Podcast Transcript

How To Get Free Money To Mint Your First Music NFT

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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. 

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

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 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.

Small world.

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?

Mark Dawson:

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,

Mark Dawson:

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.

Mark Dawson:

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

About MusicFund

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. 

Laton yeah.

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.

Mark Dawson:

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.

Oh really?

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 

Shout out.

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, 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.

Podcast Transcript

Redefining Music Metadata and Decentralizing Spotify

Listen on:
Spotify | Apple Music | Google Podcast


Mint Season 4 episode 19 welcomes Dwight Torculas and Garrett Hughes, co-founders of the music NFT marketplace, MintSongs.

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • 01:53 – Intro
  • 05:38 – What is Mint Songs?
  • 13:59 – Data-first Communities
  • 18:17 – Can NFTs Help Define the Future of Music?
  • 36:05 – Collection and Ownership
  • 38:54 – How to Convert Fans into Collectors?
  • 43:23 – The On Chain Revenue Model
  • 47:43 – What is Metadata?
  • 57:42 – How Does a New Artist Get Started?
  • 1:06 – How do You Price an NFT?
  • 1:25 – Outro

…and so much more. 

I hope you enjoy our conversation. 

Support Season 4’s NFT sponsors!

1. Coinvise –

2. Polygon Studios –

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

Garrett and Dwight, welcome to mint. How are we doing? How are we feeling? Thank you for being on.

Dwight Torculas: Yeah. I’m feeling personally electrified and ready to be on the legendary mint podcast.

Garrett Hughes: Likewise. Yeah. Enjoying East Denver.

Yeah. We’re here, Jesus. It’s been crazy here so far. I feel like between dead mouse and all the other side events, there’s just, it’s too much chaos. I’m personally exhausted. How are you guys keeping up?

Dwight Torculas: Yeah, man. It’s pretty hectic, but it’s just great seeing everyone you know, putting faces to Twitter PFPs is one of my favorite pastimes now.

I love it.

Garrett Hughes: I think like meeting all the web three music, people in real life has been like my favorite thing by far that’s what’s keeping me energized.

This the first time actually everybody’s like meeting one another, at least on your end, all the other like music companies, all the other music projects, the creators and whatnot.

Dwight Torculas: Just this trip, I mean, we met the Arpeggi folks. We met the catalog folks and I just met up with a decent folks. This is the first time we’ve met them in person, so, yeah.

Garrett Hughes: Yeah. And then meeting up with some of like the older heads that had been around the space, Jack Spilone Dan Fowler all those guys. Those were all my first time. Lenny young Spielberg. Lots of new interactions.


Well, look, I’m excited to have you guys on part of season four, all about music. So why don’t we just dive in? Okay. Garrett, who are you? Dwight, who are you? Give us a quick brief about yourselves. What are you guys building? I think we can start there

Dwight Torculas: So amazing. Yeah, I’ll start, shout out to my mom and dad for giving me a guitar way back in the day and starting this insane snowball of a journey in music. Playing in bands in middle school and high school and then getting into shows and festivals and, just being around music for my entire life was one sort of parallel happening. And then in another sort of parallel, like I was getting into crypto, like in 2013, just frustrated with why can’t I buy any stocks, like, and why can’t I participate in financial markets? So I got into crypto around then, and that has been sort of my life. And you know, now we’re here at Mint songs sort of colliding those two worlds together sort of handed off to Garrett to sort of tell his story and then we can get into Mint songs, but before we started mint songs, I was a venture capitalist. Just seeing startup companies and screening thousands of them. And luckily for me, I saw six of our investments become unicorn companies. So I spent a lot of my time just watching and following and observing how our founders went from zero to one and then went to scale was a key focus of mine for the last four years. So valuable and shout out to, to Kyle, Evan, Omar, and sued there at AAF for, for giving me that experience. Cuz it was so, invaluable, but yeah, handing it off to Garrett, to tell his story. Yeah.

Go ahead Garrett.

Garrett Hughes: Yeah. I got into crypto around 2016 or so ironically by Dwight, Dwight was always early crypto. Then that rolled right into the ICO phase, which was like, one of the craziest times in crypto. Around that time too, you know, me and Dwight went to the same college James Madison university and I was trying to like figure it out. I was doing photography work working with like Ferrari Lamborghini, like all these crazy brands. And you know, I saw that there was a finite end to that and like scaling to a professional photographers is a hard feat. And so, you know, I took a break, I lived in a tent for three months traveling across the US with my partner, we ended up in San Diego and then I was like, I should start building a career. And so I went into the web two space SAS went to early stage startup called House Call pro out in San Diego and I was like the temp engineer. And then when I left three years later, I was like the hundredth engineer and really just gotta grow with the company. Really exciting times towards the end. I was one of the lead engineers for the MarTech and internal tooling team. So I was like deep in the web too. Like how do we track these users? What are they doing? And you know, I was excited about what opportunities web three could happen and expose. And so yeah, this is like the convergence of two of my favorite things in life, which is music. I’ve always loved music, live shows is like one of my favorite things in crypto, which is like, yeah, the cutting edge of technology.

So you guys met in college then from what I understand,

Dwight Torculas: Yeah. We met in college at an organization called the Society of Entrepreneurs around that. Yeah, it was a group at James Madison where it was just a group of people that wanted to build businesses and yeah, just so fortunate to have met Garrett there while was there.

What grade was that? Was it like sophomore year or freshman year? Do you remember?

Garrett Hughes: I think it was my junior year. I did a victory lapse.


Dwight Torculas: Nice. Yeah. His junior year, my sophomore year.

Garrett Hughes: Yeah. And that, I mean, that group had like some pretty cool things come out of it too. Like one of them was Dan Hunt and them, which was the first publicly traded marijuana stock. There’s just a crazy good group of guys.

What is Mint Songs?

Yeah. That’s really cool. So you guys, butted heads met and started mint songs. How did that come to life? Who approached who with the idea?

Dwight Torculas: It was me. After trading ICOs in 2017, 2018, I saw NFTs my first encounter with NFTs was de-central land. And then I saw crypto kitties and you know, for me, I was like, okay, Crypto Kitties, Dapper labs, they got an Andreen check, whatever they do next, I’m probably gonna, you know, focus hard on it and get involved real early. So NBA top shots was that project that they made next, I got in the closed beta and I was like, wow, this is truly game changing. Around the same time I got into nifty gateway and, you know, got the debut NFT art pieces of BEBLE, Mad dog Jones, FXCKrender, and really just participating in this space. Like for me, I was a huge basketball fan. So top shot made sense. And I was also a huge digital art fan. I was following BEBLE on Instagram since I was in high school, I saw him create NFTs. If this space has any legs to it, it’s gonna be, because one of the largest digital artists I follow is gonna enter the space. So, around that time, I sort of saw the writing on the wall. I was like, okay, music artists or digital artists, like this is gonna work for them too. That’s just a matter of time. So, you know, I approached Garrett and, you know, at the time Garrett and I were actually working on another music project, ht was called Channel. And basically what Channel was, it was an app where you connected your Spotify and based on the artist that you followed on Spotify, you’d see, basically a custom what we call an MTV channel of all the videos that those artists would post. It’d show the newest videos from the artists that you posted on YouTube. So really sort of connected those social graphs together. We were already actively building in the music space and then NFTs happened to me and I was like, Garrett, you gotta check this out, man. Like Garrett has a text on his phone from September of me, tell him about top shots and all this stuff. And I was like, Hey, no, one’s doing this for music yet. This is like our moment. The intersection of what we’ve been just doing up until this point.

Yeah. So when he hit you with that, what were some of the initial thoughts?

Garrett Hughes: Yeah. You know, I still hung around crypto, it had kind of died down after the ICO phase. And so I’d stayed close. I didn’t fully understand the use case at first. I think generally in life, like taking a step back and like just challenging your own thoughts is probably a good, good thing. And so I was like, I don’t understand it, but like I trust Dwight basically anything with the way is done and done well for me. So yeah. Let me explore it. And I think it took like probably two months of me, like really diving in starting to understand the space to a point where I was like, all right. Yeah, dude, I will quit my job. Let’s do this full time. Which was like a scary leap. Cause I was at a high growth SAS startup. That’s probably gonna IPO. There’s opportunity cost

Was it worth it?

Garrett Hughes: Absolutely. Without a doubt.

So what is mint songs? What are you guys after? What are you guys chasing? What problem are you trying to solve?

Dwight Torculas: What we identified early on was that there was just a barrier for artists to enter the space which were many different factors, whether it was like, you know, creating a meta mask and storing a seed phrase like that initial on-boarding was so hard and then you have the gas fees. So it’s like, how do you actually create the NFTs and sell them. All encompassing is just the education around both the artists and the consumer. So what Mint songs is trying to do at the highest level is help music artists build web three communities, and we do so by, you know, building the picks and shovels to really help an artist go to their fans and, and onboard them into the space with as little barriers possible. So that’s sort of our, two second on that. But I think, you know, since we started Mint songs back in January of 2021, we’ve just seen the space evolve. You know, we have a lot of awesome like peers in the space now who I sort of mentioned earlier.

I really intentionally, built with Mint songs is just a strong engineering core. A lot of what Garrett and I have built today is like a culture of, Hey, let us build a really strong core and really throw a bunch of darts at the table because right now we’re all still trying to find product market fit. And for us, we know that there’s like this end point, right? All music artists are gonna have NFTs and all music consumers are going are going to have at least one NFT. So like, how do we get to that point as fast as possible? That really played into our core ethos of let’s build an open marketplace, let’s build it so it’s web three native. So if mint songs does, die in the future, knock on wood, that all artists will still have ownership of the NFTs that they’ve created at least, you know, they’ll have the Providence of it. And then the consumers will have the ownership of those NFTs. So really promising these folks like this is the web three future, we’re not a custodial platform. You fully own the NFTs that you create with us. So that’s really the ethos and we’re waiting for that moment, right? Like we’re building towards it where, you know,, hundreds of thousands of artists will under the space, hundreds of thousands of consumers will under the space. And, our thought was let’s build an open space for for that to be a possibility.

So when you say building communities for musicians, what does that mean? So you talked about on-boarding and I also say this like as a dumbed down question, because I want to further define what a musicians, community may look like on chain. Right. So walk me through more of that thesis, like, okay, you guys are building and helping musicians build their communities, right. Through their songs through their tracks. So what does that really mean?

Dwight Torculas: Yeah, that’s a great question, Adam. To start NFTs are really the atomic unit of web three community, right? So whenever you create an NFT, you sell it or give it away to someone. And now it’s in an Ethereum address and know the biggest thing about web three in general, across music, art, what De-fi is really the data transparency. And for us, we tell artists, you know, if you believe in this decentralized future, having a web three community is so important today, because you’ll be able to, once you have a community of say a thousand folks that own your NFTs, you’ll have a thousand Ethereum addresses, you’ll eventually be able to layer an analytics layer on top of that, which will help you be data driven about every single future decision that you make. This is a web three community, actually understanding what your community, what your collector looks like, and then building things, and being data driven about what your community, hikes. So it’ll help you be sort of more successful in the long run, is sort of how I would sort of describe a web three community. It it’s more than just, oh, they’re just my collector. It’s just such a radical thing that we still haven’t fully sort of, adapted to, data play the grail of this whole thing.

Data-First Communitites

So data is a core part of that foundation. Obviously everything is on chain. Everything is traceable. Every interaction says something about you and your online identity. Right. Which is a whole other discussion, but Garrett, how do you think about community personally?

Garrett Hughes: Yeah. You know, I think where I stand with community is like, eventually everything will move towards community driven. Like even in the web two world, you’re starting to see like this influx of community managers and less paid spend. And so through that paradigm, like the ability to have a community, the ability to make data driven insights and actions off of that, like a use case could be of your collectors, what’s the average ether balance. Right. And then, you know, how to price NFTs for the future, right? Or like, you know, there’s token gate campaigns. There’s, activate once you get them in your community. So you can build all these cool social graph tools. Like there’s just endless possibilities. And so, you know, at the end of the day, everybody like customers are community. If you do it right, fans are community, it’s like a core ethos to building a successful anything.

You know, I met someone here at Eth Denver. I think at the forgot which event it was, it was yesterday. Today is the February 18th, yesterday, the 17th. He’s actually doing something really cool. And we talked about community right now, and I don’t know which platform he’s minting on. I just know that he’s gotten really nitty gritty with the development side and like smart contract hacking and is using chain link Oracles to basically bring streaming data on chain. And then his NFT unlocks experiences as his fans engage with that song more. So he has milestones to his songs. So if it hits a thousand, listens that NFT unlocks a new experience. If it reaches 10,000 listens a new experience, a hundred thousand, a new experience, et cetera. So it’s like a dynamic NFT, something similar if we’re talking about creators, Lamelo ball, he did something very similar with his drop in the NBA which my friend did but aside from that, when you guys think about community, like it’s more than just collecting an asset, it’s more than just collecting NFT. You guys, from what I understand and what I believe is like, we’re all betting on everything, or at least almost everything is gonna be on chain. That’s digital, right? From tickets to album covers to songs, to beats, to loops the list goes on and on and on. So you guys are focused more on the data layer, right. And providing them with tools and the minting assets and, and whatever’s required to build that community from what I’m understanding.

Dwight Torculas: Yeah. You know, that’s definitely a core piece of it. Right. Also, a handful of our artists are taking their songs and turning them into NFTs and they’re making more money on turning their songs into NFTs than they are on streaming. Yeah. So I think we also need to be realistic here, right? Like artists are going to, wholly get it into NFTs because there’s gonna be a money making opportunity to it. Like, I mean, that’s why they got into streaming, right. We could talk very high level here and very idealistic about what the future of music and NFTs look like. But for an artist, NFTs are just gonna be another tool to their toolkit. Right. It they’re gonna do touring still. They’re gonna, you know, sell merch. NFTs are just, you know, a digital merch strategy or a gamification layer to their brand, that’ll just be additive and allow them to engage with their community in a totally new way. That’ll sort of will enable them to create brand equity for their fans. Like, I think that’s also an important part. So, you know, I do talk idealistically about like what the end state looks like for an artist and the data driven motives for building a web three community. But, you know, at the core of it, like if we can help artists make more money so that they can keep doing what they want to do, then we increase the middle class and the creator economy. I want the creator economy to be larger. And I think a lot of the folks in the web three space that are building sort of at the intersection of NFTs and creative also think the same way.

Can NFTs Help Define the Future of Music?

Yeah. Why do you guys believe NFTs could define the future of music?

Garrett Hughes: Ooh, that’s a good question. I think NFTs open up, like I’m putting on my nerd hat for a second. Like I think NFTs open up this really unique composable layer that you don’t get in these isolated systems that you see in web two. What that really translates out to be is like the composability of this core unit can be abstracted over multiple different startups companies doing multiple different things to where you get, like, you know, all tides rise, all the ships and you have this really unique experience. It’s the whole ethos around having a shared data set. Right. And so you no longer have to rely on APIs. You no longer have to rely on reliability of, you know, insert whoever’s API here. Like you can just call on chain. Any company can build on top of that and you could just unlock a whole different class of experiences.

What’s your take?

Dwight Torculas: Yeah. You know, I think that what we experience, this is a core philosophy of mine. Like, whatever we experience in the physical space will be reflected into the digital space for sure. And you know, what artists do in the physical space is they sell physical merch to folks. And that comes in the form of hoodies, hats, shirts, vinyl posters. So, you k when people ask like, are NFTs are really gonna be game changing for music, artists is like, hell yeah, they are, they already do this in the physical spaces. It’s just the digital version of it. And if we ascribe to the fact that we are just turning, the physical digital, through, you know, FaceTime and in, in real life interactions and Amazon and retail stores, like this is just an, this is just natural. Like this is organic for them. It’s just an matter of just educating folks that this isn’t like this is crypto, whatever, black box, whatever, but it’s just a reflection of what we currently do.

Yeah. You know, another use case I wanna talk about on the point of community and why I think NFTs could define the future of music, the future of fan and artist relationships. So mint through an event here at Eth Denver on the 15th, this like web three creator meetup, and this really dope, like independent artist, her name’s Queen George, she performed. But it wasn’t just like an ordinary performance. It was done very strategically. So the tickets to actually get access to the meetup were through NFTs and all of her NFTs had Queen George on them. Right. So people were able to mint an NFT as a ticket, and they already became collectors of her without even spending a dime. Now on top of that, not only did they become collectors, but then they came to the meetup and watched her perform. And she had QR codes everywhere, like plastered everywhere so that they can one join her discord, right. And connect their wallet. And two mint a song that she was about to perform live. Right. And talk about like a new experience, because they were able to collect something from her without even spending a dollar, which you think about like barrier to entry, you think about funnels, right? You think about on-boarding users. What a interesting touch point to give something of the artist to the fan without really working for it as much. And then on top of that, tying in that entire experience by watching a live performance. So you collected her asset, you watch her perform live, you joined her discord and you could also bid on an NFT all under one cycle, both URL and IRL. Now, when you guys think about like data and community, these are all assets that are on chain, right. As more of these wallet addresses kind of buy other things, join other communities, vote on Snapchat, on tally, whether it’s off chain on chain voting, she can start building a profile around those addresses. Right. That extends way beyond just collecting an NFT. I’m guessing that’s how you guys are thinking about it as well. Right? Like the intricacy, the data, it’s an onion that you’re peeling. Right?

Dwight Torculas: Yeah. Adam, I wanna commend you on that. Like, that’s an amazing way to onboard new folks into the space. Right. And you know, Garrett and I launched a product recently called Posters that allows artists to turn tour posters and show posters into NFTs that, artists can give away to their fans for free. Their fans just need an email address to claim it. So really thinking through like, how do we create, how do we just lower the barrier for a music consumer to participate in the web three space? We’ve spent the last couple months just talking with our artists and, you know, there is a top of funnel problem where the artists are going to their fans and they’re saying, Hey, go check out my NFTs here. But you know, artists haven’t done the, the educational process. Like a lot of their fans just don’t know what’s happening yet. So what better way to educate folks than free NFTs, right. Like I always like to tell folks this experience of mine, like in 2013, I got my first free Bitcoin because I got it from Coinbase. So I’m like, okay, now look at where I am. So the idea of just making it as low friction as possible, and with your ticket example, it’s a great example, right? Like you create a moment, that moment is valuable. And for Queen George, like she’s able to now sort of see what her collectors are doing. Right. And that’s so powerful. So, you know, over time, I think more tools are gonna enable artists to just embed NFTs into their everyday processes.

And for us, we identified that artists already put out tour posters and show posters. So the next step is like, Hey, we, you know, we just go to artists and say, Hey, let’s just turn this tour poster into an NFT that you can give away to your fans and you can gauge your fans and see who’s interested in NFTs. And at the same time, collect email addresses and Eth addresses. Like it’s all about being genuine with on-boarding. I think on the consumer side, a lot of people are burned out from NF the NFT space because they see the headlines like 69 million RPS from people. And like, what the hell is this? Or is it just like the rich playground? And it’s not really like that. Right. Like, we’re trying to build tools for inclusivity. And a lot of artists are interested in, you know, building in the web three space from sort of this inclusive lens. Like how do I get my entire fan base to play in the web three instead of, you know just selling NFTs to folks. It’s like, how do we just let everyone in and then create experiences around that inclusivity is super important.

What do you guys think is stifling a seamless onboard process today? Beyond the obvious of just downloading a wallet, which is your port of entry into web three, right?

Garrett Hughes: Yeah. Yeah. I think there’s a lot of UX issues. Okay. We originally came in with the lens of like, there is a UX problem in web three, I think that’s broadly known at this point. And so like for us, it was communicating with fans and artists and like understanding the friction points. Obviously the wallet was one. So we introduced a tool called magic link where you can sign up with an email and get a non-custodial wallet. So if you do bridge into that area where you’re now, like deeper, you can get your private key and we never touch it. You can get your private key and go import it into meta mask. And now you’re like, you’re able to convert into that, I’ll call it more advanced user for better terms. There’s also things just around, like, how do you pay and transaction fees, you know, recently we shipped something called meta transactions. Effectively we will cover all of the transaction costs for interactions on our, on Mint songs. And so, you know, now you can come on, like, as an artist, you could come on with zero knowledge of web three, sign up with an email, get a non-custodial wallet, go mint a song without having to have madic, as we’re built on polygon and launch an NFT in like, I don’t know, five minutes, 10 minutes, if that

Solid. Who takes over the gas fees?

Garrett Hughes: We do really? Yeah. So with meta transactions, we cover the gas fees and with polygon, the gas fees are small enough to where it’s doable.

Manageable. Yeah. Interesting. We’re obviously super early. I try to remind people to zoom out for a minute, because when you’re in the day to day of crypto Twitter, when you’re, when you’re in a day to day of buying music, NFT is you are using products. You forget like how early we are sometimes. Right. And it’s interesting to see how I personally believe we haven’t even scratched the surface of what music X crypto really, really looks like. My next question to you guys is like, where do you imagine us being a few years from now? And let’s take this from like a two year point of view, because changes within a matter of hours. It’s like overwhelming at times, like what’s missing in music, X, crypto that we don’t have today that you see as obvious opportunities, for example.

Dwight Torculas: I always like an NFTs digital game assets, like folks that play video games, like understand this, right we are very early and I always like, you know, like you zoom out and see that the folks that are younger than us, like the 20, any somethings and the teens, they’re playing video games, they’re playing on apps and there’s in-app purchases and they’re used to digital assets, right. So when they become of age, they’re gonna understand this. It’s gonna be second nature to them. They’re gonna think of blockchain as just underlying technology, that powers what they normally do, and it’ll come natural to them, unlike to us, like, it doesn’t feel as natural to us. So that’s sort of one macro barrier that we need to sort of overcome. I always like to think, you know, what does the end state of music and NFTs look like when, you know, millions of artists are in the space, making NFTs and millions of consumers are in the space making NFTs, like, what does that actually look like? And what are the interfaces that we use so that we can interact with all these NFTs? One thing that we’re thinking is sort of, I always like to think of this thought experiment, right? Like you have an artist and, you know, they go to create a one of one NFT. Say this artist has been making, music for the last year or so, like at minimum that one of one NFT should be valued at, you know, 25 to a hundred dollars. Like, I feel like that’s like such a safe bet. And I think at scale, this is what it’s going to look like. Right. It’s not going to, I think, you know, where we stand in creating affordable NFTs, we’re really playing into that future. Like how, what does it look like when we’re maxed out in scale, maxed saturation with all these artists in the space? Like, what does it look like to be a consumer in this space? I think most folks are not gonna be interested in paying like over a hundred dollars, but because it’s in the 10 to a hundred dollars price range, most music, consumers already buy merch in that price range, they buy shirts, hoodies, like that’s how much they pay. So it’s like, oh, I can get a one of one art piece for my favorite artist for 60 bucks. Do I get a hoodie that is mass printed? Or do I get a rare art art piece from this artist? Now, when you think of, okay, $60 for, you know, this one on one art piece, and then you sort of add that to what artists are make on streaming. And then it becomes something very tangible. And I think one thing that I’m very interested in is, the reality where artists are making more money per song, turning them into NFTs and they are making and streaming because what happens is you have a flipping and artists get the leverage, they get the leverage against the labels. They get the leverages that get streaming so they can get better, better deals. And I think, you know, over time, artists are gonna still stream. They’re gonna, they’re gonna do NFTs in parallel, they’re gonna have way more leverage because they can show like, Hey, collectors like value my art this way. That’s sort of how I imagine the end state, when millions of artists are in the space. Garrett always talks about this, like the stripes core messages to increase the GDP of the internet. And you know, what we really want to do here at Mint songs is increase the GDP of music NFTs. Like how do we just make sure that we have the infrastructure set up so that we can scale to that many folks is really what we’ve set up over here.

