Tencent Music invests in Wave to bring a musical metaverse to China

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.

During the pandemic, Wave has had its biggest year in virtual entertainment in its five-year history because live concerts have been canceled and people are embracing online entertainment, both inside social environments and games.

Under the 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. Those 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.

Jarred Kennedy, chief operating officer at Wave, said in an interview with VentureBeat, said the company has been expanded its relationship with major artists, labels, and triple-A game companies looking to engage with their audiences using online concert technology at a time when they can meet fans in real life.

“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 when that market didn’t take over. Wave harnesses broadcast technology and real-time gaming graphics to enable music artists to create their own digital avatars, livestreamed for fans to enjoy and interact with them in a virtual world.

Above: Violinist Lindsey Stirling gave a concert to 400,000 attendees in Wave.

“Tencent was really excited around about some of the innovations they saw coming out of the work that we’ve done today, 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 also collaborated with Tencent to create new experiences that are designed for their TME Live platform as well.”

To date, Wave has hosted more than 50 Wave events for a number of popstars, DJs, and artists including The Weeknd, John Legend, Tinashe, and Lindsey Stirling, performing for millions of viewers around the world across social and gaming platforms. The Weeknd event drew more than three 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 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 just after Epic Games announced that its live concerts for Travis Scott in Fortnite drew more than 27 million viewers to see his Astronomical show.

Above: Lindsey Stirling performs Artemis in Wave.

The 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 for users to 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 including the Rock Band series and Dance Central series.

Above: Tinashe in Wave

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 play 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 it has raised more than $40 million to date.

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