By Dawn Chmielewski
March 18 (Reuters) – Universal Music Group 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 label said it had paid $360,817 to purchase Bored Ape #5537 – a female character now known as Manager Noët All – to lead the group Kingship, which was founded in November.
Existing digitally only, Kingship will have its own website and presence on the messaging platform Discord, and will eventually produce new music and host virtual performances in the metaverse, a term commonly used to describe a place where the physical and digital worlds meet.
Like Manager Noët All, all the gang members are NFT: 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 gangs 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 Parlophone label. One of the Japanese pop stars, Hatsune Miku, is a hologram.
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 Mark Cuban.
For Universal Music, Kingship is an opportunity to learn how to create characters and stories that generate excitement in the metaverse. “It’s about understanding the ethos of space,” said 10:22PM founder Celine Joshua, whose label serves as a laboratory for experimenting with new forms of entertainment.
(Reporting by Dawn Chmielewski in Los Angeles; Editing in Spanish by Vicente Valdivia)