In 2021, at the height of the cryptocurrency craze, a rock band of virtual apes was born. Today, real musicians are shaping the band’s sound. Together they are a pair of hot gold producers who have worked with Beyoncé and Rihanna.
James Fantler Roy and Chauncey Hollis Jr. (also known as Hit-Boy) have begun work on a new album for the band Kingship. The band was formed by Universal Music Group NV to generate revenue by selling virtual goods and services related to the artist. Hiring a music star marks a new phase for the project. Funtler Roy has won multiple Grammys for his work with Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake; Hit-Boy has also collaborated with a stellar list of singers, including the famous rapper Jay -Z and Nas.
“It only makes sense to have the best creators, producers and songwriters,” said Celine Joshua, founder of Universal Music’s 10:22 record label. “In my opinion, James and Hit-Boy are the perfect fit for the job.”
Joshua is the founder of Kingship. The band consists of 4 digital characters from a collection of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) called the Bored Ape Yacht Club. She conceived a multi-year progression arc for these apes that included album releases and metaverse performances. If all goes to plan, the band will take the world by storm and prove that cryptocurrencies and NFTs are viable tools for the music industry.
Technological optimists have long touted the bright future of Web3. Web3 is the decentralized version of today’s internet. There, artists can raise funds for album production by selling NFT pieces. Thanks to blockchain technology, payments have become more transparent. Music groups are able to make their fans truly stakeholders in their music business.
All of this allows fans to develop a stronger bond with their favorite artists. Owners of Kingship NFTs have special access to a Discord server. There, they can communicate with each other, or be the first to learn new information about the band. There are also some perks related to future music and gigs.
The collapse of the cryptocurrency and NFT markets has complicated this star-making scheme. Joshua revealed that the plan is currently in the second of at least seven phases.
In November, Universal Music launched Kingship as the world’s optimism about cryptocurrencies was nearing its peak. In 2021, NFT sales are close to $25 billion; Ether, the most popular cryptocurrency in the NFT market, peaked at nearly $4,800. This new speculative market has captivated countless investors, collectors and society as a whole. But the good times didn’t last long, with ether’s price plummeting more than 55% this year, according to CoinMarketCap. NFT sales are currently hovering at a one-year low.
This caused Joshua to delay her plans to sell NFTs for the band and to lower the number of NFTs they would sell for the first time. But she has bounced back and made $1.5 million earlier this year by selling 5,000 NFTs of the band Kingship. She also struck a deal with Mars Inc. to release a special edition of M&Ms.
“We’ve seen volatility in the market and the decline of ether, and there are too many projects that are underperforming,” Joshua said. “Consumer sentiment has changed. But we decided, or I decided, we had to A development plan.”
However, her enthusiasm caught Funtler Roy’s attention. The musician describes himself as a “tech junkie” with a second career as a digital artist. He started collecting when bitcoin was still at $9,000 — it’s now trading at $19,000. He also has a collection of more than 30 NFT works.
“I bought a bunch of stuff that ended up being worthless,” Fauntleroy said. “But this community intrigued me right away. It will inevitably transition to fan-based interactions.”
When initially meeting Fantler Roy and Hit-Boy, Joshua played “Jump” by legendary rock band Van Halen for inspiration. The song, released in 1984, topped the US Billboard charts and was named one of the 200 greatest songs of all time by Rolling Stone magazine.
Right now, Fantler Roy and Hit-Boy are thinking about how they want the band to sound. After weeks of discussions around the personalities of the band members, they have at least settled on each member’s preferred instrument. Hud, an ape with laser eyes, is the lead singer of the band. Arnell, a mutant ape, is a DJ and drummer. King is bassist and vocalist. Captain is the lead guitarist.
“They’re a rock band with a rock personality,” Fontlerroy said. “We’re still figuring out exactly how they’re going to express themselves.”
Translator: Ren Wenke
A rock band made up of virtual apes, created last year at the height of crypto mania, now has actual musicians putting together its sound—a pair of sought-after producers who have worked with Beyonce and Rihanna.
James Fauntleroy and Chauncey Hollis Jr., better known as Hit-Boy, have begun work on a new album for Kingship, a band Universal Music Group NV formed as part of a bet it can generate revenue from selling virtual goods and services built around acts. The hiring of artistic heavyweights marks a new phase of the project. Fauntleroy has won Grammys for his work with Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake, while Jay-Z and Nas have collaborated with Hit-Boy.
“It only made sense to bring in the best creators and producers and songwriters,” said Celine Joshua, founder of Universal’s 10:22 record label. “For me, that process led to James and Hit-Boy.”
Joshua is the architect of Kingship, which consists of four digital characters from a collection of nonfungible tokens known called the Bored Ape Yacht Club. She has conceived a multiyear story arc for the apes, including album releases and metaverse performances. If all goes according to plan, they’ll take the world by storm and prove cryptocurrencies and NFTs are viable tools for the music industry.
Techno-optimists have long been outlining the promise of so-called Web3, a decentralized version of today’s internet. There, artists can raise money to fund production of an album by selling NFTs. Payments are more transparent, through the use of blockchain technology, and musical groups can give their fans a literal stake in their business.
All of it allows fans to forge a greater connection with their favorite acts. The people who own NFTs for Kingship get special access to a Discord server where they can talk with one another, or learn new information about the group first. There are also perks associated with future music and performances.
A collapse in the market for cryptocurrencies and NFTs has complicated the plan, which Joshua said is now in its second of at least seven phases.
Universal unveiled Kingship last November when optimism about cryptocurrencies was near its peak. NFT sales neared $25 billion in 2021 and the price of Ether (a popular currency for NFTs) peaked at almost $4,800. Investors, collectors and society at large were enamored with the new speculative market. The price of Ether has plummeted more than 55% this year, according to CoinMarketCap. Sales of NFTs are currently around their one-year lows.
That caused Joshua to delay her plans to sell NFTs for the band, and reduce the number of NFTs they first sold. But she has regrouped, generating $1.5 million by selling 5,000 Kingship NFTs earlier this year. She also struck a deal with Mars Inc. for a special edition M&M’s.
“We have seen the fluctuations in the marketplace and the decline of Ether and so many projects not fulfilling promises,” Joshua said. “Consumer sentiment changed. But we decided, or I decided, that we have a development plan.”
Yet her enthusiasm helped attract Fauntleroy, a self-professed nerd who has a second career as a digital artist. He started collecting Bitcoin, now trading at about $19,000, when it went for $9,000. He also has a collection of more than 30 NFTs.
“I bought a bunch of things that ended up not being worth” anything, Fauntleroy said. “But when I saw this community, I was like, ‘Oh.’ This is an inevitable transition to fan-based interaction.”
In an early meeting with Fauntleroy and Hit-Boy, Joshua played Van Halen’s “Jump” as an inspiration for the sound. The 1984 song topped the Billboard charts in the U.S. and was ranked by Rolling Stone as one of the 200 greatest songs of all-time.
Fauntleroy and Hit-Boy are now in the middle of working out how they want this group to sound. After weeks debating the members’ personalities, they’ve at least settled on their instruments of choice. Hud, an ape with laser eyes, is a lead singer. Arnell, a mutated ape, is the DJ/drummer. King is the bassist and vocals, and Captain is on lead guitar.
“They are a rock band with rock ‘n’ roll personalities,” Fauntleroy said. “We are still building out exactly how they’ll express themselves.”