Dr. Jeppe R. Stokholm
What can we learn from ABBA and Elvis in the Metaverse?
Summary: Thanks to new tech developments Elvis never left the building. The same can be said about ABBA and their “ABBAtars” still on stage. ABBA is developing new frontiers with their virtual Voyage tour, exactly as their Viking predecessors did thousand years ago. During Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards Eminem and Snoop Dogg rapped their latest song as their Bored Ape alter egos. With their performance they became the first major music artists to harness their NFT skin in a performance. Everything known in the physical world will soon be experienced digital in the metaverse and it’s pegged to become a USD 800 billion market by 2024.
Thousand years ago, Vikings started a tradition of banding together in small groups and voyaging new frontiers. They established Norse settlements everywhere from the British Isles to the Mediterranean, North Africa, the Middle East, and North America.
Today it’s a small group of retired Swedish pop musicians who is banding together and voyaging new frontiers with their virtual pop tour: ABBA Voyage.
Their settlement is a purpose-built venue in London, and they are touring as “ABBAtars” in a pioneering virtual show depicting the group as they appeared in 1977.
The project is one of the most expensive live music ventures in history with a budget of USD 175 million. Concerts started in May 2022 with the possibility to extend the shows until April 2026.
Elvis Didn’t Leave the Building
The idea of representations of a singer is not new.
Back in the 1990s, Elvis Presley (who died in 1977) “performed” at concerts via old video clips accompanied by a live backup band.
What’s new is ABBAs virtual avatars representing the performers and the omni-channel interaction between the reality (the fans in the stadium) and the virtual reality (the avatars at stage).
The border between the virtual and real world continues to break down and the driving force is the following technologies:
Virtual Reality (VR)
Augmented Reality (AR)
Mixed Reality (MR)
that all leads to the ultimate virtual experience: Extended Reality (XR) and the metaverse.
Virtual Reality (VR) is a computer-generated environment with scenes and objects that appear to be real. It makes the users feel they are immersed in their surroundings via realistic sounds and images engaging all five senses. This technology is known from console computer games like PlayStation where the user is wearing a VR headset to enter a virtual environment.
Augmented Reality (AR) is adding virtual stuff to the real world, so it’s not a new reality but a digital layer on top of our existing reality. AR is known from games like Pokémon Go, where the players control an avatar chasing digital creatures in “the real world”. It’s also known from Instagram and Snapchat filters, where you can add digital objects to any picture from the physical world.
Mixed Reality (MR) is a mix of VR and AR where reality and imagination co-exists and is intermingled. Here you can grab your real-world physical key and open a virtual door in your virtual real estate.
Extended Reality (XR) is an umbrella term referring to all VR, AR and MR interactions generated by computer technology and wearables.
Knowing me, Knowing You
During Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards Eminem and Snoop Dogg, two well-known Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT holders, rapped their latest song as their Bored Ape alter egos. With their performance they became the first major music artists to harness their NFT skin in a performance.
NFT skins can be scarce and quickly become collectors’ items. Music NFT’s can be autographed, they can be artwork, the possibilities are truly endless for artists to connect with their audience and investors.
Such NFTs can be upgraded to be personal with individual features.
Every kid who has tried to play Roblox or Fortnite is familiar of the concept of skins or other digital assets in games. These skins are small upgrades to the underlying product. It’s a few bucks here and a few bucks there. But all these additional upgrades are big business in the gaming industry, and the same will happen in the music industry.
Especially now when major music artists are starting to perform as their NFT alter ego in the metaverse.
Thank You for the Music
In short, NFT’s are digital contracts to prove ownership to anything from songs, albums, lyrics, soundbites, and collectibles stored on a digital ledger.
But they can also represent upcoming album’s royalties or special privileges, such as early access to new songs, backstage passes, exclusive remixes, and VIP parties.
When you own an NFT, you are the one in control of that specific right. You can sell it or store it as you want. It’s your contract, you have earned it. It’s your music.
And the numbers are staggering.
In 2021, NFT sales skyrocketed with trading volumes over USD 44 billions. By 2025, the NFT market is expected to reach a market cap of more than USD 80 billion.
That’s why NFT’s in combination with extended reality are expected to disrupt the music industry.
The Winner Takes It All
Not only can artists market their NFT content directly to their fans. They can also cut out the traditional intermediaries such as record labels in the process. This is extremely powerful as it changes the traditional dynamics in the market.
Now the artists can be in control of their own content on the primary markets. But it doesn’t stop there. They can continue to earn money from the resales of their NFTs on secondary markets, because there’s a record of ownership built into the NFT’s metadata. The first artists to really explore these opportunities was the EDM artist 3LAU, who auctioned 33 NFT collectible versions of his album Ultraviolet in 2021, which ended up selling for USD 11.7 million.
But that’s just one example. The NFT use cases for artists are unlimited.
Since NFT’s are digital contracts, they can be coded to be upgradeable. Such NFT’s can evolve and mutate over time, they are not static.
As example, an artist can make a beat with a chorus and then invite other artists or content creators to collaborate on it. By using an upgradeable NFT, the artist can retain control of any spin-off products and even profit of it. Again and again for every upgrade, that sells in the market.
Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!
And yes: You can be an investor in the music industry with NFT’s.
NFT’s can be coded as music royalties for perpetuity or function as a quasi-share of the artist.
Imagine a fan, who invested a few bucks in an NFT from his favourite upcoming artist who is now a big star. Now this NFT is giving the fan access to exclusive perks and benefits or maybe even a direct economic upside from the intellectual property deriving from that NFT.
That’s next level fan engagement, and it doesn’t stop there.
A highly engaged fan base is crucial for any artist, and with NFT’s it’s possible to reward active fans with exclusive NFT drops giving access to front row tickets, backstage passes, collectibles, and other scarce assets.
Due to the World Economic Forum, within the next decade 70% of all economic value created will be derived from digitally enabled platforms. A big driver will be the metaverse and it’s pegged to become a USD 800 billion market by 2024.
Everything known in the physical world will soon be experienced as a digital 3D twin in the metaverse. It will interact with the real world via NFTs in countless unpredictable ways.
Thanks to new tech developments, Elvis never left the building.
The same can be said about ABBA and their “ABBAtars” still on stage. ABBA is developing new frontiers with their virtual Voyage tour, exactly as their Viking predecessors did thousand years ago.
Are you ready for the metaverse?