Universal Music Group has acquired one of the cartoon apes that have taken the world of digital collectibles by storm to lead a wholly virtual music group, leveraging on the popularity of non-fungible tokens.
Universal’s 10:22PM label announced on Friday that it paid $360,817 for Bored Ape #5537, a female NFT character now known as Manager Not All, to oversee the Kingship group it founded in November.
Kingship, which will only exist in digital form, will have its own website (kingship.io) and Discord presence (discord.gg/kingship), and will eventually compose new music and give virtual performances in the metaverse, a broad word for a realm where the physical and digital worlds collide. All of the band members, like Manager Not All, are NFTs – three Bored Apes and a Mutant Ape on loan from collector Jim McNelis.
“For it to become part of culture, I think that would be an amazing thing,” said McNelis.
The concept of forming virtual bands out of digital characters isn’t new. On Warner Music Group’s Parlophone label, Gorillaz, a virtual band created in 1998 by musician Damon Albarn and comic artist Jamie Hewlett, released seven albums. Hatsune Miku, a Japanese pop star, is a hologram.
Universal’s 10:22PM label sought one of the most well-known NFT collections on the blockchain, the Bored Ape Yacht Club, which consists of 10,000 anthropomorphic apes, each with their own dress, fur, and expressions, for Kingship.
Bored Apes have become a status symbol for celebrities, with investors including “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon, pop star Justin Bieber, NBA superstar Steph Curry and billionaire investor Mark Cuban.
Kingship gives an opportunity for Universal Music to learn how to build characters and storylines that elicit interest in the metaverse.
“It’s about understanding the ethos of the space,” said Celine Joshua, the founder of 10:22PM, whose label serves as a testing ground for new types of entertainment.