It’s been a difficult couple of years for many virtual reality startups, with VR headset sales slower than expected, and in some cases funding drying up as investors lost their appetite for immersive content. There have been success stories though: musical VR game Beat Saber has sold more than 2m copies, with Facebook acquiring its developer last November. The social network’s Oculus Quest headset has been a hit, too, and that’s spurred $100m of content sales.
Now another music-VR startup, Wave, is showing that some investors are as excited as ever about the metaverse. It has raised a $30m Series B funding round from investors including music firm Raised in Space (more on them here), Scooter Braun and Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin. It takes Wave’s total funding so far to $40m, and comes shortly after it announced a series of ‘One Wave’ virtual concerts with artists including John Legend, and partnerships with Warner Music Group and Roc Nation.
Music Ally has been tracking Wave since 2016, when it was called TheWaveVR, and CEO Adam Arrigo was telling us that “five years from now, the best experience of electronic music is going to be in VR”. Even back then, what was interesting about his platform was that it went well beyond simply filming artists or DJs in 360 degrees, then letting fans choose their view – it felt more like a game environment, with lots of potential for interactivity both with the concert and with other fans.
The risk was always that people would need a VR headset and the TheWaveVR app to participate. That’s changed too: Wave’s platform now lets artists broadcast their virtual performances live to YouTube, Twitch and Facebook. The company says that artist Lindsey Stirling’s recent Wave gig last August was watched by more than 400,000 fans across those services. Given the boom in livestreaming during the Covid-19 lockdown, it’s no surprise that Wave’s semi-pivot to being a performance production tool – with opportunities to slide and dice the content for use in music videos, social posts etc – is attracting investment.
The $30m will be used to fuel expansion into Japan and China, as well as to continue building Wave’s features and attracting more big-name artists – even if Braun’s involvement makes a Taylor Swift Wave concert distinctly unlikely. Wave is steadily building a portfolio of concerts showing off what it can do: watch the performances of Lindsey Stirling, Tinashe, Galantis and Jauz for examples.
Image by Damir Khabirov / Shutterstock.com