Yeah. Garrett, anything add to that?

Garrett Hughes: No, I think that’s really, really thought out well I think one of the other pieces that’s missing that we’ll likely see in the future, Dwight’s actually been harping on this a lot lately. The consumption layer is not totally there. And so like consuming PFPs or other things like you have it on your Twitter, like, what is the consumption layer for music look like? I think that’s something that’s missing that, I think we’ll see within the next two years,

The first thing that comes to mind off the bat, you guys know Joey, right. Really good friend of mine, really talented web two web three developer. We’ve been like throwing shit at the fan for a while. Few months ago, we were like, okay, what if there was just an app that allowed you to connect your wallet and a music player would pop up and you could listen to the songs you collect. And it was just way too early, right? It was like way too early, because now we’re in the music NFT scene right now we’re in the hype cycle. People are collecting and people are understanding, but like, that’s the first thing that comes to mind when we think of consumption layer. Exactly. Like being able to actually listen to your songs offline, right. Being able to listen to them on airplane mode when you’re flying, being able to run with like that entire layer, enjoyment layer is missing. Right. That adds more character, more, more emotion, more appreciation to what you actually collect, because now it’s just sits in your wallet. Maybe it has value. Maybe there’s some type of staking protocol that can come down the line where you can extract value, you know off like lending pools, whatever that may look like. But yeah, now I’m just like thinking out loud for whatever reason, but I hear you, that consumption layer is missing that enjoyment layer for sure.

Dwight Torculas: Like what does it look like when all these NFTs sit in one place? And we can, you know, have a music streamer that aggregates not only mint songs NFTs, but sound and catalog, and every other NFT that sort of fits our metadata standard, you know, audio file album artwork, plus, you know, all these other metadata points, like when it’s in that, that format. And it’s at scale, we can create, you know, a decentralized Spotify that allows anyone to participate in music NFTs. You don’t even need to own a music NFT. You can make a playlist of all the songs that you wanna listen to because they’re all on IPFS, right? So you, as a non NFT owner can experience web three music without ever owning an NFT. The key difference here in this streaming app is that there’s this new sort of data layer where, you have the artist name, you have the, the track name, but then you have the owned by, and you’ll see owned by whether it’s the ENS Adam Levy. ENS, or, you know, maybe brands will want to capitalize on this real estate. Coca-Cola.Eth.

So it starts as, I think over time, we’ve hip to this. Like we’re hip to the music consumption, right? Lime wire, iTunes, Napster, Spotify, apple music, like we know how we like to consume music. So it’s just a matter of time before someone builds the aggregator layer that doesn’t feel open sea or wearable, or these marketplaces that focus on visuals, but focuses on the actual consumption where we can create playlists, where I can listen to a collection by like of Adams of all of his NFTs across sound and catalog in songs. And I can make my own playlists of my own NFTs that combine your NFTs. Right. And everyone else’s. So it really creates this new way to engage with music NFTs that feels more native to us. That feels more familiar is super important for that.

Collection and Ownership

Let’s talk about collecting for a second. Okay. Let’s talk about ownership. I’m looking on my laptop right now. Okay. Actually, before I even get into that, like the history of a song from pirating to then the iTune store people buying for 99 cents to a $1.20, right. To now one time payment, get access to a library of million songs to now collecting songs, right? This like historic timeline, Everybody’s just used to paying 12 99, 9 99 and getting access to the music. People are used to that. One, how do we get people to care more about actually collecting and going back to that previous date of buying a song for 99 cents and two is collecting for everyone?

Dwight Torculas: Yeah. That is a great question. Right. And I think humans are inherently collectors. We like to collect a lot of different things. I bet like most of our parents have like DVD collections. Sure. Right. Like, or CD collections, or maybe a bunch of knickknacks or beanie babies or whatever it may be. Right. We like to collect in the physical space. So when I think of folks collecting music NFTs, it really, music just has to resonate with you on that level for you to sort of make that step. Like it has to be, you know, I really like the music and I wanna support the artist because this is a medium that they wanna participate in. Plus I understand what’s happening here and I want to participate in the entire ecosystem by owning music NFTs. So there’s definitely like Like it’s hard to teach this, right? Like you can’t make someone a collector.

Which by the way, comes with like financial education of what ownership is

Dwight Torculas: A hundred percent.

Right. And I think we can all agree that a lot of people worldwide don’t understand financial literacy. Right. And let alone understand the concept of ownership, why people stay renting versus owning a house. Right. Despite the monetary issues that come with that. But I feel like that same mindset applies to owning something digitally as well.

Garrett Hughes: Yeah. Yeah. I think you’re right. Like music had such a weird kind of trajectory, right? Like it started off as like the ownership layer and then it was like, there was also piracy. So then it was like, eh, maybe this isn’t the right model. Then we moved into this streaming layer, which I kind of correlate with like renting. Now we’re moving into like a true ownership layer where there is no such thing as piracy. Right. You have like this token. This is the owner. Like sure. You could copy it, whatever, but you don’t have Providence. And so I think that education around Providence is really, really important. I don’t know how we get there in the long term. I think this is like a web three issue, like in totality. And so like how we explain to the consumer, like, you’re not just getting a picture of an ape. Right. You’re getting access to a community. You’re getting, it’s so many more things. And so like getting that out in the wild, I think is really important for like the broader web, not even web three music, just like the broader spaces as a whole.

How to Convert Fans into Follectors?

Yeah. Yeah. I’m still curious, like how, how do we get more fans to collect versus to just listen?

Dwight Torculas: Yeah. I mean, it could be simply a Trojan horse, like what you did with Queen George. I think one thing that I really admire about what NBA top shot did was that they obscured the blockchain. Right. They obscured flow and, you know, for many of the folks, they didn’t really care about the underlying tech. Yeah. And you know, they just cared about, oh, I can participate in NBA’s new collectible because, I’ve seen physical version, physical collectibles, right. Like the cards being, resold and sold for so much money on eBay. So there is like financial literacy problem to NFTs. But I think also if you obscured away enough, then people will just start participating in NFTs. Right. Like, I mean, you talk to any, like, I always like to think like, you know, my mom plays mobile games and for all she knows those mobile games could have an NFT layer, and she would just not know about it. So it’s all about like, good UI and good UX. That’ll enable sort of that adoption. I love that we’re sort of in this moment and talking NFTs today, but in the next couple years it’s gonna be obscured and we’re not even gonna say the word NFT. It’s just gonna be, this is a digital asset that we can verifiably own. And that’s sort of gonna be it. It’ll be as strange as saying, yeah, like my website is a database website, right. Like it’s just backend technology. My video game has a database that has these digital assets, not it’s, it’s just blockchain and it’s gonna be obscured. So I think it’ll just take time. Right? Like, and as time goes on, the literacy will go up. Folks will just start getting hip and then companies will get smarter and obscuring it. And I think there’s gonna be way more creative ways. Like we have even thought of one being the project that you’ve launched recently with Queen George. So, yeah, that’s sort of the thought there. 

The On Chain Revenue Model

You know what’s like starting to like light fuses in my brain right now, this entire conversation you name dropped a decentralized Spotify. Okay. One buzzword, another buzzword, decentralized Spotify. What does that mean? And let’s brainstorm on this for a minute. Okay. Talked about how Coca-Cola may end up buying a song and there’ll be an ownership property to it. Right, right. That will show up visually in the UX UI. When you talk about like a global database a global ledger where everything, every asset, every element sits in and is identifiable on chain. Then all you really have is just like an application layer. That’s able to aggregate all those NFTs and makes them consumable enjoyable, right. To listen, to and tie in that element of connecting your wallet and then being able to display all your music NFTs that you own. And then let’s say someone else streams that what is the revenue source that is getting attributed to the person who owns that song as well, despite the money that the artist made from selling that NFT or portion of that NFT and it’s right. Like that comes into like the legality of securities. Right. And the legality of ownership on chain. I think even the current state right now is ownership is very gray area on chain. Like, what does that mean when you buy a music NFT? Like, what does owning that mean? Like, do you own flat out all the rights associated with that, but wind it back, decentralized Spotify, having a global database, like a global music library where all music sits on chain. Yeah. I think about this because in front of me, I have like the data in terms of how apple music, Spotify, and YouTube pay out their they’re listeners. Right? So apple music actually pays out its listeners the highest amount per stream. So it’s what 0.08 cents Spotify is between 0.0026 to o.0049 cents And YouTube is 0.00067 cents. So what is the royalty model, the revenue model look like for on chain music beyond just collecting in that single transaction and the resale transaction that comes with that. I know these are like loaded ideas, but like, I’m curious to hear what’s your take on that?

Dwight Torculas: I think that, I mean, just, just like how it is right now, right. An artist is turning songs that they have on Spotify, into NFT. So it’s like two revenue streams, right. And you, take those songs and you turn ’em into physical merch with albums and vinyl, and you turn ’em into digital merch with NFTs. Going to your idea of decentralized Spotify. You know, what, what we’re really doing on the metadata standardization is allowing a future of, you know, layer, one of music where, you know, similar to Ethereum being a layer, one where people can build decentralized apps on top of Ethereum, we’re gonna create a layer, one of music where people can build the decentralized Spotify, the decentralized Pandora, that decentralized, whatever you want to build on top of that. But here’s a music base that is a totally where the economics are totally different where ownership is the pillar and the reason why those exist. The loaded question that you gave me, it’s more like, they’re gonna coexist and because they coexist there’s gonna be a push and pull and artists can decide whether or not they want to do it. I also wanna back it up a little bit. Like not all artists are gonna do NFTs. Like, that’s just the reality of it in the same way that not all artists do hats or shirts or hoodies or vinyl. Like it’s just gonna be artists that do it. And some artists that don’t some artists post on Spotify, some artists don’t and they just post on SoundCloud. Right. So it’s really, it’s really a matter of, do we really believe in this, that that ownership is going to be, a key driver of revenue for artists, right. Like going back to the money problem. Right. Like are artists actually gonna make, enough money from NFTs to make this whole thing work. And right now with, you know, we sort of see that it is kind of working. Like, even on catalog, like I was talking to an artist yesterday. His name’s Covex and he sold a couple NFTs of his songs for thousands of dollars. Right. Like that just overshadows all the revenue that he’s made from that song. Right. So, if the economic incentives are there, something is changing. So that’s sort of, that’s sort of the baseline there.

Yeah. Garrett. Any, anything to add to that?

Garrett Hughes: No, I don’t think anything on that. The metadata stuff is really important to build sort of these things. I don’t know if we wanna dive into that one.

I do. I do. Yeah. Okay. But, but keep it, keep it, keep it more like higher level, because I do have a bunch of questions on metadata for you guys.

Garrett Hughes: I think part of that, like building that decentralized Spotify or whatever it is, decentralized, you know, app that does something that’s cool with music NFTs. Part of that is you have to some standardization around what things are like, how do you define genre? How do you define like all these things that you take for granted in Spotify’s UI, like, there’s been a lot of thought data processing AI and machine learning to get to that state. And so, or just user input. And so like a key piece to get to that reality is defining this, you know, new NFT, metadata standard. I’ve been working closely with Jeremy over at catalog and we actually have a proposal that we’re gonna put up here soon that we’ve actually been working on this week at Eth Denver too. And so like having that standardization of like, Hey, these are the keys in the metadata, and these are the values so that we could build cool apps around this same standard.

What is Metadata?

Yeah, it. Let’s just get into metadata right now. So that was like a brief intro on metadata. What is metadata for those who don’t understand for the creators that are listening, that all they care about is just minting a song and finding a collector to support them? Why should they care about metadata?

Garrett Hughes: Yeah. So metadata is the underlying connection of the asset on chain. And so, you know, when you mint something, you could mint everything on chain. That would be very expensive. Currently, I don’t know, the last time I looked, if you want to upload like a 20 or 40 megabyte song, it was like a million dollars plus. And so what people do is you have this standard called token URI, which points to either IPFS an AWS server or some, some storage asset that is just a J sign of key value pairs. Of those key values, there’s things like, what is the album artwork? Or what is the song like, what, what are you even listening to? And so those keys usually, or those values to those keys usually point out to IPFS. So you have like this J sound that tells you how an NFT should be rendered, what should come with it? Just like these little pieces, ironically open sea kind of unintentionally set the metadata standard because everybody wanted to show up on open sea. Yeah. And so like, for example, something that’s just a clear indicator that maybe this is a little broken is to get song metadata, to show up in open sea and other data apps. You put it under a key called animation URL, which just like shoving a square into a circle hole type deal. It’s like, this is definitely not an animation. And it’s like, oh yeah, this key also takes like MP4’s four S and like, I don’t know all these other different things. And you’re just like, I

Which makes organizing the data in a UI point of view. Very difficult.

Garrett Hughes: So difficult. Yeah. So like, how do you filter that out now? Now, like, as DAS are building on, how do you know that something is a song versus a video?

So how do you achieve like general consensus around the metadata standards that you guys are coming together to build? That’s gonna be the standards that everybody’s gonna abide by versus let’s say a competitor for whatever reason, whoever it may be comes in the picture, like open sea and actually sets up metadata in their own way. Right. Because it suits their platform, their needs, their revenue model, whatever the, reason may be. And I may be talking outta my ass too, because I don’t understand the intricacies of like the technicality behind this. Right. You guys are the experts here, but is that a plausible scenario?

Dwight Torculas: Yeah. You know, so just to give some context, okay. You know, for an artist in web two, you go to a distributor, right? Like United masters or distro kit, or tune core, and you upload your songs to those distributors and they distribute your music to Spotify music, et cetera. When you upload it to a distributor, they literally have a form where you enter all the metadata. You don’t know it’s like that it’s the metadata, but that’s the process so that they can upload your song onto all these streaming platforms. So for web three, it’s a little bit different because we’re in some senses, building in silos, open sea has our own standard we have a metadata standard that we’re working with sound and catalogs. So it’s over time, once a standard is in place, it’s just gonna be obscured away again. Yeah. For sure. It’s not gonna be something that we’re like, oh, like, what is the metadata standard? And a lot of the inspiration that we draw for the metadata standard for web three music is from distribution platforms, they’ve done this, spent the last decades, like figuring out, you know, what metadata works for Spotify, apple music, et cetera. A lot of that is the same for web web three. Like, except there’s a couple more nuanced things. And shout out to the Arpeggi folks that are adding sort of like the credits to samples, right? Like, because we can track like samples on chain through our Arpeggi like, you can see, okay, this song consists of these samples from these artists. We need to add that into the metadata. This is unique to just web three, because we could track it all on chain. It now, because we’re building in silos, it’s disjointed, but this metadata standard that we’re working on allows us to sort of say, Hey, you know, we know that the reality of music in web three is going to allow us to create a layer, one of music where everyone can build on top of it, just like Ethereum is layer one. So this is what we’re gonna roll with.

Garrett Hughes: Yeah. Yeah. And I think like, to your question, like leading by example is really important. And so, you know, hopefully by some of the larger platforms, us, catalog sound like building this in, hopefully, you know, gains traction on others. You know, it’s inevitable that more and more music and NFTs startups are gonna come out. One of the big things that we aim for is backwards compatibility. So if you don’t support, it’s okay. As long as you fall back to like the open sea support, which basically everybody does right now. It’ll always quote unquote work, but there’s a way to iterate on it, get it to a better spot. And that’s really what we’re like this like V 0.01 that we’re gonna release here soon. Like that’s the goal.

Yeah. That makes sense. Let’s zoom out again, even further. Okay. This vision, this grandiose vision of a decentralized music landscape from publishing creation, collecting ticketing, merch, everything, what would actually prevent that reality from happening? You think?

Dwight Torculas: Yeah, that’s a great question.

What’s the Achilles heel?

Dwight Torculas: I mean, we’re founders of a web three music company. We can’t be thinking about these things. I’m kidding. Like, I mean, I think there’s a couple things.

If anything, I feel like you should be thinking about these things, which might actually be an advantage that others may fall down and may fall trap to.

Dwight Torculas: I think one thing that is very apparent now, is technology addiction, right? Like, I think that, you know, some people do suffer from technology addiction and NFTs pull you back onto your phone because you need to, you need to keep up with them and you need to see what your artist is doing. And I think, as we keep going down this path of software eating the world and technology just being engrained in every piece of our life. I think one thing that could be a possible Achilles heel for NFTs is folks just wanna unplug. I think there could be a reality where, you know, I mean, I’m already, like some of my friends are just like, yeah, I deleted Instagram. I deleted Snapchat. I’m sure we all have friends that have done that. So same thing with NFTs. Like sometimes you might just wanna unplug and just sell all your NFTs and just like live in real life. Right. So I think, the burnout from it is like a real thing. And it’s not just with NFTs it’s technology in general, and making sure that we teach folks, that you just gotta take breaks. You know, it’s, everything’s good in moderation. Don’t go to the extreme and NFTs are just the same way. But it could be a reason why you get addicted to your computer. You’re checking your trades, you’re checking the discords on what your NFTs utility could be. I mean, think of like, at scale, how many artists do you follow on Spotify? Maybe like, I probably have hundreds, right? And like, we follow hundreds of people on Twitter. What if everybody had their own smart contract deploying their own NFTs? Now you had a wallet that just had so many NFTs and you’re glued to it. It’s just, it makes it a very, dangerous situation that can lead to technology addiction. So that’s definitely one that I’m very, you know,

So moderation.

Dwight Torculas: So moderation, man. Yeah.

With everything balance

Dwight Torculas: Balance, man.

What about you, Garrett?

Garrett Hughes: Yeah, I think for me, one of the things that really stands out my partner she really believes in like living in the physical world, like as much as possible. And so something I see is kind of on the same line as like, it’s a potential scary thought to think that at some point your digital world may be more valuable than your physical world. And I think that may cause some friction at scale you’ll have people that will be anti technology as a whole, but definitely anti NFTs metaverse et cetera. And so like that will be a friction point that we will have to overcome and like find a good middle ground. I think as we scale to the next billion users that come into the space.

How Does a New Artist Get Started?

Yeah. So we had a lot of macro type of like discussions. Let’s get nitty gritty for a minute. Okay. How the hell do you get started As a new artist, as a musician, that’s being inspired by this new movement. As someone who’s seeing the live shows the NFT Tickets. They’re seeing their favorite musicians that are on the same up and coming path, as they are tap into this new world, make money, build a niche, web three level audience. What’s your advice to them on how to get started? Okay. Join, come to mint songs. Okay. We know that come to mint songs,

Dwight Torculas: You know, the best thing that you can do as an artist is really experiment. I always tell artists, remember when you joined Twitter for the first time or joined Instagram for the first time you experimented with the content that you put out on these platforms, web threes, very similar experiment, go to mint songs, go to catalog, talk to the sound guys, do something there. Do a custom smart contract. Go on open, sea, like read as much as you can, maybe participate in DAOs participate in NFTs yourself. Literally just try it all. I think that’s not just for music artists, but generally for folks that are interested in the NFT space, just try it. Right. Like just try and for us on Mint songs, we lower the barrier as much as possible. Like we said earlier, like you just need to sign up with an email address and we cover the gas fees. So you can create an NFT without ever touching crypto, we’ve obscured all of that so that you, as an artist can can easily onboard. I think that’s really the key here. Outside of joining Mint songs just get involved in the community, like, you know, talk to other artists that are doing this. You know, for us, we’ve really spent a lot of time cultivating a culture that is welcoming and allows artists to talk to other artists in our Discords talk to other artists in our Twitter spaces so that you can learn and better understand what this whole thing is all about. It’s all about education right now. And you know, the best thing that we can do as a company is be as welcoming as possible because it is very scary for a lot of folks. It’s like, what the hell is this? Why are we all talking about this? Why are we doing it? But if there’s a hand reaching out to you and, and they’re here to say, hello, welcome to this space. Like, it just feels more comforting. Instead of it being sort of most artists seeing the headlines and seeing, you know, crypto, you know, Mount GOs hack, you know what I’m saying? Like this is already ingrained. And when you approach NFTs, it’s like, okay, how’s this different than, you know, the things that I’ve heard on the news, like drug dealers using crypto, whatever. Like there’s so many of these factors playing against an artist. And the best that we can do is, be as welcoming as possible and say, Hey, you know, like we understand this might not be for everyone, but if it’s for you, we’re here to help you as much as we can.

Yeah. You know, there’s one like piece of advice that Daniel Allen who’s been a part of season three, season four. When I first met him in person and we, like, we caught up, I think, had like lunch together in Sherman Oaks. He’s like before I even, I minted anything before, before I touched my wallet that went to proceeds to fulfill gas fees, just to like, bring something on chain. I took a step back. I put a pin in it and I got involved in the community as much as I can. Now I hate the word community as much as I love it. It’s such like an abstract word. And when you think community, like, what does that mean? Exactly. So I told this to Queen George, cuz she’s now getting involved in, in the music NFT side. She’s been in it since like April 2021, but I told her, get into FWB join forefront, join seed club, buy some NFTs, right? Join those discords build a name for yourself, make friends. It’s all about meeting people, right? Because the tighter relationships you build for yourself, right? The better prepared you’ll be when you’re ready to launch your own thing. Right. And the number one growth hack that I tell people. And I’d love to hear your point of view because you guys talk about community and you guys wanna help build community. I mean, songs is the number one way to growth hack your face in a new community is come to conferences, come to Eth Denver, come to Bitcoin, Miami, come to NFT NYC meet all these people, get to know the founders, get to know the other creators and just get involved. Right. What have you guys seen be other like, really like really legit strategies that creators have approached new musicians have approached trying to kind of break into web three.

Garrett Hughes: Yeah. Yeah. That’s a good question. Another discord that I see, that’s really starting to gain popularity is water and music. I’m sure. You’re sure you’re hip to it. Jerry Hughes been putting out everything from research to like pricing strategies. Like there’s a lot of really good information there. Just a really good community of everybody from like developers to creators, to artists. I think all the things you named, like make sense, right? Like join the community, go like do things. I think another strategy that I’ve seen, that’s like really worked well, spotty wifi, like his thesis was join into these communities, buy into them, whether it’s punks or apes or, you know, cool cats, whatever it is. And just like start engaging with the community and build around that. Like he did some songs that were specific to these projects and sold it as NFTs. And like, that’s a good strategy. Like you can’t fight that. Like you’re embedding yourself in the community, you’re utilizing that community and then you create for that community and then the community gives back. Yeah,

Dwight Torculas: Yeah, yeah. And you know, I also want to bring it down to earth a little bit. Like I totally understand that a lot of artists offload all this energy to their management co’s right. Or their labels or, you know, they because artists just wanna focus on creating art. So, you know, when we have these expectations for artists to go to, you know, conferences or go show up in Twitter spaces or comment on Twitter, go to discord it is like, that is something that they’re just not hip to doing at least like most of them. Right. So it’s like, okay, we’re throwing NFTs at you. And then we’re throwing, Hey, join these Twitter spaces, join these Discords. It’s like, this is overwhelming. Yeah. So, you know, I think it’s not like a one size fits all sort of scenario, right? Like you as an artist, just need to navigate it yourself. Some artists will just purely want to create art NFTs. Right. Without any utility, they don’t wanna, you know, bring the Patreon model into their NFTs. As in, you know, they don’t want to like fulfill the utility of NFTs because they, you know, purely wanna create art. Yeah. So we gotta understand and empathize with that, that not all artists want to add utility to their NFTs. Some, just simply want to create art pieces and allow folks to buy it in the same way that you go to an art gallery and see an art piece and you just buy it. It’s not like, when you buy a Picasso, you’re calling him up. Like, Hey, where’s your discord man. It’s not a one size fits all. And I mean, if you are an artist and you do put in the time to grind and do these things, you’re gonna be rewarded. So I also like to sort of say that because yeah, if you are a music artist listening to this right now, just know that you are in the top 0.000001% of artists that actually are thinking about this and entering the space. Yeah. Like if you enter the space right now, you are so dang early and what happens in,I think over time, folks that enter the space during this call, this like the golden, the golden era, right of music NFTs. This is just the first, like we’re still in the first year of music NFTs. You’ll be remembered as an OG if you create a music NFT today. So just keeping that in mind, if you believe in this decentralized future that, you know, you will be remembered and commended for being a pioneer in this space.

