The following MBW op/ed comes from music industry veteran Samuel Arvidsson, Chief Commercial Officer at Stockholm-based metaverse developer, The Gang. Arvidsson’s career has seen him serve as Commercial Director at Universal Music Group in Sweden, as well as Commercial Director at Warner Music Group in Sweden, plus as
The global music industry is a hotbed of opportunity and innovation right now. Just take the RIAA’s latest revenue report showing a 10% rise in new money from social media, digital fitness, and other non-traditional avenues.
One of the most talked about topics relating to this new wave of growth is the metaverse. In fact, I rarely have a conversation with industry friends without them asking what it is, when it will happen, and how can they use it.
Putting misconceptions straight around its definition is most important. Expert Matthew Ball says we shouldn’t expect a “single, all-illuminating definition”, and it will not “fundamentally replace the internet, but instead build upon and iteratively transform it.”
Then there’s timing, something that’s also up for interpretation. Consensus is that it will take a while, with some insiders predicting it won’t be fully realised for another eight to fifteen years, maybe longer.
As it stands, the current “iteration” of the metaverse is a platform to do something you might do in the real world online. That could be gaming, business meetings or even socialising.
But for artists, the metaverse is already showing itself as a big opportunity for them to find opportunities to be creative, earn new forms of revenue, reach new fans and build closer relationships with existing followers.
Working with label and industry bodies, our focus is how we can do all we can to find value for artists, which is why we always ask the following five questions:
How can we help music discovery?
Today most early music discovery remains linked to the streaming platforms and TikTok, but the metaverse will open up new ways for artists to introduce themselves to new fans.
I personally like meet and greets, fan quests, play-dates where the artist comes together with fans and explores different things together. It’s authentic and fits the platform’s community focus.
How can we improve monetisation?
The metaverse is a new realm which gives us a new way to do things. I think this is exciting when it comes to how things are negotiated, something that’s currently a labyrinth of rights and stakeholders.
I hope the metaverse will bring the working relationships of artists, labels and publishers even closer; ensuring the benefits for artists and publishers are much more direct.
Beyond how we ‘do’ things, there are also new opportunities for artists to make money day-to-day. For example, virtual merchandise, or “verch”, offers new ways to connect in shared digital spaces.
How can we create new experiences?
The metaverse has already offered artists the ability to devise unique experiences, enabling them to reach mass audiences without the need to go on tour or for fans to leave the comfort of their own environment.
Great examples are Lil Nas X’s performance on Roblox in 2020 received 33m views in just a weekend, K-Pop group BTS is hosting a concert on Zepeto linking to a Busan concert realising millions of visits or Lizzo’s visit to a peloton virtual spin class in Summer 2022.
But beyond headline events, there is a growing opportunity for smaller artists with exceptionally dedicated fanbases. A lot of work we’re doing is to support labels in their mission to unlock smaller, nimbler artist-to-fan engagement that is fast to execute but keeps the audience engaged.
In 2023 we expect to see the big labels setting up their own experiences on Roblox and Epic to help their artists with new brand partnerships and monetization opportunities. To help this kind of activity, Roblox is trying out a concept called Listening Parties which is a great first step and the artists that have seen it so far have experienced millions in reach.
How can we create music?
The first is the ability to use the metaverse to create or co-create music with others. This could even stretch beyond artists working with artists, and in turn see a generation of artists collaborating with their fans and followers, unlocking a level of engagement we have never seen before.
We will see more of this when the big labels ultimately license their content to the biggest platforms and will allow developers to create tools around this.
How can we collaborate with other industries?
Take the gaming industry. Gamifying has long been a way for marketing teams to make a product or service seem that bit more exciting. We see more artists and labels either building their own experiences or partnering up with already successful games.
Artists like Stray Kids and Chainsmokers, both on Roblox, are connecting with their fans through artist-branded quests and games, virtual meet-and-greets and concerts and are also selling merchandise on the back of it.
Regardless of how long it takes to get to the end goal, as the RIAA has shown, we’re already starting to witness a new dawn for musicians.
One where there is a rising number of opportunities for artists to leverage, from new ways to be creative, generate more revenue, or capture more dedicated fanbases.
Things are changing and at pace, but one thing is certain, a future where artists are more empowered is on its way.
Music Business Worldwide