28: Adam Arrigo — The Show Must Go Beyond

Listen to the episode on iTunes.

Image for post
Image for post
Adam Arrigo, co-founder and CEO, Wave

Alice Lloyd George: Welcome. Today’s guest is Adam Arrigo, co-founder and CEO of Wave — a live, interactive, immersive concert platform that is revolutionizing how artists express themselves and how fans connect. I’ve known Adam since we met in 2016 at Game Developers Conference. I loved his energy and vision. Full disclosure for my enthusiasm — I invested in the seed round of Wave, led the Series A and was on the board while at RRE Ventures. I’ve also invested in the company from my new fund Rogue, alongside somewhat bigger names like Justin Bieber, J Balvin and The Weeknd. It’s been incredible to be a small part of your journey and I’m thrilled to have you here today to share the story. Thanks for joining.

Adam Arrigo: Thanks for having me.

Image for post
Image for post
Wave 2016 → Wave today

I’d love to start by getting into the early concept and community and its evolution since 2016. Then we’ll get into what Wave is today.

Sure. A bit about my background. I’ve worked in the games industry for 12 years. The first game I worked on was Rock Band One when I was at Harmonix as a game designer. I’ve always been inspired by products like Rockband that bring people together to socialize around music in new ways. Wave actually started as a passion project between me and my co-founder Aaron Lemke, who was an independent VR developer. In 2016 there was a lot of hype and excitement around virtual and augmented reality. These technologies seemed poised to revolutionize and disrupt every vertical of your life. Especially entertainment. At the time we were both focused on other stuff. We also met at GDC and were talking about how musicians could benefit from virtual reality technology.

Image for post
Image for post
Adam in The Main Drag

Both of us are musicians and have tried to make a living as artists. I used to go on tour with my band, The Main Drag, and I know how hard it is to make a living in the industry. So it started from this need for artists to leverage different types of technologies to make a living. In the same way that Rockband helped the music industry make a supplemental revenue stream, but didn’t cannibalize or threaten record sales or live tickets. We wanted to invent a way for artists to go on tour and reach their fans in a new way.

So when you and Aaron got together, how did you come up with this concept? How did you actualize it and what did the first product look like?

Image for post
Image for post
Aaron Lemke, Adam Arrigo

The first product was a VR DJ app that let artists upload tracks, customize visuals in a virtual venue, put on a headset and interact with a 3D interface. It let you perform your set and control the visuals of the world. Then we built this basic virtual space where people could network in as avatars to watch an artist perform. It was a passion project. We just thought it was cool and found friends that I’d worked with previously and that Aaron had in Austin, Texas, who joined the Slack. We started building stuff and were off to the races.

It’s funny when you start a company for the first time, you have these expectations of what it’s going to be like. At the time we were protective of the idea. We thought, we can’t tell anyone, we are in stealth mode. No one’s ever thought about doing virtual concerts before. We’re going to do this in secret.

Then we went to GDC and at the last minute decided, no fuck it let’s tell everyone about this and find people who want to work on it with us. We set up at a bunch of parties at GDC that were VR mixers. We had our artist, Clarke Nordehauser — Grimecraft — put on a headset and DJ in VR then project what he was seeing behind him. People would come up to it and ask, “what is this? what’s he doing? what does he see?” It was fascinating because back then there weren’t that many VR experiences. We were super early. That was a key part of our narrative, being there in the beginning when this industry was starting to take shape. And knowing that it was early and hedging our bets and not blowing our cash early on. It’s been a long journey.

Image for post
Image for post
Early wave team, DJ Clarke Nordehauser (Grimecraft) bottom middle

That touches on many interesting points. One is the idea of being stealth versus evangelizing your product and vision. It’s worked well in the case of Wave to be a beacon. One of the first things I noticed about the team was the passion. Everyone was a musician in some capacity on the side or had been in the past. And you attract like-minded, passionate people to the project. Like Grimecraft who is a great example of your early, passionate user base. Some of those users I remember would be in for nine hours at a time using the product. The session lengths were insane. And it’s clear that you and Aaron are a great fit for this company.