How do You Price an NFT?

I think that’s really beautifully said, I want to ask you also, how do you price a music NFT? So there’s one of ones there’s additions but also scanning through mint songs. There’s ones that are selling four, $7, a dollar $20, $3,000. Like what’s the price psychology behind that. Maybe we don’t have to get so psychological, but just like, what are the, like the mental models behind publishing and pricing a song?

Dwight Torculas: Yeah. Garrett, and I like to say, we’ve just created a canvas for folks to, decide on their own, right? Like if you wanna sell one of one for, $25 or a thousand dollars, you can do that. Or if you wanna sell additions at you know, a dollar piece, you can do that. It’s all about allowing an artist to decide what they wanna do, right? Like over time, it’s going to figure itself out, like there’s gonna be trends. Right now, there are a couple trends, like artists are, you know, selling out collections if they do additions at a dollar a piece and they are able to start building web three communities that are on-boarded through cheap NFTs. So they’re able to sort of benefit and play and start cultivating that early on. Pricing is just sort of this it’s arbitrary, right? Like, if you buy a hoodie from, you know, Gris, you know, today, and a couple years when Gris is even larger, you know, that hoodie can resell for like a couple hundred dollars on eBay. Right. And it’s like, wait, why didn’t gris just sell that hoodie for $500 today and capture all that. Right. It’s very arbitrary and we’re just gonna let the artist decide, what their art is worth. We had a Twitter space the other day and an artist asked the same question, like, what should I price our NFTs? And, you know, I told him, you have to value your art in however way you want to. We have guidance. We always tell folks like the grail of this is the data play because that’ll help you make more money over the long run. So is it worth it to sell cheap NFTs today? So you build a web three community of Ethereum addresses. So you can, you know, run the data layer on top of it later, or, you know, do you wanna play and just sell your NFTs at one of ones sell ’em, for a hundred something dollars, right. It’s going back to it. We’re just creating a canvas, you decide as the artist and we’ll just rock from there.

Any thoughts, Garrett?

Garrett Hughes: Yeah. Yeah. I think Dwight touched on something too, like increasing the barrier of entry and inclusivity is like really important at the core. One of ironically, one of the artists that recently minted on our platform, his name’s Martini. I grew up with him, he’s moved out to LA and started doing well for himself and know he came to us and he’s like, Hey, look like I actually don’t care. Like the, money’s not a big deal to me. Like if it’s a dollar $5, $20, a hundred dollars, I more care about selling it out and making sure that all of my fans can collect that. Right. I thought that was really powerful. Like less us care about the money that directly comes and more care about the community that you’re you’re building in ensuring that you’re not setting up barriers to where they can’t enter, especially as this like Genesis NFT, I thought was really, really unique,

Dwight Torculas: Right. There’s a trade off. I always like to bring up early days of Nifty gate way when they did the dollar drops, right. Because anyone that claimed or bought one of those dollar drops just won. They became winners. And, you know, for people he sold a hundred NFTs for a dollar, a piece. And anyone that has held since then now have an NFT, that’s the floor price is worth like $200,000. So you’ve created winners. And now that that person has that NFT they’re going to be forever, tied to your brand. And they’re incentivized to keep talking about your brand. So, you continue to be successful because it pulls value back to their own NFTs. So you create this environment of winners.

And it’s not like monetarily quantifiable, right? Like when you make a winner, you don’t know how much ROI you’re gonna get from that person. But I think what’s good with martini’s example is like, he wants to create winners, right? Like, and if you create winners, you’re gonna win over the long run because you create fans that are just that more closer to you, and isn’t that the whole thing with NFTs, like when you sell an NFT you’re strengthening the artist fan relationship. So this is P that example with Martin is purely strengthening the artist fan relationship, giving his brand equity way, letting his fans win with him when he wins his fans win. It just creates a really really good environment.

Yeah. You set a foundation for your collectors to do really well

Dwight Torculas: Exactly.

Royalties and Percentage Splits

When you think about royalties and percentage splits, what is the appropriate percentage to put I’ve seen anywhere between 10 to 20%, I’ve also seen 50% and what’s the mental model behind that, do you think?

Dwight Torculas: Yeah, so we’ve standardized it on Mint songs, it’s 10%. Okay. We sort of standardize it at 10% because one we’ve sort of before, you know, standardizing it, we talked to a lot of digital artists in the space, selling NFTs on nifty gateway and super rare. And we’re like, what do you think is a fair standard? Like, what do you think is a fair royalty here for secondary sales and perpetuity? And generally came back with 10%. So one of the reasons why we standardized it goes back to our core ethos of how do we just lower the barrier, right? If you were an artist setting your royalties, what is the best one to pick? It’s just another step, another mental hurdle in your head to figure out like, okay, what is this? We just wanted to take that, take that variable out. Eventually we have a plan to open that up, right now our artists are totally fine with it. When there is that demand, we’ll do it. Right now our artists are totally fine with that.

Yeah. That makes, that makes a lot of sense. I think that’s a good place to to also end off. But before I let you go, what can we expect from Mint songs in the next year? What’s up and coming beyond giving more flexibility on royalties. Like you just dropped walk me through that.

Dwight Torculas: Yeah. So in the next year, this is gonna be a big year, man. I’m sure. So we raised our seed round in December from Castle island ventures, north island ventures, Coinbase ventures, Dapper labs, Polygon, Grammatic, iOS, G Freestyle, a lot of great folks 

Congrats, awesome,

Dwight Torculas: Appreciated, appreciate, and some amazing angels too. Like Christina Belchermini and Jeff Renaud. Like one thing is for certain is that this is gonna be a very it’s gonna be a pivotal year. Like, you know, we are a startup, we’re still trying to find product market fit. And, you know, luckily we have a great edge team to throw darts at the board and, you know, whatever sort of sticks we’re gonna lean into. So expect more experiments out of us expect, you know, we’re gonna keep driving, you know, driving more products that make sense for artists and driving more experiences that in real life experiences that make sense so that we can really bridge the gap app here. Like it’s all about bridging it’s all about education and tools that we put out will sort of resonate with those two ideas.

Garrett Hughes: Yeah. I think the short term you can expect in the coming weeks, better discovery tools more marketplace things such as filters, search global search you know, filtering by price, primary, secondary, a lot of these tools to help artists kind of show up for fans. And so we’ll address those. We’ll also just continue experimenting, like Dwight said, you know, things around interaction are really, front of mind and things along, just a lot of different experiments around a lot of things. Some of the things we talked about today and just, how we can try things that nobody else is doing and seeing if that makes sense or not. In March we’ll have some more things around a campaign we’re running, so stay tuned in what, two weeks.


Awesome guys, exciting times. Where can we find you now? Like each of you individually?

Dwight Torculas: Yeah. You can find me on Twitter @torculas. I thought it was a good idea to just smash both my first name and last name into my Twitter handle. Now that’s my handle for Snapchat, Instagram, everything else and then for mint songs, at mintsongs.

Garrett Hughes: Yeah. I’m Garrett.mintsongs.Eth on Twitter or at underscore Garrett Hughes. Nowadays I think all of web three is on Twitter.

Yeah. Guys, thank you so much.

Yeah, I appreciate it. We have to do this again in a few months and do a recap, a check in and until then. Yeah,

Dwight Torculas: Until then,

Garrett Hughes: Appreciate it.

Podcast Transcript

Understanding ESG (Social) Tokens on Solana Blockchain

Listen on: Spotify | Apple Music | Google Podcast


Mint Season 4 episode 18 welcomes Jermey Vaughn, who is the founder and CEO of Rimark – the soon-to-be social token issuance platform on Solana. The main premise behind this conversation revolves around the current state of social tokens on Solana blockchain and why he believes ESG tokens are a better framework for understanding brands and creators.

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • 00:25 – Intro
  • 05:21 – Rimark-able
  • 11:29 – What are ESG Tokens?
  • 16:21 – Why Do Musicians Need ESG Tokens?
  • 26:22 – What’s the Difference Between an ESG Token and an NFT?
  • 40:10 – Social Media Funnels
  • 43:45 – What’s on the Horizon for You?
  • 45:48 – What’s Next for Rimark?

…and so much more. 

I hope you enjoy our conversation. 

Support Season 4’s NFT sponsors!

1. Coinvise –

2. Polygon Studios –

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


Thank you, man.

Thank you. Thanks for being on.

Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.


This is the first in person, like high quality session. I upgraded everything. We try to record it, but the studio for recording is not up to par. We are in my my dining room and if we tried to record it, you’d see the living room light shine. So anyways, I digress here we are. Welcome. Give us a quick brief on yourself. Who the hell are you? What does a world need to know about you? But more specifically. Yes. What were you doing before crypto?

It’s a good question. It’s a good question. So my name is Jeremy. I’m the founder and CEO of ri

mark, which is a CFI exchange then at mints tokens for creators communities and companies. And let’s see, yeah, born and raised in the bay area, California. I am with background in music, specifically music graphic design have a master’s degree from Berkeley college of music in global entertainment and music business. Since I was young, it was my goal to start a company. I didn’t know what, part of the starting company is the journey to find out what, you know, what that company is about. And it changes along the way. So,uprior to starting this company, I actually just came right outta grad school and just said, you know, there’s no better time in my life to experiment to build this. Just dove straight in. I did working for five years at a live venue before.

Oh, okay. Why’d you wanna start a company so bad?

It kind of runs in my family. Both my parents were entrepreneurs, they were both fashion designers. So they had a company, my grandparents had companies, all that sort of stuff. So it’s built into our DNA as the Vaughn’s if you will to start companies.

Is there a family business?

There is not a family business anymore.

But there was.

There was when my parents were in their twenties.

So got it. So when you say fashion, like what kind of fashion? Like street wear?

Like suits and dresses

Suits. Okay.

Yeah. That kind of stuff. They had a shop DAOn here in LA. But now my dad works for a company called Marmon


Okay. Designer there.

Cool. So when you tell them that you work in crypto, how do they understand that? Do they understand that?

Yeah, definitely. Parents are very supportive helping me through this journey, building the company. They’ve been learning along with me, so I always share with them what I’m working on, they’re right there with it. They’re excited about it. It’s been part of the journey also is to make sure that what we’re talking about is understandable to everybody kind of making it part of our vision is bring crypto and what we’re working on to as many people as possible. So it’s always great to stress test that description with the people around you make sure that they at least understand it first. Yeah.

How’d you actually get your start in crypto? Like, was it like through an asset that you bought? Was it research like everybody has their own unique, like entry point what’s yours?

I was familiar with blockchain for a while. Not so much on the crypto side, thinking about it from a data management side. So a lot of what we do stems from data first party data. So that’s how I was thinking about it originally. Then I had an opportunity last year beginning of 2021 to do a hackathon called the Youth Global NFT hackathon. The team that I was with, ended up winning a prize from Circle for our project, which was super exciting and kind of gave us, myself and the rest of my team, the confidence to be like, Blockchaining crypto is not that scary. Right. Yeah. We can make something cool here. So that was kind of the first like foray into actually building something. Of course I had, you know, my Coinbase account and dabbled in it a little bit before that, but,uthat was sort of the unlock. It’s not so scary. I think we can build something pretty cool.

Was that your first hackathon?

That was also my first hackathon.

And you won a prize from Circle? What was the prize?

Just some cash.


Okay. Not super exciting, but it was more the experience of being recognized for our ideas. That was more important than the actual winnings, but yeah.


Okay. So rimark equals social tokens in the grand scheme of things. What are you guys building at rimark?

So, yeah like my intro, we’re building a Ce-FI exchange and basically Ce-FI is like De-FI. It stands for centralized finance. So we’re kind of bringing the best of both worlds of your De-FI, decentralized finance elements when it comes to the trading and the crypto assets, but then bringing, you know, web two kind of, usability to the platform. So you can log in with email address, password, that sort of stuff. We are a custodial exchange. So we provide wallets for our users, that type of stuff. I almost like to call it sometimes web 2.5, that there’s a little bit of, best of both worlds. We’re really building this crypto exchange. We are actually, thinking of our tokens. Yeah. They are technically social tokens in that space or brand tokens. We actually like to call them ESG tokens, which we can get into a little bit later, but, they’re basically tokens for creators communities and companies. We do focus on those, that have a business unit that goes along with it. They’ve got a team, they’ve got a marketing budget. That’s really key to our business model. It’s less about, you know, of course community is super important, but it’s more about customers. If you will, kind of that differentiation where the token can actually be used to drive business more than just fan engagement and that type of stuff. One of the things that, I always make sure that the team is focused on is like the things that we’re innovating, they should be things that you couldn’t have done with web two, right. Actually using the technology to do something new rather than just bringing an existing system into web three.

So what are some things that you can’t do in web two that you can do in web three? Very dumbed DAOn stupid question, but just to kind of carry the same thought

Some things would be, let’s just say you’re an emerging brand. You can’t go public on a stock market. Right. Right. The only way at this point to, previous to web three, to get investment from your community is maybe like a crowdfunding thing or you’re selling equity, but that’s not really liquid. Right. Because when you buy and sell equity, the only way you can cash that out is if there’s somebody acquires the company or if you go public, which is hard for smaller brands and certainly for artists. So that’s sort of, one thing is the community angle to investment is one thing. We focus ourselves as a finance platform, more than like a social network or a fan engagement thing. So all the examples kind of come around finance.

Yeah. The way I like to think about it is it’s a financialization of everything, of everything, digital it’s being able to actually provably own and verifiably own X, whatever, whatever it is, that’s digital like yourself, you clearly have an interest in creator economy. You have an interest in brands being tokenized which I think is a really up and coming niche that has yet to be fully explored. We see other platforms kind of experiment with tokenizing people or tokenizing brands, quote unquote but nothing at scale just yet. And that’s really like product market fit. In my opinion. I think people still have like their questions and their uncertainties around what a social token is. But one of the reasons why I wanted to bring you on is because you introduce like a new light to it. Right. Primarily by coining it as an ESG token. So for starters, what does ESG stand for? Okay. Why is it different than a social token? Is it different than a social token? Just take it from there.

Yeah. So ESG comes from the world of stocks. So it’s an acronym that stands for environmental, social and corporate governance. So it’s really a way for companies to put a value upon their intangible assets. It’s usually used as a way of evaluating stocks, whether they’re impact driven or good for the environment or they have sustainable practices and that type of stuff. At this point it’s a little bit of an unregulated space. There are a number of companies in that sector, stock ratings, ESG ratings that kind of come up with their own metrics. It’s really advantageous for a lot of large fortune 500 companies to have higher ratings, cuz then they can be put into, better sustainable funds and it has a meaningful impact on their stock price. So one of the reasons why this is really important for us and we chose to go with this branding is again, to move a little bit away from the monetizing celebrity or monetizing the individual and make it a little bit more brand or company focused. And also, so if you like dig a little bit deeper into the definition of ESG, it’s really about evaluating those intangible assets. And that’s really kind of what these social tokens or brand tokens are. They’re a monetary value of the intangible assets of an artist or creator in sort of traditional thinking about it, right? You, you’re not necessarily putting your income as part of it. There’s not necessarily property backing it, right. It’s just the tokens or the US dollars or euros, whatever the currency is that backs the value of these, smart contracts on the blockchain. So we found that the ESG metric is a nice way to differentiate ourselves a little bit in the market from a branding perspective, but we also use the categories actively. So tokens on the Rimark exchange will be in the categories of environmentally driven. So socially driven, which really falls under the existing social token umbrella, for artists, athletes, creators, that type of stuff, and then also governance. So we’re not, not going full DAO with the token, but you can do like token based voting or things like that. So the tokens kind of fall under those three use cases.

What are ESG Tokens?

So why call it again, like ESG over a social token and when you call it an ESG token, who does that cater to? Like what type of investor do, do consumers understand ESG factors or is that more tailored towards like traditional funds, hedge funds, for example that see this as maybe an alternative asset, for example, like how do you think about that?

Yeah, there is a specific ESG target and we’re working on developing that as well. I think that’s more of what we use as like a technical definition rather than necessarily what can be what’s over on the website or when, you know, fans are talking about it or engaging with their specific token that they want to. Right. So let’s just say, okay, the first token that we will be launching on the platform is from a Grammy nominated artist. Misago. He’s really into crypto he’s really knowledgeable about the space. But we’re not gonna be referring to his token in the marketing materials as the Misago ESG token. Right. It’s more of like a technical definition of how we define what our platform does more than how we sell the product or encourage our customers, users, communities to sell the product. So his will just be Misago coin. So that type of stuff.

Got it. So when you present this in marketing materials, okay. You don’t use the ESG I guess term you use his name, like you said. But then again, why call it ESG over social token? Like I’m waiting for like the aha moment kind of thing. Right. I understand companies on the stock market using like people basically create metrics using their ESG factors. Right. And how they’re kind of like treating the climate, right. How are they like thinking about their social impact, all these other things. And they use that as a metric to kind of further evaluate the value of a stock. Right. Rather than using that entire metric to kind of value the entire company, for example. What I’m understanding is like this ESG factor is used as another metric to kind of evaluate a brand, in artist versus valuing them entirely by their public price. Is that how you’re thinking about it?

Yeah, absolutely. I think we’re thinking about the tokens as, not necessarily, I don’t want the value of an individual, especially as an individual to live and die by their token price. Right. It’s certainly a aspect to their business. It is a way of evaluating them compared to their peers. Right. Okay. That’s usually what these metrics are for. So you can kind of create a standard and a rating system. But I think really the key piece is that it’s not a evaluation of social or celebrity, which I think there’s a existing understanding of that’s what social tokens are. Right. And we have a broad mission than just celebrity and social. There are definitely musicians gonna be and creators on our platform, but we’re also talking to brands and other types of companies and communities. So we wanted to have a broader definition of the tokens that we’re providing. For example, if you’re working with an eCommerce brand, right, you don’t necessarily want think of that as a social token, right. Maybe it’s more of a brand token or maybe it’s driving sales impact for them. So it’s not necessarily about fan engagement for when it comes to a brand. So the goal was to really find a more all-encompassing angle. And why we picked ESG is because it has the ability to put a value on the intangible assets of a brand. And that’s what it’s used for. But we also say there’s an opportunity to make the term ESG more action based, more impact based right now it’s more of like a passive rating of things they’re doing. What we’re getting into is like, can you actually use the tokens to drive change? Maybe you do a payout of tokens for hitting certain metrics or things like that. So actually making the, the ESG acronym a little bit more action based.

Why do Musicians Need ESG Tokens?

Yeah. You know, for the longest time, even in the beginning of season one of mint, I always saw social tokens as like this what’s the TV show Black mirror. This like type of black mirror scenario where there’s gonna be a human stock market. And everybody’s gonna be bidding on everyone. And like your social clout is now based on your financial clout and your worth is determined by your publicly traded price. And by introducing the ESG element, it actually really eases that narrative. And just makes it another thing that people look at, for example, beyond your social media, following beyond your engagement rate, all these other external metrics, the ESG factor is just an additional metric as well. Rather the entire pie of like who you are, like when big club came out, for example, that was like the epitome of a human stock market. It has a better marketing play in my opinion. So when you think about where we are right now in music. Why do musicians and artists need ESG tokens, for example, like, what is that thing? What the purpose for launching one for building a community around one? How do you guys look at that internally?

So we look at that as a little bit roundabout way, but we look at it from starting with data. Right. Okay. As a musician, as an artist for the most part, you don’t know who your customers are, which is something interesting to think about, right. As Nike, for example, you know exactly who your customers are, who’s buying from you as a musician, the, your biggest point of sale is like Spotify, for example, or apple music, right. And apple music and Spotify don’t share the individual customer data with you. So the only way you get to know your customers are on social media, but there’s also a limit to what social media shares with you. So the idea of the social token is to find that one place where your fan base can coalesce from multiple platforms and to use the, the token to drive business directly or to invest in the future of the artist. Of course, that is definitely part of it. But for example, well, if you’re doing ticket sales, right, maybe, you know, one of the things that, my favorite example, when it comes to using these tokens for business is like a cashback, right? So it’s not necessarily, I mean, you can do gated access, but you can also do, Hey, maybe my ticket’s $50. Yeah. But I’m gonna do a premium ticket that’s for 65 and the fan ends up buying $15 worth of their you know, that artist token along the way. So really using it to a consolidate audience across platforms really understand who your best fans are. Cuz we have a number of tools that help the fans, you know, so, you know, promote and share the content of that artist that they believe in and be rewarded for it. So consolidating that, using the data, building a bigger, you know better data model for the artists and their business teams to be able to utilize in their sales process. And then also of course, using it then in step two to actually drive sales and incentivize, you know, fans to engage with the business side of the artist outside of just streaming or, you know, watching a video on YouTube,

Why don’t you think Spotify provides this data to their artists.

That’s that Shopify That Spotify that’s their

Value, right? Because if they give you that data, then you can just take that data and leverage it and take traction off their platform.

Similar thing with like TikTok, right. Videos on TikTok perform worse if they’re directing you to an external site. Right. Right. So all these platforms it’s about keeping you within their ecosystem for as long as possible. And they’re providing you in information that allows you to go without their ecosystem. Then there’s less of a value that they have to control of the relationship.

How do you build that similar moat in web three and in decentralized products, for example?

You’ve been well, for example, what we’ve done is that the social tokens on our platform are only trade-able within our platform. Mm. So the, and again, this kind of goes back to the CFI element a little bit in that the, of course, when it comes to the blockchain part, we run on salon. So it is a little bit, again, a central more centralized blockchain as some people argue. But that part of it is decentralized, right? It has is the, the crypto aspects to it. But the actual trading happens only in our platform. Now we do have a platform token called Rick, which the future goal is to have trade-able in other places. But one of the ways that we can build value, we can build that moat is to have the best artists have the best brands, have the best creators and communities in our exchange. And that that’s how we can build value. And because there is a corporate team behind rimark that’s what we can work towards and, and strive for.

So can they take that? Okay, let me backtrack. So from what I’m understanding that their token, the creator coin, the ESG social token, however you want to call it that it stays native on your platform, meaning the creator or the artist or the brand, can’t take it outside of the rimark exchange and they can’t trade like, I guess, freely on the salon blockchain. Correct. Okay. Why do you think that’s a better model versus kind of making everything more free? And more, I guess interoperable for example.

That’s a good question. It’s something that we definitely thought about a lot. And it comes DAOn to the process of launching a token and the liquidity required to do that. So one of the things that we do is we provide an offset to launching the token so that, you know, it doesn’t necessarily require a lot of funds to, to mint or, you know, initial, initially start a token. But you can still have a, you know, a competitive or meaningful price. It can start at $1 or $2, $3, something like that. So in order to do that, we don’t wanna open up that trading to anybody to come and start trading with it because then we can potentially lose liquidity from the pool that way. So there’s a sort of a technical reason for that. But it also, I think provides a more cohesive experience for the, the customer. And also there are different things like the concept of arbitrage, where there are ethereum can have a different price slightly on whatever exchange you’re trading it on. So there is an ability to have slightly different values of a cryptocurrency wherever you’re trading it. So when we’re Val think talking about valuing a brand or a creator, we think it’s important to have one source of truth when it comes to price. And one source of the truth when it comes to value, cuz one of our, you know, missions and incentives as a company is to be a trusted third party when it comes to regulators when it comes to customers, when it comes to our clients as well. So that we wanna make sure that people who are engaging with our products know exactly what they’re getting. And it’s not that we’re trying to say that you can’t use the token anywhere else. There’s some things that we’ve been thinking about with NFTs maybe in the future where that token experience can allow you to get into other platforms. But for, for the moment in starting these tokens, keeping them within our ecosystem is what we we’ve chosen as the strategy.

