Universal Music aims to make money in the metaverse with artist NFTs
Universal Music Group has partnered with NFT platform Curio to develop non-fungible token (NFT) collections for its record labels and artists, the companies announced Thursday.
The deal is a major step towards a potential new revenue stream for the world’s biggest music company, which, like its rivals, relies heavily on music streaming for its financial survival.
Universal Music has announced plans to work with Curio to develop digital artwork and other collectibles for the company and its artists. Curio will also serve as an online outlet where fans can purchase officially licensed NFTs, starting in March with collaboration from Capitol Music Group and British singer-songwriter Calum Scott.
Michael Nash, executive vice president of digital strategy at Universal Music Group, said NFTs and Web3, the next generation of the internet based on blockchain technology, offer labels and artists the opportunity to create products digital media for fans at a time when streaming has made access to music ubiquitous.
“We have the ability with Web3 to have ownership in addition to access,” Nash told Reuters in an interview. NFTs are single data files that can be music, art, and more.
“With all the innovations that are happening around Web3 and NFTs, you have the ability to make available all kinds of digital products that offer that property…And you have a technology-enforced scarcity, so you can appeal to the collectors,” Nash said.
Universal has actively explored ways to capitalize on the growing popularity of digital collectibles, going so far as to form a music group, Kingship, made up entirely of simian characters from the NFT Bored Ape Yacht Club brand. The animated monkeys, which live as unique objects on the digital blockchain, have become coveted prizes for Hollywood celebrities and other collectors.
In Curio, Universal found an executive familiar with its business as co-founder and co-CEO Ben Arnon previously worked at Universal Music Group. One of Curio’s advisers, Marc Geiger, is the former head of music for talent agency William Morris Endeavour.
The partnership represents a major milestone for Curio, which was founded in 2020 and dropped its first NFT last February. The company has subsequently released over 75,000 digital collectibles in collaboration with partners in the music, film and television industry.
The platform features NFTs inspired by Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” TV series and Universal Pictures’ 2010 cult classic “Scott Pilgrim vs The World.”
Arnon told Reuters he built his NFT marketplace to be accessible to mainstream consumers, including those who have never used cryptocurrency.