Image for post
Image for post
Gordon Bellamy, Jon Goldman (Greycroft), Adam Arrigo, Aaron Lemke, Alice Lloyd George, Ross Burningham (Gunderson). Wave board meeting — 2018

Since 2016 we’ve gone through a VR winter. The company has evolved. One of the impressive things was how you kept that low burn and were thoughtful, not blowing capital as you say, throughout shifting periods in the industry. Can you talk about the VR winter and what the product is now?

One of the most challenging things that we had to navigate over the years was the fact that we started as a VR company and raised our money on the thesis that VR was going to transform entertainment. But at the same time the opportunity we had was large because we were so early. We knew that. There were a lot of companies that got funded and ramped up quickly, even though the install base of people who bought headsets was small. It seemed we should keep the burn as low as possible and figure out, is our business going to be solely based on virtual reality concerts? Should we expand the scope of how we distribute this content to encompass other things like video games and live streaming platforms?

So we spent the first two years in R&D mode. We were a small team in Austin, Texas. I used to sleep in the server room and we just experimented with the form factor of what a virtual concert could be. We realized that if we wanted to serve musicians and their fans, we couldn’t just recreate a concert in the form factor that it currently exists. We realized that a virtual show has to go beyond what currently exists in order for it to have a real value proposition, and that artists ultimately were interested in doing stuff that they couldn’t do in a real show, like letting the audience fly. We did a collaboration with Spielberg on the film Ready Player One where we made a zero gravity dance club. We did a show with Glitch Mob where you’re flying through a space vortex and meet users from around the world and interact with them.

Image for post
Image for post

We did a show with Imogen Heap where you’re in her living room watching an intimate show. She’s a hologram and it feels like you’re there with her. This was the most important time for our company, even though we have since pivoted out of VR and expanded the scope of how we produce and distribute concerts. All those lessons we learned in the early days are our superpower and advantage. Because even when you’re doing concerts in a game like Roblox or Fortnite — or even the show we just did with The Weeknd that was distributed in partnership with TikTok — all of those lessons about the format for a show and how it can be this new undefinable thing really stuck.

Image for post
Image for post
A sampling of Waves

That’s the reason Wave has always been one of the companies and products and teams I’ve loved. That insight about not going skeuomorphic, not copying the real world. Everyone used to ask, why would you go in VR when you have the real world? Well it turns out now we have a global pandemic, a slightly different situation. But the product you built has always offered something completely different — and I believe complementary — to real world entertainment.

Just on this new pandemic situation since March in the U.S. and globally — there’s been a shift in the landscape. A flurry of activity among legacy companies. In music, the Livenations of the world are all trying to get into streaming. And from the grassroots perspective, I remember at the beginning of the pandemic a lot of invites from musicians who were live on Instagram or Zoom offering experiences. Those tailed off quickly and the experiences were not great. Can you talk about what’s happened since the pandemic tailwinds hit this sector?

It’s been an eventful year for us. Especially because timing wise, we closed our Series B , a $30 million dollar round before the pandemic hit. We’d started ramping up hiring and product development towards the end of last year. We had no idea what was going to happen in 2020, but at the end of 2019 we felt that this market for virtual entertainment was starting to develop.

Image for post
Image for post

We had pivoted to distribute concerts in games. You saw the Marshmello show that happened in Fortnite. People started thinking, oh you can do a concert in a videogame platform. Meanwhile this thesis of games as the next social platform like Facebook and Instagram and virtual artist startups were popping up. Investors saw our progress, the partnerships we were making, the strength of team and actually invested before this year. Our value proposition has become pretty clear in the face of the pandemic with all the concert cancelations. We were already off to the races, then Covid hit and it kind of changed everything. Though in other ways, we were like well, we’re still doing what we were doing before, this was going to happen anyway.

