Universal Music’s Bored Ape Supergroup Is Launching Its Own Virtual World

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Universal Music Group is betting on a band of cartoon characters to turn music fans into metaverse believers — but, if songs are treated as value-adds, will FOMO be enough to do the job?

Back in November, the company announced that one of its labels, the Web3-focused 10:22PM, had signed what it called a boundary-pushing band, named KINGSHIP, that comprised four apes from the massively popular Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collections. While the band has yet to release any music, six months later the KINGSHIP team is preparing to drop 10,000 of its own NFTs that are supposed to unlock a virtual island, which will eventually be full of “music, products, and experiences,” according to new press materials. The cost of joining a community of currently music-less music fans? Around $700 — not including gas fees.

If they sell out, KINGSHIP could make about $7 million for access to a web-based platform that’s still being developed and can be withdrawn at any time, according to the site’s terms and conditions. At least that’s where the numbers were at around press time; the NFTs are priced at 0.3 Ethereum (ETH), the value of which fluctuates. It’s worth noting that minters are encouraged to get multiple key cards, as there’s one for each band member — Captain (vocals, bass), KING (lead vocals), Arnell (beats, producer, drums), and Hud (guitar, keyboards, vocals) — that “contain unique attributes, some more rare than others, that will be revealed over time,” per the press release. Holders of all four are also supposed to get access to a covert, floating villa, “where the magic really happens.”

KINGSHIP lovers who register for the allowlist — Web3 speak for a group of early adopters, who exchange information for a kind of pre-sale access — can start minting tokens on Saturday at 12 p.m. EST. Minting then opens to the general public on Sunday at 12 p.m. EST.  (A 48-hour allowlist registration period starts Tuesday (May 10) at 12 p.m. EST, during which people who own NFTs from the Bored Ape Yacht Club, Mutant Ape Yacht Club, Doodles, SupDucks and World of Women collections will be prioritized for the first three hours.)

Although the songs are still a big question mark, UMG says that Grammy Award-winning recording artists, songwriters and producers are involved — as well as celebrity animator Jack Lanza and a well-known NFT collector, Jimmy McNelis, a.k.a. J1mmy.eth.

It’s not uncommon for NFT collections to be shrouded in secrecy, with sales and auctions happening while a project is still very much a work in progress, but applying the approach to the band business-model is a newer anomaly — and it feels weird to treat music almost as an afterthought. As the biggest label group in the world, though, UMG is certainly positioned to deliver. In theory, it could electrify the concepts of both the fan club and the supergroup, letting the Taylor Swifts, Justin Biebers and Drakes of the world collaborate with ease from anywhere at any time.

10:22PM founder Celine Joshua, for one, insists that whatever’s in store is worth the wait. “With KINGSHIP the impossible is possible,” Joshua said in a statement. “These Key Cards not only provide entry to the world of KINGSHIP, they are also an entirely new way to introduce artists and music. They are also a way to serve our superfans with exclusive content, products and token-gated experiences. This is only the beginning of our roadmap for an expansive world that will provide this community with an incredible journey and interactive storytelling.”

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