Wowkie Zhang, a Chinese pop-punk singer released a music video in June where meets a virtual character named Zookie in an animated world that dances to Zhang’s music.
However, there’s more to the virtual character as Zebra Labs is turning him into a piece of reusable intellectual property that individuals can purchase as NFTs on different marketplaces and even in virtual locations such as within video games.
In a conversation with TechCrunch, Scarlett Li, founder and CEO of Zebra Labs revealed that the startup is awaiting the bull market’s return before launching its new NFT project.
According to Li, Zebra Labs is aiming to “create intellectual property that’s deeply integrated with content” and “run virtual idols like celebrities.” Some of its avatars will be based on real-life celebrities, while others will be original new, virtual characters. The startup aims to cultivate an audience for its idols using short films, images and social posts and then monetize this fan base.
Li who has previously helped organise some of the biggest music festivals in China added that NFTs can be used to better engage with fans, “When you reach 30 years old, you lose interest to explore music, so a virtual environment can jump-start your visualization [of music] again.”
And although celebrities in the US like Madonna and Snoop Dogg are already making millions with NFTs, Li believes that it’ll give emerging musicians in China a more direct line of income. Observing that Tencent and NetEase usually allocate user traffic to musicians with a significant fanbase, “so to live well as a musician, you need to have a million followers. NFTs can change that.”
Li also comments that Zebra Labs is in talks with several gaming firms to launch virtual concerts for Chinese artists within popular titles like Minecraft and a metaverse platform next year.
The $5 million funding comes from NetDragon, a Chinese gaming firm and Sumitomo, a Japanese conglomerate.