Scooter Braun, for one, thinks there’s a market for virtual concerts in which fans see their favorite artists performing as digital avatars.
L.A.-based startup Wave announced $30 million in funding, with participation from investors including Braun, ex-Yankee ballplayer Alex Rodriguez, Superfly co-founder Rick Farman, and Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin.
The new funding will “elevate Wave’s creation of personalized artist avatars, new virtual environments and formats, and interactive experiences,” the company said, including in-game activations and social experiences at the nexus of gaming and entertainment. Wave said it also will accelerate expansion into global markets including Japan and China.
“I want to work with today’s most forward-thinking leaders in music and technology. The future of the industry depends on it,” Scooter Braun, who manages artists including Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber, said in a statement. Wave is creating “transformative experiences for the next generation of concert-goers, with a refreshingly artist-first approach. ”
Wave, founded in 2016, to date has hosted more than 50 virtual concerts with artists and DJs including John Legend, Tinashe, Galantis, Jauz, Imogen Heap, REZZ, Galantis, Jean-Michel Jarre and Lindsey Stirling.
The company’s Series B funding — which brings it to $40 million raised to date — was led by venture-capital firm Maveron (co-founded by former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz) with “material participation” from Griffin Gaming Partners. Additional investors in the round include NTT DoCoMo Ventures, Avex, Superfly Ventures, Convivialite Ventures, and Raised in Space. Existing investors include RRE Ventures, Upfront Ventures, the Venture Reality Fund, GFR Fund, and GC Tracker Fund, among others. Wave has raised $40M to date.
“It’s a privilege to be supported by such distinguished investors like Maveron and Griffin Gaming Partners, who have funded breakout consumer businesses,” said Wave CEO/co-founder Adam Arrigo. “The added support from several new strategic partners shows the entertainment industry is looking for new, interactive ways to connect with today’s digital generation.”
With the funding, Maveron general partner David Wu and Griffin Gaming Partners managing director/co-founder Phil Sanderson are joining Wave’s board, alongside RRE Ventures COO and partner Will Porteous.
“Wave matches Griffin’s vision of the future of live events and interactive music experiences,” said Sanderson, previously an early investors in companies including Pandora, Discord and Triller. “The Wave experience captures the emotion of the crowd, provides an immersive platform with the audience and is a natural extension of in-person experiences.”
Wave concerts and events are distributed across platforms including YouTube, Twitch and Facebook, as well as the Wave app for Oculus VR headsets and Steam.
The company was previously called TheWaveVR. Co-founders Adam Arrigo and Aaron Lemke both have backgrounds in design and development of music and gaming apps. Arrigo formerly was game designer at Harmonix, where he worked on titles like “Rock Band,” “Dance Central,” “Disney’s Fantasia,” and “Harmonix Music VR,” and was head of product for music app startup Zya (acquired by Google).