In another signal of the widespread endorsement of NFTs by the music industry, one of the world’s biggest labels announces plans to set up an NFT-led virtual music group.
Universal Music Group has acquired one of the cartoon apes that have taken the world of digital collectibles by storm to lead a wholly virtual music group, leveraging on the popularity of non-fungible tokens. Universal’s 10:22PM label announced this week that it paid $360,817 for Bored Ape #5537, a female character now known as Manager Noët All, to oversee the Kingship group it formed in November. Kingship, which will only exist in digital form, will have its own website and Discord presence, and will eventually compose new music and give virtual performances in the metaverse, a broad word for a realm where the physical and digital worlds collide. All of the band members, like Manager Not All, are NFTs – three Bored Apes and a Mutant Ape on loan from collector Jim McNelis.
The concept of forming virtual bands out of digital characters isn’t new. On Warner Music Group’s (WMG.O) Parlophone label, Gorillaz, a virtual band created in 1998 by musician Damon Albarn and comic artist Jamie Hewlett, released seven albums. Hatsune Miku, a Japanese pop star, is a hologram. Universal’s 10:22PM label sought for one of the most well-known NFT collections on the blockchain, the Bored Ape Yacht Club, which consists of 10,000 anthropomorphic apes, each with their own dress, fur, and expressions, for Kingship. Bored Apes have become a status symbol for famous celebrities, with investors like Jimmy Fallon of “The Tonight Show,” Justin Bieber of Justin Bieber, Steph Curry of the NBA, and Mark Cuban of the billionaire investor Mark Cuban. Kingship gives an opportunity for Universal Music to learn how to build characters and storylines that elicit interest in the metaverse.