Podcast Transcript

This Artist Is Raising $50,000 in Crypto For His Next Album

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Mint Season 4 episode 4 welcomes Xcelencia, a Puerto Rican songwriter and musician who growth hacked his way through Spotify playlists and now has landed in the world of web3. He’s the creator of the social token $EQUIS and more recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on mirror to bootstrap the birth of Infinite, an immersive multimedia album and digital art experience that will grow in real-time as fans engage with the project.

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • 00:39 – Intro
  • 03:45 – Playlist Building
  • 07:50 – Social Tokens
  • 13:47 – How to Incentivize your Community?
  • 24:48 – Labels and Investors- How do they fit in?
  • 28:29 – Two Tokens – What’s the difference?
  • 34:01- How do you see the future?
  • 26:31- Outro

…and so much more.

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Xcelencia welcome to mint, my friend. How are you doing? Thank you for being on.

Good. Good. Thank you for having me. I’m excited. My first crypto NFT podcast. So super dope to be here.


Let’s go. Yeah, man. Thank you. Thank you for taking the time. I’m excited to have you on. I’m excited to feature you on season four. I’ve been watching you enter the web three space and mess around and throw all these crowd funds. How you doing? How does it feel? Welcome to web three. I know you just transitioned in, right. And which is also primarily why I wanted to have you on yeah man, how’s it going?

It’s amazing. I mean, the support that I got, like, by the way, like earlier this year I launched my social token through Rally. Then I’ve sold a few NFTs. One of ones on catalog works and it all basically aligned towards me putting out this crowd fund, which I’ve been exploring for some time now. Like it’s been living in my head for a while, I wanna say since 2018. So I’ve been wanting to crowd-fund through crypto through blockchain for that long. So I kind of like naturally transitioned, like I gravitated to it cause I’ve been in crypto since early 2017. So I’m new as a creator in the space, which by the way, I didn’t expect like any kind of success or support as a creator. In my mind, I thought like, maybe I can invest in crypto and that I can take from that and invest in my career, kind of keep self-funding my career throughout the years. But I made the transition like late last year and I’ve just been putting in the work to get to a place where like people can kind of see how I’m navigating and I’m trying to bring something new to the space.

I see it, I think, well, you’re the first Latin artist that I’ve supported that I’ve seen come across my feed that has like, we’ve engaged with different chats. But I guess before even we even go into rally, before we go into mirror, before we go into the crowd-fund, before we do any of that web three talk, who are you like, what does the world need to, about Xcelencia and explain your music to us as well and how you kind of got started in crypto.

Yeah. So I’ve been in the music industry for about 10 years now. I started off as a songwriter. I then started diving into more like the production side of things. I actually like, so I dropped outta high school. I still got my diploma and I went to school for audio engineering. So basically I grabbed from a little bit of everything, the writing, the production, the engineering and I decided like music is my passion. This is what I really want to do. I want be an artist. And I started making my own music. So basically fully on like self sufficient. Like I’m here in my studio, it’s been like this since day one. So I’ve been super active, super consistent for just about that amount of time? So it’s been a few years of kind of hustling on the independent side, like in the Latin music. Like there’s not that wave of like, I’m independent, I’m doing this, it’s part of my brand? So it means a lot to me to kind of maintain ownership. And I really believe in independence. Right. I’ve been doing it for, for that long now, it wasn’t until like 2017 where I really saw the change because happened was like, I saw what was happening in Spotify and how Reggaeton and Latin music was really exploding because of the playlist. So I decided to put out an album where it was basically like a playlist of different music, but I released it on a weekly basis. So I started dropping a song every Friday and things started to really pick up for me. So from there on, I just kept up with that consistency and that’s when my career really started to kind of take off to a certain extent.

Playlist Building

Oh. I didn’t know that about you. That’s pretty cool. So you kind of like growth hacked a lot of the playlist era quote, unquote, to kind of bring your career to life. Okay, cool. Interesting. What was that like? What was that like building playlist? How’d you get listeners to that? Like, I know nothing about that world. So what did that look like? How did you bring that to life?

Right. So it was 2016. I remember I was going through my numbers and I got a check for like a couple hundred dollars and I was like, wait, like what’s happening here from the distributor. And what I noticed was that I got placed on a playlist out in like Chile, it was like a Reggaeton playlist. So it was like the top 100 Reggaeton songs of the moment. And somebody featured me on there. So I was like, okay, I started taking notice, but that was 2016 before it really kind of took off. And then that’s when I decided on that strategy of like, okay, let me, I’ve always like tried to reimagine distribution, right? Like, I’m like, how am I gonna stick out? There’s a lot of noise. A lot of people are putting out music like every week? So that was my way of saying like, okay, I’m here to stay. And I’m here to put out, great music. So that’s kind of how I kind of leveraged that. And I built the playlist up and it was cool because it was like, it was like my website at the time where it was a place where everyone can just go and just listen to my music. So that’s kind of how I treated it. So instead of promoting the individual songs, I promoted the playlist. So I was able to get followers and get more placements and pushing to get the music heard all around

Okay. Got it. Yeah. That’s super cool. So when did you actually get into web three as a creator? Like what was that period? Yeah,

So I would say, I always say like, so I got into crypto, like early 2017. I saw what Ujo music was trying to do at the time. And I thought that was interesting, but I didn’t see it as like something that would benefit me as like a Latin artist. Like I just didn’t see a lot of the music was like instrumental or like electronic music, which is super dope. I follow that movement a lot. So then I kind of just kept researching. I kept learning. I kept seeing what was happening on Ethereum. That was like the ICO era, of course. And then I saw Grammatic, he did a fundraise on a platform and he was able to raise money to put out, I think his next album, or just fund his tour, just something along those lines. And I thought that was interesting, but I told myself like, what, right now is not the time. So let me see if I can just stay on this for a few years. I was already, like, my conviction was in crypto was like super high by then. So like I said, let me wait and let me see what happens. I always told myself 2022, 2022, which was five years from there. So I’m like, let me give myself five years, stay, stay involved, stay active, which I kept it really low key. Like if you go back on Twitter, you’ll find like some crypto tweets, but like I had like a separate account for crypto. I would like follow VCs and traders and like the projects. And that’s how I kind of stayed on top of everything. I was part of Audius like 2019. So I would say maybe kind of when I started that, , I was following them when I think they had like two tokens, it was audio and loud, and then they kind of transitioned this audio and that’s kind of how I started, like my creator. I understood streaming so well that Audius just, it clicked for me like right away. Yeah,

Yeah, yeah. Makes a lot of sense. So then that brings us I guess to what you’re doing right now. Okay. Which is what I wanna primarily talk about. So you have your own social token. It’s called what $EQUIS, if I’m pronouncing it correct?

X in Spanish.

Social Tokens

Okay, cool. That shows you how illiterate I am when it comes to that, but all good. All good. Okay. And it’s on rally coin. Okay. On the rally platform and you also have this new social token that you’re putting out via mirror. Okay. Let’s talk about rally for a minute. Talk to me about the journey of becoming like a rally creator, but more importantly, like the process of issuing your first social token, what did that look like? What did that feel like? Tell me about that journey.

Yeah. So I definitely took my time because I, I found out about rally like last summer. I used to follow a lot of like the VC websites and stuff to see like where the smart money was going. Like, what were they involved in? And I saw it on the Coin-base venture site. So I clicked on it. I’m like, what is this? It says something along the lines of creators. So it resonated with me. So I started researching rally like deep. This was even before the network launch. So like, I think I cold emailed them like maybe when they launched or around the time they launched, which was like October. And they put out the ROI token, they launched the platform and I started really researching, but I didn’t actually launch until April of this year, 2021. So it was for like, from October to April, I was doing my research. Just kind of figuring it all out. I got approved on another platform, but I went with Rally because like the on-boarding process was, to me it was super like personal. It didn’t feel like, it just felt real, right. Like I had to meet with them, it was email. But then we had a video call, they on-boarded me, they told me the process, the flow of everything. So I decided to go with them because I saw that there was a strong community there and just the on-boarding flow of it was, was great. And it was really fast, , like they issued the token within a few days, I had my profile, I had everything set up. It happened right away. It was like around April or May that I launched, which at the time, the market actually took the dive at the same time that I like. So that was interesting too.

How how’d you get your first few holders? Like how’d you get the first few Xcelencia fans buying the token, holding the token and then eventually building some type of utility around it.

For sure. So I put a lot of thought into like the use cases, the utility. And I found that like, if I focused on my super fans and the fact that a lot of them are out in Latin America and like different like emerging markets and things like that, people that don’t have prior crypto experience, I thought like this was a more familiar experience. Like you sign up, you create an account, you have a username and ID and I can airdrop the token. And so I started by air dropping. So I never promoted, like buy the token or the sale of the token or anything like that, it was more like, do you wanna be a part of this? Get access to my discord. Discord didn’t move the needle for me at first. So I pivoted to WhatsApp, so I bought a new phone.

Interesting. Wait, can we hold on that for a minute? Why did you think discord worked for you?

So I don’t wanna generalize, but I think that like WhatsApp in Latin America is like the top like messaging platform. So like for example, all the producers I work with whether they’re from Columbia, Chile where else? Argentina, which is like one of my, my big users that I work with, they use WhatsApp. That’s how they communicate with family friends. So I had that idea in mind of like, okay, if I build a community, I can use a WhatsApp group. So it’s like a WhatsApp business. So I decided to like focus on, so I have both the discord and the WhatsApp group and I use those two to kind of communicate.

Got it. Okay. You were saying continue before.

So I got them in with like, airdrops I got in my collaborators, like my close team, the people that like, I trust, I brought those in first and then over time I started like just really building up and showing that like, Hey, I didn’t just do a token just to do it. Like, I’ve been looking into this for some time. I believe in it. I know it’s gonna take me some time to grow it. But I, think that like in rally, like a lot of people took note and they, kind of gave me that like vote of confidence and they started becoming a part of like what I’m trying to do, whether it was through supporting and holding my coin or just kind of like, just connecting with them. Right. Like I never really tell anyone like, Hey, buy the coin or anything, but I always say like, if you want, some I can airdrop you some. I can send you some [inaudible] ?

Yeah. Why do you believe in social token so much? You said, I believe in this, like, why do you believe in this medium as a form to kind of build a community? What does that mean to you? Yeah,

So one of my first startup ideas was basically like building a community through like SMS. Right. So at the time, I didn’t think there was anything like that until like community actually launched their app and like super phone, things like that. And I felt like social media was gonna get saturated. So I was thinking that fans, or people would like to connect on a more intimate level with their favorite artists or celebrity or whatever it may be. So like, that was a few years before even social tokens were a thing. So like that to me was just like, I gravitated towards that. I was like, this is a way of like, instead of like having a Patreon where someone pays monthly, now they can kinda like, be a part of the value that I’m creating over time. So like a, a single transaction and it’s like a one way thing, it’s a bilateral thing, right. Where, like you’re kind of part of my success as well. Anyone that contribute I do bounties, I do rewards. I do airdrops you share my song on your Instagram stories and you can earn some of the [inaudible and then you’re free to do with it, whatever you wanna do with it. I do believe in it. I was looking to build a fan club for some time, but it was either like a Facebook group or a Patreon. I’m passionate about crypto. I can have my social token. I can build it out this way. It’s gonna take some time, but I’m gonna go for it. And that’s kind of where my thought process was at the time.

How to Incentivize your Community?

Makes, makes sense. Can you talk to me more about like the utility framework you use to kind of build value beyond the monetary value value for your holders and how to incentivize them to actually buy your first social token on rally? You mentioned Instagram stuff, you mentioned a WhatsApp group Chat, talk, talk more about that.

I think that’s what I’m excited about. Like, I think bounces and like, I don’t wanna call ’em tasks, but like, for some people it could be like, it could be a collaborator or like, they, they create some content for me and I can like, give them some coin for that? And then they can also earn ROI because of the way that rally incentivizes holders on the platform. So that just adds, a cherry on top to them supporting me. They could also earn ROI, which, it takes like a little bit of education to kind of let people know like how it really works. If it’s a small group, you can kind of communicate that a little better. So I I’m, I’m excited about Bouncies. I’m excited about, I wanna throw a showcase here in my city. Like I mentioned, in the $INFINXTE crowd fund. And part of that is like, I wanna do tickets through Ecky. So I wanna do like a campaign, you pay the ticket in Ecky of using something like Event-Brite. So that’s, I think that’s a good way of like, saying like, Hey, like that can bring value to the token, I’m doing like that token gating thing where like, you gotta hold X amount of Eckies to be a part of the show, whether you have your own section, like the V I P section or whatever it may be. So I’m excited about trying that out as well.

Yeah. Makes a lot of sense. One thing that I think creators have a hard time figuring out is like how to get started. How do you jump first into web three and more specifically, how do you do it in a way where off the bat, you can build an audience off the bat. You can build a community and use your existing platform, like on web two to onboard some of those users from social media, web two into token gated, discord web three, right. Which I consider web three. Web three is a whole other beast. Right. But like, that’s like one of the components of web three, right? Token gating communities. How did you get your start? Like, how did you overcome those hurdles? Like, how did you kind of like find it in you to kind of be like, okay, I get it. This is the first step. Like, how did you make that transition? What I mean? Cause I feel like a lot of creators have that issue of doing that. It’s something that a lot of people talk about on Twitter. It’s a lot of things that sometimes like creators come and tell me’s like, yo, how do I get started? And you’ve seem to figured it out.

Yeah. I think it goes back to just like let’s say you’re a creator musician. Like you gotta think about like, you’re active like community at that moment, as well as like your art, whether it’s music or you’re an artist, like I think it goes down to fundamentals. Like you go down to that foundation, the fundamentals, and if you have like amazing art or music or whatever it is, that’s like what you wanna focus on. So like don’t let like web three and everything that’s happening. Kind of distract you from being in the studio and creating and making music. That’s what I did in the summer. Like in the summer, if you notice, I didn’t do a lot of minting, but I was doing a lot of researching and I was still working on making music and things like that. I said, okay, I need to focus on what’s important. And what’s going to actually build my community, my audience and give me kind of like that validation and say like, he’s actually about it. Not going off just to hype, like he’s actively working and trying to do that. So I still to this day, I still have resistance where I kind of hesitate to do certain things. I’m still on that like who’s gonna support this. I’m the only Latin, Reggaeton artist kind of doing this. I still feel that way. Like even with the crowd-fund, like I said, it in a tweet like before I actually like tweeted all, I like stepped back for a second and I was like, am I gonna really do this? Like if I do this, like there’s no going back. Yeah. And that’s what I did, man. I just went through it. But I’ve always been I’m optimistic. And I’m like super active. Like one of my phrases is the hustle never stops in Spanish and, and been like that for the last few years. So to me it was like, I wanna make this happen. I get a lot out of it. And again, going back to me being in crypto since 2017, I think that helped a lot? So that put me at an advantage where like, maybe I’m not the creator with the most sales or the most mints, but like the transition was easy. I had my meta mask, I was already using Eth I used a lot of different D five protocols, tokens. Like I’ve done a lot of research and, and I think that’s a part of it. It’s like kind of take some time out to, to learn the space, like just get involved, get active, get involved and keep going.

Yeah, one thing that comes to mind as you’re talking about research, getting involved, the example that I like to use, that I keep like remembering when I have Daniel Allen on if you’re not familiar with Daniel Allen, for anyone who’s not listening, go check out the episode with Daniel Allen. He’s also gonna be featured on season four, talking about other stuff. But one thing that he did that was very different than many, many others was before he tried to sell or before he tried to build a community around himself or anything like that, he got involved with other communities and embedded himself in all these different groups online ecosystems via discord, telegram, Twitter, et cetera, and got his name known amongst different people. Right? Yeah. Whether it be collectors, other creators moderators, et cetera, et cetera, and built up his name, his friendship, his relationship. I think it was like for six months before he even did anything. Right. Yeah. Before he even decided, like, I remember he was telling me in the beginning, I was like, I was ready to go. I had everything up front ready to go to start the campaign. But I actually took two steps back. Right. I was like, wait a minute. Like, how am I gonna get people to recognize me? How am I gonna get this thing known? How am I gonna get my name out there, et cetera. He took a very like grassroots approach that was right. To kind of like bring this thing to life. So very, very similar.

That’s a lot of like independent artists. Like I feel like a lot of us are like, what they call the bedroom producer artists. It’s DIY it’s grassroots. Like we’re bootstrapping. We’re like self-funding. So I feel like you bring that attitude and that hustle from web two over to web three, and it’s gonna work for you, as long as it’s genuine, and it’s like organic, you wanna make sure that, you’re real and you you’re doing it because you want to, and not for the sake of doing it or because you’re seeing other people doing it.

Let’s talk about this mirror campaign. Okay. $INFINXTE by Xcelencia. Up until the date right now, it’s December 27th, 4:02 PM. Pacific time you have raised 8.39 E on mirror funding goals. 15 E that converts to right now 33 K with a max or with a goal of 60 K congrats. First of all, let’s no joke. Right? I know like numbers can be desensitized in crypto and like 30 K is not a lot, but that’s a lot of money. So congrats on that for starters.

And thank you for being a part of it, man. I told you before, but like, I didn’t know Adam, before I launched a crowd-fund, I think I was following him and just kind of paying attention, that’s another thing I like about the space is just like, everyone’s like genuinely involved and they wanna see where this can go. So thank you.

Yeah, dude, I back things and support things that excite me in that I’m like the guy on the side, like cheering for you right now. Like, let’s go, let’s go. But I wanna talk more about this. All right. I want to talk about this and what you’re trying to achieve here, because what this will essentially do this will give you two social tokens now to your name. Which for new creators, for new people and existing creators, it’d be like, wait yes, two different tokens. What does one do? What does the other do? But before we get into that, I think an important piece. What is $INFINXTE? What are you trying to achieve? Why did you issue this? Walk me through that.

Yeah. So kind of going back to what I said earlier, how, I kind of locked myself in summer and decided to work on my next album. So like usually when I’m making an album, like throughout the process, I’m also coming up with like, how am I gonna put this out to the world? How am I gonna brand the aesthetic, the cover art, the music videos that’s all running through my head as I create. So I had the idea for like maybe since last year I had an idea of like, okay, I wanna put out an album, but as a series of singles with NFTs and focus a lot on the artwork side of it. So like, whether it’s like the, the cover art or like the motion art or how we’re gonna actually put it out. Like I wanted to work with a variety of different like artists and not just musicians, but like also like the digital artists and motion directors and things like that to come up with the idea and the ideas that for the entire album and all the songs to lead into this showcase where it’s like a live performance showcase, but it’s also gonna be like a exhibition style where, the NFTs are gonna be displayed in real time and people can kind of experience both sides. So the music through the performance, but also like the NFTs and what we’re doing through, the, the actual art being displayed. I wanna try to make it like an installation, something immersive where people can be a part of it. So that idea has been in my head for a long time. So I said, okay, now’s the time to do it. I feel ready. And that’s kind of where the inspiration behind $INFINXTE started.

Got it. Got it. So how has it been so far? So how long has the campaign been out for what has the feedback been have you made changes since you launched? Walk me, me through that process.

It’s been awesome, man. I came in with no expectations. Like I told myself, like if [inaudible] is not a success, like $INFINXTEs still gonna come out. Like, yeah, obviously I have to like self fund and like really hustle to get it. I’m still gonna do all of that. But like, , I was already kind of thinking like, okay, what’s gonna happen if it’s not a success. So far we, I think I launched it. I wanna say second week of December, first week we raised seven Eth. So now I’m like, okay, this is getting real and I’m not taking it lightly because it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for some time. And I know, I know where I can deliver and that’s another reason, if you notice, it’s like, it may be a lot at first, but I’ve never told my story in this detail and kind of, I added a little bit of everything that I’ve been wanting to do over the years. If I had the opportunity, the difference is if I would’ve pitched this to a label, they would’ve been like we wanna move faster than this. We wanna to put out some singles with remixes collaborations, put out the album, do a couple shows, see what happens and then move on? But like this one’s a little more like, I’m taking my time and I’m gonna put a lot of effort into like the entire experience. So it it’s been great.

Labels and Investors – How do they fit in?

Do you think labels will start valuing this creative and hustle process more than the current process that they look for in an emerging artist? Do you think at some point buying into the assets of creators will likely become a thing and like people, like you will actually be the target for like investment collaboration, right. Building around, et cetera, and using all the resources to do so. Do you see a world where that happens?

I think it could happen especially to the second part of like, I don’t know if they’re gonna use this strategy for their releases just because they move at a different pace. I think they’re gonna be looking into different ways of like engaging or community building for an artist, as opposed to saying like, Hey, put the album out and like we’ll spend this much on marketing and push it out and see what happens, get a ROI on it. Like that’s kind of like the main, putting out multiple singles doing this big exhibition, performance showcase, they do similar things like a release party, stuff like that, but I kind of wanna make it more immersive and obviously, putting out the NFTs, integrating tokens within the entire experience is all.

I ask you that question because, so when I had blockchain bread on when I had Latasha and I think also an episode that’s gonna be released soon with M shadows from Event sevenfold, we talked about this concept of record labels becoming and transitioning into creative hedge funds. And as more and more independent, like the thesis is that as more and more independent artists transition into web three, whatever that means. Whether they be independent or dependent now going independent, right? Like we see like with disclosure they’re gonna be basically purchasing the assets, the social tokens, the NFTs of these musicians of these creators as a way to kind of they’ll realize that actually creators won’t be, musicians won’t be accepting these like crazy contracts. They’ll have to start like buying into the work of the creator rather than owning the person as the creator. So I guess that’s where that comes from. Like, do you think, like, yeah, to play on that thought to play on that answer right now that you have more context, do you think it might emerge and evolve into that?

I think I shared it today with a few people. There’s an article and it’s like, labels are turning into DCs even if they don’t wanna. So like back then, it was like, labels are basically, big banks, they’re too big to fail. Now the ideas like they’re transitioning into VCs because there are so many platforms available for independent artists that over time in the artist, whether they wet three or not, they’re gonna transition into a different, like, they have a different mental model. Like you can distribute on your own and get a hundred percent of that revenue. And then you can delegate and basically find the team or the people you need to get to the next level without having to sign your rights away, you can still partner up, do joint ventures, profit splits and things like that. But I think there’s a lot of platforms that you can use to your advantage and not have to give your rights away? And I think they know that. But I can see that, that would be interesting. I thought about it a lot. I’m like, what if a label came in and, with an anonymous [inaudible] and just started buying a ton of like NFTs.

I wonder if it’s probably even happening right now. Likely.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s probably happening. I thought about that a lot? So who knows?

Two Tokens- What’s the difference?

Interesting. Yeah. Well, we’ll see. So let’s talk about this concept of like two social tokens. Okay. $INFINXTE with an X. Okay. And then there’s also the one on rally. Okay. How do you think about the two? How do you think about community? Do you think about community building the same way for both tokens? How do you think about value accruation? Like it’s probably not even a word value accrual. One is already hard enough. Two is like a whole other game. How do you think about that?

Yeah, so I got great feedback. I got suggestions. Some people were kind of saying like, Hey, with this fragment your community. And I started thinking to myself, my community is still early, is still young to what I’m doing so I can explore. So I kind of look at it like ekis is like creator centric or Xelencia as the artist. And then the $INFINXTE token is like a project centric token. So it’s based around the album in the same way that like, if you sign with a label, you have the artist, but then you have the album it’s its own thing. It’s its own world, it’s its own spreadsheet. They don’t necessarily abandon it for the artist or abandon that first album, when they release a second one. So I’m kind of thinking of $INFINXTE like that, like $INFINXTE is the album token that represents those assets, whether it’s the NFTs or the songs themselves and over time, I can imagine, for example, like whether we add liquidity to $INFINXTE based off of like future earnings or revenue or royalties, whatever it may be once we get there, if we get there $INFINXTE could be that like, it’s almost like the asset. The catalog of $INFINXTE lives within this $INFINXTE token, which could also be used for like governance and things like that to see like where else can we, we take the album? So I see like best of both worlds, like I can explore on a side chain so I can transition like , super fans to a familiar experience, but then I can do stuff on main net that I’m unable to do on, on rally, which is like these platforms that are specific to music, like catalog and sound and like mint songs and things like that. I can now, focus on those, but, Eckes I’m not abandoning Eckes, it’s like, that’s the creator token. And I’m seeing $INFINXTE as an album token, which I don’t think no one has really done. So I’m not saying it’s gonna be easy or, anything like that. But I think that like my conviction is there, right. Like I believe that it can work it’s its own thing. And the idea is to kind of, see if integrating it, see where I can take it over time.

Yeah. Makes a lot of sense. How do you think about the concept of ownership when it comes to these two tokens? Right. I know you talked about royalties if, and when it happens. But beyond royalties, beyond, beyond like anything that’s like verifiably, I guess on chain or like digitally tracked. What about like concerts? What about merch? What about all these other kind of components that equate to an artist to an experience.

I thought about that too. Like again, it goes show like let’s say, $INFINXTE or four, six months in the songs are doing well, I’m getting showcases and things like that. If it eventually leads into a tour, like I think that would be amazing to, to grab some of that touring income and say like, Hey, I can redistribute this back to the backers of $INFINXTE. Right. And like, I kind of mentioned like $INFINXTE is its own like spreadsheet, right. Literally it’s its own ledger contract. Yeah. And I can see that over time. Like imagine we’re two years in and $INFINXTE, is still generating whether it’s through NFT sales or I’m still touring based on those songs and things like that. Like I know that’s a lot in terms of like accounting and kind of keeping track and like all of that, but I can see a world where that could actually work and $INFINXTE could be its own like album. If I do a second album, it could live on that same contract or I can explore, another token that represents that album, that album as an asset. These are just thoughts that I’ve had in terms of how to use both.

Yeah. Makes sense. Now that you’re kind of like experimenting on this front and you’re experimenting with music NFTs, different social tokens. What do you think 2022 looks like?

Man, I think about it a lot. I wanna see where music NFTs really go. Cause I see a lot of people kind of making their predictions as to, what’s gonna happen. I kind of wanna say, I think it’s gonna take much more like education and on-boarding as to why should I do this and why do I need to do this for certain artists? I think certain artists, like it clicked right away. I think that social tokens might come a little more out into the spotlight. I think music NFTs will do the same thing. A lot of people are saying it’ll experience something similar to digital art because like last year, like around this time, like there weren’t like those platforms we talked about where they focused on like music as an NFT. So it’ll be interesting to see where it goes, from here, is it gonna continue to grow? Is it gonna find its place? Is it gonna be more niche or what’s, what’s going to happen, right. Cause like you have open sea, but it’s a marketplace where you’ve got a ton of like different, NFTs on there. Whereas these specific, hyper focused platforms, like you can kind of tell, okay, I see what’s happening. Like you can actually really feel what’s happening within it. So I’m interested to see where musics NFTs are going and social tokens as the market overall. I’m not sure where we’re headed, but it’s an interesting time to be honest, like I’m excited to see where we go from here.

How do you see the future?

What do you think is kind of next for $INFINXTE? Right. So let’s say we hit this funding goal or near the funding goal or even go over. Okay. What’s step two. Okay. Step one was issuing the campaign. Step two. What does that look like? What does that feel like? And talk to me about like step two through 10, that’s some arbitrary number as well. Right. That’s more of like me saying like the future

I’m taking what I’ve done in the past, but like I’m basically like leveling it up so I can see, like for example, the first single is ready to go or I would say like the first six singles are ready to go. I think it’s about kind of building the structure for it. So really finding the remaining collaborators, the artists. I wanna collaborate with more web three musicians and artists, like that’s a big deal. Like I, I got a song with Harrison First, for example, I think it would be perfect for $INFINXTE. Like he has his social token. I have one. It just makes sense. And I’m sure we can just go crazy with like ideas and things we can do. I wanna do the same with like a lot of other artists. Like that’s something that I’m super open to, but yeah, like, , I wanna put out the singles, like I wanna come out strong, I that’s why I didn’t wanna do like an EP or something because I’m thinking this could end up becoming a bigger thing. I kind of wanna like build more momentum and anticipation before I put out out an album. So what I’m hoping for is for like put out all these singles, continue doing what I’m doing in terms of like engagement and community building and everything leading to that showcase. I think that showcase is gonna be like the most important thing I’ve done in my career. It’s an idea I’ve had for a long time. So the ideas for everything to lead into that big moment. And I think from there,  it’s off to the races to be honest. So that’s how I feel about it, but I’m ready to go. Like I have the music I’m, I’m doing like perks and rewards in real time. Like I did something where like I showed the first preview once we hit seven Eth. And that was token gated. So I’m planning on doing a few more things in real time, as , the crowdfund keeps going and then obviously once the releases keep coming out. I’m gonna keep exploring, whether it’s different platforms or more collaborations. And like I’ve even thought about putting out more music than I basically said. That’s why I didn’t have a track list. Cause I’m like this again, $INFINXTE, like this can go on. I wanted to lead to that big moment eventually. I think that would be like the smart thing to do that way. There’s a little closure there.


I love it, dude. I love to hear it. Look, man, I’m rooting for you. A lot of people online are rooting for you whether with their pocket or with followers or with listeners, or we’re here for you, we’re here to support you. I’m excited for you dude, before I let you go, where can we find you? Where can we find the campaign also linking the show notes, but give us, give us the spiel, show yourself before I kind of let you go.

So I’m Xcellencia. On every platform with an X on Twitter, you’ll find the mirror crowd fund it’s it’s pinned on there. So you can check it out. Dms are open. If you have any questions or feedback, anything I’m open to that. And yeah. Xcellencia on Spotify, Instagram, and I’m mainly active on Twitter and of course Discord. As always DMS are open.

I love it, man. Best of luck. We’ll do this again soon. Thank you.

I appreciate you. Thank you for having me

And I’ll end it there, bro. Good. That was great.

Podcast Transcript

NFT Afterlife: The Future of Music Fandom With Deathbats Club

Listen on: Spotify | Apple Music | Google Podcast


Mint Season 4 episode 3 welcomes M. Shadows, founder and lead singer of the iconic rock band Avenged Sevenfold. I grew up playing their music on the drums and have admired them ever since I can remember. 

I wanted to have him on because he started the Deathbats Club, a 10,000 PFP project whose perks and utilities are inner-twined within each NFT. We recorded the episode pre-launch so keep that in mind while listening, but regardless he drops so many golden nuggets on the music industry, being early to Ethereum, community building and so much. 

  • 0:00 – Intro
  • 11:50 – The Deathbats Club
  • 17:58 – NFT Adoption
  • 21:50 – Thinking About Community Management
  • 27:10- Thinking Post-Mortem
  • 29:02 – On-Chain Royalties
  • 38:52- Creating Utility
  • 47:03 – Deathbat DAO
  • 36:33 – Outro

…and so much more.

Support Season 4’s NFT sponsors!

1. Coinvise –

2. Polygon Studios –

Interested in becoming an NFT sponsor? Get in touch here!


Welcome to Mint, my friend. How are you doing?

I’m doing great. How are you doing?

I’m feeling good, man. Thank you so much for being on really, really exciting times. Big day is coming up pretty soon. How are you feeling? What’s going on through your head?

You know I’m stressed. I am nervous. I’m excited. Getting through a mint is really, if you get out on the other side, I think that’s when the fun can begin. But it’s the minting process with all the attacks and things that can happen. Things that can go wrong and contracts and this and that. You really want to make sure they get in everybody’s hands, so I’m just a little, I’m like a father figure, just worried about everybody. Like, I hope everyone gets what they want for Christmas. So I’m excited, but definitely just like keeping our eye on the ball.

Yeah. Nah, I hear you. Look I was telling you this in the green room, but what you guys are doing, a lot of people don’t realize it, but it’s like at the forefront of what the future of music and artists fan relationship will look and feel like. So to have this type of like level of nervousness to have all these feelings doing a drop, it’s a big deal and you have to play that father figure. Like you have to coach people before we even get into all that stuff. How did you get into crypto? Like what’s your journey into the space? Rumour has it, you’ve been buying you through them since like $15? Can you walk me through that?

Yeah. I think in 2015 I started hearing about internet money, you know, I heard about Bitcoin. I don’t remember how long it was after that I decided, but I remember the moment that I did, I was on a golf course with my buddy Scotty. I started, you know, like shilling him on this stuff, but I didn’t even own any at the time, and I was like, we just got to buy Bitcoin. We got to buy as much as we can. And I, and I kind of understood, I had read the white paper. I understood in a way, but to be honest, I just, I understood the idea of internet money and I believed everything was kind of going more and more online. Shortly after I had signed up for Coinbase, which was completely a nightmare at the time. The early days of signing for Coinbase was actually insane and dealing with your bank and like, why are they pulling money out for this thing came on my radar. I started learning about smart contracts and smart contracts really intrigued me. And I think there were a couple of really simple analogies, like say a guy’s on your roof doing the roofing, and then you owe him this much money. Well, in the digital world, those will both be put in a contract, it will be authenticated by this contract, and then both things will switch places without human interaction, right? No disagreements. And I was like, oh, that makes sense, that’ll be cool for digital. So I bought a bunch of Ethereum and I think at the time it was $13 and Bitcoin at the time was $280 and we just bought a lot of it, and as much as we could before the bank, you know, gave us problems. And then we just held it and he never even thought of selling it. I kind of evangelized it to everybody as it got bigger and I learned more about it. People much smarter than me were able to make videos, and I was really able to understand what it was and how revolutionary it was. And then I lived through it all until, I guess, January of this year, and I started really paying attention to crypto punks. And I think you know, I mean, I guess we can go through all the ups and downs of Bitcoin. That is what it is. I never sold. I held onto it. People said I was an idiot. I had made so much money and then that crash happened and I never sold any, and everyone’s like, why aren’t you selling? My mom would call me. You shouldn’t sell. And I’m like, I’m never selling it. I just didn’t put enough in to worry about it. I just, you know, like it was just exponentially growing and I believe in it and I was like, nothing has changed, mom. You know? It’s all good. One ETH is one ETH mom. So anyways, and now they actually, I got my dad to buy a bunch too. So anyways…

Is he just buying Ethereum or is he buying a bunch of like other shit coins?

No, he’s got Bitcoin Ethereum. At one point we had it was Litecoin, XRP, you know, during that era that everyone had the same stuff, it was VeChain, Ethereum, Bitcoin, it was all the same stuff. And it was so it’s all good. And I’ve kind of moved off that path now. I have a new path that I believe in. But at the time we all had the same stuff. We were buying everything. And so in January I think I’d heard about crypto punks enough times to where, and then it just hit me. I was like, man, like the first thing, and obviously all the stuff’s debatable, right? But the first thing that became popular, I guess CryptoKitties became popular even though they were after crypto punks, but crypto punks are the first thing on not even, not chain at the time. So I’ve got all these caveats. Crypto punks were the first thing on the Ethereum blockchain that made sense of this collectible, I guess we could say. And crypto punks, I, one day went to my who’s now our coder for this new project. He, I said, I think we got to buy some of these things, man. They’re like early collectibles of web three of this future. And so I bought one, it was super scary. I think I bought, I know what I bought. I bought a four Addie pipe smoking, half shaved girl with blue eyeshadow for 29 ETH. At the time it was like, oh my God, I have this thing. But you know, after leaving his house, I noticed I was always pulling up my Metamask and I was staring at it. It made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I felt really good. And so I was like, man, if I feel this way about this, I think other people are going to feel this way about these really cool things. I lived through a little bit of a dip on that I think earlier and then the drop to like 13 ETH was the floor and they started buying more and more and more. So I started loading up on crypto punks. Anyways, I have a crazy story, but it’s-

What communities were you hanging around to get all this alpha? Because your life is about music, right? You have this insane band, this mainstream band, like hundreds of millions of viewers online, like it’s 24, 7 music. But then you have this small side to you. You’re just the degenerate. Like you’re literally like a degen.

Yeah. Well, I’m also a gaming DJ, right? So I grew up playing games when everyone said that internet users and nerds played games, right? And I always tell this story, but to me, my generation created the multi-million dollar Twitch player. They created the Fortnite champion. They’ve created that you could actually make a lot of money in this space because our culture demanded it. And it’s one thing that I’ve always, you know, as a culture rises, it’s like, that’s, what’s cool. The same way that my grandparents didn’t understand the Beatles and my dad understood the Beatles is the same way that I understand that the culture coming up is going to basically dictate, you know, the world that we live in, whether we like it or not. So I put gaming in the same category as crypto when I started learning about it. And, you know, I love to read about space and philosophy and consciousness and all these weird things. But I think if I didn’t, then the music would become really repetitive and boring. If I was only existing in this ecosystem of rock and riffs, you know, I think you would have songs about going out to the bar and that’s fine, but it’s not our M.O. We try to expand ourselves, which you know, is kind of reflected in our art. And so I think crypto easily plays into that because it’s where I see the human evolution going. Especially as we take this step into the digital frontier. I see that as a common theme amongst many crypto super-users, they have a gaming background. Like I played a shit ton of games growing up. My biggest game was Runescape.

And you see a lot of people that have crazy bags in crypto have these Runescape backdrops. Like I know you were there. I know you were there. I know you had that experience. Why do you think gaming has kind of gravitated towards crypto? Like why do you think that’s inherently very similar in terms of audiences?

It’s gotta be the people we hang out with there. And they’re very tech savvy. I mean, to play like a pub G or to play any of these games, you have to have some sort of knowledge of not only like steam or whatever in the marketplace, isn’t just, you have to be able to work your way around the internet. You’re going to know what Reddit is. You’re going to know what discord is. You’re going to know where these little nooks and crannies are of where you’re going to get information, right? And these things, they come from fringe groups. That’s what they are. These games start off as fringe games, you know, and they grow into these behemoths. But a lot of us are finding these games before there’s millions of players. And you’re finding these communities before there’s tens of thousands of people. And you’re finding these bands, you know, before, out of the garage. They’re not playing stadiums the next day. They’re taking years and years to develop. So it’s kind of that curiosity that you never lose, and you’re kind of always like sniffing around, like there’s bigger questions, right? Like, why are we here? What are we doing? And then there’s like these macro or these micro questions where it’s like, okay, well we’re here, so like, what’s next? Like what are we doing? And I think that’s just curiosity.

Yeah. I hear you. At what point did you kind of realize that this infrastructure actually could revolutionize, I guess, like a new movement between artists and fans? What was that aha moment for you? And walk me through that narrative, that story that you kind of encountered?

Yeah, well, you know, I was collecting. So I was hanging out in the discord of the punk chat and I was hanging out in, you know, art blocks and I was hanging out in all these places that were in telegrams, these new secret telegrams of people that are in mass group chats. Random, but very successful people that are very much talking about DeFi and API’s on this, and I’m going to invest in this and this coin’s doing that and this. So you’re kind of catching on to all these things that are happening in the underbelly of finance. And, you know, you kind of can say all day, like Ethereum is going to change this and this and this, but when you actually see really successful people doing it and believing it builds on it that was really eye opening to me. And I think, you know, to be honest, I had never put two and two together of utility and sort of that, that carrot hanging over the, what we would call it, the normies, right? Like how do you get them into this world? How do you get them to believe that digital ownership is a real thing? I think the best example is gaming because I believe that’s a no brainer. It’s like, okay, you own the stuff instead of renting it, like, but, but music’s a harder sell because now in December, I can explain to you how music’s going to work. But back in June it was kind of just like, I know what 3LAU is doing, and yeah. I guess music is putting an album cover on there and like, are we turning art or music listeners into art creators? Like, what does that album cover do? Why would anyone care? And those were the questions I was asking myself. Cause if I don’t care, then I know other people don’t care. It’s always like the bullshit test. But when Bored Apes came out. So Bored Apes came out and they gave up the IP to their apes and they had utility. Like at first it was, you could draw dicks on a wall, right? But it was like, oh, but everyone can’t get in here. I have to sign into my Metamask. This is cool.

