Karta, a metaverse studio that offers in-game experiential marketing for musicians, brands and sports teams, named Hipgnosis executive Tony Barnes as a co-founder alongside CEO Erik Londré.
The pair launched London-based Karta in July 2021. The startup says it aims to make the metaverse accessible and effective for brands across all platforms.
Since launching nearly two years ago, Karta has delivered projects across Roblox, Fortnite and Decentraland for Amazon Music, Fnatic, Unilever and Ronald McDonald House.
“We develop strategies to turn them into powerful platforms for your message. Use them for product launches, brand experiences, influencer activations, virtual product sales and more,” Karta says on its website.
The startup claims to have built “the first persistent fan hub” on Roblox for female K-Pop megastars TWICE in partnership with their label, JYP Entertainment, Republic Records and Universal Music Group.
“The metaverse isn’t a vision of the future, it’s happening right now, and Karta is here to connect artists with their audience and bring them closer than ever before.”
Erik Londré, Karta
The interactive virtual fan hub was launched on Roblox last week, featuring mini-games, voice chat and digital items.
“The metaverse isn’t a vision of the future, it’s happening right now, and Karta is here to connect artists with their audience and bring them closer than ever before,” says Londré, who was previously the Head of Events at esports organization Fnatic.
Karta “is the most exciting collision of music, art, youth culture and technology and we have just scraped the surface of what this will offer the music industry. So having Tony, an incredible marketer and creative that knows the world of music inside and out is extremely valuable, to us but more importantly – our clients,” Londré added.
Barnes has had an 18-year career in the music industry. He has been EVP of Digital & Innovation at Merck Mercuriadis-led Hipgnosis Songs Fund since March 2021 after rising to senior digital positions at Universal Music and Virgin EMI.
Karta says Barnes was among the first music execs to collaborate with and champion TikTok and that he brokered the first deal between TikTok and The BRIT Awards featuring Lewis Capaldi.
During his career in the music industry, Barnes has worked on campaigns for hundreds of artists including superstars like Queen, Katy Perry, Sir Elton John, Shakira, Kanye West, Florence & The Machine and Halsey, as well as dance music artists Avicii, David Guetta, Tiesto and Eric Prydz.
Barnes also helped launch the careers of artists such as Emeli Sande, Jonas Blue and James Bay, and played a key role in the success of Swedish House Mafia, says Karta.
Karta says it will use Barnes’ experience in the music industry to help brands immerse themselves into the metaverse space.
The startup added that it aims to prove that the metaverse “isn’t a temporary farce; it’s the real deal that delivers real-world, tangible results.”
“Erik and I started Karta with a simple mission – to help artists and brands connect with the vast number of people that are playing and socialising in video games and virtual worlds,” said Barnes.
He added: “Over the past few years we have witnessed the growing momentum in cross-industry collaboration between gaming and music, for example, starting with Marshmello’s unpredictable success in 2019 with the first Fortnite in-game concert, which became the cornerstone that led to other in-game activations from Travis Scott, Lil Nas X, Ariana Grande and many more.”
“we see a world beyond one-off activations, where artists can harness the metaverse as an evergreen channel to grow and connect with their community.”
Tony Barnes, Hipgnosis/Karta
“But we see a world beyond one-off activations, where artists can harness the metaverse as an evergreen channel to grow and connect with their community. I am so excited to continue building Karta alongside Erik and our incredible team of passionate music lovers and life-long gamers,” added Barnes.
The launch of Karta comes as the music industry continues to embrace the metaverse and the Web3 concept.
Just last month, Spotify launched token-gated playlists in partnership with Universal Music Group’s NFT band and brand KINGSHIP. UMG has been investing heavily in the metaverse. In December, it hired former Soundcloud executive Alvaro Galbete-Velilla to develop opportunities in Web3 and metaverse.
UMG rival Warner Music Group has also started looking for an executive with gaming experience in October to lead its metaverse strategy.
Music Business Worldwide