taste of the AR world with the following animation of Caliph and Jefe Replay’s anthemic offering, “The Mood”.

With this rapidly-growing field of technology on the rise right now, we spoke to the good people over at Fermatta Digital about how the Caliph animation came together, the role of AR in the music world, and the future/potential of such impressive new ways of packaging music.

Read our conversation below.



What role will AR play in the music industry in the future?

Augmented Reality blurs the lines between physical and digital worlds, providing a transformative, new medium for creatives to express themselves. From a music industry standpoint, we at Fermatta see a tremendous opportunity for musicians and labels to harness the power of AR to create innovative experiences to between artist and fan. This can come in many forms such as immersive lenses to bring a music video or album “to life”, applications that enhance live shows, merchandise, album covers, show posters,  and experiences. AR can be a disruptive force in marketing and branding, especially as companies such as Snapchat lower the barrier to creation and deployment. One of the most exciting parts of this is that we are in early stages of AR and it’s up to creatives of where they want to take it.

An interesting hypothesis we have is that AR will strengthen the emotional bonds between fans and artists, which then turns into digital engagement and financial support. It’s well known in the music industry that live shows are still the best form of marketing – this is largely because of the undeniable emotional connection that fans develop with artists once they’ve seen them perform live. Being in the same room and seeing the artist as human beings turn fans into avid supporters and drives their online habits such as streams, sales, and engagement on social media. AR can play a similar role, but at scale – allowing the artist to be “with” fans anywhere, at any time. For example, placing an avatar of the artist in a fan’s environment to sing, dance, or talk, or creating a portal that allows fans to enter a new environment with the artist. The more time spent “together” between fan and artist, the stronger the bond.

Where has the impact of AR been seen in the music industry already?

AR is slowly emerging with early adopters within the music industry. In the context of Snap lenses, we recently launched an immersive portal on Snapchat for Powers Pleasant, Joey Bada$$ and A$AP Ferg to promote their latest single: “Pull Up”, bringing the JMP-directed video to life in AR (shout-out to JMP who is also from Boston). We have seen this spread very organically with fans on social uploading videos of them using and interacting with the portal wherever they are. You can check that out here.

We are also seeing new ARSnap face lenses to support new singles. Post Malone released one in support of his new album (here), LSD (Labrinth, Sia, Diplo) released one in support of their new single (here), and The Chainsmokers released avatar based lens (here). A$AP Rocky released an AR component in his mobile application “Yammy Vision” in promotion of his new album Testing (here). Finally, Eminem released an AR application that allows his fans to experience his live shows differently (here).

How did this collaboration with Caliph come together?

Caliph: Music has always been a means of communication beyond any language that can reach people with little to no limits and technology has a very similar reach in many ways. I being an immigrant, DACA recipient and an artist feel like it’s my responsibility to use these means of communication to bring people together, change the narrative and stigmas put on our communities and teach people to love themselves. The mood is an example of that for me. It has always been my goal with that song to improve and lighten the listener’s mood no matter what they are going through. In activism, it is important to know when to back down from constantly fighting to focus on helping those you are fighting for cope with their issues. Whether it’s a break from reality with an enigmatic and euphoric song or even an AR lens that takes you to the beach no matter where you are. In this case, the goal was to achieve both and it turned out to be really cool. It also allowed me, someone who can’t leave the country, to virtually travel beyond my legal means and that was very dope. I was just dancing in the Dominican Republic. & Dubai the other day. That’s amazing. I’m excited about the future and what we will bring to the table as we continue to push beyond limits with the advancements of technology and our music.

Fermatta: Augmented Reality is still a new, somewhat foreign concept for the mainstream consumer. We were really interested in working with an artist that was forward thinking and saw the potential implications of AR even if the infrastructure is not fully materialized. Also, on a basic level, we wanted to partner with someone who made dope, meaningful music, because, at the end of the day, all of this is somewhat meaningless if the music isn’t there. Caliph checked all the boxes with the added bonus of being from the Boston area. “The Mood” is super catchy, and the perfect summer song. Beyond just the music though we were inspired by Caliph’s involvement in the community and politically, empowering marginalized and immigrant communities. We really thought it was a natural fit, and we are inspired to help Caliph spread his mission far and wide, so stay tuned for some more projects in the intersection of technology, music, and activism.

What does the process of creating something like this look like?

For a Snap portal lens like this, our process is pretty straight-forward. It typically starts with an open-ended brainstorm session where we all get together and bounce around ideas; if the goal is to enhance a music video or song, there is typically more structure given there is an environment or scene to pull from creatively. From there we see what is technically feasible given constraints (such as Snap file size limit), and build iteratively. Throughout the process, we have active, open dialogue with the artist and their team in order to ensure that we are bringing their vision to life.


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