Why Relics and Steve Aoki Are Building NFT Jukeboxes for the Metaverse
Can’t go anywhere in the real world without bringing along your favorite tunes? You’re not alone—and NFT startup Relicsxyz (a.k.a. Relics) is betting that there are enough people who will want to do the same in the metaverse.
Relics has teamed up with DJ and Web3 champion Steve Aoki to launch the Idol III, a fully digital, metaverse-ready music player that takes the form of an Ethereum NFT collectible.
Featuring a unique, pre-installed mix from Aoki’s Dim Mak label that has been mixed and mastered by the man himself, the Idol III is optimized for use within metaverse platforms. They're currently compatible with Decentraland, but additional platform support is planned.
🎵🌐 Music for your Metaverse world is here! Get ready for the IDOL III by @steveaoki, minting May 17th, 2023!
Immerse yourself in the future of audio experiences. 🚀🎧 pic.twitter.com/Im315zG7fU
— RELICS (@RELICSxyz) May 2, 2023
The release follows on from Relics’ Genesis Idol and the Idol II, the latter of which was released in collaboration with video game concept artist Raf Grassetti (God of War). The Idol II mint is slated to begin on Wednesday.
Like previous drops, the Idol III will be an open edition solely for collectors of various other music NFTs. Holders of NFTs by musicians like Avenged Sevenfold, Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, Kings of Leon, and Deadmau5 are eligible to take part, along with Kingship holders and more.
“We've been inspired by jukebox culture, which created these social environments in diners in the ‘50s, but also how sound systems can be showpieces in people’s homes,” Relics General Manager Jordan Kallman told Decrypt. “We wanted to make the Idol beautiful, but also thought about how users are going to actually want to experience music in virtual worlds.”
The Idol III can be used to play any compatible music NFT from a user’s wallet, but the monolith can also be left behind to continue broadcasting songs and enable that social experience.
“I believe it’s one of the earliest efforts to make something natively designed for these virtual worlds that plays music,” explains Kallman.
The Idol III also offers a lot to artists, as well, Kallman said. They’ve been created in conjunction with independent electronic music label Monstercat, who helped shape the soundtracks to hit video games like Rocket League and Beat Saber.
A native metaverse music player will “open up new channels for artists to reach audiences,” says Kallman, who wants Relics to be the go-to place for artists wanting to start safely exploring the metaverse. Beyond that, The Idol III will ensure that all compatible music NFTs are fully licensed for use in these virtual worlds.
“Creators and users will need to make sure that any music that is being played is fully cleared, in order to avoid lawsuits or cease and desist efforts,” says Kallman, wanting to get ahead of the issues that YouTube and Twitch users faced when adoption picked up.
Curious what inspired sounds of the IDOL III? 👀 Check out this behind-the-scenes look that shows where my inspiration came from when designing our latest Metaverse sound system 📷@RELICSxyz pic.twitter.com/kP7nuyFpFS
— Steve Aoki (@steveaoki) May 10, 2023
Relics is also currently finishing off a software development kit that will allow metaverse builders the chance to easily bring Idol III compatibility to their various worlds. The startup turned to Aoki to design the Idol III because he’s “an incredible artist and innovator,” says Kallman.
“He’s been such an incredible force in opening up this space to people who hadn’t heard of blockchain or NFTs before,” Kallman adds. “When we talk about a music player for music fans, I really can’t think of anybody else who has the same ethos of trying to bring everybody together.”
Aoki has been a prolific Web3 builder and NFT collector alike, and is behind such projects as the A0k1verse NFT membership club and the Punx DJ duo with fellow Web3 fan Justin “3LAU” Blau. Aoki has released themed “Sky Pod” environments for his NFT holders on the Oncyber metaverse platform, and his comments suggest that he had those locales in mind when shaping this virtual jukebox.
“We wanted something that would fit comfortably in the Sky Pod space but would also challenge expectations since we didn’t have the limitations of physics to hold us back,” Aoki says via a release. “We are using the metaverse to help us accomplish something we wouldn’t otherwise be able to do, and as always, are focusing on a community-first approach.”
Broader metaverse hype may have faded over the last year or so, but Kallman believes that a music player designed for metaverse worlds is vital in shaping where the technology goes next.
“It’s become really apparent that our lives are becoming more and more virtual every day, and how we build culture in those spaces is really important. I believe music is always the first building block of culture,” he says. “The breakthrough moment for these virtual worlds is definitely coming,” he adds, aided by what NFTs offer musicians and fans in terms of control.
“If you look at how vinyl sales have continued to rise, music ownership is something that fans are still really invested in. That’s just going to continue to grow with NFTs, which can not only provide unique fan experiences but also offer a living wage to artists of all sizes,” says Kallman. “We’ve got big plans and a big vision for where this goes, but we’re really just focused on providing music experiences for music fans and creators.”
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