It’s like a private Dick on the wall.

It’s a private thing on the wall. Like all my friends drew a Dick on the wall. But then it was almost like things just started flowing out of them and out of my mindset. And then I saw what Gary V was doing right with Vee Friends. And I was like wow. And of course, like at the beginning we were modeling ourselves exactly after board apes, and then you come to like this realization that no, like it’s just a construct. It’s just a, I guess, a platform or a format that you can use, but then you step into who you are, what are your feelings, right? And then you start thinking differently, like, oh, they don’t want a piece of artwork from somebody they don’t know who it is. They want concert tickets or, oh, they want to meet us or they want this or that. So I started putting this thing together, I guess in may, and so then we kind of took steps to kind of get people involved, which we can go into later, but that the board apes and Gary V friends were the ones that really sparked like, oh, there’s a lot more to this than than meets the eye. And then also I would say that I dug strictly into the community aspect, I wasn’t trying to tackle what 3LAU is trying to tackle, which I think is very different right now, but I think it all plays together. What I see happening in two, maybe 18 months, two years is the token holders are going to be the ones getting the fractionalized publishing from these streaming services where the artists have all the control. And so you do kind of need both, but I didn’t see that at first, I just saw build the community, build the community.

The Deathbats Club

Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. You know, you referenced 3LAU a couple of times. He’s been on my last show, blockchain and booze, and we talked about things like, what is the future of music and NFTs. And I mean, you can kind of peep the drum set behind me. I’ve been a drummer myself since I was five years old, also grew up playing to avenged sevenfold, like seeing all these things kind of happen in real time. And now seeing a lot of musicians and artists get into the space. Forget about like the Instagram creative artists that left like corporate jobs and were posting shit on their stories and whatnot, like actual independent artists jumping into crypto and making a living kind of re-imagining what a modern day fan fan club looks and feels like. Tokenizing their songs is questionable that may be, or may not be. You’re seeing this revolution happening in real time. You’re seeing people understand the concept of what ownership means, let alone digital ownership and kind of reimagining, okay, if I’m going to bootstrap my career right now, I’m going to launch the song. How do I not only do it where I retain a lot of ownership, but do it in a way where I can get creative with this new technology, and use NFTs and all these digital assets. So I think it’s super cool. We’re obviously going through a really crazy revolution right now, I guess my next question to youis about the deathbats club. How did that come into place? Okay. Like how did that come about? I know you talked about like the birth of seeing Gary V’s clubs, seeing the birth of the Bored Ape yacht club, but how did you kind of build it in a way where it was super relatable to avenged sevenfold? Like how do you think about utility, all these concepts when it comes to building a modern day fan club? Walk me through that.

Yeah, so since we’re kind of first in building what we’re building, we wanted to test the waters and we actually released an NFT of 101 called “into the ether”. We put a little snippet of music that we weren’t gonna use on a record, and we basically wanted to kind of test the waters of our fans. And it was even this free NFT we were giving out, we got 5,000 addresses sent to us, and we actually wrote a piece of code that was allowing us to look into all their wallets, to see who had any prior NFT experience and only 17 people had prior NFTs. And so the other 4,900 and whatever had just signed up on open sea to get this free digital collectible. And so we knew that there was a lot of education that had to be done. We knew that, and we also knew, even though we were giving them out for free, we were getting a lot of flack for it. People thought it was a scam. You know, they thought all these things. So I’m glad we did that to kind of understand the audience, right? Because if we would’ve just gone straight into Deathbats club and said, Hey, this thing’s launching in a month, we would have been dead in the water. And I have numbers to prove that and I’ll tell you about those. So, once we launched that, we realized that we didn’t know what we were doing, and we’re glad we launched the 101. We started actually adding utility to them after, but this whole time in the process of seeing these people take them and talk about them and form these little clubs and this and that, then we said, okay, well we need to start a discord. We need to start building a community from the ground up, and then we’re going to start really digging deep into our soul and saying, what do people want from us? And a lot of times it was just our time. So we started creating, you know, tiered levels of very cool things you could have, but I said, I don’t want this thing to be like a slot machine where you get something great, then you’re totally bummed on your bad one. The base level has to be where all the value is, and then you might get a cherry on top. And so then we started thinking deeply about, well, we can put someone out and open our own line at shows and make it for token holders only. Okay, cool. No line for shows. And then we’re like, okay, well we can call live nation and tell him we need a hundred tickets extra for per show in our guarantee. Then, okay, boom. Now we have free tickets for life. And meet and greet. Cool. We can do that. And so we started building the back end and going, like, people will love this stuff. And then we started thinking, well, weekly giveaways. We own our own merch company, that’s easy. And then it was like, okay, well we’ve been building sandbox for a year, that’s easy. Let’s give them avatars. Let’s give them clothing, let’s have private parties. And it just kept rolling and rolling and rolling. And we’re like, we actually have something here. Like we have so much to offer. And if we do have like a mint of like 0.08 at the time, it was probably 150 bucks, 130 bucks is like, the value is going to. So super exceed what like that token is going to cost. And then our job will be to like, just keep adding value to it. Keep making it bigger and bigger and making these kids feel like they’re evangelizing something that’s kind of the first of its kind.

So why approach it from the 10 K point of view when you guys have so many fans? I get there’s a level of exclusivity, but why not like 12K? Why not 15k? How do you think about that?

So 10 K was actually was the standard that’s going on. In so many communities I’ve been in there was 10. And I also saw my friends in the hundreds do like 25,000. And I think it was a little, much, you know, I want to keep a really competitive I want to keep the tokens competitive in terms of like their value. I want to make sure that they’re scarce. And I think that we’ve told everybody, like, we’re going to be nimble with this. We’re never going to hurt the value of your deathbat. That’s going to be the number one thing. But I think the cats, the gutter cats and the board apes have done brilliantly by letting more people in with serums and mutant apes or this or that. I think there’s very cool savvy ways to let more people in. But you are not the Deathbat, right? The Deathbat is the Deathbat, and that’s always going to be the king. And I think there’s very cool ways to do it. And so I’m not really worried about it. And also you look at the band, like, I think we’ve sold 20 million records and we only had 700 people sign up for this thing in the beginning until we started making videos and like tutorials. And now we’re rolling into, you know, I’ve had a bunch of friends that have launched and they get about 1600 pre-sale white list and then they sell out instantly. We have over 8,000 on our white list. So we’ve done a good job of bringing people in and educating them and getting them here, but if we would have done this early on, it would have been the biggest failure of all time. These things just have to be thought out and you have to have people that are willing to like drive it, which I would say I’m driving it. But then I have a great team behind me. I’m hiring people that are in the space and hiring devs that understand what we’re trying to build and hiring mods that know how to deal with crypto, right? And know how to deal with the scams and the bots and the phishing attacks. And so you just have to have a great team, you have to be dedicated to it.

NFT Adoption

You know, look at the way you’re talking about it, the way your face glows. No legit, like you have to see the way your face glows when you talk about it. You’re obviously not the first musical artist trying to do this. You’re the first one trying to implement this type of club. And I actually noticed that you’re doing it the most efficient way too. Having FAQ’s the way you’ve structured the Discord. I’ve seen a lot of other musical artists that are more mainstream just issue like NFTs as a form to just like take and go. But there’s layers to this onion. And the way you’re explaining it, and the way I see your face, just like lighting up behind this entire model behind this entire structure, it gets me excited. I’m like an avenged sevenfold fan okay, full out. And I’m thinking to myself like shit, like this is my opportunity to be a part of something that I can verifiably choose and see on chain and get all these additional perks and be a member of this club, and just like, be a part of this family. Something that you don’t really get from necessarily just going to shows something that you don’t necessarily get from just going and buying merchandise. Something that you don’t necessarily get from, like either like doing, I don’t know, like a guitar, like there’s layers to this, right? And buying this badge, buying this emblem, whatever this ticket, whatever you want to call it. The way I feel about it, it’s like it’s my way in. And you know, and once I’m in, I’m in and I’m in with a lot of other like-minded people and we’re all in it together and that’s why I kind of see what you’re building. And I feel that way because I see your face kind of glowing and lighting up on the Discord, development and all that stuff, which a lot of people don’t really talk about. And that’s how you know there’s value behind it, from my point of view. You know, when you were building this thing out, how much of your audience was already crypto native? I know you mentioned there was only like 17 wallets that had NFTs and open sea activity, but even now for this new drop, there’s 34,000 members in the discord, have you kind of experimented with like, who’s more crypto native? How many people do we actually need to educate and kind of go over this hurdle? How many already knew what they were doing? Walk me through that.

So in the very beginning I found that the people that were truly following avenged sevenfold, like everything we do, is a very low number of crypto native people, I would say, in the low single digits. As I was like you know, for months and months, no one knew who I was in the punk chat or the apes chat or, you know, all these things. And then as people started to find out who I was, it turns out they’re fans, but they don’t follow us every day. They know all the songs and they’ll go to a show every once in a while, but they’re not on Instagram or in Reddit talking about avenged sevenfold, they’re talking about crypto. And so we actually found a lot of fans in the space that weren’t aware of what we were doing. Now that we’re doing, you know, we’re constantly in contact with like a DS or like a Jimmy McNeil list. And the people that are in this space that had been there for a long time, that we’ve been communicating with a lot of people have come into our community with a lot of knowledge, a lot of crypto knowledge that had been there for a long time. We traded a guy a crypto punk for our rarest first NFT and the guy minted 88 crypto punks. And he still has 38 of them, but he wasn’t following everything we were doing. He ended up getting in, you know, in the last couple of months, because until it hit their radar in the crypto world, it was like they weren’t following avenged sevenfold for what we’re doing, they’re just interested in other things. So I’ve found there’s a much bigger group of people, but it took a while to get them all to understand that, oh, a band, I really liked doing this, but it’s not a rug pull or a joke. Like this is cool, I can get behind it. And then a lot of it was just bringing our people in and now the discords become much more informative because some of these people are in there, they probably know more than I do, right? Like they’re into different things. Like you have players that are playing Axie and you have people that are really into this certain coin or that things that I can’t keep track of all of it. So it’s interesting to see these people in the discord, all discussing things with each other and when someone’s new and they go like, oh, what about, oh, look at Ubisoft doing this thing with, and then they’re like, oh, well these are the games that have been doing it forever. And this is why it works, and this is why those people don’t get in. I’m skeptical. And so it’s cool to see these conversations where the worlds are colliding now.

Thinking About Community Management

You know I’m in discord as we speak. So 34,368 members, and it’s popping, it’s so active. It’s so alive. How do you guys think about community management? You’re obviously running the band full-time, you’re working on the album that you’re releasing too. And you guys are, I’m assuming, going to go on tours. Like, how do you think about community management? Obviously, I think that’s something that you’re going to be outsourcing that you have been outsourcing. Walk me through that because I feel like it’s, it’s a big thing that musicians get scared of. They’re like, shit, I’m going to have to devote my entire time to managing this discord, but I guess you found a way to kind of grow hack that somehow.

Yeah. So a lot of the people that have been working with us for a long time, we threw them into the fire months ago and we said, learn what we’re doing here. Like we have this amazing girl named Courtney who’s going to be our product manager, right? Like she’s just on all the calls, whether it’s PR or whether it’s, you know, any sort of collaboration. I say hit up Courtney, cause she’s been dealing with that for us since the early days. She actually started a Fanzine, like a website. So she knows the culture and she’s been there since day one and the day she decided to shut it down is the day we hired her. And we were like, okay, we need you. And then we said, do what you did for that, but do it for us. And so she’s been with us for years and years, and then we have this guy, Alex, who works for us half time and half for Interscope. So he’s tapped into everything the major labels are doing, which, we’re like the anti that right now. And so he knows what they’re doing. He knows what we’re doing, but he’s got a lot of connections. And so we’ve got this great team of people. And then our dev actually was in web two for I’ve known him since we were in sixth grade, he was working cybersecurity for Barracuda, out of San Francisco. And then when we started getting heavy into crypto. We’ve been doing it forever now. And then, you know, three months ago he said, or six months ago now God time flies, he’s like, I’m going to quit my job and let’s build this out. I want to do it for you. I’ve learned all the coding I learned in my whole life. And so he’s building his own company based off of these launches. And so he quit his job in web two, and now he’s in web three and you know, he sold a Fidenza, which is helping payroll himself for a while. And so, yeah, he’s got some crypto punks now. And so he’s like, it’s such a better life for him because he’s, he’s in this space and he’s building, and he’s a punk rocker at heart. So he wants to help small bands. He wants to help everybody. So we’ve got a good group of people and then I’m going to, but I’m a psycho. So I’m going to tell them that everything from the giveaways to everything has to run through us. And then the bigger things like sandbox, I’m going to be in direct contact. It’s just how I roll, and I feel better doing it.

Yeah, you feel more aware. You know, my fear is like a lot of creators, a lot of artists are going to enter this space and just going to outsource that stuff completely. And that whole narrative and connection and energy is going to be missing, you know, and it’ll feel less authentic. One thing I’ve been telling them exactly, like you just said, look at all the Facebook groups, look at all the fan pages, look at all these things that fans are creating for free, right? Because they just love and adore the brand. They love music. They love how it makes them feel. These are your proponents to help build your community and make it like the next stage and the next level for that. It’s cool to see that in real time.

You’re totally right. And then this is like, instead of giving them all a pat on the back, now we can actually reward them because they’re token holders. I’m staying nimble with everything because I know that if you talked to me three weeks ago, I wouldn’t even know about some of the things that are coming out. And now the idea of a coin, and is it tethered to some sort of real world value, can you exchange it for Ethereum or do we keep it in our own shop or do we give a governance token out like ENS did? There’s so many things we’re looking at right now that I think will be a reward to the token holders, but I also know our fan base. And if I say something, then they’re gonna be like, when coin, when coin.

You guys should create a governance token pegged to the value of a pool of guitars and the value as the guitar fluctuates in value, that’s how the tokens fluctuate.

The other thing about like tokens and stuff is, I mean, well, there’s a lot of, look at what the Bored Apes are doing, a lot of regulatory issues. And we’re kind of one of those things where like people could be like, Hey, create a DAO, but it’s like, yeah, but we still have to be the driving force creatively. No, one’s signed up to the avenged sevenfold Deathbats club, because they want to create songs. They want us to create the songs and also choose a set list. And we also have to think about, which is a good point I wanted to bring up, is that we have a contingency of hundreds of thousands or millions of other people that are not in the club that we have to make sure that they don’t get affected by the club. Meaning the governance you give the club can’t start impending on like, Hey, like all the normies, they can’t even come to the show anymore. You know what I’m saying? So like, there’s like all these things that a DAO would simply take care of, but you can’t have the, you know, the inmates running the asylum completely. I actually talked to the guys at Poly chain about this and they’ve been so cool with bouncing ideas about what’s around the corner, right? Like what’s coming guys, like where are these things that you’re investing in that are going to be cool? And one thing that came up with it was like, why don’t you do like a message board type of thing, but it’s blocked and you have to have the token to get in. And then the amount of time you spent there, so it’s almost like a DAO. And then we can come in and see the ideas and then go, okay, we’re going to pay for that. Because a traditional DAO would be like, let’s buy sandbox. Well, we’re going to take care of that. And then there’ll be like, well, let’s do this, and it’s like, well, we’ve already taken care of a lot of those things that we’re happy to do it. So we have a little bit of a different path we have to take than most.

Thinking Post-Mortem

You know, the way I kind of envisioned DAOs for music is like, let’s look at queen for a minute. And Queen has a global fan base. They have the movie, they have the fans with, or without the band, they still listen to the music. They still congregate. They wear the merch, they get together, they sing the songs, they do all these things together as a group. Without queen, without, without the lead singer, without really the band per se, in the picture and down the line, these modern named fan clubs will essentially evolve into that, you think, but done in a way where you can capture the values? Like, let’s say like when you guys aren’t in the picture and the music lives on forever, how do you kind of coordinate? How do you do that? Right now it’s happening super organically, but how do you attach some type of asset that allows people to kind of reap the values? Because down the line, when you guys are gone, royalty still accumulates, value still gets captured. Who gets that? How do you, how are you thinking about that?

Oh God, you just made me think about it. I don’t know. Like I said, like, what I love about this space is there’s incredibly smart people asking incredibly cool questions and what we have to do now is make sure we set ourselves up for the future, whether it’s the contracts that we’re writing on the blockchain or whether it’s, you know, just some sort of vision of what’s going to happen in the future and set yourself up so that you don’t completely screw yourself. And so a lot of what we’ve been doing is kind of like damage control in a way, like making sure that we’re nimble enough to do some of these things, but it’s a great question. Like yeah, where do those royalties go? And like, how do we get into some sort of contract that our estate has to abide by, right? Because the estate might come and go, Nope, it’s all ours.

It should be a DAO. It should be the fans that kinda like govern that. If they, down the line, want to create a movie, but nobody’s here, you know, like,who will they talk to. How do they organize that?

It’s better for the fans to do that than, you know, some sort of label or whatever it is. I mean, yeah, it’s a good point, man. Can’t wait to be dead and see how it goes.

Royalties On Chain

I’ll keep you posted when you’re dead. You know, and another cool thing behind all these modern day fan clubs which we kind of touched upon right now is like this concept of royalties. And I listened to other things that you talked about, other interviews, other written blogs, and I know it’s something that you’re very vocal about. You’ve obviously gone the more traditional route as a band, adding labels, having big teams behind you, tons of money behind you, but there’s a lot of independent up-and-coming artists that are getting into the space that are tapping around in crypto, realizing the potential of selling NFT as a co-ownership of their song of their album. I guess like, how do you think about this concept of royalties evolving on chain? How do you think about this concept of automation and smart contracts and the blockchain as an infrastructure to create more transparency? More I guess, remove the middleman, all these keywords and these concepts that are like evolving. What do you think about that?

I mean, total no brainer, right? The same way that CDs wiped out tapes and then Napster wiped out CDs, then we had to piece it all together with, okay, well, we’ll give you a little bit and you give us the catalog and then you still have the same royalty structure. I firmly believe that the future of music will evolve out of the fringes of web three. And I don’t know if Spotify and those companies survive because they’re too big. So a bunch of different things I think about this. We talked about the video games and the culture coming . The culture of new artists is obviously going to go, why would I give that to them for the same amount of money I can get for a token sale from these fans and give them in reverse the royalties, and they’ll be completely happy with sharing 20% while I keep 80%. They’ll be completely happy with that because there’s no other option. It’s either that or listen to the music for free. Like, and so web two works really well in the sense that $9.99 to listen to everything is cool. You think it can’t get any better until the sweetening on top is, oh, well actually the more you listen, the more you evangelize us, the actually the more you get paid because you’re a token holder. So then it’s gonna be like, oh my God, like, of course. Now the problem is that it’s kind of like making a hundred million dollar movie and then saying, yeah, but I’m not going to put it on Netflix. I’m going to do it on my own streaming service on my website. Like music has to be communal. It has to be listened to by everybody. So what 3LAU is building and what people are building, it needs to be so global and so mainstream that that’s where people go to listen because no, one’s going to be driving in their car and listening to, you know I became everything of a song right now, listening to like easy by the Commodores. Then they’re going to put on stairway to heaven, and then they’re going to go, oh, I want to listen to avenged sevenfold song, but I’m going to get off this platform, go to this website, download it, click it, and then listen to it and then go back to my, so the platform has to exist. Maybe it’s Tidal, maybe it’s someone that comes back and does it all blockchain. But what you’re saying is going to happen, it’s just, who’s that company that’s going to come in and in the culture is going to demand that they listen on there because just like SoundCloud that revolutionized everything, everyone heard their mumble rappers and whatever they’re doing on SoundCloud, and it’s going to be on the blockchain. And then everything from there on forward will be on it. I don’t know if avenged sevenfold is too late for that. I know that right now, our fans are listening on apple music and it was even hard to get them on there. We did a surprise release on the last record and people were so mad about not having a physical. And to me, I was like, I haven’t even seen a CD player in six years. And so you have part of this thing is like the older cultures still decide what they’re willing to deal with, right? In terms of where they’re going to listen. I think if you make a platform that’s on the blockchain, but you make it super easy for people, the kids can own the tokens, they kind of understand that part, but it’s easy for my mom and dad to throw that on the street, but you can’t be abandoned and completely wall yourself off because then you’re really shooting yourself in the foot. And you’re going to start seeing the concerts go down. They’re going to start seeing like your, you know, everything goes down if you’re not being able to be listened to easily. So we’re in a weird position right now. We’re happy to take it on the chin and walk through it. We know most of our businesses live performance, and so to go into the blockchain and radio, they won’t play you anymore. Well, radio hasn’t been played as in years, like there was no radio for rock. MTV, like they’re gone, we don’t care. Spotify is not putting metal on the front of their curated playlist. What do we care? Like, we’re a perfect band to do this cause we just don’t give a shit at this point. It’s just like, let’s just go.

I never thought about that, you know? Cause you see a lot of the EDM crowd get into crypto and them having good success, but I never thought like the rock metal kind of sector would actually, you’re right, have such a good advantage over everything that’s happening. So true. I didn’t think about that.

And we’ve built great communities. If you think about it like iron maiden, right? It’s like grandpa, dad and son are at the show and they’re not going anywhere. So you already have those communities and the pop fan is a little more whatever’s happening in the moment. The Iron Maiden fan is there for life and the Metallica fan. So there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have the strongest online communities, but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to present this to them and then go, this is actually better for you. We’re not trying to scam you. This is actually better for you, not just us, for you. So that’s been one of our things that we’ve been trying to tell people.

Yeah. You know, you talked a little bit about this, but I want to recap for a minute, like the evolution of digital music. We saw Limewire coming into the picture years ago, kind of like torrenting music, stealing music, downloading it for free. Apple came out with this thesis that people actually want to buy the music that they want to consume, so they introduced this 99 cent model. And then we saw the rise of Spotify and Apple music with streaming services and people paying flat fees to get access to unlimited music. Now we’re seeing the transition of people actually re entering the world of wanting to own music. Because when you used to buy it on iTunes, you’d rent it, you wouldn’t really own anything. Now NFTs allow the medium of owning. So for example, there’s this independent artist, his name is Daniel Allen. He has about a million listeners per month on Spotify, a few thousand followers on Instagram, a couple of hundred on Twitter. He came out with something super unique and original. He was like, okay, I have this EP that I’m coming out with. I need capital. I’m gonna mess around with these token primitives called NFTs, and I’m actually going to crowdfund part of my EP and I’m going to give up ownership 50% of it at least. And doing the way where every single check that I get from apple music, iTunes, basically these DSPs and these publishers all then convert that to USDC and airdrop that to people who basically helped bring this to life proportionate to their investment. It was actually a super interesting pitch because you raised like $180k in less than 48 hours, you know, from this year in community and keep in mind, you really didn’t have too much backing on Twitter. You had a few strong supporters that helped them consolidate them to get into this space, but it just shows you that, wait a minute. Now I find myself buying music NFTs for the pure sake of being able to co own this track because I just love and adore it. It could still be streamed on Spotify and apple music and everywhere, but now just like ownership is remodeled underneath the surface, which I find super interesting kind of like pivot, like evolving. Now you’re seeing platforms like for example mint songs and a bunch of these players coming into place and kind of selling the narrative, own and then sell portions of that to your audience, you know, and introduce levels of new fandom. And I dunno, I think it’s just interesting how everything is kind of evolving in how these token primitives are kind of introducing new creative ways to kind of build communities, issue, assets, think about monetization, all these things.

I think what you just said is exactly where we’re thinking on this subject, right? So if you go to somebody and you say, “own a song”, to my dad who keeps up on this stuff. But you know, when you say own a song to my dad, he’s going to think, oh, okay. Like the first thing you think of, if you’re not creating crypto native, you think, okay, there’s a blocked off wall and no one else can listen. Like the WuTang thing, which is not the case. And then you think, oh, well I have this thing that’s on there, but I just own it because I can say I’m one of 500 owners. No, what we’re saying is that it’s a fractionalization of the publishing, right? It’s you own it, but you partake in the royalty of the people that don’t necessarily care as much, but are paying the $9.99 to listen to everything and they’re taking a portion of your royalties and you’re trickling it down to them. That is what ownership means. It’s kind of hard to explain to somebody. It’s very easy to explain the gaming one, right? Because everyone knows kids, everyone funnels money into Fortnite or whatever it is, and they all understand they can see it in their credit card at the end of the month they go, oh yeah, they don’t own that. But the music one takes a little more of an imagination because they need to understand what publishing is, they need to understand what the masters are, they need to understand how those systems work. And so to me, what you’re talking about is exactly how it would work. And then the artist would dictate how much, you know, these token holders would get. But again, maybe the song is the token. What I see is that in this community we’re building a Deathbats club, that could be the token as well. It’s just as easily transferred right into that, right. Where it’s like, we’re not going to sell you the song. If you’re a part of this community, this is how these things are going to roll in. It could be live streaming revenue, it could be, you know, royalties from Spotify or whatever the new web three system is.

It could be merch that you sell online that gets accepted through crypto and all that stuff is automated and distributed.

The metaverse yeah. Like sandbox sales. So, and then if you think about it, like why I was so anti this in the beginning, not anti, but I just said, people don’t understand, like I heart and Cumulus and Spotify, they’re not on chain. Where are you going to get those royalties? So what he did is he went and took an analog thing and said, okay, I’m getting a check. I’m going to go and I’m going to convert it to some sort of cryptocurrency or what or USD I’m going to airdrop it to you. Where if it’s truly working the way it should work, it should just all be on chain. And we just would just never even have these questions right?

Creating Utility

Like stim would issue a check to your Coinbase account, and then from there or even to your Metamask or there’s a product within that that just issues a check and that check just like distributes it to everybody. Yep. 100%. Let’s backtrack for a minute. I want to talk about more of the utility. What are people getting through these NFTs? Talk to me about the layers of utility. I know there’s opportunities to go golfing with you. I know there’s opportunities to get exclusive merch, skip the line, all of these amazing perks. Walk me through that.

Yeah, so I believe that in the end, the digital aspect of the Deathbats club will be the most important part. But I think in the beginning we really needed to show people that these are just really club memberships, right? These club memberships have this sort of real world utility as well. And because right now, what do you do in a club? Like, I can’t go tell a million people that, Hey, we’re going to make the sandbox things to be really cool you buy a token, I swear we’re gonna hang out in there. It’ll be like, what? And then someday, you know, we’re going to share royalties with everyone and there’s gonna be this coin. People will be like, what doge? Like there there’s just no way. So we were trying to keep it really simple. And we said, okay, I’d already expressed that we really want to make the normal coin, which is most of them. Very important. So poker nights, movie nights, Discord colors, discord rooms, Access to the metaverse through sandbox, private rooms, these will be your private keys. Where we can air or not airdrop, we will be doing that, but where we will be maybe putting music on the web three part of the site where only token holders can listen to it. It’s like teasing the record or like little snippets of backstage stuff. So it’s like this all encompassing membership into this thing. And then, you know, then you do the weekly giveaways, which we’ll be giving away guitars every month, zoom calls with the band. And then we were like, okay, well, what else can we do? And they were like, well, let’s make, you know, we ripped it from the crypto punks. We’re like, let’s make nine aliens and 24 ghosts, and you know, like the aliens, apes and the zombies. And we said, well, what would be the ultimate thing? We’re like, well, tickets and meet and greets for life. Okay. Done. That’s nine of them, right and they’re not minted yet, so we don’t know if it’s gonna be nine or 13 or with a little caveat, but then we put in the algorithm 24 ghosts, which are free for life, And then we put in there that there would be undead, which are kind of zombies. There’s hopefully 88 of them and that’ll be three meet and greets for life. So any show you go to, you just there’ll be an RSVP system that we’re building out, but then you kind of show up. Hypothetically just come rolling up like, got my zombie, let me in. And then, so you’re going to create this really cool atmosphere of like, oh, I didn’t have to wait in line. I’ve got this cool merch. I can only get in the club, I’m meeting the band. And maybe I’m done with it in three years and I can sell it for more than I bought it for, hopefully. I can’t do that in the Metallica fan club. Like I’m kind of just done when I’m done. And then we said, we are like two months out, like could we do anything else? We have a thing called shook. So we’re going to drop air packages to your house. Some things that you can’t get anywhere else. I stole that. I stole that from pub G I’m like, oh, the airbag care package. No, but it will be like things that are like one of the ones that you can’t get, like, whether they’re leather jackets or gold coins. Things that you can’t get, and they will be like 120 and that’s it. Like, you’re part of the club, you get them. And then we said, well, what else can we do?

Which, by the way, that’s like the equivalent of Tesla issuing the blow torch or like the Tesla tequila, or like all these different perks, now I get it. Keep going, keep going.

Then we said, well, what else can we do personally? Like, and we all have things. People would love to get drum lessons from Brooks or guitar lessons. So like, what we did is we went through and we just said, everyone came up with six things. I mean, you can double them up or whatever-

How much do I need to pay to get that? Let’s be real for a minute.

0.08 ETH and get lucky.

I don’t believe you. Jesus.

So, I mean, it’s all luck of the draw, right. It’s like randomly. And then Brooks said, you know, I’m going to do drum lessons. I’ll have a day where we’ll have coffee together. I have one where I’ll go out to dinner with you, hang out all night. Have one where it’s like, go golfing with me, and one where you game with me on that game with your friends. And so these are redeemable for once a year and then it’ll last for three years and then we can either extend it or we can change them. So like, when I’m 90, I don’t necessarily want to get called up and be like, you got to play golf, you got to jump on call of duty.

Like I’m about to die.

And then the kids like rug. But so on those, one of the ones we put the Gary V like three-year thing in there. So, yeah, those we drew ourselves or we made our own arts. They don’t even fit in the collection. And we took that from Kremplin when he did trip totes. We’re just very, like, so much in the space. And like, you know, one of my tokens looks like loot for ventures. It’s just a flat piece of paper where it says like dry forest, blah, blah, blah, blah. And so we have all these little nods to the NFT space for the last six months.

Did you get the AGLD airdrop?

I didn’t, no.

Did you get loot? Did you mint loot?

No, I’ve minted loot, yeah. But they were giving out so many airdrops that I stopped getting them. Or not airdrops, but they’re doing like free mints for everybody. I was like, I just stopped paying attention because it’s just so much. And remember I said, I was going to kind of tell you what. When I was earlier in the conversation, I said, I have a different strategy. So my strategy now is like, I’m in NFTs and I deal with it. Obviously all my stuff is dealing with Deathbats right now, but in crypto, I just hold Bitcoin and Ethereum and I have polychain do everything else. I’m like, they have a coin fund and they have a crypto fund in terms of like new companies. So it’s just too much now. Like, I’m like, I can’t. I can’t be like, go do this coin or get that airdrop. I have over 1400 NFTs. There’s things I should be doing all day and getting free mints and airdrops, but I just don’t have the time. I don’t have the time. But I do have a couple bags of loot.

I was just going to say, like when Loot came out, I remember Dom like just issue this free thing on Twitter. I didn’t get the free mint. What was it? Will? I forgot his last name from syndicate DAO. He basically created AGLD, the governance token for loot that airdropped that. That shit pumped to like a 100K in like a matter of 24 hours. I remember it was like 2:00 in the morning, 2:30 in the morning, and my buddy, Joey, he got the airdrop and we’re just like online, just fucking around. And I was like, yo, I just got this airdrop, like send it to me right now. I copy the contract. I just put it on Uniswap, buy that shit. Put like 5k into it, dude, like 40 hours later, it was like 50 K cashed out, done. I try to get the point across so many people when it comes to creators or artists, whatever, meet everyday users, it pays to be an early user. It pays to be fucking around tinkering with this stuff, putting money, throwing shit in the trip. Like it just pays not only for like the knowledge and the network that comes with it, but the amount of rewards, and like loot, essentially that you get from it. The pleasure of being, and knowing that you are an early adopter, you’re contributing to this revolution, I don’t know. I could be losing my mind.

No, you’re not. You’re not. Think of how many bags the board apes have dropped for people. My good friend, like I got these guys into it now they’re total degens, right? Like, and everyone that you kind of get in, like once they get in there, they’re done. Like work stops, they’ve got their computers lined up. So like one of my buddies got the number one rarity gold dog, the gold hot dog its mouth when they dropped kennel club. Day one, he gets a 50 ETH offer on it. I’m like, bro, they just dropped you $150,000 or $200,000, and he’s like thinking about it. I’m like, you gotta take that dude. And I look at the guy and he’s got multiple offers in a week, you know, that are, that are out. And I’m like, dude, someone else is going to take it. As soon as I say it, another gold dog 2 rarity takes it and his offer goes away. It’s like, oh no. And I’m like, come on, bro. He ended up selling it, like I think for like 35 ETH a couple months later, which was huge. But it was the lesson of like, dude, if you’re there, you don’t need that dog. Would you write a $200,000 check for that dog right now?

I love it. Alright, I have a few more questions before I let you go. Do you have an anon account on Twitter?

No. I just started one though cause I started doing spaces. So it’s shadows_eth. And so I just started it.

Deathbat DAO?

Wait, I got to write it down. I’ll find it later. I’ll follow you. I guess another thing we talked about this earlier, like the future of DAOs, it’s a big thing right now happening in crypto. You’re obviously putting it on the back burner, you guys are just in the process of issuing the mints. Do you imagine a DAO coming to the picture sometime down the line to kind of govern this thing as the future success kind of grows?

I do. Yeah. I mean, at least a portion. Like I said, when I was talking to Bennett at poly chain, it was like a semi DAO at first and see where it goes. Again, because we have the problem that it can’t affect people’s lives that aren’t in the club. And we’re the first example that I’ve seen where that could happen. You know, with the Bored apes, we’re able to create the board apes out of thin air and everyone that has a Bored Ape has a Bored Ape, it doesn’t matter. It’s not like, you know, it was an Adidas side project. I mean, now they’re collabing. But it’s not like it’s an Adidas side project and you got a Bored Ape, and then the DAO of the board apes would be like affecting Adidas somehow. And so we have to really think about, you know, We have so many things we’re doing like we’re giving up the IP of the Deathbats, things that are just unheard of for a band. So we’re trying to break the rules in a smart way that doesn’t completely screw us for the future where the DAO kicks us out of the DAO.

Legit. Like, fuck these guys, we’re gonna start our own band.

These are our songs now, you ARE going to play on holy confessions for the 4,000th time. I think there’s a lot of room for all sorts of models in this space, you know? I don’t believe in giving the keys up and then handing them back right? I said that term yesterday and I liked how it sounded. Web three gives us the keys back, don’t hand them back to the middleman. I don’t think we’re a middleman, we’re a creator and we need to create art, and we’re a creator that existed in web one and web two. So, you know, we can’t throw everybody out because we have a club now. And so if there is a DAO, it will be structured in a way that it affects only the Deathbats club.

Yeah. It makes a lot of sense.

 I don’t know how useful that is. We’ll see.

Yeah, I think all this stuff is experimentation. You’re trying things day by day. This space moves at a thousand miles a second. If you leave for a day, you feel like you’ve missed three months. It’s legit over. So look, I sincerely applaud you guys. I think you guys are the epitome of what every other band and group creators are going to be doing down the line. It’s just that willingness to take a risk and be very forefront about it. I’m rooting for you guys. I’m gonna be buying NFTs. I’m going to try to find a way to get on the white list. I don’t know what that process is like.

It’s done now, but send me your address. I’ll put you on

And yeah, last words before I kind of let you go, anything you want to tell the world?

I guess I would just say like, I am completely cognizant as I’m sure you are, that we are talking, you know, in December of 2021 and things are gonna change and this interview is probably going to get so outdated so quickly, and this is just us trying to find our way and we’re basically, you know, making the best decisions with the information that we’re given. And in weeks from now, we might look back and go, like, I can’t believe we were thinking about that. I can’t believe this wasn’t on our radar. And so I’m really interested to see where this thing goes, but people that get in the club, you know, it’s going to be a long journey and it’s going to be fun, but we’re going to be making some big right turns and curves off that path and it’s going to be fun, but we’re just going to continue to experiment and see what happens.

Dude, you’re telling me the Bored Ape yacht club toads and punks was like a lot of your inspiration, Gary V was a lot of inspiration for doing what you’re doing. I’m so excited for all the crazy airdrops that are about to happen. I’m stoked. Dude, M.Shadows, thank you so much, man. Best of luck. I hope to have you on again soon.

Thanks a lot, man. And, and email me your wallet, I’ll get you.

Podcast Transcript

The Next NFT Hype Will Empower Video Creators

Listen on: Spotify | Apple Music | Google Podcast


Mint Season 4 episode 2 welcomes Dayo Adeosun, founder and CEO Glass Protocol. In this episode, we talk about all things video NFTs, the fundamental macro problems facing short form mid form and long-form videos in web 2, why people want to own videos, how we can better educate creators around the world on the concept of ownership, and so much more. 

  • 00:54  Intro
  • 07:45 Problem Solving
  • 19:29 What are you Optimizing for?
  • 32:25 How do you price a video?
  • 37:57 What’s under the hood?
  • 44:48 Monetization: Youtube vs Glass
  • 49:18 Importance of Ownership
  • 1:02:18 You become your own coach!
  • 1:03:21 Outro

…and so much more.

Support Season 4’s NFT sponsors!

1. Coinvise –

2. Polygon Studios –

Interested in becoming an NFT sponsor? Get in touch here!


Let’s dive right in. Okay. Who are you? What does the world need to know about you, but more specifically, like what were you doing before crypto and where are you now?

Wow. My name is Dayo Adeosun. You can pronounce my first name, like Cinco de Mayo with a D. I am the co-founder of glass protocol and I focus mainly on community creators, collectors, curators everything pretty much around like the social networking of improving the product in the overall,,network of just the community as well as the actual product. Before crypto, I actually graduated from the University of Chicago in 2020. I was playing soccer. I actually was known as a soccer player for a majority of my life,,where I’d play for a bunch of academies in New York, where I went to high school, in college at the University of Chicago. At the University of Chicago, I actually started my first startup, which led me to Glass actually, it was like a crowdsource map, hat helped people find, heir people and find their places around campus. COVID kinda wrecked that and that was my first foray into startups. It was a web two social map and I’ve always been someone who was not a bystander and someone who wanted to make a change. And I read like a little bit of Marx in college, and it talked a little about, about this technological revolution and a little bit about where the world was going. I just kept reading a bunch of books and all these books in college that kind of just changed my worldview and that kind of prepared me for this information age and really being just an adaptable, I guess, information, internet, I guess, historian slash entrepreneur.

So talk to me more about that first startup. Like what did that consist of? How big did that grow to and what were some of like the biggest lessons you took away that you’re now applying to glass?

