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iHeart Quickly Ramps Up Its Metaverse Reach With Naming Rights Deal In Forthcoming iHeartLand.

From NFT-driven podcasts to a growing focus on the metaverse, iHeartMedia is preparing itself for a web 3.0 future. Its latest move blurs the line between live events and virtual reality as iHeart has signed State Farm as a partner for its soon-to-be-launched iHeartLand on the Roblox gaming platform.

The virtual arena is described as a “destination in the metaverse for fans to interact with artists and creators while learning how to build a music empire through competition, collaboration, and connection with the biggest names in music, podcasting, and entertainment.”

State Farm, radio’s No. 8 advertiser in 2021, will have what’s being called the first-ever exclusive arena naming rights in the metaverse under the partnership. The arena will be part of iHeartLand, which the company has been talking about as a virtual space to host events that provide interactive opportunities that bring the fan closer to the artist.

“iHeartLand is designed to break down the walls between artists, creators, brands, and fans in new ways that are only possible in the metaverse,” Conal Byrne, CEO of the iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group said in a release. “As the leading brand for music discovery and popular culture, and the No. 1 podcast publisher globally, we’re excited to build an entirely new world for our biggest creators and the biggest names in music to quite literally play with their fans. The interactive experiences players will get in iHeartLand and in this new first-of-its-kind venue will be incredibly dynamic and creative.”

Aiming to build an on-ramp to the metaverse for its 250 million users, iHeartMedia said in January it will create events and experiences for listeners and music fans on the online gaming platform Roblox. The company said then it would bring “immersive musical moments” to the 47 million daily active users on the Roblox platform while also building a new token that will incentivize and reward the iHeart creator community and give fans unique access to offerings across its multiple platforms.

State Farm Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Rand Harbert said the insurance company “shares in the excitement” about the virtual potential. “As the quintessential good neighbor, it only makes sense for State Farm to join the virtual neighborhood that is the metaverse,” he said in the announcement. “We’re excited to work with iHeartMedia to meet consumers where they are in a way only our two brands can. Together, we aim to create a space where fans can compete and collaborate to unlock once-in-a-lifetime experiences in a virtually limitless world of entertainment in iHeartLand.”

The companies say the new State Farm arena will launch with exclusive events, performances, new music drops, interactive podcasts, exclusive collectible merch, and special access to VIP experiences curated exclusively for metaverse players. More details will be announced closer to the launch.

iHeartLand is the latest in a string of announcements from iHeartMedia about how it aims to leverage new technology. When it comes to podcasting, iHeart said in April that it plans to build a slate of shows around NFTs that it has acquired. The new NFT-based media franchise will be branded the Non-Fun Squad. Phase one of the Non-Fun Squad universe will be the launch of the Non-Fun Podcast Network, a podcast slate centered around the content, characters and worlds from the Non-Fun Squad.

Earlier, iHeart announced in March that it has partnered with gaming community and content platform Super League Gaming to offer advertising in virtual games and experiences. Under the deal, iHeart’s North American sales force will make Super League Gaming’s ad inventory and influencer network available to brands looking to gain entry to the metaverse. The companies will also collaborate on the distribution of Super League’s immersive new 3D and NPC (non-player character) ad units.

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