How do you think about when De-fi products get more evolved and more advanced and creators wanna start implementing De-fi into their communities, right. From either lending and like peer to peer lending and borrowing staking et cetera. Like how would that translate on your platform for example, cuz like they could also technically create their own Mo of liquidity, right. With the right level of expertise or the right level of subject, subject knowledge, right. Yeah. Which I think is actually very much of a value add for creators who just wanna focus on creating and they’re not as advanced right. When it comes to that, having that crazy team behind them that have De-fi experience sure. Crypto experience, whatever. So it’s very much like the individual and what their, what their level of understanding is. But again, backtrack, like how do you think about when De-fi comes into the, into the picture right now? I feel like it’s very much institutional focus. Right. We haven’t really seen sticky examples of creators using it. We see like NFT lending and borrowing and used as collateral. But yeah, I don’t know. I’m like ranting here a little bit. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

So we actually do enable staking for all the, to on our platform. Okay. and this is, you know, I think it’s a great way to be able to earn passive income as a fan, be able to continue to support your, your artist

Or so once, like when they stake, they get the rimark token.

They get, no, they get an additional amount of that artist, our creators. Got it. Okay. So basically just to get into the token, just a tiny bit, we have their tokens are untapped, but there is an initial supply of 10 million. And then the creator brand receives 10% of that market. So they receive 1 million tokens. But again, going back to our offset, we don’t put all 10 in of those tokens into circulation. So the way, so maybe we start with, you know, 5% of the total supply. So how do we increase from 5% up to a hundred percent, all the way up to 10 million tokens? Will we use staking to do that? So it is based on the actual you know, interest in the token. So the more people who are staking it, engaging with it, the faster it unlocks and gets hundred percent. So that’s sort of a practical way we can increase the, the liquidity and supply of treatable tokens.

Okay. So it’s an uncap token. Yeah. So is that also how you kind of mitigate inflation right. I guess the value of the tokening token lessening, for example, like how do you kind of cuz like the first thing that comes mind and I ask you from a very like dumb DAOn or I try to ask them from very dumb DAOn point of view, okay, uncap unlimited supply you think inflation, right? You think about like dilution, right. Does staking solve that?

I think we use staking as a, as a way to control price. Not, not that we’re saying that we’re gonna be going in there and like manipulating price there’s it’s a set formula that all the tokens work on. So it’s the same for everybody. But the idea is that maybe not all tokens get up to a hundred percent, right? Depending on your size of your brand. I think one of the reasons we wanted to do this was because if some token does blow up, right, maybe they’re is an opportunity to have more tokens available. And that’s one of the things that I particularly like about this token space versus NFTs in particular, is people can buy into the ecosystem at whatever price suits, their wallet, right? Whatever they can choose to. If I wanted to be part of the board, a yacht club, right. I have to put DAOn some serious money in order to be part of that. And that’s part of the value proposition it’s to make something exclusive. What we want to do is we want to drive business. We want to drive commerce and we want to make this accessible to as many people as possible. So having the flexibility to have unlimited supply if we need it I think that’s an important concept, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we are inflating the price of tokens. That will still be a nice, I, you know, bonding curve increase in price.

What’s The Difference Between an ESG Token and an NFT?

How do you think about the difference between a social token or an ESG token and an NFT and the utility that comes around that?

I kinda use this sliding scale analogy where on the right side, you have an NFT and on the left side you have a social token or ESG token. And on the right side, basically there are fewer NFTs. That’s how NFTs gain in value, right? The more scarce there are, the fewer of them, there are the more valuable it is on the other side, in our model. At least when you talk about these tokens, the more they are, the more valuable it is. So kind of the goal is to it’s a little bit different, right? NFG is the goal is to have a curated, tight community of people who are buying and selling that one particular asset in our version of ESG tokens. We want to make it as broad as possible and make it as accessible to people as possible. So that’s why we’ve designed our model in that way. So that the tokens as they’re, you know, using staking in different means of distribution, as more people receive them, buy the, sell them, trade them, earn them the value goes up. And so as the community grows, so does the amount of tokens. And so does the price. And so does the value

I see. So I see people issuing like membership passes as NFTs as a way to kind of create a top level funnel of entry. And then kind of exploring what the funnel looks like beyond that from monetization, from utility, et cetera. How do you know which one to choose over the other? Like if a creator comes in here right now and they’re like, okay, I wanna become more web three native. I want to own my audience. I wanna build a community around some type of asset. Yep. What type of creator goes the ESG route or the social token route? What type of creator goes DAOn? The NFT membership path route?

One, yeah. One other difference I put here is, is that I think of NFTs as products, right? It’s an individual experience per NFT, even if you have a number of them in the collection, right. Versus a ESG token is more of a long kind of long game sort of longer value it’s more currency base. Of course. So I think it depends on the, on the project, right. If you’re trying to do a one off experience or something like that, just kind of dip your toe in, see what it’s like. I would definitely suggest going the NFT route if you’re trying to create a new business process and have a more holistic strategy when it comes to utilizing the tokens in different ways. I would maybe consider the ESG token route. I think both have value, both models have value. It’s just about finding the right use case for what you were trying to do as a creator artist or brand.

Yeah. I’m curious to see how this unfolds, cuz there’s no playbook, everyone’s still experimenting. And when you think you’re late to the game, you’re actually beyond early because there is no playbook. There is no set rule. Everyone’s building in public, everyone’s storing at the fan and seeing what and seeing what sticks actively, you know? So yeah. I’m curious to see how that kind of unfolds. You also come from a music business or music background. Yep. And part of season four is all about music X, crypto. How are you understanding what the current state of like the music crypto landscape is currently?

I think it’s, you know, we’ve definitely seen a lot of NFT focus. I think social tokens haven’t had their moment yet. Like you said earlier that there’s no maybe market leader, there are definitely other platforms out there that have gotten significant funding in traction. When we haven’t seen a market leader yet or that quite yet in social token. So I think it’s definitely focused on NFTs at the moment, certainly around, you’ve seen examples where you’re, you know, tokenizing royalties or you’re doing one off projects or things like that. I think that’s probably the focus and probably will be the focus for the rest of, of 2022. So I, I think that’s where we’ve seen in at least my research opinion seen the most use cases for artists getting into crypto and, and web three sort of stuff. And maybe I think it’s also around fan engagement. That’s been sort of the main use case buying NMT GI access to this, or, you know, own part of my future through royalties or things like that. Those have been, what, what have you seen has been interesting or successful or not?

Yeah. Finally somebody asks me a question. Geez. I feel like I’m always asking the questions. Nice. So what have I seen be successful so far

Music crypto

The best use case to date the base, the best success story. And I take, and I say this with a grain of salt because it’s, it’s still fresh. Right. It’s still new, but what we’ve seen so far is someone like Daniel Allen who’s building who’s an independent artist. Okay. super talented, really started product music, I guess, full time. And don’t take my word for that a hundred percent. I don’t wanna butcher his story, but really got more active in music and producing music during COVID to which he started publishing just tracks continuously on Spotify, built some type of an audience. And then later crowdfunded and EP where he basically he’s like, I’m gonna tokenize my artist of all the songs that I want to produce. And respectively give 50% of that to everybody who supports this crowd fund to bring the EP to life which is a questionable model. Right? Sure. But ended up being really successful. Okay. Now, when you think about creating like an informing a creator DAO, right? Cuz that’s what essentially what it is a creator token based community around a creator around his art, around his craft. You have to think, okay, how do they actually derive value back to their token holders? Right. Right now that everybody kind of pitched in money and he raised almost $200,000 in 48 hours. Because they excited about this aspect of getting ownership in his artist, share of an EP like super cool, you know you think about, okay, how can you derive value back to your token holders? Where does the money come from? Yep. Because let’s be real like the royalties, unless he becomes Justin Bieber, unless he becomes the kid Laro right and earns millions upon billions of streams and actually makes money from his royalties. Right. He’ll make money. He’s giving up 50%. But the people who crowdfunded the campaign, if you do the math, it doesn’t make sense for them. The amount of money that I contributed, I will not be making back in a very, very long time based off royalties. But what he did do that was super cool. He’s like, okay, not only will you get 50% of the royalties, you’ll also get 50% of revenue from any other source that pertains to the EP. Nice. So he sold music NFTs, right. One of one’s additions and took 50% of that at revenue and put it back into the treasury. Right, right. The community treasury. So you start thinking about, okay, so not only will he start selling his art, AKA his music to collectors, he’ll also be doing events, right. These events will be at some point on chain, too, meaning the tickets they’re gonna have value. Everything that’s kind of generated from the over to MEP is gonna go back to the treasury. So what’s the best example that I’ve seen. That is the best example that I’ve seen. I think we’ve scratched the surface. And like tickled actually. Yeah. The surface of what’s possible with music NFTs. I think we’re seeing a lot of interesting people doing interesting things and monetizing and creating value, but again, there’s no playbook yet. Yeah. Everybody’s just building a public. I think today the Grammy award winning artist or producer R E C just released his kind of like value a experience or X or utility, however you wanna call it for his token holders where he basically built a a custom website, a destination, similar to what, like Don Diablo did the DJ when he released his new album, it’s like this really cool, like 1990s types of homepage where you can connect your wallet. And that was like really cool digital experience. If you collected his stuff, if you bought into his social token or received his social token, I don’t think you can buy it. Again, that’s not really connected to music. Like it wasn’t necessarily connected to his his music success. People got the token because he is a musician like his entire story. Maybe not directly because he is a musician, but it’s all kind of like tied together. But again, it goes by to, everybody’s just experimenting. There is no, there is no playbook here. So yeah. I could tell you that there’s one of ones that people have been doing really well with on catalog additions. Right. the list goes on and on, but yeah, we have yet to really see what what’s successful. I don’t know. We’ve went through an interesting phase and back to you, like the last few months we see a lot of experiment around NFTs, anything specifically that stood out to you from an artist’s point of view, from a platform point of view from a strategy point of view.

Well, yeah, I think part of the example that you gave, which I think is a great example is, is that NFTs and all these crypto, you know, web three models need, you need to think about where the money’s coming in, right. Once you’ve done the done the initial sell, you’ve done the fundraise, how do you bring value back to the treasury? Right. and there needs to be multiple revenue streams for that. I actually wrote a little bit of an article on this. Why I don’t think that in my opinion, you shouldn’t buy a music NFT for the royalties is because from coming from the music space, knowing that the payouts take, you know, a quarter to six months, and then you have to then put that on chain. And what if you got a royalty check from your label, if you’re assigned to a label that encompasses a bunch of songs that doesn’t necessarily just encompass the one song you put on chain. So there are a lot of sort of backend processes that make that a little bit difficult. So I think what we’ve we’ve seen in my experience is that there’s been a lot of experience experimentation building in public, which I think is the, which is exciting. That’s part of why I’m in this space is there’s we have an opportunity to build something new in the blue ocean. And I think what’s been great as been the community around at people that I’ve talked to. Like you people are just excited to experiment to try something new, to, you know, put it out there and see what happens. And that’s been, for me, the most exciting piece is just meeting other founders, other artists, and who are really passionate about this. You know, our previous, we did a little bit of a pivot last year to come into web three. We were working on email marketing and advertising for Instagram and text messaging while important. Nobody was really getting excited about that. You know what I mean? Right. So that has been for me, the most exciting thing is how once you are, you know, you’ve done some of your own research, you’re get excited about the space, what can potentially happen in the future? And the conversations that come from that, like this one,

Social Media Funnels

You know, another thing that I find really interesting is the platforms in which people build communities. Okay. So let’s talk about like the funnel, for example, people use their social media Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Twitch, et cetera. They use these like grandiose platforms to build I roll audiences. Yep. And then they use sub platforms like SubT stack or Patreon or only fans, et cetera, to basically monetize that audience. Yep. Right. Their quote unquote 1000 true fans, a hundred true fans. Everybody has their own phrase around it. Okay. But when you talk about like creative entrepreneur, we’ve talked about creators and how they’re using I guess web two platforms to build a life. How, how they, they monetize. Yep. One thing that I’m excited about is their introduction into web three, through social tokens, through NFTs through DAOs a lot of the premise of why mint was started was to create more conversations as to how creators can use these primitives, to build a community, to monetize that community and to scale that community. And, you know, it’s interesting because people on NFTs people, on social, social tokens, and they fall trapped to this, like this sheep narrative where it’s bad, it’s not good. It’s evil, blah, blah, blah. But when you think about it, it’s actually the first time in history where you can create a true, authentic, direct to fan relationship, owning that communication channel, owning that monetization channel, something that you weren’t really able to do in the past. Yep. Okay. What do I mean by that? When you issue an NFT, when you issue a social token, your audience buys that, okay, there’s no Patreon, there is no only fans, there’s no centralized platform that actually owns that community building element. Right. Right. You use a platform like cord or telegram to build that community and have a direct line of communication to your audience, which you otherwise wouldn’t have really had if you didn’t have SMS or email, in my opinion, really like outdated forms of communication and really annoying forms of communication.So, you know, back to community building forms like I’m beyond interested to see how musicians for example, are using their one of ones, their additions, their social tokens, their DAO communities to form more tight knit groups. Right. And focus less on the virality that comes from social platforms and more of the, the, the, what’s the word, like the more of the intimate experience that comes from buying an asset and then creating value around that asset. That’s, what’s personally exciting to me, like minting is cool. All these numbers are cool. Yeah. Yeah. But like it’s very short term value. Yeah. Right. How do you create long term sustainable value? So yeah, I, again, we haven’t seen a playbook like that developed either, right. Maybe the closest thing to that is board a yacht club. Yeah. But that’s more of like a, a creator community. It’s not a creator to his audience, to her audience, et cetera. Yeah. It’s just some thoughts.

No, definitely. I think also a lot of the narrative has, like you said, it’s been about the minting, but not necessarily what comes after the menteeing. Yeah. Right. Yeah. And that’s something that when we are working, trying to find clients to work with, we need to make sure that there is something there’s a repeatable process. And that’s also why the, the, I feel like the social tokens or ESSU tokens are really great because you can embed them into different things. You could say, you know, reward a fan for pres saving a track. You could give the cashback example that we talked about. You could use the tokens as gated access to a specialized, you know, a private event for token holders or something special like that. So there are a number of different ways that we’re working with our, you know, our clients and partners to be able to build these repeatable experiences, some of which can be set and forget, right. If you have something on your web site, right. You’ve got a cool hoodie. And you know, it’s, you get $15 cash back. You can kind of set that. You don’t have to always be like, Hey, buy my token, buy my token. And I think that’s for me also in the music space, since we’re, you know, the season is about music is in, you know, in traditional fan artist relationship, even the artists do talk about, Hey, this is all for the fans. This is all for the fans, but they do immediately kind of go and turn around and say, Hey, well actually it’s stream my song though, or buy my stuff. Right. So it’s has the, the sort of the, you know, notion or impression of being a two-way street, but it’s not really, there’s selling to a customer base and the customers are buying or engaging with their products. But what web three allows us to do is actually allow the artist to reward their fan with an appreciable asset, say, Hey, I appreciate you sharing my music to your fan base, to your community, going with this. And I want you to be able to grow along with me and my future success and kind of, you know, almost make a digital web three street team for artists where everybody can participate and gets rewarded for engaging and building the community and kind of gets a little bit into a future of work thing. Right. What if you could, you know, that was your job was promoting different communities or you making money from the web three ecosystem. And I think that kind of stuff is exciting and it unlocks a true two way street for artists and fans.

What’s on the Horizon for You?

Yeah. Another thing that I’m excited about that I haven’t seen done exceptionally well yet is once you buy that asset, similar to what you were just saying, how do actually incentivize and verify contribution. Right. Okay. So for example, in the context of music, let’s say an artist releases an album. Okay. And they do a bunch of promotions on it. How can you actually reward the listeners who bought into that asset and are part of the community that DAO whatever you want to coin it. Sure. How do you incentivize them to promote and then exchange reward, right. Where, okay, sure. The asset itself might appreciate that initially got him into the door. Yep. But how can you add tier of monetization and tier of rewards and verify contribution and build reputation and do this all digitally, right? Yep. In a very like sustained long term, kind of like, yeah. I guess what I’m trying to say is there’s so much room. Yeah. There’s so many things to do. There’s so much room to experiment. There’s so much room to, to build and no creators doing it. Right. Just yet. What else are you seeing? What else are you excited about? It’s a start of 2022. We’re in February. It’s February 10th right now. Yeah. What else are you looking at beyond, I guess where we are today?

Well, I actually wanted to touch on that last point. Okay. That you just said which is something I’m also excited about which is, you know, bringing back to rimark for a second is that is one thing that we’ve built into our platform is building the tools for the, you know, the creative communities or companies to be able to engage and reward their, you know, stakeholders. So that is, we call our peer to peer ads or rewards model. And basically the idea is, is that we reward fans, customer stakeholders for taking different actions. So let’s say that could be, you know, buying a product or it could be engaging with a brand campaign. And instead of, you know, traditional social media advertising it, the payout is for impressions. Right. But we said, let’s move that payout from impressions to actually actions. So, okay. Let’s just do an example real quick. So I’m an artist I put out on a music video, right. And I’m gonna post it on socials and that sort of stuff. And normally when I go to run an ad on Facebook, when I do, or Instagram is I put some cash in and it does a story ad or a post ad, and the user experience on Instagram is like, oh, I saw an ad. I’m just gonna scroll right past this. Cause I wanna see the content I actually wanna see. Right. But now what, if you could make that content, you know, you could post on your story and say, Hey, swipe up to watch the video and earn tokens or swipe up to watch the video and share the video with your network and earn more tokens for doing that. So that’s kind of the peer tope ad the rewards model that we’ve built, that kind of incentivizes continue engagement and turning that ad spend, right from an expense where you’re just paying Instagram or Facebook, turning it to actually an investment. Cuz what you’re doing now is you’re investing in your community. You’re paying your community, you’re rewarding your community for helping to promote your collective brand, right. Because are an important part of your brand and the success of your brand. So that’s how we’re kind of looking at. Can you make the community a real part of, of what you’re doing by using this peer to peer ads or, or rewards model?

What’s Next for Rimark?

Got it interesting. So much to unpack so much to do. So what’s next for a mark? Where are we headed?

Well, we’re headed we’re gonna be doing a launch end of March, beginning of April. So top line, you know, token is definitely gonna be with Misago Sego coin. He’s nominated for Grammy this year. He is playing a Coachella cool, really deep in the space, really excited to be working with him and his label E Q T they have a JV with capital record which is short for joint venture and yeah, they have, you know, some really great guys over there just had a meeting with them yesterday, some really fun and exciting conversations, excited to be about that. We’re also working with another label called three they have a number of emerging artists to which are ILA one in which is also so Johnny West, he was on American idol in 2020. And he also worked with kind of an OG bay area rapper by the name of too short. So we’re gonna be working with them and their clients as well to be doing some exciting stuff. And those all becoming as part of our launch as well as another kind of community. And this is an example of how we’re looking music a little bit as well. So there’s this community called make they’re sort of the original protagonists or promoters of the term web 2.0 actually back in the day they have this community of makers that are sort of like DIY you know, creators of different projects and things like that. So they also have a magazine. So we’re looking at how can we use the token with their magazine? How can we use it with their upcoming amazing make awards, rewarding, the community of makers that sort of stuff. So yeah, some really exciting, diverse projects that we’re working on and they’ll all be part of the, part of the rollout in end of March, beginning of April. So that’s, that’s, what’s next for us kind of building up that story that go to market and getting ready to Lindsay.

Well, look, we’ll have to do a recap closer to that time or after that time and check in and see where everything’s at, but thank you for being on this was really fun. And hope to have you again soon.

Thanks for having me on Adam.

Podcast Transcript

Public Goods for Creators ft. Kevin Owocki of Gitcoin

Listen on: Spotify | Apple Music | Google Podcast


Mint Season 4 episode 17 welcomes Kevin Owocki, a technology entrepreneur based in Boulder, Colorado, and the Founder of Gitcoin.

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • 00:31 –  Intro
  • 05:19 – Gitcoin
  • 14:00 – What’s the Incentive to Build for Open Source?
  • 17:09 – What’s Your Plan to Capture More Market Value?
  • 21:24 – Intersection Between Creators and Gitcoin
  • 24:45 – Synergies Between Journalists and Software Developers
  • 32:20 – Outro

…and so much more. 

I hope you enjoy our conversation. 

Support Season 4’s NFT sponsors!

1. Coinvise –

2. Polygon Studios –

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

Mr. Kevin Owocki. Welcome to Mint. How are you doing my friend? Thank you for being on.

Hey. Hey. Hey, thanks for having me, Adam. Good to be here.


I love it, man. It’s good to have you here. You’re doing some really cool stuff in this space and I’m really glad for you to be a part of season four and share all the good things that’s happening at Gitcoin. So without further ado, let’s just dive right in. Okay. Let’s do it. Let’s start with a quick intro. Who are you? What does the world need to know about you? I’m particularly curious. How’d you get your start in crypto?

Sure. Yeah. Who are you is a loaded question, right? Cause we’re all doing digital identity and it’s multidimensional. Right. But what’s relevant to your audience is that I founded Gitcoin, which is a place that you can get coins if you’re a software engineer or a designer or increasingly many, many other types of things. And I got my start in crypto in really like 2014 started building little side projects and just messing around with what was possible on Bitcoin. And then later on Ethereum and Gitcoin was like my sixth side project that I worked on in 2017. I’d say that crypto has shifted from like people who were hobbyists into something you could actually make a career out of. And so Gitcoin was kind of my launchpad into the ecosystem as actually building an internet of jobs type application. So yeah, just have always been interested with the idea of networked money and programmable money and the internet of money and was just systematically exploring ideas until I landed on Gitcoin and that was the one.

So you talked about having six other hobbies that you were building towards. What were the other say if you remember?

Yeah. so basically I got my start in tech. I mean, I have a computer science degree from Delaware 2006 and went in corporate America for two years and I hated every second of it. I really wanted a way out the way out that I found being the CTO of an online dating website that went through Techstars, which is like an entrepreneur accelerator, like of a can of Y Combinator. And that was quite an adventure. We raised our series A, the week that Lehman brothers collapsed. TLDR is like been a web two entrepreneur for like 10 years and I’ve just like, kind of seen a lot of shit because of that. One of the things that I learned was that it’s fun-er to be in frontier tech than it is to be like climbing the corporate ladder at some like old state corporations. So I was the organizer of the Boulder startup weeks, Boulder startup, because it week celebration of entrepreneurship and technology every May in Boulder, Colorado, and kind of like one part hippie, one part technology, one part entrepreneurship, given that it’s Boulder, Colorado, which is all those things. I was running like the future of tech track for that because I wanted to really, I just wanted to like systematically discover AI and virtual reality and machine learning and block blockchain. During that time, I was just kind of exploring those frontier tech. And so what I built a VR meditation app, which is like the most Boulder, Colorado thing that I’ve ever done. A VR hunting app, which is basically like you ever been on a bar and you played like big game hunter. I’ve actually never been on a podcast in like, Fonzi the audience. We made a VR like version of big game hunter, which is pretty dope. I built an AI driven crypto app, which was called Pi Trader, I ran the Boulder blockchain meet up and I built a tool called ad block to Bitcoin, which basically just replaced ad block ad space where publishers are losing out on revenue with a QR code that solicited Bitcoin donations, which like that was a crazy, that was a crazy build. I built it at like 4:00 AM, cause I couldn’t sleep. And I put it on Hacker News and at like 9:00 AM a reporter was like, emailing me. He was like, can I write about this? And by the end of the day like completely like from conception to like in wired magazine in like nine hours, I built a tool called you’ve got Eth which allowed you to send Eth to any email address without having to have a private key. I did a brief stint with a blockchain hedge fund. And if you just look on my GitHub, there’s like a, a trail tears of head projects. So, that’s kind of how I engineered my way into the spaces by trying shit and failing at it. The [inaudible] of Gitcoin, I started in May of 2017 and it like formally launched September of 2017. So a lot of nights and weekends hours to get, to where Gitcoin was.


