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Universal and iHeartRadio announce VR event partnership at CES 2016

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Radio giant iHeartRadio and Universal Music (home of Kanye West, The Weeknd, Ellie Goulding, and more) have partnered for a series of virtual reality “immersive music” experiences this year. The 2016 iHeartRadio Music Awards on April 3 will be their first event, according to Billboard, and its VR content will feature an Universal artist and as well as backstage footage. The companies announced the partnership this week at CES 2016.

“We want to not only make the experience better for the fans in the venue, but to create moments that could only exist for fan watching and listening outside the venue,” explained iHeartRadio exec John Sykes to Billboard.

Universal signed on because it’s “focused on harnessing cutting-edge technology to pioneer new creative and commercial opportunities for artists, labels and fans,” said Universal Music CEO Lucian Grange in a related statement.

Other big name artists who have experimented with VR concerts in the past include Björk, Coldplay and Paul McCartney. Last month, Björk released the video for her song Stonemilker in virtual reality. In 2014, NextVR released an entire Coldplay concert featuring the group’s record Ghost Stories in VR. Also that year, tech company Jaunt released a live VR performance of Paul McCartney’s Live And Let Die, which let viewers watch the performance from multiple viewpoints.

iHeartRadio will include one VR experience by a Universal artist for each of its events in 2016, including the iHeartRadio Music Awards, the iHeartRadio Fiesta Latina, the iHeartRadio Music Festival, and the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Tour. The companies also plan to shoot and distribute full concerts in VR from four to-be-announced artists as part of the iHeartRadio VR Concert Series later this year.

Billboard notes that the VR tech firm attached to the project has not yet been determined.

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