Yeah, so the first startup was called Spot and that really started because I saw this trend of loneliness that was coming from like the cultures around me. The idea was that like in 1987, [inaudible] used to hang out with like 38% of their community at least five days a week. And then by 2017, that went all the way down to 5% and you’re on campus and you were saying just a lack of engagement amongst students and spot was really just the goal was to just maximize connection and maximize the time that you had that was free on campus to see who was available, where they were at and to link up. And so we actually raised like a little bit of money from like University of Chicago. They gave us like $10,000 to work on this. We applied like we, we did this caution venture challenge, which I think GrubHub came out of Braintree came out of, I think they, like, I think PayPal bought Braintree and some other like pretty bigger Chicago native,,startups came out of and like Chicago, I guess, YC, at the University of Chicago, which is called the CNBC. And that’s when I met Varoon and Varoon, as my co-founder till today with Glass but we kind of just like iterated for a year, just on the idea of what would like a map that help people find the things they want. And then we kind of went into like a stall point and we didn’t necessarily have like the backing capability to make out the full iOS app. And that’s when we found Sam who was working on like this machine learning, itHub for machine learning, essentially startup, this pitch contest at Polski or at, he computer science lab at U Chicago. And Sam was like working on like the lightning protocol. This is like 2018, 2019. Sam was like, hey, like I had this idea, in high school, would love to work on it with someone who can do community and someone who can kind of code the front end. I always do the community, Varoon do the front end, Sam would do the back end. So then Sam kind of joined the forces and, w kept building out Spot and then we built it out for a full other year and kind of went through iteration after iteration. Like we had a map with messaging, we had a Twitter maps. We had, , ie find my friends. We had Four Square, all types of ideas, centered around the map and the final one was like this map with like, kinda like Tik Tok on the map. And that’s what led us to this kind of videos a little bit. I mean, I’d say there was a lot of other things, just like a lot, a lot of ideas that were like culminating around. But we, Sam actually was like, oh, like he, he tested out like just videos on IPFS. Like I don’t, I think it was like December and, we were still working on spot then. And then we, we figured that, Hey, there might be something here with this just cuz the backend technology is still crazy.

Problem Solving

So, but what were like the bigger macro problems you were trying to solve with Glass protocol? Like what were you guys after? So I actually really loved the journey of like kind of like throwing at the fan and kind of coming to some point where you’re like, okay, wait, if we would’ve started this originally, would’ve never seen that. We kind of landed over here. And now that led you to a whole other journey that you’re working on right now. But like you get to this moment, you realize, okay, this technology is actually revolutionary that we could do something really cool with this. How did that involve into actually solving a problem?

Yeah. So I’d say like with our other startup, we never really had like a problem we were solving outside of just like we saw an opportunity to connect people with Glass. The problem was really obvious to us. My brother’s girlfriend one time was like, Hey, I want to go to this Beyonce, Grammy performance. Like I had this Beyonce, Grammy dance performance. They wanted me to dance, but I don’t have like enough money to get there to LA the span of like a couple days. And it’s like, she has over, like she had like around 200 K followers on the gram. She’s an amazing dancer. Like literally people sponsor, people love her and like they sponsor her to just stay with her at her house, but she could didn’t have enough to just go to the Grammys, to dance for this Beyonce performance. And so we had experienced that like there are like star creators out there who don’t have enough money to like get their actual career or even going to that greater level. So we were like, wow, even a top 97% creator still doesn’t have enough income to really expand their business. And so we just did some research and 97% of YouTubers,  make less than minim wage. And so if 97% of YouTubers make less than minim wage and over 30% of like gen Z wants to be video creators and YouTubers.

It’s like a misconnect kind of thing.

Everyone can’t be poor. , Like we need someone, , we need to provide a sustainable income for video creators. And so just living around video creators every single day and seeing all the infrastructure that went into video creation, there’s lighting there’s camera.

It’s a whole Production, just for like a ten second clip.

Exactly. Right. And so we’re like, this is a lot of effort, but every single video is a loss leading experience. You’re not even breaking even. And so it’s like, we were like, let’s make something that not only breaks you even, but 10Xs to a 100Xs, every single and thing you do on YouTube or TikTok. And so that was like the idea that like, if we’re going to like this creator world where it’s like, TikTok is like, you get famous. It’s like, maybe we can help, you get rich and ownership of a platform that you’re using so that you can own what you’re consing. And like that was like, it like 10 to a hundred X monetization. Then the opportunity to own. Like these were opportunities that just weren’t there before.

So these were the problems. These were the opportunities. How did that manifest into a product now? What does that look like? So for those who aren’t for familiar with Glass, what does that product look like to solve that problem?

Yeah. So what glass looks like today is as a video creator, you’re asking, how can I make money for my videos? I just spent X amount of money to produce this video, right? Let’s say like $10,000. Now I want to release this video and make money from that video. And you go to glass, which is a video NFT marketplace, where you upload your video similar to how you would upload a YouTube video and where you go to like create, and then you’re brought to like an upload page similar to like YouTube. The only difference is as you go to that upload page at the end, you can actually mint that video to the blockchain and that minting is actually stored on our weave. And if you wanna do a live stream. We might use live peer to do the decentralized trans coding. But if it’s just a video, you then can upload your video, mint it to the blockchain, sign a couple transactions to get minted. We’re using Ethere right now. So it’s going to Ethere. Might have to pay a little bit of gas costs, right? We might subsidize and then that video thing goes up and then people can go to, you can click on the video. It’s kind of just like a basic, , video, video, video, video, video, you click on the video, watch it. It’s just like a YouTube video, really high quality. We’re using very, very like quality video player backing technology with HLS. And then you can bid on the video. So you could do an auction where you could bid to buy the video as an NFT. And that auction starts after the first bid. And then in the last 15 minutes that someone else bids the clock resets the 15 minutes and it’s just a 24 hour auction, or you could do additions, which is like collectible additions, where you as a creator, I could upload this video and then kind of have 25 editions of this video. That 25 of my friends can all collect as their individual video.

By the way, I can back that because I’ve used glass I’ve, I’ve watched videos on glass. I’ve like, I’ve seen biddings happen on glass. So it is actually really high quality and people think like, oh, the blockchain is janky. It doesn’t work. Like it’s actually really good. It’s a really good experience.

Thank you. We spent so much time in college just working on a user experience and that’s kind of like our background, just working on user experience, like community, making sure that the community was engaged and this was all with like kind of minimal functionally ready products. I’d say like, we never really had like that perfect product, moreso we had that just community enthusiasm and a really, really nice UI and UX. And now we have like this backend that is just like amazing. And these actual incentives that make you want to contribute even more to the community. And like, that is the big difference. Just like you can get, the incentives have just changed. And like, I studied economics at U Chicago, so like when the incentives change, everything changes and that’s what this gives here.

So is the goal here because it is a protocol, is the goal, is that like something like TikTok gets built on top of it? Is that what you guys are like striving for? Or like how, how do you kind of see this coming to fruition and reaching a million users, for example?

So the goal, I would say in the next 9 to 10 months is that glass becomes the home of decentralized NFT videos. And if you want to put a video that lasts forever, if you wanna put a video up that can, be a revenue generating video, if you want to put a video up that you might want to stay, stored forever, you would choose glass as the place to upload and mint that video. Over time, we would want to, of course have that, full protocol layer where it’s like, you could have TikTok hosted on glass and build out that functionality to actually have platforms minting their own, like best videos on glass and hosting those as NFTs there right now we’re more so just like a platform, more so than a protocol. And we are just kind of facilitating out to other marketplaces or essentially using videos that a creator might have posted on YouTube right now or on their Instagram or on their TikTok right now. And they can then say, Hey, I think this of all the videos I have is the video I want to NFT. And then they come and they NFT that video on glass. So a lot of the creators are just saying, Hey, I have this YouTube video that has like a thousand views on YouTube. Like the Delly flashy video per se. It’s like that video has 3000 views on YouTube. Right. And then we sold that video for 1.41 E. And so he’s made 10 to 100 X on that video. So he’s made at least X on that video from putting it on glass, than he did from putting it on YouTube. So it’s like, that’s what we want from everything. Like the two feet video that was sold for 11.11 E . He put that video out on glass on November 19th 2021, he also put that video out on YouTube that same night. That video got to about 800 K views on YouTube after about like five to seven days. And in five to seven days, he made 11.11 E on Glass. And so he was like, yeah, you guys literally 10 X the amount of money he made. And that he actually said he can never make this much money on YouTube from a video.

What are you Optimizing for?

So you gotta ask yourself, what are you optimizing for? Are you optimizing for like distribution eyeballs? Are you optimizing for money? And I think actually the two can be combined down the line without a doubt, right? Once more of these protocols and more of these platforms get more mainstream recognition. But as of now, the model that you’re talking about is like, it reminds me a lot of what’s happening in music right now in the crypto scene, which feels like very underground. A lot of artists are experimenting with NFTs and social tokens doing mirror campaigns, catalog sound, all these platforms. They’re either experimenting around fandom or like co-ownership, but also putting their stuff on more of the web two platforms like Spotify and Apple music. So they’re getting the reach and the algorithmic distribution of these centralized platforms, but then using these micro platforms as a way to monetize their, like 1000 true fans kind of thing. So the way I kind of see it also like transitioning into video and content creating like long form short form, from what I’m understanding is like, you can come to glass, you’ll find the collectors, you’ll find audiences. Different audiences maybe they might overlap, but it’s likely different audiences. You can monetize that audience, but then you can also publish on YouTube to kind of take advantage of your still like widespread algorithmic reach kind of thing. That’s how those are the types of models that I’m kind of seeing emerge right now. Is that what you’re seeing as well? Are you seeing something different?

That’s exactly what I’m saying. So I think, like you said, right, web one is, that was consing content and learning how to buy content with like Amazon and Wikipedia. Then you had web two, which was like, okay, we can create like, how do we become creators? All artists are also collectors. And so all these creators are also, collectors in a way. And web three is like, okay, how do we turn these creators into actual owners of content and owners of things and all of like, Wikipedia is still here, Amazon still here, YouTube, Google’s still here. I do think, there’s room for web one, web two web three, as long as that product is fundamental and what it’s bringing and what we’re bringing is, videos that could be sold. And in like 5/10 years, everyone will own 100% video, or at least a GIF. I think we are, like you said, our main thing is monetizing that video more so than it is distribution down the line. We are seeing, Marky Basey say, why would I post a video on YouTube when I could just post it on here and, get money for it. We do have ideas that can potentially an artist on Billboard and millions of views and , the money. And it’s like, of course that’s what we want most, and that’s what we’re gonna get to. But right now it’s like they’re coming here for the money. And it’s like, that’s what 97% of creators actually need

What it feels like, like money and fame are like detached a little bit, because like the fame comes from like distribution and eyeballs and recognition. And the money is like starting to appear to more of these like underground types of platforms and protocols that have it, like it’s niche collectors that see the value and understand what it is to fundamentally own something. And I think like while money and fame is like very, like very adjacent, actually works hand in hand in many other industries. I’m kind of understanding that they’re slightly being detached here and artists need to consistently think about like. Do I want to be vulnerable like that and allow the selling of something that usually has never been sold rather rented. And actually, what does that mean for me down the line? And now that I have a tokenized asset, like how do I build community around that? And these, these are like the things that I think we’re like starting to like open up are the types of conversations that are slowly starting to happen.

The creators that we’re looking for have three core pillars to them, and this is creators and collectors, because they’re really interchangeable. First is the creator pursuing excellence. I feel like all the creators that are coming into this space are artists that actually want to be excellent at their craft. These are artists where it’s like Drake samples, their lyrics, these are like kind of the, the artists behind the main artists that the main artists are stealing from. That is where all of like, like the Marque Basey, like he has a billion streams, but it’s like, no one would know that because it’s like he’s behind the scenes a little bit or,  ASAP 12E , he’s in ASAP mob, but he’s not ASAP FERG he’s not ASAP Rocky, , but it’s like walk on water. I was developing that at college. Delly, he’s literally so well known amongst the Harlem community, and amongst the New York City community, but it’s like, he’s not like on the main stage. He’s on insecure. But he’s not on the main stage. And so it’s like, we’re looking for artists that are excellent. And oftentimes in the web two, it doesn’t reward the excellent artists. Right. It rewards the loudest artists and the artists that have the best like industry connections. And so it’s like web two isn’t about artist excellence. Web three is about like actual artist excellence. And then I also think it’s about artists that are commercially adept and artists that have that commercial acumen to figure out, okay, my art is not just my art, the business of how I do my art is also a part of my art. And so these are artists that are thinking even different from a business perspective. And then the last is like this community minded. So it’s like, these artists are like, okay, how can I be proactive with my community? And kind of almost like, NBA Young boy or Lil Baby, or Billy Eish, how can I serve a community that is totally different. Olivia Rodrigo, these are, these are communities that are totally different than targeted. And so really community minded those three things, excellence, artists excellence, commercial acumen, community minded. Those are the artists that are gonna succeed. And we are making business models for a video economy so that your videos are almost turning into startups where it’s like, you want to get on your videos earliest and the next round to get in on your videos it’s like, your videos are more expensive now but less people are gonna get access to them.

This is like introducing a whole new thought right now. It’s almost as if like I was born, my generation was born until like an era of rent okay. Of renting. Right. And nobody really woke up and was like, wait, how can I own and only the smartest people, the richest people, the most successful people understand the concept of ownership, but there still lacks this element of education to these creators because they see an algorithm, they see the ability to get thousand to hundreds of thousands, to millions of viewers on a video. And they’re like, this is the definition of success. Right? Forget the money. Somehow I’ll find a way to monetize. But I feel like it, sometimes comes at a compromise, right? Do I strive for the virality? Do I strive for the money? And my question to you is like, how do we actually introduce a world of education where people are better understanding what ownership is and what is glass doing to kind of combat that because that’s the missing link. The second people have the aha moment that like there’s value in owning my art, and actually what I am doing is art. Despite it being 10 seconds, despite it being three minutes, how do we actually educate people? What does that look like?

I’m so happy. You said that because I’ve been talking to, I’ve had a bunch of conversations this week. People like Valerie Sam, like all these entrepreneurs and creators in this space. I think it takes people like you, Adam, it takes videos that are educational content videos that are making thousands of dollars in everyone versus like, wait, this is like the web three Salcon and they made a hundred thousand dollars by doing video online education. It’s like, I tweeted when I graduated from YouTube, YouTube university, 2020. And it’s like, what if you had a glass teacher that was making millions of dollars a year and everyone was just watching their educational content. And the idea was like, oh wow. I saw this teacher make a million dollars. Now I’m interested. That is the aha moment where you’re like, whoa, how did this teacher make a million dollars doing video educational content? And then after that happens, it’s like a, okay, let’s look into this. So it’s like, it might take, ASAP 12E saying, yo ASAP Rocky, let’s go make a video on glass cuz in the end we’re gonna own this platform. Right. So he puts video up on glass and , more people watch it and then Rihanna sees it and Rihanna’s like, Hey, let’s go put this video up on glass, cuz we’re also gonna own this platform and this is a, we shape the culture. And so then it’s like, oh, this person, Rocky did a fashion video on glass and he made more on the fashion video than he made at the actual fashion concert, on the live stream. And so it’s like, boom, that is gonna catch some eyes. And so I think because it’s, you do have to have the theory, like you do have to have the slight crypto knowledge to have the money in your wallet and to actually be able to make transactions. What we’ll do there is first we’ll get these bigger splashes with these bigger artists while building up native web three crypto artists where it’s like, you might have come for Rocky, but you’re staying for like Luca Maxim,[inaudible] Latasha. And it’s like, oh, you saw big artists, but you really realize, wow, like it has all these low key artists that are actually like web three native artists that are super, super fire. And it’s like, you might have heard about blah, but now you’re, looking at Daniel Allen or something like that. I think that’s a big thing, big artists to little artists like splashes. And then we’re working on this thing called onboard DAW actually, which is like just educational video content that isn’t just on glass, it’s on YouTube, it’s everywhere. And it’s just like quick TikTok like videos, just educating every person about like, okay, say you’re a musician and you wanna, , figure out what’s the best way to, get the most on this one track. It’s like, where do you go catalog sound, blah, blah, music video, glass, right then live stream. You could do that with glass, make some money on there. Then you could do, a other video clipped from that live stream, on glass. So it’s like literally you can make a whole bunch of revenue from one track in like a bunch of different ways from the music audio file to the music video file to the live stream of performing that to the video of that live stream performance all the way back to, he audio of that live stream. And so it’s like, there’s a whole bunch of opportunities for artists in onboard dial and glass learn project is devoted to just teaching people about like web three onboarding experiences. How do you learn about web three? Who do you call almost like customer service? Where we have certain people who are like, ask Val, ask Sam where it’s like, you are like a little confused on token bonding curve. You can just go in and ask Sam or ask to me to help explain to you how token bonding curves work. Or you’re a little confused about what marketplace supports Solana or ethere. To help you figure out, which marketplaces are for that. So it’s like literally the most fundamental questions to the most like complex questions and then just directing you where to go when you get lost. And when you need that friend.

That makes sense.

How do you price a video?

Do you guys have a model for educating creators on how to price a video and what that looks like?

So we’re still really early. We only have about 15 videos live on the site. We have in our network lecture learn class that is educating a bunch of people right now about how to search ether scan. When it comes to pricing videos, we work with the creator based off what they’ve previously priced their videos at. So we’re trying to have videos constantly be increasing in terms of value for the creator. And it’s actually more of an evolutionary process where most of the creators when they work with us and then when they’re first putting that video on, it really depends on the creator because it’s like sometimes creators like, Hey, I want to put this for 3 E sometimes the creator’s like, I wanna start short at like point, 0.15E and be a little conservative. So I’d say we advise I mean last week we used to advise, let’s put it at 0.15. So it can go up in the auction now we’re like, Hey, maybe, wanting it tweaked depending if we have like just collectors who are like, Hey, I really wanna put this towards glass creators. So it really depends, honestly, like we have to adapt it constantly to like what the market is looking like and,,what the creator, like how much the creator wants to push or whether the creator knows they have collectors, which are like a thousand true fans that want to support it. Or if we have to have a thousand true fans from our side that just wanna support anything that we’re putting out. So it’s like, it really depends. But for auctions we typically say like, start low to go high. Then for additions, it’s like, start low so that more people can collect it. But the goal is for us is to make sure the video uploading to minting it onto the blockchain process, is really clean, really easier than YouTube. And then we also want the monetization model to be whatever you need to succeed. So it’s like auctions, collectable editions, crowd funding, tips, bounties, whatever it is we want to iterate on the monetization model so that it works for the creator. And so it’s like we’re adapting on the monetization model and the experience of uploading the video and viewing the video. And of course some social features. We do have comments on the videos. We’ve thought about, , potential NFTs because everyone’s seen like TikTok and TikTok comments or Instagram comments. And it’s like, these are million dollar comments here. Like some of these comments are great. Why not bring comments into the game. Start low to go high. But it really, really depends on the creator and the market, like at that point.

I wanna share my screen for a minute and actually go to the glass protocol website. Honestly, very, very cool layout for the most part, right? Like I think this is super visually pleasing. It’s not like intimidating, it feels very normal, which I think is like one of the biggest steps into making this more approachable and just to add like more context to our conversation. So it’s not just words, this is like, this is the kind of like the video portal kind of thing. So I’m gonna be talking out loud here. Okay. So a couple things for a lot of these video content creators that want to get on chain for the most part. Right. Let’s just call it that. We’ll see a couple things like what is Arweave. People know what discord is share video game. What is Arweave? Like talk to me more about how do you actually host these videos? What does that look like? What makes you guys different on that front?

So we store our videos with Arweave and Arweave is a decentralized storage blockchain. And essentially what makes Arweave different is that Arweave allows for the storing of multi-form content. It allows for storing that content and like these bundles that essentially just allow you to upload packets and packets of data. Pretty much like not at one time, pretty much simultaneously. And so it’s just the best option we’ve found in the market today to store data in a decentralized way. And so we believe fully in Arweave and Arweave has really just provided that storage mechanism that can allow us to be the home of decentralized videos.

What’s under the hood?

Got it. Got it. So do you think that’s important to the creator, like what’s happening underneath the hood? Do you think, do you think like creators care about that? Like the food on their plate and where it comes from?

I think creators are caring about it more and more. I think the way that we’re going to where privacy and where your data is stored is becoming more and more of a top of the mind idea, but when it’s like a day to day thing, no, I don’t think creators care, that my storage is being stored, it’s decentralized or it’s centralized. It’s like what the creator cares about is making money and getting ownership of the platform over time for the contributions and building out a platform that, displays content that is easy to view that makes it easy to create as a creator that has the right categories, whether it be music, movies, gaming, memes, whatever. And so I think creators care about, the representation of the platform, the community that it is actually bringing to them. And I think right now from a vibe check, all the platforms don’t have any like the community’s not there, all these products that people use on a day to day, the soul is really lost. And these products like the last time, I’d say a product I used that had soul in a community that I was attached to, to use. I think, clubhouse had it a bit. But they didn’t have the incentives. The incentives were wrong until they lost everything. And like, that’s really what happens. It’s like if your incentives are just wrong, which is what we learned from our first startup, you can have that engagement and that love for temporary, but the loyalty will not be there. The soul, the pull to want that product to succeed really badly will not be there. And so I think creators since like, wow, like this new idea of ownership is actually gonna get me to stay on the days where I’m having trouble creating on the days where like I hate the internet or on the days where, , I don’t wanna see my phone, a laptop or whatever. And so I think they’re coming for money ownership and of course they’re looking for a web three platform that does videos long, short form, and that us and we’re the only ones that do that right now. And then also they’re looking for like the community and I think those are like the main things they’re looking for. And then they would hope that that community would build the right things on the back end. Yeah. Right. And it’s up to the core development team to have that care and to have that care of let’s make this decentralized, let’s make this, with the ethos of the community, it really comes down to the core development team. You want them to have that ethos and that idea to make it what the community would like most.

How do creators intertwine incentives into their content? What does that look like? Like let’s talk about like short form and like long form, like longform actually mid form. Introducing bracket, mid form being like music videos. Okay. Short form being TikTok, Instagram reels. Youtube shorts. Are you guys building something around that too? Or what does that look like? Yeah.

Yeah. So we, we have a lot of fun stuff that we’re building on the way that is just gonna totally like that experience. You just showed with the Marky Basey, if you could go back. But like that is literally like the 0.5. Like we don’t have profiles yet. We don’t have a homepage with like the top with countdown for the next videos coming. We don’t have a video wait list, almost like a film festival for what’s coming. I would say with that Marky Basey video, if you look at the comments, it says NFT rewards and the rewards say lifetime gold pass, which means you can literally to any Mark Basey concert forever. So go up a little bit.

Okay. One second.

Right. And then show more in the description,

Show more in the description. Where is that?

Right above share video

To the left. Oh, okay. Got it. Cool.

NFT rewards at the bottom, it says VIP plus one, all access to any show on his upcoming tour. Lifetime goal to take a 30 minute FaceTime with Basey. The collector of this literally said, I got a bargain for this NFT.

This was 8.2 K

And mind you, Marky Basey is going up for the Grammys this year and this was the top 10 Spotify alb. So it’s like, he literally is gonna be backstage with Mark Basey. Literally gonna be at any Marky Basey concert forever is of course worth more than $8,000 if you add it up over time. Yeah. So the reality is we wanna make a UI, a user experience for these rewards, more prevalent and just open in general. And then we also wanna.

Wait, this is such a steal. I’m just realizing this not to cut you off. A lifetime golden ticket accepted at any Basey concert for life for 8.2 K like the resale value on that is actually……

It’s such a steal. So it’s like, we literally are actually every video we’re thinking it through where it’s like, we actually, not only do we want the creator to break even, but we also want the collector to get a steal, like a steal. So that’s for a medi form. For short form. It’s like, you can add those steals in too. Or maybe you can say, Hey, on my next video, I’ll make it with you? Or you could say you can choose, the next idea that I make a video to. So we have a bunch of ideas that we’ve always wanted to test. Now you could just tie to the NFT where you can have that on chain off chain of experience tied together.

Monetization: Youtube vs Glass

I have a question for you. 8.2 K. How many views does that need to be generated on YouTube to make 8.2 K?

So 1 million views is about a thousand dollars. So you need about 8 million views.


Geez. Like around seven to eight,

Seven, I feel like that’s like the marketing tactic right there, like Marky Basey made 8.2 K, which would otherwise be needed to kind of stream, how many views you said?

7 to 9 million views.

7 to 9 million. Wow. What the hell?

Million views.

Adam Levy (01:36):

Wait, this is such like an aha moment. Like, I feel like everybody who’s listening right now should just like take a moment, like take a deep breath. Like that’s a freaking aha moment right there. To show you that there’s value behind that type of art. Like let’s think about the life cycle for a second. Okay. This video that I’m watching is super high production, probably costs thousands of dollars to make within itself. The YouTube video will not cover the cost of that music video. They’re banking on the fact that the entire album does exceptionally well and the tours go exceptionally well and that all the revenue generated makes up for all those micro costs down the line. I’m just like having this moment right now. That’s really big. That’s really big.

This is what we do it for because it’s like we did a live stream Sanverin and I did a live stream to test out the software in like August. And we generated $10,000 by selling 15 editions for that live in 22 minutes. And that wasn’t even in a video, but that was the moment where we said, whoa, what the freak is this? Like, we’ve never made this much money in our lives. And $10,000, 20 minutes on a live stream from editions. Like how does that work dude? It’s something you just have to see. And we need to put it in as many people faces as possible.

Fricking game changer, game changer.

Crazy, crazy. Like this podcast right here, like 10 Xing to a hundred Xing the min podcast revenues is our goal. So it’s just like, that’s gonna happen. That’s gonna happen. And so it’s like, that’s, what’s crazy. It’s just that every single company, every single person uses video. And so it’s like a video is a 57% of all internet traffic is video traffic, and that’s just so much more than all other traffic on the internet. So in terms of bandwidth, the internet and those wires it’s videos. And so now we’re giving video’s a chance to at least break even, but definitely 10 X, a hundred X, what they’re doing on every other video web two platform.

Importance of Ownership

All right, let’s talk about this. If I start posting mint videos, I ditch YouTube because my reach on, on YouTube is like, it’s growing. I’m not gonna say it sucks, but it’s getting better by the day. Okay. If I ditch YouTube because like, I think it’s important to post on there to have a presence. Okay. Despite everything, but to tap into more of this like web three model, because a lot of what Mint does is like the business model is very web three. So I sell, everybody knows this, or I keep saying this, at least it’s on the website, whatever I sell three to five FTS per month to sponsors who then promote on the podcast, all revenues on chain, you can see all that. The content is very web three native. The only thing that’s missing that I’ve been wanting to do is like the infrastructure, the publishing is not web three native on the podcasting, the audio side, it can’t on the video side, now it can. Okay. So, and this is without the expectation of me kind of like making money or not making money rather for the shits and giggles of just like doing it. When I post my video on Glass, what does that mean now for copyright? Like, let’s say somebody buys it. Okay. First of all, can I sell part ownership? Number one, and number two, if I can’t and it’s all complete ownership, what can that owner do with that video down the line? Like what does that entail? And is it wrong for me to impose, added legal rules and structures into that video? I can add a bunch of add-ons to this, but I’ll shut up and I’ll let you kind of take the lead. Cause I think, where this is going.

Yeah. So yeah, this is like one of the biggest questions. This is why we’re taking our time and working with independent artists and making sure that every creator is getting full approval and authentication to upload any video from the actual core creator who made it. So I’d say we’re experimenting honestly right now with different copyright models, but we see videos as a public good where anyone could actually potentially, enjoy it, get ownership over it. We kind of wanna think of it as a public good. That is, you could take that piece of content, reproduce it into something else, sell that content as something that’s a new content and potentially refer and link back to that creator. So where we’re creating this thing called hyperlink, which is essentially just it’s called hyperlink data, but it’s essentially linking NFTs back to other NFTs. And so that can kind of create that tagging or that linking back to, sampled works for the future. It also provides like almost like a list of, okay, where did that video derive from that video derive from that? Or, I use that sound and that sound connected to that video and, you’re linking and deriving things in that way. You’re linking NFTs like that. And so I think we wanna make the technology allow for sampling and mixing because everything is a sample. There’s no new things under the sun, that’s in the Bible or, I think there, there’s always gonna be new combinations of things and that’s what we wanna monetize. And we wanna help, the OJ creators, monetize with royalties off of iteration or a sample of that creation. And so figuring out the exact model cabaret model, that’s gonna get that done. They’re out there. And I think CCO mono where you, you just are essentially like able to, take that work, refactor it, and link back to that other work is a good model. When creatives are uploading that work, we’re gonna add in like verification and authentication when it comes to creatives uploading that work. And then last is just like, you’re gonna have this social, web three is very social contract focus where it’s like, if it’s not, that person’s work, if that person isn’t, behind the community and that person isn’t like someone who’s in the future doing this, not just to grow themselves, but also to grow the community. Like I said, community mind, commercial and artist excellence. It’s like that person probably will not be able to sell that video. Of course you’ll have similar problems with web two where it’s like someone, takes, someone’s content augments it and it’s not their content, but it’s just like, will that sell as if the original content from the actual creator it’s like social contracts are in the real world are gonna come in and play, let alone that won’t be able to link to other NFTs, that that creator might make. And so, you combine that with the hyperlink, combine that with the social contract, combine that with just basic like public goods, like copyright laws, then it’s just a lot harder for that creator. And we know all the pathways at which, , a scam, which is like, fake title.

That like, that was, that was my next question. Like, there’s a lot of like Steve Waszniak Vitalic videos of like doing a thousand airdrops on YouTube. You remember that period where it was just like nonstop back to back, these scammers were taking clips and like of other actual religion videos of interviews and putting like a skin around them, even Elon Musks did this, like, how do you prevent stuff like that? Like, well, by the way, Elon Musk didn’t do it. Someone did it on behalf of him, right. Illegally, like tried to scam people just to make that clip. How do you prevent that? How do you prevent that malicious activity? Because if everything’s decentralized and everything’s being done on arweave, their team can’t come on and like delete. So that stays there. How do you kind of fight that? Cuz that’s a big problem.

It’s a big, big potential problem. And so arweave does actually have like some content moderation that they are building. So they actually help [inaudible] in that case. We’ve seen with like, I’d say like open sea being the biggest volume marketplace right now they use this verification check and we’re seeing that like, , open Sea is working, it’s working pretty well there, but like, of course, like, like we said, that is a centralized platfrom, whereas we are more decentralized. Like I said, it really comes down to how does the creator behind the video want it to be shared? And then if they are gonna share that video, they’re most likely planning to work around that video to add value to that video or whatever that thing is. So over time that original NFT, accrues value around the artists. And it’s like, I like to say that it’s not about the art. It is about the artist. Right. And it’s like the art is just coming from the creator, but it’s like, it’s really like, I’m buying an Adam NFT on a mint because cause of Adam, , like even though this was a great podcast, it’s like, I’m still buying it because it’s like, yeah, he’s gonna do more podcasts and they’re all gonna be great and it’s like, I’m gonna be able to say yeah, of all the great ones I own this one or , of all the great ones like this is the one. So it’s like you are still investing as much in the artist, more so than you’re investing in the art. And so it’s like, that is like, if you’re not monetizing or if, , you’re sending people, these fake things, it’s like, they still have to know who is the person who’s sending that. And how is that person official? And link to your Twitter or like we link to Twitter and then we show the title. And so it’s like that Twitter link is almost showing you like where you’re really linking up to.

So I like to think about it like this. Okay. I actually love that. I think that could be even a great title for the podcast. Like invest in the artist, not the art. And it really that’s like super, super fundamental too. Like I come from like the VC world. So prior to like doing mint, I was working at a blockchain fund and it’s like, you bet on founders, you bet on early stage founders for any early stage bet you bet on the people and like the market opportunity and ideas and like other components, but like you bet on the founder and if they can execute the vision, right. And a lot of these creators, they have the vision they’ve been executing and now they’re coming into web three and all that traction kind of validates their worth per se. This is just like a new step in the right direction, in my opinion. So it’s like this concept of like betting on the artist and not the art, like let’s look at Ali Straza from Ali coin on Rally. She has a top performing like social token. She has half a million followers over half a million across Twitch and YouTube. She does gaming. That’s her niche. She’s produced hours upon on hours upon hours of content, of live streams, et cetera, and then came into crypto and it’s like, this is not a fresh face. This is not a new person. This is like an existing person who has reputation. Who’s consistently executed on her vision, on her mission with her content. The only thing that’s changing is the concept of ownership and value. Right. And me betting on these people is basically me betting on the fact that they’ll actually continue doing this, but now the value will accrue differently. Right. And I think that’s like, I think that’s like the missing link. Like a lot of people they see this. Okay. I’m just gonna flip JPX I’m just gonna flip all this stuff. Like yeah. That’s one way, it’s a very like investment type of approach, but like the long term way, my opinion is like betting on people. Right. And investing on people and not necessarily like sure. There’s like the financial upside, but there’s also something beautiful about being able to support a creator and seeing that amount of money, like being able to change their life kind of thing. And like realizing that like 8.2 K is over 8 million views on YouTube. How many people actually get that that are actually like talented creators. Right. But just, aren’t like breaking the ceiling, the Glass ceiling of the algorithm.

I think that’s exactly it. I mean, you explained it perfectly right there. I mean, ownership, change, mental reshaping of value. Just seeing that aha moment. I mean, Salem Harley was our first video that sold for 5.82 E by a random person named the Sugar Glider from the Caribbeans. And he’s planning to put that video up in like a Caribbean Dow museum. And it’s like, who knows that video could go into the central land? Like that video could go anywhere. I say music decorates sound and art decorates space. And it’s like video art is gonna decorate all of these metaverse spaces. And it’s like, we want this video art to go everywhere. We want it to literally be super visible in as many places as possible. As well as being the home, we also wanna link out. Like it’s like the mirror article, our network lecture is on mirror, but the videos are on Glass, that’s un-monetized, but the conversation with the comments in the discord is even cleaner though, than like a YouTube conversation so the two way interactivity that we’re bringing when it comes to like, yeah. Like you’re literally bidding and you’re interacting as a viewer, but now you’re a collector and you’re buying this video that is fun. People have no idea how fun it is. You can bet on the video, I played sports my whole life. We were always like, we wanted, we always felt like, oh, we could get out there on the field. And it’s like, I have players on the premier league that I used to play with. I have friends who are winning national trophies. I have friends who are on the US national team. And it’s like, I sometimes am like, dang, I wanna get out there. I want to interact with this game? And it’s like, I feel like, honestly, it would be sick to eventually be going to a world where it’s like, if I felt I could play against one of these players, I could potentially did enough or whatever, or do enough to get onto the field. And so I think this is just moving the world towards where everyone who was previously on the bench is just gonna get more and more like, I wanna play. Even the coach.

You become your own coach!

You’re your own coach. And like, you’re putting yourself in.

That’s exactly it. Like your Jerry Crouse, Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan in one person? You gotta limit your Jerry Crouse. You gotta come with, that win-win mentality, it’s like in web three there’s this tension though, because it’s like, I put a video up. Oh, like now they own my video, what if I don’t want that to be my owner? Am I gonna go buy that video off of that person? And it’s like, there is this tension where it’s like, who do you want to be your owner, blah, blah, owner, master your situation. But it’s just like in the end, we’re going towards, just ownership and wealth in the end.

Makes sense. Makes a lot of sense.


I think that’s like the perfect place to end off. Where can we find you before I let you go? Like, where can we find Glass? Where can you find you like show yourself

At Glassprotocol on Twitter, for the website. And if you’re a creator, just click the create and fill out the creator application. The goal is to get everybody uploading videos on Glass uploading videos depending on the gas cost. So we are, , looking to, , be multi chain with Solana. And, , if you have other chains, you would like us to be on hop into the last discord, which can all be found at the Glass Twitter at @Glassprotocol. My Twitter is @dayoadeosun10. I think my Instagram is the same thing, but reach out to me, Twitter, IG, DM’S inboxes are open, always looking to talk about creators, look at videos. Do whatever chat, chill. I’m in Lagos Nigeria right now, but I’m also in New York city. So if you’re in Legos or New York hit me up also down to link in person. We have a video coming out with Deosun our first dance music video NFT. It was like I’m not sure if the Rema song, audible] it like just came out, that’s about a drop. And then, u, got some other cool drops. Luca Maxim, John waltz, Riley, Wada, Sirisu visionary, Fortune, a lot of cool jobs on the way we’re looking to really just break the doors down in 2022. Glass is coming and we’re coming crazy.

Thank you so much, bro. I hope to have you soon again.

Thank you, Adam.

Podcast Transcript

Why NFTs are the Perfect Medium for Songs

Listen on: Spotify | Apple Music | Google Podcast


Mint Season 4 episode 1 welcomes Kyle and Evan Dhillon, two brothers on a journey to empower the creative value of music through on-chain music production tools.

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • ​​00:46 Intro
  • 3:32 What is Arpeggi Genesis?
  • 9:40  Why mint a song?
  • 14:45 Does being family help?
  • 19:07 DOWS or DAWS?
  • 23:35 How does Arpeggi standout?
  • 28:49 Ownership on Arpeggi
  • 33:47 Community Building
  • 44:22 Future of Music vs Crypto
  • 46:32 Outro

…and so much more.

Support Season 4’s NFT sponsors!

1. Coinvise –

2. Polygon Studios –

Interested in becoming an NFT sponsor? Get in touch here!


Glad you guys are here. You guys are making headwinds online. A lot of buzz around our Arpeggi, so let’s dive right into it. Okay. Who are you guys, but more specifically, what were you doing before crypto and where are you now?

Wow it’s a long one. The road to get to where we are today is pretty interesting, but I guess less than maybe three months ago, I was working as a software engineer at a big tech company. I’d only graduated a year before that. So I graduated 2020 went right into working as a software engineer and was doing that for a while, just kind of coasting along. And then some buddies of mine from high school, started getting really into NFTs and crypto and whatnot, and kind of roped me into it as well. And then that’s where it all sort of started. They had a little project of their own, and then I got inspired to get something going myself. And so I hit up Kyle, my older brother who had been working on a sort of music side project to kind of figure out what we could do with it. And yeah, I’ll pass on to Kyle to talk about that.

And here we are,

Yeah, I’ll fill in some of the gaps there, but yeah, I’m also an engineer. I was working at Google for the last five years until Evan came to me and said hey, you’ve been working on this little side project. It was a hip hop, beat generator. I’d just been working on it for fun on the side since college , five or six years now. And he said, okay, there’s a lot of cool generative music projects out there. What if we took this little beat generator and, , put it on the blockchain and made it an NFT, but the big insight that Evan had that I think was pretty cool was saying like, instead of making this a generative NFT where people just buy music, that our algorithm will make what if we took the song format the same song representation that I had been using internally in this generator but kind of turned it into a creative tool that anyone could basically use to, to create their own song, to compose their own song. And then write their own custom song 100% on chain and mint that as an NFT. Then that’s kind of what led to the Arpeggi Genesis.

What is Arpeggi Genesis?

Got it. Okay. So I’m a musician myself. You can’t really see it here. I’ll go full screen for a minute. Okay. You see the drums in the back. Okay. You saw it in the green room, but I’m a big fan. This makes a lot of sense to me. Okay. I’m very crypto native. I’m very web three forward super user also musician. So I get the model for those who don’t really understand. Why do you need like a beat making tool from creation to the minting on chain? Why is that transition so important versus downloading mp3 file and then uploading it manually? Why is that flow so necessary?