One thing I like about your story is that you’re literally at the intersection of community and technology, which is basically all that crypto is from running the blockchain meet up, right. And building communities around that to then fricking hustling your way and doing hobby projects on the side, just to try to extract value, build value, ideas that were in your head. And then that led to the birth of Gitcoin slowly, but surely. Can you walk me through more of like the origin story? So I know you mentioned a little bit back earlier, but walk me through, how did that come to life? How did you get into the public good space and decide to do Gitcoin? Like give me that entire story?

I can sort of give you that stuff, but like the first thing I wanna say is like the intersection of community and technology. I think the people who are gonna win in this space are the ones who got into those things because those are ends in themselves, like community is an end in itself. And if you’re doing it as a means to an end, you will not be as successful as someone who’s doing it as an end in themselves in itself. What’s cool is that those of us who have been doing community and technology, just for the love of it, have basically front run, all of the people who are just getting in opportunistically because there’s there’s money here now. So I just think that’s cool.

Which by the way, is like how I got my start too. I got started building communities on my college campus. I read the Bitcoin white paper, in 2017, 2018, and then spent all of winter break trying to understand it, and then started writing in university Facebook groups. If anybody wants to learn about peer to peer payments on a Saturday, like 3:00 PM, I’m doing whiteboard sessions. So I really echo that.

Totally. But to actually answer your question so Gitcoin’s a place that you can get coins if you’re a software developer. And basically there’s two things that we’re trying to solve that were both informed by my 10 years doing web two tech startups, the first was that I hired 45 software engineers. During that time, I was a CTO, VP engineering director of engineering. Engineers are, like if you’re an engineer, like you’re the hot girl going to the dance, like lots of people wanna take you to dance and it’s because everyone needs engineers to build digital experiences. And one of the things that I learned was that the recruiting industry is this insane arbitrage between like on one side of things, you have a $99 a month, LinkedIn subscription. And on the other side of things, you sell placements of engineers at companies for like 35 K. So like, just like figuring out how to recruit without having to rely on a recruiter, was like a big eye opening moment for me. And that was point number one, was like recruiters, are intermediaries, how can we disrupt them? Was like part number one of Gitcoin. And then the second thing was that everything I ever built and everything, most of us build is open source software, and open source, this just like beautiful expression of human speech, where we’re building our digital infrastructure and putting it out there for free. And there’s no way to monetize it. And over the last 20 years, as Linux has beaten Microsoft in the cloud wars and open source is everywhere, a technologist like me, when I’m starting a new project, doesn’t build his own database server, web server networking stack. I use Linux, I use Postgres, I use Engine X, I use Python. And those are all available for free. It’s this massive digital infrastructure that a study in 2014 said creates 400 billion dollars per year in economic value. And the people who are working on that infrastructure are working nights and weekends because they can’t get a job that does open source, that pays for that work. I think my kids are playing in the hallway. I’m gonna have to close my door real quick. So yeah, my kids were just playing in the hallway and I just had to go off screen for a second because I had to shut the door, actually like use that to make a point, which is like for an engineer, like me, who is like 35. Like I’m not 22 and just like [inaudible] around the world anymore. Like I have a mortgage, I have kids, I have like college to plan for. There’s a systematic incentive for someone like me to go work at like JP Morgan Chase, so I can pay my mortgage as opposed to work on open source where I don’t get any return for it. And so Gitcoin, just recognized that there’s a huge asymmetry between value created and value captured for Open Source software developers. And we wanna correct that asymmetry. So, to actually answer your question, which was, what were the threads you were pulling when you started Gitcoin? It was, meeting recruiters and funding public goods, like open source software.

Got it. Kevin, I feel like that takes such a specific mindset, such a specific character and personality type. How would you kind of describe yourself to someone who’s never met you and like, why are you so passionate about this specific, I wanna say niche because it’s actually really, really big and the economic value that’s generated through it is huge, but I’m curious, like you’re deciding to dedicate what feels like a lot of your life to building what you believe should be open source software and paying people accordingly to their contributions. Like, walk me more through that.

It’s a lot of directions I could take that question. I think that like the ultimate opportunity that we have in this space is there’s $2 trillion in an open source financial system and the money that used to go to IT on Wall Street, went to some back office on Wall Street now is being deployed on open source. So there’s just a huge opportunity to reinvent how open source is funded in the wake of that. But more generally, I think the interesting design space is that we now have programmable money and we can program our values into our money. And this is something that only like the Feds could do in the past. And now it’s like open source and everyday citizens can do it and they should do it in a way that’s moral and is compliant with the laws, of course. I just think that that design space is so huge, cuz so many things rely on money and I just, I don’t know. It’s just like really a blessing to be able to work on that full time. If I was alive a hundred years ago, I’d probably be doing manual labor. And instead I get to like tickle my brain every day as I’m trying to build Gitcoin and it’s hard, but it’s really satisfying and self-actualizing to try to make a dent in the universe and hopefully [inaudible] internet of money in a more regenerative direction. So I don’t even remember what question you asked

My question is like, again, it takes a specific type of person to dedicate a lot of their time, a lot of their energy to this ethos. Right. And you come again from the web two world now into web three, you’ve been hobbying, you’ve been building communities. You’ve been building software, you’ve gotten traction let alone with Gitcoin. But again, it takes a certain personality to actually like lead that front.

Well, I mean, like, I don’t know, like what am I gonna do? Like go get a corporate job, go work at Ball aerospace. I mean, it’s like. How old are you? You’re like a couple years outta school?


I was young once. I went to a state school. I didn’t go to like Stanford or anything like that, I went to Delaware. One of the things that I saw with a lot of my like friends is that when they worked in corporate America, they got addicted to the salary and the lifestyle of that. R And then when they started to have kids and have a mortgage, they knew they were climbing the wrong hill, but they have an obligation to be the breadwinner. And so they stay in corporate America cuz they’re afraid of going down that hill and like being naked, actually I’m like mixing my metaphors now, but like it’s hard to get off the local maxima and climb the global maxima. And like, you feel very naked when you’re the senior architect three at like Northrop Grumman and you have to get into open source where no one gives a fuck about your credentials. And one of the things that I just did from the start was like, I was 23, starting a startup and jumping in the deep ends of startups. And I’ve always been climbing the startup hill, like pretty much since college. And I think that there’s a certain amount of like psychological safety that comes from just like always being on the market and always trying to hone my skills and always trying to create an impact. And you know, for people who are like, don’t get used to the corporate like salary and because then you’ll never be able to do anything else I think is like the way I got on this trajectory.

What’s the Incentive to Build for Open Source?

Yeah. Makes a lot of sense. I want to talk to you more about the incentive to build for open source. Can you walk me more through that? Of course the whole marketing narrative is like at Gitcoin you can get coins. Right. But what does that really mean? Because projects, they kind of like fundraise to get funding right from different contributors that love the concept of open source software that love the concept of contributing and supporting the Ethereum system. But what’s the incentive to build for open source?

Yeah. Well, I mean, I think that like the status quo is that there’s not much incentive other than like maybe you’ll land a job at Google who will allow you to contribute to open source 20% of your time. So there’s an asymmetry between value created and value captured and that’s fundamentally what we would wanna change at Gitcoin is close that asymmetry between value created and value captured. And what that does is like, if we can solve that problem, then what you do is that thousands of developers that worked at JP Morgan Chase or these private corporations can come work on the open internet and still pay their mortgage. Like that’s the world that we wanna build where Gitcoin’s maximally successful and we’re not there yet. Like tangibly, what you can do on Gitcoin is that the ways we figured out in order to monetize open source software developers is that we run virtual hackathons. So basically if you’re trying to contribute to crypto and you wanna get paid for it, you can work on something in a virtual hackathon with the Ethereum Foundation, with Gitcoin itself, with several other DAOs in the ecosystem. So that’s like kind of I would almost say it’s like a paid tour of the crypto ecosystem. So that’s virtual hackathons. We’ve also got this thing called Gitcoin grants, which is the number one Crowd funding platform in the Ethereum ecosystem. Basically what it does is like you can Crowd fund your contributions to pay for the work that you’re already doing, that supports Open Source software. So like hackathons are very good if you’re just entering the eco system and you wanna make a name for yourself. If you already have a name for yourself and you’re already creating value, you can use grants. In aggregate, those two products have delivered 51 million worth of funding to Open Source software developers over the last three and a half years. And we’re doing like 6 million per quarter. So it’s not peanuts. But it’s also not 500 billion per year, which is, the total market size if we’re maximally successful. Then the third thing is that we’ve got this thing called kernel, which is just basically like a web three university where we take 200 of the top new contributors to the ecosystem, the creme de la creme of the ecosystem. And we introduce them to ideas from Vitalic Buterin, and Glen Wild sometimes actually get them FaceTime with these people. And we usher them through, this is the philosophy and the ethos and the technology that you need to be successful in this space. And that’s what Colonel is. So I would consider Gitcoin to be like an internet of jobs application, but we’re unbundling what it means to have a job you are, a network age, you’re earning, you’re learning, you’re connecting and maybe hiring other people. And I just believe that’ll be peer to peer in the future as opposed to hierarchical as it was in a corporation in the past.

What’s Your Plan to Capture More Market Value?

Yeah, that makes sense. So 52 million, captured so far, and you said there’s 500 billion of value generated what’s the plan to actually capture more of that per year. How does one actually capture all that value that’s generated? I feel like it’s one of your biggest challenges.

Totally. So if you ever wanna see our stats go to Launch launched that page in 2017, when everyone had a flowery vision of how they were gonna change the world and Gitcoin was actually doing it, I was like, these are our stats and it’s updated every three hours. So like if you wanna see our stats, check out But the question is like, how do we scale from doing 52 million you can see it’s on an accelerating trajectory. Like 6 or 9 million per quarter is what we’re doing. Our KPIs, like number go up, but for public goods funding, not asset prices. I think that the way that you do that is that you just build tools that allow crypto networks and ecosystem to allow people who want to contribute to them to contribute and to get coins for doing it. And so we’re kind of moving from like being one of the biggest ecosystem builders in the Ethereum foundation to launching this thing called Gitcoin Aqueducts, which is basically like if you’re launching an NFT project or you’re launching a De-Fi product you can take the technology that the Ethereum ecosystem uses to self organize on Gitcoin, and you can just use it for your project. So Vitalic Buderin, it’s called Gitcoin a significant pillar of the Ethereum ecosystem that some are all of the projects are using to rely on for support. And it’s just taking that playbook and giving it to every De-Fi project and NFT project that is out there. And by the way, these all have like treasuries, like Uni swap has a 6 billion treasury now. So I think that’s how you scale it up is like you just provide the tools for people who are building open source ecosystems to get contributors into their ecosystem and retain them.

Yeah. That makes a lot of sense.

By the way, like quick plug, if you’re starting an NFT or De-FI project, please email me, and we’ll get you hooked up with a ecosystem building kit.

What does the ecosystem building kit entail?

We’ve got like a quarterly Bitcoin grants round, which is we’ll deploy 6 million per quarter. I think of it as a series of circles. Like the main pot is the main circle, but now we’re trying to do is like bolt on side rounds. So like polygon and Uni swap and Tally cash, all have side rounds on Gitcoin. And the ultimate, like the thing that’s powerful about that is thatwe’re not just matching contributions to Ethereum open source, but also to these ecosystems open source projects. If you email me and if you have a project that has funding and is like legitimate then we’ll just add a side round every Gitcoin grants round for you. The whole point of what we’re doing at Gitcoin is that people contribute to the public good instead of having to work on their own projects that have their own business models. And so the ultimate expression, is that it gives people the incentive to contribute to the public good of the Ethereum ecosystem or the Uni Swap ecosystem or of your ecosystem by setting up these funding rounds on Gitcoin. So what we wanna do is have like an ecosystem funding in the box kit, where you just basically give a certain amount of your protocol revenues or your token supply to the Gitcoin matching pool and we will recruit people and organize your ecosystem building activities. So that’s kind of how we’re scaling what we’re doing at Gitcoin, but also providing more utility to the ecosystem.

Intersection Between Creators and Gitcoin

Interesting. Okay. So beyond this toolkit that you’re talking about specifically that you’re using as a source to help up and coming NFT projects, how else do you see open source software development, empowering like creators in related creative communities? What does that look like? I feel like a lot of the focus is on developers and like De-Fi projects for the most part. I saw some educational projects on there as well. Can you walk me through more of the intersection betweenCreators X Gitcoin?

Yeah, totally. When I start talking about Bitcoin, I started talking about software developers cause I am a developer. I dunno if this is gonna be a video podcast, but like check out my ponytail proof of developer pretty long. One of the things is like we started off wanting to really fund open source software, but now we’ve moved on to all digital public goods. So a public good is it’s something that is non excludable and non-rival risk, which just means that like, when I download an open source software repository, no one can stop me from doing that. And it’s non rival, which means that Adam, if I download it, it doesn’t stop you from downloading it cause we can make infinite comments. And those are digital public goods. And one of the things that we’ve kind of learned is that Open Source software is one digital public good, but there’s also journalism, which is a public good. Like you reading an article and being informed about something does not stop me it’s non excludable, non rivalrus. There is also I think like basically education, is a public good for the ecosystem. I think that privacy is a public good. Privacy technology. We’re expanding from just software developers into designers and journalists and educators and anyone who’s contributing to the public good and not just software developers. And I just like, I need to get more inclusive in my language by, by talking about knowledge workers instead of developers.

So for example, all these content creators on YouTube, on Tik Tok, et cetera, those are technically a form of a public good. It’s creating educational content, doing something for free for the betterment of society. I mean, they get paid, there’s probably incentives, but am I thinking about this the right way?

Yeah, you are. And the huge thing here is that we’re moving people away from having to rely on ads in order to make their living by doing Crowd funding. And, we’ve used this mechanism called [INAUDIBLE] funding on Gitcoin, which I can get into, but like ads create the ultimate perverse incentive where I just wanna get as many eyeballs as possible. And so I will try to elicit an emotional response from you, whether it’s positive or negative in order to go viral and get more eyeballs on me so I can make more money. And what we wanna do is we wanna shift the incentives from that incentive landscape to an incentive landscape of who’s creating the most public good. That is the big opportunity I think, of the internet of money. The web 2.0 is very based on ad models. And if we can move to a model that supports the public good in web three, I think that’s gonna create this like decentralized fractal of just like beautiful civic engagement and internet skill democracy that I think will just like be really beautiful looking back. But if you’re a content creator in the web three ecosystem, sign up for Gitcoin grants and you can have a grant just like a software developer would is like the tangible result of all these conversations.

Synergies Between Journalists and Software Developers

Got it. Interesting. I recall in like other interviews when I was doing some research more about you and more about Gitcoin, you talked about, there was this happy marriage between journalists and developers in the Ethereum ecosystem, that kinda spurred a lot of the traction around public goods, which I found are super interesting, because like you said earlier, like journalists are creators in their own respect, right? They are a very like lean definition of what a public good is or contributing to open source knowledge, whatever you wanna call it. Can you walk me through more about that story and what are the synergies between journalists and developers and how that led to Gitcoin?

Totally. I kind of have to explain quadratic funding in order to answer that question and I don’t wanna go too deep. I’m gonna try to do it in like 45 seconds or less, but go, basically the magic of Gitcoin grants is this thing called quadratic funding, which was invented by Glen Wild [inaudible] Zoe Hitzeg. They’re the game theorists. I’m just like the hipster who makes it like Neon and like gives you a web interface to use it. The way quadratic funding works is that, Adam, if you raise a grant that gets a hundred dollars from a hundred contributors, and I raise a grant that gets a hundred dollars from one contributor, then, basically what we are doing is we’re running a matching campaign that matches all of the contributions to the Crowd funding campaign with a matching pool that is 3 million per quarter. In that example that I just said in a one-to-one matching, both of those grants would get a hundred dollars worth of matching, but in quadratic funding, what you do is you reward people who have more contributions from a wider set of personas. So in that example where you have a hundred dollars from a hundred contributors, and I have a hundred dollars from one contributor, we actually give like 98% of Matching pool to the one with a wider source of support. And so, that’s quadratic funding and that’s what powers Gitcoin grants. That’s the mechanism that allows us to build and fund digital public goods in a decentralized way that optimizes for the preferences of the poor and the many instead of the rich and the few. And I think that that’s the magical thing is, you’re getting supported based off of the number of your peers that think that you’re doing a good job for the public good. Not what some like power broker thinks. And I think that’s the magic of quadratic funding. Now I forgot the question that you asked me.

No, no, this is good. This is on the right. This is on the right path. I’m talking about the story behind the intersection of journalists and developers and how that kind of led to the rise of Gitcoin.

Yeah. So that mechanism works not only for open source software developers, but for journalism and privacy researchers and an educator, any public good it works for. That’s the magic of quadratic funding. And what we learned was that there’s this problem where like, software developers are not building and aggregating an audience. So when they’re running a quadratic funding matching campaign, and we’re optimizing for the preferences of the poor and the many, people just don’t know that they could be funding their digital infrastructure and the perfect marriage. So we’ve run 12 rounds of Gitcoin grants and deployed about $40 million on Gitcoin grants. One of the beautiful things that we saw around Round four was that like basically we were just funding open source software from rounds one through three, and then we added a Journalism round in round four. And what that did was not only did it like, cause some controversy because like some Journalists are just like Twitter accounts and it’s like is a Twitter account of public good is like a whole rabbit hole you could go down. But the tangible result was that the journalists have a big audience that they’ve aggregated and they would tweet about their grant on Gitcoin. And then those people would come to Gitcoin and they wouldn’t just fund the journalist, but they would fund the open source software that was right next to it on the platform. And that was the key unlock was that if you fund, like there’s a pluralism of different public goods, and if you support all of them all in one place, there’s a network effect where it gets better, the more public goods that you’re supporting in one place. One of the KPIs that we optimize for at Gitcoin is how do we get you to add more grants to your cart before you check out? So basically instead of just supporting this one grant, how do we get you to support this one grant and then shop around and add all these other different grants to your, to your cart. And that’s like a design goal that we have for Gitcoin. So that’s actually how the journalism rounds support the educators support the software, developers, the designers all in one place.

So again, I bring this story up because a journalist is basically a creator. Like I consider a lot of what I do as a very much like the foundation of journalism to an extent. So to hear that journalists got their start or I guess Gitcoin got a start supporting journalists that then led to software development and the list goes on and on and on is really interesting to hear. I guess my final question to you, Kevin, is what can society do to adopt more of a public goods mindset like yours and how to actually build with a public goods mindset?

UI think awareness is the first step that we just kind of have to break people out of this idea that there’s this like mean reversion bias, which is, anything that’s gonna be discovered has already been discovered. The classical game theoretical example of mean reversion is like a Turkey. Who’s like, everything is fine. Everything will continue to be fine. And then on, on like day 800 of their life, they get their head chopped off to be baked for Thanksgiving dinner. That’s like the ultimate like mean reversion thing. And like, the thing that you see with web two people is that everyone just think the ads are gonna continue to be the business model and like sometimes subscription services. And the thing that I’m trying to encourage people to do is like, holy shit, let’s climb off of that local maximum and find the global maximum. We now have programmable money. We can program our values into our money. And so let’s build better ways for our us to, for humanity to express its value. Than just like, do I wanna click on this? Is this a dopamine rush, click bait on me? So I think the first thing is like dislodge people from this mean reversion bias that it’s not even worth trying, doing anything other than playing your own rivalry game. And I, think that, like, once you’ve done that, then the question is, okay, what kind of like civilization do we, do we wanna live in what values do we wanna program into our money? And then you get into a place, and this is all very hard, right? Because you have to leave your safety of what works now, and you have to go explore. And like, I started seven projects before I started Gitcoin. And I had the persistence to be like a fish swimming upstream in order to build Gitcoin. And like, not everyone wants to do that, but you can hang out and vibe with the people who are doing that. I think like, so my answer to that question is, regenerative, crypto economics. So how do we build a crypto economic infrastructure that has net positive externality and each individual project is an impact DAO, which has positive externalities on the world. Since I’m on your podcast, I’m gonna really quickly show my book, which is called Green Pill – How crypto can regenerate the world. You can get it at greenpill. party. And what I wanna do is I wanna see a thousand experiments blossom. This is not Gitcoin’s story. This is all of our story. And I’m just aggregating it and talking about it in as many places as will have me is how do we build a regenerative crypto economic infrastructure from the world? But the first step is shaking people off of this mean reversion bias, that it’ll all just be web two and it’ll stay the way it is. Cuz the world is changing very quickly. And I think that we have to grab the bull by the horns and build a world that we wanna live in. And to me that’s regenerative crypto economics, but people should launch their own experiments with their own hypotheses and see where that takes them.


I love it, Kevin, that’s an awesome place to end off. I love your energy before I let you go. Where can we find you? Where can we find more about what you’re building? Give us the spiel.

Yeah, totally. Google Gitcoin. We finally reached a place where Google does not auto-correct Gitcoin to Bitcoin. So yes, we’ve done it. If you search for Kevin Owocki, you can find me, I’m mostly active on Twitter. I oscillate between thought leaders and meme-ing and shit posting on Twitter, which is kind of fun to just like vibe with people on Twitter. And I think you and I got connected on Twitter, and then if you’re coming to East Denver next week, we’re gonna be hosting a one-day mini-conference about regenerative crypto economic and all of these themes. It’s gonna be called shelling point. So yeah, come to shelling point.

On a Thursday, right?

Yeah. Thursday 17. I don’t know when this will air, but if it’s before that, come to Shelling point, if it’s not check out the shelling point videos and, Take from Audrey Tang, the digital minister of Taiwan is speaking. Glen wild is speaking. We got a stacked lineup. What I’m trying to do is create a shelling point for the hopeful people who wanna use crypto to rebuild our institutions in a more digital native way. And so it’s the aggregation of all of the community, not just Gitcoin, that’s doing this, but if you wanna get involved, send me a tweet at, and we’ll get you plugged in.

Amazing. Thank you so much, Kevin. Hope to have you again soon.

Peace and love. This was fun.

Podcast Transcript

I’m Moving To The Aokiverse

Listen on: Spotify | Apple Music | Google Podcast


Mint Season 4 episode 16 welcomes Steve Aoki, the world-renowned DJ, entrepreneur, artist, fashionista, collector, culinary entrepreneur – there aren’t enough titles we can attribute to him. 

I had the pleasure of chatting with him on all things music NFTs and his latest project titled the Aokiverse! What an epic conversation, there’s a lot to unpack.

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • 03:10 – Intro
  • 07:53 – Any Concerns Getting Into the NFT Space?
  • 13:31 – Aokiverse
  • 25:03 – Future of the Aokiverse
  • 32:26 – How Do You Access the Aokiverse?
  • 46:32 – Future Relationship Between a Record Label and an Artist
  • 51:39 – Any Unexplored Areas Surrounding Music NFTs?
  • 54:20 – Any Clear Advantages to Web3?
  • 10:03 – Will NFTs Allow Us to Live Forever?

…and so much more. 

I hope you enjoy our conversation. 

