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Mint Season 4 episode 20 welcomes Mark Dawson, co-founder of Quixotic, the largest NFT marketplace on Optimism, and MusicFund, a community that finds, funds, and supports up-and-coming artists.
This conversation took place during Eth Denver so there’s a lot to unpack from the week itself, let alone all the cool stuff he and his co-founder are building, so let’s just dive right in.
In this episode, we discuss:
- 01:08 – Intro
- 07:05 – How Do Creators Get Started in crypto?
- 12:55 – What is Quixotic Trying to Solve?
- 17:45 – NFT Derivatives and Copy-cat Projects
- 19:11 – About MusicFund
- 23:21 – Current State of Music and Web3
- 36:52 – 2022 Is the Year for Layer 2s
- 38:03 – What is Layer Two Community Culture Like?
- 40:39 – The NFT Landscape in 2022
- 42:12 – The Most Interesting Music NFT Use Cases
- 46:37 – Mark’s Thoughts on Web3-native Music Royalties
- 48:40 – Outro
…and so much more.
I hope you enjoy our conversation.
Support Season 4’s NFT sponsors!
1. Coinvise – https://coinvise.co
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Mark. Welcome to mint. Great. How are you doing man?
Mark Dawson: I’m doing well. Yeah, Denver’s been great. How are you doing?
I’m good, man. I am I’m feeling a little bit tired from east Denver.
Mark Dawson: It’s so cold here. It’s, it’s colder than California,
Much colder than California, but nonetheless, we are surviving. Yeah. When you get into east Denver,
Mark Dawson: Wednesday. Yeah, I came Wednesday. We were excited about the shell point talks on Thursday.
Okay, cool. So what have you been doing since then since Wednesday? What has been on your agenda?
Mark Dawson: Yeah, so the biggest thing has been the shelling point talks and then meeting with NFT people. So I build NFT communities and we’re focusing on layer two. So meeting people at different layer twos, like optimism and [inaudible]
Okay. Cool. All right. Let’s dive right in. Yeah. Who are you? Who am I? What does a world need to know about you, Mr. Mark Dawson? Okay. Take it away, but take it from the point of view of like how’d you get into crypto. Okay. Yeah. And having you a part of season four, which is all about the music industry. Right. So talk to me also about like your intro into the music industry. And we can start there.
Mark Dawson: Yeah. So when I graduated from college, I moved to LA and just worked at a normal web two, a tech company for about three years. I speculated basically in 2017 but nothing serious in terms of my crypto involvement. I’ve always been a huge music fan. So I went to every show I could in like 2019 which is really lucky for me because by 2020, like all the live music was gone. Yeah. and basically midway through the pandemic in January, 2021, I quit my normal web two job and decided to focus on crypto full-time. And I started an NFT company in April, 2021 and have been building an Ft projects and communities since then.
So why NFTs for you?
Mark Dawson: Yeah, I mean, NFTs were actually what got me into crypto which is probably something specific it to this cycle. You know, most people got in for defi or maybe protocol design earlier. For me it was media. Like I love media and art. Like that’s why I was excited to move to LA and not like San Francisco, for example. My roommate is like a filmmaker. So we would always talk about like movies, media, and that’s been a big part of my personal interest. So when I saw NFTs and crypto art I actually bought my first NFT in like March of 2021, I think on foundation,
Which NFT was it?
Mark Dawson: So actually a red pill, which is really funny red
Mark Dawson: Yeah. And I bought on foundation. I was like is awesome. And then one fun thing about crypto, especially with NFTs is it was like sort of a blank canvas. So if you had an idea in web two, probably people had tried it and either succeeded or failed, but you couldn’t do it. In NFTs it was like a blank canvas. So if you had the idea of like an Ft trading card platform, that was like totally, you know, could be done. NFT fan cards, NFT, like creator. Dows like all of these were open spaces. So I went up to the bay area and met with a college friend of mine, Daniel, and convinced him to quit his job at Google to Doft stuff with me. Wow.
Yeah. What was he doing at Google?
Mark Dawson: He was working at YouTube actually, as a product manager. So he was doing creator stuff as well at a big platform. So that was kind of our story is that I started doing hackathons, so I did like the eighth global hackathons in March. Both of us have technical backgrounds and we both do the engineering at our company now. But he was sort of like the creator focused and I was like the engineering and just personally really excited about music.
So how long have you been developing for?
Mark Dawson: I mean, I studied computer science in college. I built my first app, like in high school. And Daniel, same with him. We actually pretty cool. Yeah. Met doing like programming stuff together in college.
Okay, cool. All right. So now that we’re at Eth Denver. Okay. Yeah. You get to see what the community’s like in real life. Right. There’s a lot of like hype and conversations happening across crypto to Twitter or news, et cetera. But my favorite part of coming to Eth Denver or these conferences in general is like seeing the real time conversations and what projects are being built and better understanding what the current state of where we are in crypto and NFTs from your point of view, what is the current state of crypto like and more specifically what’s the current state of NFTs
Mark Dawson : Yeah. I think there’s several different trends happening that are exciting to me. One is I think the first like home run use case from a financial point of view is avatar. PFPs that’s still actually so much for the market today, even on open sea. And I actually thought that those were maybe gonna end with like the me averse.