It gets a little bit technical. I feel like when you start to explain that, so Kyle mentioned earlier about this song format that we have. So basically when we set out to make our Arpeggi, we didn’t really start with the problem of, oh, there’s no music creation platform. Rather., we started with the problem of there’s no music that’s fully on chain. All the music in the ecosystem today. Any music and NFTs you see aside from maybe, Orly beats and a few other of these generative projects, aren’t really fully on chain in the same way that like an art blocks piece is fully on chain. And what that means is that the data to recreate your song or recreate your art piece is stored fully in the contract, the way most NFT collections work today is that they create a token in the contract and they point to some third party storage system that stores the actual image or the actual composition. And so when Kyle and I set out to make Arpeggi, rather than framing it as a music creation platform, we’re like, all right, how do we get music to be on chain? And the way we solve that is that we needed people to write their music in this very specific format that Kyle had been developing in order for people to write their music in this Arpeggi format, we needed to build a [inaudible] around the format so that people could easily create music in a way they’re familiar with. And then the output would be in this very lightweight representation. That’s like 1/10,000th the size of a typical MP3, which is what allows us to actually put the music fully on chain versus most other NFT music projects.

Got it. Got it. I guess from a creative point of view, from a technical point of view, that makes sense, right. From a creator’s point of view, why is that important to the creator?

Yeah. Kyle, maybe you wanna talk a little bit about like, , why is having music on the blockchain cool. And what we’re gonna do with it, in the next version of Arpeggi.

By the way, I asked this from like a very devil’s advocate, like dumb down point of view, right. Because there’s a lot of creators entering web three, we’ve seen like the sexy art and video side kind of emerge with a lot of these Instagram, corporate artists evolve. And now we’re seeing a lot, a lot of like web three musicians get into the space. So just to add more clarity around the creator side would be great.

There’s a few layers here. First question, why would you want to create something on the blockchain at all? Or why would you wanna create an NFT at all? It’s a philosophical question in a lot of ways, but there’s a lot of interesting benefits for artists. The things that we really love and the things that we think are the most relevant for musicians, especially is the accreditation, the fact that once you mint something on the chain, it’s always gonna be associated with your name. Like, there’s no way for somebody to come along later and say, actually, I, created that melody originally. It’s always gonna be associated with you. Something that I think we really tried to hit is it opens up access to this new type of digital consumer, digital collectors for music collectibles or digital listeners who are excited about web three and decentralized music platforms. That’s something that’s just getting started. We us starting to see the emergence of kind of the web three consumer market, but as time goes on, and as I think more and more people around the world realize the benefits of decentralized platforms over the sort of web two centralized services for music, SoundCloud, Spotify, we’re gonna see a lot, I think, a lot more benefits for artists who kind of embrace new technologies and new ways to distribute, their music. So that’s a little bit high level. The thing that we focused on for this was like, Evan mentioned, how do we put this fully on chain? How do we put the full data of the song on chain? And that’s a good question, too, is why is this relevant for musicians to have all of the data of their song, be fully on chain? Evan mentioned, permanence, like your song will always be there. If you upload your MP3 to a third party server and create an NFT that just references that data, if that third party server crashes, or that company decides that, , if they run outta money and they pull their servers, you’re not really holding anything anymore. What you own is just a dead URL basically. IPFS is another file server solution and there’s similar problems with, if nobody wants to host your file, then it doesn’t exist. Putting the data on chain is an interesting technical problem. And we looked at Art Blocks, which is probably the biggest and most popular, fully on chain Art, Visual Art marketplace as, inspiration and Art Blocks is fascinating and a really inspirational project. They have had like immense success. I think they did, as it 80 million of revenue, in one year, just because of the fact that their art being on chain makes it so much more valuable to collectors. So that’s, that’s one reason, but there’s some other interesting technical elements we’ll get into in a bit.

Yeah. what I envision, so I played around with it a bit. I look forward to the day where everything is on chain. Okay. Now I might be a maxi for that, but I think there’s actually a lot of cool things you can integrate from the actual composition to itself being minted on chain to then collaboration. So multiple people kind of contributing to the same track and then splits occurring automatically on chain and all these, nuances and intricacies that otherwise are like major pain points of web two now being automated by smart contracts. And the premise of that is minting a song on chain. So I think it does unlock a lot of like value down the line and Evan I see you nodding your head. You wanna add to that?

Why mint a song?

Absolutely. Adam, you almost just outlined our whole game plan for the next couple of months. So yeah, I think that the logical next step with Arpeggi is we have a way to put songs fully on chain, but beyond the whole song itself, we also have a way to put the song components and have them separated out from the whole song and track attribution, not only on the whole song level, but on the stem level. So each individual instrument track you can have attribution and association and royalty splits potentially down the line, tied to those. And then even one level deeper than that, you can have attribution tagged to the samples and the sample packs that actually make up those stems. And with that, you can kind of picture this whole ecosystem within Arpeggi where I’m making sample packs, and someone else uses a stem or makes a stem using one of my samples. And I have a certain amount royalties tied to my stem and they have a certain amount tied to their sample and someone else uses that pulls it in their song. And all of it in just automated away. And kind of the benefit of that as a creator is I have this massive library of stems and samples to pull from. And I don’t have to think at all about, am I like taking this from someone else without their permission? Like everything in this library people will like consent and have certain attribution and royalties and licenses attached to each one of their pieces. So it’s a really powerful tool for creators to not only not have to worry about their stuff getting stolen, but also being able to compose tracks from this massive library where they don’t have to worry about , actually stepping on someone’s toes with using their samples. So, yeah, definitely nodding my head in agreement with you there. Yeah. I think it’s a really cool idea too, and we we’d like to make it happen.

Kyle, when you were, kind of like building this out initially, like back in college and you were just like tinkering messing around, did you ever imagine it would get to like this level of like legitimacy and it actually be solving pain points because there’s a ton of beat makers online, a ton of them. Like even in the Tesla itself, for example, like in the entertainment section, they have the ability to compose beats. And one of my questions, like when are you gonna do an integration with Tesla?

No, it’s actually, that’s a really funny question. Like over like the years there’s been months where I gotten really into working on that side project and I made like a fun website and me and my other brother, we used to freestyle over the beats that it would generate. And just like, , it was just a fun project and then every now and then I’d be like, oh, how can I monetize this? And then like about a year ago, early in COVID I was like, how could I make this into a VST plugin for Ableton and fruity loops? And I just got really demoralized after like two or three weeks of research, because I was like, no, this is too complicated. Like there’s no way to integrate generative, full song arrangements into like digital audio workstations. And I just kind of said fine, whatever. I’m not gonna force it. And like the craziest thing is that out of nowhere, Evan came to me with this idea. I’m not one to just like work on a startup project idea. I’m kind of a cynic when it comes to like ideas. I think that they, a lot of them are a little bit too, I’m an engineer, I like building stuff and seeing real stuff. But when Evan came to me with this idea in particular, I kind of was like, when, , like something’s gonna work, you just like, know it’s gonna work. And when you told me about this originally, I just was like, all right, this is the one thing that I will like quit my job and work on. And thankfully it worked like, here we are. Yeah. ,

Evan, are you the more entrepreneurial one then?

Maybe in some senses.

Like in school, when you were growing up, you had like the lemonade stand kind of thing or is that the narrative?

We had a couple lemonade stands back in the day. I did study entrepreneurship at Wash U while I was there. I studied computer science and entrepreneurship, but I hadn’t really, this was like my first actual venture though. U I’d done all the side projects in school and case studies and whatnot, but in terms of really building something, building a product and pitching it to a bunch of people and releasing it to the general public, this was the first time. And I think, I feel very lucky that it’s gone as well as it has so far. And we’re definitely learning as we go here, but yeah. I hope to continue it after I remember like maybe three weeks after launch, when we had started to get a little bit of traction and I was still at my old job for a little bit. I remember I had this realization. I was like, oh God, like, even if this tanks, I could never go back to like working for someone else in a massive organization ever again, like it’s just too much fun building stuff with my friends and with my brother. After that realization, I do think I am a little more wide for it than I was beforehand. So it’s been very encouraging.

Does being family help?

Yeah. How has it been working as brothers together? What is that like?

Overwhelmingly positive.

Both of you guys are laughing, probably like reminiscing on stories right now

I mean, honestly from the root, it’s been awesome. The first like four months. And I think the best part of it comes in the hardest times. So in the times where we’re thinking about our roadmap and we’re at, we have many different ideas floating around, or we have a hard decision to make one way or the other, and you get into some tough conversations with one another and you might be disagreeing completely. And , it helps that my co-founder is my brother in the sense that I can be fully honest with him and just let him know my honest opinion and we’ll get into it, as brothers, but, , five, 10 minutes later we are just back to normal. I’m like, Kyle, I need to take five and I just come back and it’s good.

The honesty is really there. And like just the foundation is really solid. It’s one of those things where I would never talk to a coworker at a company the way that I talk to Evan sometimes. We kinda get emotional about things, but in a respectful way, like, we have a really good relationship with each other and with our other brother, Austin, who’s, who’s our like audio engineer we’re lucky that we have a good solid kind of foundation there to build on, it has been quite fun actually.

Yeah. So all you guys are musicians? What is the connection here?

That’s funny. I think we all have like a strong music background. We used to play music together and jam all the time when we were growing up, but I think our middle brother’s the most serious about it. He’s a full-time producer and engineer. And I just worked on that beach generator just for fun. The big thing is we used to to go to a lot of festivals together, go to a lot of concerts together and share a lot of music together and we’ve always had a really strong like musical relationship where we would each try to one up each other with like the best new artists that we just found and kind of impress each other with our like indie music knowledge. Yeah. And I think that segued really nicely into a project like this, cuz like we all can speak the same language about like, , these more advanced music stuff. But for me I’ve learned way more about music in the last four months than I have probably in my entire life. It’s awesome.

Same goes for me. And it kind of ties into today’s product that we have. So we have Arpeggi Studio Genesis which is the [inaudible] that’s in browser today. And Kyle and I kind of hacked that together pretty quickly in only a couple months and it it’s reflected in the do for sure. It’s pretty limited in its features, but what’s also reflected is the fact that Kyle and I haven’t spent that much time in DAWS and are very kind of DAWS illiterate to begin with and so DAWS is really made for dummies in a way right now to where, if you’re a new user, who’s never made music before you can kind of hop in there, drag and drop, click around, , randomize a beat. If you want to, you can have kind of a template to start with. I think it makes things a lot easier for people who are less familiar with some of the leading DAWS today, like Ableton and pro tools and whatnot. So blessing and a curse, not knowing too much about production, but we’re really fortunate that our third brother is a very experienced producer and has spent a lot of time in DAWS. So we have the right resources to pull from in terms of building the next iteration, which we hope to be a little bit more or a bit more powerful than today’s DAW, but still maintain the usability and the ease of use for new users as well.


Well. Yeah. You keep saying DAW initially I thought it was DAW.

Yeah. Some people call them DAWS. Some people call them DAWS, but it’s Digital Audio Workstation. I mean, Adam you’re probably very familiar. What’s your favourite DAW?

Honestly, I’ve never really produced. I’ve always just been like behind the screen, the glass screen, just playing. Right. So I’ve never really been the producer or the engineer. So I know pro tools obviously. I know Fruity Loops. So there’s a few of them and like I have the one in the Tesla too, for example, where I make like dummy beats, , but yeah, I’ve never really spent time, but one thing that I really liked about your layout is like it’s super dumb down and easy to create a beat. Like it’s approachable, right? It’s not scary to use the second you open pro tools. Obviously it’s more advanced for different problems that need to be solved. But I like the very friendliness and how approachable it is because people like my thesis, like everybody’s a creator right. In their own respect. So having an interface in a program that’s as easy digestible and easy to use, I think that’s a winner. So I assume down the line, there’s gonna be different use cases for different types of music, full composition, whether it’s beyond just beat making itself, but we can get into that little bit later. One thing I want to talk to you guys about is what has been that transition from web two into web three, like? Cuz you guys, have a deep like web two background. So a lot of the ethos is a lot of the principles, a lot of the foundations that kind of like stem, the narratives for web three are much different, , than web two. What has that been like for you guys?

I kind of want Kyle to talk about this one because he almost had the web three mentality, like before learning about web three, like I kind of had to tell him about what it was. I had my foot in the door a little sooner than he is, but I feel like he’s almost been like preaching a lot of the ethos of web three, his whole life without even knowing it.

Yeah. Yeah. That’s, that’s the funny thing. It’s a good point. Cause it’s funny. Cause I worked at Google, which is like the definition of a web two centralized platform, but while I was there, like the projects I worked on thankfully were actually all about decentralized machine learning, which is a really cool new concept. So I was lucky that I got to work on projects like that. I was a little bit of a trouble maker. I’m really into like libertarian socialist stuff, which is like an interesting branch that talks a lot about co-ops it talks a lot about like decentralized organizations where everybody has like one vote. There’s a lot of like discussion about how do you build communities without centralization basically. So it’s kind of a web three before, without the tech side of it. Right before I started working on this with Evan, I was working at a co-op that was doing like a ride share app that was basically owned fully by the drivers. It was competing with like Uber and Lyft. You should check it out actually it’s it’s called the driver’s co-op.

That’s like very like anti anti, like other way around and like really experimentative that’s really cool.

Yeah. Right, right. So the funny thing is I was doing that and then we started working on this NFT thing and I was like, okay, these two things aren’t related at all, there’s completely different things.

Gotta learn what a DAW is.

Yeah. Yeah. So Evan sent me resources on DAWs and stuff and I would just say like to summarize like the biggest difference for me, the coolest thing I think about web three is like the emphasis on community and that’s a buzzword in a lot of ways, but I do think that it’s, it’s so deeply ingrained into like how you succeed and what it means to really build a good web three product is more about building a strong community of people who are like all aligned and that’s just so cool. It’s really fun. Thankfully we have a product that I think people get emotionally excited about because it’s a creative tool and it’s fun to use and we’ve tried to put our community first.

I was just gonna say, and I’m really grateful that we’re not trying to build a community that’s hyper focused on value creation and like the floor of like the collection.

I love that by the way. I think that’s such a unique distinction about you guys.

How does Arpeggi standout?

Thank you. I appreciate that. Cause I mean, it’s, it’s hard, right? If you’re an artist in web three and you release a collection of your art and it does really well to begin with and the floor is high and everyone’s really excited and everyone’s having a great time and you’re like, oh my God, these people love my art. Like I’m a great creator. And then all of a sudden, , a month later things get stagnant, bear market comes along and the floor goes down and your community like can almost like turn on you in a sense. And it’s like, what? Like you’re supposed to be buying it for the art. You shouldn’t be buying this stuff to like flip it and make a profit if it’s like an art piece. And so I think we’re very fortunate in that kind of the roadmap and the product that we’re building, isn’t hyper focused on value creation. It’s focused on value creation for creators. It’s like kind of the value is what you make of it in a sense rather than speculating about the floor price and all of that. So true. So really, really fortunate there for sure.

What a cool model to like shift the focus on the creative energy versus the financial energy, because the second things are high. Everybody can get excited, but like to really establish a genuine community, you gotta be in it through the thick can thin. And I think you’re right, like putting an emphasis on the creative energy is a great way to kind of take that step forward and empower creators through their creative like act versus the financialization of the creator, because there’s a lot of talk around ownership, there’s talks around social tokens and the speculative nature. We talk a lot about that on mint, on the podcast. One thing that stood out to me about you guys is like that step to put creative energy first, which I really loved. I guess, like how does that kind of like move forward? So once they, once they create the song, they mint the song on chain, minted as an NFT, then there’s still the financialization of it, right? Like how does that work post creation? Post mint? Just like any other asset on chain, right?

I think for the Genesis collection. So right now we have our 600 studio passes and each one of those converts into one song, we see this Genesis collection as more of a historic sort of the first on chain music platform kind of the way autoglyphs was the first on chain, generative art piece. Obviously you can’t equate the value of those two things, but we’re not super focused on like, okay, how do we generate value for creators and like holders with the Genesis collection? We’re really focused right now. We have a lot more resources at our disposal, fortunately, so we can afford to look forward rather than backwards right now we’re really hyper focused on building up the next iteration of the DAW and the next collection. We’re looking at a much lower barrier to entry. So right now, in order to mint a song, you have to own one of these studio passes floor and a studio pass right now is 0.3/0.4 E, which is way too high for a music producer coming into the scene. So we’re like, okay, Genesis collection, it’s great. It’s gonna have historic value and it should be hyper scarce. But with our next collection, we wanna really open it up to be a platform for all creators rather than just the really crypto native and the crypto rich ones. We’re looking at bringing the mint price down to zero, or like very, very small fees and hopefully getting it cheaper to mint as well with a new contract and then ton more features in the DAW. And then I guess to answer your question about, okay, I meant a song like now what, as a creator we’re hoping to tie in some interesting incentives and financial systems into it with stem royalties. So you can create a song and maybe all your stems get minted along with it as tokens, or maybe not as tokens. And then you have royalty splits tied to those stems and people can remix them lots of fun, interesting stuff. And it’s all kind of a grand experiment to us. , We don’t wanna set out with our next iteration and be like, oh my God, we’re gonna create so much money for creators, cuz it’s a hard thing to promise, , ideally you want that in the long run, but I think it’s gonna take a lot of iteration and a lot of experimentation to see what kind of patterns and what sort of behaviors our community latches onto within our product. And so, I don’t wanna promise anything about financial incentives, but in the future, I think we’d really like to integrate with some of the other web three music platforms who kind of are more downstream, right? So you have platforms like Audios and Royal that are experimenting with streaming, royalty splits and that kinda thing. And I feel like those two projects are really not maybe those two, but one of those projects in that vein are really gonna drive value creation within web three music. And I think if we integrate into one of those somehow that’s really where we start to bridge the gap between, music creation and blockchain and value generated for the end user.

Ownership on Arpeggi

Yeah. I love that. Speaking on top of ownership, for example, obviously a major, major primitive and backbone to the whole ethos of web three. Okay. A lot of what people celebrate about this new environment. How do you guys think about music ownership at Arpeggi? Like what does ownership mean to you guys and how do you try to empower creators with your thesis on ownership?

That’s such an interesting question. I just wanna bring up, there’s a great water in music, their web three music publication, last week, they published five articles and one of them was about the different ways you can own music NFTs and highly recommend diving into that. It’ll probably raise more questions than answer for you. But, ht’s an ongoing discussion that we have almost every day about what it really means to own a music NFT. And I know Kyle has, has his own opinions and I have mine, but it’s kind of defined by the artist in a lot of ways, historically, but for us it’s tricky because we’re building the tech and we build like the licenses and the policies around the tech. So, there’s different options we can take and I don’t think we fully landed on what they are I guess, to zoom out a little bit, talk about the different types of music NFTs. So, historically there’s been a bunch of different collections and a lot of them are just like one of one collectible. So an artist will make a song, make an NFT out of it. And then you can own kind of just a collectable vinyl copy of that song. It’s sort of just a piece of memorabilia. You can still have a lot of value as a collector’s item, but there’s no rights and, royalties or anything like that associated with it. So that’s one type and then another type is one that has rights and copyrights tied to it, which is more in the vein of Royal and something bla has done a couple times now with some of his NFT jobs where you buy one of the NFTs and it represents not only the song, but rights to a portion of the royalties of that song, which is super interesting territory that we’d like to experiment in as well, mown the line. And then there’s all other kinds of, of music NFTs out there as well. But I’d say the distinction between those two is probably the most important. So some music NFTs act is just collectibles and some actually have utility where they have royalties attached to them and it’s still very experimental in the space and there’s a lot of like legal risks associated with delving into the royalty side of things, which we’re kind of sussing out. But, Kyle, maybe you can share your take on that too.

So Evan mentioned something like we have a conversation a lot about why NFTs at all, like are NFTs really the right model for music on the blockchain. And we started off, obviously our project was the first ever fully on chain NFT music platform that musicians could use to create songs. And we did it with FTS because that was what we understood and knew. But the more that, like I personally look at at the music space and see what projects are where they are and think about how music will be changed by web three. I’m more and more excited about like non NFT side, like the more of the protocol side, the lower layers, the lower level stuff where it’s not like I’m buying a one of one song from another, from another person it’s more like Audius where they’ve built this protocol that is for storing songs and metadata with those songs and providing those songs to be available to listeners, as long as those listeners meet certain criteria and it’s all decentralized and nobody’s like, there’s no Spotify controlling who gets to post what and who get to listen what.

The artiste gets to decide what they wanna

Artist gets to decide. So I love that model personally. I really think that there’s some really cool opportunities for us to do some interesting protocol stuff at a upstream layer, more at the sample layer at the creation side at the remixing side and to have protocols like that, where ownership is more about, like, I signed this contract on this day with my stem, but nobody gets to like own that. It’s not like there’s an NFT floating around in my wallet for that necessarily it’s like that protocol was just defined.

Community Building

Yeah. Yeah. It makes a lot of sense. One thing that I’m like really, really curious about is creators, or let’s talk about musicians for a minute. They’re having all sorts of different tokenized assets on chain from fandom to samples, to songs, to social tokens, to all these different types of elements. And I know like a ton of ton of companies and projects they’re focusing on minting you guys are approaching from a completely different light, which I love all these creators have all these types of assets. What happens after that? , Like how do you build community around that? You have all these collectors that live online that have all these assets from, again, your social token to your fandom, to your songs, to all these things, and how do you combine them into one product to actually build a community? What I mean? Like what, what does that look like?

Million Dollar Question.

I think that’s a fantastic question. It’s interesting, let’s talk about like visual art, cuz that’s a much more mature side, and has that been solved for visual art? The closest thing that I can think of right now to be honest is like an open sea, it’s like I have my wallet where I proudly show off my art collection and I kind of use it for like the social capital people know that I have these pieces.

They are entirely different and it’s a huge question that’s been raised in the space and one of the biggest problems too. Like you can’t skirt around it, but the music collector market is very small right now. There’s only a handful of music collectors actually in this space. And I think you can attribute that to a number of things, but one of the biggest is that there’s no way to like flex your music NFTs in the same way that you flex your PFP. Unfortunately, if you’re dropping a couple Eth on one of these things you want some way of displaying it, it’s kind of like the nature of humans to own something you wanna like show it off. And so I think music, I honestly don’t think that’s the solution for music though. I don’t think music is consumed in that same way. But I still think that owning music as a collectible has a lot of value, I’m not sure if it’s found the right way to manifest itself yet. And this space is so new that I’m more just excited to see what kind of creative solutions people come up with. And I don’t wanna know if that’s too much in our ballpark for right now in terms of [inaudible] but I think that’s a strange question to ask honestly, and I guess heard it from

I guess I only asked that because like I talk to a lot of guests on the podcast, each one solving minting or creation or empowerment for creators in different fashions. And we kind of forget to zoom out sometimes be like, wait, now all these creators have all these assets from the tokens created on mirror to rally to roll on open sea on this, on that. And like all these like on chain assets and all these different collectors, how do you actually bundle them together and like build community because that’s what it comes down to. Right? That buzzword that you talked about, Kyle, like you can, you can mint and mint and mint and mint and mint to have all these things, but what’s next kind of thing.

There’s a few projects that are really geared towards answering that question. Like I know Sound XYZ, that’s one of their biggest goals is like building communities between fans. I’ve been invited to a few discords by some artists that I really like, such as Camou fly and Daniel Allen and that’s an interesting new thing that’s happening is you have an artist who just makes a discord community for their fans where they can chat each other. Discord has been amazing, I think for building communities like that, but it doesn’t solve the problem, like you said.

Yeah. But I mean, it’s kind of a good example of how I think at this point in time, it’s really up to the artists to kind of decide what those mean to them, right? Like you said, Kyle, you have artists like Danny Allen Camou fly and like Oshi who are super embedded in the community and they’ve kind of built a reputation for themselves. And I think that, , generates more value for tokens, not in a monetary sense, but as a holder, I feel like more connected to one of those artists who’s really active in the space. Because I feel like it’s almost like a means of reaching them, especially when you’re talking about the fan side of things. It’s like, oh, I have this Ocean token. I see ’em in these discords. I feel like one step closer to the artist and my support for them versus if I didn’t have it.

I think in time there’ll be platforms built around it where you can kind of bridge all these assets together in one place. And I think other platforms would build around it too. So like so much about one of the biggest things about web three that I love is there’s no like scarcity mentality. It’s an abundance sort thing where all these different web three music projects rather than compete against one another, they really wanna collaborate. And so I think you’ll start to see in the next year, lots of different integrations between these different web three music platforms, rather that’s us or catalog with, with sound, with Audius, with Royal, rather than everyone like, being tunnel vision and staying in their lane, I think you’ll see a lot of overlap and it’ll kind of bolster the experience for holders and creators.

It’s so cool that you bring that up because I think for a lot of the early founders in web three, that ethos of composability is very native to like who we are. We see the value in collaboration, but now you see corporations like Adidas or Nike acquiring artifact and then imposing like all these legal rules in terms of what they can do with the assets and kind of removing the whole ethos of composability here and there. I don’t know. I guess my point is like, I think we, as like early stage, like creators, collaborators, builders, whatever you wanna call it, we see the power and ethos of composability, but there’s a big corporations I’d say like even meta Facebook, right? Yeah. Like they wanna own the metaverse, , they wanna own the metaverse. Like, it’s curious to see how like all these assets are being built on Ethereum and all these experiences are built on Ethereum and like Meta had this era where they were gonna launch their own chain in their own wall and do all these things with the blockchain and like, how do the worlds collide? Like if all these songs live on Ethereum and then Facebook puts billions of dollars into marketing to express this narrative of the meta diverse, just to sell more Oculuses right. And to get more people in that world, where do those two worlds collide? Because those assets are unique to the chain that it lives on. Right. So yeah. These are like the big picture things that I’d love to pick your brains about, like, are you guys thinking about that in terms of music creation?

I’ve been inside the belly of the beast. Google wasn’t as bad as Facebook. I think you’re completely right. It’s it reminds me of astroturfing the concept of like a big organization, pretending like basically putting a bunch of money behind a propaganda campaign that says that they’re behind a grassroots movement and the web three decentralized crypto, all this stuff is very much a grassroots movement and was very much a kind of countercultural thing for a long time. And now that like, Facebook’s kind of using the term meta and co-opting the term metaverse, it’s astroturfing. They’re trying to ride the wave and trying to like put their name behind a, a thing while it’s popular. I think it’s really good that you brought up the fact that they tried to do a coin. Right. They tried to do a token a few years ago,

By the way. That’s the reason why I bought Facebook too, because they were gonna do a token.

But what happened? It didn’t work out? I think they had regulation issues and it was just too complicated and they tried to do it before. They’re trying to do it again. We’re gonna keep seeing it happen over and over, but like, I mean also to be fair, like you’re gonna have a lot of big investors, it happens to all these crypto companies and they’re getting a lot of attention from investors. And so there’s gonna be a lot of big money coming in, but I think the ethos and the kind of the core driving principles, the cool thing is that those are pretty consistent amongst these projects. Every crypto founder that we’ve talked to, even, other investors or other big names in the space, the people who are on web three, like you can tell, they do believe in these principles for the most part. Maybe I’m an optimist and maybe I’m not, maybe I’ve seen the best in people, but I didn’t really think that, like that mentality of like, of like, let’s actually decentralize, let’s actually bring the power to the users.

That stuff I think is real. And I think it’ll stick around. I don’t think like Facebook is gonna take that away.

Yeah. Evan, anything to add to that?

Yeah.I totally agree with every but these corporations are really scary in the sense that they kind of have a lot of hands in the government as well. And you’ve seen these crypto hearings recently where politicians in office right now are not necessarily the most informed and it’s, it’s hard because the space is like, , I have a background in tech and I still had a really hard time understanding what was going on in web three. So you can only imagine how these people in Capitol hill are having a time wrapping their heads around it. Yeah. So, with these huge corporations kind of at odds with the web three community, in some ways, especially Facebook , it’ll be interesting to keep track of kind of their involvement with the policies and regulations that have passed in the coming years and how that affects the industry.

And by the way just to jump in really quick, Evan, just to add to that. As many hands as these big, like Silicon valley corps have in government, it shows you that it’s not enough hands to actually make Facebook’s like coin reality come to life.

That’s true. I mean, hearing that, how the coin fell part was pretty, pretty comforting, but it’s worth keeping an eye on in the next, years. I’m definitely optimistic as well though. Like obviously I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t.

Yeah, for sure. And by the way, I don’t know if it was a coin just for like, just for like reference and for clarity. I don’t know if it was a coin or more of like a blockchain play. I know there was a wallet play coming into place, but if it keeps following that linear or narrative as a lot of other projects come to life, there would be a coin at some point those are our assumptions. So I don’t get shit from the audience or something.

I think one thing that’ll really help web three beat out some of these bigger corporations is building a better user experience around crypto right now. I think there’s still quite a technical barrier to entry when you have meta mask and , all these different chains going on at one time, especially with gas fees, as high as they are today. So, I think as more people enter in the space and the end experience gets better and better for users, it’ll become the obvious choice to go with the decentralized option, versus some of these more established solutions. , Facebook is gonna have a beautiful UI experience built around their products, but yeah I’m really hoping that we can, , beat them to it. And I’m optimistic that we will.

Future of Music vs Crypto

I think you will too. I know we only have so much time left, so I want to ask you one quick thing. You guys are now like a main player in music and web three, you guys are leading a core narrative. Okay. So first you have that responsibility on your shoulders, number one. Number two. What do you think the future of like 2022 looks like for music X crypto?

That’s a big question. Oh man. Let me think about it.

Considering where we are today with the platforms that we have from people starting to tinker with buying music, buying fandom, minting songs on chain, what could that kind of spiral into in the next 365 days?

I’ll say this I’m pretty confident that there will be sort of the first web three musician that goes mainstream and whose main revenue isn’t generated from DSPs like streaming platforms, but other web through music platforms and really hopeful on that front. And I think that’s a super powerful narrative to see play out within the space and we’ll draw a lot of attention elsewhere. That’s one thing that I won’t say I’m confident on. I’m excited to see

I think similarly, like one of the best things about music as a area of web three, is that the existing music industry is very old school. Like it’s very slow to adapt and they’re just now figuring out big data stuff in music. It feels like that it’s a great place to, to innovate because like the middlemen eat so much of the pie. So yeah, like Evan said, I think you’re gonna have of artists probably a lot more than just the ones that make it big. But a lot of artists who are gonna be able to like truly sustain themselves off of the fact that now they’re not losing 80% of their revenue to labels, they’re gonna be getting it themselves, whether it’s like using Audius or whether it’s with Royal, I think you’re gonna have a lot more artists who are gonna be like, holy crap. I can actually, I might not make a million dollars, but I’ll be able to like pay my bills because I can just get a lot more direct access to the end user. And that’s the stuff that I’m really excited about in 2022.


Love it guys. I think that’s a great place to end off before I let you go. Where can we find you? Where can we find our Arpeggi. Give us the spiel go for it.

Absolutely. Well, we got our handles down below, I guess [inaudible] and TG Luciano on Twitter. Those were like our aliases before we doxed ourselves. And so we’re holding onto those. Obviously the Arpeggi labs discord is always active. We’re running competitions all the time with the Genesis studio. I highly recommend getting in there, you know, cooking up the song and entering into one of those. Twitter is @arpeggilabs and we got the website there as well. We’re planning some, some big releases for early 2022. So stay tune for those and yeah, that’s about it.

Awesome guys. Thank you so much. We’ll have to do this again sometime soon when I don’t know when there’s a ton of people in web three specifically musicians that are exploring this route and hear the learnings and all the data collected, but for now, thank you so much. We’ll talk again soon.

Thank you, Adam. It was a pleasure.

Press Release

‘Mint’ Season 4 with Debuts Featuring 20 Web3 Creators

Los Angeles, CA — December 21, 2021 —  Adam Levy today announces the release of Mint Season 4, a leading audio and video series exploring how the creators of today are building the communities of tomorrow using web3 primitives like social tokens, NFTs, and DAOs, to name a few. Check out episode one by visiting

Those who register for season 4 will have the opportunity to claim an exclusive Mint POAP proving one’s participation in this month’s series. As Mint’s community develops, claimed POAPs will unlock future perks and provide access to unique content, proposal votes, and more. Get yours now by submitting your email at

Today’s premiere of Season 4 includes 20 exclusive episodes consisting of 1-on-1 interviews from top web3 creators, investors, and founders, all collectively tinkering with cryptography to help make their creator economy a reality. Available to enjoy across all video and audio streaming platforms, the podcast answers the most frequent questions creators and communities have when tinkering with web3 primitives.

“Season 4 welcomes some of the brightest people building in web3 and I’m so excited to be sharing their stories across 20+ hours of content,” said Mint Founder and host Adam Levy. “I’m hoping that future creators and web3 communities leverage their stories when kickstarting their own path into the crazy world of crypto.”

From modern fan clubs where the people own the artist to multi-million dollar communities surfacing overnight, this season welcomes the best stories emerging out of web3. Hear the untold journeys from 20 notable creators, founders, and thought leaders who are tinkering with web3 primitives to make their creator economy a reality.

Season 4’s guests include:

Gary Vaynerchuk | The chairman of VaynerX, a modern-day media and communications holding company, and the active CEO of VaynerMedia and the widely-popular NFT community VeeFriends.

Just Blau | NFT visionary, global DJ and founder of Royal.

BLOND:ISH | A top DJ, producer, promoter, record label head, environmental activist, serial collaborator, and founder of the $ISH community.

Matt Shadows | AKA M. Shadows, an American singer and songwriter. He is best known as the lead vocalist, songwriter, and a founding member of heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold, and now the founder of the NFT community Deathbats Club.

Vérité | A hit American singer and songwriter based in Brooklyn, New York City, and NFT visionary.

Justin Aversano | An artist and curator working within the New York City and Los Angeles art scene. He’s more recently known for his photography art work titled, “Twin Flames.”

Richerd | Co-Founder of, who enables web3 creators to have true creative ownership, preserve on-chain provenance, and interoperate with all major NFT marketplaces.

Grady | Iconic artist, music producer, and founder of Good Karma DAO, a community run music label.

Spencer Graham | Web3 Product Manager at DAOhaus.

Melissa Zhang |  Chief Technology Officer at Bonfire, who’s focused on building web3 tools to empower creators. 

Jeremy Vaughn | Founder and CEO of Rimark, a social token issuance platform on Solana.

Matthew Chaim | Music artist and founder of Songcamp.

Jeremy Stern and Mike McKain | Co-founders of

Daniel Allan | Producer, artist, and crypto extraordinaire who started a crowdfund revolution via his tokenized EP $OVERSTIM. 

Kevin Owocki | Internet citizen, DAO cartographer, EVM whisperer & aspiring chaos magician at Gitcoin.

William Bailey | Founder of Bolero Music who’s aim is to bring artists and fans closer together via tokenized assets. 

Dayo Adeosun | A serial entrepreneur and Co-Founder of Glass Protocol, the first video NFT platform. 

Kyle and Evan Dhillon | Two brothers on a mission to revolutionize on-chain music creation through Arpeggi Labs.

Xcelencia | Puerto Rican songwriter, musician and founder of the social token $EQUIS.

Spartan Daggenhurst | Founder of, “The Film Society of San Gaspare,” a community-run movie studio DAO who’s creating the first web3-funded film via an NFT crowdfund.

Season 4 sponsors include Coinvise and Polygon Studios who are supporting Mint by collecting the show’s non-transferable NFTs. The NFT grants each sponsor a shared vote into proposals, ideas, and future updates being implemented into Mint’s ecosystem as well as certain promotions across the entire season.

Submit your email to receive all 20 episodes for free by visiting

About Mint

Mint with Adam Levy is a new audio and video series exploring how the creators of today are building the communities of tomorrow using web3 primitives like social tokens, NFTs, and DAOs, to name a few. Each month, a new season rolls out with ten to fifteen untold journeys from notable creators, web3 founders, and thought leaders, who are tinkering with social money to make their creator economy a reality.

Learn more by visiting

Podcast Transcript

How Social Tokens Capture the Value of African Culture

Listen on: Spotify | Apple Music | Google Podcast


Mint Season 3 episode 20 welcomes Dada Boipelo, a multidisciplinary artist, creative director, and NFT artist based in Nairobi who’s fully immersed in growing her artistic expression and community-building skills within the Web3 space. She also leads the community at AfrofutureDAO ($AFTR), a Socialstack community that aims to grow a vault containing hundreds of hours of raw video footage and thousands of photographs of African history. 

In this episode we discuss:

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 2:53 – Physical vs Digital Creative Energy
  • 6:08 – AfrofutureDAO
  • 13:41 – Future of AfrofutureDAO
  • 19:19 – Digital Divide in African Art
  • 28:26 – Why Capture these Moments Digitally?
  • 32:05 – Outro

…and so much more.

Thank you to Season 3’s NFT sponsors!

1. Coinvise –

2. POAP –

3. Socialstack –

Interested in becoming an NFT sponsor? Get in touch here!


Dada welcome to mint. How are you doing thank you for being on.

Thank you so much, Adam. Like, I feel amazing and I’m very thrilled. It’s been a long time coming, the mint X Afro future dial collaboration. So I’m happy to be here. I’m doing great. And I hope everyone is. Happy New week,

Happy, happy, new week GM to all and everyone that is listening. You’re right. It is the long awaited Afro future do X mint collab. I scope a lot of communities across crypto-Twitter across all these platforms and Afro future Dao stood out to me specifically because I thought I had a unique mission. I don’t want to sell it for myself. I want you to talk about it, but before we even get into that, can you quickly give me a quick brief about you? Who are you dada? What should we know about you? But more specifically, what were you like before crypto.

Who is Dada?

Dada Biopelo is just one of my very many alias is as an artist. I like creating alias’, which is something that also drew me into the NFT space randomly because, you know, PFPs and stuff like that. I was really drawn to them. So I just recently started investing in crypto like last year and, joined NFTs early this year, around, February, end of February, March. And, it’s been an interesting journey. It’s been life changing for me cuz  before crypto and before NFTs in particular, I didn’t sell my art. It’s not that I didn’t sell it. It’s more like, I didn’t have an audience I could sell to, so I never sold my art. I was basically, a starving artist and boom NFTs are here. And I don’t know, it’s like interesting to be the face of NFTs in like my country and to be able to make a living as an artist. So I’ve juggled so many creative careers because you know, I’m trying to make ends meet solely as an artist and not do art and other things. So I’ve been like a photographer, creative directory. I’ve done a little bit of modeling and also like I’ve been practicing traditional art for like probably 10 years eight and drawing, painting, water colors, oil pastels and even wooden sculptures. So I’ve been really tapped into my creative energy for quite a long time and I’m just happy to be able to express it through NFTs and be able to actually make a living out of it. Cuz currently I’m working online, with Afro Future Dao as you know, and also full-time as an NFT artist. So it’s literally a whole new world. It’s like a dream come true for me.

How is the creative energy different between creating things that are physical versus digital?

Physical vs Digital Creative Energy

For me specifically, I have, I’m quite sentimental with my art and I’m not saying that just because it’s physical and digital, but I’m like a lot of people a lot of collectors in the physical art realm have not gotten like a liking to my art or I haven’t really tapped into people who can appreciate my art to the capacity, that I wanted to be like I would be selling an a one canvas at probably $50 or even $45. And I have to do like an extra detail painting and I’m like, the difference is so massive because when we come to NFTs I’m mostly working on digital computer, which is like my work on pad. And it takes averagely maybe an hour to three hours for me to create this piece. And like a collector’s gonna come and just drop $4,000 on it. And I don’t even know if they know how life changing that is for me, but that’s wild. It’s been a crazy relationship between me moving from physical art to like digital art and also finding like an in between for physical art and digital art in NFTs. Like I’m just settling in.

