It’s taken a few years, but Adam Arrigo finally has his dream team. The co-founder and CEO of animated-concert company Wave is one of the forerunners of the livestreaming industry — which exploded in earnest after Covid-19 shut down in-person concerts.
Arrigo, armed with a powerhouse roster of new investors including Scooter Braun, the Weeknd, Justin Bieber, and J Balvin, has just poached a batch of new executives from companies like Netflix and Riot Games. “Now it’s about scaling and building our future,” Arrigo says.
Wave was originally designed as a virtual-reality platform, and while its long-term plan remains to give viewers the most immersive experience possible, in more recent years, Wave pivoted to digital concerts, putting on animated shows for artists including Lindsey Sterling, Galantis, and John Legend. Braun was one of several high-profile investors in a recently closed $30 million Series B round, along with Superfly co-founder Rick Farman and retired baseball star Alex Rodriguez. Soon after, Braun pulled in major clients Bieber and Balvin, and the Weeknd invested soon after his Wave concert aired on TikTok.
Wave had “been talking before” with the Weeknd for a while about becoming an investor, Arrigo says, “but doing the actual show and seeing what our platform can do and the impact it can have is what sealed the deal.” Wassim Slaiby, the Weeknd’s co-manager and CEO of his imprint XO Records, says the Weeknd’s team “definitely intend to create more of these experiences for fans globally.”
Arrigo didn’t start out planning to go into concert streaming. He went to Tufts, studying English and multimedia, and soon afterward, entered the gaming industry to mix his passions for music and tech. Prior to founding Wave, Arrigo spent six years as a game designer at Harmonix, the video-game company behind interactive music video games Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Dance Central, perhaps the most influential music games ever. It was there that Arrigo realized that music was still an untapped platform to merge with gaming technology, and through Wave, he’s looking to capitalize. Arrigo’s next goal is to democratize the platform to allow lesser-known artists the opportunity to make Wave concerts of their own.
“If you take a survey right now, when looking at the demand for the music industry compared to the capabilities of these gaming platforms, you’ll find there’s a huge mismatch,” Arrigo says. “There’s much more demand on the music side, and there aren’t enough products to scale it. Developing products has been slow, and while the music industry has been slow to adapt to new technology, it’s catching up now.”
As Wave grows at its breakneck pace, it continues to lock in more high-profile artists for shows — Arrigo calls Daft Punk his dream artist — but soon he could be setting his sights on breaking new artists instead of amplifying stars. “I’m most excited about an artist who doesn’t currently exist in reality, who just gets so good at creating virtual concerts that they get famous in this medium itself.”