Wave Raises $30 Million to Serve the Next Generation of Concert-Goers
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
Wave, an entertainment technology company that turns performers into digital avatars and puts them on virtual stages where they can entertain and interact with fans, announced a $30 million series B fundraise on Wednesday.
The L.A.-based company has now raised $40 million total.
Live performances typically comprise upwards of 70% of musicians' incomes. With in-person shows shuttered amid the coronavirus pandemic, the music industry has been embracing new ways to generate revenue and drive fan engagement. Wave represents one such channel.
The fundraise was led by Seattle-based Maveron and SF-based Griffin Gaming Partners. L.A.-based Raised in Space also invested, as did several entrepreneurs, including Alex Rodriguez and Scooter Braun.
Braun, who manages megastars Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, likes how Wave CEO Adam Arrigo is bringing tech to the music industry.
"The future of the industry depends on it," Braun said in the funding announcement. "Adam and his team at Wave are bridging these two very important industries to create transformative experiences for the next generation of concert-goers, with a refreshingly artist-first approach."
Maveron general partner David Wu added: "We believe Wave is perfectly positioned to build the defining consumer brand at the intersection of music, gaming, and social interactivity."
"My cofounder (Aaron Lemke) and I started the company four years ago to help musicians make money," Arrigo told dot.LA. "We've been touring musicians and we know how hard it is."
Eventually they realized that Wave shouldn't simply try to recreate a real concert, but rather leverage the opportunities unique to the digital world.
"Our shows have rarely looked like normal concerts," Arrigo says. "Artists can be 1000x their size. Fans can be flying above the stage."
Wave has hosted more than 50 events for audiences of up to 400,000, for artists including John Legend, Imogen Heap and Tinashe. Fans can watch shows through VR headsets, via desktop, and on gaming devices.
Arrigo's career has centered on the intersection of music and gaming. He was formerly a game designer of the Rock Band video game franchise.
"From working on that game I learned that when you create new experiences you can create additional revenue streams for the industry," he says.
To that end, Arrigo doesn't imagine that Wave will replace in-person concerts; instead he hopes to complement them. He points out that although ticket prices for live shows have skyrocketed over the years, the scale of a virtual performance — where millions of people attend for free — can make it much more favorable for an artist than filling the 20,000 seats at the Staples Center.
The company's business model, Arrigo says, is based on in-app purchases, a percentage of which are shared with the performer.
"We give musicians a platform that allows them to reach fans in new ways," he says.
But Arrigo envisions growing beyond music.The platform's "new category" of performance combines elements of gaming, interactivity and social media. He thinks it can expand into theater, sports and stand-up comedy, among other events.
"We're really optimistic about the health of the business and people connecting virtually," he says.
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