Yeah. I wanted to ask you like, because you’re just settling in like what have been some of the biggest misconceptions you’ve experienced as initially a physical artist now migrating into the digital world? Like what are some of like those big things that you thought or one thing that actually ended up being another thing?

Okay. the first thing that I really thought NFTs would be is like a get rich quick scheme. So a lot of the videos on YouTube that I was watching, a lot of the content I was reading is like, oh my God, look at this 18 year old, who’s making $300,000 from NFTs. This, I dunno, 24 year old, just made $1 million from NFTs. NFTs will make you rich. This is how to get into NFTs. And I’m like, I think it takes a lot more work than physical art and a lot of the problems that I see within the physical art world or within like physical art environments is like, they all kind of like transcend into the digital world. So like I end up getting burnouts as an artist. Like it’s very easy because you have to share, you have to join clubhouses, you have to really sell yourself and make value for yourself and your community in order to like really succeed within this industry. So that’s one thing I wasn’t particularly ready for putting myself out there and pushing myself out of my comfort zones. But now it’s something that I’m comfortable with. It’s something that I do on the regular and it’s something it’s like a culture I’m trying to cultivate within my life where I can push myself myself beyond boundaries of money and yeah, even the beyond boundaries of what I think I can create.

Yeah. It makes a lot of sense. And how did that kinda like transition to you being a part of Afro Future Dao?


It’s so interesting because Afro Future Dao came at a time of my life that I really, really wanted to completely immerse myself into crypto. So I got into Afro Future Dao they collected before I got into Afro Future Do actually they collected one of my pieces and I was like, that’s how I found out about Afro Future Dao. And I was like, this is like a really cool Dao. I was reading their statement and their website and just looking at some of the historical pieces that they have on foundation. And I was blown away because for me it’s intimate because that’s my history, you know, like it’s my history and it’s a point of like time that I didn’t know about. So I was like Afro Future Dao is really cool. Fast forward into like around August, I think it’s OctoberAfro Future Dao works in this way that each quarter, there’s like five images that drop from the Mohammed Amin collections. And that’s just one of the stuff that’s in the archive. And we also have like five artists who drop amazing pieces, which are not themed. It’s actually quite open. And you get to to explain what you think Afro Future means to you as an artist and visually translate it into like a composition in an NFT. So I happened to get chosen to be one of those artists and I feel very lucky. I feel pretty lucky to have gotten the opportunity to express what a future means to me. And it’s been an intimate journey since then. And after I was chosen to like become one of the commissioning artists I ended up attending one of the governance calls and they were expanding their team. And, you know, I signed up because I wanted to take part in building the black community in specific the black NFT communities. And it’s so important because the percentage of Western artists, the African artists in the NFT space is actually crazy. And I’m trying to make that easier. So that’s how I got into after future doubt. And that’s how this magical moment happened for me.

Let me ask you this. Why do you think web three may be the perfect medium to unlock the value of Africa’s history?

I feel like a lot of the issues that come up within African history is either the stories being hidden or the stories not having access to like expression or just a lack of access and ways to express ourselves. And I feel like web three will help in a way that not only will it validate and authenticate like where the stories came from and make it easier for us to understand, like who in particular came up with this story or who in particular, does this story involve in a certain particular time? I think it builds value in the community whereby anyone can access these stories. And it’s transparent to the point that everyone can also share these stories. And I feel like that can really build the community because a lot of black voices and black stories are like lost and I’d like to say diluted or yeah, diluted in particular. So I feel like web three really gives the artist and the storyteller and the creator, the opportunity to tell the story as they want to, or as it is, or as they want to express it. And that is really powerful to me. That’s an opportunity, a lot of artists don’t get to do. I feel like artists are really, we are really dictated on how we should create how we should live, how we should earn like a living and what we should say, what we should express. So yeah, those, are my thoughts on web three and the artist African community and historical assets.

Yeah. People reference web three as this like new cultural Renaissance driven through technology. And the last year we’ve seen like the rise of NFTs. We’ve seen a lot of new creators enter the space. What typically was like a lot of like non-sexy talk like cryptography and infrastructure type of discussions have now evolved into colors, art, music, culture, all these really, really sexy things that kind of attract an audience and build a lot of excitement around a new, I guess, a new medium. And one thing that I think is super interesting about Afro Future Dao is it’s really capitalizing on this, the sexy side of crypto by taking really cultural pieces and eloquent pieces that are like timestamps in history, right. Photography, essentially putting them on chain and making them even more permanent. Right. And I guess, like as I guess as what’s the word I’m like blanking out over here, as legit as that sounds as aha and like, obvious as that sounds, it’s one of those things where are capturing African culture and doesn’t have to be African culture specifically, any type of culture in the form of photography, I think is very, very valuable. And then let alone putting it on chain, then let alone starting an entire community around it with a social token to kind of create and sustain awareness is super brilliant.

It is, it is. Exactly why my mind was blown during that governance call. So I was like, if I hadn’t attended that governance call that day, I would probably not know a lot of the things that I know now. And one thing about the NFT industry or the community, or the space is that even if you don’t know, you end up learning a lot as you progress. And as you grow into the community, which is one thing I really, really love about this space, it’s a very supportive and it’s a very open transparent space. So that’s just, it’s amazing to me that this can exist and it’s a good time for it to exist as well.

Yeah. What does the future look like for Afro Future Dao, like what do you see it becoming in say 2, 3, 4 years.

Future of Afro Future Dao

I feel like Afro Future Dao is already a digital museum. I’d like to call it a digital museum. I would want to see a physical Afro Future Dao not just like a metaverse Afro Future Dao, somewhere you can walk in and actually find the NFTs that people have bought and that have been stored and that have been curated. And that’s what, I don’t know. I just like the idea of NFTs extending also into the physical realm, and being able to access it beyond digital ways and beyond digital devices. And I feel like Afro Future Dao is headed into kind of like a very cool historical museum that’s packed with information and historical assets and culture. I can’t wait to also see the number of artists that we’ll be able to support and amplify through our commissionings. Like, I can’t wait to see how many we’ll have, because the pieces are dropping about five each quarter and in a few years, that will be quite a lot of art pieces. So I can’t wait to see where that goes.

Yeah. I’d like to take a step back and kind of like put Afro Future Dao to the side, I’d love to talk about more about the creator landscape in Africa, you being a creator yourself. What are some trends or insights that may not seem so obvious to outsiders about what’s happening, what’s cooking with creators in Africa.

When I think about that question in like an NFT aspect what are kind of the tips that I would give an artist who is not sure about joining the NFT space or who has questions about the NFT space? It’s sad, but it’s beautiful at the same time, the amount of culture, the amount of talent and the amount of like craftsmanship and hardworking artists we have in Africa. But I still feel like it’s an untapped industry. Like the creative industry is tapped, but underfunded. Yeah. I like to say underfunded, especially like in my country, Kenya it’s undermined as well. People don’t think artists could make a living or artists actually deserve to make a living for making art, yet it’s one of the things that fuel grows within the country. It’s one of the things that you’ll see everyone post on billboards. So I just like to see a community where artists can actually be artists and make a living out of it. And I would like to actually tell many of the African artists who are out there and are trying to get into the NFT community is, to try something new and to kind of like see NFTs as a catalyst for something that could grow and that could transform their lives. And that could transform the creative economy in general, around every single country in Africa. And that’s kind of like my main tip is also like, just step out of your comfort zone. And it’s also sometimes not just stepping, not out of comfort zone, but also doing something that you like to do that you’d like to express. And I would also just like to tell the artists that be yourself, especially when you’re trying to sell your art make sure that your values are being represented in your art. It’s not all that time that you have to create a story for your art, it’s not all the time that you have to save face or make face for, you know, selling your work, just be yourself. And at the end of the day, I feel like if you just build value around your art as an artist, which means take time to understand your niche, take time, to understand your collectors, take time, to understand what you want to represent. I feel like at the end of the day, you’ll succeed as an artist. And that’s basically like how I live my life.

Yeah. I think you need to live your life very fundamental, whether without NFTs, right. For that to kind of show off and kind of shine through your, like your cryptographic work per se, you know, that needs to be who you are and the values you stand with, I guess from your point of view is what you’re saying kind of thing. Right. That’s how I’m kind of understanding

Exactly, exactly, exactly what I’m saying. Cuz like, I feel like I’ve experienced put or outs as an NFT artist and as a traditional artist and it’s just from all the things you have to do to sell your art, you know, it’s not easy selling your art, you don’t, you don’t just like mint your NFT, enlist it and someone comes and collect it. Sometimes it takes months. Sometimes it takes years. Some people actually don’t sell their art at all. So I guess it’s just a game also of patience. Like how patient can you be and not being too greedy for money. Yeah, yeah. In that line of thinking.

Yeah. Makes a lot of sense. What do you, what do you think I guess is stifling more adoption for African creators to kind of jump on board into this web three movement, tokenizing their work, their art, their craft, what do you think is missing to kind of like drive further adoption?

The Digital Divide in African Art

I’d like to say that a lot of companies based within Africa are not particularly keen on joining the crypto industry. There’s also very strict government regulations within Africa in crypto, very many countries don’t allow these kinds of things or they think like it’s a scam or they just align it with very negative thinking. So I think that that stops a whole lot of mass adoption because when I relate African countries to like the US and I’m seeing there’s Vogue, there’s Times, there’s Forbes. So many people, so many brands, there’s Pepsi. So many people trying to get into like NFTs big, big brands. But when we come to like Africa, I’m really not seeing like the same kind of movement within these core brands that could end up creating formal or like creating mass adoption in a way that they attract more people to like, look at this. This is like NFG and this is going to be big in like the next few years. So I don’t know how long that will take to like get to us because I feel like that would really change the environment to the point where even like the smaller African artists, like us who would practically not be known by many people out there would be able to collaborate with these big, big, big, big African brands. And I feel like just by that it would create a whole lot of amplification and mass adoption. So I’m really looking forward to the point where African artists like huge African artists, I’m talking about Burna boy, I’m talking about Whiz kid and these guys are trying to collaborate with the smaller, I don’t like saying small artists because it sounds so demeaning, but I mean, artists who are not amplified or who are not yet in the scene or who are not yet known in the scene, I feel like that would really be the catalyst to mass adoption within Africa when they really see what’s possible and they have like a valid, organization backing it because Africans are tough, man. I’ll tell you that for sure. Us as Kenyans, we’re so tough to like, come to the conclusion that something is real. They need to see tangible effort, which includes money, which includes, I don’t know, like the person living a lavish life. So I don’t know how far or how long till we get to that point as Africans, but I’m looking forward to it.

Yeah. Can you talk more about like the process of joining Afro Future Dao like, I guess the next step is, how did this kind of come into fold and what kind of like content and footage and artifacts kind of get collected? Like every community has like its sheet of fundamentals, you know, that they look for kind of thing. Like this kind of reminds me of like the whale community, that whale shark kind of co-brought to life and bunch of NFTs that he’s collected over the years. I think it’s like over 200,000 or something probably more at this point. Yeah. It feels like a similar vibe. Like how did that come about? And what kind of content do you guys collect?

Afro Future basically collects Afro-futuristic art and that all narrows down to what Afro-futurism means to you. Particularly for me, Afro-futurism means black people getting to express themselves the way they want to when they want to and how they want to. So when you think of that, it really opens up the, you know, the boundaries as to far, we can go and how different our collection looks like. Like the process of joining Afro Future Dao, we have a collectible collection on the near blockchain and it’s called the Afro future mafia. And it costs just about 25 [inaudible], which should be around a $120. I’m not sure yet. I’m not sure. Like very sure, but yeah, that’s how I ended up joining Afro Future Dao. There’s also very many ways to like earn Afro Future token. So the process of on-boarding onto AF future Dao is pretty easy and there’s so many ways that you can earn the Afro future tokens. And there will be many more ways that we are about to bring up into the, the community that will enable people to have kind of like a rewarding token system. So if you tweet like one of our posts, if you retweet them, you’ll be able to earn tokens. If you comment, you’ll be able to on tokens, if you join and participate in our discord chats and calls and our Twitter spaces  such kinds of things will be taking place actually quite soon, quite soon. So people will be able to earn Afro Future tokens just by doing simple, simple tasks. And this is just how easy like Afro future has made it for the common artist, the common person who does not have like a hundred thousand dollars to get. So there’s in many ways you can onboard into the Afro future community and it doesn’t just end at, collecting one of the Afro future mafia, which is our generative collectible on the near blockchain. That’s just one of the ways that you can join, but we’re about to introduce a rewarding token system, that will allow our users and our participants to earn Afro future tokens just by doing very simple tasks, like liking our tweets, retweeting our tweets, like engaging and live tweeting during our Twitter spaces and Afro Future radio calls, which are so dope. And I think that it’s something easy even for the common artist and the common collector and the common person who is about to join like NFTs to do so there’s nothing really hard and there’s nothing really high valued, or like pricey that you need to like give, to join the community. It’s also about, you know, support the people within the Afro future community. You don’t have to be like part of Afro Future Dao to support Afro Future Dao. So, buy an AF future mafia, retweet our tweets, join our discord community because that’s where a lot of updates go through and you’ll be able to be on-boarded and guided if that’s what you need by one of our team members like our core members and it’s quite easy. And it’s, I feel like you have like a lot to reap as an artist and as a collector in terms of information.

That makes sense. I guess I wanna ask you a couple more questions. So what would be, I guess the end goal of capturing all these moments, like, okay, you have a vault, a digital vault of all these high quality epic moments in African history. Okay. What, what’s next? Like what do you do with that? Do you, I know you talked about in like earlier about being a digital museum, you know, being able to scout that, but how can it extend beyond a museum you think?

Why Capture these Moments Digitally?

I think also a lot of these historical assets to me, they look like art or they are art, and a lot of them are not tokenized. They’re not capitalized, they’re just hidden or they’re not sold. And I feel like it’s quite an undervalue to not sell these pieces. So I feel like even just by putting some of these photographs up as NFTs and being able to sell them and generate money for the community it’s a way to, you know, crowdfund and it’s a way to build the community just by selling art and putting value on art that would’ve not have any value at all. And would’ve been hidden and would’ve not been seen at all. And I feel like even just by showcasing these images and these cultural and historical asset it’s really inspiring to the community. And it’s a huge step to very many things that we would be able to do in the future. It’s not just about, you know, putting up the art and seeing the photo it’s about being able to actually sell the art it’s about being able to support the community by selling that piece of art by by sharing that cultural asset. I feel like it inspires a lot of African artists to move into the space as well. When they see something that’s theirs and they see that it has value and they see that been valued in the industry. I feel like it really inspires us to work into expressing ourselves and to work also into valuing our culture and our art

Yeah. Makes a lot of sense. Makes a lot of sense. So if I was a creator who wanted to make it into the vault, okay, how would I go by doing that? What does the process look like?

So if you do want to access the vault, you need to have a set amount of Afro future tokens or you need to have an Afro future mafia. And the Afro future mafia is probably the easiest way that you can access the vault by having the Afro future mafia NFT, you will be able to get whitelisted and it’s simple. It’s as simple as that, you get a link to the photos and it’s thousands and thousands of historical assets and historical and cultural photos dating from, I think the 1950s all the way till the 1990s. And it’s insane. It’s insane because a whole, a whole lot of these moments are we would like to think that they were undocumented, but they’re documented and they’re just not out there. People just don’t know it. And it’s actually a very, what can I say? It gives me go bumps when I open the vault, like when I can see the pictures in the vault and to know that I can do that from anywhere in the world and any one of us can do that from anywhere in the world. It’s just crazy to me. But yeah, it’s as easy as buying one of our Afro future mafia on the near blockchain. And you can access that through our Twitter. Our Twitter has all the links that you need to know. And also our website is very up to date and has every single information that you need to know.

I love to hear it super exciting stuff, Dada, before I let you go, where can we find Afro Future Dao? Where can we find your work? Give us the entire spiel.


Currently Afro Future Dao is mostly based on Twitter and Discord. And we are called @Afrofuture AI on Twitter and on discord, we are called Afrofuture Dao, but you can find all our links on our Twitter and even our website is and has every single information that you would need as an artist to join AF future Dao or to even join, you know, the NFT industry. There’s a whole lot of information on the vault and how to access the vault and club Afro future is which is our spot where we showcase art and yeah, all that juice and goodness is on our Twitter, which is Afrofutureai. And for me, I am at [inaudible] or HVR memoirs, memoirs like memories. And you can find my arts on foundation on Zora open C. I’m a pretty experimental girl. So I have very many different pieces touching on very many different themes. And I hope I can expand that collection soon and also like my collection, because I want to be able to collect other people’s arts soon, but yeah, be sure to check in with us and be sure to to give us some retweets and likes and comments. It goes a whole long way in amplifying us and the community in general.

Amazing. Thank you so much. I hope to have you guys again soon. Thank you.

Thank you too. It’s been a wonderful and very easy session. I’m happy to be here

Podcast Transcript

How Social Tokens Can Detox Africa’s Corrupt Media Landscape

Listen on: Spotify | Apple Music | Google Podcast


Mint Season 3 episode 19 welcomes Andile Masuku, founder of the African Tech Roundup. The independent Africa-focused technology, digital, and innovation media platform recently tapped into the world of crypto by launching their social token $ATRU on Socialstack. With the help of their community, they’re exploring new financing paths to bypass traditional corrupt media in Africa. 

In this episode we discuss:

  • 0:00 – Intro
  • 5:09   –  About Andile Masuku
  • 13:22 –  Tell us about $ATRU
  • 19: 21 – Journey into Crypto
  • 29:08 –  Social Tokens and democratized media
  • 41:55 –  Celo Grant Funding
  • 47:47 –  How do you educate your audience?
  • 55:59 –  Is the process automated?
  • 61:35 –  Minting Social Tokens?
  • 74:38 –  Learning Incentives
  • 78:44 – Outro

…and so much more.

Thank you to Season 3’s NFT sponsors!

1. Coinvise –

2. POAP –

3. Socialstack –

Interested in becoming an NFT sponsor? Get in touch here!

Welcome to Mint. How are you doing my friend?

I’m doing fantastic. Thank you for having me, Adam Levy.

I know you have your own podcast and maybe it may be unfamiliar to be on the other side of the stage being interviewed, but I wanted to have you on okay. One, because you’re a fantastic creator yourself. Two you’re dabbling more and more into the world of social tokens. And I think you’re actually getting super creative with how you’re approaching it through your podcast, which I think a lot of other creators can learn. But before we get into that, who are you, what should we know about you? And more specifically, what were you doing before dabbling in the world of crypto?

Firstly, I regret this interview happening at this time of the night because I have amazing natural light during the day. So where I’m sitting, like I’d be bathed in gorgeous light, dude.

You look golden. You’re good. You’re good.

But seriously to your question, I’m being extra and vain. What did I do before crypto? Who am I? So I am the last born of the three boys. I was born in Zimbabwe in the Southern part of Africa. I think the reason I mentioned that is because it seems unlikely that I would later become one of the more pro prominent voices in African tech no small thanks to a little podcast called African Tech Roundup, which I started on my living room couch with a friend. Prior to that, I mean, I studied business school. I studied for a business degree shotgun to the back of my head. My dad forced me to do it. And I’m really grateful at this point that he kind of parent pressured me into, into studying business as a major, but sneaking off to field trips with the media students at adversity is actually what got me into broadcasting, quite literally a trip to the SABC, which is the South African Broadcasting Corporation changed my life. I got the opportunity to spend a few minutes on radio, sort of doing links with aDJ. I knew what I kind of thought I needed to do for the rest of my life. So I spent the rest of the field trip getting lost in the building, quote unquote. By the end of that trip, I had five phone numbers, which I called all of them agents, all five of them told me to get lost, except for the last one, the receptionist felt sorry for me and said, you know, you sound like you’ve got a little talent. You know, you might be good for some voiceovers or whatever. There’s two agents that have just left this agency to start their own. Maybe they’ll see you. So this is like circa 2003 and breaking into mainstream media. Wasn’t something you could just walk off the street and do you kind of had to come through sort of University radio or Community radio or some kind of, sort of formal training, you know, intern someplace and then get into it. So in any case they said, they’d see me if I did a demo, which I had to spend the next month waiting tables to afford to make cuz that’s what it costs. I mean, there weren’t these USB mics like these and like you couldn’t just do a demo. So in any case three weeks after finally getting the gig to see this agent they landed me my first voiceover for Coca-Cola. Not a bad placement. So I mean, by the time I finished university, I was probably in my second or third year of a four year degree. By the time I finished university, I had a little portfolio of work and and of course, so I launched into the world as a professional, doing work that was in line with my degree. But as soon as I could, I basically bolted for a broadcasting career, at least the kind that I could sort of latch onto. And so one thing led to another I had more experience as a broadcaster and TV personality, radio person, voiceover artist eventually writer/producer in mainstream television and radio. When that career stalled suddenly I had this amazing gig in television here in South Africa that just disappeared after four years. And, you know, I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t own the property. Nothing really came next in a way that I thought would, because I felt like this big deal, I was this producer host. But nothing really did. And that’s when I picked up a podcast mic and started trying to piece together my dignity. At the time, I mean, podcasting felt like a joke. It was like, this is what you do when you fall off and you’re desperate to keep being a broadcaster. That’s what it felt like. This is around 2009 and I know America kind of took to podcasting a lot sooner, but right in on the continent and most parts of the world, 2009, nothing was on. Podcasting was not a thing. If you are not a broadcaster link to some kind of network or major sort of radio station or something like don’t call yourself a broadcaster. But I insisted like on my Twitter bio, I was a broadcaster and I was broadcasting these podcasts. These storytelling things that no one would listen to. I’d spent inordinate amounts of time and my me like putting them together and fun fact, and now I’m really digressing but fun fact. The very first few podcasts I made, which was like the series, which was so originally dubbed Andile’s take, right. Because everyone’s waiting to get my take on things. I did this podcast series and at least two or three of them, I’m quite proud of, you know, I feel like they’d stand up with some, you know, some stuff on NPR and stuff. But I did them at a time when literally, no one was listening. Five years later, a producer at the BBC would hear them and go, we have to work with that guy, which is how I ended up working at the BBC and has on basically their biggest storytelling program globally with like an audience of 71 million people around the world. So yeah. So it’s been a ride. So long story short in between all of that, I’ve been like a media consultant. I consult on media strategy and content plays. I’ve got a fairly, impressive list of corporate and high net worth individuals I’ve consulted to over the years, Airbnb, the Caring group, a number of different organizations international and on the continent. And so, so these consulting gigs, stitch together make for a career. So the African Tech Roundup turned into this thing, that actually properly internationalized me because yeah, no one was covering, Tech the way I was doing at the time. And yeah, it got me spending three months out of the last four or five years away from home, all over Europe and other parts of the world basically wrapping the ecosystem for a world that typically has all these over simplifications, embedded in their thinking about, you know, what the African opportunity is, what it actually means to start up in Africa. Are you real, is the hype real? Is there anything worth investing in? And so yeah, the last year or two has been testament to the fact that yes, there is a lot going here, there’s a lot of hype, but there’s also a lot of things worth investigating and investing in. So here we are today. So I’ve given you, a ride around my life.

So what were you covering that was so original and so unique at ATR?

It’s ATRU, for African Tech Round Up. I coined the, the phrase oversimplification is the enemy. Largely, I think that was really what we were up to. There are a lot of lazy narratives about a lot of things. Blue is great, Red is bad, I’m using these flipping examples. But we typically, especially in the social media era are given to binary responses to most things, you know? For most people in the world Silicon valley, progress, amazing energy, you know, innovation, big business, big tech. African tech, you’re like, is that actually a thing? Anything African is like suspect, problematic, un-investable. Good for foreign aid, but not for investment. So there are a lot of these oversimplifications and then they’re also positive oversimplifications like, yes, Africa’s the future, you know, Africa rising, like the macros of the African opportunity because of the population growth story and there’s all these things, and you start to realize that someone has to make sense of what’s real and what’s actually going on. And there are people who are affected by these stories in unaccepted ways. So when you tell a story that’s oversimplified in the positive and it fails, or in a bubble burst or because it doesn’t account for all the complexities, it actually affects the people on the ground far more than the people who sometimes mean well, and tell those stories abroad to try and drum up interest. In the same way, it also affects the people on the ground, the everyday African negatively, when the truth of their resilience and their innovation and what they bring to the world in a unique way is poorly positioned or sometimes completely ignored by a world that assumes the only way Africa can get ahead is if US aid. So that’s the value proposition. It turns out you just need to care, you need to be blessed with an international grasp of English that most people can understand. You have a talent for sense making and critical thinking and critical reasoning, a legit lack of fear or reverence for the status quo, because I didn’t come from tech, so I don’t know, like, it’s nothing to me to like, meet the CEO of some major corporation and straight up go, you know, why is your corporation bad for Africa? I have nothing to lose. It turns out like even when you come at people with that and they recognize your intent is genuine, and you’re not here to, to sort of build your own thought leadership, they actually find it really refreshing to have a real conversation with a human being, rather than a broadcaster who’s trying to project some kind of eloquence or grasp. And it took me probably a year and a half to figure that out because I was trying to demonstrate that I was as smart as the people I was interviewing. But after a while, it was like, actually, if you just be you in this context and actually serve people and actually have in mind the people who are currently asking these questions and looking all over the internet for answers and not finding them, and you’re serving them, something will come of it. And so that therein lies the long tail value of our platform. In the year we went away for a year, during the first COVID year, we took hiatus. We were averaging, I don’t know, 3,000, 4,000, sometimes 6,000 listens a month without so much as a tweet or, you know, retweet, organically ranking on Google, for search terms like African tech organically, top one or two, three, without having to publish a single piece of content that whole year. So that says something about not just the quality of the content or how well it meets the need, but also are just how great the need is the hunger for answers to basic questions about what’s happening on the ecosystem free of the sort of special interests that typically frame these questions, or like typically just content market the heck out of their position. So that’s what I think is in many words, I think African Tech Roundup did and does well is just keep it real without trying to be like, hey, we’re here to keep it real. In a way that you can’t just be here and do this when your, I don’t know, CNN, like it’s just not on brand to be that way.

So how did that kind of lead into you jumping into crypto?

So I have to sort of shout out the homie Andrew Berkowitz, he’s a CEO and co-founder of a company called Social Stack. He and I were deep into this podcast hustle full-time. So I maybe had a year or two on him. Maybe we started the same year or so. I can’t quite remember, but between the two of us, we probably had interviewed, like we’d spoken to more ecosystem players to do with African Tech than pretty much anyone in the world at a certain point in history. And and so we were both determined to try and figure out a model for not just creating a sustainable lifestyle business out of our love for podcasting and the work we did in media, but, you know, like why couldn’t we thrive? Why couldn’t we create this business? And I mean, we started to see things pop off in the US, but other parts of the world, you see Gimler and you see all these other things and you think why couldn’t we be that, like, why couldn’t we do a version of that. We were brothers in arms for the longest time and we co-consulted together. Like at some point, we had this whole plan to like merge our businesses, you know, his in DC, mine in South Africa. And then COVID hit and it got me rethinking the premise of everything I was doing as a broadcaster. I was confronted with just how much stewardship is required of having this much power. And I didn’t even have that much power, but it did, you know, at its peak African Tech Roundup is standard fare. Either in the written content we put out, or the podcast we put out is like standard fare for anyone within an Africa focused interest in tech, in the highest echelons of power everywhere in the world typically. Right. And so you start to, you start to recognize that this comes with some serious power and I don’t think I was approaching it with the right level of stewardship mentality, which I think I properly addressed since then in my own mind, but certainly even in the practice. And so between those two things, this tension of wanting to do important work as creators, we didn’t even call ourselves creators. Then we thought of ourselves as media makers as podcasters. So there’s this economic sustainability question it feels unjust and frustrating that you can put this much work and passion into work like this and it not deliver an economic benefit that matches it. Something just felt wrong about that on one hand and then the other hand on the other hand, the demand in terms of the ethics of, of media practice are such that, you know, there’s always this question of, you know, in pursuit of like the economic prosperity aspect of the work. To what extent are you compromising the ethics of the practice, which, for a very long time, it didn’t sit well with me to be called a journalist, even though that’s what the PBC called me. I embraced that somewhat. I was definitely a journalist.

It extends away way beyond that. It extends way, way beyond journalism.

It’s not just a question of like journalistic ethics. I think the question is when you have the opportunity to influence listeners, and I don’t mean that in a sort of flippant way, like influence them to get the latest pair of Jordans or whatever, or by an NFT I’m talking about influence from the standpoint of you have earned their trust, and they will make economic decisions, business decisions, life changing decisions, like where to go to university or career choices or which country to invest in which African country to headquarter in. Which founder to back, which area in tech to invest some research in. I mean, these are the sort of decisions, our platform was starting to influence on a regular basis based on a track record of trust and agnostic delivery of insights. So then it becomes, how do you protect that? How do you deliver on that even as you sort of figure out a way to make this a viable business, which almost feels like, yeah, it just creates that tension. And so that gets you thinking about, you know, the model, how we infuse a stewardship model that delivers on economic benefit, but also doesn’t erode the trust and the greater ethic of journalistic integrity that you want to see in great media that you wanna make. And these are obviously problems that have made my life that much harder because there’s a version of my life that would be so much easier and so much more prosperous financially if I didn’t care about any of this stuff. And I could just jump on a mic and do the popular thing, or be popular or not care about whether or not this is good for the world or good for Africa. That doesn’t make me a Saint, it just makes me idealistic and principled, which many people are, and in my position, it’s like you don’t squander the opportunity to try and protect something like this and, and see it outlive you and your personal involvement, which is the other thing that was key to like, thinking about crypto, which is, what does this look like when I’m not on the mic anymore or is this about me? Is this a sort of lifestyle business? At some point, all the podcast was about, remember how I started was it was an accessory to a career that I was trying to resuscitate in an attempt to stay relevant. What I stumbled upon was a responsibility to serve an audience, a community, we call the village a genuine opportunity to impact the trajectory of our continent and the role of technology in that trajectory. Then you think, yeah, no, you gotta take care of this, you gotta do that. Honestly, nothing else about crypto appealed to me, everything else, screamed, scam, stay away. I’m not an early adopter for anything, like, forget about it. I shouted out the homie, Andrew, like he tried, like, I should be sitting on like a decent sort of Bitcoin stash by now, he tried, you know, he’s like, bruh, like, get yourself like a couple of these I’m like, nah.

This internet funny money.

Money, forget this funny money. And so honestly, it sounds kinda bleeding heart, but it really was like, if it wasn’t for these greater bigger I suppose matters of the heart, but honestly, philosophical, moral issues around the practice of media making that I’ve come to love if it wasn’t for those things and the tension between that and needing to basically, you know, you know, be a great husband and provide for my family, and basically benefit economically and create a legacy if it wasn’t for these greater ideas, I wouldn’t be in crypto today,

You know, shout out to Andrew because Andrew has been a big supporter since nearly day one of Mint through sponsorship. And I genuinely love Social Stacks community because one they’re after like pursuing mission driven communities, right. So there’s a lot of like social token projects or token projects in general. That treat their communities as pump and dumps. And one thing that’s super unique about Social Stack is like embedding into their community to be mission driven first, which is super aligned with what ATRU is doing. Right. Yeah. I applaud the way you guys are super aligned with how you want to build community with how you’re thinking about ethics and how you guys are kind of approach crypto as the medium to kind of execute on that vision. So when it comes to building social tokens, right. How do you think social tokens can kind of create new models for democratized media platforms that don’t have to kind of be what’s the word, sucked in by corporate interest funding or sustainability? Like, do you kind of think about that?

So Alex, I’ll answer that question by just telling you how we transitioned. Okay. So you start with this podcast that is designed literally to resuscitate a career and keep you relevant. And therefore is an accessory to a career, right? You start there and then you stumble upon the fact that, oh, this is actually slightly more than that because the first phone call you get a year in is from the Netherlands, from a company called VC for Africa that do great work in terms of mapping and well, I suppose, mapping and convening the, the venture capital and startup community across the continent. And this is the first phone call you get from someone who says, hey, they listen to your podcast, would you be interested in some consulting business? We’re working on a Mook you know, we’d love your input on like the programming and that turns into a two year engagement in creating an online academy for founders on the continent. And your sort of editing, your directing on screen talent, you’re presenting this content. Then you suddenly realize, wait, there’s a direct link between the work I’m doing every week in keeping people informed and sharing insights and sense making, and a pipeline of consulting business. Blank cheque consulting business, cuz it’s different every year, every phone call you gets really different, every asks different. So it’s not a model. The model is continue to invest in the network effect, which delivers predictably unpredictably over time. And so you make that the model and you sort of double down on that. And, but at the center of this whole thing is you because you can’t really share it because you don’t really share the platform. You don’t wanna really share the glow because it really, it does come down to the next phone call, which you really do hope is your next consulting opportunity for you. And so then it transitions to, oh well, it can, and probably should be more than that. Because you know, one you’re reaching, a much wider audience than you even expected. You’re getting syndication opportunities. The BBCs calling you from time to time to do sort of features whenever the important things are happening on the continent or developments and your profiles growing, you suddenly realize that you are in the public service. Now you have to think, well if the BBC thinks of me as a journalist, let me read up on what that is. And you order some masterclasses at universities, journalism department. And you start to realize, okay I’m cynical about this idealism around what journalism can and should be, but there’s a lot in here that I probably can and should be adapting into my practice. And so maybe I should create some kind of safeguards from capture as it were right. Safeguards from myself and my personal interests and safeguards from people who it’s becoming quite apparent are quite willing to hijack the feed to reach the audience. Right. And what does hijacking the feed look like? It’s like, people literally want to turn you into the brand X, African Tech Roundup. So they basically wanna rebrand you or they wanna dominate like two thirds of your feed with their content marketing or whatever. And you suddenly realize, well, no, we can’t have that. We’re gonna need to figure out how to balance the opportunity to benefit economically with the needs to keep this pure. And then the next transition is sort of like, how do you do that? Because ad sales can be problematic, doing the sort of sponsored content stuff is tricky. In an ideal world, you shouldn’t have to think about any of that, right. In an ideal world, you should be resourced by the people who care the most about the work you do and who care the most about keeping it, free of any influences that would influence what they hear or what goes out in the world. And so, I mean, looking around there aren’t that many options for mechanisms to deliver on that. And so there in lies the social tokens, potential utility it’s untested to the degree, to which we envisage it being tested. But we are sure going to try to create an economy of value that leverages the opportunity to democratize who truly owns the platform who truly determines, flow of projects via platform into the public sphere. That’s how the social token fits into everything. And it’s actually what got me in and honestly, I probably wouldn’t be in crypto at all if it wasn’t for this innovation in crypto. So how many generations is probably like two or three generations into the crypto trend. That sort of birthed social tokenry is what caught me. I was like, oh, this makes sense to me.

A couple points. Okay. So I make it fully transparent that Mint’s business model is through selling sponsorships. Okay. So up and coming startups or existing companies that want to tap into like unique audiences and specifically creator like audiences they come to Mint. So the way I think about it okay, is I issue three to five NFTs per month or per season. And I look for partners to help support the show in an effort to promote them to the audience. And the way that kind of works is depending on the NFT, they purchase determines their level of promotion for that season. Okay. And I’ve gotten a lot of inbound requests from all these different projects, can we sponsor, can we sponsor, can we sponsor? For me, I always think about what could be the best value add to my audience. So rather than thinking about it from a control point of view, right. I think about it, like, okay, there’s projects like Coinvise, like POAP, like Social Stack like Prime Down, like Cello These are some of the sponsors that have been on projects in the past that are actually super ethical startups. They have ethical founders, they have very transparent missions. You see their actions, they’re actually committing really net positive outcomes for the space in general. What’s the harm? If you make it apparent, if you make it transparent, you let people know that look, they are sponsors, right. They are supporting the podcast. It’s a means of keeping this thing up and running and providing content. I’ve learned to understand and also by the way, all the revenues on chain too. So if you do [inaudible] you can see everything is transparent, clear to the point. You can see all that stuff intentionally that if there is some type of on chain play, whether it be an NFT, whether it be a token, whether it be whatever it may be, we have like a track record of everything that’s been happening transparently and publicly. So I think there’s different ways to approach it. But I do agree with you that if it gets to the point where it’s manipulative, the narrative is being controlled by sponsors. Like I remember seeing this thing on TikTok. In the last year or so, a lot of the, don’t don’t quote me on the media outlet. I think it was CNBC don’t quote me a hundred percent, but they had like a big Pfizer sponsorship and after every single thing, it was like, this episodes brought to by Pfizer and after they’re done interviewing this episode was made possible by Pfizer and Pfizer just kept on popping up everywhere, everywhere, everywhere. And with that came the narrative of the vaccine. So it makes you think actually, what is happening around this? What’s going on? And I don’t know, these are just some thoughts, I guess, from your point of view, it’s like actually media in Africa is super tainted it lacks ethics, it lacks transparency and African Tech Roundup came into the picture to provide more of that color, more of that narrative around what’s actually happening and uplift the entire scene as what was happening on ground. That’s, that’s how I’m kind of understanding it.

I have to, you know, tip my hat to you because I think you have a very evolved sense of ethical practice in the work you do. I would say that what you’ve just described to a large degree, definitely vibes with my sensibilities, for how to balance the pragmatic need to deliver on, building a business on media practice or a media practice based business. Whether you’re doing it for yourself or you’re trying to build something larger than that. I think so having said that like media practice in the context of a continent that African stories or stories about Africa fuel so many nasty agendas around the world, it is such a lucrative business to spin stories about Africa that ultimately are bad for Africa and Africans. And ultimately because of the size of our continent and it’s outsized impact on the world that are ultimately bad for the world. And so in that context, I think there is a slightly more weighted and urgent need to sort of address intent and special interest influencing journalism and storytelling and the dissemination of both around the world. I mean, I worked for the BBC, which is the world’s biggest broadcaster and part of the reason, now I have to say this carefully, because I worked with amazing people and, you know, highly ethical and amazing people. But I mean, there’s very specific reason why the stories you hear about Africa on major platforms around the world are the way they are. And it isn’t just because they sell newspapers or they attract clicks. There are greater agendas at play. And so there’s definitely this question of, okay, if you are gonna be part of this, there’s what works, but then there’s typically what doesn’t work so well. It took a blockchain company, like Cello for us to land our first journalism grant for education sort of media grants.

Which we should talk about more.

