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For Universal’s NFT Band, Music Is Second to Brand Identity

For Universal’s NFT Band, Music Is Second to Brand Identity

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On Thursday, Universal Music Group (UMG) announced it had signed Kingship – not a musician, however a group of 4 anthropomorphic non-fungible tokens (NFT).

Billed as a “metaverse group,” Kingship is a partnership between UMG and the NFT investor Jimmy McNelis, who owns the 4 tokens in query. Conceptually, it’s just a little like Gorillaz, the “virtual band” created by digital musician Damon Albarn within the late Nineties. Each picture comes together with its personal fabricated backstory.

The distinction is that the place Gorillaz was the brainchild of a musician, Kingship is generally only a model partnership. Even if you happen to didn’t care concerning the schtick (the detailed lore, the Gorillaz-branded online games), you might a minimum of assess the music by itself phrases. So far, Kingship seems to be all schtick.

Read extra: The Social (Token) Network: Rally, Friends With Benefits and the Future of Branding

Three of Kingship’s tokens (members?) come from Bored Ape Yacht Club, one in all at the moment’s priciest NFT collections. The tokens begin at round $150,000, however some have offered for figures within the thousands and thousands. The fourth – a grotesque, zombified tackle a cartoon ape – comes from a spin-off assortment referred to as Mutant Ape Yacht Club. All 4 are nonetheless banked in one of McNelis’ personal Ethereum wallets, as opposed to with UMG.

The UMG subdivision behind this endeavor is 10:22 PM, which characterizes itself as a “next-gen Web 3 label.” Founded in 2018, the label was initially meant as a house for influencers (different signees embrace Chantal Jeffries and former Vine star Lele Pons). Kingship marks its first foray into crypto.

“There’s a reason why the individual apes and mutants were picked,” stated 10:22 PM founder Celine Joshua. “You’re going to see the personalities, the characters, they’re going to come to life as 3D. It’ll be almost like the way Marvel looks at [its] vault and IP [intellectual property] and starts to storytell.”

That storytelling course of doesn’t truly contain music, for now. Joshua defined that whereas Kingship is, the truth is, an official UMG signee, the plan is to give audiences a style of the IP first – the tales and worldbuilding behind the 4 characters – earlier than any music comes into play.

Read extra: The Bored Ape Founders Haven’t Yet Joined the Yacht Club

“Before you even hear a single note, you’re gonna know what they eat for breakfast,” she stated.

And if you happen to’re among the many fortunate few who truly personal a Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT, you’ll get “early access to everything [Kingship does].” That might embrace the music itself, but in addition potential NFT drops and metaverse live performance experiences.

A typical critique of crypto is that it exacerbates wealth inequality – holders of particular tokens could be granted early or unique entry to spinoff NFT tasks. In this context, a useful NFT can basically be a license to print extra money. Mutant Apes, the most affordable of which now goes for about $20,000, had been a free present to Bored Ape house owners.

Still, Joshua insists Kingship isn’t about selling exclusivity: “When Bored Ape Yacht Club started, they just minted it. The community and the value of it of course increased the floor price. This is the same thing here, we’re not going to do anything different. It’s going to be about the masses, and making sure that anyone who is a fan could have one.”

But speculating on NFTs isn’t concerning the plenty, actually – a minimum of not but. Fees (particularly on the Ethereum blockchain) will be prohibitively costly, and the bro tradition round NFTs will be alienating for newcomers.

In an inversion of the normal main label A&R mannequin, Joshua and McNelis are betting on reaching a wider viewers by world-building alone. The closest analogue might be “Jenkins the Valet” – a model constructed round an invented persona for one of many Bored Apes – which proved there’s a marketplace for this form of factor. “Jenkins” has launched its personal spin-off NFT assortment, and just lately signed with Creative Artists Agency.

Kingship might symbolize one other position within the expanded universe of Bored Ape content material. Why shouldn’t a world with an ape valet additionally accommodate an ape band?

Joshua added: “We’re going to be speaking to audiences where this will be their first entry into NFTs, because we know that music bridges the learning curve involved with tech and format changes in our business.”

Maybe. Whether Kingship’s area of interest try at world-building can accomplish that’s one other query.

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