The ‘In the Room with Nile Rodgers’ project was developed in association with Universal Music UK and the National Portrait Gallery, with the involvement of Abbey Road Studios.
To interact with Nile, users hold a button and speak into their device and can ask him questions about his life and career.
The experience, the result of two days of interviews, 350 questions and two 8k 3D film cameras, is available to the public at hereintheroom.com, as well as through the National Portrait Gallery’s website.
Anyone can try the experience for free, but an online pass to access the full and extended version costs £20 (approximately $27), 5% of which will support the work of the National Portrait Gallery.
The project was originally supposed to be presented as a physical Virtual Reality installation in London, but the pandemic forced the project’s creators to design a web-based conversational media experience for audiences at home instead.
Behind a “simple interface”, says London-based Forever, is a “hugely complex design and production process, including advanced video production, natural language data and asset design”
“The experience is built on a scalable infrastructure, utilising high-performance systems of world class cloud partners to create a best-of-breed development build,” adds a media statement.
Forever says that its technology is “ideal for a huge array of sectors from education to entertainment”.
Superstar artists can charge thousands of dollars for fan meet and greets, but like live music, these in-person events haven’t been possible in most of the world for the past 12 months due to the pandemic.
Amidst the booming virtual concert business, could there also be a market for paid-for virtual meet and greets similar to this new immersive VR experience demonstrated by Forever?
In audience tests conducted by Forever, the company reports that 77% of 18–24-year-olds said they would “definitely or probably try this type of interactive experience with their musical heroes”, demonstrating what the startup claims is “significant potential engagement among consumers with this innovative technology”.
In The Room With Nile Rodgers was created by an Innovate UK-supported consortium comprising Forever Holdings, Bright White Ltd (award-winning designers) and research partners Manchester Metropolitan University.
“In The Room With Nile Rodgers demonstrates brand new technical innovation in the use of voice recognition, natural language processing, and machine learning to facilitate response accuracy.”
Sarah Coward, Forever
Forever founder Sarah Coward said: “In The Room With Nile Rodgers demonstrates brand new technical innovation in the use of voice recognition, natural language processing, and machine learning to facilitate response accuracy.
“In The Room With Nile Rodgers has broken new ground, not only through the use and development of brand new technologies; but by the value and standing it places on the nature of person to person interaction.
“We want to bring realism and authenticity to audiences, fighting back against the ‘deepfake’ concept and producing human experiences that bring the ‘real person’ into the room in a way that feels genuinely meaningful.
“I hope this experience will help people understand more about my journey, my life in the music industry, and what I have been trying to say through my music.”
Nile Rodgers said: “Who I am as a person is really the essence of most of my songs. So I hope this experience will help people understand more about my journey, my life in the music industry, and what I have been trying to say through my music.
“It gives people I might never get to meet the opportunity to ask me questions and share thoughts in a completely new way. I love this because I believe that at the foundation of music are human connections and a human story that needs to be told.
“I hope people who know my work really well enjoy some special moments, and people who are new to my work can get a peek into a life in music. If I can share some hope and optimism along the way, then even better!”
“Forever’s digital experiences can provide something special for audiences, and a new tool for artists to connect individually with the fans worldwide who support them.”
Jennifer Hills, Universal Music UK
Jennifer Hills, SVP at Globe, Universal Music UK’s Creative & Commercial Partnerships division, added: “With music fans’ ability to attend live shows temporarily halted, Forever’s digital experiences can provide something special for audiences, and a new tool for artists to connect individually with the fans worldwide who support them.”
“We are delighted to be associated with this pioneering project to produce this ground-breaking voice-interactive portrait.”
Denise Vogelsang, National Portrait Gallery
Denise Vogelsang, Director of Digital at the National Portrait Gallery said: “We are delighted to be associated with this pioneering project to produce this ground-breaking voice-interactive portrait.
“By making this exciting new experience available on our website, we hope to be able to harness the benefits of the latest digital technologies to inspire new audiences and explore innovative forms of storytelling.”
Music Business Worldwide