That says something, right? It says something because it took that level of alignment in sort of democratized potential for us to land our first 25 grand in seven years of applying for various grant funds and being part of accelerator programs. And that’s crazy. I being tipped, I mean, I’d get people like in different parts of the world going, oh, these guys are talking about you dudes you’re in someone’s deck at this such and such conference or whatever and we’d be like that’s fantastic. We applied for grant from there. We never get the money, never get the money because we’re just not brand safe. We’ll never be the brand that gets the money and then follows them around the world, like telling the world how great they are, because they give us the money. Like we’ll never be that brand. And so they’re like once that penny drops, like we are just, not people they wanna play with. Yeah. And so that’s when you realize and that’s why I’m saying kudos to you because you’re doing it in an industry that I feel you could get you don’t have to do things the way you’re doing, and care as much about like who gets to advertise and you know, and the nature of it and like keeping it, but also it’s inherent to the blockchain space you’re in where culturally, these are norms. In journalism, like being the insider, owning the story, having the scoop privileged access. Do you get what I’m saying? Like holding certain stories back and certain secrets back. For various interest in doing this as a favor and that’s everyday life and its normalized, beneath a veneer of all this, you know, journalism is this career of integrity, but underneath it, and I’ve been there, it’s, it’s all this other stuff that you actually do have to solve for because it’s poisonous. And if you want things to be done in a way that will benefit society, you are gonna have to solve for that. It’s not gonna happen because your editor says we are gonna be ethical. It’s gonna be like, how do you make sure then that the guy who owns the place, isn’t gonna stop the story when it comes to the grants. How are you gonna solve for it? When you know this sponsor who spent millions of dollars, you know, keeps us from talking when you know, there’s a scandal in their company, how are you gonna solve for those things? And then also in, in typical media organizations, to be fair to these amazing hardworking journalists who work there, they’re so far removed from the economic interests of those or large organizations that however hard they work to be integrous sometimes is undermined by the ownership structures and the lack of proper. So I I’m coming from a world where I’ve been deep fried in these issues, right. In a way that’s different. And also, I think what’s also different with you and what’s refreshing with you and just listening to how you are trying to solve for integrity in your space is that you came out of the gate. And my sense is you’re part of a different generation. I don’t know how much younger you are than me, but I think you’re part of a generation where aspirationally like the younger millennials and Gen Z, like you all are onto a sense of like, we wanna do better than where I’m kind of an older millennial. I’m a millennial by the skin of my teeth and I’m a little more institutionalized than most people. So I had to sort of like see this first hand and realize how I was even part of the problem before it hit me in the face, before I was willing to go, hey, you know? That’s also what I learned from Andrew. UI think he was onto a lot of the stuff in a way from being based in DC. For a lot of his time as a podcaster, he had a front row seat to the interplay between power and media. I had the African experience in media and power and how the African stories often hijacked by big media organizations. I know I’m kind of going on for a bit here.

No, this makes a lot of sense, because again, it all ties back into like the corruption of different business models that play with media in Africa, in how social tokens or crypto in general aims to solve. Right. Okay. Mint is one example making all payments, all transactions from sponsors on chain. So users and listeners can see what exactly is happening underneath the hood. You’re approaching it from the point of view of like, okay, let’s approach social tokens. Let’s try to remove and go straight to the community and the people who love and adore African Tech Roundup, Crowdfund from them, get them involved and have them actually participate in the future success of what this media platform can become. Super unique, super original, and actually quite intuitive to what’s actually happening in the media space in Africa, from what I’m understanding. These business models are corrupt. Crypto is kind of that step forward of trying to solve it and trying to introduce new light into the image. There’s a lot of experimentation though. There’s a lot of education required. My next question to you is how are you thinking about that? Like obviously you guys have a program in place that you’re trying to kind of like create token based engagement, token based listenership, but with kind of implementing something like that comes a lot of education. And I think it’s something that a lot of people have a hard time getting across to their audience because it’s so new because it’s so fresh and it can be quite intimidating to jump in. How have you kind of tackled that? How are you educating your audience to implement these token based listenership engagement programs that you’re kind of experimenting with?

So first inherent to our reboot, which was in June, 2021 we came back from a year long hiatus, which was, you know, my co-founder Musa was very kind to just allow me to sort of figure myself out and figure out what we were gonna bring back when we did decide to come back and what we came back with was an educational premise. Our flagship in the past was the African Tech Roundup flagship podcast, which was, largely me sometimes, a co-host like my co-founder Musa, or another co-host in the past. It was a talking heads format that did grapple with like some of the leading, the most, top of mind things that were happening in the ecosystem and sort of breaking those down and having a guest like unpack a less explored topic and that sort of thing. And then there were interviews and stuff, but what I realized, what I was inspired by was Quora and the normalization that something like Quora has brought to challenging someone who knows a lot about something to place it upon themselves, to share with the ecosystem. Now inherent to this process, there’s a lot of people who’ve now, like literally turned this into a thought leadership exercise, and literally just constantly try and position themselves as the answer to any given question. But I think by and large, the vibe is, hey, if I’ve experienced this thing that I think another hundred people, even 10 people, sometimes a thousand people have also gone through, let me ask this question and answer it and put it out in the world, mo the benefit of everybody. And Quora’s got the system that sort of, allows village credit to accrue, you know, positively towards people who do this, and do this really, really well. And it also helps people discover this stuff, through an up-voting process, et cetera. I don’t know why I’m explaining Quora to your audience because that’s really stupid, but it kind of ties together. So I’m looking at this right alongside everything I’m starting to learn about crypto and everything. And I’m thinking one of the problems of how we were doing this before is we made ourselves so necessary. We made people wait often up to a month sometimes at a time to hear from us and what we would distill. And we took great pride in sort of owning this agenda setting mandate and basically I took great pride in like letting people know what was important to know when we were ready for them to know it was important to know whatever, right? So there was this big flex, this was all about, but it meant that there were 30 other days in the feed, like nothing was happening. And we called dibs on those 30 days and we saw, it was more beneficial in our minds, than have those days be dormant than to put out stuff that wasn’t us like advancing our leadership in the space. Right. And I know this sounds really self-centered and of course there was a lot more heart to it than that. And of course we cared and it wasn’t just about us. But at the heart of it was this, I suppose, this idea that really didn’t account for all the brilliance in our ecosystem. And then it was also counterintuitive, but it was also countered to the need we had of the very same ecosystem to support us because we created a situation that made it so that every time I met somebody, while we were on hiatus, they were like, oh bro, like you, you need to come back cuz nothing’s happening till you do. And I was like, how’s that my job to watch the back of our ecosystem. Like when did that become my job to do that and then I was like, oh, but that’s what I trained them to expect. You know? And then I was like, no, when we come back, we need to crush that nonsense. Right. And so [inaudible] series is literally a series of podcasts 15 minutes or less, that answer questions about the ecosystem that typically are going unanswered, um where on the internet and so that is now the flagship premise. The premise is we are going to seed into the internet a bunch of answers or a bunch of minimum viable responses to questions that are often asked about tech innovation, Africa’s digital transformation that aren’t being answered adequately or in this format or at all. We’re just gonna start doing that and we hope they will inspire even more responses or, you know, rebuttals and, and, and spark debate. And, and before long they’ll start to look and feel like a really well nurtured Quora question that elicits thousands of responses and, and it turns into its own thing. Yeah. And so I’m sharing this because this is the mindset we brought to how I think the ecosystem needs to start to own the responsibility, to nurture itself, to have an other centered approach, to what it means to be part of this community and care about it and do business here and to tell news about it, create stories and tell stories about it and answer questions and ask questions about it. Like this shouldn’t be a question of which questions Andile thinks are worth answering today and which issues does Andile think are worthy of like turning into a podcast tomorrow. This should be a much broader premise of all of us learning and growing together, you know, learning and growing in public together. Sure. And so that’s the general premise. So now, when you think about the social token and who should be able to earn it and why it’s within the context of those exchanges, you know, are you contributing to these processes either by consuming consciously, that is, like taking in really good stuff and sharing it with other people, can we prove you’ve listened, um reward you for that? Can we reward you for sharing it with someone else? Can we reward you for contributing a great theme or question that ends up into a podcast episode? Can we thank you for the time you spend volunteering for the organization in some fashion, or, bringing your insights as someone in the trenches or who as an expert in the space, how do we turn all these positive things we want to see normalized in our ecosystem? How do we create a sensibility of accountability, but also, reward system that is this very organic, thank you for taking part. That’s the spirit behind the social token. And those are the things we are looking to find smart ways to reward. And so that’s what we started with basic things like Easter eggs hidden in our content. You answer a question, send us the answer to that question, reward you with token and things like that.

Is that process automated?

So we are working with social stack to get it done, but no, it’s not automated. I’m afraid. It’s in some respects as clumsy as it sounds. I don’t wanna sort of scoop some of the things social stacks working on to like, get this really slick because there’s really some cool stuff currently in beta that I can’t talk about right now, but I mean, no, for the moment it is, as clumsy as you might expect, it’s a Google form, you fill out, you ping us and you send us your cello address, and then we reward you. It’s like your social stack. It’s no where near the ideal.

Yeah. Okay. So this is how I’ve been doing it on Mint, because I also try to implement like a proof of participation type of…..

We call it proof of play.

Okay. There you go. Proof of play. Proof of participation. The way I do it. Okay. And if anybody that’s listening that also has a podcast, or also has some type of content channel has find a better way, hit us up. I’m actually super curious, but the way I’ve been doing it is I have a landing page called Adam I don’t know exactly what the URL is. Okay. But the point is, I have people submit their first name, last name, email, Twitter, stuff like that. So I can create some type of like community right, written that I can see. Cause the thing that like, I don’t like is like, I push this content out there on audio and also on video, like I have no way of kind of seeing who’s listening. They gave me data, they gave me metrics. They let me know who’s male, who’s female, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But I don’t have an email. I don’t have an address. I don’t have anything that I can follow up with. So I basically issue POAPS. Proof of attendance protocol. It’s basically like a free NFT essentially that allows people to basically prove that they’ve participated. And at the end of the season, I send out a mass email through mail merge and I send everybody a link to claim a POAP. And I basically do this for people who’ve submitted their email in the newsletter who open the newsletter. Who’ve consistently engaged in the discord community and have kind of like proven that they’ve participated essentially. And there’s different forms of participation, but again, similar to what you guys are doing, which is super cool because it’s like you’re verifying participation. Side tangent. You’re seeing a lot of music products in crypto, now introduce this level of fandom that allows people to prove that they’ve listened to an artist prior to them exploding. So imagine if you could be on SoundCloud. And basically like, I was able to listen, I was in Juice worlds top 100 listeners right prior to Juice world becoming Juice world. And I can like flex that. Right. So it’s like the same concept. It’s like, okay, if you’re listening to Mint, hopefully one day is gonna be this big, bad podcast and media outlet. That is gonna be like a resource to creators and crypto individuals alike and people who kind of like participate early on can prove that you’re taking the same approach.

So here’s my question to you though. How are people taking to that? Like, because I think the challenge is, like hacking habits. How do you make this part of people’s lives in a way that isn’t an interruption to it? What are you finding as far as that’s concerned?

So how do you apply this to people’s lives without being an interruption? The beauty behind POAPS it’s already ingrained in crypto culture. People love collecting free NFTs, these moments that kind of prove that you’ve participated or you were at a location. So for example, you go to an event, you prove that you were there physically, the organizers, hand you a POAP that goes to your address. You can prove you are at that event. You come to Mint, you join the discord, you join the newsletter, you’re automatically qualified for a POAP you’ve joined, you’ve entered, you’ve taken that step. POAPS are things that have already naturally ingrained in like crypto culture. So it actually just like, it just follows them along their journey. You know, it’s nothing like new that they have to do or anything like that. And to be honest, and I’ve talked about this very publicly on the podcast is like, has been the best growth hack to kind of bootstrap, newsletter in a crypto community and in an audience, and get like a certificate. I’ve gotten thousands upon thousands of registrations, and submissions for these POAPS as proof of participation because people, the assumption is essentially is like, and you’ve seen this with communities Bankless shout out to Bankless, they kill it and other communities that if they have a database of your addresses, then if there is some type of token event or NFT event that people who have participated early on will get priority in airdrops, that’s kind of like the mentality. Whether or not that’s gonna happen with Mint is not the point. Rather, it’s kind of like ingraining and sucking people into the process and having them participate and contribute and being able to celebrate that participation by giving something. So it’s a very, like you, listen, I give you kind of relationship that I love that I’m trying to cultivate.

So fascinating, man. So now I’m thinking, you know, at what point does a social token makes sense for you, in the context of what you’re building,

You know, I’ve been thinking about levy coin, for example. I’ve personally haven’t found the right model to do it yet. So I recorded an episode with shenanigans. Okay. Which is basically a platform that creates social tokens for athletes. Okay. A whole different class of creators and me, and I think me and Victor, we were kind of like going back and forth and we were like, wait, there’s actually a new, interesting model that has yet to be explored that I’m like, I may or may not be exploring. Okay. that rather than minting a certain amount of tokens off the bat, like 10 million tokens, like, or a thousand tokens, like what a lot of people are doing, what if you could actually print and mint tokens based off your contribution to your community. For example, every Tuesday and Thursday, I publish an episode of the podcast. What if there was a smart contract that would basically be able to verify the RSS feed and see that I’ve contributed and push on an episode and accordingly print and mint tokens and airdrop in distribute to me and like pay me. Right. And also like distribute it to the community, who’ve listened. So that way my content and my incentives are aligned with publishing and contribution rather than minting a bunch of tokens and keeping them in a multi-sign in a treasury. What if we could just do them off the bat, but based off participation, you know what I mean? Now there’s a few issues with that. Okay. How do you kind of like mitigate inflation? Because this would be a token supply that’s uncapped. You’d have to have some that would qualify as burning token. So let’s say if I publish on Tuesday and Thursday, okay, then the days that I don’t publish Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, things get burned because I’m not actively giving and contributing that way. You kind of mitigate inflation, but this is something that it’s like, if you talk about a creator coin, okay. These contracts, they need to extend way beyond 10 million. Because 10 million is just an arbitrary number, creators grow. They live to 80, 75 years old. How do you stay along that, that journey? Right. And what does that look like from a tokenomics point of view? And I don’t know, like I like this model of being able to give, as you grow right. Being aligned with your community and minting and printing and distributing, the more you contribute, the more you give, the more value you create. I thought that was a super cool model.

Is that you trying to navigate away from the sense that when you dictate a finite supply upfront, you are essentially tying your community into a form of enrichment for you that might not necessarily be linked to output?

Exactly. Yeah.

So you wanna be able to earn it as things grow,

Correct. Right. So who knows Mint may even produce products in the future, right? Like software products for creators. Right. How can I kind of capture that value as an individual and as a brand, beyond having like a limited token supply, and again, it comes back to like, so I’m motivated for multiple reasons. One, my incentives are aligned, so if I don’t contribute, I don’t get, if I contribute, I get, and so does everybody else. So I like that. I also like the idea that this hasn’t really been like messed around with a hundred percent. It could be a really interesting model that people kind of engage with in the future. Like I haven’t seen someone kind of do an infinite token supply and Mint as you go. One thing that made a lot of sense in going back to shenanigans, Victor is like, this works really well for athletes and could work really well because an athlete’s career kind of lasts 2, 3, 5 years. What happens after that? You know, like how do they build brand? How do they build community? How do they build fan bases, et cetera, fandom, et cetera, et cetera. And if you only basically create a coin for an athlete during his two to three to five year period, what happens when they kind of graduate? What happens to that coin? What happens to that community? You know, and so, I don’t know, these are things I’ve like been experimenting. It’s a very like early, early concept that I haven’t seen implemented, but I just like it to summarize, because incentives are aligned for me as a creator in my community, what needs to be kinda worked out is that burning mechanism. How do you mitigate inflation down the line?

So my question then in the context of how quickly things move I mean, what are you giving yourself? Like two, three years? What’s the opportunity cost of not getting in now?

What do you mean one more time?

I don’t know how fast you’re moving on trying to work on this idea or this model you’re working on, but there’s a sense get that for every year, let’s call it, not even a year, for every six months you wait to sort of position your brand to capture value or to sort of build and groom value in this way. I feel like you run the risk of coming in with like hundreds of thousands of people who are like late to the party on it. And then look a little more opportunistic and perhaps less organic about it. Where, I mean, you’re early now and we are all early in a sense and so maybe that’s me sort of projecting.I asked myself why now? Like, why would we do the token now? Why wouldn’t we do other things first as a dibble dabble towards, at some point sort of launching it when I don’t know, social token economy, infrastructure plays mature, for instance, right? Why subject ourselves to all these platforms forming around us as we do what we are trying to do, why not wait until everything’s formed?

Well I think there’s the beauty of being an early adopter and by being an early adopter if done right, you deem a lot of the early success and you capture a lot of the value. We saw this really, really well with the NFT wave. A lot of the Instagram and corporate designers that kind of were very, very talented, had thousands to hundreds of thousands to million of followers on Instagram, because they were just constantly post content pivoted into NFT, started selling their work and understanding what ownership meant on chain. And now they’re selling work in Christie’s and Sotheby’s, and the auction houses, the list goes on and on and on, right. Social tokens haven’t had their moment just yet. We’ve seen iconic players that have kind of like brought new light to social tokens and creator coins. We’re seeing platforms in organizations that are building tech, like Social Stack, like Coinvise, like Rally the list goes on and on and on trying to kind of like bring this vision and this reality to life, because there is a lot of value from it, but they haven’t had their moment yet. I think starting early, the why now portion is because why not? That’s how I think about it. Why not start now? Like what are the risks inherently? I don’t think there are that many risks if anything. I think it would actually like all the creators that are kind of dabbling with crypto and all the creators that are dabbling with social tokens and NFTs, they’re positioning themselves, just adopting that mentality of being early adopters, testing, throwing shit at the fan, trying to see what works, that level of mentality, whether it’s gonna be social tokens, NFTs, whatever’s gonna come in the future is gonna position them up for success down the line. So I think there’s many other factors that come into place.

You’re also quite evolved. You’re also quite evolved even in the way you think about NFTs and how you’re using them. I mean, it’s quite clear that you’re thinking about it as much more than just an opportunity to capture value or ride the hype. So in a sense you are approaching NFT with like some of the sensibilities we are approaching social tokenry with in a way. So there’s a kinship there that listening to you is actually quite interesting, to observe and to learn from it really appreciate it. Yeah. Thank

Thank You. When it comes to social tokens, I’ll say this again, they haven’t had their moment yet. And a lot of what Mint aims to do is provide that public roadmap from public being like the transparency of that ENS domain that tracks all of the sponsorships to transparency of how to content from things that kind of like, we start as doing audio that then get transcribed to video that then gets transcribed to the blog and then the newsletter and creating multiple destinations of like how to guides for how creators can get started using crypto to own their audience and build community. You know, and I think we’re super, super early on that concept. People are still used to renting, people rent their audiences off these big platforms, people rent their followers, their fan base, their likes, everything lives on a platform that they do not own. I’m trying to create this message and get people to wake up and see that there’s value in owning and not even that there’s value in co-owning and building community around those values. Right? And by launching NFTs, by launching social tokens, opening up a discord, a telegram, taking your audience from web two into web three. Now you have a direct concrete funnel of direct line of communication to work with them, to build with them, to grow with them. Something that you don’t own on web two that you now own in web three, right? Because you can get shadow banned, you can get discontinued, like Spotify can remove your podcast. Something that I’m trying to discover. I was like, how do I upload this stuff to IPFS? There’s a problem. I can’t really upload like really, really long files on there yet. Not even that there aren’t products, apps and platforms that allow people to consume this content. So it’s still like, that just shows you how early we are.

We need these guys so much. We need these major platforms far too much.

My head is like, I’m always thinking like, okay, you’re doing in a super creative way, you’re trying to create more transparency when it comes to media on Africa. I use that as an example for other areas that kind of face same issues and add a level of influence changed the narrative around tech startups and do it in a way where people can kind of co-own be involved and join along the process now through a new means, AKA crypto, AKA social tokens. And I think it it’s really cool how creators, like you are kind of tinkering around with these models because it’s people like us, and I’m not even gonna talk about myself. People like you. Okay. People like other people that I’ve had on the podcast, it’s up to them to do the education. There’s not gonna be a big entity that comes into place and sets global education guidelines. It’s all through community. It’s all through people, these types of conversations, it’s all organic. Right. So, yeah. Yeah. I guess that’s just like my 2 cents

Great segue to this shameless plug I’m about to make about what we’re doing with all this grant funds, all this grant money we got from Cello all thousands of it. It’s not like that much.

That was gonna be my next question. So you did get grant money over the last few years, you’ve been having a hard time getting grant money. You tapped into crypto, got a grant you’re building towards this vision of equitable media. Right. And along the way where community can co own and be a part of that process, what is that grant gonna be used for? Why cello like walk me through that.

So our social tokens are minted on Cello. Why Cello? Because we thought long and hard about all kinds of things. The pros and pitfalls of this whole new sort of blockchain wave and I mean, things like the environmental impact can’t be ignored. Things like the inherent sort of non inclusiveness of certain blockchains, just the sheer cost of gas prices on Ethereum, for example. It’s such a loaded issue for a media entity that’s building for and on the African continent. And so Cello, when you research its credentials and the technicalities of the blockchain itself. It’s mobile forward sensibilities and the intentionality around being designed for adoption or mass adoption in developing markets. These are all things that we thought about and I know they’re not unique in this instance, but they’ve certainly been among the first and perhaps most well executed projects leaning into these ideals. And so that’s why Cello as a place to mint our social token and as a logical place to go, asking for support to educate people on blockchain tech in general on the Africa blockchain opportunity blockchain, Africa opportunity, shout out to Michael Kimani, who’s sort of coining that term, this idea of there’s a unique sort of version of what blockchain can do and how and why and a unique utility and usefulness that is specific to various African markets in their context. And so I think there’s just so much to learn. You touched on web three and there’s the overused term, the fourth industrial revolution, which is so thoroughly overused and almost means nothing on the African continent because it’s a projected term that hasn’t meant much. And here’s an opportunity for us to have something and be a part of genuinely a part of something that isn’t just an intellectual notion. So we are really given to helping people understand these things, in an accessible manner in a first person manner. So what are we using the money for while it’s straight up an education project? You know, it’s, we’re gonna be doing more of these in a short form, podcasts, miniseries, you know, answering questions that we think, where we hear people in the streets asking about, what’s this whole blockchain thing about, how do you get involved? You know, what’s the investment opportunity. That’s unique to the African continent. We’re gonna have long form podcast conversations as well. We’re gonna take them to other platforms where people can convene and sort of have more interactive conversations around them. We’re gonna commission some long form writing and, look to syndicate that sort of thing, translate that into a number of different African languages. That’s what we’re doing with this. We want people to be a part of what’s going on in a way that in the past, we would’ve just sort of seen this as an opportunity to sort of double down on our place in the ecosystem. We literally want this to be a village activity. If what we are up to doesn’t turn into a village activity, if it stays something they’re doing over there, messing around in their little sort of sand pit over there, then we failed. And so that’s the grand plan. And thank you Cello and shout out to anybody who’s listening to this and thinks they need to get involved. You probably should.

It pays to be an early adopter whether through airdrops or through value or through knowledge accumulated or through failing and learning. I’m super excited for you. I’m really thrilled to kind of like stay along your journey and see the success of the community and the lessons learned. And we should definitely do this again in like six months to a year and see what the progress has been. But thank you so much being on. I think it’s great place to end off. Where can we find you? Where can we learn more about you? Where can we stay in touch? Give me the spiel.

All right. Well, That is the mothership. You’ll find us on, on Twitter@AfricanRoundup. You’ll find us on Facebook, We are Instagram also as @africanroundup.

Podcast Transcript

Paving the Path for Crypto’s Mobile Mass Adoption: Marek Olszewski

Listen on: Spotify | Apple Music | Google Podcast


Mint Season 3 episode 18 welcomes Marek Olszewski, a partner of cLabs, one of the companies working on Celo, which is a mobile-first permissionless platform that makes financial tools accessible to anyone with a mobile phone. 

In this episode we discuss:

  • 0:00 – Intro
  • 3:22 – Why Crypto?
  • 5:31 – Thinking About Mobile Experience
  • 19:00 – What’s Stifling Mobile Adoption?
  • 23:52- Scalability
  • 26:42 – Celo in the Creator Economy
  • 33:21- The Next 6-24 Months
  • 36:33 – Outro

…and so much more.

Thank you to Season 3’s NFT sponsors!

1. Coinvise –

2. POAP –

3. Socialstack –

Interested in becoming an NFT sponsor? Get in touch here!


Marek, welcome to Mint. How are you doing, man? Good to see you. Thank you for being on. 

Yeah. Hey Adam, it’s really great to be here. Yeah, so much for having me. 

You got it. Let’s dive right in. We’ve got a lot to talk about. I don’t even know where to begin with the Celo ecosystem. There’s so much going on from the DeFi side, to the mobile side, to the creator side, but I guess a good place to start is always who are you? But more specifically, what were you doing before crypto and kind of where are you now? 

Great question. So I have a tech background and computer science background. I studied computer science first at the university of Toronto. And then I went to MIT for my PhD. While at MIT, I worked on an area of research called deterministic multithreading, which just coincidentally happens to be very relevant for scaling blockchains today. It’s an area that allows you to effectively paralyze transaction execution in a fully deterministic way so that it can remain deterministic on multiple full nodes that are all participating in a decentralized network. Out of MIT, I ended up starting a company, a venture backed machine learning company. That company did well and it got acquired a couple of years later. After that experience, I ended up teaming up with Rene Reinsberg my co-founder from that first company and Sep Kamvar who was an MIT professor at the time and also just an incredible individual and serial entrepreneur. I think he’s perhaps most well-known for starting a personalized search company that he sold to Google in 2002 that became iGoogle and also he was the inventor of a decentralized reputation protocol for BitTorrent. Around a little under five years ago now, the three of us teamed up and we thought about what to do next. I was actually introduced to crypto by Brian Armstrong in 2013, and so I’ve been following the space. He sent me some Bitcoin at a music festival. So that was a really great introduction to the space, and I had been following it since then. And again, in 2016, 2017, we separated and I started thinking about what to do next. At the time, obviously, you know, like now there was a ton of excitement for, you know, dApps. I think DeFi was still kind of in its infancy. But the usability was a big issue, and mobile support was really lacking. As we looked at the current state of the world back then, we knew that in order to make crypto mainstream, we had to solve just a number of big and difficult problems. And you know, the first was around mobile, right? I think even though we do use web three products on mobile devices, they’re not really conducive to mobile. They don’t really run in a decentralized manner on mobile. Frequently they’re designed for desktops and then kind of scale down to mobile, so we wanted to spend some time on that. We also just really wanted to spend time on usability. And we initially wanted to build a Venmo style de-centralized mobile wallet, but we couldn’t make it easy enough on the existing platforms. And so then we ended up Kind of focusing on building a platform that would enable a fully decentralized, really easy to use mobile applications focused on Defi and payments and everything, you know, web 3.0 related. 

Why Crypto?

Yeah. Geez, what a background. That’s a long time coming. Like your journey. You’ve seen a lot, you are an OG in tech you’re obviously an OG in crypto. I guess like my question to you, what is it about crypto that drew you to working in building in this space? Getting Bitcoin from Brian Armstrong in a music festival in 2013 is a really good way to get started, but like there’s one aspect of collecting and there’s one aspect of feeling this energy to solve problems. How did it kind of manifest for you? 

Yeah, I think a couple of things. I mean, I think programmability is number one for me. I think the fact that we can innovate now with money and with social organizations, and ways of organizing, you know, this is really exciting. This is totally new, and something that wasn’t possible at this level by this many people before, right? It used to be that if you wanted to, I dunno, think about demurrage and its effect on, you know, circulating supply of money, you’d have to be an economist somewhere, some academic, you know, thinking about all of this really academically, maybe doing some simulations. Now like literally you can build a protocol and launch it, have people use it and actually see how it works. That is just absolutely incredible. And then, you know, the community side, that is the part where you can actually have rules that enforce how organizations are constructed and work together. Again, like I think that would have been something that maybe people would have been thinking about in communities, and now we can actually innovate and do things. And this is just literally the beginning with what we’re seeing with DAOs right now. I think there’s just so much innovation that’s going to come out of this. It’s just really, really exciting and it’s really just impactful. For us, we really saw, I think like a lot of people, we really saw this programmability, this ability to innovate you know, you saw that it would allow ways of transacting, ways of reaching people who have been traditionally financially excluded. We just saw that was a possibility, and from kind of, what do you want to work on for the rest of your life perspective, you know, there’s very few things that are more kind of compelling than that. So, I think that was the main motivator. 

Thinking About Mobile Experience

You know, when you talk about being mobile first, the first thing that does come to mind is one being able to buy and sell crypto on the go. I guess the next thing that comes to mind is now with this whole evolution of NFTs, the UX on buying and purchasing on the go still is really shitty. Partly because I think it’s also a lot of Apple’s regulatory side of the app store and kind of controlling what comes in and what goes out, and all the wallet components that come with that. But, you know, when I think of mobile, the current state for me is that browser in Metamask, for example, and being able to access web 3.0 applications through a more native like wallet connect feature. It’s horrible. It’s absolutely horrible, but that’s just like a very narrow view from an end user’s point of view. What does mobile look like? In the end to end vision from application to infrastructure to use ability to scalability, talk to me about this vision. Like what, what are you guys seeing internally that’s like, wow, there’s an opportunity here? This is how we’re planning to attack it.

Yeah, amazing question. I mean, I think first and foremost, it’s a mindset, right? I think if you look at what happened around 10 years ago in the web 2.0 space. Luke Wroblewski wrote this book “mobile first” and then went on to evangelize this idea that everyone needs to just start thinking primarily in terms of mobile and then secondarily in terms of desktop. And if you do that, you will build applications that are unlike anything that, you know, we were building before that were targeting desktop and notebook applications. And you know, obviously web 2.0 picked this up, and then some, and, you know, I think we live in a world where we have applications that don’t even work on desktop computers because they use GPSs and others. But, the way that we interact with those applications are also very, very different. We built almost a new class of applications that you use in this a little bit more of a casual kind of setting, right? Like I think people use their phones on their couch, they use their phones on the toilet. I think there was a study once that said that 60% of people use their phones on their toilet, I think clearly tells something really critical and important about us as a species. And that of course, is that we lie because there’s no way that it’s not a hundred percent. And compare that to the way people use DeFi on desktop computers today, you know, you pull out your ledger, you kind of roll up your sleeve. Someone was telling you that when they do, especially, more complicated DeFi operations on their computers, they like mentally put aside time and really try to get in the Headspace to do it. You know, I think that’s just a very, very different way of interacting with these products. 

Partly, because it’s also super manual. There’s a lot of things that could be automated that just still require us to click through and read the fine print and go through these junk interfaces. But yea, continue. 

Definitely, right? I mean, I think we’re in the early days, and the internet was also, you know, more stressful and took a lot more work in the early days or certainly in the web. And you know, if we think about where we want to go and how we actually reach, you know, billions of users, it’s certainly through mobile. So, we need to design for the way people interact with these applications on these mobile devices. We need to design for the connectivity that these devices have, right? You can’t run a full node on a mobile phone. So if you actually want to do anything in a fully decentralized manner on a phone, you’re pretty much shit out of luck for most protocols out there. So at Celo, we worked really hard to have a light client that uses snarks to effectively prove that the header is part of the chain. So you can actually sync and run a light client directly on your phone. That’s how we reach the first billion users in the crypto space. I think sometimes people really underestimate just how many mobile phone users are out there. If you look at the kind of annual Ericsson mobility report, I think there’s 8 billion mobile devices right now with active subscriptions in the world. That’s four times more than the number of PCs, the 2 billion PCs that people frequently cite, which include actual servers as well. So, you know, clearly just not all of those are desktop computers. So already just a staggering, multiple more of these devices. Then the other thing that people frequently underestimate is just how many of those are smartphones. It turns out that 75% of those are smart phones. So 6 billion smartphone devices today with active mobile subscriptions. 

I love how you say that so casually too. 

It’s staggering, right? If you’re building products for large numbers of users globally, whether it be at web 2.0 or web 3.0, mobile clearly has to be a place for you to kind of find those users. And if you design for mobile first, then one, you’re going to think about these more intimate interactions that people have with their applications, because you’re right from the get-go designing with mobile in mind. But two, you’re also gonna make it more snappy, right? You’re gonna think about bandwidth a lot more. All these things actually translate to a better desktop as well suddenly, you know, your application just flies. I think that if we’re gonna reach that first billion web 3.0 users, it’s all about getting them on those massive amounts of devices and really thinking in this kind of mobile first manner.

What percentage of crypto activity is actually conducted on mobile right now? Do you know that number? Is that a metric that you can track? 

Yeah, it’s a great question. This has been tracked for some of the apps on Celo. I think Ubeswap, which is one of the big DEXs on Celo, shows that I think 86% of their usage is now on mobile. That’s pretty cool. I don’t remember exactly, but it was different from what that number looked like for a Uniswap and curve and I think AAVE. If I remember correctly, it was less than 50% on mobile on those applications. And so the contrast was certainly quite, quite big.

Wow. Crazy. You know, again, it goes back to me just using Chrome, and having a wallet, and me switching from Chrome browser to Metamask or whatever, while I’m using it and coming back to Chrome. And even that 90% of the time it fails. So if I’m trying to adjust a bid on an NFT, if I’m trying to get into a pool, if I’m trying to send a transaction, whatever it may be, it’s a really terrible experience. You know, one application that you guys came out with called Valora which kind of goes back to one of your initial things like creating a Venmo, right? Being able to send money virtually anywhere to anyone through a text message. So beyond the application of sending money, what other applications do you think have yet to be optimized for mobile that are seeing massive traction on desktop, for example? 

Yeah. Great question. Actually, I don’t think payments have been cracked right yet. I think Valora is a great start at this, and just for context, for people who aren’t familiar with Valora, it’s one of the flagship mobile wallets on Celo. It really uses a lot of the features that Celo has. It has that light client which is really cool. It allows you to send Celo stable coins really easily. You can pay for those transaction fees with the stable coins themselves, because on Celo you can pay for gas using tokens. Celo by the way is fully EVM compatible, but it has a few bonus features like the ability to pay for gas with tokens. Then the other thing that I think Valora does really well is you can send a payment to a phone number using a fully decentralized phone verification protocol. That’s of the Celo platform, and Valora uses this. So this allows you to send payments to phone numbers, but even more exciting than that, it allows you to send payments to phone numbers before the recipient is actually created, before they’ve even installed the application. It just sits in an escrow smart contract, and once someone has verified a phone number that the money is intended for, then the smart contract releases the funds. So it kind of enables an experience that is more similar to a centralized experience, even though it’s decentralized, right? The fact that you don’t need an extra currency to cover the transaction fee, the fact that you don’t have to use these public key derived addresses. You can just send the payment to someone in your contact list, right? Because ultimately from your contact list, you can get their phone number and then you can send it to them using this decentralized phone verification protocol. The end result, because Celo is scalable and fast and has one block finality, the end experience is just really quite delightful. But, Valora is more than just a payments app. It’s a signing wallet. It has its own. It supports wallet connect, but it also has its own signing API that allows you to go back and forth between native apps and web in a way that’s quite elegant. So once you sign a transaction, it returns you back to the application. It doesn’t tell you, you know, to go back to your application while it connects with us. This allows you to have an experience that is pretty seamless, but that still kind of switches back and forth between the two applications. If you think about how signing wallets might scale, dApp browsers certainly serve a really big purpose right now, but I’m not entirely sure that dApp browsers are going to be able to compete against the web browsers of the future. So I think ultimately either having a wallet that’s a separate app that has just a really great interface for switching back and forth between the browser or between native apps that people have built or also have a signing wallet to interact with. You know, I think there’s certainly a lot of exciting potential in that direction. So Valora has kind of this pretty nice experience there around this. I think in terms of what’s next for mobile to get to your original question. I think social payments is one thing, but we talked about how money is programmable and so much innovation is happening. There’s a lot of people building community currencies on Celo, people building UBI protocols on Celo. These are things that just inherently make sense to be. So impact market has a really cool UBI program where people claim 50 cents a day using a native application, and then that money gets sent to Valora and then they typically transact in their local communities using Valora buying groceries and other things. Those are, you know, inherently mobile things. Humanity cash is building Berkshares. Berkshares is I think one of the most famous paper community currencies out there in Massachusetts, in a town called Berkshire. They’re also bringing this onto the blockchain, and I think being able to transact in local communities using currencies to promote local spending and bring a benefit to those local communities I think is really, really, really interesting. And so there’s going to be, I think, lots of things on mobile related to that. But then, as you think about traditional Defi and even CeFi, right? I think certainly, a lot of people are buying crypto and exchanging assets using DEXs. But, you know, I would say the experience is still not competitive to centralized exchanges, right? You need, on Ethereum you need to buy some ETH to pay for gas to use Uniswap. You typically get that by going through a centralized exchange, in which case you’re kind of defeating the point of using a DEX if you already have access to a centralized exchange. So one thing that I really kind of see going forward in the future is rather than cashing in through a Dex, you kind of cashing through a kind of cash in cash out kind of provider. You know, there’s many such companies now, you know, ramp and Ponto and Wyre that are kind of specializing in this. And if you cash into a stable coin that you can also pay for gas, then suddenly you can replicate the experience that you have with something like Coinbase, right? You can cash in just like you connect your bank account and like move funds over to your actual Coinbase account, you can go through that experience, but instead of having just some numbers sitting in a bank account used by the kind of centralized exchange, you will literally self custody those stable coins straight away once you cash in. Then if you can pay for that transaction fee with those stable coins, suddenly you can trade arbitrarily. You can lend arbitrarily, you can borrow arbitrarily. You can do everything that you want to do, and what many people are doing in DeFi today, but without the need for some other currency that you need to pay for gas with. This really unlocks these more centralized experiences that are quite nice, but it makes possible in a fully decentralized manner. And if you do it well on mobile then because self custody wallets are frequently regulated very differently than custodial wallets globally. You know, suddenly you can also have a global addressable market for your mobile experience. So that to me is, I think, where the puck is heading, and I’m really, really excited about that future. 

What’s Stifling Mobile Adoption?

Can you talk more about what are the biggest issues stifling development and mobile adoption? I know you mentioned a few in the beginning, but can you list a few more out? 

Yeah, So, I mean, if you really believe in censorship resistance, surveillance resistance decentralization, then certainly light clients are just really high up on the list. Even if you just, you know, care about it from a scalability perspective, there’s frequently on a lot of these newer EVM compatible chains that have very high throughput, like Celo, like Polygon, like Avalanche, every now and then you get crazy usage and all of the RPC nodes servicing, a lot of these web apps, servicing Metamask, servicing mobile phones, they start to get overloaded, right? And so one really elegant thing about light clients is that you can actually scale and service those applications in a decentralized manner where full nodes on the platform can come and offer that service. Celo also has this concept of full node incentives where you actually can get rewarded for running a full node for servicing these light clients. So, just from a scalability perspective, that’s also pretty interesting. I mean, beyond that, I think the jury is still out on what’s going to be the best signing experience. People are building extensions in safari now that offer a kind of interesting signing experience. Not every browser, not every platform supports extensions, so it’s going to be interesting to see if that evolves. You’ve got things like Valora that certainly implement wallet connect, but also have their own kind of I would say like finely tuned signing API that allows you to kind of switch back and forth between applications in a way that it’s very, very seamless. You’ve got wallet connect, which is really nice because it also allows you to use your phone to sign transactions on desktops. So I think, this kind of amalgamation of all of these different ways of using your phone to sign transactions, and I think it’s going to be interesting to see how this evolves. We talked about building and kind of this mobile first mindset. Part of that will be actually DeFi apps, building native applications. And we’re seeing some functionality being integrated into wallets today, but that’s not going to scale, right? We’re not going to have a single wallet with thousands of kind of built in applications. So either we’re going to have a really interesting plugin architecture where you can interact with these things in a very native feeling manner or, these applications are going to have to start creating their own native applications, their own mobile apps effectively that interact with these signing wallets. I think that is our future where pretty much every application in the app store in the play store is going to be web 3.0 enabled, and you’re no longer going to need this extra layer of indirection by using something like a dApp browser on your phone. I think that we’re still a ways away from that being the default, but I think we’re certainly going to get there eventually. 

