Warner Music Group will open an outpost in virtual world The Sandbox, and it hopes music buffs will express their fandom by acquiring nearby property. In an announcement, WMG described its new home as a “combination of musical theme park and concert venue.” It will work with The Sandbox to host concerts and other “musical experiences.” But so far, it’s only discussed one specific event: a special sale of digital real estate called Land, which Sandbox users can buy “coveted” plots of in March.
The Sandbox has previously partnered with individual artists like Snoop Dogg for experiences, but this is apparently a larger and more ambitious installation. “Warner Music has secured the equivalent of beachfront property in the metaverse,” bragged WMG chief digital officer of business development Oana Ruxandra. (A press release did not offer images of the space, and it’s unclear if a virtual beach is involved.) The Land sale will offer spaces that are adjacent to the WMG property, although WMG didn’t specify whether this offers any concrete perks or if buyers simply get emotional satisfaction — and potentially elevated real estate prices — from the abstract notion of proximity.
The Sandbox’s Land sales have a precedent in virtual worlds like Second Life, another place where corporations have opened virtual experiences. Likewise, virtual concerts have taken over Fortnite, Minecraft, and Roblox — the latter of which has signed its own music industry deals and hosted “listening parties” where artists can debut new music. Last year, WMG invested in the virtual concert platform Wave as well.
Unlike all the platforms above, though, The Sandbox is built around blockchain and non-fungible token (or NFT) technology. It’s particularly concerned with ownership and letting players monetize in-game resources, a key piece of what is sometimes dubbed the “metaverse.” Along with the similar platform Decentraland, it’s led a recent push to make virtual land a hot commodity, although some observers are skeptical of the phenomenon. Regardless of the larger business strategies in play here, at least you can make one good argument for becoming virtual instead of real neighbors with a concert venue: if the music gets too loud, you can just turn your computer off and go to sleep.