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Riot Games exec joins virtual concert start-up Wave

Wave, a Scooter-Braun backed virtual concert start-up, has announced that former Riot Games executive Jarred Kennedy is joining the team as chief operating officer.

Kennedy, who most recently served as global head of entertainment businesses and partnerships at Tencent-owned gaming giant Riot Games, will oversee core operations and expand the scale of digital concert experiences at Wave.

The former Riot Games executive will also work on establishing partnerships with artists, investing and innovating in interactivity and expanding the reach of Wave so that more people can experience the musical events.

“The founding team and a lot of the first folks to join Wave are all musicians, they understand the artists that they’re serving and they understand what it means to be fans,” Kennedy tells The Hollywood Reporter.

“They’ve built their company and their culture around that, and so there’s a lot of trust between the creative community and Wave.”

“I believe in where technology is taking these interactive experiences and I also believe in the power of technology to enable really emotional and personal experiences”

Wave, which transforms artists into digital avatars in real-time, casting them onto stages in customised virtual worlds, recently received $30 million in funding from investors including Superfly co-founder Rick Farman, Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin and Justin Bieber manager Braun.

Kennedy says that he can see virtual concerts garnering popularity in a similar way to esports, as “[there is] the potential to create experiences that are both more interactive but also more immersive through virtualisation, [which] I think could be very powerful for what happens and what music performance becomes.

“I believe in where technology is taking these interactive experiences and I also believe in the power of technology to enable really emotional and personal experiences.”

“Wave is growing exponentially thanks to an incredible team of investors, partners and employees committed to our mission,” comments Wave CEO Adam Arrigo.

“Jarred’s wealth of knowledge in the industry, as well as understanding on how to build initiatives that tap into the core of digitally-forward culture, will allow Wave to better serve today’s digital avatar generation and increase our core technology and gaming capabilities.”

Wave concerts are distributed for free on major platforms including Twitch, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, and have featured artists such as John Legend and Imogen Heap.

Read more about the intersection between live music and gaming here.

Gamers: 750m new live music fans?


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Music execs invest in virtual concert platform Wave

Mega-manager Scooter Braun is among those to have invested in Wave, a music-tech startup that creates virtual worlds for live concerts.

The Los Angeles-based company recently received $30 million in funding from investors including Superfly co-founder Rick Farman and Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin. Braun invested via Raised in Space Enterprises, which he launched last year with former BMG president Zach Katz.

The funding round, which was led by venture capitalist firm Maveron, brings Wave’s investment total to $40m.

Wave transforms artists into digital avatars in real-time and casts them onto stages in customised virtual worlds. The company recently announced a concert series, One Wave, with performances from John Legend and Tinashe.

“[This] support shows the entertainment industry is looking for new, interactive ways to connect with today’s digital generation”

The funding will be used to create “new virtual environments and formats, and interactive experiences”, such as in-game activations and social experiences, as well as accelerating it expansion into global markets, specifically Japan and China.

According to Wave CEO Adam Arrigo, the new financial support “shows the entertainment industry is looking for new, interactive ways to connect with today’s digital generation”.

“I want to work with today’s most forward-thinking leaders in music and technology,” says Braun, who manages acts including Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande.

“The future of the industry depends on it. Adam and his team at Wave are bridging these two very important industries to create transformative experiences for the next generation of concertgoers, with a refreshingly artist-first approach.”

Avatar-based virtual concerts have proved to be an immensely popular format, with digitalised appearances by Marshmello and Travis Scott in Fortnite attracting tens of millions and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic further accelerating the push towards digital forms of ‘live’ entertainment.

 


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Scooter Braun launches music tech investment group

Former BMG president Zach Katz has launched investment vehicle Raised In Space Enterprises with Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings and Ripple’s Xpring, an initiative focused on developing blockchain projects.