I remember that.
Mark Dawson: Yeah, exactly. But no, like that’s still going really strong. Like you’ve seen like crypto coves and chain runner is still doing really well. So that’s really interesting that that’s like continuing strong. I think the Twitter Hexa gone ons like change the narrative there. Yeah. You’re also seeing like gaming NFTs really taking off. So like I think game five is probably one of the really big next use cases. And then we’re seeing like a whole rise of like corporate embracive NFTs, which is really interesting. And it’s funny, cause these are pretty distinct communities I’ve found out actually. So I met with someone at Betsky this week. Who’s like talking about how to get, you know, giant companies familiar with NFTs, like even watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade. Yeah. Just a couple months ago they were talking about NFTs. I think I’m most excited about like the crypto native use cases. I think, you know, you talk a lot about music, music NFTs have taken off a lot. I think sound was, you know, a big deal for the community sound.xyz launching. And it’s funny because one of the co-founders of sound used to work got optimism, which now we’re very close with the optimism team. Cause we run the NFT marketplace there.
Mark Dawson: Yeah.
How Do Creators Get Started in Crypto?
Crypto, the crypto community is in general, a small, small community. You know, one thing that I like to tell, like newcomers into the space and I’d love to hear your point of view is the best way to jump in as a creator, as a musician, whatever wanna call it. Right. I mean, let’s talk about musicians cuz we’re on season four of music is to attend these conferences and make your name familiar with all the, like all the sub niche communities from all the site events happening to all the booths that are taking place at the conference itself. And when you advise creators, because you also have the music fund, which will get into a minute, but when you talk to creators and when they come to you, like how do I get started? Right. What is your kind of like tip for them?
Yeah, for sure. I think to me the most exciting part is the crypto native piece. So I tell people to start by listen and joining other communities, I think the most successful creators do that. So like go buy an NFT on catalog first before minting one for example. And I also am personally just real excited about creators who are committed to like community building. So I guess maybe we all have a spicy, hot take, but please you know, Whitney Houston did an NFC drop on one of which is a big corporate NFC platform. Whitney Houston is dead. Yeah. So if you can, like, to me that’s like a foil of like the most like inorganic sort of cash grabby thing do on the other side of the spectrum is like Daniel Allen who is like sort of making music in building community in a really crypto native way. He’s like starting a Dow called like overs stem. Is that the name of his DAO? Yeah. He’s started by participating in web three spaces before he to do is drop. So I think for a lot of creators you want to like try to understand what makes crypto cool. What makes it fun? I think coming to events like eat Denver is a great way to do that because you meet like the culture here is like very unique.
How would you describe it actually to someone who’s unfamiliar with it,
Highly whimsical. Okay. And idealistic actually, which is sort of more and more uncommon today. If you think about like web two is like sort of pessimistic, like the biggest musicians today are like Billy Eilish. Who’s like sort of over it. I see like sort of unbridled optimism at a place like eat Denver. You see people in unicorn costumes
Feels like people are themselves here.
Yeah. Yeah. There’s also
As much as like imposter syndrome is like roaming the streets of crypto. It, you still feel a lot of like connectability. And you get to know people as people here, like you said, people are dressed up as costumes. They have like face paint on yet they’re like top 10 contributors, like a crazy protocol. And it’s like, wait, you don’t look like the person that would fit this type of character. And then you think, wait, all of crypto is like that.
Mark Dawson : Yeah, for sure. And it’s interesting cuz there’s so much like diversity in the even like ideologically you see people who are like straight up communist, straight up libertarians. And we’re all like hanging out you know,
Despite cultural differences, despite like political differences, we’re all aligned under the ethos of crypto. You
Mark Dawson: That’s so funny. Yeah. I’ve never seen so many different types of people get along.
I’ve also noticed that. Yeah. And I’ve also experienced that firsthand. Yeah. Yeah. And I think, you know, a lot of people have been getting like canceled on crypto Twitter, but despite all the differences, despite a lot of people’s differences, like politically, socially, whatever it may be, culturally crypto is still something that brings everyone together. Yeah. Right. It’s still that relatability, it’s still that money making machine it’s that technological machine that everybody, or a lot of people align with and collectively want to improve. Right. So you feel this unity, you feel this unity in the air.
Mark Dawson: Yeah. I also think it’s interesting because, because there’s that outside pressure that crypto like there like this, these I’m a, I run an NFT company sometimes when I tell people NFTs, I get like pushback. When I tell people why is that there’s like a narrative that NFTs are maybe bad for the environment or that it’s all Ponzi scheme.
Do you think there’s truth to that?
