Music in the Metaverse | NYU Tandon School of Engineering

Music in the Metaverse

NYC Media Lab & ASCAP Challenge

Exploring the intersection of music & the metaverse for creators and fans


person wearing VR headset with celestial data points overlayed

Mainstream interest and investment in virtual worlds and metaverses have grown exponentially in recent months. As the world embraced virtual/digital experiences during the pandemic, platforms such as Twitch, Fortnite, Decentraland, and Facebook’s Meta reflect emerging capabilities in entertainment, events, and commerce. Subsequently, what was once a relatively niche concept has become increasingly mainstream, with surging interest in metaverse applications for a wide range of industries and experiences.

In response to this emerging opportunity, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and NYC Media Lab are launching the Music in the Metaverse Challenge, which is designed to identify creative, cutting-edge concepts at the intersection of music and the metaverse.

Accordingly, the NYC Media Lab and the ASCAP Lab are seeking startups and university teams to explore new ways to create and experience music, express digital identity through music, and connect music creators and fans in the metaverse. We’re hoping to discover teams that are finding new approaches to musical collaboration, community-building, and monetization. Let’s explore the possibilities together!


Project Concept & Background

This challenge seeks to explore a range of concepts that demonstrate new ways for artists to create music, connect with their fans, and reimagine how we interact with music and sound in emerging virtual worlds and platforms. We are seeking ideas that reflect new approaches to virtual communities, experiences, and self-expression that reflect imaginative, exploratory, and creative approaches to music in the metaverse. 

The challenge will bring together a mix of startup and university-affiliated teams that reflect a diversity of ideas and applications while the cohort collectively explores the overarching, speculative question: What’s possible now that wasn’t before?  

Approximately 5 startup and/or university-affiliated teams will be selected for the challenge cohort. Upon selection, each team will be awarded up to $5K. Each selected team will pitch, build, and prototype a product over the course of the 12-week program in close collaboration with the ASCAP Lab and NYC Media Lab. In order to facilitate collaboration and mentorship, prototypes must be shareable during video conference sessions. Selected teams may also have the opportunity to engage with, and pitch their products to, ASCAP’s artist community.

Teams will meet weekly (virtually) with NYC Media Lab and ASCAP Lab team members to present progress and receive feedback in a cohort-based setting. The feedback will focus on experiments and product development in emerging tech, customer discovery, and market validation. The program will conclude with a final presentation and demo day for ASCAP executive leadership as well as others from the wider ASCAP and NYC Media Lab communities. 


2022 Program Timeline & Deadlines

  • Applications are no longer being accepted

  • Interviews by invitation only (virtual): Week of March 7, 2022*

  • Teams notified: Week of April 4, 2022*

  • Program launch (virtual): Thursday, May 5, 2022*

  • Program demo day (virtual): Wednesday, August 10, 2022 

*dates subject to change


2022 Demo Day

Music in the Metaverse: 4 Startups Shaping Our New (Extended) Reality

Wednesday, August 10, 2022
3 PM ET @ASCAP YouTube

Join us for the free virtual broadcast of the 2022 Music in the Metaverse Challenge Demo Day on August 10 at 3pm ET. Once registered, you will receive the Demo Day broadcast link straight to your inbox, and invitations to upcoming ASCAP Experience programming.

RSVP for the virtual Demo Day


About ASCAP

ASCAP is the worldwide leader in performance royalties, service, and advocacy for songwriters and composers, and the only American performing rights organization (PRO) owned and governed by its writer and publisher members. Founded in 1914, ASCAP is home to more than 850,000 music creator members across all genres, representing more than 16 million copyrighted works. As a not-for-profit organization, ASCAP’s mission is to ensure that its music creator and publisher members can thrive alongside the businesses that use their music. 

ASCAP members are the greatest names in American music, past, present, and future — from Billie Eilish to Duke Ellington, Mariah Carey to Jay-Z, Garth Brooks to Hans Zimmer (Inception, The Lion King), Beyoncé to Philip Glass (The Hours, Einstein on the Beach). ASCAP also represents thousands of songwriters and composers in the early stages of their careers, hard-working Americans who rely on their ASCAP royalties as a vital part of their livelihood.

A leader in innovation for both members and licensees, ASCAP uses cutting-edge technology to identify and process trillions of performances of ASCAP music annually. ASCAP has also pioneered the efficient licensing of music to hundreds of thousands of businesses, from restaurants and retail to radio, TV, streaming services, and more.


About the ASCAP Lab

In 2019, ASCAP launched the ASCAP Lab to drive innovation for its next century of growth. The multi-pronged effort is designed to explore how advanced technologies, new business approaches, and creative collaborations can drive value for ASCAP music creator members and licensees.