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This Week in the Metaverse: Starbucks NFT collection and Spotify Island

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By Webb Wright | Junior Reporter

May 5, 2022 | 8 min read

Things are moving fast in the metaverse, and in the wider world of web3 as a whole. Depending on who you ask, this futuristic, blockchain-based space is either the next big thing for marketing – and for almost everything else – or an overhyped fad. Here’s what you need to know from this past week:

Spotify makes its metaverse debut

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Spotify is launching its first activation in the metaverse, where it hopes to catch the attention of a younger audience. On Tuesday, the music-streaming giant introduced Spotify Island, a new activation in Roblox described as “a paradise of sound where fans and artists from all over the world can hang out and explore a wonderland of sounds, quests and exclusive merch.”

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Spotify is staking its claim in the metaverse with ‘Spotify Island’ / Spotify

Though some popular names in the music industry (including Lil Nas X) have hosted concerts on Roblox, this is the first time that a music-streaming service has established a presence on Roblox, according to Spotify. Teaser images released on Tuesday make Spotify Island look like a virtual wonderland of Spotify branding: the landscape is replete with the same distinct shade of green from Spotify’s logo, and the company says that visitors “will have the chance to collect the heart-shaped ‘Like’ icon, which can be exchanged for merch.”

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Spotify Island’s first artist partnerships – with K-pop artists SUNMI and Stray Kids – will arrive later this spring, per the company. Spotify also says that it’s working on “an easy opportunity for artists to connect with fans and to partner with Spotify on the creation of in-game virtual merchandise,” and that a percentage of the revenue from merch sales will go directly to the artists.

The metaverse’s ‘first diversity and inclusivity center’ is coming to The Sandbox

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The Sandbox, a mobile game that’s evolved to become one of the major zones of development in the metaverse, has partnered with People of Crypto Lab (POC) to build what’s being described as “the first-ever diversity and inclusivity center in the metaverse.” Slated for launch this June, “The Center for Belonging” – as the campaign is being called – will aim to boost DEI in the metaverse through “a uniquely diverse avatar collection,” education, gaming, entertainment and exhibits. The new campaign from POC – which describes itself as a company aimed at “building the metaversal blueprint for inclusion across web3” – and The Sandbox is reflective of a broader push among many brands and organizations to advocate for social justice and equal representation in the metaverse.

“I firmly believe that web3 can only scale if diversity and inclusion are rooted in the foundation of what is being built,” Simone Berry, co-founder of People of Crypto Lab, said in a statement. “Black, brown women, people of color and LGBTQIA+ have combined spending power and unprecedented cultural influence that dwarfs the influence of any other community. Culture drives commerce, which is why we need to actively educate and onboard these communities in order to ensure an equitable and profitable future for web3.”

New NFT project aims to curb eviction

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Millions of Americans are evicted from their homes each year, and a disproportionately high number of those who are evicted are Black, Hispanic and women. Now, HomeStart – a nonprofit devoted to preventing homelessness – is launching a NFT project aimed at halting evictions through the sale of real estate in the metaverse.

Here’s an outline of how it will work: HomeStart has partnered with Cornerstone – described as an “island in the middle of the photorealistic metaverse where land is auctioned off in NFTs” – to build a virtual, 50-unit apartment complex with units that will be available for sale beginning this fall, when Cornerstone launches. All of the profit from the sales – and 10% of resale – will go directly to HomeStart, and thereby to families on the brink of eviction.

The price of the new virtual apartments will start at one ETH (currently a little under $3k), which is approximately “the amount of money it takes to halt an eviction and provide 12 months of support for a family in a large city in the United States,” per a statement from TBWA\Chiat\Day New York, the agency spearheading the new campaign.

Pepsi and Mary J Blige team up with female digital artists for new NFT series

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Pepsi has announced a new partnership with four prominent female digital artists to create a new NFT series, which will be launched at the inaugural “Strength of a Woman” festival organized by Pepsi and Mary J Blige and taking place in Atlanta this weekend (Mother’s Day weekend). The NFTs will be distributed to festival-goers as Proof of Attendance Protocols, or POAPs; essentially digital badges proving that the owner attended a certain event.

The four artists – Shaylin Wallace, Rachel Winter, Amber Vittoria and Varvara Alay – have created tokens that will blend each of their individual styles with the thematic elements of Blige’s festival, and which are intended in part to serve as a symbol of support for women within the web3 community. Wallace and Vittoria will also speak at a panel called “Empowering Marginalized Voices with NFTs” at the festival on Saturday May 7.

The new campaign from Pepsi arrives after the brand debuted in the NFT space last year with its Mic Drop Genesis collection.

Starbucks hints at upcoming web3 experience

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In a blog post published Tuesday, coffeehouse giant Starbucks announced that it will soon take its first steps to “create a new, global digital community” based on the principles and technologies afforded by web3. The brand is calling this community – which it says will be defined by “collaboration, experiences and shared ownership” – the “digital Third Place.” (A “third place” is a phrase used to refer to a space that exists and functions somewhere in between the home and the workplace.) Building this web3-based community will require “a phased approach,” per the blog post, with phase one being devoted to NFTs.

“We plan to create a series of branded NFT collections, the ownership of which initiates community membership, and allows for access to exclusive experiences and perks,” the company said in the blog post. “The themes of these collections will be born of Starbucks artistic expressions, both heritage and newly-created, as well as through world-class collaborations with other innovators and like-minded brands.” The company says that its “genesis NFT collection” is slated to launch later this year.

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