Earlier this year, Whet Records – Warner Music Group‘s pan-Asian dance label in China started working with a virtual artist called Ha Jiang – the first ‘virtual idol’ to sign a record deal with a major label.
At the time, we asked if major labels signing and releasing music by virtual artists was just a gimmick, or the start of an industry wide trend?
It’s possible that it could be the latter, as we learn this week that a label owned by the world’s largest rightsholder, Universal Music Group, is launching a ‘metaverse group’ consisting of four virtual characters.
10.22pm is a UMG subsidiary that was set up by former Sony exec Celine Joshua with the initial intention of signing artists, social media influencers and digital media creators with a focus on creating multimedia content.
Now, 10:22PM, which UMG refers to as a “next-gen Web3 label”, is getting into the world of non-fungible tokens and virtual artists simultaneously, with the launch of the new group, called KINGSHIP.
The characters are from Bored Ape Yacht Club, which UMG says is one of the most successful non-fungible token (NFT) projects of all time.
The Bored Ape Yacht Club minted 10,000 unique NFTs in April 2021, providing NFT collectors with 100% of the monetization rights of the characters.
Once the Bored Apes sold out, the creators of Bored Ape Yacht Club launched Mutant Ape Yacht Club, a collection of 20,000 mutant versions of the original apes, in August 2021.
KINGSHIP was formed by 10:22PM’s founder Joshua, who according to UMG “engineered the landmark, first-ever exclusive agreement to create a metaverse group”.
With KINGSHIP, 10:22PM says that it will guide the group in developing and releasing new music, NFTs, community-based products, activations and experiences in the metaverse.
This, in turn, claims 10:22PM, will “kick off a new generation of artist, fan and community engagement”.
Bored Ape and Mutant owners will additionally have early access to all KINGSHIP NFTs, experiences and narrative selection.
Prominent NFT collector Jimmy McNeils (aka j1mmy.eth) is furnishing the Apes in KINGSHIP, which consists of a Mutant Ape and three Bored Ape characters, including rare Golden Fur and Bluebeam Apes.
“Just as we would with any artist or creator, my team and I will work with KINGSHIP to sharpen their vision and develop their unique sound.”
Celine Joshua, 10:22PM
Celine Joshua, founder of 10:22PM, said: “Creating KINGSHIP has been incredibly fun and imaginative.
“I started 10:22PM to push the boundaries of innovation in the music industry and with KINGSHIP, we’re literally inventing what’s possible in real time.
Added Joshua: “Just as we would with any artist or creator, my team and I will work with KINGSHIP to sharpen their vision and develop their unique sound.
“Each member of the group has their own story and personality that influences and contributes to KINGSHIP’s overall narrative.
“Through music and events across the metaverse, we will bring the Apes in KINGSHIP to life by building communities and utility, and entertaining audiences around the world.”
“This deal is a leading example of how powerful commercial rights are for collectible NFT projects and their collectors.”
McNeils added: “This deal is a leading example of how powerful commercial rights are for collectible NFT projects and their collectors.
“I’m incredibly excited to explore this new area of NFT ownership with Celine Joshua and 10:22!”Music Business Worldwide