Academic Poster Concept for Liverpool John Moores Computer Science and Mathematics Dept Demonstrating My Year 1 Research To Date.

Created by Mark Ashmore PhD Researcher all rights reserved 2021

Academic Poster Abstract

Generation Z are categorised as the generation born after 1995 (Dorsey 2020).

This Generation is perceived by academia as a digital native generation, the internet for Gen Z, has always been there, its like air (Koulopoulos 2014).

The first decade of social media, has enabled Gen Z to move culture and society from the age of affluence (wealth) to the age of influence (Followers) (Koulopoulos 2014)

So? How has the emergence of XR technology in the music industry, for example Music gigs in the video game spaces of Fortnite and Roblox, and the mass adoption of music consumption via spotify and social channels like Youtube, Tik Tok, Instagram and Snap Chat, coupled with the growth of VR Music experiences — how has this emerging XR music industry affected how a Generation Z audience consumes a musical artists work.

As of writing very limited research exists on this new industry, as this is an emerging space.

To understand its affect on the traditional music industry, academic research is therefore required.

The Music Business, has for the past decade, been adapting to a ‘Post Napster’ business model, then the music industry then had to face, in 2020, a global pandemic, which at the time of writing, is still on going.

My Phd thesis will demonstrate a prototype XR music project, which can be used by the emerging XR Music industry as a practical example and business case on how to adapt to this changing environment.


Instagram (2021)

Mori, Jacki (2021) , Accessed 26/4/21

Forrester, Ian (2021) , Accessed 16/2/21

Gill, Ryan (2021) Accessed 16/2/21

Dorsey, Jason (2020) Z Economy, Harper Business

Koulopluis, Thomas (2014) The Gen Z effect, Bibliomotion Books

Kozinets, Robert (2020) Netnography, Sage Publishing

Copyright : Mark Ashmore FRSA 2021

Notes — — — VRChat scene has emerged as ‘industry’ has yet to understand how this medium can be deployed to connect musicians (their product) with audience / fans — for example, they don’t have anyone in this tech space, or their artists don’t use this space — and so the VRChat community, (maybe?) affluent, middle class — own a PC, understand VR — have overcome these barriers, start to use music within the medium — this film outlines how this was cooked during a lockdown / pandemic — although Niche — it demonstrates what my 1.5years of research have been about…. :)


How has the emergence of XR Technology in the music industry affected how a Generation Z audience consumes a musical artists work?

Literature Review — what the current Literature says about Generation Z and XR Technology

Chapter (work in progress) here


What is Netnography? why is this methodology being used for this PhD Project…and why is this important for this project?

Click here to read about Netnography, watch a short video and read my introduction essay into this methodology.

Research Project 1

Who are Generation Z and Why are they the study group at the centre of this research project. (Work in progress) Here

Research Project 2

Generation Z and XR Music events — what events are taking place in a virtual world, who is attending and why, and how does this experience differ from a RR (Real Reality) experience — compare and contrast and experience.

Outline introduction essay here (Very work in progress) here

Netnography Immersive Journals — attending events

Roblox — here

Fortnite —

Sansar — Lost Horizon — view videos / images here

XR Music / VR / Video Game research — here

Research project 3

Creating a Vtuber as a prototype and understanding the culture of the Avatar, and the digital worlds that they live in.

Avatar creation tools and Avatarism

Prototype 1 — create a vTuber and embody it, and introduce it to it digital peers.

I worked with a digital artist to create this character sheet for my avatar

Write up of the Prototype 1 experiment : Creating and Embodiment of the avatar (COMING SOON)

Vtubers and Twitter / Twitch and Youtube

I created an online lab, which covered this research topic of this particular part of the project — and sort experts to offer opinion for later primary research and citation.

About the lab (Marketing)

Immersive arts lab 9 — ‘Avatars and the Digital Worlds we live in’

Part 1: Past to the Future of Avatars

The lab will open with a special keynote and Q+A with Dr Jacquelyn Ford Morie, who began her VR Career in 1990.

Morie has amongst her many projects, created a virtual world ecosystem for NASA called ANSIBLE. This was created as R+D to enable Astronauts on the up-coming Mars Missions to stay connected with Earth via virtual worlds and avatars.

Mories talk is entitled ‘The Ultimate Selfie Redux Who are your Avatars? Are we all evolving to become Virtual Humans of some form?.

This opening conversation explores concepts around who we are in this digital age and what it might mean for humanity in the future.

This will be followed by a session led by Graham Shacknell, performance arts practitioner with over 25 years’ experience.