The main things that have changed are twofold. One, artists are looking to reach their fans. It’s a hard time not just for musicians, but the whole industry. The people who work on the visuals, the lighting, the touring crews, creative managers, everyone is trying to figure it out. People are more interested in working with us. Maybe some artists that wouldn’t have been down to experiment with something as seemingly radical as an avatar-driven virtual concert now want to do it. So on the artist side, that’s been great.

One of the biggest challenges for me as founder and CEO of this company has been explaining to people what it is. Given that it’s experimental in nature. Especially in the VR days, you had to try it to understand why it’s good. Now with concerts canceled and the value of virtual entertainment and virtual live events clarified, plus some of these large scale shows happening — the Travis Scott and Marshmello shows in Fortnite, The Weeknd show in Tiktok that we just did, which had three million live users. People get it all of a sudden. It’s like the future’s been pulled forward. Our previous strategy was always, it’s a marathon not a sprint. But now we are in the future. The future is here in the present. It’s been exciting, stressful, depressing, all of the emotions. The thing we’re trying to stay focused on is how do we build something that is scalable and sustainable, that fulfills our mission, which is helping artists make money.

Image for post
Image for post
Alice’s phone recording of the Marshmello x Fortnite concert

You mentioned Epic. It’s been interesting to see them and other gaming companies jump in and make forays into live entertainment. The Marshmello concert was an awakening moment for people more broadly who haven’t followed all this. They had 40 million cumulative viewers, 12 million concurrent. Twelve million concurrent and word on the street is over $100 million revenue generated. And that was not a ticketed event. It was just an experiment. Most of the revenue was through skins. I was in the show. I happened to be on the move so I was on mobile, but I did buy a Marshmello skin for $15 USD. Multiply that by all the kids that were in different instances — it’s a lot. Can you get into your thinking about the business model for Wave? You talked about generating new revenue streams for the artists. Where are you right now with that?

So the first product we built was this social platform in VR centered on music. When we pivoted we also changed our business model to be less an owned and operated venue or app that you have to download. In this phase of the company we’re functioning as a promoter where we build the tech and the content, we book the artists. We partner with third party platforms like TikTok and Twitch. We’ll have gaming partnerships to announce soon. We’re creating the shows and distributing them into places where avatars already exist. We made this decision because building your own platform is hard and focus is key in startups. We want to focus on the thing that we are good at, which is creating mindblowing virtual concerts. By going to places like Roblox and Fortnite and TikTok where people are already socializing, we can show them what the future of a virtual event looks like. It’s hard to do that if you’re creating your own app.

John Legend behind-the-scenes of his Wave performance on June 25, 2020

We’ve done shows on YouTube. We did a show with John Legend where we experimented with gifting. People could send John Legend comments that they bought using superchat on YouTube. We did a show with Lindsey Stirling where people donated to her in the same way — we made $50,000 dollars in one show. Someone donated $10,000 dollars in a single gift. In The Weeknd show we made $50,000 dollars just selling merchandise, which we donated to the Equal Justice Initiative. So our business model’s about gifting, a model that’s been proven out time and time again on streaming platforms. And selling virtual goods, as Fortnite proved during the Marshmello show. And then we want to experiment with ticketed events as well. We’ve also done brand sponsorships.

These recent concerts, I want to get into them because they’ve been incredible. The John Legend one and The Weeknd, which was recent. Can you talk about what it was like to do that concert on TikTok. You’ve obviously built up credibility on the creative side with these artists. What was it like to collaborate with TikTok on that?

That experience was amazing. One of the things we’ve always prided ourselves on is our authenticity and the fact that we ourselves are musicians and visual artists. It was incredible to work our way up to an artist like The Weeknd and have him trust us enough to put his name on something that is, for all intents purposes, still experimental. We were like, Abel we’re gonna turn you into an avatar and you’re going to be performing in front of millions of people in this dystopian virtual city. There was a moment where Abel had to decide whether to lick the frog. People in the audience voted on whether or not he licks the frog, yes or no?

Image for post
Image for post

Pretty sure he licked like the frog?

