Mar 18 (Reuters) – Universal Music Group (UMG.AS) is capitalizing on the popularity of non-fungible tokens by acquiring one of the cartoon apes that have taken the world of digital collectibles by storm to lead an all-virtual music group.
On Friday, Universal’s 10:22PM imprint said it paid $360,817 to buy Bored Ape #5537, a female character now known as Manager Noët All, to lead the group he founded in November called Kingship.
Existing solely in digital form, Kingship will have its own website and presence on the messaging platform Discord, and will eventually produce new music and provide virtual performances in the metaverse, a loose term commonly used to describe a place where the physical and digital meet. Like Manager Noët All, all of the gang members are NFTs: three Bored Apes and one Mutant Ape, on loan from collector Jim McNelis.
“For it to become part of the culture, I think that would be amazing,” McNelis said.
The idea of creating virtual bands from digital characters is not new. Gorillaz, a virtual band formed in 1998 by musician Damon Albarn and comic book artist Jamie Hewlett, released seven albums on Warner Music Group’s (WMG.O) label Parlophone. One of Japan’s pop stars, Hatsune Miku, is a hologram.
For Kingship, Universal’s 10:22PM tag sought out one of the most well-known NFT collections on the blockchain, the Bored Ape Yacht Club, made up of 10,000 anthropomorphic apes, each with distinct clothing, fur, and expressions.
Bored Apes have become a celebrity status symbol, with investors including “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon, pop star Justin Bieber, NBA superstar Steph Curry and billionaire investor Mark Cuban.
For Universal Music, Kingship presents an opportunity to learn how to create characters and stories that spark excitement in the metaverse.
“It’s about understanding the spirit of the space,” said 10:22PM founder Celine Joshua, whose label serves as a laboratory for experimenting with new forms of entertainment.