Graham was trained in masked performance styles, commedia dell’ arte by Antonio Fava at his international school in Reggio Emilia, Italy, and noh by Akira Matsui and Dr Ashley Thorpe from the Kita school of noh.

Graham has a degree in Archaeology and Anthropology, specialising in the archaeology of performance; he is also a professional field archaeologist working with Oxford Archaeology.

I have asked Graham to speak to explore the consequences and opportunities of creating Avatars in a virtual world as representations of us. What can we learn from our ancient past and the human need for masks both literal and metaphorical. Graham is uniquely placed to understand this, as a theatre performance practitioner and a qualified researcher in Archaeology and Anthropology.

From here it is time to meet some creators, and find out what they are making, how they are doing it and why.

Part 2: Avatars and the digital worlds we live in?

Our first session will be led by Nate Barsetti a veteran of virtual worlds with over 13 year’s experience, on loan to us from Facebook Reality Labs.

Nate joined Oculus / Facebook in 2018 programming and overseeing production of all events in Oculus Venues, a large-scale Social VR event experience.

Nate will be joined by Paige Dansigner founder of Better World Museum and who is one of the leading Pre-Alpha community creators on the Facebook Horizon VR platform.

Joining the panel we also welcome Michael Nash and Artsy Marie.

Michael is 16 years old and part of a generation finding its own unique voice via world building, Michael uses RECRoom as his sandbox. Artsy Marie in her words, is ‘Co-founder of Metaculture Vr, an entertainment company founded by 10 black industry leaders, organically formed in virtual reality. MetaCultureVr provides exclusive events and experiences for the virtual reality:

We create community and strive to close the so called, “technology gap” that has plagued the black community since the inception of the technological revolution”.

Part 3: Technical Workshops.

We will then have a series of 3 technical workshops, to show you how to create. Lasting around 20 minutes per session, each workshop gives you an introduction to the variety of ways that Avatars can be created and used in virtual worlds.

Workshop 1, led by Antonia Forster from Unity and will focus on avatar hand tracking in VR (Full details below).

Workshop 2, led by Anna Nierobisz. Anna will give an introduction to her theatre performance project Sensosis. What’s unique about Anna’s work, is that she is a theatre creative first and has learnt, over the past year, via Unity, a range of XR skills to enable her to transfer acting/theatre performance into a games engine and into VR. The project is available via SideQuest to experience.

Workshop 3, led by Ryan Garry via his company Unlimited Motion. Ryan will be showing how real time motion capture, can be performed via a mo cap suit, creating a unique character and a fully interactive 3D Avatar.

Part 4: Meet the indie creators.

The final session, will aim to expand our horizons into what indie creators are doing in this space, in the field of arts and entertainment.

The final session will be moderated by Rob Scott, who by day is part of the BBC’s ‘New Experiences’ Team, and also is chair of VR Manchester (founded 2016).

Rob will be joined by Lewis Hackett to find out what Lewis has learnt from a year of creating a VR/Game engine space for Avatars to come together, listen to music and experience art. Lewis is the creator of FreepartyVR which he will be hosting during the lab for us to experience.

Lewis will be joined by Laura aka the VR Girl who is a musical avatar creation. VR Girl is a talk show host, Vtuber, producer and musician and has, over the past 3 years built up a following by experimenting with avatar creation across a variety of platforms.

The final guest, is Tina Wheeler, a world builder in Facebook Horizon, who discovered VR in 2019 and predominantly has for the past 14 years worked in education with elementary school students with dyslexia. She has taken these insights, into Horizon, to develop virtual worlds and meeting places for people to find out more about Dyslexia.


Gen Z have moved from the age of affluence to the age of influence, the consumer is now a creator, and the rise of blockchain technology, via NFT, Social Tokens and new types of social media spaces like Bitclout are enabling Gen Z to turn influence back into affluence.

What I am seeing, is evidence of a clear fragmentation — in the world of video games, the technology used by centralised game platforms such as Roblox, Fortnite, Sansar and streaming services like Twitch, Spotify, Youtube is owned by a corporation, and uses are subscribed to the space, and within these walled gardens, digital currency us used, in exchange for sanctioned (by the platform) goods and services, with 30% of each sale, going to the platform.

This is a common occurrence, and as (Morie 2021) in her keynote speech at immersive arts lab 9 noted, the club penguin generation which she taught at the age of 10, whom used this platform, to build virtual worlds, socialise and trade are now 20+ years of age, and have a decade of experience in metaverse digital world building — and as I have already previously demonstrated, Gen Z is the worlds first digital native generation.