Mark Dawson: Yeah, for sure. I think there’s yeah, but the problem is it’s never, I think the best critiques of the crypto community actually usually come from the inside I’m I find that the critiques coming from outside don’t actually understand that people have been on this for a long time. So Ethereum has been moving towards proof of stake, which would, you know, solve a lot of the environmental concerns since 2016. It’s just a pretty technically challenging thing to do to take the world’s most valuable blockchain and move the consensus mechanism. So, but you know, it doesn’t like when I explain to people that, or when I explain you can, you know, do NFTs on polygon or layer twos that have different environment implications that doesn’t usually change the conversation very much. So I do think, you know, I, I think good critics are great, but I find a lot of bad critics outside of crypto, but what’s interesting is the bad critics outside of crypto unify everyone. So I am a big some people I’m, I’m not a Eth maximalist, but I’m an Eth most symbolist. And so I don’t, you know, do a lot of stuff with like the avalanche people, for example, or I don’t build on avalanche. You could say we have like very little in common, but when someone outside of crypto starts attacking avalanche, I’m like, we are friends. Like we are together, you know? Yeah. So it does unify people, I think, feeling like you’re part of counterculture in some way, does unify sort of everyone in the space.
What is Quixotic Trying to Solve?
Talk to me more about Quixotic. Okay. Yeah. And what you guys are actually trying to solve over there. From an external point of view, it may seem like another marketplace, but you guys have your unique twist. Right. So explain to me what the USP is. What are you guys trying to solve? What type of creators are you targeting on that specific music or not music, but the largest NFT marketplace on optimism? Gimme the rundown.
Mark Dawson: Yeah, for sure. So we were building, I’ve been building like L one NFT projects for throughout 2021. So we made like something called NFT postcards where you can like min to card and send it to someone which is kind of fun. And then, you know, we also run music, which is an L one NFT community, basically. L one gas views are totally crazy. But people still pay them today because the culture like the culture and everything is on Ethereum, the legitimacy, right.
And a lot of the money
Mark Dawson: A lot of the money, right. The buyers are on Ethereum. They like have, you know. Yeah, exactly. And so the plan for Ethereum scaling is actually not to scale E L one. You know, the long term plan is not for gas fees to get cheaper on L one. The plan is to move the community to L two, which there are a lot of good arguments for on the technical side, but the problem there needs to be people who help the community move on culturally to a new network a new layer too. And that’s actually a huge social coordination problem. Yeah. And cultural problem. And so far I’ve seen a lot of people take a, not opinionated stance on that. So they say like, we’re gonna be multi chain or we’re gonna support lots of solutions. A we decided to me and Daniel at our company decided to build an entity marketplace focused on moving the community to layer twos. So gas fees are about a hundred times cheaper. It has the same, almost the same security properties as Ethereum. And I can get into that, but that’s a little bit technical. And there were already some NFT communities being built. So there were a few NFT communities, but there was no marketplace and actually joined one of those NFT communities. And it was funny cause there was no marketplace. So it actually made me feel like early days of crypto where like, you’re sort of like, how do I get one? You message someone into discord. Yeah, yeah. The way, so there’s a collection called opt punks. Okay. And I wanted one, but I missed the mint. And so I like hopped in the discord and everyone was like, what’s the floor price. And it’s funny cuz if you don’t have a market, you don’t know what the floor price is. I was like, I just threw out a number. I was like, I’ll pay 0.05 E for one, someone messaged me on discord and they’re like, okay, I’ll, I’ll sell you mine. And so I was like, okay, I’ll send you the money I guess. And he is like, great. Send it to me. And I was like, okay, I trust your discord
Random. None. Yeah. Yeah.
Mark Dawson: And, and then he sent me the opt back and I was like, this is kind of magical. That’s like the same you know, culture coming through. And it’s funny cuz now he’s like a pretty active person in our discord. So we’re like, oh cool. Yeah. We’re like, there are these communities building on layer twos, but you need all the infrastructure again. And it, it seems like a lot of the successful pro on L one Ethereum are also sort of caught in an innovator’s dilemma, mini one where like they’ve made so much money on L one Ethereum. There’s not a huge incentive to build a new culture, a narrative around L two S for them because they’re making huge amounts of money on L one. So we’re like, well, try to build a marketplace focused on helping people move to L two. And so like gases, there are about a dollar and I think also one to $2 just for a trade. So an open sea that’s, you know, like 150 bucks for a trade usually. And also it’s kind of fun to just be early again on something new. And I also just personally like the mission behind optimism, which is like to fund public goods and to help projects succeed that don’t have a business model behind them, but are still really valuable. And there’s a lot of that mission oriented culture on the projects that build on optimism too. So that’s like pretty fun and optimism is run by like Ethereum OGs. So people who were, have been involved in the space forever. So that’s fine too.
NFT Derivatives and Copy-cat Projects
Let me ask you something. So you call them punks, what was that? Opta, punks, Opta, punks. There’s Solana punks there’s Solana apes. Everybody’s like making or a lot of competitive networks or side chains, L twos, whatever you wanna call them. I’m used to hear what you think about their like NFT strategy. Okay. And I personally have like a strong opinion on this, seeing Solana punks, you know, or like a derivative of board apes or optimism do Omni punks. Right. And you think like, does that actually work towards the narrative of making a brand for that network versus copying, creating derivatives off what originally worked on Ethereum? Like how do you feel about that?
