Celebrities are coming to the metaverse, and they’re bringing their merchandise with them.
Universal Music Group (UMG) has partnered with avatar company Genies, the label announced Thursday. Previously, some of the label’s artists, including Shawn Mendes and Justin Bieber, had personally tapped Genies for avatar versions of themselves. Now the label’s full roster can port their own avatars into “the evolving digital universe” – whether that be in activations in crypto-powered Decentraland metaverse or just on Twitter.
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The end goal is for Genies to create its own fully-fledged marketplace where fans can buy and sell non-fungible token (NFT) merchandise that can be worn in various metaverses.
The marketplace, which is expected to be launched in the coming months, will be built on Dapper Labs’ Flow blockchain, home to the popular NBA Top Shot marketplace.
Flow backed Genies’ $65 million Series B in May.
The sale of virtual shirts and hats will be primarily targeted at Gen Z audiences, a Genies representative told CoinDesk. Most items can be expected to cost anywhere from $3 to $15.
Celine Joshua, UMG’s executive vice president of commercial innovation, told CoinDesk that the avatars can even stand in for celebrities at virtual events if they were unable to appear themselves.
While Genies currently own “99.9%” of celebrity virtual avatar market share, it expects other competitors to enter the market as the metaverse gains a more mainstream audience, a representative told CoinDesk.
Contracts between Genies and the artists are not exclusive, so celebrities could eventually partner with other avatar companies and metaverse games to wear additional sponsored products.
“Genies and UMG together are bringing the power of NFTs and crypto to culture,” Genies CEO Akash Nigam said in a press release. “UMG’s roster of talent represents some of the world’s most entrepreneurial pioneers, and by equipping these iconic artists with their own Genie avatars, we’re excited to help them realize even more potential in Web 3.”