Back to the fragmentation — the music industry has for 70 years, since the birth of rock n roll and the teenager since the 1950s relied on real human beings and traditional media to promote music artists, which had two lucrative and important revenue streams — 1) Buy a physical version of the music, record, tape, CD 2) Attend a concert and buy merchandise.

The rise of Napster in the late 1990s and early 2000s showed that this market could be disrupted, and so the business model changed to 1) Buy a download 2) attend a concert and buy merchandise.

Since 2013 (But founded in 2006) Spotify has moved the music consumer away from purchasing downloads and took us into an age of streaming — it is FREE to stream, as long as you listen to the adverts, or subscribe and you get the entire worlds music catalogue for £9.99 a month — sales of analogue media has collapsed, seeing a year on year decline in CD sales (which is a digital file, on a analogue disk, plus laptops no longer have a CD drive? and the mass majority of people stream music to a bluetooth speaker) but a rise in retro physical media Records and Cassettes fueled by fashionable Gen Z, who want to show off their music collection.. because a spotify playlist does not look cool in the living room, when hosting a party.

So the Music industry now has 1) Streaming Income 2) Legacy media sales Records / Cassettes 3) attend a concert and buy merchandise

Then in 2020 the perfect storm hit.. Covid19 has so far created a 14 month lockdown of live music concerts — no gigs allowed.

But we have seen yet another shift.

Streaming has increased, and this is reflected in the Spotify share price, and that of Apple (Apple music) the rise in podcast’s, which is now a secondary streaming market, dominated once by Apple (who pretty much invented the podcast) and now being lead by Spotify (a string of recent acquisitions, Anchor, for example, to boost its podcast business).

At the same time that streaming increased, so did time spent on video games, which is the no1 form of entertainment for Gen Z, with streaming services and social media vying for secondary places.

But video games are a fragmented world, and it would take far to long to summarise this landscape — but social gaming, social VR and social XR are key video game trends which have seen huge growth — and they are directly linked to the the music industry.

XR music events have taken place in Fortnite, Roblox and Sansar, as you can see, i have attended and documented, but there have also been thousands and thousands of other XR music happenings in this space — from kitchen raves being streamed by DJs on Twitch, to Virtual Avatars performing K-pop, this was already happening before the pandemic, but with no real reality music gigs to attend, streaming and the XR metaverse space exploded.

Roblox went public in February 2021, valued at £40 Billion, and a month before that, Warner Music invested over £200 million into the platform, the same time Lil Nas performed to over 30 million people inside roblox — as a compresent, Glastonbury can hold just over 100,000 people, and takes an incredible amount of logistics, people, and capital to make it a success — and with covid, it has made gigs of that scale untenable.

What I am seeing, clearly is a new form of entertainment media emerge from post lockdown, driven by the video game industry, a new set of gatekeepers for the musician to navigate.


This is only half the story… what I have yet to properly look at is the roll of the audience member as a creator, and how they have turned this generation from the age of affluence to the age of influence, for within the metaverse of digital music XR experiences, the audience member is simultaneously a broadcast beacon for whatever experience they are undertaken (live streaming to twitch from a virtual gig in roblox for example) and are able to now own part of the digital experience via an NFT.

There is also a conversation and ideology gaining traction, enabled by Blockchain technology (Invented in 2009, as Bitcoin) surrounding the term ‘Sovereign digital individual’, and for our purposes, who controls the music that an artist creates in the metaverse space.

Because if fans are indeed creators, and musicians are able to collaborate and perform in digital only / video game spaces and the audience / creator can own part of the digital experience via NFT or social tokens — powered by blockchain and digital tokens — and that this space never interacts with traditional music industry, or with fiat currency — and is driven by personas as avatars or profiles in a digital space — then we are witnessing the birth of a new type of music industry.

A music industry which is owned and controlled by its fans, and whom make , create and participate as musicians — removing gatekeepers and discovery shows like pop idol and X Factor from this mix — not getting rid of this, because what I am seeing is a duality — 2 ways of having a career in this space.

The metaverse music star is being born, and the means of distribution and its value, is based on a blockchain, its ownership decentralised, and showcased at a video game event near you soon.

its time to research this? as this space is a couple of years old — and everything is theory!

Prototype 2 — Social Tokens / Value / Social Networks and Avatar performers

Social Creators — Bitclout — new kind of fandom?



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Mark Ashmore

Mark Ashmore


Mark Ashmore is a Ph.D Researcher at LJMU and founder of Future Artists - He writes about Computer Science, the Arts and Entertainment - He is also Dyslexic