Tencent Music Entertainment is backing Wave to bring virtual entertainment to China

Wave, the virtual concert platform that’s already produced events for John Legend and The Weeknd, has inked a deal to bring its virtual concerts to China through a partnership with Tencent Music Entertainment Group.

The deal includes Tencent taking a minority stake in the music service, the companies said in a statement.

Under the partnership, TME will be able to air Wave experiences in China across all of its platforms, including QQ Music, Kugou Music, Kuwo Music and WeSing.

For Wave, it’s another step on its long march to set up a new way for artists to create live events for fans, and opens up a massive market for U.S. artists that want to tap into audiences in China.

The two companies are collaborating on ways to incorporate Wave’s virtual events into Tencent’s TME Live production.

“One of the first things we’re going to do is have the Western artists that we’re working with perform in a tour in China,” said Wave chief executive, Adam Arrigo. “Our ambition is to super serve artists and to have an outlet for them to have a global virtual tour.”

Arrigo sees opportunities not just to tap Tencent’s music platform, but also extend the company’s virtual entertainment environments into Tencent’s popular gaming ecosystem as well.

For artists, there’s the added benefit of alternative revenue streams, like in-stream tipping, gifting and merchandising that haven’t really taken hold yet in the U.S.

“Those models are rooted in those Asian live-streaming audiences. It’s a huge opportunity to access audiences and these modalities in the West that are going to take longer to get footing,” Arrigo said. 

Tencent has been a dominant player in China’s gaming and entertainment ecosystem for a while now, both through its massively multi-player online games, its messaging service, WeChat and its payments services.

“The collaboration with Wave marks an important step forward in our efforts to integrate technology and music, aiming to amplify the immersive music experience for our users, enhance user engagement and promote content consumption,” said TC Pan, Group Vice President of Content Cooperation of TME, in a statement. “With this strategic partnership, we will further extend the boundaries of music services through virtual performances, and build a broader music ecosystem.”