LA Tech Updates: Wave's Roll Continues; TikTok Sweetens Deal for Music Stars

Sam Blake

Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake

LA Tech Updates: Wave's Roll Continues; TikTok Sweetens Deal for Music Stars

Here are the latest updates on news affecting Los Angeles' startup and tech communities. Sign up for our newsletter and follow dot.LA on Twitter for more.

Today:

  • Virtual concert creator Wave adds Netflix executive to C-Suite
  • TikTok signs music distribution deal with UnitedMasters

    Wave Reels in Former Netflix Exec as New CMO

    Tina Rubin is Wave's new chief marketing officer

    Wave, a startup that transforms musicians into avatars for interactive virtual concerts, has reeled in former Netflix executive Tina Rubin as its chief marketing officer, the company announced Monday.

    The L.A.-based entertainment company has been on a winning streak lately, closing a $30 million round in early June and scoring partnerships with Grammy-award winners John Legend and The Weeknd. It's also beefed up its C-suite, adding former Riot Games executive Jarred Kennedy as chief operating officer last month.

    Rubin, who oversaw strategy for Netflix's young adult and family division (including Stranger Things and Umbrella Academy), will focus on ticketing, merchandise, product development and brand awareness at Wave. She'll also build out new ways for artists and their fans to interact remotely.

    "I look forward to helping Wave connect music fans with the artists they love in even more immersive and accessible ways," Rubin said in a statement.

    Earlier this month, Wave designed the avatar and set for The Weeknd's virtual concert on TikTok, which broadcast the show via its main @TikTok account. Wave representatives reported the performance attracted 275,000 peak concurrent viewers – the most in TikTok history – and 1.2 million total unique viewers, a record for a solo artist's performance on the platform.

    Wave, founded in 2016, has now hosted over 50 concerts. Originally conceived as a virtual reality-concert platform, the company has expanded and now distributes its concerts across social media, gaming platforms and VR headsets.

    Rubin replaces Wave interim CMO Jeremy Welt.

    TikTok Signs Music Distribution Deal with UnitedMasters

    TikTok Doles Out Money to Creators, Batting Away Rivals

    Short-form video-sharing app TikTok announced a deal with indie music distributor UnitedMasters on Monday that will make it easier for artists and creators who go viral on the platform to get their music up on streaming platforms like Apple Music and Spotify.

    It comes as President Donald Trump has ordered ByteDance, the company's Chinese owner, to divest within 90 days from its U.S. operations.

    The move gives musicians an easier way to leverage their success on TikTok without needing a middleman such as a record label to get their songs onto streaming platforms.

    The partnership is the first distribution deal struck by the company, which earlier this year hired former Disney executive Kevin Mayer as its CEO. TikTok has also recently fortified its partnerships with several music publishers so that users can include songs in their videos without worrying about infringing on copyright.

    TikTok thinks it can leverage the UnitedMasters deal to draw in more top and trending artists such as Curtis Roach, Curtis Waters, Breland, Tai Verdes and BMW Kenny. The deal will complement TikTok's recently announced $1 billion Creator Fund to pay top TikTokkers, as the company tries to attract and retain creative talent amid growing competition in the short-form video space.

    UnitedMasters, launched in 2017 by former Interscope executive Steve Stoute, also arranges music deals with brands like ESPN and the NBA.


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    Cadence

    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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