Mark Dawson: Yeah, I think the best way to grow an ecosystem is to have high quality novel projects. Right. So I do think the copy pasta can be fun. Cuz it feels like early, like it’s crypto punks, but the real value’s gonna come from like novel projects. And it’s interesting cuz like for optimism, we’re so early that we actually get to build the culture. I think for Solana and polygon, for example, a culture has been built. And it’s, it’s actually a little bit tough. I feel sort of bad for my friends who built on Solana because there were some high profile projects that were just not cool. Launching there. I think they can change the narrative, but I do think beginning with high quality novel projects is pretty important.
Yeah. Makes a lot of sense. You know, when we first met, it was like in, it was in LA in like the Hills of Hollywood, I think at some party, some event. And at the time you were working on something called Music Fund. Yes. Okay. So which I found particularly interesting and I’m on my laptop here and the intention of the music fund is basically it’s a web through community that finds funds and supports up and coming artists That’s is, did you start that prior to starting this NFT marketplace? Yeah.
Mark Dawson: That was our first big project
Music fund. So walk me through, what is music fund? Why start that? What were some things you aimed to achieve and where you can goes? No.
Mark Dawson:Yeah, for sure. So to be, so when we’re starting music fund, we were hoping to, we were basically making it an NFT community and now I think it’s really, we should have always thought of it as a DAO because we didn’t want it to be a PFP project and the NFTs themselves are not PFPs. But based the vision is for it to be a music discovery Dow. So a lot of people in LA love music love discovering music and maybe even want to be like an A and R which is like the person who I guess gets paid to discover top talent. The idea of music fund is that if you wanna, if you love talking about new music join our community and every month we’ll give away grants. So we already gave away our first two rounds of grants and we’re doing our third run of grant right now. We did our first run of grants in October. And our second round of grants we did in November and a woman the woman who run won that her name is bell and she actually went on, she’s just struggling LA musician who was new to crypto. And she went on to, we gave her like a relatively small amount of Eth that was like 0.6 Eth. And
Which in Eth terms, it’s like a small amount, but it in like real life terms, it’s like at the time, I don’t know what price, but it could have been like two K
Mark Dawson: Yeah. Exact. Yeah, it was. Yeah. So yeah, that was great for, and then she went on to sell a song on catalog for one eighth. Oh,
Mark Dawson: And so she was grateful to our community and it made her excited about crypto. Now that was for the first two rounds, our team like selected the people we’ve been just working on progressively decentralizing it. So now it’s a hundred percent community run. So if you own the NFT, you can nominate an artist. And if you’re and the discord a lot, you can sort of make the case to the community that they should be up voted. And they’re sort of an up vote system. And whoever at the end of the month ends up in the top three spots. We give a grant to each of them.
What does a grant amount look like? Is it all 0.6 or
Mark Dawson: It’s 0.6, 0.3, 0.5 and 0.15 for the top three spots.
Got it. And the money that used to find it is the money that was raised through the NFT.
Mark Dawson : Yeah, exactly.
How big is the community
Mark Dawson: Actively? You know, it’s funny, there’s like probably tiers of engagement as a, any community. So there’s probably a few dozen people really active in the discord and maybe be we didn’t sell that manys at first. So that was like kind of discouraging. We weren’t great at the marketing game early on. So we sold only like 250 or 300, which was still good. We raised like four or five E that’s why our grants are relatively small.
But enough to get started
Mark Dawson: Yeah. Enough to get started for
Sure. Just it’s like more than generous.
Mark Dawson: Yeah, for sure. And we’re playing on using all the proceeds. So as like the central team, we’re taking none of that zero. So we’re using all the money for grants. And basically the motivation behind music fund was just to build a really awesome web three community. Our company, basically our goal was to provide infrastructure and tools to, for NFT communities. And we started by building our own, like just something I thought would be cool to exist and then figuring out what tools were needed. And we developed a ton of tool, cool tools that other people are interested in. And so now our core business is the optimism marketplace, but we, you know, work with like all sorts of communities. Like we do gas list voting and stuff and everything is, you know, with your wallet, you’re like signing all your votes and stuff. So that’s like kind of cool. And yeah, we’re still actually figuring out how we’re going to gonna eventually make it full of community run. So goal is to like no longer own it as a company or anything like that and just make it like a community project.
Current State of Music and Web3
Got it. Yeah. What would you say is the current state of music X crypto?
Mark Dawson:Yeah, that’s a good question. I think what’s interesting about music is it’s very similar to one of one art and like some people love it a lot and want to buy, buy a song or something like that. But you don’t, it’s harder to form like a PFP community around it. It’s also interesting cuz it’s the music itself is not as shareable on social media cuz the Internet’s just so visual. So like you can share songs sort of on Twitter, but it’s like really not the same as sharing a photo of an entity that you bought. So I think one thing I I’d say actually of the best Dows examples of Dows in the web three space is a music research, Dow that’s water and music. I think they’re in my opinion, the epicenter of like web three music communities.