Of course. Everyone voted to lick the frog. That changed the course of the show. It goes down a certain path based on the audience’s input. It was cool. Also TikTok were incredible partners to amplify the reach of the show and access that audience, who loved the event.

Wasn’t it 1.5 billion plus views of the event hashtag?

Yeah about two billion views. It’s interesting once you look at how those platforms work and how content can be distributed and proliferate. That wasn’t something I was even aware of before we did the show, when this hashtag blew up and people made all kinds of videos about the experience. The scope of that outstripped the number of people that attended the show by a magnitude.

It’s an example of how you can take something like a concert and then adapt it to new digital mediums, and you have to rethink that content type from the ground up. As you mentioned, when Covid hit a lot of people immediately went live on Twitch. There was a slew of free livestream concerts performed from the living room and sometimes from a soundstage. But audiences got burnt out on that. It felt like a reminder of the fact that they’re trapped in their homes. We’ve always reimagined the experience and we do something that isn’t a replacement for a concert.

Image for post
Image for post
The Weeknd x Wave, on TikTok [watch on Youtube]

Just to describe the Abel concert for people listening — it was kind of a hallucinatory dream world. Abel was particalized at the beginning and then he assembled into a human and was floating around a neuron city that was glowing, very cyberpunk. There were comments from the viewers floating on billboards. With previous artists you’ve worked with like Tinashe, you’ve also incorporated live users’ comments. And the users with donations, their names flash across the stage. How do you think about interactivity as you go forward in different performances?

It’s the most important thing. That’s one of the superpowers you can give the audience in a virtual concert. At a real show you have a limited set of inputs. You can cheer. At baseball games you can do the wave where everyone does a thing at a certain time. It produces a bigger whole. In some ways our company is named after the wave, because people have this input that is amplified. In our VR platform you could throw giant stars into the sky. We’ve always been influenced by Scott Pilgrim vs. the World — those fully animated, visualized concert sequences that are a hybrid of between a videogame and a concert.

We did a show with Kill the Noise where there’s a boss battle, literally. A demon appeared behind DJ and the show stopped and everyone had to shoot the demon so that the show could go on. That’s just one example of where the medium is going. It’s going to be an exciting time the next few years as virtual concerts become part of a greater lexicon. The medium itself is just starting to be defined in the same way that when music videos started, they were just videos of live concerts. That’s where we are right now. As it evolves you’re going to get the MTV of virtual entertainment. There’ll be ways to democratize content creation and ways of telling stories. The possibilities are endless from a creative standpoint.

Image for post
Image for post
Tokimonsta — Lune Rouge album

Those moments where you have agency feel so different. The Travis Scott concert in Fortnite was beautiful, but you couldn’t do anything except observe it. Whereas there was a moment in the Marshmello concert in Fortnite where everyone started floating. You’ve had a lot more agency in your concerts. One of the early ones with Tokimonsta, whose music I love, was in VR. You could run around and do different things. Tokimonsta also had a clear sense of visuals so you were able to use her album art and built the world off it. How do you work with a different spectrum of artists, where some already have avatar identities and others don’t. For the ones that don’t have an avatar or visuals, how do you act as a spirit guide and build out their virtual identity?

The hardest part about what we do is the fact that we have to do everything, given how new the market is. Part of that is artist relations. We have an amazing team led by Nicole St-Jean, our head of A&R. We’ve worked with different kinds of artists. Imogen Heap was easy to work with because she understands technology and was down to experiment. With John Legend and other professional musicians, it’s what is the technology and how does it work? You’ve got to walk them through the process.

