Snap may not be particularly keen on the metaverse — at least, not as it’s been articulated by Mark Zuckerberg — but the company’s latest experiment certainly sounds a lot like a version of one. The company is teaming up with Universal to host a virtual concert featuring Jennifer Lopez and Colombian pop singer Maluma, which viewers can watch as their Bitmoji avatars.
The concert itself won’t take place in the Snapchat app, but would-be spectators can access the show by signing into the concert’s dedicated website with their Snapchat login. Users’ Bitmoji avatars will appear as spectators in the crowd. There are also a handful of interactive effects that will be available during the show, including the ability to start “the wave” and trigger a virtual laser effect. Lopez and Maluma will also appear as 3D avatars.
The event, scheduled for February 3rd, is meant to promote the upcoming rom-com Marry Me (also starring Lopez and Maluma), and is expected to last about 10 minutes, according to the company.
Virtual concerts have become one of the earliest examples of a metaverse-like experience. Fortnite’s in-game concerts are often referenced in discussions of what an eventual metaverse will look like. And Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has said he wants the Fortnite publisher to be a leader in the space. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also referenced concerts in the metaverse, writing last year that in the future people may be able to “teleport instantly as a hologram” in order to attend shows.
But Snap executives have talked about the metaverse very differently. Snap AR exec Sophia Dominguez told Engadget in December that the company’s vision for the future is not to “escape into another world” but create experiences that can bridge physical spaces with virtual ones. (Snap CEO Evan Spiegel put it slightly differently, remarking last fall on the dystopic origins of the word metaverse. “I think the basic notion was that you know as the physical world was sort of crumbling in this dystopian future that people would escape into this virtual world — that's not at all a focus for us,” he said referring to Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash.)
What’s less clear is if Snap intends for Bitmoji-led concerts to be a regular occurrence like Fortnite has (Live streaming platform Oz is powering the tech behind the show). But if the company’s first big foray into metaverse adjacent experiences is a hit, it’s not difficult to imagine Snap could host more Bitmoji-driven live events.