And it’s really fun because when people outside of crypto say like, what is crypto doing? That’s not just, and we’re looking like there’s a lot of Dow hours that do things for crypto people, but water music puts out really high quality sort of decentralized journalism about the entire music industry and also about crypto music. So I am pretty bullish like web three music creators. I am not sure about a existing Hollywood talent really doing something interesting with NFTs in music and crypto, because once again, they’re in an innovator’s dilemma where it’s actually worked out really well for you if you’re very famous. So if you’re like Miley Cyrus what’s why would you give part of your royalties to your fans? It’s interesting. Royal is probably the most interesting project and they’ve convinced some pretty famous people to, to do that, to do that. Yeah. And that’s actually surprising to me. So I hope to see more of that.
Do you think the market favors more independent artists in like up and coming artists or established artists?
Mark Dawson: Yeah, I’d say there’s two markets basically. So there’s like the crypto native market. And there’s like a group of characters over there, you know Daniel Allen, Latasha, even gore.
Mark Dawson: I did the bad thing where now I’m forgetting to name everyone. Yeah. And then there’s also like crypto forward, preexisting famous people. So like BBL kind of fits in that category, dead mouse, maybe. Emoji heat, I think is like very pro NFTs. What’s interesting is I think community building looks really different for those two groups. I do hear some people say that the end game of, of all these things is like a social Dow built around the music. Just like there’s fan clubs, like I think red light management, a pretty famous management firm for musicians started as, do you know the story here? It started as like, I think the, just managing like the Dave Matthews band or something. Okay. And then basically they’re, you know, huge fan clubs for, for some musicians they formed like huge music communities around them.
I think Kanye west in early days, there was a website where his fans would talk about his music and it became like legendary. Mm. I do think it would be really fun if eventually all, all creators, all musicians formed social Dows. So instead of just being a fan, you’re like a member of whoever you like, you’re a member of their group. And maybe when they do a tour, they do a public show and then a Dow show or something like that. I’d be very excited about how we get there and whether it’s gonna be like existing, famous people or completely new people. I think is an open question. I think it’s more likely that the newcomers will there more quickly because they’re really open-minded. One piece of advice I actually get, I run a crypto startup. A lot of people tell me who are outside of crypto to try to take the crypto piece out of it. And that’s always worked out very poorly for me. Hmm.
Why is that?
Mark Dawson: Why has it worked out poorly?
Yeah. Why when you try to take out the crypto piece and like make it less obvious to the end user. I mean, I have my assumptions thinking that a web two user is one, is a one class is like a class of an audience that has their own needs. Their own wants their own desires and web three users have their own needs, wants and desires. So, so, and you guys have also branded yourselves more as the crypto forward crypto native. Like when you go on the marketplace, you’ll see L two as the top banner, right? Yeah. Intentionally with, with the intention to do that. So walk me through when you remove the, the crypto element from the narrative. Right. And you just make it the, the, the infrastructure that just runs everything. Why, why has it not worked in your favor?
Mark Dawson: Yeah, it’s interesting. One. I think crypto is like, actually very exciting. Like we live like in now when I tell people I work in crypto, it’s like at a coffee shop. Wow.
People are like, you’re the coolest guy in the room. Yeah.
Mark Dawson: Yeah. So I’m like, you’re kind of telling me to abstract away, like the, the coolest part. Yeah.
Mark Dawson: But the thing is people who care about crypto are like very like, like a lot of words come to mind that are crypto words, like wa me or like Yolo type people. Like they’re going, they’re willing to like, ye one Etc into your drop. You know, because you know, they’re DJs, these are all crypto words versus like, okay, let me try and take this to a web two market. No one’s gonna pay $4,000 for a JPEG. That’s not an, so I think all the, like a lot of the incredibly genetic exciting behavior is in the crypto native spaces. And then the other piece is that like crypto just has a very special culture and like, I wouldn’t, I think will reach mainstream adoption, but like, I think it’s actually very fun to participate in crypto culture today. Like we were talking about eats Inver earlier. I think it would be sad if this, and one day it might there are no web two conferences or like maybe it’s that south by Southwest or something. Yeah. But like, I think it’d be sad if vital gave a talk last night. I don’t know if you were there.
I tried to make it. Yeah. I couldn’t make it.
Mark Dawson: Yeah. It was fun.
It’s always, I feel like it’s always great to see him speak.
Mark Dawson: It’s remarkable how open he is. Like, he’s actually a billionaire and doesn’t have private security. I’m actually almost like for all of our sake, like please hire some.
So let’s talk about that. We’re already on the subject of culture,
Mark Dawson: Right?
Metallic, billionaire, no security comes in there with pajamas. Right? Fun, like a fun, a fun bag, right. A headband, you know? Yeah. As if he’s like preparing to go to bed right after this. Yeah. And then he’s like embedding him. So off into the community, being levelheaded with everyone, taking pictures with everyone, it tells you a lot about Ethereum’s culture.