Image for post
Image for post
T-Pain as a fire breathing demon

But at the end of the day the artists get it because it’s about self-expression. Once you walk them through it they get it. Like T-Pain — we made him into a giant, fire-breathing demon. He was like, oh I get it. I’m a demon. This is awesome. What else can we do that artists are excited by in the possibility space? There are dynamics in tech that we need to build and work out around the performance studio that we run. Right now artists come to our studio, put on a motion capture suit, and perform in front of monitors where they can see into the virtual world. They see the comments on Twitch, the avatars, and the 3D space. They interact live with the audience. Someone can gift John Legend a comment. And he’s in the experience thanking you. If you gift a certain amount you can go on stage and dance in front of the audience. It’s super surreal and cool. There’s stuff like that where you have to educate people. We need to figure out a better way to capture the energy of an actual show in these new mocap sound stages. Sometimes it can still feel foreign. But the moment when the artist realizes oh, they’re reacting to what I’m doing, it clicks. You can see them understand that it’s like a live show, but a little different.

Right. There is a core human element to performing. Artists like Imogen Heap are more native to technology than others. But if you can remove the technology so it’s invisible or magic, then show them that audience response, that seems important to getting a great performance out of the artist.

Yeah. When we did our first Wave 2.0 show with this new mocap studio we built, with an artist called Rezz, one of our favorite DJs. There was one moment where she was looking at the audience and said, “hey I see you guys in the front row.” Everyone was an alien because that’s one of her visuals. She said, “put your little alien hands up.” All of the aliens raised their hands. It was this amazing moment because it was so simple, but everyone was freaking out because they were connecting, even though it was completely virtual.

How were they able to do that again? The audience.

They were either using a game controller or they were in VR.

Image for post
Image for post
Jauz x Wave underwater concert — recap

Right. Similarly I remember being in the Jauz concert, which was underwater and dope being in a coral reef. Some of the sharks swimming around seemed to be big time users with more agency.

In that one we were experimenting with monetization. If you paid a certain amount you could be a bigger hammerhead shark. Everyone else was just a fish. Now that I think about it it was sort of a nefarious reflection of capitalism. It was an experimental show. We’re still figuring it out.

Image for post
Image for post
Pokimane — 5 million Twitch followers — doing anime avatar streaming

You’ve also spent time in Asia. We were on a trip to Japan last year when you were working with Avex and learning from what’s been going on with with the VTuber phenomenon. Which has exploded over the last few years there. For listeners — that’s people live streaming DIY from home as an anime character. Actually Pokimane, the largest female gaming streamer in the U.S., just announced she’s streaming as an anime, essentially a VTuber situation.

How much have you learned from Asia? What do you think translates from there to here? Platforms like YY have been around for a while with micro-tipping and gifting. Its newer here, Twitch has only been around a few years. What transfers and what doesn’t transfer?

We were inspired by Asian streaming platforms like YY and Bilibili in China. Those monetization models work well for live, interactive, virtual events. From a business model standpoint it made sense to us and our investors like Avex and NTT Docomo, who we’re partnering with in Japan. I spent a lot of time over there and was fascinated by the VTuber phenomenon — people turning themselves into avatars using webcam apps or VR technology and producing content primarily for YouTube.

In Japan, it makes sense culturally where you have artists like Hatsune Miku who’ve been around for decades. I don’t know how many VTubers there are now, but it’s gotten to the point where some of them are getting investment from VCs because they’re monetizing using brand sponsors and getting millions of fans on social. There’s Lil Miquela in the U.S., a similar thing. I was inspired by a couple of companies and how they were thinking about virtual performance by using technology we already have but in a new way — both VR and mocap tech.

What’s happening now in Western gaming with Fornite and Roblox and Minecraft — if you put it all together, you can see where this industry is headed — virtual entertainment. Not only are celebrities going to have their own avatar and be able to reach new audiences through distributing into 3D spaces, but consumers and all of us are going to have our own avatar identities. The new places we’re going to hang out and where culture is developing will start to exist endemically. They’ll be like Lil Miquela, avatars that only exist in the virtual space that have become popular. It’s going to be an interesting decade. Facebook and Apple have built in avatar creators now because they know that’s where it’s headed.

