It's a little strange for everyone. Also for the rapper himself. “You see it from home now, or what?” Arrest warrant asks. "I hope you have the chip bags open. And the dips.”
A video recording of the musician moves back and forth on a virtual, somewhat psychedelic-looking stage. Before that his fans, all avatars. Some look like comic versions of flawless rap fans, one is there as a dinosaur. His name is Mr Social Media.
The names of the concert guests float above their heads: Nils, Jules, Emine, DJ Pyrx and one who calls himself Metawurst. A few have remained genderless and faceless black figures. Too lazy, too indifferent or too complicated to design the avatar before the start of the "first German rap block party in the Metaverse".
One can only speculate who is attending the arrest warrant metaverse concert on the other side of the screen, at the other end in the real world. Jules, Emine, Nils and whoever calls themselves Metawurst are presumably sitting at their laptops or iPads, maybe even in front of their TVs with consoles.
In Berlin, Frankfurt, Hildesheim, maybe. Most probably only with socks. And maybe Haftsperre is sitting at the computer watching his first Metaverse concert. And eat chips with dip.
The two-day event was announced by the organizer as "a world premiere that will write hip-hop history": On two consecutive evenings at the beginning of March, the Berlin start-up Twelve by Twelve, a "Web3 music platform", as the company calls it, invited himself, to the "Deutschrap Festival" in the specially designed Metaverse.
15 hip-hop greats were announced, including Xatar, Jamule, German rapper Soufian, Volo and as the big main act at the end of the second day: arrest warrant. Not live, but in color and tracksuit and for the first time in the Metaverse.
Visitors could buy tickets – metaversely: tokens – from ten euros. A link then led them to log in and thus to the entrance to the Twelve by Twelve Metaverse. In order to keep the hurdles as low as possible, the tickets could easily be paid for via PayPal. Nobody needed cryptocoins and wallets here.
What the visitors then expected, the organizer calls an “immersive experience from home”. Visitors could walk across the virtual festival site with their avatars. arrow keys. Forward, to the side, if you stay on it, the avatar runs.
Totally clear and familiar to gamers, unfamiliar to some hip-hop fans, as evidenced by the comments in the chat box at the bottom left of the screen: "Wow, I almost fell off the stairs." Wall.” “How do you get there?”
At the bottom right is a bar with a few hints and explanations about the controls. Among other things: You can dance with the keys one to nine. Each one hides a different move. With the number nine, the avatar keeps turning in circles.
Twelve by Twelve invested almost a whole year in the construction of this virtual festival area. The question naturally arises: why? Above all, says Philipp Köhn, CXO and co-founder, because it should be a showcase. "Kind of a big example with lots of bang and bang and fireworks." Of how Web3 can transform the music industry. How can the Metaverse actually be used by the music industry?
"The logical first step for us was to create our own event location where the artists could perform," explains Köhn. The actual, live performance in the Metaverse is actually just the next step.
Twelve by Twelve worked with green screen technology or green recordings for the German rap festival. That means: In the run-up to the web party, the hip-hop artists came individually to a green screen studio in Frankfurt/Main and performed in front of several cameras instead of an audience.
Haftbefehl also recorded his three or four pieces and the bit of chatter in between there a few weeks ago. That explains why the situation was unfamiliar to him too. Not knowing what the show audience is doing during their performance is new to the artist.
This recording was played out at the block party on the Metaverse stage. That was technically easy to implement and financially feasible, explains Köhn. "But of course the train is going to the live performance." So: live virtual.
"You can do all of that today, so you need the right artist and the right brand so that you can pay for it today." And that's one point: while arrest warrant is on the virtual stage, get up this March evening roughly 20 avatars around the dance floor from the visitor's point of view.
In the chat you can see the organizers trying to send individual guests in the other rooms there. Come here, we are more here. According to Twelve by Twelve, there were a total of 6,000 people in the Metaverse.
The party was a test balloon. Köhn and his two co-founders Jan Denecke and Michael Eisele already have ideas on how their start-up, founded in 2021, can make money. Köhn describes several future marketable use cases for the Twelve by Twelve Metaverse. Record labels could host inexpensive marketing events in the Metaverse. record releases. Promotion of albums and clients.
And then, of course, there are the artists themselves as customers and users of this digital space. The idea of the Metaverse is not old and the first to try out some spectacular and sometimes very lucrative ventures were artists.
The visual ones, above all: A digital work of art, an NFT, by the US artist Beeple was auctioned off by Christie's 2021 for 69.35 million US dollars - a record sum for a digital work of art.
Köhn, it makes sense that the creatives are pioneers. As a new digital space, the metaverse itself is a kind of white canvas. He believes that this can best be filled with creativity. And artists are actively looking for new ways to make money from their art.
Web 2.0 made it rather difficult for artists. Copy and paste is one thing, that everything ends up on Pinterest, Shutterstock or Spotify, the other. Köhn calls these platforms that secure rights to art “content nodes”.
That's a bad thing for an artist's revenue development: Köhn explains that most musicians nowadays get more than 65 percent of the proceeds from a new song from the streaming fees from providers such as Spotify or Apple Music - "but only over the course of the next few years,” says Köhn. "That means: I have to wait a very long time - usually decades - until I, as an artist, get the full value from this song."
It used to be different. The artist produced an album, sold 10,000 albums and immediately had 200,000 euros in his account. If he then went on tour, he took in even more in a manageable amount of time.
The new approach of the creator economy as a new model for artists is now to bring art to their fans without a central entity. And Web3.0 makes that possible. Here artists could sell music directly to their biggest fans. Key word: virtual ownership. And also: co-determination.
GenZ in particular would like to have a say and be close to the artist, says Köhn. Or even share in the successes. This is possible by buying and selling NFTs.
"It's not about generating 20 million Beyoncés, Herbert Grönemeyers and Michael Jacksons," says Köhn. Web3.0 makes it possible to create a middle class of musicians who can live off their art and direct marketing to their fans. With streaming royalties, only a few artists will be able to do this. A majority of artists make less than $1,000 a year from streaming.
At the first block party in the Metaverse, Haftbefehl finishes his last song. In the chat someone writes: "Over??? :(((((" KingMailo replies: "Hafti, beste". Eywa: "sicker scheisss". And Leo replies: "Where afterparty?" Yes, where?
The avatars continue to stand a little unmotivated in the virtual club, even if the stage is now empty and only quiet elevator music is playing in the background. Some keep dancing. The real people at the other end of the devices are probably not there right now. Get more chips. Or dips.
"I know some people think we're stepping up to replace the live industry with a virtual performance industry," says Twelve by Twelve founder Köhn. "Of course that's not the case at all." That a web-streamed concert where you can make an avatar dance by pressing keys one through nine can't match the unique feeling of being in the midst of an excited crowd at a live concert and bawling his heart out, sweaty and tipsy from vodka bull and real and real life itself, that's perfectly clear to him.
"Maybe in 200 years, when our consciousness is in the cloud and we may no longer be able to distinguish what is real and what is not," he says, only half seriously. Until then, he sees the virtual performance as an add-on to the real concert experience. The new generations in particular meet online. Here Twelve by Twelve would offer an alternative to games, for example. In this way, friends could experience more online and create different and new memories.
The biggest hurdle, reports Köhn, on all sides, among artists, record labels and fans, is the topic "it's complicated". "I don't have a wallet." "How is that actually regulated?". “And is that something with this crypto? They're all idiots, they only speculate with money and everything just falls apart."
He and his team are aware that there is still a long way to go, says Köhn. "I wish more people would try it. In the end, most of them say: Yes, it's a great experience.” And at least Hafti probably liked it.
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