Do you see that vision with Apple in it, or do you see a new type of product coming to market that’s more web 3.0 decentralized friendly that I guess, is competition on a hardware play, for example? I only asked that and I know it could be like a crazy question, because Apple, is Apple, you know? We all have our iPhones, I’m streaming on a Mac book right now, but they’re making it increasingly more difficult for crypto developers to push applications through the app store to kind of encompass this mobile first vision, and to make it really native and seamless and the user experience kind of looking and feeling as it should for a replication of like web 2.0 applications, right? So maybe far fetched, but I’m wondering if you’ve thought about that before, and if you have any thoughts on that?

Yeah. I mean, certainly there’s been Android manufacturers that have built web 3.0 crypto specific features. The ability to use your kind of trusted execution environment to sign, you know, ecdsa signatures using the elliptic curves that are more common, but it’s not even every Android manufacturer that’s doing that. Certainly some of these features aren’t default Android features provided by Google. So, I think it will take some time for Apple and Google to start offering these things, but I think it’s inevitable, right? I think especially NFTs being such a great kind of gateway for users into the web 3.0 space, I just see so many more users entering space, and I think it’s going to be very difficult for these big companies to really ignore it. I think there’s going to be a tipping point where, you know, every company is going to be a web 3.0 company and that will include Google and an apple for sure.


Yeah, I definitely agree with you on that sentiment. Let’s talk about scalability. Because it’s obviously a core conversation around any network, and I know you guys are approaching scalability in a very interesting light, which also has led so far to a lot of the success that you’re seeing on the network itself. Can you talk more about scalability? How are you guys thinking about that? How is that different from Ethereum, Solana, and the whole shebang? I think it’s super important to kind of unveil. 

Yeah, really good question. Yeah. So Celo right now has its own proof of stake protocol that uses, stake to elect, hundreds of validators who then perform BFT based consensus. Now because we have that really efficient light client, we do things using the elliptic curve, and we aggregate all signatures into a single multisig on each header. So, everything is very compact and snark friendly and conducive for fast thinking and just, you know, fast transaction processing. So that’s where we are today, but I think we were excited by the prospects of scaling traditional EVM to Celo level throughputs. We think that, you know, there’s still a lot of room to vertically scale these types of VMs, and so we’re investing a lot on that front. One such example of that investment is a joint kind of collaboration with Mysten Labs. Mysten Labs is a recently formed company by a former Diem and Novi cryptography, distributed systems, programming languages kind of researcher and expert. And the Celo foundation has kind of a long-term kind of partnership now with them, and we’re working and cLabs in particular is working closely with Mysten to bring some really exciting new innovations to the platform. So specifically Mysten is looking at bringing narwhal and tusk, these two kinds of protocols, one around mempool ordering, and one around consensus to the Celo platform. This is a protocol that was developed by these folks during the time of Diem and it’s really quite elegant. It’s really cool to see the performance of it. They’ve shown it to scale to hundreds of thousands of transactions per second, using a kind of global Scale latencies. So if you’re running a blockchain with servers running all around the world, you know, latencies are longer, it’s harder to get through this throughputs, but with this protocol, they were able to kind of get to hundreds of thousands, effectively Solana level performance. So they’re working now on this again meeting kind of cLabs on a weekly basis. And I’m looking to kind of add this to the protocol. So that’s, really, really exciting. Again, I think there’s still a lot of room for vertical scaling for EVM chains as we’ve seen with all the demand for EVM compatible chains in the last year. I think there’s yeah, just a lot of appetite in the market for that as well. 

Celo in the Creator Economy

You know, a lot of what Mint aims to do is to kind of teach not only like the everyday people, but a lot of like the creators, the artists, and I guess the people who are introducing a more like sexy narrative to crypto through NFTs, through social tokens and whatnot. I want to quickly talk about this integration that you guys did, which sparked a lot of my attention to my excitement around Celo, was also super relatable to Mint because of the nature of the podcast, this proof of listening collaboration you did with social stack. From what I understand, you guys developed this protocol or essentially this way to kind of track listenership and reward people either through NFTs or tokens et cetera. How is Celo kind of thinking about the creator communities that are starting to appear and kind of more of the normie audiences that are entering crypto through NFTs, through social tokens, through art music, culture? How do you think about that? Cause it also comes from the point of view of like introducing people through NFTs and then getting them intact with DeFi. And kind of like exploring that entire route. Walk me through your point of view on that. 

Yeah, great question. I mean, NFTs are just obviously like a really great innovation and they’re just super exciting. Yeah, it just unlocks so many new ways of interacting with digital assets that, you know, it’s clear that they’re paradigm changing. And certainly, doing so on mobile has already shown to be one of the preferred ways that people interact with these things. So it’s really, really interesting for us. I think the frequent criticism that the artists coming into this space give is, holy crap if I’m going to mint this NFT, it’s going to create how much carbon, that’s obviously, super either kind of ethically an issue for folks or just, yeah, downright scary. So I think that’s certainly a place where people have found comfort when looking at Celo, because Celo obviously is proof of stake, so has a much smaller carbon footprint, but even more so than that, Celo automatically buys carbon offset credits with each block using block rewards directly from project Wren. So it’s actually fully Carbon neutral and actually buys more than it uses. So it’s actually carbon negative, and it has been since the network was launched a year and a half ago now. So that’s been really resonating with a lot of creators and I think the mobile first nature also just really, really resonates. And yeah, it’s been really exciting. 

Yeah, because you’re right to some folks this whole issue of climate impact and what crypto is supposedly doing to the climate. Some people have other opinions, it’s an ongoing back and forth narrative, but by design Celo’s network is to favor and to protect and to encourage ethical use. And providing for climate and being super active on that front, from what I’m understanding. 

Yeah. It’s been definitely important to us, right from the get-go. One of our advisors is Charles Eisenstein. He’s this kind of philosopher / author, and wrote this really inspiring book called sacred economics. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It’s a lot of what we got excited about when we started Celo. Many of those ideas, you know, came from that book. 

What are some of those ideas that come to mind? 

I mean, I think the big one is natural backed capital. So I think, in the last few months there has been all this excitement around creating stable coins that are backed by carbon sequestering assets. This is an idea actually that Charles wrote about before Bitcoin was even invented in that book, and the way he talked about it back then, it’s really interesting. He noticed that whatever backs, money, people value more in the world, right. Back when gold backed money, you know, you could go mine it, you could trade it for money, and that created the gold rush and, you know, a lot of obvious value was attributed to gold. So, you know, wouldn’t it be nice if we backed money by things that we wanted to see more of in the world, right? And in a world of climate change, the thing that definitely comes to mind the most are carbon sequestering assets, right? Tokenized trees are like a really great example of this. And again, he wrote this, he had this idea before crypto, before Bitcoin. And so at the time it was an interesting idea that you would kind of nod and think, yeah, that’d be pretty cool, but then you kind of flipped the page. Now, literally there are multiple teams, tens of teams, if not hundreds of teams working on solving this exact problem, like thinking about this and, Celo is no exception, right? We have a built-in stable coin that you can use to pay for gas like I mentioned before, technically multiple stable coins. It’s a Celo dollar, the Celo Euro and soon the Celo Brazilian Real. You know, these stable coins are backed by the same kind of over collateralized crypto asset reserve, and 0.5% of that reserve right now is made up of carbon offset credits. And the goal and the intention is to really raise that up to 40% or so of the reserve to be composed of these kinds of carbon sequestering assets, and if you want to do that well, in a fully decentralized manner, you need hundreds of companies tokenizing these things so that you have a diverse basket of these so that it’s truly decentralized. And so to get to that kind of reality, a couple of months ago, we launched the climate collective. You can check it out on a We registered the Celo stability mechanism for the hundred million dollar carbon sequestering X prize that just launched recently as well. And you know, now there’s kind of 12 inaugural kind of companies joined by more that are now kind of teaming up really working on kind of addressing this issue and finding ways to tokenize these kinds of assets. And, you know, carbon sequestering assets, that’s just the beginning. You can imagine, pristine rivers as well or something that maybe we want to protect, or oceans or, you know, even affordable housing, you know, these things. Through governance, you know, people can propose and use to back, you know, stable coins and on the topic of, you know, this being a field where people like Charles Eisenstein got to kinda think about this or academics got to kind of write research papers about this, we’re in a world where, you know, we can actually develop these things and actually experiment and not just think about them in a more hypothetical, theoretical way. So that’s just really exciting. 

The Next 6 to 24 Months 

Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. You know, I know we’re reaching our wrap-up limit, but before I let you go, I want to ask you a couple more things. So does the next 6 to 24 months look like at Celo? What is a priority? What can we as users, as developers, as people super excited about what you guys are building and the mission that you’re on, what can we expect? What does that look like? 

Yeah, so certainly more really great delightful mobile applications being built on Celo. Celo has this incubator program called Celo camp, they just finished their fourth batch. There were 30 graduating companies that recently showed their demos and pitched investors and raised money. So many really exciting things are happening obviously from DeFi to kind of really great mobile wallets, to NFT related projects, climate related projects, trading things, data unions, UBI related things, community currencies, all of that. And so all done in this mobile first manner. Yeah, a lot of things, so a lot of really great builders are now deploying their products. We just wrapped up, literally yesterday, a big kind of month-long hackathon with 2,400 participants. We’re just sifting through all of the submissions now. There’s just so many really cool and exciting things that are on the horizon. And because you can pay for gas again with stable coins because of the mobile focus, you know the ability to build these kinds of experiences that are unlike what we’ve seen in a web 3.0 before that really rival kind of centralized offerings, but that are fully decentralized, fully available globally. I think that’s, you know, just a big part of Celo, right? There’s companies and projects from hundreds of countries. I think for this hackathon, we got submissions from 130 countries. If you look at how many countries are using Valora, I think it’s close to 150. We have users from 150 countries. So a lot of these types of products are not just popping up and targeting more Western countries, they’re truly global in nature. We’re seeing a lot of protocols and projects building specifically focusing on LATAM, on Africa, on Southeast Asia, and that’s yeah, just really, really exciting. So I think more of that, and then I think more on the payment side, right? I think this is the holy grail for crypto, ever since the Bitcoin white paper, right? And we’re not there yet, right? I think in order for payments to really be ubiquitous, to be done on chain globally, we need cashing in and out offerings in pretty much every country in the world that allow you to convert to and from stable coins everywhere. And then you need blockchains that allow you to send those stable coins with ease at high throughput, low latencies, without having to have another currency to pay for gas. Celo offers that settlement, and we’re seeing a lot of companies now integrating it and using that. You know, Deutsche Telekom recently joined the Celo Alliance. They’re running validators now for Celo, I’m predicting a lot more companies like that kind of joining and really leveraging kind of the ease of use and the scalability of Celo for payments. 


Nice. Last thing, before I let you go, where can we find you? Where can we learn more about Celo? Show us the destinations. Where are we going? 

Yeah, so celo.Org is kind of the Celo foundation’s main website. It has the @CeloOrg Twitter handle as well. And then since my last name is a pain in the butt, you can find me at just @Marek_ .

Nice. And it’s getting so dark here, I’ve never done an episode this late, and it’s only 5:00 PM in California. Excuse, the dark phase, but Marek, what a good conversation. You’re a pool of knowledge and an abundance of information, so much credibility in the space. I’m excited to see how it rolls out and we’ll be keeping a close eye, so thank you for being on and hope to have you soon again. 

Amazing Adam. Thank you so much for having me.

Podcast Transcript

Here’s What Creators Should Know About Fractionalized NFTs

Listen on: Spotify | Apple Music | Google Podcast


Mint Season 3 episode 17 welcomes the founder of, Andy Chorlian. From working at MakerDAO to becoming a top collector at NBA Top Shot, and now founding an innovative NFT protocol – Andy is a leading voice worth learning from.

In this episode we discuss:

  • 0:00 – Intro
  • 2:06 – Growing Up 
  • 5:44 – Video Games & Crypto
  • 8:50 – The Beginnings of Fractional
  • 20:41- Artists’ Reaction to Fractionalization
  • 25:49 – Exciting Developments in NFTs
  • 28:56- Fractional in a Multi-Chain Future?
  • 30:44 – Outro

…and so much more.

Thank you to Season 3’s NFT sponsors!

1. Coinvise –

2. POAP –

3. Socialstack –

Interested in becoming an NFT sponsor? Get in touch here!


Andy, welcome to Mint, man. Thank you so much for being on. How are you feeling?

I’m good. I’m good. Thanks for having me. 

I think we met six months ago at EthCC in Paris and I was like, yo, fractional is sick. Come on Mint! You’re like, yeah, we’ll figure something out, and like six, seven months later here we are. All in good timing though, all in good timing. All right, dude. Let’s get started. Who the hell are you? What should people know about you? But more specifically, what were you like before crypto? 

Alright, honestly, I was basically the same in my opinion, but I don’t know. You can ask Allie, she’d be more insightful to it than me. So prior to crypto stuff, I mean, I felt like basically all my adult life doing crypto stuff. So also like basically prior to crypto stuff, I was in college. But I went to Villanova and studied computer engineering for a while. I thought I actually wanted to get into sports analytics stuff. I spent the summer after college DM-ing every general manager in the NBA on LinkedIn, or like anyone who worked in data analytics is in the NBA trying to see if I could get something there. Fortunately that didn’t work out. So that’s good. It all worked out for the best. I had like a really boring job doing backend stuff and then just kinda found my way to be at a FinTech company writing solidity in 2017. I went to MakerDAO at the start of 2019. I started like January 1st, 2019. Worked there for two years. Left to do like some consulting stuff and other random stuff, and then started fractional in February of this year. Outside of crypto stuff in general, I’ve always been pretty into sports and video games. Those are my big things that I do for fun in my free time. I’m a really, really big basketball and football fan. I used to play a lot of daily fantasy sports and do my own player projection models and all of that kind of stuff. I don’t really do that anymore. I play some underdog cause it’s super, super casual, which is nice. But no more crunching lineups for four hours before tip off and all of that. But those were the good old days.

Growing Up 

Did you play basketball and football growing up? 

I would play with my friends. I played football in high school. 

What’d you play? What was your position? 

I was a tight end and defensive end. I was better on offense than I was on defense. I was a pretty good blocker. I was not a route running tight end. 

Got it. Dude. Growing up, I hated sports. I was a fat ass growing up. I kind of still am, but if you’re a fat ass, you typically lean towards football, right? Like just you’re a good shield. You’re a good brick wall kind of like in the front. So I was very much a lineman. I don’t even remember anymore. That’s how out of tune I was, but I remember in middle school I played football with the local angels league. And then when I got into high school I joined the high school team. It was still like fucking nobody on there and was dirt shit, but it gave me the appreciation of what sports was like. My brother is a basketball player and he’s like six foot something, six foot one. And he was always just a sports person. I was always the music person I’m like pointing right behind me, but yeah. So, you were a lineman basically, right? You were in the front? 


Okay. And then basketball, you played growing up as well? 

Yeah, not on teams, really. I stopped doing that. So, I hit my growth spurt pretty late. I’m like six feet tall, but I was five one, so like eighth grade. I was like, ah, you know what? Basketball is not for me. And then, I grew a lot like sophomore year of high school. So I just played casually with my friends. We used to, especially like sophomore and junior year, I think. Maybe senior year as well. We would just go to our local rec center and play most days after school. We would like to go play basketball, go back to a friend’s house, play halo or call of duty, and go home for dinner. That was like our normal afterschool evening. 

Into playing video games, I feel like that’s a very underlying common theme amongst many people in crypto, myself included. I started playing Club Penguin and Runescape. Like that was my thing. What’d you play other than a halo? What was it? 

Yeah, so I started out playing on console, doing call of duty was the one that I was best at. I would go to a lot of the local tournaments and stuff growing up, but also played Madden. Then I moved over to playing PC games later on in high school and I was playing StarCraft. I was terrible. And I was playing league of legends, like very early on. I was also terrible. I’ve never been good at League of legends. I still play for fun sometimes. I’ve never been better than gold two in league of legends, even though I have so many hours. But the games that I generally have done better at have been the more strategy style games. Back in college, I was playing Hearthstone pretty competitively. And then more recently kind of like right at the start of COVID and a little earlier than that, I was playing this game called team fight tactics, very competitively. Like I was legitimately considering trying to like, become a Twitch streamer and go pro in this daily. But another one of those moments where like, fortunately it didn’t work out, like let’s do something else. But now I just play it for fun. It’s like a nice game to take four to five minutes and chill and do something else, turn my brain off. 

All right. I love it. The only person that comes to mind, I guess, character wise that I always admired was like Zima in Runescape. Do you remember Zima? 

Yeah. Man, it’s been a long time. 

It’s been a minute, but for whatever reason, that name always stuck out with me. I remember I was playing Runescape and my account got hacked and lost all my shit. I became depressed. I was like in middle school, andI didn’t want to talk to anyone. My parents couldn’t talk to me, whatever. Video gaming, sports, college, got into crypto during college. Studied computer science. 

I actually did not get into crypto in college. I got into crypto one year outside of school. So I guess I got into crypto, like at the end of 2016 and the start of 2017. And then I started doing it full time at the end of 2017. 

Video Games & Crypto

Got it. What do you think are like the biggest similarities between video games that you grew up playing to crypto in general? Like why do you think there’s such an underlying theme amongst a lot of people in the games that they played back in the day? 

Yeah well, I think like… I’m a really large proponent of video games in general. I think that they really help with critical thinking, problem solving, a lot of this stuff, you know, if you’re actually playing games that are competitive or playing games that are challenging. Obviously you can play candy crush all day and it’s not going to do anything for you. But I legitimately think a lot of the way that I think about challenges and stuff has been helped a lot by video games. Whether or not that’s true, who the hell knows, but I believe it. I think that a lot of the people who are big in crypto or really into crypto, probably grew up online a lot. Like I definitely did. And also they’re very good at problem-solving and they also enjoy the PVP nature of crypto. You know, I think crypto is extremely like overall, a rising tide lifts all ships thing, but there is a lot of PVP that happens in the meantime. I think that people who are really into video games and good at video games are good at that, and probably also really enjoy it. Even outside of the making money part, I thoroughly enjoy doing things like degenerate yield farm stuff. Trying to figure out when you should pull out of pool 2 and all of those types of things. To me, that’s fun. And like even without the money side, it’s just like a fun thing to do. I think that there’s definitely a pretty big connection there where people just enjoy doing stuff online with other people, and crypto is like the ultimate online arena for all of that stuff. 

Crypto is the best way to solidify all that and bring it on and actually attach tangible value. I remember when I used to play, like I used to accumulate a lot of coins in Runescape and try to sell it online for actual cash. 

Yeah. I remember the Diablo two or Diablo three, like auction house stuff. My buddy sold something he found for like 400 bucks and we were like, oh my God, that’s crazy, dude. Like what the fuck? 

And all these random ass accounts selling for like tens of thousands of dollars because they have 99 everything. Okay. I get it. I feel you. So when did you kind of buy your first NFT? And do you remember what it was? So two questions. 

So there’s kind of like two answers. I’m pretty sure I bought a couple of crypto kitties back in 2017, 2018, when that was all happening. I don’t know what those wallets were or anything. That was like right when I was getting into all of this and I was like, this is really stupid, and I just bought a couple. So I don’t really count those to be honest. Cause I generally discredited NFTs at that point and like thought it was dumb. I just didn’t really get it. Then probably, I don’t remember the first to be honest. It was probably sometime during DeFi summer stuff. So it was like Summer of last year. So not that long ago, I’m not like some crazy NFT OG who was buying stuff beforeOpen Sea existed. Level A NFT collector by any means.

The Beginnings of Fractional

Got it. So how did that lead to fractional? Like how did you go from getting into crypto, working on projects, going to MakerDAO. What is the narrative behind that story? 

Yeah. So I think for me, with NFTs in particular, what really unlocked a lot for me was the NBA top shot. Just because, like I was saying earlier, I’m a huge basketball fan. And just like doing that and buying stuff, because it was actually just fun for me, as opposed to being like, oh, this is going to make me the most money. It was a very eye opening experience for me. Cause I hadn’t really thought about NFTs that way or I understood the idea that it could be a thing, but I hadn’t had a moment where it was for me, and so it was harder to wrap my head around. And so that was really very helpful in kind of understanding the value prop of NFTs. Prior to being super into crypto, I was writing bots to buy and flip Supreme and Kith and all this stuff and collecting sneakers. I have way more pairs of sneakers and I can fit in my small New York city apartment in my closet. So the value proposition of digital scarcity and collectibles and all that kind of stuff was not new to me. I just hadn’t really totally registered it in the digital world as opposed to the physical. And also like, I’m not a finance guy. To be honest, DeFi is cool. I like DeFi, it has made me a lot of money, but I’m not super compelled to design the next most efficient bonding curve for token swaps or something. That’s not what I studied in school. It’s not what I’m passionate about. You know, collectibles and gaming and sports and like that just all kind of lean towards NFTs more. And then fractional in particular from there it was just a lot of the conversations I was having with people who were coming from the daily fantasy sports world and stuff, primarily in top shot, but then also getting into crypto punks and all this like group buying stuff. And I was like being able to buy things online with your friends should be more than just wiring your one friend a bunch of money or Venmoing your friend and him buying something. There should definitely be a more elegant way to do that. And then you just kinda take it a step further and you’re like, sure, people want to buy stuff with their friends, but then like also people just want to own pieces of things that are exciting and interesting. It’s way more exciting to own 1% of an alien crypto punk than it is to own some random garbage NFT that you can buy on open sea. Just trying to figure out the right way to unlock that for people and make that accessible is really exciting to me. 

By the way, I came across that realization personally, when you guys had that big PR event with the zombie of the living dead. A lot of people kind of came across fractional through that drop, and I was like, fuck, I’m too broke to afford a crypto punk, but shit, this one’s sick. Like I’ll buy it. I’ll buy a piece of this one. You know, like this one’s pretty cool. 

Yeah, no, totally. And I think that one of the things now that we’re really having to figure out and deal with is like that next step from, oh, I want to buy this thing, that’s cool, to like really being able to show and display that you fractionally own something. And really continuing to press into the ownership and collecting side of all of it. That’s something that we’re like spending a lot of time trying to figure out what’s best there and what’s right. What we’ve noticed is there’s a ton of interest at the time of fractionalization. When there’s a cool new thing, that’s fractionalized everyone’s like, oh, this is sick. But then like, sometimes that interest dies out over time, comparatively to other like full NFTs. Well, part of that is just kind of part of NFTs and people are going to buy stuff, not for the right reasons and then sell it because they’re no longer interested, but it’s definitely an interesting challenge to try to work with.

So we talked a little bit about fractional, but I want to backtrack for a minute for those who don’t know what fractional is. How do you explain it to normies? What does that narrative look like for you? 

Yeah, so I guess like the really, really basic version is fractional is a way to buy a piece of an NFT. That’s like the super normy “I don’t understand anything about crypto” version of this. The slightly less normy version is fractional is a decentralized protocol where users are able to trustlessly buy and sell fractions of NFTs or fractionalize their own NFTs. Then the really more complicated version is a decentralized permissionless protocol where you can buy, sell, or mint fractions of things and create any type of other applications on top of that, like a party bid or all of these different things. It really tries to be very low level and unopinionated so that you can do whatever you want. And that’s super important to us to encourage that people are empowered to develop and build whatever they want on top, while being able to plug into like a very trusted, decentralized framework for fractionalization. 

I like how you approached it from the three tiers. It reminds me of the IBM video that came out, like what is blockchain. When they’re trying to explain it to a kid and then like a PhD professor. I guess my next question to you, and we talked a little bit about this, like the feeling of owning a part of something bigger, but why in general, beyond art? Why is fractionalization and co-ownership so important?

Yeah. Well, one of the things that is really interesting is just how much fractional has kind of turned into a social media app in a way. It wasn’t something I completely expected, but it definitely is happening where it’s like one of the biggest use cases for all this is just to own something online with your friends. I’ve almost been calling it like subreddits for NFTs, where everyone who fractionally owns a thing together, they have this set thing that drives them altogether, which is fractional ownership of an NFT in the same way as like a subreddit, maybe it’s MMA or whatever. And it’s not like this crazy intense social graph of people that have tons of responsibilities and they’re driving forward the value of MMA, but they all like it, and they all want to go and kind of talk about it sometimes and talk about it with their friends and post stuff on the subreddit. And I kind of think about fractional ownership in the same way, where we’re like empowering people to own something with their friends and with strangers online and hopefully have as much or as little interaction with them as they desire. And that’s really powerful, and the community that you can build around that stuff is really additive to the NFTs themselves. And it also creates a more open world for NFTs that’s inviting to new people. Like I saw someone tweeting, what are the best NFTs for a Christmas present that are under $50? And like, it’s really hard to find NFTs that people think are really cool and also are under $50. Because it’s kind of like the nature of how things are right now. There’s not enough of a market for that price point of NFT, but fractional can come in and fill that very nicely.

Are you getting into the gift giving world of things? I can honestly see someone building an application layer on top of that, using your protocol, which could be super sick. 

Yeah, I totally agree. It’s something that I would love to see happen. It’s not something that we’re going to explicitly build anytime soon, but those are the types of things that fractional unlocks that I get really excited about where it’s like, how do we create the appropriate infrastructure for people to have a really great way to gift an NFT to their dad for Christmas that like is actually cool and exciting and, is a fun thing to own. As opposed to just, you know, whatever random thing they’re able to find, or I dunno. I think that stuff is really exciting. 

Super cool. You know, one thing that I really admire as to how you guys went to market, not necessarily went to market, but like how you guys think about marketing and driving traffic and users to fractional is, there’s this DAO called Pleaser DAO. A lot of like the big Dick energy that you guys kind of put out there is buying these really, really dope pieces and then attempting to fractionalize them. The most common one is the doge piece that hit shelves across Bloomberg, everywhere. Like everybody was talking about it across Twitter. It was an incredible success. I think about normies coming to the space, understanding what fractionalized NFTs were, experiencing maybe even some of their first tokens, et cetera, et cetera. But I love this whole concept that you guys are kind of like exploring publicly. Building this really powerful protocol, adding a layer that has like a consumer element, but then attaching this collector DAO to it that kind of like practices what they preach, right? In buying these pieces and then using the platform and the protocol to kind of put it into action, which creates a whole nother layer of like social awareness of bringing a product to life, which I thought was super, super interesting. Was that planned, this type of strategy? Did that happen accidentally? Walk me through that, and maybe I’m like talking out of my ass too, but it’s something that I noticed kinda was super cool about you guys. 

Yeah, and honestly, as much as it may seem like it, there’s essentially zero connection between Pleaser DAO and fractional other than that, I am in Pleaser DAO. It all just happened very randomly. I started fractional in February. Pleaser DAO started in April? I don’t remember. And it just kind of was very clear inside of Pleaser DAO that what people wanted to have happen there was fractionalization and buying things and, you know, redistributing them to the larger community and the people who were able to make those things happen and who those items are important to. Like, it was just really funny and fortunate timing that like, I was also working on fractional and then those two things aligned so nicely. I’m also very thankful that the people in Pleaser DAO are supportive of fractional and are excited and happy to use it. And like, obviously I’m biased inside of Pleaser DAO in that I like using fractional. But, I am but a small vote in the larger DAO of people. That’s one of the things that we really focused on with fractional was, like I was saying, wanting to make sure we’re unopinionated so you can kind of really do whatever you want. And I think that was really compelling for Pleaser DAO in fractionalizing the Doge NFT. As Pleaser DAO goes forward and does other things, there’s like no commitment from the Dao by any means to use fractional for everything, and I wouldn’t want them to do that either. To me, it’s just a fun group of people that I’m collecting stuff with. When the situation is right, Pleaser DAO will hopefully use fractional for the right things. To be honest for me, a lot of that just feels super fortunate. It just kind of all fell into place where, you know, a bunch of friends all bought some stuff and I happened to be one of them and we just decided to fractionalize it. I wish I could say that it was like some master plan that I had.

But like, think about it. You know, a lot of products and protocols are launching daily in crypto. If you zoom out for a minute, and you’re like looking at it from above, and you’re like, wow, that’s actually a really cool way to bring something to life. It’s like design the protocol for it and then build a use case around it, and have this crazy PR event. And I dunno, I thought it was a super cool angle to bootstrap users and to kind of create awareness.

Thank you. I think, where for me, like the strategy part of that for fractional comes in, is more just like we’ve been really intentional about building good relationships with collectors and creators and different people to where, when they come to a point where they say, Hey, maybe we want to, fractionalize something, hopefully they think of fractional and they want to use fractional. That’s been extremely intentional. And so far, I think we’ve done a decent job at that. We can always do better, but I’m pretty happy with how that’s gone. And so I think that that’s where the more intentional side was. Pleaser DAO in and of itself just happened to be one of the things that spun up, but fortunately I already had a lot of relationships with people there and friendships, and there was a trust in what we’ve built to put something that was worth so much into fractional. But I totally agree. I think that we’re going to see more and more companies and protocols basically build their protocol and then prove the usefulness through applications, even like mobile apps with all these different things, you know, like you can see it with compound as well, where they have like the compound treasury now where like compound made compound protocol and now they have a significantly different app that’s utilizing compound treasury or utilizing compound protocol called compound treasury, where they’re like working with larger institutions to get them better yield. And so I think we’re going to continue to see those kinds of things spin up more and more. It just makes sense. 

Artists’ Reaction to Fractionalization

You know, and just adding a little bit more to it. Coming out with fractional, other projects kind of like brought more awareness to the platform. There’s this iconic Doge event of Pleaser DAO buying the initial doge piece, then going to fractional and fractionalizing it, and kind of bootstrapping a lot of liquidity and boosting the value of the underlying asset, and then going to NFT NYC and seeing all the dogs everywhere, the Doge is everywhere, right? And adding more character and more culture to the drop itself and how this like piece of technology enabled that, right? It enabled that level of movement and that level of culture, that level of togetherness. I thought it was super, super cool. One thing that I wanted to talk to you also about is, you brought up this concept of creators using fractional, and if they want to fractionalize something, they think of you guys. What has been the response so far of creators seeing their pieces of art being deconstructed to bits and pieces and co-owned by many, many people? What has been the sentiment around that? 

You know, it’s funny. It’s been different based on who you talk to, not surprisingly. Some creators are super excited about it. They’re like, this is awesome. Basically love that I can, you know, reach a broader collector base and all this other stuff. I think other creators kind of enjoy the exclusivity of their work, like rightfully so. That sometimes is a very powerful part of what they’re doing, and so maybe they’re not as big a fan. Haven’t really had anyone be like, Hey, don’t like this, take my NFT down or something. That has not been a conversation we’ve had, fortunately. But it’s definitely been a spectrum. I would say for the most part, people are super excited about it. It’s generally pretty compelling without having to dilute your exclusivity or anything, just have a fractional piece that, you know, the smaller non-whale people can come in and collect and be a part of the community and all that. So I think the most positive response has been around the ability for them to bring in a ton more collectors to their art who otherwise would have been priced out of it. 

I had Tyler Hobbs on mint, actually in the same season, I think he was like episode one or two. And we talked about how he feels about seeing his art on fractional, and what’s really intended to be owned by one person is now being co-owned by many people, and he had an interesting point. He’s like, well, my art is meant to be enjoyed by the masses. Define enjoyment. Enjoyment can come in different shapes and forms, right? If people define their level of enjoyment by owning something, then who am I to say that that should be owned by one person, right? Maybe that should be owned by multiple people. And I thought it was an interesting approach, but I could also see it kind of backfiring when fine artists are really building and designing and creating for one collector right? That’s their strategy, and then that collector goes on fractional, and democratizes it. Like everybody can have it now and enjoy the perks of the piece of art! So I thought that was a super interesting insight. From what I’m understanding that has kind of been the sentiment as well from what you’re seeing give or take.

Yeah, I would say generally. Obviously, you know, every single instance of it is different, but for the most part it’s been a pretty good response from creators who have been excited to have this be a new tool that they can use. 

Have you seen any unique use cases of creators using fractional in a different light than you would have imagined initially? Anything come to mind? 

 I’ve seen some interesting stuff around 10,000 PFP projects with different things that they’ve done with fractional. Like there’s like the punks comic stuff and different things like that. As far as more specifically a creator who’s doing more traditional art, whether it’s photography and stuff, probably one of my favorites has been the photo vault, which there’s now two different photo vaults on fractional, but they’re collections of different photography artists’ NFTs. And the vault has now actually licensed the artwork that’s inside of them to time magazine, which is really cool. I have no idea what that means to be honest with you. I was not privy to whatever the legal conversations were around licensing a fractional vault of NFTs. It was one of those things where I found out the announcement because like time or photo vault had announced it. I had no idea, which to me is like a huge win. Like if stuff like that is happening on fractional and we don’t even know about it, that’s like the ultimate pro. It means people are doing really cool shit that we didn’t even think of or didn’t plan, and that’s exactly what you want. So it was a good thing to have, but one day we saw the tweet in our slack, and I was like, oh, I had no clue. I think that one’s been really, really cool. And I just love in general when there’s been somewhat of a push by different people to use fractional and the fractionalization and, you know, these vaults to support different types of artists or different groups of artists. I know there’s been someone in some of our Twitter spaces lately talking about wanting to create vaults of NFTs around women artists, and like buying more women’s artwork with the proceeds of selling the fractions and all of that. I think there’s just really cool stuff that can be done where you’re kind of creating access for like a ton of people to be able to support different groups of people and stuff. I haven’t seen a ton of explicit use cases of it yet, but I’ve been hearing a lot of conversations about it, and I’m excited to see where that all goes.

Exciting Developments in NFTs

Yeah, I’m also super excited. You know, part of Mint is basically showcasing ways either founders are building for creators either directly or indirectly, and when I had Tyler Hobbs on and he kind of brought up that situation, that use case. It’s like, oh, this is actually a pretty cool way for more creators to kind of explore what asset ownership, what art ownership means to them and their collectors and what that can kind of do from there on out. So, yeah, super interesting. One thing that I’m super excited about that I’m seeing a lot of other people get excited about is photography NFTs. Are you collecting some yourself?

I don’t have a ton, if I’m being totally honest. I have one drifter shoots where my Vans go, which is sick. Those are definitely my favorite, I love them. I need to spend more time really getting into it, to be totally honest. I don’t have nearly as much time now to be like deep in the weeds on foundation, on Zora, and open sea finding like the next thing. A lot of the time I’m just DM-ing and in slack like, “Hey man, what’s, what’s hot. Tell me what should I be looking at”? But yeah, so right now I have some of the fractionalized RAW DAO NFT prior to it being bought out the first time. The twin flames, I had some of that. Right now, the main photography NFT I have is the drifter shoots, but I’m in the market. I need to do some more research. One day I’ll have some free time. Maybe over the Christmas holidays. 

There you go. How do you imagine people would kind of use fractionalized assets to bootstrap the community? I know we talked a little bit about this with the doge drop, but how does it go from there? Is this something you guys are thinking about internally? Because I know you guys have a big community arm kind of leading a lot of the narratives and the voice around fractional next to you. How do you think about that? 

Yeah, it’s something that we’re still trying to figure out internally. In a lot of ways to be honest, it’s like, should fractional be providing infrastructure for people to have larger community discussions on our website or on another website? Should there be forums for different fractional NFTs? Should we be allowing people to plug in full governance to fractionalNFTs, where you can really bootstrap a DAO and do all this other stuff? And like the answer right now is still kind of we’re not totally sure. We’re spending a lot of time. I’m really excited. We just brought in someone to lead product for us who spent a lot of time doing a lot of user research and different things like that in his previous job. Really excited to start doing a little bit more like surveys and just like talking to people and figuring out exactly what it is, when people talk about building a community or bootstrapping a community around a fractional NFT, what does that actually mean? What is it that you really want to be doing there because there’s a million different ways that could go. And so the short answer is yes, definitely. Fractional wants to be supporting and empowering people to build communities on top of fractionalized NFTs. But the long answer is like, yes, but we haven’t quite figured out what that means or how we’re going to do it yet, and so we’re still kind of in the exploratory phase of how much do we need to be supporting people as far as like the technical chops of creating a community. We’re still trying to figure that out. 

Fractional in a Multi-Chain Future?

Yeah, it’ll be super interesting to kind of see how that unfolds. I’m looking on the website right now, and, you know, there’s so many different pillar assets that diverge into smaller pieces of assets that within themselves, each have their own respective communities, right? And a lot of what fractionalization does is it democratizes access to something that otherwise wouldn’t have been accessible. That within itself is like the big ethos of community I feel like. So there’s definitely a twist and a play, and it’s interesting to hear kind of like you’re seeing more of a social side appear through the fractionalization of art. Is it only on Ethereum right now? 

For now, yes. 

Are there plans? Can we do some alpha leaks right now? Are there plans? 

I won’t leak anything too hard. I will say fractional plans to be anywhere that there are valuable NFTs. I’ll leave it at that. So, we are actively working on that. I think the biggest challenge for us there, we take our UI really, really seriously. Not to toot our own horn. I think, you know, maybe it’s not as edgy as some crypto UIs are. It feels a little bit more web 2.0, but I do think it’s really clean and it works nicely and it is intuitive. 

I think that’s why it’s so powerful because it’s not curve finance, right? 

And yeah, we really try to take that seriously. We have a lot of users who are relatively new to crypto and we want to be a place where users who are new to crypto can come and buy stuff and just like, kind of start to test the waters. So, when we do have multi chain support, we want to make sure that it’s a really good experience. I can’t say that a lot of websites do have great experiences when it comes to certain things, and I don’t really blame them. It’s really, really hard. So we just wanna make sure we take the time, make sure we get it right, but it’ll come.

Awesome. I think that’s a perfect place to end off short and sweet. Andy, you’re a rock star, bro. Thank you for being on. Where can we find you? Where can we find fractional? Give us the hot take. 


Yeah, thanks for having me. This was really fun. The best place to find me is going to be on Twitter. My handle is @andy8052. It’s my handle, basically everywhere. Fractional’s Twitter handle is fractional_art and our domain is But yeah, Twitter is the main place you’ll find us, otherwise we have a discord that you can find links to on our website. Yeah. Thanks again for having me. This was really fun. 

Thank you. 

Podcast Transcript

Betting on Culture: Why BlockchainBrett Is Buying Music NFTs

Listen on: Spotify | Apple Music | Google Podcast


Mint Season 3 episode 16 welcomes the founder and Brett Shear aka BlockchainBrett. He’s an avid NFT collector and web3 music proponent who’s leading blockchain investments at Palm Tree Crew.

In this episode we discuss:

  • 0:00 – Intro
  • 3:51- Working at ConsenSys
  • 12:56 – Music NFTs at Scale
  • 19:04 – Working with Artists
  • 26:23 – The Future of Record Labels
  • 39:41 – The Value of Being Early 
  • 45:30- Market Dynamics
  • 49:03 – Outro

…and so much more.

Thank you to Season 3’s NFT sponsors!

1. Coinvise –

2. POAP –

3. Socialstack –

Interested in becoming an NFT sponsor? Get in touch here!


Brett, welcome to Mint, bro. How are you doing man? 