It’s feels like a thousand flowers blooming. In terms of both people being able to have agency over how they represent themselves in a virtual world and also all the companies coming in and getting involved. And entertainment and social media and gaming converging. It does seem that gaming companies have the distribution and thus a lot of leverage. You’ve got the Epic Apple battle going on, which is probably one of the early skirmishes in the development of the metaverse. That’s a term that gets thrown around quite a lot — the metaverse. People have been coming at it from many different angles. What does it mean to you and what framework do you apply to understand what the metaverse is and what it will look like?

It’s interesting because no one knows how that type of thing will develop, whether it’s going to be a single company that owns it, like in the movie Ready Player One. Or if you follow Tim Sweeney on Twitter, whether it’s going to be an open traversal between multiple metaverses. I hope it’s the latter, because if you look at how science fiction portrays it, it can be dystopian.

For me the metaverse can be an extraordinarily beautiful thing. You referenced how we treat gender in our VR app. We made the decision to not include gender in our avatars. You’re a panda or a fox or an alien and people treat each other better. If you go into our app, the community is most similar to an EDM festival — peace, love, understanding, respect. People are nice to each other. When people who aren’t familiar with gaming think about becoming an avatar, they think about it as a synthetic, cold, digital representation. But I’ve seen it be a beautiful thing.

Image for post
Image for post
Early Wave avatars

You can be critical of the gaming industry and how now not diverse and problematic it is. Not to sound too techno utopian, but I do think these platforms have the potential to be a better world. Just given how fucked up our current one is. You can be anyone you want. If you don’t like your gender, you can be a different gender. If you want to be a panda, you can be a panda. The possibilities are exciting, not just from a self-expression standpoint, which is what we care about in terms of entertainment. But also from the standpoint of whether it is possible to develop more empathy for each other.

And the opportunity to build that directly into your product. I think that’s one of the reasons why Wave always stood out as an early VR product. It felt different for those reasons, those conscious choices you made with the avatars. I felt more comfortable in there. You also meet so many people internationally. It’s very friendly. Hopefully gaming will go that way over time, despite any challenges at the moment.

Totally. I love Wave concerts for that reason, because you go in and people are speaking all kinds of languages. It’s like being at an international music festival. There are people speaking Japanese, Chinese, Russian and German. It’s cool meeting people in that context because you’re not bringing in all the baggage you have as a human being. People don’t know your race. They don’t have to know your gender. You’re just existing in a place based around music. It’s a beautiful concept.

Image for post
Image for post
Jared Kennedy, Riot Games now Wave

I want to touch on how you’ve been bringing gaming DNA into the company recently. You’ve made incredible hires, including Jared Kennedy who you brought on as COO. He was a longtime executive at Riot Games. They’re such an interesting company — also based in LA — especially the culture they’ve built. What’s it like to bring in Riot talent and how do you think about them in the ecosystem?

We were excited to welcome Jared as COO, especially because he was involved with the KDA project, which was inspiring. Developing a pop group out of a League of Legends champions that has recently hit number one on the charts. A real following and a global audience. I love when products like KDA and games like League of Legends effectively bridge the gap between cultures. Jared’s been a force to be reckoned with.

Image for post
Image for post
KDA POP/STARS music video by Riot Games, has 380m+ views on Youtube

That video. The original KDA POP/STARS video with Akali as the lead South Korean rapper. It now has over 380 million views on YouTube, for a not real quote unquote band. It’s incredible how much it has resonated. Obviously it’s a different model to create and own the IP. How do you think about players in the ecosystem that are creating virtual IP?

There are amazing companies popping up now. Superplastic — who’s creating Janky and Guggimon. The founder Paul was the founder of KidRobot. I’m a huge fan of that company. They’re creating their own IP that could be used in all different types of contexts. Strangeloop Studios are creating virtual characters, Authentic Artists, Brud. It’s a time where people are starting to experiment with different business models around virtual IP. There will be a Disney or Pixar that pops up that is completely 3D, that produces IP that can exist in all these contexts.