Mark Dawson: I think openness is like core to it. And and a sense of like, yeah, like it’s whimsical and fun and it’s like serious, but somebody doesn’t take itself seriously. I’ve never seen a group of, I mean, last night I was talking to a guy I was like, oh, like, where are you coming from? He says, Puerto Rico. I dunno if you know what that means in crypto world. So you moved to Puerto Rico.
Oh, like a tax shelter. Yeah.
Because you you’ve made so much money. Right. That you now think it’s worth to live in Puerto Rico. So I’m like sitting next to a guy who’s, you know, maybe had is eight figures of wealth. I don’t know. And he’s just like the chillest dude to ever. And it’s, it’s very, very weird culture in that way.
You know, when I went to Solana’s first conference in Lisbon Solana break point. Yeah. Were you there?
Mark Dawson: No, I didn’t make it.
So I was there cuz I was getting deeper, like were curious as to what was happening on Solana. You can tell a lot about a community based off who attends its conferences.
Mark Dawson: Yeah.
We just use the analogy and the example of vitality coming here and him being the leader, like the unofficial leader of Ethereum. He’s a role model to many, many people. Right? A lot of builders, a lot of founders, a lot of funds, a lot of the day to day contributors to the ecosystem. But he embeds himself with everyone else. Right. When you go to break point, you go to Solana, there could be many factors why it could have been their first conference. It’s all good. But just like taking us a step back and looking at everything from like a Hawks point of view, when you try to go talk to Anto or the other co-founder right. They’re guarded by security guards. Like, oh wow. It’s like a wall, like an absolute wall of beasts just like hovering over them. And everybody’s trying to talk to them, say hi, whatever. And you just can’t, you just genuinely can’t. And again, that could have been just one impression that I saw, but this is just my takeaway from the conference. And also you can tell a lot about a community, not only by who attends a conference, but who puts together the site events and the people attending the events 90, 95% of them were investors. A lot of the investors just started funds in the last six months or so some have established funds, but it’s all investors, right. Or mostly investors. I didn’t find too many builders. I didn’t find too many hackers. Which like made me think twice about like what is actually happening on salon? Why is it only investors? Where are the costumes? Where, where is that culture that makes it fun, exciting, like click baby. Cool. You know, weird. So yeah, just, just something to think about. Like, you can tell a lot about a community based off of who attends its conferences and seeing how vital is just so level headed and so like himself. And so I don’t wanna say weird because his weirdness is actually applies to like everything that he built and why people idolize him in everything. Right. Yeah. What are your thoughts on that?
Mark Dawson: Yeah. I hear some people talk about mercenary culture versus missionary culture.
That’s a good way to put it.
Mark Dawson: Yeah. And it’s interesting because I do think you need both. So with me and my co-founder, we’ve talked about this with each other and Daniels says like I’m more the missionary and he’s has a little more mercenary really. Everyone’s like a little bit of both. But Ethereum, despite the crazy high value of all the De-fi protocols tends to have a missionary culture. Like when the people went up to Q and a metallic I dunno if you saw the Q and a part, multiple people were like, like one guy said, thank you for existing. Another guy was like, I’m. So like, they were like stunned. Like they weren’t talking to they were talking to some, someone really looked up to yeah. Like in an, a mission oriented way. Yeah, sure. And it’s funny. I actually think some parts of the etheric system could be more mercenary oriented because the Ethereum foundation is really pays very low salaries actually.
Mark Dawson: Yeah. And they’re nonprofit, you know, versus salon labs for profit, you know? So I do think a, like maybe Ethereum could use more mercenaries and that’s actually, I do like that some layer twos are very aggressive about scaling Ethereum.
But I think it’s by design though, mark, and I’ll tell you why, because if there was too much money involved, then it’d be uncomfortable. Well, and, and everything would be about money.
Mark Dawson: Well, right. And the problem with mercenary culture is if you people to vote on your chain and you’re promising low transaction fees, you’re that works for like a year or two. And then someone else comes along and they also have money and low and cheap fees and they say, I’ll pay you more money. And our fees will be cheaper. And then the, all the mercenaries, you know, do the mercenary thing and move on there are there, like, I hear the term ETH Maxy a lot. I don’t meet very many like soul Maxis. One other group that somehow has missionary culture as Bitcoin. Like you hear a lot of people who really believe in the Bitcoin mission. Yeah. And I think that type of buy-in is really special and you can’t like it it’s very long term oriented. Yeah.
Yeah. You know, a lot of what you guys started at the music fund is very missionary culture.
Mark Dawson: Yeah. I think a lot of I think that, yeah, a lot of what me and Daniel, a lot of our personality kind of comes through and a lot of the stuff we’re building, it tends to be whimsical. Interesting. And ideally trying to make something that everyone thinks is cool rather than like music fund didn’t really have a business model. Like yeah. Yeah.
Yeah. It makes a lot of sense. I’m excited for you guys, what’s in store for the marketplace for this year, the next few months.
