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Tencent Music Entertainment Group (TME) has invested in virtual concert company Wave as part of an effort to build out the potential of online music entertainment.
Wave has had its biggest year for virtual entertainment to date as the pandemic has upended live concerts and people have embraced online entertainment through both social environments and games.
Under the new deal, Shenzhen, China-based Tencent Music will be able to air Wave experiences in China across all of its platforms, including QQ Music, Kugou Music, Kuwo Music, and WeSing. These platforms reach hundreds of millions of users, and while the deal includes online concerts in China, the collaboration will likely lead to borderless content, the companies said.
Wave COO Jarred Kennedy said in an interview with VentureBeat that the company has expanded its relationship with major artists, labels, and triple-A game companies looking to engage with their audiences using online concert technology.
“This is a strategic partnership between the two companies, where we’re going to be collaborating on some virtual entertainment experiences that we’re really excited to talk about,” Kennedy said.
Gaming technology is at the heart of Wave, which started as a virtual reality company and expanded to broader online markets. Wave harnesses broadcast technology and real-time gaming graphics to enable music artists to create their own digital avatars, livestreamed so fans can interact with them in a virtual world.
“Tencent was really excited about some of the innovations they saw coming out of the work that we’ve done to date, like the show we did with TikTok and The Weeknd,” Kennedy said. “And this is an opportunity to collaborate on bringing the experiences that we’re creating for the global market to Chinese fans on Tencent’s platforms. And [we] also collaborated with Tencent to create new experiences that are designed for their TME Live platform as well” since the new partnership.
In its five-year history, Wave has hosted more than 50 events for pop stars, DJs, and artists — including The Weeknd, John Legend, Tinashe, and Lindsey Stirling. On Wave’s platform, these artists have performed for millions of viewers around the world across social and gaming platforms. The Weeknd event drew more than 3 million unique visitors.
“It’s been a really busy time for us,” Kennedy said. “We’re committed to doing everything that we can to create opportunities for artists to continue to be able to perform. And so it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to be able to collaborate with folks in that way.”
Wave believes in the metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One. (We’re doing a metaverse conference on January 27). The news comes after Epic Games announced that its live concerts for Travis Scott in Fortnite drew more than 27 million viewers to his Astronomical show.
The Tencent collaboration will allow the two companies to develop virtual concert content for TME Live, a live performance brand under TME, which pioneers the integration of offline concerts with an online experience. Both companies will also develop new promotional approaches, build high-quality music content, and bring interactive concert experiences to China’s music lovers.
Since its launch in March 2020, TME Live has focused on monetization by attracting sponsorships from high-profile domestic and international brands while offering services such as VIP packages and virtual gifts to let users engage with their favorite artists.
Wave was founded by music and technology veterans Adam Arrigo and Aaron Lemke, whose experience includes supporting the design and development of leading music and gaming apps, like the Rock Band series and Dance Central series.
As for the metaverse, Kennedy said, “I agree with [Epic Games CEO] Tim Sweeney when he says that the metaverse isn’t going to be built just by one person or one company. But we look forward to playing our part. We have to build our technology in a way that is extensible to other video platforms and game environments.”
The company has more than 60 employees and has raised more than $40 million to date.
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