With the rise of virtual reality (VR), NFTs, and metaverse, it’s only natural we are seeing more “non-human” artists. These virtual influencers are here to stay, and we’re only at the beginning, whether you like it or not. The digital world is growing faster and more significant than anticipated, making things bigger than they seem and making you question what is real. Or, in this case, who is real and who isn’t.
Melbourne-based record label Avastar is one company that has a head start on the metaverse, having already introduced two artists under their talent agency: Maie and Ruby 9100m. Maie recently released her brand new single “Like You”, the music video of which features the artist donning a dress designed by UK-based multidisciplinary artist and designer Jack Irving. Having worked with Lady Gaga, Paris Hilton, Paloma Faith and more, Irving’s design is being released as an NFT at BNV to give owners wearable options in the fashion metaverse.
While the “Like You” video by Maie explores and embraces her human form in a transcendental space, the electro-pop song sees her singing the line, “I’m a lot like you but I’m not not like you” or “I know I'm all zeros and ones, part of a system.” That left us with more questions than answers about the phenomenon of the digital world taking over – so to help us understand the new wave, we got in touch with agency co-founder Reggie Ba-Pe to chat about the future of virtual music artists, the metaverse and more.
First of all, why the decision to create a label for A.I. artists?
Just to clarify, our artists are not A.I. There’s no artificial intelligence used in the process of creating our artists. Rather, our artists are more akin to fictional characters that exist in the real world. We like to say that Avastar is a label of “non-humans.” Though we haven’t worked with A.I technology yet, we are exploring ways to implement it in the future.
How long did it take you to put together this idea to create Avastar?
The idea came quickly. Maybe in a fleeting conversation a few years ago. However, it took over a year to build the team, produce the characters, the content and be able to distribute the music globally.
What is the gap within the market you are hoping to fill that real-life artists can’t?
We want to explore the intersection of emerging technologies with music and creativity. The music industry hasn’t really changed for decades and the content created within that industry hasn’t really evolved either. With Avastar, we wanted to take a fresh approach and be daring in how music can be created, performed, and shared. Virtual avatars provide new possibilities that haven’t existed before and we’re excited to be on the forefront of exploring these possibilities.
How would virtual artists change the existing music scene?
If we can fully harness the potential of virtual avatars, they can provide new digital experiences and interactions that can’t be found in our physical world. For existing musicians that adopt a virtual avatar, they can open up new ways to engage with their fans whom many of are spending more time in digital spaces. We’re also seeing new ways that communities are contributing to the creation process like in the case of Hatsune Miku. At Avastar, we’re also looking at how avatars can benefit musicians and artists that have a disability and can’t perform physically. We believe avatars will be an extension of the current music industry as opposed to replacing what currently exists.
What are the ideation processes and requirements to come up with a new virtual artist?
Generally, our avatars are guided by values and traits we imbue upon them. After a while, we try to allow the character to exist in the thought process of all the decisions we make.
How do you see art and technology intertwining with the artists?
The entertainment industry is a myriad of interconnected creative talent. Avastar is just a new model that incorporates new creatives like a 3D modeler or animator. I think this will go even deeper as we step into the metaverse. It’s exciting to work with a vast range of talented people from varying backgrounds.
Where do you see the future of music and social media?
It’ll likely evolve into new platforms and spaces. A good example is how video games are being used as a social space to chat and hang out with friends. We’ll likely see younger people shying away from ultra-public profiles to more select communities and groups in new virtual spaces.
Tell us about the idea behind releasing Maie’s “Like You” with an NFT launch of her outfit in the music video.
We were approached by our friends at BNV who were interested in dressing Maie in a virtual dress created by Jack Irving who has also dressed Lady Gaga. We jumped at the chance and are thrilled with how it came out.
How do you envision the future of virtual artists?
Virtual artists will play a huge role in entertainment moving forward. People like Riot Games have shown that video games and video game characters can exist in our physical world and other formats of entertainment. With so many brilliant people developing the foundations of the metaverse and new digital worlds, it’s inevitable that these spaces will need personalities and content to populate it. We’re excited to be contributing to this space and I’m sure over time it’ll become as normal as enjoying cartoons or watching a CG character in a Marvel film.
What are your hopes for Avastar going into the metaverse?
Right now, we want to experiment, collaborate and create. No one truly knows exactly what the future holds – which means we can create the future we want for ourselves and each other.
All Images: Avastar