UPDATED! Wave, the Social VR Music Platform, Is Shutting Down

Wave (formerly known variously as Wave XR, TheWaveXR, and TheWaveVR) has announced in a notice posted to their Facebook group that they are shutting down their service:

In a message posted today to their Steam page, CEO Adam Arrigo said:

We founded Wave almost five years ago to connect humanity through immersive music experiences. That journey started in the VR space, with our community-driven VR app on Steam, and it’s been rewarding watching our community of creators use our tools to host their own VR concerts. We never foresaw the incredible things people would create, and often attending those shows felt like peering into the future of live music / visual art performance and being blown away by the result.

Two years ago we pivoted out of VR into gaming and live-streaming, as the VR industry didn’t develop as quickly as we’d hoped. Artists need audiences to thrive, and we realized VR just wasn’t there yet, and there was a bigger opportunity for artists outside headsets. Even though it doesn’t fit our current business model, we’ve kept TheWaveVR app and servers running just because the community in there has made such inspiring stuff. Unfortunately, we built the user tools on top of Google Poly, which is shutting down.

As much as we’d love to, we aren’t able to spend the resources to build a new backend pipeline, since we are already spread so thin trying to accomplish our current set of non-VR objectives. We are still a relatively small startup. The hardest part of running a startup is choosing what to focus on, which has led us to the difficult decision to sunset TheWaveVR app on Steam and Oculus.

Even though this means the Wave VR shows will come to a pause, we think this is the best decision for the long term future of the Wave community, and we promise to do everything we can to one day bring back this experience in an even more evolved form. Thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts for joining us for all those multi-hour VR raves and for helping us craft this vision of the future of music and art. We hope you’ll join us for this next chapter!

The Lindsey Stirling concert in Wave was a highlight of 2019 for me

I still vividly remember the live Lindsey Stirling concert I attended in Wave as a highlight of my social VR experiences in 2019 (here is my review). Like many companies, Wave had built a social VR platform for music events in anticipation of a sizeable consumer audience with high-end, tethered VR headsets, an audience which largely failed to materialize, leading to a pivot away from VR to gaming and livestreaming concerts.

It is notable that Wave would have kept their social VR platform going, were it not for Google deciding to shutter Google Poly, the 3D object platform on which it relied, which underscores the precariousness of corporations relying on external, third-party tools and services when building a metaverse product. Interestingly, the company had successfully raised $30 million in venture capital only seven months ago.

While I am sad to see Wave fold, I am not surprised. I suspect that we will see several similar announcements from other social VR companies this year.


Thanks to Michael Zhang for the tip!

UPDATE Jan. 16th, 2021: Alex Coulombe tweeted in response to this blogpost:

Ryan, I think your headline is misleading. My understanding is Wave isn’t shutting down, they’re just shutting down the ability to see their concerts in VR. They just launched a new website 3 days ago.

And I wanted to make it clear that Wave is only shutting down their social VR platform, but that they are continuing with their livestreaming business. Sorry for any confusion! I wish the company every success in their future endeavours.

Review: Lindsey Stirling Concert in Wave

I took the afternoon off work to catch the electronic violinist, Lindsey Stirling, perform a live show in Wave at 2:00 p.m. Central Time.

Lindsey wore a full-body 3D motion capture suit and special VR gloves, which allowed her to completely animate her avatar in Wave, from her head down to her feet (including each individual finger on her hands), as she played and danced!

The concert was wonderful! She played several of the songs from her soon-to-be-released album, Artemis, for the first time before a live audience. As she played, the stage around her would transform itself into different designs, and sometimes, particle effects (like red leaves) would swirl around her. It was a mesmerizing performance!

Here is the entire performance captured on YouTube. The special effects were wonderful, and they really added to the overall fantasy atmosphere! (They updated this video, so I reposted the link below so that it should start at the very beginning of the video. If it doesn’t work for you, just scroll back to the very start of this video to catch the start of Lindsey’s performance, thanks!)

I especially liked how people’s comments were displayed as bright lights at the intervals between songs, while Lindsey talked to the crowd in attendance (you can see all their avatars in parts of this performance). I’m assuming these were the comments posted by the YouTube viewers, but I’m not sure. It was a wonderful experience!

Here’s a link that should connect you to all the different places you can watch the concert! I understand that this concert will only be available for 24 hours and after that, it’s gone. So please don’t wait to go see it!

Lindsey Stirling to Perform in Wave Monday, August 26th

Wave Logo

While I was busy blogging about other platforms, the music performance social VR platform TheWaveVR has renamed itself to, simply, Wave. (I will retag all my blogposts about TheWaveVR to date with the new tag Wave so they will still be easy to find.)

In the past, innovative musical artists such as Imogen Heap have performed in concerts on the social VR platform:

This coming Monday, August 26th, electronic violinist Lindsey Stirling will be performing live in her first virtual concert on Wave:

Electronic violinist Lindsey Stirling is putting on a new kind of interactive virtual concert, performing live to fans in avatar form. The concert, put on in collaboration with streaming platform Wave, will take place at 3 p.m. (EST) on Monday 26 August.

Stirling will perform through her avatar, powered by art body motion and face capture technology. Fans will also be able created their own avatars and attend the virtual show by downloading the Wave virtual reality (VR) app, supported by HTC Vive and Oculus Rift…

The show, streamed live from Wave’s Los Angeles studios, will be available to watch live via the artist’s YouTube channel and Facebook page, or Wave’s Twitch channel. Fans that miss the live performance can watch it back for 24 hours after premiere time.

Lindsey excitedly tweeted about her upcoming performance, sharing a video (which I can’t embed here on this blogpost, please use the link I posted to see the video on Twitter):

VRScout adds a few more details:

In a video posted to Stirling’s official Twitter account, the musician can be seen wearing what appears to be an XSens 3D motion capture suit and Manus VR Gloves. This device captures Stirling’s movements and translates them into VR in real-time, allowing her to perform complex dance routines just as she would in real-life. While Stirling will be performing the entirety of the show, she’ll be doing so as her character “Artemis,” goddess of the moon and the protagonist of her latest album. 

Wave is available both on the Oculus Store for the Oculus Rift and on Steam for the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index, and Windows Mixed Reality VR headsets. You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook, or join their Discord server.