the sandbox season three

The metaverse – or rather, various virtual worlds and games, since very few of them is interconnected – continues to be a hive of activity for music artists and brands. Three separate stories today offer the latest snapshot of what’s happening out there.

First, there’s a new season for The Sandbox, the web3-infused virtual world that already has a number of music partnerships. ‘Season Three’ will last for 10 weeks and includes 98 experiences (from games to worlds-within-the-world) built on the platform.

There’s a music angle, with Snoop Dogg, deadmau5, Steve Aoki and Warner Music Group listed among the season partners. Steve Aoki’s Water Park is a single-player experience with 13 quests to complete; WMG’s game Sueco’s Split Personalities goes live later today (25 August); while deadmau5’s Tower of Light and Snoop Dogg’s Foreplay go live on 18 September and 16 October respectively. All have their own NFT collections with avatars and items.

The second story today sees US radio firm iHeartMedia launching its own ‘iHeartLand‘ in Fortnite’s Creative mode. Unlike many music activations in that game, this isn’t a one-off, but rather a persistent space where iHeartMedia plans to hold 20 virtual concerts and events over the next year. Charlie Puth is first up with a performance and album-launch event in September.

iHeartland will be regularly updated with mini-games through which players can unlock “unique artist-fan experiences”. Insurance firm State Farm is a partner for all this, complete with naming rights for iHeartland’s concert venue. The thing to note is that this is an independent build by iHeartMedia (and its agency partner Atlas Creative) rather than an official partnership with Epic Games. That’s how Fortnite’s Creative mode can be used by brands, akin to what they can do on a platform like Roblox.

Talking of brands, our third story today is quirkier. UMG’s virtual Bored-Ape supergroup Kingship are still very early in their career of actually releasing music, but they already have a big commercial partner: M&Ms. Yes, the sweets.

There’s a range of physical collectible boxes of M&Ms featuring some of the Kingship characters, and hints that the brand will also play a role in the group’s virtual world: “a mysterious island stacked with what appears to be boulders that are later revealed to be a sky-high pile of M&Ms in all six colours…”

Some or all of these stories may be as amusing to look back on in the future as, say, music activations in Second Life in the mid-2000s do now. But they do show the continued flurry of experimentation around music, metaverses and web3, as well as the interest of brands (State Farm and M&Ms in these cases) in funding and/or helping to promote it.

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