Universal Music Group has struck a global partnership with Genies, the Los Angeles-based avatar startup company, to develop avatars and digital wearables for its roster of artists, the company announced today. The move is the latest by a major label aimed at carving out space in the metaverse. Back in April, Warner Music Group struck a deal with Genies to allow its artists to create avatars as well.
The partnership will allow UMG artists to create a digital representation of themselves across the metaverse, opening revenue streams for artists including the ability to sell exclusive digital wearables and collectibles for avatars (see an example with German singer Kim Petras below). Genies, a four-year-old startup, closed a $65 million Series B round of funding earlier this year with investors including Bond, Dapper Labs (creator of NBA Top Shot) Coinbase Ventures, Breyer Capital and NetEase. To date, Genies has struck partnerships with brands including Gucci, and artists including Cardi B, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Shawn Mendes, J Balvin and Migos.
“UMG continues to lead and unlock what is possible with Web 3.0 and virtual economies,” Celine Joshua, UMG’s evp, commercial innovation & artist strategy said in a statement. “With our Genies partnership, we created an ideal framework and toolkit to empower our artists in the evolving digital universe.”
“We’re not bringing culture to NFTs and crypto. Genies and UMG together are bringing the power of NFTs and crypto to culture,” Akash Nigam, ceo of Genies said in a statement. “This next era of the internet is about empowering people with more ownership and capabilities. UMG’s roster of talent represents some of the world’s most entrepreneurial pioneers, and by equipping these iconic artists with their own Genie avatars, we’re excited to help them realize even more potential in Web 3.0.”
While the metaverse may still be some time away for the average consumer, the music industry has become one of the biggest early adopters and investors in the next generation of the internet. Unlike past technological advances, the industry appears to be ready to embrace change more rapidly this time around.