“We’re looking at hundreds of thousands of new songs,” says Samantha Storr, Vice President of Content at Supernatural, about the UMPG deal, similar agreements with Sony / ATV, Warner Chappell, Kobalt and BMG, and label deals to follow with UMG and Warner . The universal catalog enabled Storr to develop a rapper workout for Women’s History Month that includes Nicki Minaj’s “Chun Li” and Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage”. She also put together a hair metal workout with KISS and Iron Maiden music and a cool down with Bob Marley tunes.

“It just adds so much depth to our catalog,” says Storr. “A lot of them are artists you saw on Supernatural, but we didn’t have their # 1 hits, and now we do.”

Supernatural has always been considered as a practice option with premium music. Chris Milk, co-founder and CEO of Within, is a former music video director with close industry ties who developed VR projects for artists such as Arcade Fire, Beck and U2 in the early 2010s. Inside started as a media distribution platform before Milk and co-founder Aaron Koblin saw the potential of home fitness and envisioned an app that works like a high-calorie dance dance revolution for the whole body.

“It feels like you’re essentially playing a sport from the future, but you can do this on the footprint of a yoga mat in your bedroom,” says Milk, who first developed Supernatural in 2018 with the major publishers had spoken. and had several offers when the app launched last spring. With an extensive music catalog, the app has borrowed from the genre cross-pollination of the streaming era: There are pop, dance and hip-hop hits, but Milk says that one of the most popular routines is “Sweat Symphony”, a classic music training session in which users swing their arms like an orchestra conductor.

“What is fun about Supernatural is that there is a new workout every day and you experience new music that you did not experience in the app every day,” says Milk. “There was a lot of sculpting to find the right one [deals] That worked for us, but you can’t just have 10 songs that people play. “

Of course, Milk couldn’t predict that Supernatural would launch a month after the coronavirus pandemic, forcing widespread need for home exercise alternatives in the United States. Companies like Peloton and Mirror have gained millions of subscribers over the past year, but VR fitness apps like Supernatural (as well as predecessors like Beat Saber and Synth Riders) offer an even richer experience, allowing users to virtually escape their living quarters during quarantine.

Therefore, there is enormous potential for the music industry in the coming years, as new exercise initiatives are created and avenues for licensing are explored. A February report by Macquarie Research estimated that fitness technology could ultimately generate $ 300 million a year for the industry.

“We see it as an exciting challenge that we absolutely have to face,” said Michael Nash, UMG Executive Vice President Digital Strategy, who worked with Milk on the Supernatural deal. Products like Supernatural require special arrangements, says Nash, as technology advances to incorporate music into different types of exercise. “Fit Tech is really at the very top of the intersection of the intersection of the lifestyle category with music,” he adds, “and we expect a lot more innovation.”

Looking ahead, the Supernatural team is keen to get more deals with indie publishers and expand internationally (Supernatural is currently available in the US and Canada). In the meantime, the UMPG deal will allow for an increase in artist-specific workouts in the app – possibly a Cardi B routine after “WAP” and “I Like It” are unlocked.

According to Michael Cibula, Supernatural Evp of Business Development & Finance, the app’s growth will depend in part on wider public acceptance of VR. However, he believes the improvement in technology – and the release of the Oculus Quest 2, a sleeker model that cut the Oculus price from $ 399 to $ 299 last October – contributed to this spread.

“Exercising in a VR headset – the thought sounds so strange,” says Cibula, “but as soon as you do it something clicks and you realize it’s the best thing ever.”