Image for post
Image for post
Kizuna AI

Look up Kizuna AI the Japanese VTuber. She’s the most popular VTuber with millions of followers. She has a music career. She plays virtual shows. She plays physical shows. She has tons of brand sponsors. She has a rabid fan base. You can see how that’s the future for music talent.

And it’s multi-revenue channel too across the many ways she reaches her audience. If you’re a kid growing up, a 10 year old or teenager, you can listen to her music. You can watch her on YouTube. I don’t know if you can play with her in a game in the way you can with Riot characters? I’m sure you will be able to at some point.

So Adam, you’re a pioneer of all this. As you say, at the start there was friction explaining the company. A lot of the folks that come on Flux also have that challenge. They are pushing something forward that hasn’t existed before. There is the education of investors and also users. It’s a different kind of battle than founders who are doing the tenth enterprise SaaS company and don’t have to explain it. For founders who want to do something entirely new, something frontier, where they have to create a new market — what advice would you give them?

That was one of the hardest things that we’ve had to overcome — showing people what the product is, something that defies classification. You have to put in the work and know that in some contexts, regardless of what you do, people won’t get it. If you put in the time and someone isn’t getting it, don’t spend time trying to convince them. Move on. Find the people who are aligned. That goes for partners, investors, hires.

One of the things we have been successful at and which I’m the most proud of is the team we’ve built internally. Both from an investor and talent standpoint. Jared is a great example. Jared gets it. He worked on KDA and he helped grow League of Legends into an e-sport. He’s been at the nexus of new mediums being created and the business models that follow.

Image for post
Image for post
Assemble an A+ passionate team even if you haven’t figured out everything. Keep the lights on until the moment comes where you can seize the opportunity.

We started out as a group of musicians. We hired people that were passionate about the same things and understood the mission. Assemble that team even if you haven’t figured out everything. Our company’s a good example. We’ve made pivots and expanded the vision and it’s changed a lot. You will figure it out if you can keep the lights on long enough to have the opportunity to step into the moment.

I would also say — and this is because I’ve been to so many VR/AR conferences and panels — conferences are not that useful. Don’t spend time talking about things and waxing poetic about the future. We’ve always been heads down building. At the end of the day execution is what matters. The fact that we have been able to work our way up to collaborating with artists like John Legend and The Weeknd and the many more to come is because we put in the work in the early days. First working with our DJ friends in LA, then artists like Imogen Heap who are interested in technology. All of the work we did actually building things is why we’re in our current position. But we still have much more to do.

That’s great tactical advice, not to get too caught up in the external hype. Build credibility and trust by executing well.

Yeah and we have much more to execute on. In the tech industry and entertainment industry especially, there’s so much fluff and it’s hard to distinguish that from substance.

Image for post
Image for post
Alice signing the Wave Series A term sheet with Adam in VR, 2017

For sure. You’ve come such a long way. I remember in one board deck, you put up a cockroach on one of the slides — it still horrifies me I can see it now — you said “we’re going into cockroach mode!” You’ve done such a good job since then and have been thoughtful about the team and product and artists you work with. Final question. What does the future of Wave look like? Any artists you can tell us that you’re going to be working with. What should we be excited about?

I’m excited to step in to this moment. Given the challenges that artists are facing right now being able to continue to make a living. We are motivated to help artists of all levels in this time and in the future. It’s been great working with big artists like The Weeknd, our best project yet. But we’re trying to be mindful of the fact that there are many artists out there and it feels like live music is facing an existential threat. For us it’s about building something, democratizing the medium and making it scalable and monetizeable for artists of all types.

You’re doing a good thing helping artists connect with their audiences in this difficult time. I know you’ve got a bunch of great shows coming up — I can’t wait to see them.

Image for post
Image for post
*\(^o^)/*

Me too. I can’t wait to see them. Honestly this is a dream job, getting to work with this level of talent. It’s been rewarding.

You’ve assembled a great team of Avengers.

Thank you for having me on.

Thanks for tuning in everyone. Go to WaveXR.com for upcoming shows and join in the magic.

***

Resources:

Written by

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store