Many musicians don’t know where to start with NFTs, tokens and blockchain. They've mastered their artistic craft, but they may be unsure whether to invest time learning the tech skills required to mint on blockchain or consult with a literal economist to devise their tokenomics strategy. In this Twitter Space, we learn from three music industry professionals who've been navigating the Web3 waters for themselves while onboarding artists to the space.
Prior to working in music, I worked as a photographer for several years. I understand the plight of having to live off of the art that you create and I understand those difficulties very well. So when I found out about Web3 and NFTS, I already had that experience and understanding of how DSPs [digital streaming platforms] pay out and all of the difficulties that a lot of artists today face in terms of making a sustainable living. I thought NFTs and Web3 offered a great potential revenue source to for people to make a sustainable living off of what they're creating.
My intro to Web3 was interesting. It came through the metaverse, which I know the two don't actually have to exist together, but there is a bridge between the metaverse and Web3. I was reading a Forbes article by Cathy Hackl about direct-to-avatar [marketing], the next direct-to-consumer. And because I had an avatar and I was thinking about new ways of engaging with people, I was really fascinated by that because it was talking about an economic model.
If you think about it, you can connect that obviously to Web3. And then that forms part of this concept called "the metaphysical economy." There's a theoretical paper written by Jamie Burke from Outlier Ventures. [The paper] describes the concept of a metaphysical economy as the the complex financial interplay between fungibility and non-fungibility and their derivatives. NFTs are a part of that, as well as fungible social tokens.
So, from that, I went a whole journey of learning all about Web3 and these new economic models. But beyond that, I look at the macro picture of where we are in human history. I believe — I really do believe — it's a cultural digital renaissance as well as a technological one beyond the economics. So I'm just really happy to be part of this larger time in history and movement because I think it's going to really impact and benefit artists especially.
So, in most of my time in tech, I never really considered myself a crypto person or a Web3 person. I had been really focused on the music tech space and I wanted to have the biggest impact that I could, especially for emerging artists.
[During my six years working at YouTube,] I saw YouTube go from a launchpad for new artists to this more promotional machine for the big labels and a real staple in anyone's release strategy. So when I learned about Royal, that's kind of when Web3 actually clicked for me. I was like, 'OK, this is going to actually enable the next generation of artists to succeed. It's democratizing something that has just been so heavily gatekept.'
So being able to democratize an asset like music at scale — that just isn't really possible without putting it on chain. Like with any technology, there's obviously a mix of possibilities and where it can go. There's good products and bad products. But overall, once I started thinking through how [blockchain] can enable these creative solutions to long-standing problems that we've had in the industry, that's the moment where I was like, 'OK, this is something.'
[At Royal,] all of our drops you can purchase with a card because [crypto wallets are] a huge barrier.
I sat and I watched some of my friends tried to sell tokens on OpenSea, and it was painful for me. No shade to OpenSea — they have to do so much specialization for every single token to make things work seamlessly. But after seeing that, we [realized] we can't execute fully on our vision unless people can buy and sell these easily. So that's why we went and we just [made] our own marketplace. And you can fund your Royal account through your bank — you don't need a separate [crypto] wallet. You can have one if you'd like, and you can withdraw your royalties in USD to your bank account. We spent a lot of time on that this year.
We actually ran some focus groups recently and the user experience (UX) has been a big obstacle. I think what some what some marketplaces and platforms have already been doing is incorporating fiat payments. I think that that helps the process. That was one focal point of the conclusions that we got from running focus groups.
Crypto and like Web3 is still very much a bubble. There's a lot of people that are concerned about friction points. Democratized and accessible onboarding is going to be the major unlock for this industry. But it's easier said than done. Even from a creativity perspective — translating this major vision, activating a community and people understanding what I'm trying to do.
It involves complex thinking, and then there's an art in keeping things simple. If you look at great marketers, like Steve Jobs, why were they so successful? It's because they are able to connect with people in a very simple way and tap into the human emotions of the why behind why we're doing all of this.
When things get complicated with the tech, I always remind myself of the why. It always draws us back regardless of the inflections in the in the market — it's always important to scroll out and look at the bigger picture.
This is not financial advice. If you don't want to spend money investing in crypto or Web3 — you don’t have to. The intent of this article is to help others educate themselves and learn.