waveThe virtual concert company, which enables live music in virtual environments, has raised $ 30 million. Wave uses broadcast and gaming technology to create them Motion capture performances by artists and transform them into animated characters in virtual worlds. The company also works with music labels, management companies and independent artists to connect their talent lists with concert goers.
Wave recently announced its virtual concert series "One Wave" with John Legend, Tinashe and others. The upcoming virtual experiences offer wave artists a platform to create digital avatars and environments that represent their artistic vision in real time.
The funding news come right after Epic games announced that his live concerts for Travis Scott at Fortnite attracted over 27 million viewers to his astronomical show.
Adam Arrigo, CEO of Wave, said in an interview with GamesBeat that he believes the virtual concert space is gaining momentum, especially since people are trapped in their homes and unable to attend concerts. "The whole room was really starting to revitalize, and it was less about going out and getting ready for the next thing than finding the right partners who would somehow help us get to the next level." said Arrigo.
Most of the investors for this round were already on board in January. Then the corona virus hit and the value of virtual concerts became much more obvious. Phil Sanderson, managing director at Griffin Gaming Partners, said in an interview with GamesBeat that he finds it boring to just watch music online compared to reality.
"You can put on a headset and hear Coachella live, but nobody wants that," Sanderson said. “The only way to do this is to capture the emotions of the crowd. This is exactly what Wave does by creating an interactive experience. It's so much better – if you were watching Travis Scott at Fortnite, it would be so much better if you could see his facial expressions and interact with him in real time. "
Sanderson was the first investor in Pandora and also invested in song pop. He attends a number of music festivals every year and was immediately drawn to Wave.
“What we build is very well timed. And we've seen since live concert cancellation; We don't know when and in what form they will come back. It's bittersweet, ”said Arrigo. “It has taken our business to a whole new level by booking some of the greatest artists in the world for our next show. People understand what our value proposition is. Artists are looking for new forms of distribution, monetization and innovation. They are more open to discussions than before. It brings us one step closer to the metaverse or whatever you want. "
Funding is pretty good for a company founded by Arrigo and Adam Lemke in 2016 as a music VR startup.
"I was working on the rock band games back then and I was always finding new ways for artists to express themselves through them (media), like the virtual reality we started with," said Arrigo. "About a year and a half ago, before the Marshmello show in Fortnite, we turned beyond VR and started doing business with gaming platforms and live streaming services to bring the core VR experience to a wider audience."
"We have so much demand from artists to do these shows that we are unable to produce them ourselves," said Arrigo. “We want to get to a point where we can facilitate the democratization of content creation for artists at all levels. We are currently working with many megastars. But that's not the whole industry. "
Maveron led the new round with much of the funds provided by Griffin Gaming Partners. Other investors in the round are NTT DoCoMo Ventures, Avex, Superfly Ventures, Convivialite Ventures and Raised in Space. Entrepreneurs Scooter Braun, Alex Rodriguez, Superfly co-founder Rick Farman and Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin also took part in the round.
Wave's existing investors include RRE Ventures, Upfront Ventures, the Venture Reality Fund, the GFR Fund and the GC Tracker Fund. The company has raised $ 40 million to date.
The new funding will strengthen Wave's ability to go beyond traditional live streaming and serve the next generation of concert goers. In particular, Wave can focus on creating personalized artist avatars, new virtual environments and formats, and interactive experiences – including in-game activations and social experiences. The round will also accelerate expansion into global markets like Japan and China.
A major linchpin
While Wave started in VR, its latest concerts and events are spread across all major platforms, including YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, digital and gaming channels, and through the Wave app, which is available for Steam and Oculus.
"I looked at Wave in VR and didn't invest," said Sanderson. "When they focused again on the broader audience of all platforms, I got involved."
Wave's reach is now potentially huge, which has attracted larger music stars.
"When we made this linchpin out of VR, we also changed our core sales strategy, which was initially to download our VR app and take part in these concerts," said Arrigo. “But we also found that the concept of the virtual concert is so futuristic. Our current strategy is to work with as many gaming and streaming platforms as possible. We can spread our experiences across all of these spaces. You can almost imagine it as a virtual concert organizer, as opposed to a single platform. We go where the people are. "
David Wu and Sanderson, Maveron's general partner, join Wave's board of directors with Will Porteous, partner of RRE Ventures.
The coming of the metaverse
Arrigo likes the idea of putting music into the metaverse, or the kind of universe of virtual worlds that are described in science fiction books as described Snowfall or Ready player one. (We plan to hold a conference on the metaverse this fall.)
"The idea of metaverse … we had it so closely connected to this idea of virtual reality, but the universe will clearly start in these spaces like Fortnite or even Animal Crossing."
He also wants to expand virtual gatherings beyond gaming to larger entertainment spaces that non-players will also use.
"Our approach should be cross-platform because our goal is to create the greatest concert ever and serve musicians and artists," said Arrigo. “It now makes sense for us to go where the audience is and not to limit ourselves because the gaming platforms go up and down but the music doesn't go away. We will not commit to Fortnite. This is bad service for our artists, who have a lot of different demographics anyway. John Legend is completely different from Lindsey Stirling from Kenosha. "
Bigger than Fortnite?
The wave may start in places like Fortnite first, but Arrigo hopes it will grow far beyond that.
"I also like involving people who are not players in the game and using neighboring experiences," he said. “You can use familiar platforms to make people feel comfortable. My mother won't download Fortnite. "
And he hopes that the VR part will take off.
"I still firmly believe in the future of VR and AR and we continue to support our VR app," said Arrigo. “And we've actually seen a three-fold increase in engagement since Shelter-in-Place started. Every night there is someone who hosts VR parties. But we've built the core experience so that people can get involved anywhere, be it in places like Fortnite or Minecraft or Roblox or even Animal Crossing. "
The Los Angeles company has 50 employees and is currently hiring.