Welcome to NOWHERE: The Metaverse for Musicians and Artists
By Randal Wark
We can talk about Jon Morris the athlete, but not today. We can talk about Jon the actor, but not today. We can talk about Jon the conceptual artist, working with the Louvres, Lady Gaga, Cirque du Soleil, and the Metropolitan Opera, but not today. We can also talk about Jon, who is known for wearing the coolest pants…on another day. Today we talk about Jon the CEO of NOWHERE, a 3D community in the Metaverse.
NOWHERE will power the upcoming Phoque Off Festival, an innovative way to give us the feel of being in a live venue, from the safety and comfort of our own homes.
“My background is one of performer. I grew up in the theatre and athletics as a springboard diver. I performed around the world with Cirque du Soleil and Fuerza Bruta and large scale spectacle driven theaters before starting The Windmill Factory aimed at bringing sublime experiences to unexpected places.”
Live experiences came to halt with a global Pandemic, but a belief was unaffected:
“We believe that the power of awe and wonder can change the world, it can change people.”
Jon wondered: “What will happen to culture?”
It’s the gathering of like-minded individuals that sparks creativity, each feeding off one another, like a creative tornado gathering amplitude.
Culture is simply better in real life.
The challenge was to find a way to bring the same awe-inspiring experiences to an online world.
As a kid in Alabama, John would go on the dock and look up at the stars. These same stars would also be reflected in the water.
In Manhattan, because of the bright city lights, you can barely see the stars, even on a good day.
“What does that do to our humanity when you can’t see the heavens? We don’t get a sense of our place within this massive universe.”
This led Jon to create an installation on the Hudson River to recreate the night sky. It was called Reflecting Stars.
This installation, inspired by his time on the docks in Alabama, re-created that reflection.
It wasn’t the real things, but as close to it as you could imagine.
Jon set to do the same for venues in NOWHERE. It’s not real, but it’s as close as you can imagine. An experience of awe and wonder.
Another definition of star is someone famous. Maybe new stars will be born, going from NOWHERE to somewhere!
Right at the outset of the Pandemic, Jon’s birthday party was experienced in Virbela. While it didn’t check all the boxes, it was the spatial audio that opened their eyes to the possibility that a game engine could bring.
Because many of the platforms out there were avatar based, they missed “seeing” their friends.
Because of anonymity, “people treated each other rather poorly. They didn’t act as humans to one another.”
That was the missing ingredient that all platforms seem to lack: “Why don’t we have video, in the video game?”
The concept of NOWHERE began to emerge. Use a gaming engine to build amazing environments, then bring people, not avatars, into that environment.
“If you think about the power of music and musicians, typically they are sharing their truth. It is deeply connected to who they are, and image is very connected to that.”
At the shows, it’s not only the artist who are seen and heard, but also the audience. One might yell: “I love you, Emily Haines!”
Followed by: “I love you too.”
Those are special moments.
Being seen and heard is the core of who we are as humans.
As Jon and I are talking, we are elevated, as if on a virtual stage. Our audio travels further, amplified for the room.
Yet, if we had others in the room, we could hear the audience because all are seen and heard.
Compare that to an Instagram/Facebook stream, for instance, which is completely one-sided.
Maybe the artists peeks at the comments streaming by.
For more established artists, it becomes like a moment Jon remembers when Ben Folds said: “I can only see the bold text!”
The chat flies by in an unreadable blur.
You can feel the barrier between you and the artist.
Having the expertise of designing spaces, Jon’s team could create inspiring locations to visit and interact with.
“Places dictate behavior.”
Spatial audio adds to the experience by mimicking real interactions within the space.
Watch the video to see Jon show off some of the interactions possible in NOWHERE.
NOWHERE can also be used by musicians to add a revenue stream. Patreon performances, fan clubs, artist meet and greets…these are now possible.
“This way of performing, it’s such an evolution from the streaming with the chat flow.”
With the 1,000 True Fans Theory, which in essence is gathering 1,000 fans that will net you $100 per year. They buy all your merch, pay for your streams and gigs. With $100,000, you can make a decent living.
To get true fans, you need that intimacy, which was only available in a live setting. NOWHERE can change that.
Jon invites anyone who wants to experiment with this to sign up for a free account.
You can then have up to 50 people, or upgrade to a PRO account to get up to 150 people and more if needed.
Because this is also like a 3D website, you could setup a virtual merch table, with posters on the walls.
Jon suggests NFT ticket drops, music video premieres and an ongoing fan club with a regular scheduled performances.
NOWHERE was really built for musicians and to help build their audience.
Have you found the Easter Eggs?
“It’s like Pac-Man…you have to find the fruit.”
The team welcomes feedback, especially from musicians to help make the platform increasingly better.
A simultaneous experience for thousands, in one space.
NFT artists and galleries will have auctions and drops in the space.
On Februato 25, Phoque Off Festival will have people from all over experiencing a music festival in the Metaverse.
The next evolution will be games and allowing parties to build their own worlds within NOWHERE.Collaborations are also on the horizon. Jon asks us to imagine a scenario where FKA Twigs collaborates with Beeple. Imagine a game like a scavenger hunt through an FKA Twigs album.There is no end to the creative uses of the platform, and Jon looks forward to creating the next rock star in NOWHERE.
“If you think of an idea that is too out there…I dare you…bring it on.”