Support Season 4’s NFT sponsors!

1. Coinvise –

2. Polygon Studios –

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

Mr. Steve Aoki welcome to MINT, my friend. How are you doing? Thank you for being on.

Absolutely. Thanks for having me.

You got it. Let’s dive right in. Okay. We got a lot to talk about, but I like to start with a quick intro.

Let’s talk about the drums you got behind you,

Dude, the DW drums. You like ’em I’ve had them since like eighth grade, I am a drummer since five years old.

It’s actually like the hardest cause I’ve been in so many bands. It’s so hard to find a decent drummer. It’s like gotta be. I feel like you you’ve like anyone that, that, that picks drumming as far as an instrument to pick up is, is all always gonna be like, I don’t know how many bands you were in, cause like everyone needs a really solid drummer.

Everyone needs a solid drummer. And I’ll tell you my thing. When I started playing the drums or when I tried getting into drums, my dad tried to get me onto piano, onto guitar, onto everything, but the drums because of the noise and it wasn’t until like, I actually got the drums where I felt like my [inaudible], but I’ve always had like ADHD growing up and playing the drums was the only thing that allowed me to focus cuz everything was moving. You know, everything in my body was moving. So just gravitated that towards that since five years old, but more importantly beyond that. 


Why we’re here today. Crypto. The beauty of web three, the beauty of crypto. Okay.  I’m curious, dude. How did you actually get into crypto initially? Like what’s your, what’s your intro story? Do you remember the first asset you purchased?

I was in China. Okay. I was in China and I was buying it was 2018. It was when Bitcoin was at 11.2 before it hit 19 and went down. Okay.

What year was that?

It was December 2018. And I bought I went in, I talked to my, my financial advisor, my business management team. I was like, okay, I’m ready. I’ve been hearing about it way too much. I’m late. I gotta pull the trigger. I was watching it’s tracking, you know, like I got bullet trigger, so I put 500 K put 300, 350 in Bitcoin, 150 in Ethereum. Ethereum was 450.

Have you sold since?


Let’s go.

I’m a [inaudible] holder . That’s the problem with me Adam? It’s like with many things that I do, I’m like a long play guy. Like I did flip a few NFTs, but like I probably have thousands of portfolio now, but, and I only flip like maybe like, I don’t know, maybe a dozen.

All right. So Steve, I remember you got like me personally coming across you publicly in crypto was during clubhouse, the clubhouse era that, that spurred a lot of the activity. I remember you already had a drop that you’ve done. You have a lot more in the works through Aokiverse, which we’ll get into in just a minute. I’m curious though, when you first came across NFTs, did you see them as like a medium for building communities? And if so, why?

So when I first came across NFTs summer 2020 when I started thinking about how to utilize this NFT, cuz I was thinking about like how to layer my music catalog. What could I do to offer something different outside the box with my music. So BLAO introduced me to NFTs probably like late spring going into summer and I’m like, okay, I need to find a digital artist then I guess, and work with them. I know Blao’s working on his music, his album and turning that to NFTs. I’m like, okay, now I, feel like I could do that. But instead of doing my own music that I have out, I wanna make something different for the space and I was experimenting during COVID and I was just like having fun with music. And I was like, this is my unhinged Aoki sessions. Then I could be able to like, I didn’t even look at it like a collectible. I didn’t even look at it like something based in the community. I just looked at it as a different offering for me to be able to experiment with music, work with a designer. And I love like outside of music, I’m constantly collaborating in fashion, in art, in products, in different mediums. And so it’s exciting to develop like this character from one of my logos. So I was like, okay, we’re gonna build out this character, X we’re gonna do something cool. I’m gonna make some music around it, build a world around it. And it was just a fun experiment. And then later on, when it finally came out, February, 2021, cause it took like quite a long time to actually develop. Cause I didn’t really understand it. Then I understood community on that. During that drop. So during the drop, when I dropped Dream Capture the collection, I was on clubhouse and I think there was like 5,000 people in the chat. And as like the first time I got to meet Farouk and me Farouk are now like, just like BFFS, but yeah, I understood like how important the chat was. I haven’t even entered a discord yet. I didn’t even buy an NFT, I learned really fast, really passionately at a break deck speed in that little chat room. And at that drop, when that drop hit, like we, I mean we did 4.3 mill, remember?


And then I just started getting my feet wet and I also remember like in 2020, like, like late 2020, my friends were like, you gotta get in the crypto punks, you gotta get into this. I’m like, you know.

Why the hell am I about to spend so much money on a JPEG

Yeah. I mean, then it was like 20 grand was the floor, really different like timeframe.

Any Concerns Getting Into the NFT Space?

Let me ask you what was like the biggest question or concern you had getting into the NFT space? If any?

I guess it’s a question that you just said, like you’re spending so much money on a JPEG. You don’t understand the context. I mean, the way I see it, whenever I talk to someone, that I’m like introducing into this world, it’s, one is art, right. I explain the same thing, someone’s gonna spend 10 million on this piece by certain artists when the actual raw cost of it is just canvas and paint. Like really the raw cost of it’s like, like under 50 bucks and you understand that as someone that sees this [inaudible] sold for like 20 million, like we all understand that’s okay. We understand it’s fair. But when it comes to NFTs, they don’t get it because it’s not a medium that’s like socially accepted yet, but there’s enough of a marketplace for it to exist. That’s kind of how I ease into the first challenge of letting people understand.

During the clubhouse era, which funny enough, everyone’s on Twitter now, I don’t know who uses clubhouse anymore. During the clubhouse era, I feel like that platform was like pinnacle for bringing the tension and noise to NFTs. And I feel like a lot of the times, the aha moment for a lot of people came through clubhouse sessions. When you were getting more into NFTs, you got more of your questions answered. Do you remember like an aha moment coming across that medium and realizing, wow, we could actually do something really powerful with this. Do you remember that aha moment specifically?

For me, it’s like very similar to like my music career. Like that same question has hit me many times on that. Like what was the aha moment in my music career. There was never one big bang, it’s always like these little kind of like, oh, that’s very innovative. Right. It’s really interesting. Like, yeah. I mean, there’s certain artists that definitely make me think like PAC and artists that I saw them doing different things. Gary V is a perfect, perfect figure in the space that made me think on what, a community means. Pacs pages turning into poems. They’re always thinking one step ahead. It’s adding to the inspiration to what someone like me can do, the hundreds doing the [inaudible] Like it’s tied to their clothing line. So when I see that I’m like, that’s me too. I mean, like we I’ve been running DIMOC for 26 years as a label and a fashion line. And like, I love that time, the figital. And then there’s like 888, like, you know, allowing for his friends and families presales. Yeah. So basically all these are little aha moments of like, just being in the space, seeing what my friends are doing and seeing what people that I don’t know, pac but I love what they’re doing. And I just love seeing all of these little things happening and the most amazing part about this whole thing is that I can actually do it too. That’s what’s so exciting. It’s not like it’s not like eight year old, me watching Michael Jackson on stage going, like, there’s no chance eventually to be on stage to perform in front of thousands of people is like, is never gonna happen. So I’m not even gonna try. It’s more like me being on the floor with the same bands I used to see when I was 16. Right. And watching them perform me like, Hey, I could pick up a guitar. I could learn how to do that. The barrier of entry wide open for someone like me for many other people. And that’s what the Aokiverse became is that like the inspiration from PAC and from Gary V’s community and from 888 and from like learning about them, like from the hundreds and what they’re doing and just like on why not create the whole, whole thing, all of it, the membership with you know, pre-sales and to the friends and family of all these different incredible projects they’re doing right. Other ways to engage, interact with them. And then also have the figital aspect, like what does a wearable look like in the digital space, but also attach it with the physical.


So all these things that you’re talking about right now is what we talked about earlier. Like the Aokiverse. Okay. And now you’re getting a little bit more into it, but I wanna put a pause right there and actually formally introducing it. Right. Because you are getting, you’ve been in NFTs and this is like the next step. Like everybody’s creating, well, not everybody, but like a lot of artists, once they start doing their first few drops, they try to imagine, okay, what does community look like? How do I bring my collectors together, and your Aokiverse is very much like a take on that, right? Like you intend to build some type of community online, which I’d love to give you the microphone and kind of give us the rundown. So that’s kind of why I also wanted to have you here today is to talk more about the Aokiverse. So what is that, what are you really trying to do with that?

Aokiverse is exclusive community membership. When you think of, of course it’s based on me. Right. It’s based on the things I do. I’m a musician, I’m a DJ, I’m a performer, but I also am a fashion designer. I’m also collaborating with many other brands and projects and the network that I’ve built out, the friends and family that have come along the way. That’s what I consider the Aokiverse. And I really think that like the start of what it is right now as a membership platform is you jump in you get a passport. I think the, passport’s probably one of the most interesting things about the Aokiverse. You get this passport, that’s gonna link to all these different verses. Eventually it’s starting out as an evolution. Right. But eventually we’ll be a multiverse. It’ll be a multiverse, you connect with all these different projects and different partners. I kind of like to see it like this, kind of weird analogy, when you fly like American, it’s like you have a program where it’s like connected to this airline, that airline, this airline, that airline and you get points and like, you get to fly other airlines, you get to do other things, you know what I mean? It’s kinda like the goal and the vision was like, what does it look like? Like I’ve so many friends, so many amazing influential, groups of people that are doing incredible things in the real and in the meta. And I want to include as much of them as possible. And that’s what we’re doing. So the past, like eight months, we’re kind of like, as we’re moving forward, we’re saying, Hey, come along with us for this ride. And you still have your world, but I want to be able to connect that. And as you build your points, your credits inside Aokiverse into your passport and using like, you know, PACS model of like pages turning into poets, and then the poets can upgrade more pages, the passports, like basically very similar concept where you add in and you stamp in your, your popes, your participation, NFTs and, and, and very similar to what I also love, like, I’m a ticket holder. Like I’m a collector. I have like my Rage against machine ticket from 1996 that I went to go see when I was a kid. I have like [inaudible] like, I bought his, like ticket stub of what he hit his first home run. Cause I’m a big [inaudible] fan. I spent like three grand on like someone’s used ticket $3,000.

I gotta pull something up now. Hold on, hold on.

Here we go, here we go. Here we go.

All right. I’m exactly like you, okay. I’ll show this to the camera. I used to be a huge John scene fan. All right. That’s a ticket that I kept for going to the SmackDown, No way out on February 18th, 2007 had this belt, got this belt, like yourself collecting all this stuff. And these are like the elements that I wish could have been on chain. So what I’m understanding is like these Aoki credits these points, they’re very much, they work like mileage, right? Yes. So everybody has an account with Aoki right. And like in the mileage world, when you swipe your credit card, you actually get mileage points and you can spend those miles on better experience with like United for example, right? Yes. This is how I’m kind of understanding what you’re talking about in these collectibles that people will be purchasing and whatnot. Right. Give or take. Yeah.

Yeah, exactly. And just like with like that same system, a system we all understand, the more credits you have, you unlock different tiers that have different rewards and different access to whatever it might be in, in all these different worlds. Got it. And, and also it’s about being diverse too. It’s not just about music and everything. It deals with music and, and of course that’s a big, large part of it, but it’s gonna be, like I’m working with fitness groups, I’m working with eSports, I’m working in tech, I’m working in all these different worlds, right. I’ve known to be that kind of person already. I love being in a space. I’m comfortable with or challenged by and learn. The Aoki foundation my charity foundation, where we focus on the brain, I am literally just constantly sponging in so much information when we meet up with scientists and researchers and finding a way to include that into the verse. Like there’s so many different things that so many different kinds of offerings that I think people can learn from gain access to have experience with. The most part it’s ownership, like the things that you do. You own like the wearables from the physical, like the skins that we’re gonna be doing, obviously all the drops, the NFT drops that we’re gonna be doing, like only inside the membership.

As a Steve Aoki fan, the first thing that comes to mind that when I get this passport, let’s say for the Aokiverse. Okay. Like the first thing that comes to mind is watching you perform live. Right? Like, how does a passport get integrated to a live performance, for example?

Yeah. That’s definitely gonna be a big part of that. Like certain levels of membership will get certain access. Like, there’ll be like certain membership that like you basically come to every show you want. We’re updating it. And we’re all growing it. We’re adapting it. I don’t wanna say forever, but you get access as this thing develops and grows. I get too excited sometimes. I’m pretty passionate about this project. It’s like that feeling where you’re like, it’s Christmas time and you’ve been like, waiting to like, share the gifts with everyone. You like, know what you’re giving the person. It’s like almost Christmas time and I’m already kind of divulging. And we haven’t really given away too much information on the rewards because we wanna kind of like keep it steady, but there’s a pretty rich roadmap of what we’re gonna be doing and our partners and the people who work with are incredible. I mean, we, we did list there’s like 20 odd different partners that, are gonna be part of the pre-sale. Mm. So like anyone that owns any of their NFTs in their discords, they will have access to the pre-sale before public sale on the 15th. And whether it’s doodles or Jany, or Bomb Squad or Blao or whoever else

So when you’re thinking about like, constructing this metaverse, for example, the Aokiverse, okay. We talked about some of the experiences that you’ll kind of like reveal down the line as, as the Aokiverse grows and develops and create excitement around that. I’m curious though, like, when you are doing your other drops, the drops that first got you into the space, the collabs that you’ve done with other people, how did that kind of inspire what you’re doing right now? Right. And like, beyond that, for example, like, when you think about creating a digital experience for your fans, right? How can you kind of include the ones that already committed, right and already got some of your collectibles and those that have no idea what NFTs are and wanna get involved and love as Steve Aoki and your music. How do you kind of mix both worlds together?

Yeah. I mean, like that’s what everyone is doing now. I feel like we’re all stacking on top of each other projects that have worked, like, I was just talking about like following Gary V with his community uh his membership of like V con and everything. And just like luckily I was, I was close enough with him to like learn and be a student of him following like, these other friends and, and groups that are doing all these different things. Like I said, I’m just, it’s all about like, combining as much of that into one, because I, myself, I am a multifaceted person. I am not just a DJ. I am not just a producer. I dabble in so many worlds, whether it’s physical products cuz physical products in itself, I’m not just talking about fashion. I mean, you go across the space like I’m wearing right now, like my collaboration I did with Bulgari. Right. So like doing collaboration with Bulgari on a watch to collaborating on shoes, to collaborating on tech, like all these different things. Like whenever there’s something that really intrigues me, I’ve always gone to what I consider the top and down, start from the top and go down and see if there is a collaboration that makes sense. And for the most part for the past, like last 10 years, I’ve been able to find my way into these different industries and you know, obviously one learn and two bring forth some different level of service attitude, something else that they might be looking for and what I might be looking for. Yeah. And the best part is bring it all into the membership. That’s what the plan is moving forward, everything I’m doing, all these different partnerships, collaborations. Not everything might not go into the membership because it might not make sense, but I am doing whatever I can in every single meeting, I’m doing what I can to see how that looks in the membership, how the community can be of service from that, be entertained from that. Be part of that commerce. Yeah.

Future of the Aokiverse

I’m excited to see how this kind of strengthens your tie between the people who love everything that you do, all the art that you kind of produce from fashion to music to the list goes on and on to now bringing this online and introducing this digital native kind of like somewhat of an identity factor when following you and everything that happens in the Aokiverse. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this. We’re very early into this whole concept of metaverses of digital communities. Like we’ve been living online for years now. Right. But bringing in assets to tie it all together, right. Through ownership, through Providence, through all these other characteristics, it’s relatively new. Where do you imagine Aokiverse kind of like in five years.

Five years is so far.

I know.This is why I ask it too.

Five years is like too far for me to understand because it changes so rapidly. You know, everything moves at like I wake up and I see a project that’s doing something that I’m like, wow, and then you try to build off that. Right. So like two years ago, I mean a year ago, like, like two years ago, I’d be like, what, what does the metaverse look like? We would have no idea. Yeah. Kinda like the idea of singularity where, you know, Ray Kerswells version of singularity where there’ll be a point in time where technology and AI will surpass human knowledge and intelligence that we don’t understand what will happen at that point. Yeah. We don’t know, like you can imagine, we will be slaves to AI, or will become the AI. I’m more about becoming the AI more positive where we going. I love these kinds of these storytellings. Yeah. I love these kinds of books. So like that question is definitely intriguing to me. I think that whatever I say is definitely not gonna be where it’s gonna be. Yeah. I just know that whatever I plan on doing is very present. It’s like of service, within a timeframe that we could understand,

You know, it makes a lot of sense. And basically what you’re echoing and I think like taking a Hawks eye view for a second, you thinking of other creators. Cause a lot of what we try to do on Mint is to create like how-tos how can other creators kind of do something similar? It’s like you being present is very much building in public learning as you go experimenting, throwing at the fan, seeing what sticks, like, because it’s so new because we’re pulsing with all the updates, all the new features that you don’t like, people don’t know what they’re doing. Everyone’s just trying new things and seeing what sticks and experimenting and trying to think outside the box, which I really love. You’re very much approaching it like that.

Yeah. I approach it like this, like where it’s almost coming to me and be like, okay, I wanna do this. Every human being is of service to each other. I feel like that’s what we do. Like we’re of service of whatever it is. Whether you, you bake you blow glass or you’re a chef or you’re a musician, you’re an artist, a DJ, whatever you do that provides service, amplify that in this world. If you wanna learn another trait, if you wanna learn another trade or something else to be of service. Yeah. You could learn it, but like be of great service before you offer that. There’s so much service out there. So like, it’s clear if you’re providing great service, then you’ll be successful with what you do, period. That’s how it works. You have to provide great service before you gain success. And I think for everyone else, that’s why I always share that information. I think that this is the amplification of what that looks like in the meta verse,

Which by the way, very much brings you back to the Benny HANA days. When I used to go there for my birthday. It comes down to service and I only bring that up because it’s like a lot of your story, a lot of your upbringing, I remember in your book also, you talk a lot about your dad, right. And how he started Benny HANA and like hospitality equals service. Like you’re serving people, right? That type of DNA has trickled through you, through art, through fashion, NFTs through this metaverse the list goes on and on and on. It’s a core principle that you kind of live by. I’m curious though, will we ever see a collab between Benny HANA or Pete Aoki in the Aokiverse?

You know what? Adam, I did talk about tag products, fashion culinary, digitals, all this stuff I’m talking about. I did not even touch food. And it’s gonna be a component. It’s gonna be component. It’s actually something I’m building out. So I don’t wanna say too much yet. I won’t give way too many offering. Obviously I grew up under my father who founded Benny HANA. He was doing Benny HANA. And I was like, as a teenager, I’m like, I’m gonna pursue music. Yeah. And now I’m just getting like magnetically pulled, like that pull of like the family tied to get back, getting food definitely pulled me with like subconscious or what, I don’t know what it is, but now I’m an owner of like 10 different restaurant, IP, Pete Aoki we have 20 kitchens. I’ve built out a chicken tourist spot in resorts world called Kupa. Me and my brother have like some restaurants that we’re doing. We started Aoki Tapanaki which is Benny Hana 2.0, those restaurants. So like, there’s a lot in the restaurant world, it’s actually like a full time job in the itself. Luckily I have a team of people that handle that stuff. That’s gonna be also part of it, like pretty much everything I’m doing, which is a lot all tied together. So many facets. I think that’s why this Aokiverse membership community has a lot of offerings that I think a lot of people would be surprised about like, wow, there’s so much. Not just from my portfolio. For me, the future of Aokiverse is the multiverse. So it’s like just connecting with all of the different partners, and we have incredible partners that are doing incredible projects that are constantly thinking ahead. 1

How Do You Access the Aokiverse?

How do you access digitally the AKI verse? Is it through like some 3d type of gamified component? Is it through, walk me through that a little bit. I’ll walk you through it.

So you get a credit okay. Aokiverse credit, and the credit will unlock the first level of a passport. Okay. And then you get this passport, right. You open up and you can, you put all the different activations or different proof of the popes, like things that you do in there. Yeah. And as you do more in the space, you get more credits which unlock different level tier inside the membership. And it is clear that you’re like, level one, level two, level three, level four, level five. And um it’s something that you own. It’s something that you could sell, something that you could share. As we bring in more, more of our partners and friends whether they’re doing airdrops, whether we’re gonna do a cross board collaborations whether it’s physical and digital, like, if we work with a particular NFT project, and we do like a cool collab, cause like we’re already doing that now. I don’t wanna announce who we’re working with, but there’s some exciting projects that we’re gonna be doing collabs that the only the membership holders will have access to so,

So most important question about the Aokiverse. How do you plan to cake someone? What does that look like?

Adam, there’s definitely gonna be cake, you already know that you already know that. What does that look like? We need to build out that cake Def.

It’s a serious question. I feel like if you enter the Aokiverse like the first thing you should get is cake. Like if you’re, in a gaming setting, I feel like that makes so much sense.

Know, it’s, it’s crazy. I’ve caked probably over 25,000 people. I’ve been doing it for over 10 years, 11 years, and it never gets old. It’s literally like, I’m Tom Brady and I’m throwing that touchdown pass, to the receiver, which is the person that get’s kicked. And when they catch that ball, when they get caked in the face, the whole place erupts, and they’re just showing like, it’s me like turning around, showing everyone like, they want it on the whole show. It’s like that moment, like, yes, we did it,

Has anyone ever caked you?

Oh yeah. Yeah. On my birthday. Okay. Vin Diesel cake me pretty good at a show.

I’m talking about like a fan coming back for like revenge.

I’ve gotten caked like various times. I’ve seen some fans bring cakes to the show, but you know, we have very specific cakes that we use

I want to talk to you more about like the payday and like economics of performing and how that kind of ties into your thoughts on NFTs on crypto in general. You’re very vocal on like the economics between casinos, clubs and artists and how that kind of plays all together. And I remember watching in a previous interview, you were talking about how, if like you’re an up and coming DJ, you have less leverage on pay than if you’re more of an established DJ to which you bring the audience everywhere you go. And you have more leverage on everything kind of around that front. And I’m curious now that you’re like integrating an NFT metaverse play and people will have a form of ownership on your brand, in the metaverse, et cetera, and get creative with me here. You ever see like your fans kind of like coexisting and negotiating on your behalf when it comes to performances and kind of like dictating what the future of yourself looks like, what the future of Aoki looks like et cetera, et cetera. Like, to what extent do you see your fans getting involved in these assets and the power that kind of comes through that?

Think, I think the first is clear in music. Cause that’s like the product, right. Music is art. That’s how I see it. So it’s so exciting about this time now is that with music NFTs, there is a value on music that has been disregarded because of, how poor, the value of streaming really is how much money artists makes from streams. So like, first of all, that’s already happening thanks to Royal and what Blaos doing on that NAZ project, I think that was a great, like start of where fans could come in and participate in a catalog. As far as, shows that that’ll be a little bit deeper and I’m sure we will get there, I’m sure of it. I’m sure. The thing is that you could really go into any world. It is a service, you know? So like, what does that look like? I have yet to hear that conversation, I’ve heard a lot of conversation on the music side. I haven’t had a conversation on performances, cause that could be a festival where it’s like a fan control festival.

