Warner Music Group is creating a music concert venue in the metaverse, teaming up with The Sandbox, a virtual world in which players can build and monetize their gaming experiences on the Ethereum blockchain.
Set to feature artists from its roster, Warner's virtual 'land' inside The Sandbox will be a "combination of musical theme park and concert venue", according to the company.
While Warner has yet to confirm which artists will be appearing in the virtual venue, its large and varied roster includes the likes of Ed Sheeran, Camilla Cabello, Dua Lipa, and Green Day – so some huge stars could appear as avatars in the metaverse.
The Sandbox has already seen some big artists play its virtual venues, with Snoop Dogg and Deadmau5 both teaming up with the platform as individuals, but this deal with Warner Music Group will be the biggest musical partnership so far.
There's no word yet on when the Warner venue will debut in The Sandbox, but players will have the chance to buy real estate next door – and you can expect these properties to reach very high prices. Last year, a virtual property next to Snoop Dogg's Sandbox estate was purchased for $450,000 (around £330,000).
Does the future of music lie in virtual concerts?
Virtual concerts – whether they're based in the metaverse or in games like Fortnite – emerged as a way for the live music industry to mitigate some of the losses it suffered during the Covid-19 pandemic.
And, just as video conferencing has become second nature to today's workers, virtual concerts are still going on as the world begins to open up again.
Rather than being a solution to a temporary problem, virtual concerts could be a huge money-maker for companies like Warner Music Group, especially now that virtual reality and gaming metaverses like The Sandbox are becoming accessible to a wider audience.
Facebook – now known as Meta – recently showed us its vision of the metaverse, which would use a mixture of virtual reality and augmented reality to combine the physical and digital worlds. The company's current products, like Instagram and Whatsapp, are so widely used that it's not hard to imagine the metaverse being opened up to those who aren't super tech-savvy.
If the metaverse opens up to an audience this wide, music companies would be foolish to not try to monetize virtual concerts – and, innovations in virtual reality means these concerts could be as lifelike, or as wacky, as they like.
Concerts based in virtual reality don't have the limitations of real-life concerts –there's nothing stopping you from flying around the stage or standing next to your favorite artist as they perform.
Virtual concerts don't, however, offer the grit or energy of a real-life performance – and we can't see Warner Music making more money from avatars of its artists than it does from real-world tours and shows.
But it's clear that the metaverse presents another revenue stream for artists, labels, and publishing groups, and we daresay that Warner will be the first in a glut of music companies eager to partner with virtual platforms like The Sandbox.
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Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.