Miku Hatsune was considered an oddity when she released her first demo track in 2007. A seemingly disembodied voice created by Crypton Future Media, Miku was a marvel at the time, only able to exist through text-to-speech technology called Vocaloid.
Over the years, Miku’s influence grew and she became a virtual pop star. Of influential collaborations at world toursthis animated, all-digital recording artist helped the music industry explore the possibilities of what was achievable through virtual reality, paving the way for people like Yameii and FN Meka become viral sensations.
Now, with the power given to creators through Web3 and blockchain technology, virtual influencers become part of pop culture. From users creating entire personas around their own NFTs to headlining CryptoPunk rappers and Bored Ape DJ duos, physical and digital experiences are blending together in new and exciting ways.
Just as the NFT music ecosystem has changed in response to NFTs, another iteration of the recording industry is emerging in the wake of virtual artists. And at the forefront of this new iteration lives Player Zero, a Web3 record label that, like the rise of the virtual pop star, is changing the way we view the future of music.
What is player zero?
Player Zero is a web3 record label that, as record labels, is about as digital as it gets. While most legacy labels are rooted in the real world and focus on acquiring and building real-life talent and brands, Player Zero creates an ecosystem that revolves entirely around Animated Virtual Artists (AVAs).
A joint venture between hitmaker Dr. Luke and Collective Web3 Digital Arts & Sciences, Player Zero aims to develop an extensive list of AVAs and corresponding metaverse experiences. To do this, Dr. Luke has already tapped into a strong cast of music industry veterans who have worked with Demi Lovato, Zara Larsson, Twice, Fergie and many more.
Similar to Miku, Yameii, and FN Meka, AVAs are virtual artists that only exist in the digital realm. Some may be powered by Vocaloid and artificial intelligence, others may be the product of a team of producers, singers and songwriters, but each AVA exists digitally, on the blockchain.
AVAs are powered by NFTs, which is perfectly exemplified by Player Zero’s first virtual offering, Amari. Although Amari is quickly turning into a metaverse pop star with her debut single “Deeper», the character itself comes from the popular collection PFP NFT CyberBrokers created by crypto-art OG Josie Bellini.
However, Player Zero didn’t just get the Amari NFT to use as an AVA. He collaborated directly with the CyberBrokers community to create his backstory, personality, sound, and more. As other AVAs are created in the image of NFTs, like Doodles, Meebits, Bored Apes, etc., the communities surrounding these projects could be offered a say in its development.
“We like to partner with communities that already exist,” said Lawrence Vavra, music industry veteran and one of the founders of Player Zero, in an interview with nft now. “Because we are members of these communities and have been very bullish on Web3 for a year and a half now. So we have a bunch of cool NFT community AVAs, but we also have some that we created from scratch.
Through initiatives like Amari that dive right into the heart of the NFT community, Player Zero has built itself as more than a record label, hoping to become a comprehensive entertainment brand rooted in Web3 music.
“Ours, [a Web3 record label] really means you’re able to bring community-centric things to life,” Vavra said. “We come from the recording industry and we understand what goes into building an artist,” Vavra said. “As fans, we all know the musician, but there are, in most cases, tons of people – like singers, songwriters and producers – behind an artist who help push him forward. “
With Player Zero, Vavra said he and his team are working to give artists and creative communities the ability to deliver art in a digitally native way that bypasses the dilution of the music industry. This is why AVAs are created for the NFT community, by the NFT community, bound only by the constraints of blockchain technology and the collective imagination.
How does Player Zero work?
Similar to other top notch NFT projects, Player Zero operates on a membership-based model. At the very top of this model is the Player Zero Founders Passwhich are essentially a golden ticket that gives holders access to almost all future releases and upcoming initiatives from budding record label Web3.
Founder Passes are exclusive, with only 100 to be released. The first 50 passes were minted in an exclusive pre-sale event, the remaining 50 were only accessible at auction. One pass will be auctioned every 24 hours and the last Founders Pass will be sold on November 3, 2022.
But Founders Passes aren’t the only way NFT enthusiasts can access the Player Zero ecosystem. As AVAs are developed and released, Vavra said collectors will have the opportunity to enter the ground floor of these characters’ “careers.”
“Every AVA we release will have a Genesis Pass, which should really entice early adopters to jump into the project,” Vavra said. “Think about how it’s always worked: you meet a band and you like that band, and the band starts getting bigger and bigger. Then it gets to the mainstream and as an early adopter you go to the next thing.
With Genesis Passes, Vavra said early adopters have the opportunity to be rewarded instead of snubbed by their favorite artists. As AVA grows, collectors of their Genesis Passes will have a say in the creative direction.
The Player Zero team collaborated with our community-driven Writer’s Room to develop Amari’s backstory and motivations to match the settings of the CyberBrokers universe.
— CyberBrokers (@CyberBrokers_) September 16, 2022
For Vavra, greater creative direction control could mean deciding which artists to collaborate with, what type of product they should release, or even which versions of their songs should be streamed. In short, Vavra’s vision is for fans and early adopters have real incentives to build in the Player Zero universe.
Could AVAs be the future of Web3 music?
As the age of Web3 and the metaverse increasingly encourages people to live their lives entirely online, AVAs seem perfectly in tune with the interests of a digital native culture. Just as we’ve seen concerts and festivals become virtual experiences during the COVID pandemic, it’s possible musical acts will become completely virtual experiences as well.
Above all, Player Zero is very different from other Web3 native music platforms that have emerged recently. Services like Sound.xyz and Catalog have allowed independent artists to publish their creations on the blockchain, but Player Zero is more of an incubator for community projects that align with both the general NFT ecosystem and the music industry backend (thus, songwriters, producers, etc.) .
That doesn’t mean, however, that the lines between established platforms and Web3 labels like Player Zero can’t be blurred. Instead, it is more of a reminder that the NFT ecosystem might be ready and receptive to such an entity. When it comes to Vavra, the NFT space and the world at large is undoubtedly ready for Player Zero and a future where virtual beings can become chart-topping superstars.
“Even five years ago I would have said that I don’t think people can really connect with music unless there’s a story behind the musician,” Vavra told nft now. “I think now, because of Web3, because of Zoom, and because of COVID, people are going to connect with music, and it doesn’t have to be a human person for that they connect.”
However, it is too early to say for sure if the changes taking place in the music industry due to Web3 will last. But as the metaverse continues to grow and consumers continue to show a desire for virtual experiences, Player Zero could become the dominant voice within the Web3 music ecosystem.