I think about this from the point of view that, okay, now we’re getting more. So we saw NFTs as collectibles. We saw NFTs as art, like you said, now we’re getting into the cycle of music NFTs and the gray area is still present of what ownership really is when you buy this music NFT. Whether it’s a one of one, an addition and I’m like thinking out loud here, like as NFTs become more of a thing as artists see the value of like, wait, I just made a hundred thousand dollars worth of streams in one minute, for example, from like a drop that otherwise would take me months to get on Spotify, let alone payout. Right. And I’m start thinking like, okay, so now all these artists are gonna have more assets of themselves on chain. They’re gonna build communities around these assets.Some will have levels of ownership to them. I wonder for like an up and coming DJ and up and coming artist, what role do the fans actually play? Right. So if the DJ brings the fans and you’re able to bring leverage based off that discussion to casinos to clubs, will artists have that same level of influence? Like, these guys not playing and we’re not coming if like you don’t pay ’em X, Y, and Z, because we also have a stake in that. You know what I mean? And they might be too far are fetched, but I’m thinking out loud here

That’s definitely in the future. Maybe it’s a five year game plan what you’re talking like what it looks like? Let’s take another, parallel. So radio. Before, radio is like, they only dictated like when you get playlisted, it’s only like probably like 13 songs at play, maybe last an hour. And they play that in rotation, you know, hard. It is like, 10,000 songs coming out a day. So it’s like, it’s only like 13 or 10 songs are played in a rotation period on every station. How do you get up there? It’s generally it’s like, it’s a very, bureaucratic, very like archaic system of how it gets in there. So like new artists can’t really make it in there unless they go through that system. And then TikTok came through and kind of changed that. So you have like artists, like what you know about rolling down with the deep, you have like songs like that, right. Mass Wolf that like actually are being played on there because this platform changed that game. And and these, the radio the way, the way, the way radio’s structured, would’ve never put that in there. Right. You know? So I think that, like what you’re saying, it definitely upends the system and the system always can be upended, you know? So you know, like to play it like Omnia, for example, right. The day Adam for the casino, what they, they care about numbers. Right. So if that up, up and coming DJ that has a huge crypto base, right. That that’s supporting them, that’s saying like we, or you have to book them, you know, we, you know, we’re gonna show up if they don’t show up, if they’re not part of that, it’s gonna be a big flop. Hmm. Cause the rest of the world, needs to also know, DJ, whatever, unknown, you know what I mean? So I think for smaller clubs, things like that, you could do that.

I imagine a world where Omnia has its own NFT fund and they’re buying into the NFTs of like up and coming DJs that they want to promote and shill the value of their bags kind of thing. I imagine this with like radio stations too, with record labels, et cetera, value accrues to these assets.

But you don’t wanna risk the main bag, if like you’re chilling your own DJs and then you’re putting ’em in the club and then no one cares or no one knows it. You’re business is gonna go like belly up. Just like with anything out there, if you’re constantly shilling your own thing, you, it’s not gonna work over time. Like you might have like some, some like quick flip gains, but long term, it’s not gonna work. Like, it’s all about diversity. It’s all about adding in talent. It’s all about adding like longevity, artists that aren’t even part of that. Of course it’s gonna happen. You’re gonna shill like your own personal project, but like you need like 90% up to be like what people really want. Yeah. You know, I think that goes, that goes with everything. It’s like, you need to give people what they want and then give people what they would never expect. And then introduce them. I’m like that in a DJ set. I think like the philosophy my DJ sets, I think about it like almost in the same way as business, like when I’m DJing they come to see Steve Aoki, so I’ll have to play Steve Aoki music. So I’m gonna give them like the Aoki hits what they expect. Right. But after what they expect, once they’re on that high, then I give them something that I want to give them a brand new song that they never heard of. That they might be like, yeah, cool. I’m down. But I’m in this high spirit that I want to hear about it. Cuz it’s your new song and I love your old songs. So like that’s the perfect time for me to offer that. And then I give them something that they expect and that they want. And then I give them something new and then I give them something, that they would never expect. It has nothing to do with me? They’re like, oh this is for my childhood. Oh my God. Like, yes. At the end of it, like all these different layers of feelings and emotions and this rollercoaster ride, m’m able to share things that I love, that I’m so excited to share that they might not even care to hear give ’em what they want, give ’em something surprising. And then they leave. Most importantly, they leave with the Steve Aoki experience, not a great experience, but a great Steve Aoki experience. That’s really important to me. That’s why I throw the cake. That’s why I was using the raft in the crowd. That’s why I was doing certain things that are like very consistent to a unique show that they will never forget like 10 years later. Maybe the person that got caked in 2012 and the person that was there would always remember my friend got caked. I got caked 10 years ago. I’ll never forget it. It was the best experience in my life. They’re not gonna remember the songs, right. So it’s always about like what I want to create a memory that’s unique. I wanna create like a outstanding, acceptable memory.

Hmm. I’m curious to see how that kind of translates into the Aokiverse. And as consumers, as us fans kind of dive deeper into what the metaverse even is for them as users.

That’s the question that my whole team, we’re like trying to figure out how to answer that so that we can give that kind of service, you know, and the best way for me to do is dynamic. It’s changing, it’s evolving, it’s growing, it’s, it’s adding in all these different layers and all these different kinds of offerings. I mean, of course it’s like, you know, we want give what they expect. We wanna give ’em the presales people want in on presales they want in, on the allow list on like new projects that that’s gonna be part of it too. So people want the exclusive drop. So they’re not waiting in line, you know, it’s wait in line for, at Supreme or, or whatever it is. You wait in line, like you want that exclusive thing, you get that access, you want like, those are the things that you have to bring to the table and then you wanna offer something new, you offer something new, you wanna offer something surprising, you know, same kind of thing. Yeah, yeah,

Future Relationship Between a Record Label and an Artist

Yeah. You’re constantly evolving and I really recognize that Steve, one thing I wanna also talk to you about is like, with the introduction of music NFTs with independent artists kind of using crypto and web three as a medium to kind of monetize themselves, build direct to fan relationships. Sharing the upside, sharing the ownership of what it is they’re trying to do, et cetera. How do you imagine like the future relationship between a record label and a music artist evolving thanks to crypto?

Yeah. I mean, it’s leveling the field for sure. It’s giving way more control, especially for independent artists, it allows them to be independent and have that control and labels will have to adjust and understand how that, they have to change period. The labels have to change and they’ll have to offer more. They’re gonna be, it’s almost like I almost see it like this. Like why does, an independent artist, they still need a manager? They still need a team. I mean, and some independent artists, don’t get me wrong, some independent artists, they manage themselves. And I think that’s awesome if they have the bandwidth and they have the network and they have the time, that’s where these other players that are part of that business have to take on that role, whether, you know, the manager and the label all kind of work in tandem. Like at the end of the day, the business isn’t growing that artist’s music catalog and music’s IP, so we could all share in the revenue. So it’s like, what labels will probably have to do in the future is offer more than just making sure they’re on playlists. Making sure that like, you know, certain things are financed because if it’s already being financed by crypto, then that was actually one of the major points of why a lot of independent artists signed to major labels because they’re like, sweet. We got that big paycheck that we would’ve never got, well, if you get that paycheck from crypto, then you need to offer something else. I don’t think that labels are gonna go away. Just like managers are not going away. Independent artists need a team. Everyone needs a team. No one can work alone. I’ve learned that. Anything I’ve done is not alone. I have an incredible team in different fields of all the different industries I’m in. I have different people that I trust and that we go into this business together and it’s gonna be more of a level playing field and more a designation of what the roles are to propel the business?

You know, it’s also interesting because we’re seeing artists who have record labels now trying to use crypto to crowdfund money, to buy back their catalog, from the record labels to try to create more that startupy like team that you kind of talk about, like people need their artists, right. People need someone to manage socials. Like a lot of creators just know how to focus on creating because that’s what they do best, but they need other pieces in their team to kind of do the rest. So I don’t know.

Another thing I wanna add to is like labels for me, it’s always meant like, I remember being a band and when I signed to a label, I didn’t even sign. It was like, not even a contract, I just put out a record, but I put out a record on this label. Like for me, it was more like, I just wanted to be part of that community. Yeah. Like I loved all the other bands on that label. So I’m like, oh my God, how cool is we’re on the label? Like our favorite bands are on this label. How cool is that? And then when they do a show or a festivals, like we’re all lined up together, like a team that’s like the same philosophy of what’s happening, obviously in NFT culture. We’re so excited to be part of these communities. And we meet other people that have the same like-minded passion and interest. And the bond is so much more powerful than just the JPEG, it’s like the community as we started in the first, I think one of the first things we talked about is how important the community is. That goes the same way with labels. At least for me, the way I think you sign to a label, cuz you love the other artists that the label put out. And that’s why, like, I always do like, like, pre COVID, I’m trying get ’em back going again, but pre COVID, we were always doing the Dimac parties. We had early days, we had Dimac parties every single week in LA. It was the coolest party in Los Angeles. I’m not kidding. And then wed throw like, Dimac stages at festivals at Tomorrow land or at different festivals, or we’d throw Dimac party with all artists come through and all hang out do dinners, chill, whatever, like the whole thing, do production camps, whatever work together as friends. That’s what it’s all about. And of course like then there’s a business side, making sure that the business is fair, but for me, like the philosophy of signing to a label, it’s about like that kind of community, it’s a big part of it.

Any Unexplored Areas Surrounding Music NFTs?

Are there any areas in music NFTs that you feel like have yet to be explored more beyond just buying and collecting songs, for example, and earning royalties.

Yeah. You know, the music NFT space is just a start, we have haven’t even really begun. That’s like the big conversation I’ve been having with other artists and musicians is that we haven’t even tapped into what it looks like, because it’s a bit complicated obviously, like the securities issues of like what that looks like. I mean, in theory it sounds great you, but is that possible? Like, can you do that with like, it’s like this wild west, like this decentralized frontier that we’re in, if we start mixing in things in the real world that have ties to, things that, that you can’t tie in. I don’t know. I don’t all the legalities there. Think that’s one of the reasons why it’s like mindfully taking small steps to seeing, when we have a clear idea of what it looks like, what we can actually do. I mean, we’re gonna go across the board just like we’re talking about even like live performances. Things like that.

And I bet the Aokiverse pass holders would be the first one to kind of reap that from how I understand that.

I’m putting my head in that space as much as I can and doing it safely. I don’t necessarily need to be the first one to pioneer in that space because like it’s terrain, I don’t know, don’t understand legally and all that stuff is happening. I just wanted to be so we’re not like jumping into something too excitedly, but yes, in the music NFT space, as it comes to Aokiverse there will be components that will start seeding there for sure. I mean there’s a lot that’s gonna happen, like I said, it’s an evolution we’re gonna adapt and grow.

Any Clear Advantages to Web3?

I wanna get a little personal with you because you did publish your book. I think in 2019, if I’m not mistaken or around, around that time, and you really did open up to your fans, to your audience, to the people reading and, despite all the people, energy fame, you know, the shows, you wrote in your book and I paraphrase this. It’s not a quote that you still feel low in that life still feels somewhat empty. Okay. And I’m curious if building digital communities online in web three, changes that at all for you? Can it unlock something for you that’s missing, for example, like in the physical world?

It does actually. It really does. It actually brings me back to when I was a kid whenever like, okay, it’s funny, cuz a lot of the things that we do in our lives, there is like an inner child in all of us. And like the inner child’s always there, no matter how old we get, it always has its issues, like whatever it’s going through and my inner child growing up was trying to fit in. I grew up in Newport beach and the way you, I don’t wanna go too deep into this, but you know, it is a bit of a introspective question. When I was growing up, like the way kids socializes, you enter sports. And like you make friends through that. I tried all the sports. I just was a like absolute failure. I remember I played like soccer and I score two goals, but on my own team,

Geez, come on Steve, what are you doing here?

Basketball? Same thing. I would like score the same hoop. I’ve been like one, I played one game of football, like one pass. I love sports. I just was not very good at it. Newport beach was 96% white. So you gotta think. A person of color or Asian or a minority of any sort there’s gonna be a level of just difficulties to fit in. When I found music, when I found particularly hardcore, it’s a subset of punk music. There were like these outcasts and they would just hang out and they’re like, we don’t care what you look like. All we care about is that you just like, love this music. But here’s a mix tape, tell me if you like it. It’s kind of like, almost like a religion. Like when someone like knocks on your door, it’s like.

Jehovah’s witness.

Here’s a big statement. This guy made me a mix tape and I’m like, I can’t believe a guy actually spent all the time making me a mix tape. That’s so cool. Mix tape’s all screaming like, ah, you know, like, but it’s all like strangely enough, like it sounds angry, but it’s all very positive music. Like, oh, we’re gonna get through this. It’s like, almost like wag me. I swear to God. It’s like wag me, we’re gonna make it. We’ll do it together. I swear. It’s so crazy. Oh my God, it’s literally wag me, it’s called, you know what, it’s called PMA, positive mental attitude. And it’s like, all the lyrics are about this kind of same approach of life. Like together we’re gonna do it. We know we don’t fit in with the rest of the world, but we’re get together. When I found that, I found this kind of bond with these few kids, then I was like, this is my community. I’ll do whatever I can to bolster it, like that’s when I learned how to play guitar and bass and sing and record my first demo, because you had to make music to actually get it out there. That was your way of contributing. And like, just going back, totally digressed there, but going to the discord groups, like whatever it might be. I have a bunch of different groups as well, I’ll talk with my friends on, it’s like, that’s the first thing I look at, it’s the first thing I like connect with. I’m like, guys, I just got this!


Like, I love that feeling of finding like-minded passionate individuals that are excited and like hungry and we’re all in it together. And wag me’s a real thing. It sounds like a joke, but it’s an absolute real thing

Your story really resonates with me. Obviously we talked about the drums in the back. When I was in high school, I was like hella fat, like 230 pounds fat. Like I was a blueberry legit. And I remember I never really fit in with the cool kids. Never really fit in with the girls, but drumming was always my thing since like five years old. And I remember I came across the jazz band and I was like, wow, this is super cool. It’s a bunch of other weirdos that are just like talented, and this is my circle. And then shortly enrolled and then like, yea, I hear you. And like, that same. Like I don’t wanna call it imposter-ness, but that same level of connection, that same level of identity I found very similarly in crypto as well.

I think all of us have that kind of like sense of belonging, we always want that. Now it doesn’t matter if we’re six, 15 to 25, 35, 45, 55, whatever it is. We wanna have like something that we all like, like believe in. And I think it’s actually cooler when it’s not like a social norm. Yeah.

Like, you’re the cool kid. Like everybody wants to know what, you know.

And like when people come in, they’re like, I would hear about this. Like, it’s like the same thing when I was doing shows in LA, we threw parties in LA and we’d have, like Lady Gaga’s first show there. I remember like her manager called me and be like, Hey Lady Gaga wants to perform like, this was her first show. So no one knew who she was. She’s a new artist. We’d love to have her play for free at your shows. Like the two shows I had in LA, like yeah, yeah, sure. Come through. And then like, you know, six months later, she’s like the biggest thing on the planet, but it’s so cool that like, when you have some thing that’s small and it’s cool. And like, everyone wants to be there. It’s like exciting, I always find myself in those circles. I always do. This is where I feel the passion and the energy right now, and I want to keep growing that and building it and I’m gonna give you another parallel. So like with punk and hardcore. Yeah. When I found that world, once you’re in, you’re like, yes, we made it, like, we’re doing our thing. Like was very exclusive. It’s very like no one else can get in, just for us, like, fuck everybody else. Like that kind of like anger. And then it transformed into EDM as a DJ, it came the complete opposite where it’s like, I want everyone in. As long as you have that same energy, please come bring it. Like, if you feel the same energy, join us because that’s all it’s about. Like, if you think about art, music books that we read, movies, that we watch, all these different things, we are looking for, things that will make us feel a way that, that inspires us. It gives us tingles down our arms and makes us get up off our seat and do something with our lives that we didn’t do before that. That’s why I spend so much money on a bank seat in my house. That’s why I stare at a piece of art for like 30 minutes, feeling a certain way. That’s why when I watch a movie and I cry, like, I wanna share it with everyone or book I write to the author and I wanna meet them. It’s like, we’re always looking for those kinds of experiences. Life is all these kinds of experiences. You wanna make them the best that we can.

Will NFTs Allow Us to Live Forever?

Yeah. I hear you. I wanna wrap it up with one final question. I came across this interview by the wall street journal. It was taking place on 2019. Okay. The journalists ask you, where do you imagine the Aoki brand 20 to 30 years from now to which you were like, what that’s so far away similar to like the five year question that I ask you and you replied, we are at this precipice, this point of existence in technology that will either make us the last generation to die, or the first generation of people to live forever. My question to you are NFTs the technology that allow us to live forever?

It’ll allow our legacy to live forever. Okay. But for us, I do believe, and this is a long one, Adam, but I believe that we will find technology. I’m very optimistic on certain things. And I always say this, I live between science fiction and science fact, that’s where I like to live. I like to live right here and whatever’s happening crossing the line of science fact. Whoever is crossing that line, I wanna jump into their boat and learn and then share that and actually help speed the process. Speeding up the process is where the foundation comes in. That’s where like you have to raise money. We raise over a million dollars and funding all these different research. But I want it to happen in our lifetime. My insurance policy is that when I die, I’ll be frozen in Kelvin degree temperature. So that way, they’ll be able to tinker with my brain and bring me back to life 

Accessible through the Aokiverse too.

But hopefully we could do it. Like I’m 44 now. So technically I only have 40 more years left of if I live by my average life expectancy. I’m very healthy, so it’s probably later. Like literally I think I only have 40 years left. It’s not much time, man. I literally, I feel like I’ve learned 2% of what I can learn in all the growth. I mean, in 44 years, I’m at 2%. That’s what I feel like. I feel there’s so much more and I only have 40 years left, it’s sad. I’m really thinking about allocating my time into finding ways to push. Living forever is a scary concept. The easier way for me to explain is just living, living longer and more optimal. We can all agree on that and we can agree on that, more, when you think about your parents, your grandparents, people that you love with all your heart and you want them to live a healthy, happy, long life, filled with energy enthusiasm and like smiles and joy and laughing. You want them to be living their best life at 97. You know what I mean? Cause you love them. You think about them, you will do whatever you can to find ways for them to live longer. I really want to share this kind of feeling with people. So like if we all go in and try to like help out and, and want this kind of research to happen, then essentially we could, we go from 80 to 90, to a hundred, 110, 120 and beyond.

I love it. I think that’s a perfect place to end off. Steve Aoki. Thank you so much for being on hope to have you on again soon.

Definitely man. Thanks. Appreciate you. Got it. See ya.

Podcast Transcript Uncategorized

Why Web3 is the Perfect Home for Creators

Listen on: Spotify | Apple Music | Google Podcast


Mint Season 4 episode 15 welcomes Matt Alston and Melissa Zhang, the power duo behind Bonfire, who aims to be the front page for web3 communities.

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • 01:27 – Intro
  • 06:37 – How Did You Guys Meet?
  • 09:59 – How Did The Idea Move From Events to Creators?
  • 18:27 – Are Creators Good Community Builders?
  • 22:25 – Is Web Three The Perfect Medium For Creators?
  • 33:32 – DeFi Meets The Creator Economy
  • 38:12 – Governance and The Creators
  • 47:06 – Bonfire
  • 53:36 – Building a Bridge Between Web Two and Web Three Audiences
  • 56:30 – Converting Viewers and Listeners Into Collectors
  • 58:59 – What’s Next for Bonfire?
  • 60:10 – Outro

…and so much more. 

I hope you enjoy our conversation. 

Support Season 4’s NFT sponsors!

1. Coinvise –

2. Polygon Studios –

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

Matt and Melissa, welcome to mint. How are we doing? How are we feeling? What’s going on?

Matt: We’re doing well. Thanks for having us. Yeah. Great. Excited to chat.


I need, more energy than that. I feel like this is a collab that’s been waiting to happen. You guys are building the creator economy. I’m documenting the creator economy. Like I need like a woo. There we go. OK. Okay, cool. How are you guys doing welcome to the podcast? Thank you for being on the way I kind of like to start these things is I like to start with introductions. Okay. So who are you guys? Okay. What does a world need to know about you? We can start with Matt and then move on to Melissa, but I want you guys to focus on, like, how how’d you guys get into crypto specifically in building for creators?

Matt: Yeah. I can kick off. So Mel and I have known each other for nine years or so met freshman fall, probably the second week on campus at Duke where we both studied computer science. Mel, well, she’ll give her intro, but she got into crypto well before, I did I graduated joined Uber as a product manager and then spent a couple years working on rider loyalty and, and launching Uber rewards. And so spent a long time, really focused on web two loyalty and some of the problems that that industry is trying to solve. May 2020 left Uber to start a company with Mel ended up pivoting actually about six months into the life of that company. And really we’re doing pretty open ended exploration and got really excited about web three. I started down the rabbit hole January, 2021 or so and really like what compelled me about web three was, it was starting to veer into creators, community, culture, all the things that I just care a lot about before I was sort of, an outsider looking in on web three and living vicariously through Melissa, but it started to really touch community and that’s where I got really excited to go down the rabbit hole and really haven’t looked back

Nice. Melissa, what’s your story? How’d you get into crypto?

Melissa: Yeah, so I actually got into crypto probably around 2015. I actually just happened to be taking a class on crypto. It was in the business school, so basically completely relevant to what I was studying. I was studying computer science and economics, and basically the class just changed my life. It’s called Intro to crypto ventures. Cam Harvey was the teacher shout out. He’s awesome. Basically changed the trajectory of my career. Like got really excited about crypto and all the ways that it was gonna like revolutionize all these different industries. I mean back then, it was a big focus on finance and like remittances and yeah, I mean, it just kind of like blew my mind that like, if you were trying to transfer money across country lines and you were trying to send money through Western union, it would take like two weeks and you would have to pay a bunch of fees. And that was kind of what clicked for me with crypto was like, wow, this like totally makes sense as a new monetary system. So that’s how I got started. And yeah, I started the Duke Blockchain Lab while I was still at Duke. One of the big problems I saw was that like Duke wasn’t really doing a lot in terms of educating its students on crypto. And I thought like there’s basically a paradigm shift happening and probably the people of our generation are gonna be the ones leading it. So started the lab to help students get projects off the ground and just to like educate the general student bodies. So that was a really good experience. And the lab is actually still going today, which is exciting, kind of had a little legacy see there. And then joined Coinbase basically after graduation as a software engineer on the consumer web product and spent three years there working on a variety of things, but yeah. Left in November, 2020 to start a company with Matt.

Nice. So, okay, Melissa, like yourself. Okay. You got started on the university level. What feels like very ingrained on the university level? I also got started there. You did the duke blockchain lab. I helped start the Trojan blockchain society. I only bring this up because like a lot of my love came into crypto because of what was happening on campus. Like I hated the school side of things. I was a bad student. I would get like Cs and Ds on all my exams, despite how much I studied at USC. And all the extracurricular stuff was like the only thing that kept me pulsating and kept me alive. I’m curious by starting the duke blockchain lab, what are like some of the more like transferable skills you’ve seen as a community leader to you now building products and being a software?

Melissa: Yeah. I mean, the one thing I loved about it was just like starting something from scratch, basically like going from an idea from zero to one. And I think that kind of informed like, okay, like this is something I wanna do for the rest of my life. Just like build companies, build things that last beyond me. So I think that was the big takeaway. Like I started it like my senior year of college, like, Spring semester. So like, didn’t really have to do anything, but felt really compelled to do it. Cause I was like, I feel like the university really needs this. But yeah, I think the biggest takeaway was just, I really liked building things.

How Did You Guys Meet?

Yeah. Yeah. Makes sense. So, okay. Just so I understand, correct. You guys met in college, but then reconnected after graduation, right? Or did I miss that?

Matt: We’ve been friends all the way through we’ve been best friends for basically the entirety of that time, but went our own separate ways in the professional context and then joined up in 2020.

So how did you guys actually get to meeting backup together in a professional setting? Like what did that look like? Who approached who? What’s the origin story behind that?

