Universal Music Group taps Grammy-award-winning producers to create music for Kingship, a virtual band based on the blue-chip NFT collection Bored Ape Yacht Club.
According to Celine Joshua, head of Universal’s 10:22PM label, it made sense to bring in the talent of co-executive producers James Fauntleroy and Hit-Boy to help steer the sound of the new group. The duo has done work for pop superstars Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, Beyonce, and Rihanna.
Joshua has conceived a roadmap for Kingship that includes albums and metaverse performances. There will be fan perks associated with albums and performances, and owners of Kingship NFTs will get access to an exclusive Discord server to meet other fans.
Universal announced Kingship last Nov., at the height of the crypto market bull run that saw bitcoin top $69,000 and ether, the predominant cryptocurrency in the NFT space, reach $4,800.
How the band is being formed
Kingship has four members: lead singer Hud, percussionist Arnell, bassist, and vocalist King, and lead guitarist Captain.
James Fauntleroy and Hit-Boy are crafting the sound for the simian quartet that will take its cue from a hit track entitled ‘Jump’ by former hard rock group Van Halen. Rolling Stone has ranked the song in its list of the 200 greatest songs of all time. Kingship has released a 30-second video depicting its musical direction.
So far, Joshua has sold 5,000 band-related NFTs, called Key Cards, which top OpenSea’s list of Music NFTs. Each Key Card depicts one of the apes with specific unique attributes.
Despite the recent crypto market downturn, the BAYC collection, consisting of 10,000 cartoon apes, has reached some significant milestones. It recently overturned CryptoPunks, another so-called blue-chip NFT collection, in the category of all-time sales figures. Otherdeeds, dynamic NFTs built as a collection of essential game elements and an integral part of the BAYC NFT universe, recently flipped the popular NBA NFT collection Top Shot as the NFT project with the highest sale volumes.
BAYC taking the music industry in another direction
Bored Apes have proven popular Web3 intellectual property for celebrities and the entertainment industry. They can be seen as a status symbol on the decentralized web and social media platforms like Twitter, where owners display the NFTs on their profiles. Notable celebrities owning Bored Apes include NBA star Steph Curry, NFL quarterback Tom Brady, and rapper Snoop Dogg.
But they are also part of a movement to reconnect artists with fans.
At around the same time Universal announced Kingship, Grammy award-winning producer Timbaland launched a venture in partnership with a BAYC entertainment company, Ape-In Productions, to promote Bored Apes as popular metaverse music acts. One of the goals of the new venture, Timbaland said, was to give artists back creative control. The Bored Apes will release music and animation as NFTs. The first act signed onto the platform was TheZoo, a hip-hop group in the BAYC metaverse. Animation for the concerts will be achieved using Unreal Engine’s 3-D creation technology.
Meanwhile, rappers Snoop Dogg and Eminem are already exploring the potential of cartoon simians to augment their real-world performances. The duo recently combined a live performance at the MTV Video Music Awards with a music video depicting them performing as animated Bored Apes in the metaverse.