MTV Introduces VMAs Metaverse Performance Category

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

Virtual Justin Bieber under a galaxy-colored sky.
Courtesy of Wave

If video killed the radio star, maybe the metaverse can create a new kind of star.

MTV’s Video Music Awards, airing in August, will introduce the new Best Metaverse Performance category. Nominees include Ariana Grande, Blackpink, BTS, Charli XCX, Justin Bieber and Twenty One Pilots. The new category, which defines a metaverse performance as digital artists performing for a digital crowd within a digital space, shows that the virtual stage has become integral to the music industry.


The Los Angeles-based entertainment technology company Waveproduced Bieber’s “interactive virtual experience,” which featured his digital avatar performing for fans who could chat with one another and send emoji reactions. Bieber had previously invested in the company. The other Metaverse Performance nominees performed in video games, with Roblox, Fortnite, Minecraft/YouTube and PUBG Mobile providing space for digital concerts.

The metaverse has quickly crept into awards shows. Earlier in 2022, Lizzo performed at the first metaverse awards show, Song Breaker Awards hosted on Roblox. Additionally, the Recording Academy planned a whole week’s worth of virtual events in the lead-up to the 64th Grammy Awards, including a virtual performance by Camilo. Other industries are also integrating digital elements, with The Game Awards letting fans attend a virtual red carpet and The Fashion Awards introducing an award for metaverse design.

As COVID-19 remains a concern and traditional concert ticket prices skyrocket, a number of Los Angeles startups are betting that virtual concerts are here to stay. Megan Thee Stallion produced her virtual concert tour “Enter Thee Hottieverse” with virtual reality startup AmazeVR, a West Hollywood-based company that recently took its efforts global through a partnership with South Korean entertainment company SM Entertainment. Rapper Kid Cudi co-founded Encore, an app meant to bring live performances to fans’ phones.

Virtual concerts took off during the pandemic, and the music industry seems to have committed to the idea. Warner Music Group partnered with Wave in 2021 to develop avatars and NFTs for its artists, and earlier this year, Snapchat teamed with Universal Pictures to bring Jennifer Lopez’s Bitmoji to the virtual stage.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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Former Amazon and Lyft Execs Launch Incubator and Tech Talent Hybrid Startup

Steve Huff
Steve Huff is an Editor and Reporter at dot.LA. Steve was previously managing editor for The Metaverse Post and before that deputy digital editor for Maxim magazine. He has written for Inside Hook, Observer and New York Mag. Steve is the author of two official tie-ins books for AMC’s hit “Breaking Bad” prequel, “Better Call Saul.” He’s also a classically-trained tenor and has performed with opera companies and orchestras all over the Eastern U.S. He lives in the greater Boston metro area with his wife, educator Dr. Dana Huff.
Former Amazon and Lyft Execs Launch Incubator and Tech Talent Hybrid Startup
Photo by Ryz Labs

RYZ Labs wants to be a one-stop shop for startups looking to scale up and add new talent.

California natives Jordan Metzner and Sam Nadler created RYZ Labs, and their résumés make it clear they’ve got the knowledge and experience necessary to help others hit the ground running. In 2006, the pair launched California Burrito Co., a chain restaurant with international reach; in 2013, they founded the “Uber for Laundry,” Washio. Add in Metzner’s five years at Amazon and Nadler’s time at Lyft, and you have a potent combination of industry savvy and entrepreneurial flair.

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