Canadian hip hop artist Drake is sharing the stage with some unusual backup dancers on his current North American tour. As he performs Elevate, a song from his new album, a passel of small drones zip overhead in an elaborate aerial choreography.
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The company behind the #DrakeDrones (heard that here first) is Verity Studios, which is fresh off an $18 million Series A for its indoor drone show technology.
The funding round highlights the big bucks in live entertainment and the arms race currently underway to make live spectacles bigger, brighter, and more technologically thrilling.
Drake is a big get for Verity. He plays sold out shows to 50,000-strong audiences. His previous North American tour was the highest grossing hip-hop tour of all time.
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Verity collaborates with clients on drone "costumes" and aerial movements. The Drake performance features a move wherein the glowing drones make a mesmerizing wave pattern. (The lyrics make the video NSFW, but you can find it on YouTube.)
"When the Drake team approached us, they said they wanted something that had never been seen before," says Raffaello D'Andrea, founder of Verity and co-founder of Amazon Robotics. "Our drone choreographers worked in partnership with Drake's creative team to come up with various concepts for the show, like geometric shapes and drone tornadoes, before deciding on the final choreographies. What the teams created together is visually stunning."
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Previously, Verity's drones have performed with acts like Metallica and Cirque du Soleil. The company was founded in 2014.
Its proprietary algorithms enable the drones to fly autonomously and safely. That's key, because a single accident could imperil the entire business model.
"The failsafe technologies developed by Verity's exceptional team were the main trigger for our investment," said Matthieu Repellin, investment partner in Airbus Ventures, which participated in the recent Series A. "We are delighted and determined to support Verity in making this technology widely available."