Mark Dawson: So if you haven’t heard yes. It’s it’s layer 2. Okay.
2022 Is the Year for Layer 2s
I believe that yeah, its a lot of the Eth Denver too. Yeah.
Mark Dawson: So we believe layer twos are gonna take over this year. Not even cuz people are excited about them, but just cuz gas views on L one Ethereum are crazy. So we’re hoping to basically help the community move on. So today we only have like about 30 collections. We’re hoping that a lot of people who are building on L one bridge their NFTs to optimism and we hope like many more people like use our marketplace use layer twos. And we think that that’s the best way to you know, like I think salon, like I hope salon also does well. Like I think Denver, there’s a actual culture here and I don’t want it to be only whales can like transact on Ethereum. So the way we do that is by moving to layer twos. So for us that’s what we’re focused on is moving all this culture onto layer twos and even like creating new and the other cultures. I mean,
What is Layer Two Community Culture Like?
Yeah, yeah. What is layer two culture?
Mark Dawson: Yeah. It’s cause
It feels like layer one culture is like Eth Denver or like, or like Eth CC. Yeah. what is like does layer two need a whole new culture?
Mark Dawson: Yeah. So I think it’s, there are many layer twos. Okay. So it really depends on the chain you’re voting on. This is something that also people, people outside of crypto it’s like surprising is that the chain you build on does end up affecting the culture actually. So a project on salon is different than a project on Ethereum, like an artwork. Like why do artists pay, you know, 200 bucks in gas use demands on Ethereum? Like you said, the, the liquidity is an Ethereum, but also the culture. So with optimism, you know, they’re actually not a for-profit company. So I say we need more mercenaries, but I keep picking the missionary types. So they’re giving all the profits of their protocol all to public goods funding in the ecosystem. So that’s like a really interesting piece of culture and it does influence the projects that choose to build there. When you talk about ZK, rollups, that’s another way to do a layer two, like with ZK technology it’s really nerdy. So like you have like hackers, you know building over there. You also have like other layer twos, like immutable X just announced
Mark Dawson: Stop came stop. Yeah, exactly. So I think that’s gonna be like awesome, but it’s also probably gonna be a little more corporate, but it will bring onboard by tons of new people in. Yeah. So, yeah. That’ll be cool too.
The NFT Landscape in 2022
Yeah. Yeah. I’m excited for what, 22, 20 22 holds I’m really excited to see how the music scene kind of plays out. I’m excited to see more musicians and more artists start their own quote unquote creator Dows and what that really means. I think they’re more based off like token based community. I’m excited to see more people mess around with royalties. Yeah. And because right now when you buy like a music, NFT ownership is very much of a gray area. Like what do you actually buy? What do you actually own? Yeah. Currently it’s just a collectible. Right. I know a lot of people are betting that in the future there’s gonna be in infrastructure that allows you to basically put your music NFT on like a decentralized Spotify of some sort. And then you’ll be able to show visually that you’re the owner of this. And then you’ll earn part of the streaming and listening data or listening royalties if that ends up being a model, if, and when that ends up being a model. But like how do you kind of see the music NFT landscape laying out in 2022?
Mark Dawson: Yeah. I hope we see some like breakout successes. I do think it’s usually like a really compelling example that moves the whole industry. So like board, a PI club kind of created the PFP thing uni swap sort of, or the launch of compound the comp token and, and uni swap tokens really made De-fi summer happen. So I hope like one creator just, and hopefully multiple, but I think we just need one to like totally knock it outta the park with amazing experiences. Like I’d love to see a world tour for everyone in your Dow or something.
Hmm. What would that be like?
Mark Dawson: Like, I think it’d be fun if, so in a lot of communities there’s already like LA New York SF maybe Denver I’d love to see like maybe a creator traveling, but the shows are organized by Dows and they’re primarily four Dow members or something like that. Got it. And it’s funny, cuz even like, when you go back way, way back, that was kind of the vibe I think of like music like in the sixties or something where like people like travel with the musicians and stuff. So literally yeah. I’d love to
See thats a good point. Yeah. Would you go on tour with that with a musician?
Mark Dawson: Some actually, yeah like I’m like pretty down for a lot of crazy people. Really. I have a job, so it might be tough with that, but like for sure there are some people I would follow.
The Most Interesting Music NFT Use Cases
What are the most interesting like music NFT or music creator use cases that you’ve seen happen so far besides Daniel Allen, for example.
Mark Dawson: Yeah. that’s a good question. I think royalties are interesting. Just sort of legally. But yeah, I haven’t personally like it’s still, for me, I haven’t seen I’m like a show like token gated. Like I would let like there’s constitution Dow. Right. I was actually joking with one of my friends. I like love a Levine
Mark Dawson: Yeah. And I’d love to just like form almost like, I, I don’t know if this, this could be a good idea or a bad idea, but like permissionlessly form like a Levine Dow and be like, we’re gonna bring you to LA and just like the whole purpose is just,
We’re gonna crowd for money to pay for a show that we can watch.