Raised In Space Enterprises provides funding to entrepreneurs with technology solutions across all aspects of the music industry, including ticketing, touring and fan engagement. Investments range from US$500,000 to $5 million.

The company hopes to capitalise on its partnership with Ripple’s Xpring, integrating blockchain technology and the digital asset XRP to benefit and impact the music industry.

“We will unify the most forward-thinking leaders in both music and technology to foster a community and ideas that will ultimately catapult the music industry into the future,” states Raised In Space founder and chief executive, Katz.

Katz launches the investment vehicle following his December departure from the US division of music publisher BMG, where he held the position of president. He teams up with famed artist manager, Braun, and technology and music entrepreneur, Shara Senderoff, in founding Raised In Space.

“The relationship between music and technology has massive untapped potential”

Braun, who manages Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, is the founder of venture-capital firm Ithaca Holdings and an early investor in numerous technology companies.

“The relationship between music and technology has massive untapped potential,” says Braun. “I’m excited to launch a company focused on bridging these two industries in a transformative and actionable manner that raises the value of music.”

Braun has worked with Ripple’s Xpring, a blockchain technology and investment firm, on various projects. The company is “excited about blockchain’s potential to solve problems in the entertainment space,” says Ripple’s Xpring senior vice president, Ethan Beard.

“Xpring is about empowering the best entrepreneurs to apply technologies like the XRP Ledger in new and novel ways. We are excited to see how the entrepreneurs they [Kantz, Braun and Senderoff] back will build new solutions that can reshape the music industry.”

 


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“I’m a Belieber!”: Peter Mensch buries the hatchet with Justin

Legendary artist manager Peter Mensch used his appearance at last week’s ILMC 30 Breakfast Meeting to put to rest his much-publicised feud with Justin Bieber, telling delegates: “I’m a Belieber now!”

The self-professed ‘greatest manager in the fucking world’ said he had two things to say before the interview started in earnest. First off, he paid tribute to Brian Murphy, West Coast president of AEG Presents and Goldenvoice and co-founder of Avalon Attractions, who died on 6 March.

Then he stood up and removed his jumper to reveal a Justin Bieber T-shirt. Five years ago, he revealed, he’d done a talk at the Royal Albert Hall in which he insulted Justin Bieber and his manager, Scooter Braun, by suggesting the Canadian singer’s career would be over in three years. (He also told the Sun he’d “take Bieber to the woodshed and spank him” to instil some some discipline in the wayward popstar.)

“I was wrong,” Mensch said at ILMC. “I will acknowledge Justin didn’t go away… I’m now a Belieber.”

He also paid tribute to Braun for his role in organising the One Love Manchester tribute event, saying he thinks “Scooter is OK”.

Breakfast Meeting host Dan Steinberg (Promoter 101) – standing in for Ed Bicknell, who’d broken his leg – got the questions off to a confrontational start: “Why so angry?”

“I don’t give a flying fuck if you can play live… You always get better”

“Because if you manage bands you’re mummy bird and they’re baby bird and anyone doesn’t help you feed them…” responded Mensch. “You’ve got to lead or follow or get the fuck out of the way.”

The ‘mummy bird’ to Metallica, Muse, Red Hot Chili Peppers and others said he got into management after a stint as “the world’s worst tour accountant,” and in the office still sits next to his “best friend and only friend in the business,” QPrime partner Cliff Bernstein.

“The most important thing a manager can do is get the best music out of the act they can,” he told the room.

“I don’t give a flying fuck if they can play live. We managed Foals for two years and no one had seen them live. It’s all about the music. You always get better at live. Maybe you’re never gonna be God’s gift, but you’ll get better.”

Mensch said there’s one key to choosing the artists they work with: “It’s the music. Someone sends us music, we listen to it, someone says ‘it sucks’, end of conversation. Two of us listen and say ‘that’s a good record’ and on the way to Popeyes Fried Chicken we decide to manage them.

