News & Insights

Introducing Wave


“A concert is not a live rendition of our album. It’s a theatrical event.”

-Freddie Mercury

My first concert is still vivid in my memory: February 1982, the Cow Palace, and AC/DC. The scale, the sound, the people swaying and moving in unison… It was electric. I remember it like it was yesterday, and I still get the same intoxicating feeling every time I go to a show.

The last concert I attended before COVID was with my teenage daughter: Tyler the Creator at Bill Graham Auditorium in San Francisco. The room was physically bouncing with sound, energy, and joy. We ended up in the mosh pit with kids a third of my age. The connection with the crowd, the energy of the music, the grand spectacle of the performance — there’s truly nothing like the experience of live music.

Since that formative night with AC/DC in 1982, there has been a profound proliferation of technology — mobile, streaming, XR, 5G, and more. Yet despite these technological leaps, online live music has stalled in its evolution, and paled in comparison to the magical experience of a live music performance. That is, until Wave.

Today, we are thrilled to announce our investment in Wave. Wave is a technology platform that enables highly produced, virtual concerts that deliver the energy and shared experience of a live music festival. We are incredibly excited to partner with Adam Arrigo and his talented team at Wave as they redefine the experience of a live concert in a digital world, and as they build the leading consumer brand at the intersection of live music and gaming.

As a former professional musician turned consumer technology investor, I have spent a great portion of my career wondering what the future of entertainment and social would look like, and contemplating what special characteristics a team and company would need to succeed. Experiencing the recent Wave by violinist Lindsey Stirling and interacting alongside of 400,000 other live virtual attendees, Wave surpassed my near-obsessive thinking on the subject, and offers a glimpse of the future.

Several factors underpin our excitement about Wave:

1. Right founder, right team.

As early-stage investors, we are always thinking about founders first, and Adam is the ideal leader to build this company. Adam is one of the most creative and imaginative people I’ve met in the space, and he has spent his life at the intersection of music, gaming, and technology. He has 13 years of experience working on music tech products as a sound designer, game designer, and product leader. If you’ve played the drums in the game Rock Band, then you have enjoyed his work. He is a multi-instrumentalist, producer, and synth fan, and he has surrounded himself with a team of artists, technologists, and industry leaders who have worked at companies like Riot, Twitter, Bungie, Harmonix, Google, LiveNation, SoundCloud, and Microsoft.

2. Category Creator.

Every once in a while, a startup has the opportunity to not only create leadership in a category, but actually define the category itself. Wave is exactly that type of Brave New World company. Wave sits at the nexus of two of the largest entertainment categories: gaming ($137B) and live music ($31B). The gaming industry is increasingly becoming the catch-all social and entertainment hub for younger consumers. Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, on an earnings call in 2019 called out Fortnite as one of their strongest competitive threats, eclipsing that of media players like HBO. As gaming bleeds into entertainment, it has just begun to dip its toe into the world of online live music and early signs point to enormous consumer appetite for virtual concerts. On April 23, more than 12 million Fortnite players simultaneously paused their play to watch a digital avatar of Travis Scott perform a 10 minute pre-recorded virtual concert within Fortnite.

There is not a parallel ecosystem of live virtual concert platforms as there is in the physical world that hosts artists from the beginning of their career to the height of their career. Musicians all around the world pay their dues by performing in dingy bar corners and poorly lit cafes, aspiring to someday perform at sold out stadiums backed with world class visual and immersive effects. We expect to see rapid advancement in the online capabilities of digital concerts from low budget streams to truly spectacular, culture defining events. Wave has the opportunity to become the gold standard by which all online live concert experiences are compared.

3. Live, Immersive, Interactive, and Social

At Maveron, we are students of consumer and spend every waking moment re-imagining how we are all going to live — tomorrow and 20 years from now. In the real world, live music is one of the best examples of a ‘cauldron of consumer passion,’ and we are witnessing the rapid evolution of an experience in the digital world that evokes a similar set of feelings and emotions. We believe that the online concert of the future will need to deliver a truly live, immersive, interactive, and social experience. While online concerts will be fundamentally different than those in the real world — delivering a concert experience on a digital platform offers new opportunities. Concerts can be done on a global scale, audiences can immerse themselves in custom, highly produced, surreal worlds, all the while offering an intimate experience where the audience can interact directly with the performer and other attendees alike. Through the Wave’s proprietary technology and core gaming capabilities, Wave can go beyond real life concert halls, as well as traditional live streaming events, to create unique artist avatars, fantastic virtual worlds, and interactive experiences that truly immerse audiences at the nexus of gaming and entertainment.

In 2016, when we first met with Adam in his apartment in Santa Monica, we were blown away by the virtual reality social music experience. We believe that the recent expansion of the Wave platform beyond VR to support audiences across a multitude of platforms now gives the company the opportunity to lead the $31 billion live music market into the digital age.

Four years from working in his apartment, Adam and his team at Wave are orchestrating shows with some of the most talented musicians in the world. Wave recently announced “One Wave,” a series of virtual concerts featuring John Legend, Galantis, Tinashe, and others where artists are transformed into their own digital avatars, allowing them to perform live to global audiences. All the proceeds will go towards charitable organizations, the most recent being The Bail Project, lending their support to the Black Lives Matter movement. This is just the beginning, Wave has inked partnerships with some of the largest names in the music industry — Warner Music Group, Roc Nation, Scooter Braun to support the next generation of digital concert goers.

At Maveron we invest in bold entrepreneurs pushing the limits of where humanity meets technology and who are working tirelessly to build companies that can fundamentally change people’s lives. In Adam, we met the perfect entrepreneur to build the defining consumer brand powering live virtual concerts in digital environments.

Welcome Adam and the entire Wave team to the Maveron family!

– David Wu

back to insights & news