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Face masks become must-have music merch

Music and sports brands are capitalising on the growing popularity of face masks, with bands including My Chemical Romance, Korn and Megadeth, and the US’s National Basketball Association (NBA), among those to have begun producing their own cloth face coverings.

Though the WHO says face masks only need be worn by those symptomatic with Covid-19, or caring for those who are, many countries, including the US, are now recommending non-medical face coverings be worn in public. Among those responding to the demand are the NBA and its sister league, the Women’s NBA (WNBA), which announced on Friday it would donate all proceeds from its new masks to charities Feeding America (US) and Second Harvest (Canada).

“As a global community, we can all play a role in reducing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic by following the CDC [Centers for Disease Control]’s recommendation to cover our nose and mouth while in public,” explains Kathy Behrens, the NBA’s president of social responsibility and player programmes. “Through this new product offering, NBA and WNBA fans can adhere to these guidelines while joining in the league’s efforts to aid those who have been directly affected by Covid-19.”

In the music world, thrash metal act Megadeth are sending their fans face masks featuring the band’s Vic Rattlehead mascot, while post-hardcore band Thursday are repurposing existing merch to create masks, the sales of which will go towards making more. Nu-metallers Korn, meanwhile, created masks featuring their logo in early March, which quickly sold out. Fans can now pre-order a new batch set for release on 8 May.

According to trade body Licensing International, the NBA “opened the licensing floodgates” to branded face masks

Recently reformed emo heroes My Chemical Romance will release their masks – originally created for a show in the desert that never materialised – on 29 May, donating all proceeds to the Covid-19 relief fund established by Grammys charity MusiCares.

“We are living in strange times, alienating times, scary times,” reads a statement from the band. “These masks were the brainchild of our beloved Lauren Valencia, who died before this madness, not of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the older evil that is cancer. We had these masks made to keep you dust-free in the desert, a show that never happened, never will – a protection that then seemed timeworn.

“And here we are, with these masks, as though Lauren was prescient or we were unknowingly waiting for the right time…”

Valencia, the band’s longtime manager, died last year.

According to US trade body Licensing International (LIMA), the NBA/WNBA masks – along with the launch of, featuring masks with the Batman logo, Hello Kitty, Care Bears, Scooby-Doo and others – “opened the licensing floodgates” to branded face masks, with more launches expected in the near future.

LIMA’s Global Licensing Survey 2019 found music merchandise sales were worth nearly US$3.5bn worldwide last year.


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Lindsey Stirling performing live as avatar

Electronic violinist Lindsey Stirling is putting on a new kind of interactive virtual concert, performing live to fans in avatar form.

The concert, put on in collaboration with streaming platform Wave, will take place at 3 p.m. (EST) on Monday 26 August.

Stirling will perform through her avatar, powered by art body motion and face capture technology. Fans will also be able created their own avatars and attend the virtual show by downloading the Wave virtual reality (VR) app, supported by HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

Throughout the concert, Stirling will interact with fans “in a variety of direct, mysterious and surpris[ing] ways”. Limited edition concert merchandise will be available to buy.

The show, streamed live from Wave’s Los Angeles studios, will be available to watch live via the artist’s YouTube channel and Facebook page, or Wave’s Twitch channel. Fans that miss the live performance can watch it back for 24 hours after premiere time.

“[Stirling] is the perfect artist to be the first to use Wave on YouTube”

“Lindsey is a trailblazer, entrepreneur and incredibly talented artist,” says Adam Arrigo, Wave chief executive and co-founder. “We’re excited to be collaborating with her and helping her extend her reach to fans around the globe using the power of our platform. With her pioneering spirit, she is the perfect artist to be the first to use Wave on YouTube.”

The show is the latest in a growing trend of virtual concerts and artist-to-fan interactions, which include Korn’s upcoming in-game appearance in AdventureQuest3D, Marshmello’s record-breaking Fortnite concert and Monstercat/ Linden Lab’s Call of the Wild Experience, a virtual world for artists and fans.

VR livestreaming is also becoming a popular way to broadcast shows to fans, with the UK’s MelodyVR producing its first ‘Live in VR’ event in December 2018.

During the virtual concert, Stirling will debut material from her new album Artemis. The artist is kicking off a number of European dates on 12 September; full information and ticket prices can be found here.


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Korn to play “video game battle concert”

Nu-metal band Korn are the latest group to foray into the world of virtual concerts, announcing upcoming performances in multiplayer games AdventureQuest 3D and 2D counterpart, AdventureQuest Worlds.

The band will debut a song from upcoming album The Nothing during the in-game appearance.

According to AdventureQuest developer Artix Entertainment, players will “fight monsters”, “score loot” and “get in the most brutal mosh pit ever” at the virtual rock concert, hosted at the new AdventureQuest Battle Concert Arena.

The concert, which begins on Tuesday 20 August at “sundown” (EST), is free to attend for gamers and available to replay for a month.

A special event package is available to buy, including Korn-branded items, the “heavy metal mosh pit armour” and exclusive travel forms. Players can also purchase a backstage pass, “to get a virtual backstage experience with the virtual band and take a virtual selfie.”

In-game concerts are becoming an increasingly popular form of entertainment. A record ten million Fortnite players tuned into a virtual performance by electronic music producer Marshmello in February, surpassing the game’s previous concurrent player record by 1.7m. Minecraft has also hosted several live music events, including Fire Festival earlier this year.

Korn have been touring the United States, in person, since the end of July. Upcoming tour dates can be found here.


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