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Universal Boosts Metaverse Band Plans With New Bored Ape Ethereum NFT

The Kingship virtual band gets a new manager as UMG’s 10:22PM label spends nearly $365K on an Ethereum NFT.

4 min read
Universal's new Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT. Image: UMG

In brief

  • Record label Universal Music Group has purchased a Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT to create a character for its virtual band initiative, Kingship.
  • Bored Ape NFT owners can use their images for commercial purposes, such as marketing, products, and more.

Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT holders have the ability to commercialize their owned images, and back in November, major record label Universal Music Group (UMG) announced plans to turn Apes into a virtual band for the metaverse called Kingship. Now the firm has just purchased its own Bored Ape NFT to further expand the initiative.

Today, UMG’s 10:22PM imprint announced that it acquired Bored Ape NFT #5537, which was purchased on February 12 for 125 ETH, or about $365,000 worth at the time. The Ape illustration—which has attributes such as a blue dress, pilot’s hat, and white fur—will be used to create a character named “Noët All,” which will serve as the manager of the fictional band.

What’s different about today’s announcement is that 10:22PM (founded by Celine Joshua) actually owns the image tied to this Ethereum NFT, which Universal claims makes it the first imprint within one of the major record labels to own a Bored Ape.

The other members of the band are based on NFTs owned by Jimmy “j1mmy” McNelis, a noted NFT collector and entrepreneur that is working with UMG on the project. Public blockchain data displayed on the OpenSea marketplace suggests that McNelis himself actually sold the latest NFT to Universal from his personal collection.

Kingship is inspired by Gorillaz, the popular virtual band created by musician Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett. Nicholas Adler, previously described as the band’s real-life manager, told Decrypt in November that “Gorillaz is the north star” for the band. Collaborators will create narratives and music for the virtual group.

Furthermore, Kingship is leaning into its Web3 origins with plans to perform concerts in online metaverse spaces, as well as release its own NFTs. When asked about UMG's plans, Adler—also the manager and brand curator for rapper Snoop Dogg—said in November that everything was still being explored.

“We're developing the personalities and [NFT] drops around them,” Adler told Decrypt. “We're developing sounds; we're developing stories and narratives. I think that the project, the process, and the music will be something that consumers and fans will see online as we develop it.”

UMG isn’t the only notable music industry entity trying to turn owned Bored Ape NFT characters into virtual artists. Soon after the announcement last November, music producer Timbaland launched his own separate record label for Bored Ape NFT owners alongside a virtual hip-hop group based on some of the Apes.

Bored Ape Yacht Club and Mutant Ape Yacht Club NFT characters have been used for other commercial purposes by owners, ranging from merchandise to cannabis brand packaging and even an upcoming fast-food restaurant in Los Angeles.

An NFT acts like a blockchain-backed deed of ownership to a unique digital item, whether it’s an image of a disinterested ape, a digital illustration, a video file, or something else. The wider industry grew to $25 billion worth of trading volume in 2021, per data from DappRadar.

The Bored Ape Yacht Club has quickly become one of the best-known projects in the space. To date, its collections—including the Mutant Apes and the Bored Ape Kennel Club—have yielded more than $2.9 billion in combined secondary market trading volume to date, according to CryptoSlam.

Along the way, the NFTs have become very valuable, and they’ve been purchased by a number of prominent celebrities. Right now, the cheapest-available Bored Ape NFT listed on a marketplace is priced at 93 ETH, or about $272,600.

Yesterday, a utility and governance token called ApeCoin (APE) was released and granted free to owners of the NFTs, with Bored Ape owners able to claim 10,094 APE for each NFT owned. At the current price of APE, that’s more than $139,000 worth of free tokens.

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