Abhijit Nath wants to bring back the experience of queuing up with friends outside a record shop to buy a limited-edition LP before it sells out, or waiting for the music video of your favourite artist to drop. But he wants to do that in the metaverse. His latest venture, a.live promises to offer a new way to consume music.
Dropping an album on streaming platforms or even releasing a music video can be a hard win, a.live offers a potent way for artists to create and grow their reach in an immersive way in the metaverse. More importantly, they also create exclusive content (remixes, spatial audio, bonus content) and sell that to their superfans. Being a musician himself, Nath, the founder of a.live is walking the bridge where technology and art forms meet and sway to the tunes of Web3 innovation.
Nath, CEO and founder of the company, has built an immersive, interactive and inclusive platform where every song is a world. Though they are currently in alpha, they are looking forward to their big beta release shortly, with a series of exciting releases by both independent and label artists.
Though Nath started playing the guitar at the age of 15 and then moved on to sarod, his career evolved from venture capital and private equity. Later, he decided to go back to his first love, music, and studied jazz composition at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Nath reveals, “a.live is the culmination of my life experiences, to fundamentally change the way music is consumed, experienced and valued by society.”
When it comes to the Indian music industry, Bengaluru-based Nath is of the opinion that most of the value is captured by the film industries. However, this trend is changing. “You might recall the big Indi-pop boom of the 90s – the film music industry was in the doldrums then, and music lovers found an outlet in independent artists,” he says. “I believe we are seeing something similar again and this time, Indian artists will manage to break it globally. [Artistes like] AP Dhillon are already breaking it big in the West… Prateek Kuhad recently got signed to Elektra.”
Web3 and blockchain technologies have matured more rapidly than anything seen since the dot com era with the advent of NFTs and the metaverse. The infrastructure to support and sustain it all is keeping up with the frantic pace. Nath adds, “I strongly believe that the medium is the message and streaming, by making music free, has led to it going into the background of people’s lives. To change this, you must change the medium and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
People are beginning to value tangibility again, that’s why vinyl records are seeing a resurgence. NFTs, if done well, can do the same in the digital realm by giving fans more to engage with, express their fandom, and find an outlet for their own creativity. In order for savvy musicians to break free, they need to catch up to the future they were promised.
Nath says, “For example, on a.live, purchasing an NFT of your favourite artist’s music allows you to listen to the song in surround sound, remix the music (listen to the vocals isolated), go behind the scenes of the music, and much, much more.”
More than immersive
a.live is giving the audience a tangible way to own and experience more deeply through NFTs, which include: the spatial audio of a song (a more immersive soundscape for a theatre-like experience); a remix function (where one can isolate any instrument as the song is playing or a TikTok-esque way where one can mash up songs); any bonus content from the artist (demos, live versions, artist explaining what the song is about); off-chain benefits (backstage access, discord channel gating), and more.
Additionally, the audience will be able to purchase NFTs that are connected to the song-related experience like dance moves and skins. Most noteworthy is that these NFT offerings are not restricted to the crypto savvy. In fact the uninitiated too can sign up with their social profiles, get notified through emails or texts, and pay with their card or net banking. Plus, all these perks will be available on the a.live app that’s going to launch in a couple of months.
Nath anticipates the industry trends saying, “I think streaming is going to be the default mode of consumption for most people for the foreseeable future. The big change, however, will be the application of the gaming industry’s model to music: give away most stuff for free, but give real fans more things to buy and engage with.” In other words, streaming will be the free layer but other offerings like NFTs, metaverse concerts, merch, avatar skins, and user-generated content will be the paid layer that really allows the music industry to grow.
Future looks bright
a.live lauds of big wins served on a platter of simplicity. The platform is actively looking for artists to work together. All they have to do is sign up on artists.alive.house and the a.live team will reach out to them. Their metaverse world will be set up along with all the Web3 infrastructure in a user-friendly way which will allow them to engage with their audience in a truly meaningful way.
So far, the company has raised a pre-seed round from Hashed Emergent and others. Nath says, “We have aggressive growth plans in the months ahead. Post our beta launch, we have an amazing pipeline of Indian and global bands releasing music on our platform. We’re also expanding the platforms we’re available on – we’re browser only for now, but will launch a phone app and VR very soon.”
Visit a.live for more details