Mark Dawson: Yeah, exactly. Wow. Yeah. And like, that’d be
Mark Dawson: Yeah. So and I think one time use case dos it’s fun. Cause you don’t have to make sustainable like constitution do was like, we don’t have a plan. We’re just buying the constitution and I’m like, we don’t have a plan. Like we’re just gonna bring AV Levine here or maybe, I don’t know how she feels about crypto. So you probably want someone who will likes crypto and do like a crazy show in LA historic park and all the DJs from California and the west coast can come down and I’m like, let’s do it. So I, I hope that happens.
That’s a really good idea.
Mark Dawson: Thanks.
That’s a really good idea. They should definitely do that. Yeah. And have why the NFTs on your marketplace? Yeah, exactly.
Mark Dawson: We can do it on layer two. Yeah.
Wait, let’s walk through this example for a minute. Okay. Yeah. Sure. So you would issue and build a site similar to Music Fund. Issue NFTs as tickets or would the utility of a ticket would you reach out to her prior that you’re doing this? You’d be like, Hey Ava, Levine, we raise all this money. Come perform now. Like it’s called the Ava Levine live performance don’t disappoint us.
Mark Dawson: Yeah. I mean, it’s funny. I would probably do a background check to make sure it’s like at least likely. Okay. So like some artists are like, you know, totally not touring. But yeah, I like check that. It’s likely that they’re open into it. It’s funny cuz my guess is like, it might even be, it might not take it seriously at first. A lot of people outside of crypto tend to underestimate it and then yeah, just like.You basically just need the right. A lot of crypto is actually about the micro influencers on Twitter. It’s about crypto Twitter. So if you just get the right people on Twitter to think this is awesome, then yeah. We spin up the site, sell the NFTs, maybe throw an one. Funny thing is I’m like also unabashedly, like millennial, I loved like 2009, like all the music. So like we could have a chewy aesthetic that could be like the theme or something we could throw all the after parties. Yeah. I mean, I think basically you just put up a site, see if people buy it and then have a really competent team execute it.
That could be really cool. I wonder what that could look like at scale and if there’s a product play behind that at
Mark Dawson: Well, that’s, what’s so fun is when you prove that something’s possible, then, then you can get all this institutional support that is necessary to build a long term thing. So like constitution do proved that you could crowdfund $40 million and the, that made it possible to do like, I, I don’t know what people have done directly from constitution do, but like board API yacht club for sure. Made it possible to fund all sorts of different entity projects.
Mark’s Thoughts on Web3-native Music Royalties
So that’s really cool. Yeah. So, okay. Beyond crowdfunding live performance by a Levine. Yeah. What other interesting music NFT or music ex crypto use cases are you excited about? And maybe we can even talk more about the royalty side of thing too. Yeah. Because that’s a very gray area section with plow issuing a limited digital asset and LDA as the legal formality of being able to sell streaming data. Right. Or not streaming royalties in, in kind of democratize is that entire process. Which is by far, in my opinion, the most exciting use case, cuz that’s like tangible utility. Right. It it’s more than just a gated unlock for a discord. Right. how are you guys thinking about royalties? Like how are you and your co-founder from a marketplace of view from the music NFT fund point of view, how are you guys thinking about music royalties and the democratization behind that?
Mark Dawson: Yeah. One funny thing about music fund in particular is it’s actually no strings attach grants which we think is like the, well, it’s a very effective way to onboard people. Because it’s just free money.
You want money? Yeah. Come take it.
Mark Dawson: Yeah. but it’s also fun because it means that we can be really like it creates a lot of trust between us and artists and our community. Because we’re not trying to promote I think we like catalog and mint songs and sound.xyz, but we’re not promoting any of them. And we’re not saying you need to tokenize in any particular way. It’s interesting. I think the decision of how and when to tokenize is actually really personal for artists, which is why I think it might take a while because you really get a token launch like one time. So like at least a creator token launch and deciding whether there’s utility built in from day one is, is really complicated. Especially if you’re giving up you know, something important to you like upside in your own career. Like you, I think there is definitely like a black mirror type outcome you see sometimes where it’s like do you watch, I don’t know if you’ve seen Rick and Morty. Yeah. There’s like a meme. That’s like, this just sounds like slavery with more steps, but it’s like, there is like a sad world in which like you like tokenize yourself and then you like, yeah, there’s like a crowd of people on the internet telling you what you have to do. And that sounds like super, super sad. So in terms of royalties, we don’t do royalties for music fund cuz it’s just grants. I think what I’m excited about, whether it’s royalties or something else, I think fans need true upside in the artist career and that’s the most exciting piece of NFTs or social tokens.
Yeah. Makes a lot of sense, mark. I think this is a, this is a great place to wrap up before I let you go though. Where can we find you? Where can we find the projects that you’re working on? Spiel yourself, your handles all the above.
Mark Dawson: Yeah. You can find me on web three mark on Twitter, web three, mark dot E yeah, that’s the best place to
I’m hazing. We’ll have to do this again in a few months. Thanks for being on.
Mark Dawson: Yeah, it’s been great.