January 6, 2022

VRChat In 2022: The Era of Musical Decentralization

VRChat is growing--and that means its music community is about to explode.

VRChat In 2022: The Era of Musical Decentralization
Users relax on a couch at DDVR, a longstanding American-style nightclub.

The past year has seen an incredible proliferation of talent within VRChat’s music community. Where previously there were only a few virtual clubs for users to attend in 2020, it is no longer possible to cover every venue that exists there in a single article.

With Oculus selling headsets to new audiences over the Christmas season, the community is set to expand again in new ways that will affect crowd dynamics, even possibly spilling over to other virtual platforms. This will push up the number of clubs that exist, establish more niche venues, and prevent any one stage from remaining its true center.

Chevette enjoys a display of fireworks for Dieselworks' New Years Eve party.

The effect this will have on VRChat’s users is a positive one: new musicians getting started can find an easier time of grabbing an audience. More experienced and longstanding performers can easily keep their crowd, but may begin to consider other ways in which they can advertise themselves outside of their usual virtual haunts.

Live performance measures, such as singing and non-electrical instruments, are also seeing cross-promotion with musicians who work in both fields. Bringing these clubs into the picture expands what’s already in VRChat--showing just how vast the virtual music community truly is.

The Metaculture is proclaiming 2022 as the VR music scene’s year of decentralization. Here are some things you might see happening in the coming months as a result.

Graffiti and stickers of various performers on VRChat's New Years Eve display.

The Amount of Venues Will Rise, Peak, And Plateau By Summer

As of now, new talent is registering their accounts, exploring hotspots, and introducing themselves. Some new venues will also emerge from community members who have been involved in things for a while. Whatever the case, these new hotspots will gain traction in the thread of counterculture (meaning what’s popular thought now may not be by late spring), and either merge or fall away by the time summer arrives. And as with last year, the first club’s failure doesn’t mean a venue manager is out—they can possibly come back even stronger with an improved concept, taking the lessons they learned from previous attempts to make an even better map.

Users play arcade machines at Club LIT.

The “Entertainment Complex Venue“ Might Gain More Popularity

The Castle rents virtual condominiums in its space to Patreon donors, as well as the perk of a hidden bowling alley somewhere in its expansive building. Meanwhile, LIT has installed working arcade machines that let users earn points while they dance the night away. Can this sequel to Big American Style clubs make a chance at growth this year? It’s possible someone who visits these worlds will get inspired, have a twist on the idea, and build their own take. What if someone combined an Udon Chip arcade with condominiums to rent? What if it turns out to be incredibly profitable?

MoetheLawn performing at The Dice.

Looking To Beat Primetime Event Saturation, A Few American-Side Clubs Might Expand Into Afternoon Shows

On a Saturday afternoon, Team Muse holds cross-continent concerts once a month to nearly 500 views over the span of several hours. The secret is in the combined efforts of their live performance team, comprised of a dedicated group of light and sound workers, singers who interact with their streaming audience in VRChat and their Twitch channel at the same time, and guitarists who play impressive solos that are worth their salt on any real-or-virtual stage. The popularity of this concept can easily appeal to other organizers, and can inspire them to try earlier performance times to entice new listeners.

A Team Muse concert with SporkofLove on stage.

Some Artists Will Grow Their Brand To A Variety Of Virtual Platforms

VRChat may always be an artists’ main performance home, but it doesn’t mean it has to be the only stage they’ll visit. Currently, more performers are signing up at Club Cyberia and experimenting with putting on shows in Final Fantasy XIV. This exchange can also lead new musicians from those communities into VRChat, enacting a sort of cultural exchange in the process.

Iron Biscuit spins at Techneu.

We Might See More Virtual Musicians Speaking At Real-Life Conferences

Let’s face it: VR-centric conferences right now are either strictly technical with deep knowledge, or are held by business teams who have no idea what they’re talking about. This space is ripe for musicians, who have honed their skills with the execution of live events and Unity tricks to give their maps a sparkle, to join panels where they can talk about their success and challenges in tech and marketing. The ones who have a better time of it will bring exactly what marketing firms want to hear: how the hell do you sell a product in VR? There are users who know, and a small amount of artists can cash in on this knowledge.

Community membes Engage and Kaizen, wearing avatars with audio-reactive elements and glowing details. Fashion in VR can often include elements that react to the space a user is a part of.

It’s Going To Become Incredibly Niche In Here

And that’s good, because anyone who joins will be able to find an avenue for them. Want to attend a blues bar and try your hand at singing? That might be a thing this year. Want to team up with a producer who’s interested in a band-style project? There are plenty around, and we could begin to see functioning duos rise up and become popular from their virtual beginnings. There’s going to be a stage for whatever you want to do, and a group to welcome you when you don’t feel welcome anywhere else.

And that leads to the next effect: choice. Where there are scant offerings in a space, there is worse behavior and more toxicity. A larger scene means performers understand their crowd will move on if said performer treats their fellow community members badly.

Community member Nurse_uwu attending a Monolith set.

A solid moderation team will be necessary to navigate the field of tomorrow’s challenges as they come. More experienced venues might have this down, but smaller groups have the advantage of more intimacy, and better control on issues if they arise.

VRChat is ready for its next generation of artists and performers, and soon the community will be so large that it will not be possible to know everyone within it. The upside? The reality it brings to virtual reality. More normalcy, less of a hyperfocus on popularity. “Just play music”, as a motto of the artist enclave Dieselworks goes. This just might be the year when true culture begins to bloom forth.