Thanks for having me, Adam. I’m feeling great.

It’s good to have you on bro. You’re one of the OGs when it comes to music NFTs. You make a lot of noise on crypto Twitter. So super stoked to have you as part of the season. Let’s just dive right into it. Who the hell are you? What should people know about you? What were you doing before crypto, and where are you now? 

Yeah, I go by BlockchainBrett. My name’s Brett Shear. I originally graduated from Fordham in New York and right out of school started working at ConsenSys building Ethereum products. And that’s actually when I started collecting NFTs around 2017. I also, after ConsenSys leaving in 2018 co-founded fleek, which is a developer tool, a lot of like IPFS hosting and storage. And I was just getting even more and more active in NFTs. So as the collector of art of collectibles now music of course and an investor now. I’ve teamed up with a crew crew and set up a fund, an early stage creator economy focused fund. And yeah, that’s pretty much been it. So founder, collector, investor. That’s who I am. 

You’re being super humble about your background. You’re being very low key to the point, which I love when guests do. But you’re OG from ConsenSys. Early on at ConsenSys, you don’t hear a lot of students leaving college, like graduating college and jumping straight to crypto, especially around 2017. What kind of made you do that switch? Like what was about it at the time that you’re like, shit like I got to get into crypto specifically, Ethereum work for like the Google of crypto per se? Walk me through that. 

You know, I was studying accounting which I didn’t see as a super exciting after school path there. I had learned aboutEthereum pretty luckily from a random dorm mate while I was interning at an accounting firm in New York in early 2016. And was like, wow, this sounds like something that sounds incredible and something that I can really dive into yeah, get behind. And it can be really exciting. I was already building an app actually, while I was in school too to try to get into the software side of things. So I had like an app going on the app store and trying to be innovative. So as soon as I learned aboutEthereum I was like, wow, this is the coolest thing I ever heard. And they’re actually at ConsenSys. So I was like their intern at ConsenSys that summer and I was like, wow, this is pretty cool. So I knew what ConsenSys was right away actually pretty lucky. And so I pretty much put everything on hold and just started reading like the Ethereum white paper. Of course Bitcoin and stuff too. And just like diving really deep in it and immediately like putting money into it, just to feel the skin in the game. I completely abandoned the app I was building and started trying to build something on Ethereum right away. So yeah, it was pretty much like immediate, and then I went to some meetups. Actually went to meet up at ConsenSys and met Joe Lubin for the first time. And a couple of the other founders that were building at ConsenSys and I knew that it was the coolest thing you could possibly do and was like just working towards getting in there right away.

Such early conviction. I think what a lot of people fail to do when they get into crypto is actually buying an asset. They do a lot of research and they study and while that’s super good, I’m a big advocate about the best way to learn is to buy and apply. Which is very much what you did. Like you bought, you went to these meetups, you tried to find work and here you are now kind of thing. 

Yeah. Definitely bought and then told everyone I knew to also buy. So I seem like I’m pretty smart now. 

Working at ConsenSys

I love it. All right. So you graduated college, entered ConsenSys. You’re also trying to build your own apps. You were doing a product at ConsenSys? What kind of products were you focused on?

I was building more financial focused products when I was at ConsenSys. It was definitely pretty defi, but there were a couple of financial focused apps there. Yeah, and doing product management.

Got it. The only reason I ask is because doing defi stuff, it’s like such the un-sexy side of crypto. And now where you’re at right now, like working with Palm tree crew, doing this blockchain fund, buying music NFTs, like investing in culture, investing in creators, in everything that like, I’m trying to understand, where did that job come into place? Like, how did you get into that? 

I just had a really good pulse on the space. I’m going to like every single conference meeting all of the other people in the space. And just keeping a good track of all the products out there. I didn’t have just like product curiosity, you know, just like what’s going on out there. What are all the apps like it’s such a new space, everyone’s pushing in a hundred directions of different industries. Like what kind of exists today and keeping a pulse on that. And I came across some early NFT apps, like Crypto Kitties and Super Rare. And, you know, I really dove in on super rare, like early on early days and started collecting art. And it was for fun. Like I understood NFTs already. It was actually a project in consensus that was really on the forefront actually in the music space, really in the forefront of like ERC 721, but before it was even called that, like what an NFT is, right? And like storing the file on IPFS. And so I understood the architecture and when I saw it, I thought it made a ton of sense for art and for other categories. So, you know, I was pretty lucky to have that understanding and then started buying JPEGs for a few hundred bucks. And it was like, it was crazy. It was pretty crazy. I had to convince myself to like spending money, but you know, Yeah. That was kind of the beginning. I mean, those were some pretty marquee pieces now and especially the crypto art space. 

So actually behind you have a Trevor Jones piece, so I’m like realizing that.

Yeah, I got that one. That was lucky that there’s a physical, of Trevor Jones. I got some other physicals, you know, I got some cold DS. I gotta Johnson or whatever here. I got a Josie on that wall and you can just kind of see the $1 bills on the side of. It’s a one-on-one original Josie. Yeah, I got a bunch of crypto art. Some physical ones that come along the way too.

I want to pivot and talk to you like why I brought you here today and why I wanted to have you on the season to talk about the intersection of music. I’ve done a few pieces already over the last like year. I think the first one I did was with Cooper Turley and Justin Blau. We were talking about music and NFTs and it spiraled from there. Crazy, right? We’ve seen a lot of like the art side of NFTs kind of explode. Now we’re seeing a lot of independent artists and music NFTs hitting the market. One specifically that comes to mind that was also on the show was Daniel Allen, his iconic mirror campaign for crowdfunding overstimulated with the Overstim token, which you were a super advocate and vocal about, and also having Latasha on from our Zora, the community lead there. And I want to talk to you more about what the hell is happening in music NFTs from your point of view? Like the revolution is here, it’s now why are you so excited about it?

Yeah, I mean, it happened really naturally. You know, my partner in my phone Is Kygo and it’s his manager miles. And you know, Miles is also my brother, but I’ve watched the whole career play out over a decade. And before that I used to make music and you know, I just have a love for it, a DJ and stuff in high school. I didn’t ever really see it coming, but as the NFT space really blew up, one of the things that I helped out with was on Kygo’s NFT drop and it was on Nifty gateway, and it was, I mean, it’s really beautiful stuff. But I think like what I realized is that all these amazing musicians at our town for their purpose of their content, which is making music, were kind of confined into art marketplaces. And they had to find a visual artist in order to make an NFT to collaborate. It felt like, you know, where’s the music appreciation category? So that was really early this year, and that kinda just sat with me weird. And as we were setting up the fund, I mean, I had ample time to really like, look around and see like, all right. Where’s kind of everything going. And as an NFT collector I came across some music apps like catalog that was focused on music for the purpose of it being music. And it’s just like, it’s not about the art, like visual art. Yes, sure a cover photo, a single cover album cover type thing, but it was like you listened to the song file. And I knew it was pretty big because it took me a moment. I asked myself some of the same questions that I asked myself when I first started collecting crypto art in 2018. And so, you know, it took me a couple of questions. I mean, it was pretty quick to get around it, but I mean, I realized that, you know, this is a new way to value music and like the file itself is like the art and the content. And now you get to be able to own that or collect it and, yeah. So I saw this as like a whole new area and I think like generally speaking, it’s not even just music. I think there’s all types of content that makes sense. Like we want to change NFTs and new types of apps to come think about what’s existing in the music industry today with Spotify and social ways around Tik Tok and all the different consumption models and live music festivals and events. Same thing goes for video, right? For articles, for streaming, for all these different types of content. So it started kind of getting the thinking going. It’s like, all right, what is the creator economy? And a lot of it has to do with like all the different forms of content and how that’s consumed and how communities are built around these creators. So I think music historically, like it was already starting to happen from music versus some of these other categories. And I think it makes sense because music is such a leading innovating category for technology forever. And in this case, it was already getting going. And the other big aspect to thinking forward is like, alright, this is pretty crazy because as far as the file types you’ve had, music is going to be the real beginning of the kind of creator economy sector, because it’s so consumed. As I was saying, it’s like, there’s so much consumption and engagement, and there’s so many more upstream layers of distribution and creation and engagement and social integrations and all that. What’s this going to look like? Is this going to change and create all new types to that apps? And yeah, so those are two major things. Realizing music’s value in how this is gonna help build a future of the creator economy was like really exciting thoughts.

You know, I think one of the biggest misconceptions that people get when they see the element of buying music, because we already had a wave of that when Apple introduced the iTunes store and people were buying songs for 99 cents. But now it’s like a whole different era of purchasing songs using NFTs as the medium, as a tech to do so to enable that. Why, for someone who doesn’t understand, what’s the value of spending $400 on a song on an NFT. For songs specifically. Not talking about the artwork or like what we saw in the last few months, like specifically a song. Because people are used to models where they pay $12 per month and they get to stream everything that they want. Why buy music again? 

I think the main thing is that we’re changing the way we value it and we’re valuing it directly to artists. The song itself when it’s treated as an NFT, the artist is putting out the song and releasing it as the song directly and putting the piece of content on chain. So that’s basically saying, Hey, here’s the song, here’s the file of the song, and this is the original source file, and the proof of ownership of that is this NFT. And you know, you couldn’t do that before. The same way with art, digital artists that before NFTs, couldn’t really sell their digital art. They couldn’t essentially transfer ownership of it, or put it on chain. And I think with music, it’s a similar concept. It’s very digital. So now being able to take that file, associate it with the token ownership that NFT and be able to, you know, create relationships with collectors and essentially sell that content, so the music on chain is a huge breakthrough. So, you know, I think it depends on your perception, how you look at it. And there’s a lot of people that think differently about what you’re sort of buying there, but you know, I look at it very similar to how you buy art and you’re essentially collecting music. I mean, it’s definitely in the current state with the one-on-ones, it’s on a pretty major like deep relationship connection, like high value connection. But I think that’ll continue to evolve and include much larger communities.

Music NFTs at Scale

I want to pull up a piece from your mirror post. From this blog post that you wrote specifically around point number one under the section, and I’ll link this in the show notes. But music NFTs are changing the way we value music. So zooming in for a minute, I just want to read this really quick. The music slash song file is the NFT is now capturing the value of the song. The NFTs where all the value of the song accrues. With web three, all music is free to listen to. Forget about the Spotify model of the song being worth what the royalties say they are, this is the artist creating music on their own terms and listeners valuing the song file. Which conceptually, is a very new way of thinking about things, right? You’re looking at it, I feel, from the point of view of a fine collector, right? You appreciate the artist. You appreciate the work, you love the music. You love being able to go to a concert and being able to say, I own this, or I co-own this, or I own a fraction, right? There’s something that’s really beautiful behind it. And I’ve experienced that. Like, when I participated in theDaniel Allen crowdfund on mirror, okay. I then went to a launch house party that he was performing at. And I was like, shit, like I bought your NFT, like, how cool is that? Like, what an artist-collector relationship artist-fan relationship. My question to you is at what point, will we start seeing like the mass audiences start realizing the value of this? Is it meant for the mass audiences, even? You know what I mean? Like, because it’s such a new way to understand things and to look at things specifically for a song that we’re used to being free.

Yeah, I think it really is. I mean, I already see it with musicians. They are pretty quick to understand this. They’re like, oh amazing. Like I can create my content on my own terms and like put it out on my own terms and own it, and decide how to distribute it. It also gives them such creative freedom around what music they can put out and like when they put it out and how they put it out. Yeah, I think musicians understand it. And then I think, yeah, for sure people buying music NFTs, that one has taken a bit more sort of explanation and education around it. And maybe that part’s a bit slower, but I think that once you feel it it’s such a game changer. Like I remember buying my first music NFT and then like listening to it in the car and being like, I can’t believe I own this song. It was the coolest thing ever. Those are my favorite songs now. And I continue to cultivate my own listening via which music NFTs I buy and appreciate those the most. It’s obviously a pretty large scale cause I’m, you know, all the one-on-ones I bought and it’s been, it’s definitely cost some money, but I think It’ll be more mainstream as it gets to a bigger scale. And I think the step there is creating community around the music. So, you know, I’ve even talked about it in that article as well. The future of music and NFTs is musician DAOs and you’ve had Daniel Allen on. So I’m sure you talked about them in his episode, his DAO that Daniel Allen Overstim DAO, where it’s a really, you know, innovative leap in this space. And I think a lot of artists will continue to take that leap and it will become a major backbone of the future of music and music NFTs. This is essentially a musicians, the concert business, taking your music NFTs that you create, essentially putting it into the treasury. In reality it could be even more types of content. It could be music videos and kind of other things as well, things attached to that. Like when you have the ownership of the song, like the NFT in the DAO, the sales from that NFT, right? Like you have sales now. The potential engagement layers of these NFTs might accrue directly into the treasury. So it’s kinda like your content for the core reason why you’re a creator, which is your music content, and the kind of things around the music. And even kind of the value that accrues around those NFTs all coming to sort of one place. And as a DAO, of course, you have the ability to either create NFTs or social tokens around that which essentially represent ownership and governance over that treasury, which is that content. So you create this like this relationship, this connection on a larger scale where you know, someone can like, feel like an owner and feel like a part of all your content and all of your sort of future by being a token holder. And I think that as more tools and apps come out, things like that will be more visual. It’ll be more realizable. And people that come in now are already feeling the power of that. Like you’re saying, you have some Overstim tokens, right? With Daniel Allen you watched him play, you felt something. Like why’d you feel something? Because you have a percentage of his content. You know, you have a percentage of Daniel Allen’s music, essentially above all his NFTs. And I know a lot of people, when they say, 80% of it’s like, oh, we get to get the royalties and other types of rights, but it is a new world, right? Things are being built very differently. Sure you can try to draw analogies, but you know, get to think about where this is going and how the value is being created going forward, and a lot of new apps and interfaces are being built directly on top of the music NFTs. Those will be the future of how we listen to music, how we consume music, how that music continues to accrue value. I think people will see it and feel it once they see the opportunities. They take very small steps, like buying a token. As I mentioned in the article as well, it’s actually even better for their mass audience because when you put out music in this way, music can be completely free. So like music players can be built from music NFTs, and all these NFTs can be surfaced and played for free. Like, you don’t need a Spotify model there anymore. Where you’re charging users. So now pretty much anyone can listen to your music NFTs completely free. And it becomes like this kind of funnel where like, do you want to join the community? Do you want to enter a deeper level and feel a closer connection, and, you know, actually have sort of this ownership in the project? Okay, great. Like, you can buy these tokens and enter, or you can earn them. You don’t necessarily have to buy them, you can earn them, right? There’s gonna be a lot of earning opportunities. So you can just be like someone that loves it so much and wants to do things for that artist anyways and earn your way in. 

Working with Artists

For example, let’s just talk about earning for a minute. Like blondish is launching their own token ish representative of her brand of music or EDM culture, their lifestyle, et cetera. And I went through the process of claiming some of these tokens today. It’s December 1st And I took quizzes on her. I liked some things, you know, I shared something, I did this, I did that. And I got like a few hundred tokens, whatever that may be. There’s a couple points. Because one thing that comes to mind is like, when you sell your music as an NFT versus releasing it on Spotify, only, do artists, when they approach this model and they come and ask you for advice, is there that misconception where if they publish it on the blockchain, then they can’t publish it on Spotify? Is there that misconception? 

Yeah, that definitely happens. The first thing is like the royalty that the artists understand. Like, oh, is it connected to my song’s royalties? Like no, you’re not. And then he’s like can I publish it? And then they’ll say like, can I publish it on Spotify? Like, yeah, put it anywhere, you know? It’s pretty much like the save as me, you know? Download, save as meme, where it’s like oh, like I can just right click your crypto art piece, and now I own it. It’s like, no, you don’t. Only the actual token holder is, whether it’s, you know, the one-on-one NFT or if it’s like via the NFT living in a treasury and token holders on a more larger scale being a part of that. That’s where the value is. That’s where the knowledge is. So yeah, it’s like putting it anywhere. But I do think that it’ll make more and more sense that new types of apps that are going to be very native to music and NFTs will make the most sense for like the principal to focus on. Artists that are putting out their songs as NFTs to focus on, and that there’ll be more ways to accrue value around engagement consumption and that direct relationship type experiences to the token holder or to, you know, listeners within those apps that like to embrace this to the next level. And then that will probably become more of a focal point. 

You know, one thing that you told me behind the scenes prior to this interview, I think it was like a few weeks back is, when you were basically explaining to me your thesis behind music NFTs and why you were so hyped about them beyond the direct fan to investor relationship, there was also like the business model for you that actually made a lot of sense where I’ve brought up money. I bring part of this like a creator’s or artist’s career to life. At some point, there will be some type of decentralized Spotify that’s going to come into the place, right? Where I’ll be able to base the license, or upload that music and get direct type of a royalty distribution straight to my wallet and all of these splits and all these interactions, instead of it like being, I guess, like brought up by a traditional music label that acts as a bank, you’re like one of those many investors that helps bring that crew to life with the intention of getting royalties with the intention, or maybe not that the direct intention, but you know, you know what I mean?

 It’s really interesting topic cause it’s like, you know, I think we’re in like an interesting spot I would say, where it’s like, maybe this has already started, but like the distribution layers and new types of apps for engagements that are having to build out, they have not. So music NFTs right now are looked at as like kind of collectibles, and like similar like how you might look at crypto art. So the perception isn’t necessarily that there’s like kind of future value or engagement models, et cetera that are going, gonna accrue to it. I’m thinking forward there, like it’s not currently existent right? So even from the artist sense, like they also might not be thinking about that. But it’s funny to see because music NFTs usually have a higher retained ownership percentage of the artists, what we call the loyalty. It’s like on average, 20% from one-on-ones right? Versus in crypto art it’s 10% just standard. So we’re already seeing like a higher retained sort of ownership percentage or loyalty if you call it In music NFTs. It’s almost like we’re subconsciously realizing, like the musician should pertain more ownership over their music NFTs. And I’ve seen it up to 50% and I’m fine with that because I do see that future where the content itself and the song itself as the NFT that like, this is this sort of traceable ownership back to the file and that as that music NFTs surface for more layers through distribution, through different types of curation, whether like you can imagine distribution is similar to Spotify, you can imagine creation similar to like Spotify playlist, right or like other types of industry music, blogs, et cetera. And You know, higher levels of like social, where it’s like somebody like Tik Tok where like the songs are integrated directly into the social media app, like the core component behind how to make videos. So the future of the music NFT is going to be how new apps are going to be built by integrating those and creating experiences around that content for listeners to engage and start to monetize listeners directly to the music directly to the artists. I think those music NFTs, will accrue a value like potentially on chain revenue, right? Call it the equivalent of yield farming in DeFi like sort of engagement type farming, or like, you know, something of that nature. And these music NFTs can accrue a lot of value, and I think it makes sense for it to accrue value. And I think what that will do is, as those things are built out, the artists will move to retain significantly more ownership of those music NFTs. I think in the future it will be very difficult to buy one of one music NFTs, like down the line. In this current state, because of where the space is at, they might be more like historical collectibles or pieces of art. Versus where it’s gonna be in the future as music.NFTs are more integrated to the listening experience that accrue value on chain revenue essentially like directly. So I think as that plays out, it’d be really interesting. I mean, you know, It’s kind of like paying less and getting more ownership of the music NFT now because those things aren’t there. And like, it makes sense because like the music NFT might not get that same level of engagement if all this stuff is there and songs are being released in the future like it’s going to have those opportunities to accrue value versus like the music NFTs now don’t really have that. So it makes sense for them to be more viewed as sort of like collectible. So it makes sense to get more present ownership and retain it. It works in both ways and we’re kind of in this like middle ground spot, I believe, and I’m happy to be there because if that’s the case and, it’s just the future, which I believe it is, where like all of new apps and consumption, et cetera, is direct to music NFTs, and it’s built around the musicians community and accruing value directly on chain, maybe some of the earlier songs aren’t going to be as integrated or performing super well there. Maybe they will, you know, but maybe they’re not because they were before those things were built, sort of, they still can get integrated. This’ll be a part of those apps that are a bit like, you know, it’s kind of predated before they exist. So those are historical, like it’s a Renaissance. Like those musicians saw it before everyone. They didn’t understand exactly where it was going, but like they participated, they put themselves into it, they poured their time into it, you know? That’s the beginning of Renaissance and those deserve to be very, very valuable, you know, NFTs and pieces of content.

The Future of Record Labels 

Makes a lot of sense, super exciting times. And kind of like where we’re heading. I’m personally excited to see like a new wave of creators and independent musicians entering the space, messing around and tinkering with all these white three primitives, trying to create more ownership and redistribute value to their listeners and their lovers prior or before, like actually signing a record deal that could lock them in and strangle them as a person. One thing, and by the way, this is not to say that all record deals do that, right? It’s just like a common narrative that you hear from artists who actually approached the record label path and then break free into independence, you know, like, wow, I can breathe. Just from what I’ve heard. No shame. But one thing I want to bring up really quick, when I had Latasha on from Zora also like a dope, dope, dope black female rapper. I have a lot of respect for her, and one thing that we talked about on our episode is, I had this like hot take and I’d love to hear your point of view where it’s like, all these music labels, they’re going to transition into creative hedge funds where more and more artists, assuming this is a narrative, more and more artists tokenize themselves through social tokens, through their albums, through their individual songs. And in order to kind of stick with it, these labels will actually have to start buying these assets right? And have a treasury of all these assets. And there’ll be supporting the artists, not through personal ownership, more through ownership of their work per se. And at some point down the line, like they’ll have so many assets, their biggest value add might even be like community management. So one of the biggest things that artists need is like community discord managers to kind of manage the community. Onboard people to create ongoing content, keep people engaged. So between basically providing that money, buying assets on chain to having a team of community managers, like this is what I kind of see happening down the line. Would you agree? Would you disagree? Do you have a different take? 

I mean, it’s crazy. Like entering the music NFTs sort of space right now as a musician and as an independent artist, which by the way, on the topic of like, you know, this being such a powerful move, for independent artists absolutely. I feel like this is like an app. It’s like a tool. The tool that independent artists have been waiting for to be able to own their own content and kind of have the technology to choose what to create, when to create it, how to put it out. I think, you know, it’ll be a wakening moment when the person that has a bit more streams than Daniel Allen but Daniel Allen has monetized better, and has created a community and has a more engaged or like stronger sort of community foundation. I think it will slowly eat upward to, you know, to eventually where it will be seen as a really, really promising alternative path for instance. So yeah, I think a lot of people are paying attention. And then to your point, it’s like, all right, like the main thing is like, right now, the very valuable skills and sort of music NFTs use a lot of like the NFT skills. It’s like understanding crypto, like how do you build community? You know, what is a DAO? Like, how do I move forward? How do I continue to innovate in the crypto space and the music NFT space? What are the upcoming apps? What are the relationships I need? What do I need, what I need for my music NFTs to be listed, where should they be seen? You know, community tools, voting, it’s almost like being a web three kind of crypto expert. Some of the more valuable skills for musicians are now coming to music NFT space. So yeah, I mean, we’ve seen it where some of the existing management don’t really understand it or can’t add that much value to it, and it takes a serious focus. Like it’s kind of a big decision to say like, oh, I’m gonna start putting out my music as NFTs and it takes a bit of a leap. It takes some research and learning and getting involved with the community. So you’re absolutely right. One of the most major skills is community management, like right away. Hundred percent. Like you see Daniel Allen and his Discord community. You know, and that’s, that’s definitely a really obvious way for musicians to start building communities. Do stuff like that. It’s tough to say. I mean like definitely a really cool paradigm shift where like there’s opportunity for like a more decentralized ownership of the content. And it’s kind of more transparent and open to everyone like listeners, the fans, the artists, anyone that wants to market it, promote it, or be a part of that. So, I think the future of labels interacting with music NFTs, joins through in the way that the music NFTs are sort of structured and that the community is structured. Like they’re gonna have to like, kind of fit into that. You know, we’ve seen it for some years now. I mean, it feels like a lot longer than that, but like pretty much everyone was like, oh, cause it was going to adapt and eventually it’s gonna become this. And like, we’re going to use it in this industry. And it’s like, it’s ground up. And a lot of times people need to figure out how to get in and go with where it’s going, because it’s changing things. So yeah, I agree. There’s going to be some moments where the future of curators are going to be like maybe genre focused groups or major fans that come together across certain types of artists that are, you know, buying into these artists communities and building teams around, like Web 3.0 teams about crypto strategy. Beyond that, of course, I can’t forget about distribution stuff. I mean, what is distribution going to look like for music NFTs? Like there’s still a lot of stuff to learn like to kind of unfold. It’ll happen probably pretty natively to crypto, and then just become more and more friendly and understandable over time. 

You know, the thing that I just say is like, just get involved, dive in. What’s the worst that can happen? Just fucking, just get in, you know? Just like messing around, throwing shit at the fan. If you need money, there’s people who have grants, you know, where they’ll send you your first ETH for minting fees, you know? There’s communities that you can join, questions that you can ask. Like you just have to be super active. One thing I loved about Daniel Allen is like, so I first met him online, I then met him in person at that launch house event. And then we met up for like Açaí , whatever we hung out. Then he came over and we did our things like helped him with his community, blah, blah, blah. I loved his proactiveness and his willingness to just try and just to get out there. And he’s like, I’m not worried about what’s the worst thing that can happen. Like I’m an optimist. Like I see a world where this could turn into something really, really great. I’m just going to get right in. I don’t care. I don’t care if it costs me money. I don’t care if they cost me time. I don’t care if I look like the stupidest person in the room, I don’t care. I think that should go without saying to all these new artists, all these new creators, all these musicians, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera that want to enter web 3.0. And I guess like when people come to you, Brett and they see you collecting, and they see you spending money supporting artists. As an investor, what do you look for? Like what do you look for in the NFTs that you buy? And the artists you support? Tell me a little bit about that.

Well, first on the point of just jumping in, I agree completely. I mean, I think, you know, it’s almost advantageous for the next wave of artists. Like you’re coming up and you’re just starting, you know, you’re not really making big money yet. You don’t really necessarily have the record label yet. Maybe not on tour yet. There’s all these things that like, you’re in a spot where like the community just starting, where you have like a very opportune thing where you can just like take advantage of like going crypto native to start and like having music NFTs as your source of putting out music and kind of embrace it from an earlier stage. So it’s like, you know, for some kind of younger, earlier stage independent musicians, you’re almost in an advantageous spot compared to the rest of them. You can just dive right in. You can embrace it and totally build the future of this space from the beginning. You’ll see a ton of comparables to the crypto art days where like, those artists are the most successful crypto artists today. Like by far like X Copy, look them up. Look at Hackettstown coldy. Those were like some of the first three artists ever on Super Rare and didn’t have an Instagram following by any means. Or maybe he’s like, obviously he had a background in art and making art for a long time, but like that’s where they embraced the medium early as sort of like these upcoming earlier, less known artists. And now the next copy sells for a minimum $2 million second day. So it’s like, it’s insane. It’s been 2 and a half years. It’s the craziest thing. It’s unbelievable. I don’t think anyone saw it coming this fast. Yeah, it’s unbelievable. So, you know, I think I like to look at it as an advantage and opportunity for early stage artists, I would say there’s also options for like some of the later stage artists that have labels, et cetera. You know, it becomes a little more difficult because what happens is record labels control distribution of the songs. So like they say, they have agreements with Spotify or whatever streaming platform that you can put the song there. They don’t have that with music NFT platforms yet, obviously. So what ends up happening is like your options become like basically your catalog is not under the label. It’s not ideal versus like so much that’s upcoming, because you can put all of your next songs and everything you create, like you have the opportunity to put that on chain. And that’s very promising for like the community collectors embracing this area, the space. But it’s like, all right, like you can start dipping your toes in and working and figuring out and seeing if this is a real opportunity. So you can do catalogs that aren’t under the label. Also, another crazy thing is like creating project names. Like creating a new project. You know, I think we’ve all seen what universal music group just did with Jim. Jim McNeil’s from NFT42, where he created this bored ape group, and it’s like gonna make music, right? Like, think about that. Using NFTs, avatars, et cetera, as like branding for like music groups, for those music groups, et cetera. Like those are pretty cool crypto native ways to embrace this thing and release music. And so that’s like a pretty cool option that you can kind of get moving, even if you’re already kind of big and on a label and feel it out. So, you know, there’s always ways to triage the opportunity, and I think artists are figuring it out on that front. As far as what I look for when I’m collecting music NFTs. I think there’s a few things. Of course number one is a subjective love for the game. So, you know, when you’re buying this art or music, the best thing you can do is love it because you know, then you don’t expect anything from it and you’re just happy with owning it. And which is, which is definitely the best way to purchase, because it’s just the happiest sort of relationship. You’re like, all right, like I paid for this and I’m just happy to own this, and it’s great. I don’t expect anything in return if it goes up a ton and people really, really want it, and wow, it’s just like pretty life-changing money or something, then you’re like, okay, this could be worth selling and letting go into someone else’s hands. But you know, that’s the best perception to take into collecting any NFTs generally and of course, music NFTs in this space. Then the next major thing I look for is the dedication of the artist to this space as a viable career opportunity. So like really embracing it and building in it for the future. Seeing like, I could use this feature, I want to figure out which way it goes. I’m going to continue to put all my stuff, ideally everything I do, here, not just music. It could be like music videos. When I sell them in a couple of creative ways, I want to create a DAO, you know, like thinking towards the future and having this like how do we embrace the future? I like to try to get a little bit, like to see if I can see signs or get into the head or talk to the artists and get a feel for like, you know, maybe they were just posting on Twitter talking about this stuff. Like that could be enough. Like, I don’t necessarily need to like, you know, have a one-on-one conversation, but that’s where it’s like, those things can feel really real. If they feel really real, and it’s like, the artist is really genuine about it, I think that is actually a standard. That’s something that’s like, alright, that, plus of course they have to continue to put things out. Like the success of the artist, like keeping a consistent brand in the space. Like you don’t see at X copy, just didn’t stop putting out work. In the crypto space he’s been consistently releasing over the years. Even though he started small, it became big, he was one of the earliest in over time and eventually it’s catching on and now he’s still putting out work and like the brand has kept going in this space. I think that that is just vital. Yeah, and the other thing on top of that, those are just foundational things, and then, you know, of course the taste comes into it. But there’s also a bit of a respect factor for at the time you’ve entered and how big of a size you are. I would say, for instance, like vérité songs, who has a couple of hundred million streams or so on Spotify, already is releasing music NFTs, like there’s some respect there. It’s similar to like, kind of you know, when, I don’t know if everyone knows the pockets, but he’s a big crypto artist. Like he had a million followers on Twitter. He came into the art space in like 2019, pretty early, like that matters. It’s like using your reputation, your stance and your current following, like taking a risk with it and embracing something that’s very new. Like there is like a respect factor there that should just be taken into account and taking into sort of the value of the work. And yeah, so that’s something I definitely pay attention to as well. I would say those are pretty much all the main factors. 

The Value of Being Early 

You know, back to the point of just like diving in and throwing shit at the fan. I have a friend. She’s a very talented artist, singer, songwriter; super creative. Her name is Queen George. Back in April, she basically launched like an NFT concert online during COVID. Cause she was like, fuck, like I miss performing. I genuinely miss performing and I can’t perform. I’m going to do like this live concert where the only way to access the show is by purchasing the NFT as your ticket. And then when you purchase the ticket, you’ll get a piece of my art symbolizing, like the launch of my EP or the launch of my single, and then with that, you get to access a live stream of a performance that she produced, which was like super, super cool, but nobody really bought. Nobody bought the NFTs. But to me, it’s just like, doesn’t matter. Just like keep going at it. She ended up using Eventbrite because her audience didn’t understand NFTs. They didn’t understand the entire process. She sold tickets through Eventbrite, whatever. But the fact that she put herself out there, you know, she’s trying stuff. This was back in April. So a long time ago, and now she’s like in these communities, she’s trying to figure it out. She’s jumping in from discord, she’s like experimenting you know? And I think with that mentality, at some point she’s going to get her sale. She’s going to find her collector base. She’s gonna find her audience. She’s gonna find her voice and who resonates with it most. This will of trying is I think what kinda breaks through the gloss kind of thing. 

Yeah. It pays off to be genuinely early. Like if you actually care about it and you think this is cool, and you want to embrace this space, just start. I agree. Like, just get into it. If you’re worried it’s not going to sell and you really want it to sell, probably price it lower. I mean, look at the Bored Ape Yacht Club. Free to mint crypto punks, right? Like obviously, as an artist, you value your own work and you want it to hold value, and that means a lot. So like, don’t put it any lower than you don’t think that it’s worth, but also just take into consideration, you’re building community here. The kind of the transition or the connection between like web 2.0 fans and web 3.0 fans at this moment, are not one-to-one. It’s not even close to one-on-one. So, you kind of have to like, sort of build in this space a bit and like kind of build community. You can kind of start somewhere. Maybe you like give it like an easier opportunity for it to kind of get sold or just start selling and to you know, so it’s always tough because I never liked to impede on the creative process or like how the creator or the artist values their work, but I do like see success and love to see when like artists has come out and like, don’t try to like, put a crazy price tag on their stuff to start and just say like, you know, and create small steps of success that are building and creating relationships. Cause like it’s a huge ripple effect. You get one true collector, and then someone else sees that you have a collector. Now they want to also be one. Oh, there’s already someone there. That’s already the basis. Who’s the collector? They might look into that, right? Like now that’s the thing. Like if it’s someone trustworthy, someone that’s collected other art like other pieces, maybe they’re already an NFT collector that just came in. So there’s this kind of ripple effect of having small steps of success that are worth embracing and getting started. I can see how it’s tough to transition from maybe you’re already like a bigger artist and like you value music really highly, but like, you’re building in kind of a new world, you know? You kinda have to, not leave everything behind, but kinda like, you’re almost starting a little fresh. I think we’re building ground up right now. Like people buying one-of-one. Like I was saying, one-of-one music NFTs might not even be a thing for that long. It’ll always be a thing. People will always put out music as an NFT, but I’m saying as far as someone going and purchasing 8% of the one-of-one music NFT might not always be a thing. Because it’s going to build up, it’s going to go from like these early on one-of-one collector type thing, to editions, to it’s going to move to DAO social token holders on an even larger scale. And then, this funnel that we’re seeing of building upward is actually going to create the pipeline of new people that are going to come the other way. I’m coming in from one-of-one and then maybe I’ll and then I get editions and then I’ll end up holding social tokens. The next wave of people are gonna come in and listen to the song, get a social token, maybe get an edition, and then even if they’re crazy enough, then they’ll pay to get a one-on-one. So like, you know, we’re building out a lot of the foundations for like the funnels of the next wave of I guess fans for music NFTs and engagement. 

You know, one thing that I like to advise people is the best way to kind of go try something new is by attaching it to something you already do. For example, you already perform. People show up at your performance. The best way to grow a database of addresses is by issuing a POAP, a proof of attendance. So the second they basically have this free NFT of yours, then you can redirect them, like at the live performance, you hand out those like little QR codes, you know, everybody scans them, they collect the POAP, and then on the stage, you funnel them in and you’re like, everybody who collected, all these POAPs, join my discord. Like this is the URL. You have like a QR code that they can scan on stage to kind of get into the store. Like there’s different ways you can do it without necessarily like literally putting yourself out there and issuing a mint of your one-of-one song or issuing a token of yourself. There’s different ways you can kind of position it to initially grow like an on chain community. I think co-ops are a really good way to do that. That’s something that I do with the newsletter too. Like I was able to grow, hack, quote-unquote, a few thousand subscribers to Mint just by the newsletter using POAPs as listener badges for the podcast. I don’t have a token. I don’t like NFTs, but I have this way to kind of prove listenership, but super fun. You on the other hand, or these creators artists listening to musicians, can basically bootstrap the initial community by issuing these types of free entities that are super fun. 

Market Dynamics

Yeah, it’s definitely cool. Like anything is cool, like low costs, you know, higher volume entrance and appeases is awesome. Like co-ops are awesome. I would say that the core value of like your NFTs that are gonna kind of be back in your community is going to be based on the content that is true to you as a creator, right? Like if you’re a musician, like your most valuable NFT should be your music NFTs. And it’s gonna be the same thing for a bunch of stuff. You have a newsletter, you write articles, like there’ll be a day where one-of-one articles are worth something. Articles will move on chain. You as a writer will be able to own your content as NFTs to your articles. Video creators, what we call YouTubers and Tik Tokers, and, you know, all of their video content like that is the feature of that. And basically, as you build community, most foundational thing you can do is build your community around your core content as NFTs. So that’s the best foundation possible because like that’s where the value of you really is. And the strongest foundation for your community is of course the purpose of why you’re a creator. So, that’s why it’s so beautiful and because it’s a lane for musicians that’s opening up to, you know, the city. It’s gonna be the same for all different types of content, for sure. I mean, like if you were to buy a social token of a DAO, that’s like a lot. This is another thing, right? A lot of artists, when they’re entering in, they say, oh, I’m worried about the price. I don’t want to like disappoint my fan base by the price dropping. Well, think about it like this. If all of your content is like the NFTs backing your community, everything you create, like how can you disappoint them? When they buy a token, they’re getting a part of you and of your content. The reason why I follow you, like, at least they have that, right? Like you’re doing them like a service, or like, at least doing kind of right by them. You’re doing right by them, by them saying, Hey, like when I’m buying this token, it’s like the same reason why when I buy a music NFT that I like I don’t need to sell them. I expect them to sell it. Like, I’m not doing it for any returns, I’m doing it because I’m happy with it cause I’m at least at a minimum enjoying the song, appreciate the content, appreciate the price I paid for it. And I think it’s still worth that to me. And like sure, in the future, like I was saying, like if it goes up a bunch and there’s an opportunity to sell it, like great. If I want the money, money like that’s an option. But, like when the community is backed by the content, then when people are buying it and buying a social token, at least they’re getting a representative ownership percentage of all of your NFTs, which is like your content, right? They should be happy. Like someone who’s like, listening to your music for free now because music NFTs , I’m listening to that music. I love it. I want to be a part of it. When I buy that token, I’m getting a percentage of your NFTs under contract for your core purpose of why I listened to you and why I like you. I should be happy already. I don’t need to sell it. I don’t even make a profit off it. Like, you should be happy. That’s the difference. A lot of people look at it and they’re like, oh, imagine you can start buying a favorite artist or you buy artists, and you can sell that piece, right? Like, it’s the wrong way around. Like imagine you get to love the artists, you get to connect with artists and you get to like, have a part of that feel part of that, own a piece of that. Sure, and then like, if that works out, it can pay off big time, like a hundred percent could. But yeah, it comes the other way around. 


Dude, I think that’s a perfect place to end off. This was a great conversation, bro. Thank you so much for being on. If artists, collectors in general, want to find you, want to find your work, everything that you’re working on at Palm tree Crew, investing and personally collecting work where can they find you? Shill yourself..

 Hit me up on Twitter, BlockchainBrett. My handle is actually @web3brett. If you search BlockchainBrett, you’ll find me. My DMs are open. I try to respond to everything or read everything at least. And so yeah, hit me there. We’re actively seeking and looking out at this space, and you know, we are doing things from our phone. We’re investing in this space as well and being very strategic and I get very hands-on and help out with these different projects and get really involved. So yeah, definitely let me know. 

I can definitely echo that last point, dude. Thank you so much. We’ll have you on again soon. 

Thanks so much, Adam.