“Like Muse’s third album. The first album sold 10,000 albums, second didn’t come out in the US. We listened to the third record [loved it], went to Bologna, went to see them and said ‘we want to manage you in America’ and they started laughing because they’d had zero success in America.”

“The most important thing a manager can do is get the best music out of the act they can”

He also admitted to looking forward to Mondays, not Fridays, “because I don’t work on Saturday and Sunday.”

“So what motivates one of the greatest managers in the world?” asked Steinberg: “I’m fuelled by hate! I’ve had the chip [on my shoulder] since I was ten.

“We’re the best in the fucking world. We want to shove it down people’s throats.”

So what’s the ideal fan experience for Mensch? “Three hours of my favourite band. I want to have a great time and great sound. I wanna bang my head and walk out feeling amazing.”

However, you’re not likely to see him in any small clubs looking for a new act any time soon. “Most music is crap for me. I don’t hear as much amazing music as I used to. I don’t listen to as much new stuff because I only care about my acts. Cliff listens to a lot more – my feeling is, ‘If I don’t manage you, fuck you’.”

 


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A&MAs: One Love Manchester team named ‘industry champions’

Ariana Grande, her manager, Scooter Braun, Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn and SJM Concerts’ Simon Moran were tonight honoured as ‘industry champions’ at the sixth Artist & Manager Awards, recognising their efforts in producing the One Love Manchester concert on 4 June 2017, which raised more than £17m for victims of the Manchester Arena bombing and their families.

The Artist & Manager Awards, organised by the Music Managers Forum (MMF) and Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), celebrate innovation and achievement in the artist management sector. The 2017 ceremony took place this evening (14 November) at south London venue Printworks.

The industry champion award was presented by FAC’s Imogen Heap, who performed with Grande at One Love Manchester, and was accompanied by video messages from Braun and Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester.

“Although this is incredible, I want us to remember that the city of Manchester and all those families are the real heroes,” said Braun. “Sixty thousand people of Manchester came forward and filled that stadium. It was the greatest act of defiance in the face of evil that I’ve ever witnessed, and I will never ever forget it.

“On behalf of myself, Ariana and the rest of the team, I want to say to the city of Manchester, ‘thank you’ – this is your award tonight, and you have taught us all a valuable lesson. Evil will never win.”

Annabella Coldrick, chief executive of the MMF, added: “The terrorist attack at Ariana Grande’s Manchester Arena show was one of the year’s darkest moments, targeting young music fans and their families. It left 22 dead and more than 250 injured. To organise a concert in their memory, and to turn it into a joyous celebration of youth and music, was an incredible achievement.

“I want to say to the city of Manchester: ‘thank you’. This is your award tonight”

“The MMF and FAC are humbled to honour the team behind One Love Manchester, and would like to dedicate this award to all those still impacted by the events of 22 May.”

Other winners at the A&MAs, which was sponsored by Spotify, included Depeche Mode’s longtime manager, Jonathan Kessler, who picked up the Peter Grant award for lifetime achievement, and Tracey Thorn, who was crowned artists’ artist.

The award for manager of the year was presented to Tap Management’s Ben Mawson and Ed Millett by Lana Del Rey, while Rag’n’Bone Man was declared artist of the year, recognising his decade-long journey to success.

Giggs and his management team, Michael ‘Buck’ Maris and Trenton Harrison-Lewis, received the pioneer award from Island Records president Darcus Beese OBE, while Eleven Management’s Niamh Byrne and Regine Moylett received the entrepreneur award for their work on Gorillaz’s album campaign for Humanz. Echo Beach Management’s Jill Hollywood picked up the award for writer/producer manager.

A special tribute was also paid to former MMF president Jon Webster, who stepped down earlier this year to write a book about his experiences at Virgin Records in the 1980s. Performances on the night came from Dermot Kennedy, one of TAP Management’s priority artists, and ATC Managements’ the Boxer Rebellion.

A full list of winners is available from the A&MAs website.

 


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