Tinashe’s avatar on WAVE is one of several that will be virtually performing to a live audience.

Virtual Concerts Brings Animated Performers’ Avatars to Life

In the “new normal” world of social distancing, events like concerts, lectures and other group gatherings are frowned upon or outright banned. Using Zoom to hold meetings or enjoy a digital happy hour with friends is one thing, but musicians and other top performing acts can’t make a living by playing to such small groups.

To cope, artists are turning to a virtual event company.

Wave, the virtual concert company that facilitates live music in virtual settings, has raised $30 million in funding to keep up with demand for its service. Wave uses broadcast and gaming technology to create motion-captured performances of artists and turn them into animated characters in virtual worlds. The company also works with music labels, management companies, and independent artists to connect their rosters of talent with concertgoers.

According to a venturebeat.com story, Wave recently announced its “One Wave” series of virtual concerts featuring John Legend, Tinashe and others. The upcoming virtual experiences will provide Wave artists with a platform to create digital avatars and environments that represent their artistic vision in real-time.

Wave CEO Adam Arrigo said in an interview with GamesBeat that he believes the virtual concert space is gaining momentum, particularly as people are shut in their homes and unable to go to concerts.

The funding is pretty good for a company that was founded as a music VR startup in 2016 by Arrigo and Adam Lemke.

“I worked on the Rock Band games back in the day, and I’ve always been about finding new ways for artists to express themselves through these [mediums], like virtual reality, where we started,” Arrigo said. “About a year and a half ago, before the Marshmello show in Fortnite, we pivoted beyond VR and started doing deals with gaming platforms and livestreaming services to take the core experience for VR into broader distribution.”

As this writer has never seen a virtual concert, far be it from me to disparage such a venue. However, I have attended plenty of live concerts, which convinces me this is not going to replace them.

But if you ask the folks at other platforms they will probably feel quite differently. For instance, the $30 million in funding news comes just after Epic Games announced that its live concerts for Travis Scott in Fortnite drew more than 27 million viewers to his Astronomical show.

And that isn’t chicken feed, no matter which venue you are backing.

“What we are building is very well-timed. And we’ve seen since the cancellations of live concerts; we don’t know when they’re going to come back and in what form. It’s bittersweet,” Arrigo said. “It’s taken our business to a completely new level, like we booked some of the biggest artists in the world for our next slate of shows. People understand what our value proposition is. Artists are looking for new forms of distribution, monetization, and innovation. They are more open to the conversation than before. It takes us a step closer to the Metaverse, or whatever you want it to be.”

Wave’s existing investors include RRE Ventures, Upfront Ventures, the Venture Reality Fund, GFR Fund and GC Tracker Fund. The company has raised $40 million to date.

read more at venturebeat.com