COVID-19 may have caused concerts to be cancelled across the globe, but Wave wants to reinvent the concert experience so that artists can reach new and existing fans right from their homes. And investors are taking notice.
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The Los Angeles-based startup focuses on interactive virtual experiences with a mission to help artists make money at the intersection of gaming and entertainment.
Maveron led Wave’s $30 million in Series B funding that included material participation from Griffin Gaming Partners. Additional investors in the round included NTT DOCOMO Ventures, Avex, Superfly Ventures, Convivialite Ventures, and Raised in Space. Existing investors included RRE Ventures, Upfront Ventures, The Venture Reality Fund, GFR Fund and GC Tracker Fund. In addition to venture capitalists, renowned entrepreneurs Scooter Braun, Alex Rodriguez, Superfly co-founder Rick Farman, and Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin participated in the round.
The new round brings Wave’s total fundraise, since its inception in 2016, to $40 million. That includes a $6 million Series A round from April 2018, led by RRE Ventures.
Wave enables musicians and artists to perform and interact with fans as an avatar, Adam Arrigo, co-founder and CEO, told Crunchbase News.
Wave began as a virtual reality company in 2016, but as VR fizzled out, Arrigo, a musician himself, pivoted two years later to focus on gaming and livestreaming. The company’s Series A round helped Wave get to that point, he said.
“We still think VR is the future five or 10 years from now, but this has become a passion project that morphed into the real thing,” he said.
As for the Series B, Arrigo said the company wasn’t actively seeking investment, but as he saw the steady growth in artists wanting to create their own concerts, Arrigo wanted to take that technology further and partner with gaming platforms to host concerts.
At the end of 2019, Wave hosted a virtual concert for violinist Lindsey Sterling, which attracted more than 400,000 live attendees. This was proof that the startup was in a position to help artists reach fans and make money, he said.
When Wave closed its Series B round back in January, Arrigo said, it gave the startup “a moment to step on the gas.” He plans to use the funding to monetize the experience using in-app purchases and eventually by selling virtual tickets.
The concert business
The Wall Street Journal reported last December that the average ticket price for a North American concert was just under $100. As a result, a segment of the live music experience has become exclusionary and niche, Arrigo said.
“It comes down to whether they can afford to go, are even close to the city where the concert is and, now, are comfortable being among other people,” he said. “It’s a messed up time for the music industry, but we can help build a sustainable ecosystem from both sides.”
David Wu, general partner at Maveron, and Phil Sanderson, managing director and co-founder of Griffin Gaming Partners, are joining Wave’s board of directors, alongside RRE Ventures COO and partner Will Porteous.
Wu, who himself used to be a bass player in a rock band, said the convergence of technology and music is a “deeply rooted passion” for him. He said Arrigo has found a way to present music that is live, interactive and highly produced.
“One of the missions is to expand reach for artists to do what they love, but also expand reach for consumers who can’t afford a ticket or access to those seats,” Wu said. “There is something magical about a live concert, but the venue of the future might not be Wembley Stadium but inside Roblox or inside TikTok.”
Photo courtesy of Wave.
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