VMAs Introduce Metaverse Performance Category

If the video killed the radio star, maybe the metaverse can create a new kind of star.

MTV’s Video Music Awards, airing in August, will introduce the new Best Metaverse Performance category. Nominees include Ariana Grande, Blackpink, BTS, Charli XCX, Justin Bieber and Twenty One Pilots. The new category, which defines a metaverse performance as digital artists performing for a digital crowd in a digital space, shows that the virtual stage has become an integral part of the music industry.

Los Angeles-based entertainment technology company Wave produced Bieber’s “interactive virtual experience,” which featured his digital avatar for fans to chat with and send emoji reactions. Bieber had previously invested in the company. The other Metaverse Performance nominees have performed in video games, with Roblox, Fortnite, Minecraft/YouTube and PUBG Mobile providing space for digital concerts.

The metaverse quickly slipped into the awards shows. Earlier in 2022, Lizzo performed at the first metaverse awards show, Song Breaker Awards hosted on Roblox. Additionally, the Recording Academy has planned an entire week of virtual events leading up to the 64th Grammy Awards, including a virtual performance by Camilo. Other industries are also incorporating digital elements, with The Game Awards allowing fans to attend a virtual red carpet and The Fashion Awards introducing an award for metaverse design.

As COVID-19 remains a concern and traditional concert ticket prices skyrocket, a number of LA startups are betting virtual concerts are here to stay. Megan Thee Stallion produced her “Enter Thee Hottieverse” virtual concert tour with virtual reality startup AmazeVR, a West Hollywood-based company that recently expanded its efforts globally through a partnership with the southern entertainment company -Korean SM Entertainment. Rapper Kid Cudi co-founded Encore, an app meant to bring live performances to fans’ phones.

Virtual concerts have taken off during the pandemic, and the music industry seems to have embraced the idea. Warner Music Group partnered with Wave in 2021 to develop avatars and NFTs for its artists, and earlier this year Snapchat partnered with Universal Pictures to bring Jennifer Lopez’s Bitmoji to the virtual stage.

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