After a 40-year hiatus, legendary Swedish band ABBA hit the East London stage in May 2022 to rave reviews. But the band didn’t shed their iconic outfits and step on the board again. They were digitally rendered by Industrial Light and Magic using complex motion capture and Unreal 5.
This world first has left people wondering who’s next and what the future of gigs might look like. But it’s not just spectacular VFX and production techniques that define the future of entertainment. A new precedent is being set for artist and talent rights that could change the way the industry works forever.
To learn more about the business and legal implications of the show for artists, event producers, and VFX firms, LBB’s Tara Mucker met with Jamie Smith, a leading legal man and partner at leading media and technology law firm Sheridans. I will have a conversation. .
It seems fitting that Jamie Smith’s law firm is centrally located in Soho. It is famous for having the highest concentration of creators in London. As Jamie explains, Sheridans is a company unlike any other. Interestingly, they’re the first company to accept payments in the form of Bitcoin, but that’s just scratching the surface. is that
As they are, there is little to be said for the world’s multidisciplinary professionals.Jamie easily falls into that category.Starting his career as a medical practitioner, he joined Sony PlayStation as in-house legal counsel. He joined The Mill as General Counsel. His interest in virtual reality peaked when he studied Computer Science at the University of Bristol.
Celebrating his fifth anniversary at Sheridans, Jamie believes returning to private practice was the right decision. With a strong team of 16 attorneys, Jamie works on his VR productions, animation, AR and most anything in between.
Seeing is believing – “It was shocking”
Most people who walk away from the show are left wondering. Even ABBA devotees who didn’t think “Voulez-Vous” or the like could get any better were proven wrong.There were countless reports of audiences shedding tears. For Jamie, who has been on tour for over three years, it has been an amazing experience to see the tour come to life. When asked what it was like for him personally and as a lawyer to watch the show itself, Jamie said:
“There were two things. First, it was a visually stunning experience. Honestly, it completely blew my mind. I think it was the ‘wow’ factor to see the amazing work that has come together to complete a project of unprecedented scale. But I was also just in awe of how visually stunning it was, from the venue design to the overall presentation. It was great, really. ”
set a precedent?The future of legacy entertainment
Virtual production technology and the blending of physical and digital experiences have proven to be a fertile ground for discussions about the future of entertainment, and the pioneering nature of the Voyage tour leaves us wondering what comes next. I am thinking.
“I think the show set the blueprint for what legacy entertainment could look like for artists.” He describes what he saw. For traditional bands and musicians, the catalog has been the traditional format, but now he has come up with a new format, the 3D format. Jamie adds that people want experiences. Many came out saying they wanted a new experience. To go out and see things, VR is another way to access that content. ”
Jamie doesn’t expect every band to have a dedicated stadium pop up. Still, he thinks multiple concert venues operating on a rotating basis adapted to specific bands could certainly move forward.
Legal Bit – Managing Expectations
When Jamie was asked about potential legal issues that could be lurking behind virtual entertainment, his answer was unexpected. Maybe, but “the interesting thing is that they’re just like any other production”. Given that much of it comes down to pure copyright, much of what is unfolding seems to be well controlled by existing law, and the legal basis for it is quite stable.
However, the nuances are contained in unexpected realms. Jamie built detailed models of individuals, bands, and musicians, and pondered the potential emergence of entities to manage their rights. “We’re going to see banks controlling that model and their uses, much like music publishers are controlling music rights.” What Happens When an Individual Dies? Given , this leads to legacy issues. Jamie explains that his question would be:
All of this needs to be considered, he advises, while also thinking about how investment firms and bankers may withdraw some of these rights and begin to take control. This bans some experiences based purely on cost.
Jamie considers himself more of a “creative technologist” than a lawyer, and has thought a great deal about the impact of AI on both clients and businesses. He worries that many entities will cease to exist in the future, especially since they are unwilling to adapt to new ways of doing things in the virtual space. To keep evolving – we have to adapt to it so the world doesn’t keep spinning without us and leaving us in the rearview mirror.
Jamie expects to see a departure of leading artists who realize this new wave isn’t dead and decide to lean into it instead. I think it’s about asking, “How can I stop it?” In my view this is not the right question. I think it should be “How do you accept that?” How do you monetize this?”
He suggests there is an opportunity to become like PRS for Music, the UK music rights organization. PRS for Music realized it was impossible to stop people from playing music in public, so they made it a licensing requirement instead. “Again, I explained that we could see scenarios where people create their own databanks of licensed works that algorithms can refer to, but there is a payout for everyone who refers. Ten pence of Even if you work at scale, you’re going to see hundreds of millions of queries generated, and scale will still be very important when generated over time.”
He argues that an artist should not use the law to try to prevent the inevitable. It’s about implementing it into the future of your working model and monetizing it for your benefit.
the forefront of thought
Jamie, who has witnessed the creation unfold firsthand on various projects, has left us with this. If you operate without foresight, your business model is unlikely to survive much longer. Only by learning and embracing technology now can we continue to innovate in the years to come.
It’s clear that a show like ABBA Voyage doesn’t happen overnight. They are born out of thousands of hours and years where someone somewhere decided to imagine something that didn’t exist yet. From the courage to think “What if?” And the willingness to use whatever tools are available to make it happen.
Staying ahead of the game helps. Because when the push comes…the winner takes it all. (Sorry, couldn’t resist).