Rihanna, Migos and more are getting official metaverse avatars after Justin Bieber – Screen Shot
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Rihanna, Migos and more are getting official metaverse avatars after Justin Bieber

Following Meta’s footsteps, Universal Music Group (UMG) has announced that it is teaming up with the avatar technology company Genies to bring its global roster of music artists to the metaverse. In a statement, the company said that the global partnership “will equip artists with official virtual identities for use in Web 3.0 and the shifting age of the Internet.” In addition, UMG artists will be able to release exclusive avatar wearables for their fans to collect.

How will it work?

Universal’s artists will be given official virtual identities for the metaverse. Some of the roster, including Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes, had already asked Genies to make avatars of them. Now, the plan is extending to Rihanna, Migos and more of UMG’s signed artists to be represented in the various metaverses as well as the avatars’ use across social platforms.

The end goal here is for Genies to create its own fully-fledged marketplace where fans can buy and sell NFT merchandise from their favourite artists, which they will then be able to wear in various metaverses. The marketplace, which is expected to launch in the coming months, will be built on Dapper LabsFlow blockchain, home to the popular NBA Top Shot marketplace.

“We’re not bringing culture to NFTs and crypto,” said Akash Nigam, CEO of Genies, in a UMG statement. “Genies and UMG together are bringing the power of NFTs and crypto to culture.”

And if you were worried about Migos and Rihanna’s avatars not having access to their real-life go-to pair of trainers, fear no more, because meanwhile, Nike just announced the acquisition of RTFKT Studios—which it calls “a leading brand that leverages cutting edge innovation to deliver next generation collectibles that merge culture and gaming.”

“This acquisition is another step that accelerates Nike’s digital transformation and allows us to serve athletes and creators at the intersection of sport, creativity, gaming and culture,” said John Donahoe, President and CEO of Nike. “We’re acquiring a very talented team of creators with an authentic and connected brand. Our plan is to invest in the RTFKT brand, serve and grow their innovative and creative community and extend Nike’s digital footprint and capabilities.”

Buckle up singles, Tinder’s parent company might be building a dating metaverse

Doesn’t it feel like ever since Facebook—now known as Meta—unveiled its new name and somewhat terrifying plans for a metaverse, there seems to be a new headline every day about other companies following suit? No? Just me then. Well, guess who’s following Meta into the metaverse now? Enter Tinder’s parent company, Match Group. That’s right singles, we’re talking about a space-age ‘dating metaverse’. If 2021 couldn’t get any weirder, that is.

A report by TechCrunch has unveiled a long list of Tinder’s upcoming plans: among its recently refreshed and successfully launched Explore page and Swipe Night series, the dating app’s parent company also revealed what the future holds for the emblematic dating app. Not only will its already-launched features continue to grow and develop to include more exclusive content such as the formation of a virtual in-app economy (powered by the currency Tinder Coins) but Tinder’s next big hit could involve a dating metaverse.

The implementation of this proposed virtual economy could be the key component in laying the groundwork for a potential metaverse. It was revealed to TechCrunch by Match Group that the rolling out of Tinder Coins would represent the first phase of this oh-so-futuristic plan, with the feature already being trialled in a number of European countries. Global users of the app will be able to access the coins next year in order to use them for in-app purchases such as buying paid features like Super Like and Boost to increase their chances of sparking a match.

But that’s not the end of it—Tinder Coins will also be offered as a way to purchase elements and products exclusive to the app’s subscription account holders in a pay-as-you-go service. The in-app currency will also be used as a tool to incentivise users to take certain actions like verifying their account and profile, perhaps as part of Tinder’s continued bid to tame catfishing.

This new direction taken by Tinder and first reported on by Bloomberg in October 2021 was just the beginning, “[The currency] will play an important role as the Tinder experience evolves and becomes more immersive, because virtual currency is useful in the context of gifting goods,” Tinder CFO Gary Swidler told the publication. And it looks like it might become a reality sooner than expected.

TechCrunch reported that Match Group’s strategic initiative—revealed Wednesday 3 November—would involve developing Tinder’s in-app economy to implement a trading environment that would include the sale of virtual goods. The plan is set to launch in 2022 and continue onwards for the foreseeable future. As part of a call with investors on Wednesday, Match Group’s CEO Shar Dubey declared that Tinder’s 2022 aim would be to design such virtual goods, decide their value and eventually determine the best way to distribute them to users. This would require stringent testing, the CEO added.

But how does this all fit into the metaverse? According to Dubey, along with the company’s drive to build a virtual economy for Tinder, Match Group will also utilise Hyperconnect—the Seoul-based social media app it acquired earlier this year. While Hyperconnect hasn’t been wildly profitable yet—with the deal closed for $1.73 billion—there is still belief in its long-term use. In the interview with TechCrunch, Dubey also highlighted the app’s trial of its own metaverse. This is the kind of interactive usage that Match Group wants to replicate across all its mediums including Tinder. So what did Hyperconnect’s metaverse look like?

Dubey explained that Hyperconnect’s trial of ‘Single Town’, an avatar-based metaverse experience, had its users meet in virtual locations like a restaurant or bar and have actual conversations using real-time audio. Basically, going on a date from the comfort of your own home—a concept widely contrasting to Bumble’s cafe and wine bar launch which seeks to encourage in-person meetups. Users holed up in Single Town also had the option to converse privately, away from the virtual scenarios, as they normally would.

Dubey, speaking on the test, stated, “It is metaverse experiences coming to life in a way that is transformative to how people meet and get to know each other on a dating or social discovery platform, and is much more akin to how people interact in the real world.” Although TechCrunch reported that the group only hinted at the idea of the dating metaverse, Dubey’s enthusiasm for the future is hard to ignore.

“The next phases of dating apps, in particular, is going to be all about richer, more organic, and more akin to real-life ways of discovering, meeting and getting to know people. Technology is finally getting there. And this underlying technology platform Hyperconnect has built, that powers Single Town, has been built in a way that it can be leveraged by other platforms easily,” the CEO continued. Although specific apps weren’t mentioned, the most prolific one that comes to mind is Tinder.

Although the company did not specify if Tinder Coins would later crossover as part of the metaverse, TechCrunch’s report cements its likeliness—given the nature of current social trends. The in-app currency could be potentially used to purchase items for your avatar, a feature already present in many metaverse video games while acting as a prospective element in Facebook’s Meta Quest.

Match CFO Swidler added, “The new metaverse elements and the experience that we’re seeing in that beta test—that is something that potentially we can build into either [a] standalone app and/or potentially leverage that user experience into some of our apps in the portfolio.” So buckle up singles, there are compelling reasons in the works for you to access the metaverse now.