Matt: I approached Melissa, so well, I mean we just, we’re friends, both living in the bay area, so we were seeing each other all the time. Around the end of, I guess it was 2019 beginning of 2020. I started to feel like I was ready to make a jump from Uber, wanted to start a company and had always sort of like had in the back of my mind that Mel was like the perfect partner to start a company with. I had never brought that up to her previously, but around January, February, 2020 is when I was like, what if we just started hacking on something in our free time nights and weekends. And we started that the pandemic then sort of added a bunch of chaos to our, our world. And that’s when I left Uber and wanted to just focus full time on building together and then, Mel followed me a few months later.

Got it. What was the first product you guys set out to build together? Cause you said you were building something for six months and then you pivoted more into the creator crypto space. So what was that initial thing that you were trying to go after?

Matt: We were building a consumer social, like events marketplace trying to build more of like a social front end to like an Airbnb experiences like marketplace. And so the first thing was that the pandemic made that a extremely tough idea to build and launch. But then, you know, who knows whether that would’ve been a good idea either way. That’s what we built first. It’s been a few months kind getting the MVP out, grew it to a few hundred users and we were able to get a little bit of traction, but really not enough conviction to keep building there.

Melissa, I saw you smiling in the green room. Do you have anything to add to that?

Melissa: Nothing more than yeah, basically the pandemic took a lot of wind out of our sales, but I think the great thing there was we just like built and tested and just reiterated really quickly is cuz we, we knew like events is like a really hard industry. A lot of people have tried it, but we just wanted to like give our own shot. And I think we knew that like, okay, let’s build test, like test out in the wild and see how it goes. Obviously like COVID kind of put a wrench in that plan but I think we actually did learn a lot through the process.

How Did The Idea Move From Events to Creators?

Yeah. I feel like the creator path was very much destined for you guys based off your past experiences as creators building communities and building loyalty rewards systems at Uber. Like it’s very much in tune and if you look back and you connect the dots, like it all makes sense from that point of view. Matt, I’m curious, like as you were working at Uber, as you were working on the loyalty reward side of things and you pivoted into doing this startup, when was like the aha moment when you were like, okay, this actually makes a lot of sense to go more towards the creator space and Melissa feel free to jump into if it was very much like a mutual thing. I’m curious to hear how the origin story kind of migrated from events into creators.

Matt: Yeah. So around the time that we were pivoting this would’ve been like end of 2019. I actually did launch house if you’re familiar. And so I did like the second one, I knew all of the founders from on deck and it was in Tulum. So I spent a month living in Tulum essentially in this hacker house of sorts and just by coincidence, my roommates like literally the three of us in a room together were Alex [inaudible] and Patrick Rivera. So Alex [inaudible] is starting Showtime and known as being one of the earlier people to tokenize and kind of really champion the social token movement. And then Patrick was actually it was before he joined Mirror but is now a founding engineer at Mirror. And so I got the crypto red pill via those two, just kind of like talking all day long. And Alex was pre-show time and spending a lot of time just on clubhouse talking about his social token. And we spent a lot of late nights jamming. And so that’s where I got really excited about web three in the social token and NFT kind of angle in particular, I thought had a lot of parallels to my experience building rewards programs. And just the way that you can use these assets to identify and reward the most valuable customers in the case of a company. But I think it applies equally to the most valuable contributors in a creative community. I saw that there was a lot of parallels to the insights I had from Uber. And it felt like what was really missing, was the tooling, the applications, the products to make these tokens really useful.

Yeah, that’s a good point. I feel like even today, the current state of the creator economy, which I’d love to hear what your thesis is around that and how you guys are seeing these things, but everything very much feels scattered. If you zoom out and you look at it from like a Hawks point of view, you have all these different audiences that creators are trying to build for themselves across different platforms. And they’re trying to use web three as a primitive to kind of tie it all together, own that community and form some type of direct monetization line between the end user, the fan and, and who they are. And there’s a couple things I wanna ask you. Okay. Creator is a very general word, many things fall under the word creator. Okay. So how do you guys think about creator and based off how you think about creators, what’s your thesis for like crypto and creator?

Matt: I can kick off and then Mell will jump in. But yeah. So when we think about creators, we think about anyone who is building an audience online, primarily and building a community around their content. And then just around like some interest or whatever the nature of that content is. So we have a pretty broad definition and, and we’re definitely building for all creators in bonfire, but for right now we’re taking a focus on specific verticals that we think are gonna be earlier to adopt web three. And so music is kind of that first vertical that we’re focused on right now. We have, I think, a broad lens of the types of creators that we could eventually support. But I think when it comes to the intersection of the creator economy and crypto or web three, I think that one of the things that’s really interesting is the way that the like kind of creator fan relationship has evolved where, it used to be very much one to many, very much kind of a parasocial relationship forming between creators in, in their audience where they’re putting out content fans are, are consuming it passively. And I think in web three, you see that flipped on its head where now fans creators are interacting directly. They’re in a discord server channel, like talking directly to one another. Even the lines between creator and fans start to get blurred where, there’s a lot of communities in web three, that there is no like central creator necessarily at the core. Even though maybe there are like a handful of creators who are like important, it started, or you’ll see something where it starts off as a creator, building a community around themselves, but then it kind of outgrows them in a way, or like takes on a life of its own where now fans are actually contributing in a variety of ways, whether it’s managing the discord or whether it’s like they’re creating their own content. You see this whole kind of dimension of curation and curators kind of rising to prominence. And so you see these like much more balanced communities where before it was very much, one to many creator fan kind of relationship. And so I think that’s something that we’ve certainly observed over the last year, that’s, I would say a pretty significant divergence from the web two creator economy.

Yeah. Makes a lot of sense. And Melissa, I see your head like nodding in the background. I’d love to hear your take on how you’re thinking about the intersection of crypto and creators, what your personal pieces is that and how that fits into like the micro landscape of where we are today.

Melissa: Yeah. I mean, one thing that we’re really excited about at bonfire is basically just being able to power the homepage of every creator DAO. I think the word DAO is similar to what Matt was saying. Basically changes the relationship between the fan and the creator. It’s more about the community. And I think we’re gonna start to see more of these creator DAOs form where it’s, it’s not just like one person on their own trying to make it, but it’s actually like a whole community community of your first supporters. And I love the idea of everyone, one winning, and it’s like a positive sum game and even just creators working together to just like build things and create. So yeah, I think in terms of where we see it going, like creator DAOs are definitely the future.

So let’s talk about DAOs cuz that was actually the next thing I wanted to bring up. So there’s a spectrum to DAOs. Okay. There’s being more token based. Right. And then there’s like the other side of the spectrum where it’s like, decentralized autonomously, right. Run. And I don’t think we’ve yet seen like a traditional DAO in the creator sense just yet. I think we’re seeing a lot of like token based communities that are trying to form like communities around their collectors for the most part. How do you guys kind of think about that? How do you guys think about like what DAOs are like right now on Twitter where they’re very romanticized and more people want to start DAOs than they do wanna like participate in DAOs for the most part. And then you have people just launching tokens and building communities around, like, what is the spectrum for you and how do you guys think about that internally?

Matt: Yeah, I would say that our thinking here has definitely evolved where I think when we started out, we certainly thought of who we were building for as the creator. By way of the creator, we were also gonna support their community, but it was really like thinking about building tools for a single person who was building a community around themselves. Where I think now there’s a lot more of like a community first mentality or community above, just the creator. And so within Dows you’re right. I think it’s a romanticized term. It gets used for kind of anything and everything. It really should probably be just called like an online organization or something a little more generic because most are not centralized or autonomous. But I think that if you think about online organization, clearly, you know, there’s gonna be a lot of subcategories within that umbrella. Like in a lot of organizations don’t look anything like one another. And so everything from like a protocol that’s basically developing a DAO to govern the protocol. Then on the other end of the spectrum, you just have like a tokenized community or even just a creator that issues a token and something that looks more like a creator coin. I think we certainly are trying to appeal to that latter side of the spectrum. So more of the social Dow creator, Dow creator coin community versus like building for a protocol. But I do think that there’s probably many, many markets kind of within the term Dow and right now it’s kind of all lumped together, but really like the needs of these different organizations are quite different and so we’re trying to sort of carve out this part of the spectrum, which is, the creator led DAO or the creator led community where tokens are used to represent and capture the value.

Got it.

Are Creators Good Community Builders?

Do you think creators are good community builders?

Matt: I think a lot of creators are good community builders. I think that every creator now is gonna need a great community builder that may or may not be the creator itself, but if it’s not, then they need a community builder to work alongside them.

Yeah. Melissa, I wanna ask you specifically because you come from a community building background, like you’ve got your start building communities for the most part, right on campus at Duke. Like what are some of the characteristics that you see maybe creators lack, for example, when it comes to actually building, sustaining thriving communities, because a lot of creators wanna focus on what they do best creating in that whole, like other component of building a community around their creations tends to be tedious. So from you as like a community builder, what are some things you think people need to kind of like preserve within themselves the skills that they need to actually build, like sustaining pulsating communities for the most part?

Melissa: Yeah. I mean, certainly I’m not an expert on community building, especially on the internet like when I was building blockchain lab at duke, like it was mostly in person and so I feel like discord, like managing a discord is a whole different skillset that I’m not even sure I really possess.

Which by the way is like a full time job. Like that really feels like time job.

Melissa: Yeah. I mean, it’s also really hard. And I think probably a lot of the web three native creators are gonna be community builders to start out with maybe as a web two creator it might not come as naturally, just because of like the fan relationship that was popular in web two, like it’s mostly a one directional. And so a lot of creators probably aren’t used to that bidirectional like community relationships. So I think in that case, like having a community manager is super great. Like, I don’t think like the creator necessarily needs to be that person. Obviously they need to be like involved in the community, but I don’t think that they need to be the same. I mean they’re completely different skill sets.

Yeah. If a creator came up to you and they’re like, okay guys, like you’re the builder experts you guys have been in web three creator for a long time. Okay. How do I split my time between creating and community building? What’s your answer to that? If you have one?

Matt: I don’t know that we have one or at least not a great one. I would say the one thing that is pretty common within web three in its current state of maturity is like every community looks a lot different. I would say that we don’t yet have the best practices, the playbooks, like here’s step one, two and three. So we’re very much in this kind of like playground of experimentation phase where hopefully the ideas coming you know, from the creator for why they need a token or why they’re building this community to begin with. And then we just try to encourage that experimentation. Some of these communities start very much, community first or community only even, there’s not even like a traditional creator at the center. Others really are a lot more top down a lot more like, a new age fan club. I think both will exist. Both will be very sort of popular ideas in the future. And in terms of execution on either front, I think we’re still very early. I mean our general stance is like let’s enable as much experimentation as possible, such that as a space, we collectively develop the playbooks, the best practices, the insights on how best to use these tools.

Is Web Three The Perfect Medium For Creators?

Yeah. I kind of touched upon this in some of my commentary earlier, but I’d love to hear your guys’ point of view. Like why is crypto, why is web three, the perfect medium for creators?

Melissa: Yeah, I think when we were actually looking at exploring a bunch of different ideas, like back in early last year, we got really excited about the creator economy actually. And to me, like creators are just like entrepreneurs, like the internet native entrepreneur. And we definitely wanted a bill for them, but the problem that we kept coming up against in a web two context was that they’re like all these gatekeepers, like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, they basically take all of the revenue generating potential from creators, like commoditizing them. There’s like the issue is that creators just didn’t have any ownership of their audience, of their content, of like the platforms that they were building on. And so we kept kind of running into this where it’s like, okay, we could build another monetization tool, but it doesn’t really solve the fundamental issue. And then when we saw like NFTs and social tokens started taking off, it just kind of clicked. It was like, wow, like this is actually game changing where it can actually really move the needle for creator to be able to now own their audience own the means of monetization and yeah, that just didn’t exist before on the internet or how the internet was set up. So I feel like, it just makes it is like a no brainer. I feel like for all creators.

Yeah. Yeah. It makes a lot of sense. Matt, do you have anything to add to that?

Matt: I think Mel pretty much nail on the head yeah, I would say the only thing to add maybe is just that within the context of web three, it creates like the potential, I think, to own your upside, like create these stronger more platform agnostic communities, but it’s not a panacea. You can’t just like introduce a token and expect all your problems to get solved. And certainly web three introduces some new challenges as well. And so I think that it is a technology which allows for stronger, more durable long term communities to get built, but it needs to be a very intentional and it’s a long term effort to like make that a reality.

All right, back to the episode, when you talk about like community building, when you talk about monetization, you mentioned and primitives and mediums like social tokens NFTs, my bet and maybe you guys would echo the same thing is like almost every single component of a creator that’s digital will end up being on chain to some extent from their tickets to their digital merch, to their plots of land online and the metaverse with their social tokens, to their EPs that they launch to their, one of ones of music, their additions, all these different things that will be on chain each have their own respective value. And you think about like that’s a lot of stuff. Like that’s a lot of thing. Those are a lot of things to manage a lot of assets to manage, let alone a lot of collectors and I guess, contributors, however you want to call them to kind of build communities around. What does that funnel look like today? And I asked this, cuz I don’t know, because I see all these creators exploring these different means to tokenize themselves from all those different elements that I mentioned earlier. And then when you try to think about like, okay, how do you actually build a comprehensive community, the tool to do that is discord or telegram for the most part, but the act, the practice of actually doing that, like we don’t have that roadmap yet. What are some of the best practices you’ve you’ve guys seen to kind of create like a comprehensive collector community around creators like on chain assets, for example?

Matt: Yeah. I think the, the playbook’s definitely being written in real time, but I think one thing that we’ve certainly seen is community members, fans, they need to understand what’s going on. And I think one thing that we’re seeing increasingly, and it’s only gonna become more and more of an issue as, as time goes on is like, how do you just make sense of dozens or maybe even hundreds of assets within a community. I actually think that that’s where social tokens become really important. So that’s definitely part of our thesis is I think in NFTs are really achieving a lot of the same ends that a social token can things like membership into a community as a sort of a identifier for who is this community member as something that accrues status and functional benefits and perks. But I think as you mint and create more and more NFTs a social token becomes increasingly important for how you just like make sense of the value within a community. So instead of gating by one of 57 different NFTs, you actually have a token that everyone understands is kind of the fungible asset of the community. And you can basically have value accrued to that one asset instead. And then I think the last just sort of maybe point I’d make there is right now, it’s like we think of every NFT and every token as, as being really an asset where I also think a lot will look a lot more like objects where like in the physical world not everything that is unique is also considered like an appreciating asset. Many things are really just meant to be used or are more utility in their function. And so I think not everything that is on chain will be considered an asset and something that people assume will appreciate in value many will just be like more like objects. They’ll be your event ticket which gets you into the event. And then after the event, it really has nothing except for sentimental value. And I think like, that’s totally okay. And so I think that’s sort of a dimension that we haven’t quite tapped into yet, but if you think about like five years from now, are we all just gonna hold like 11,000 NFTs and like, which one of those will be the ones that we think are true value over time versus like, what are the ones that are, you know, mementos or keepsakes or like things that are actually meant to just be used?

Yeah. So, okay. So let’s break this apart. So for those who understand, so you just basically broke down what you’d use, like a social token for versus an NFT. And how do you differentiate, compare and contrast it, I think that’s very, very wise that you brought that up because that was one of my questions as well. Another thing I wanna ask you guys is, okay, sure. You’ll have objects. I like that word. How you kind of call them objects because whether like I wouldn’t consider like a board, a yacht club NFT an object, I’d consider like an on chain ticket to concert as an object, like you mentioned, but they still have their own like respective values. And when you think about social tokens and you think about this underlying, like you think of an ERC 20 token standard as like the index token for all the other assets, that’s kind of like what I’m picking up that you’re putting down, is that correct? The social token ends up being a peg to all these other on chain assets, whether they be all the other social tokens from like the EPS or the other artworks and other crowd funds to the one of ones to the additions, they all funnel down into one asset. That’s how you guys are thinking about it, which I agree by the way. Yeah.

Matt: Right. Yeah, exactly. I actually think Daniel Allen’s, a great example of that, where he’s issuing NFTs across a variety of different platforms, but he’s also appending, Hey, every time you buy one of my NFTs, I’m gonna airdrop you Overstm. And then when it comes to, gating the discord, when it comes to participation in the community over time, those benefits only need to accrue to the Overstm token, but all NFT holders had an opportunity to earn that Overstm by their patronage. And so it’s sort of a way of as the career goes on as like project four, five and six come out and there could be now hundreds and hundreds of NFTs out there it’s like Overstm is the thing that governs the community and not like a bunch of different unique NFTs, which I think is a lot harder just to corral.

Got it.

Melissa: I think also the Daniel example is really great where, I mean, the Overstm token basically got created because of his original mirror crowd fund. And it’s kind of specific to that album, but you can start to see like he created the overstimulated, but you can start to see where in the future, maybe he launches like the Daniel token or the Daniel Dow. And now it’s not just the overstimulated album, it’s all of his albums kind of ladder up into of this one token and people who hold Overstm can maybe convert it to Daniel. And now you have something that basically represents like your entire life’s work and not just like a specific instance, like a specific album or concert, or kind of like how we’re thinking about NFTs today, which are kind of like one off instances.

DeFi Meets The Creator Economy

So that’s very much where DeFi meets the creator economy, right. Because what you guys are explaining right now is basically like a take on set protocol where you pull a bunch of assets together and you create like an index token of all that underlying value. I’m trying to think like, okay, what does that really look like from a technical point of view? I wanna get a little dirty with this because I wanna understand, and not only from like a theoretical level, but also from like a fundamental level, if someone wants to do this in practice, for example, right. So you have your tickets, you have your, one of ones, you have your additions, you have your crowd fund campaigns that you do on mirror and all these other assets, how do you actually take all those assets and peg it to one asset? Like technically. So like the interface and the product that I’m imagining that comes to mind, like I said earlier is like set protocol. Like you take all your DeFi ERC twenties, and you create like an index, like forefront has a social token index, or Bankless has a bank index. The list goes on and on. How do you actually do that with a creator asset today from NFTs and 721s and all the other token standards I’m like blanking out on all of them.

Melissa: Yeah. I think a simple way to do it is just, you have a treasury that holds all of the like creators NFTs that’s where like revenue flows towards all the on chain revenue. And then the token is just like a governance token has rights to that treasury or rights to some streams from that treasury. And that’s honestly like probably the simplest way to do it. You don’t even really need to create an index or anything complicated. That’s kinda how I would see it now, but I think we’re seeing it play out in real time.

Melissa, you bring that up and another thing that comes to mind and Matt, I’ll let you jump in, cuz I feel like you wanna say something due to this cuz Overstm itself, the project itself, accumulates revenue, accumulates revenue from catalog from sound it accumulates revenue from Spotify and all the other streaming services. And then like you’re trying to architect is the Daniel coin. Let’s say if, and when that happens, whatever, I don’t know, but let’s say it’s like one asset specifically that then pegs to all these other assets that then all the collectors buy that one asset to get exposure to everything in a ecosystem. But then like I try to think, okay, but now the creator might have revenue for like the personal token, in addition to like the project token, like the Overstm token in addition to the personal token. So like, okay, how do you actually do that from like an accounting point of view? How do you do that from a collecting point of view? Like these are the type of things that I’m starting to think about as we kind of peel this onion, what do you think?

Matt: Yeah, well, I definitely think it’s gonna be at least for the foreseeable future a little less like surgical than that. Like it’s not gonna be a precise index in the sense of like there’s, I think there’s not gonna be a lot of like on chain mechanics that like enable the token to like exactly track a bunch of different assets. I think instead what’s gonna sort of happen is there will be one token, which is thought of as the like community token, the community asset. And that’s the thing where benefits accrue over time, maybe by holding that token, like you’re participating in governance within the community, maybe by holding that token, whenever there are NFT or something that’s dropping, you have early access to that thing or exclusive access to that thing. And so it’ll be more about like the benefits accruing to that token, as well as the governance rights over the treasury. And then as you mint, more NFTs you can choose to do it under the community that is governed by like the map token call it. I do think that there’s gonna be, creators who have multiple communities that could have different community assets associated with them. And I think it can get a little bit sort of messy when you project that a little ways. But yeah, I think that it’s, it’s not gonna be quite as maybe just surgical in the definition of this one community token mapping, the value of all of the other assets that live there. I think it’s gonna be a little bit more I guess just soft than that, the relationship. Yeah,

Governance And The Creators

When I ask these questions, I think it’s good to get somewhat like very messy like that because I think a lot of stuff out there tends to be very high level. And for other creators that wanna like follow Daniel’s footsteps, Valencia’s footsteps, Charlie Crown Mark the list goes on and on and on. Like there needs to be comprehensive guides to kind of understand that. So you guys are providing a lot of clarity on that matter. Matt, you brought up governance. It’s a very interesting topic for creators because on the extreme side, let’s talk like black mirror side. You think about fans controlling every movement that a creator kind of makes on a very extreme side. So they get to vote on what they eat. They get to vote on who they talk to. They get to vote on like all these other, like, very like, like really scary type of like governance types of decisions that could come with an asset. But I like to think of it as the latter, you know, and I’m curious to hear, like, how do you guys think about governance in a creator stance? What does that really look like? What are the tiers of governance? How much do you actually involve your audience and your fan in the day to day of what you’re doing versus on a granular level to the project perspective? Walk me through that. How do you guys think about governance and creators?

Matt: I think it’s completely to be defined by the creator. I think different creators are gonna welcome different levels of participation. And the token is meant to just be a way of conferring rights. Like when, that governance opportunity is opened up. But I think in the same way that as a shareholder of a company, I don’t get to decide everything that company does operationally, or even within most Dows, it’s not like everything goes up to a vote, right. It’s like there is a kind of mutually agreed upon like structure of like what governance rights, the token confers. And I think in the creator case, different creators are gonna have different approaches to like where they want participation from their community in the creation itself. So I think it’s gonna be highly, highly varied. I don’t think that people will come to understand owning a social token as meaning they get to govern every aspect of like a creator’s life. I think that would be bad for all sorts of obvious reasons. But I think instead it will be a way, for when a creator’s looking for engagement participation within their community that token is the way that they do that. It’s the way that they actually gate that participation and also reward the people who have been collecting that token. So I think that maybe governance in the creator context is gonna look quite a bit different than governance and the more protocol context. And I think all of that is still very much a work in progress, like as web three, as a space I’m still figuring out how governance like works.

Yeah. Melissa, how do you think about governance in a creator stance?

Melissa: Yeah, I feel like it’s less that the token gives you ownership in the creator. It’s not like a social token in the sense that you get to control them, their creative work. I think it’s more in the sense of like, you get to control maybe a treasury, and that’s what the governance token is used for, or, it becomes less about a singular creator. Like maybe it starts out with just one creator, but eventually it becomes like a group of creators that are creating together. And because people in the community are also contributing and it’s not just like the creator leading it forever eventually becomes a community. And I feel like in the worst case becomes like only creator led because obviously what happens when the creator decides like, Hey, I don’t wanna do this anymore. I wanna make music. Or anything like anything could happen. Like that’s stuff that people don’t really talk about. So I feel like the sooner that you can make it about the community and less about a singular creator, the better yeah. Cause it’s like, I mean, creators don’t live forever either.

Yeah. Yeah. That’s like, that gets me thinking like, okay, let’s think about like the band Queen, like they’re band of creators, in their own respect musicians, iconic musicians and Freddy Mercury has passed away, but the queen legacy continues. You know, what does that look like if there were assets to kind of tie that all together and to bring that stuff on chain? Another thing I wanna ask you guys, is governance a need or a want for creators? Do audience and fans need to participate in governance or is it a feature that makes it like the entire, I guess, process more fun? Do you know what I mean? Do creators need governance? Do audiences want governance or need governance? And it’s I guess it’s like a very like maybe philosophical question, a very like high level, like thought provoking question, but I’d be curious to hear your thoughts.

Matt: Wow. Yeah. It’s a heavy hitting question. I think that you need governance when you are doing something like crowdfunding, a bunch of Eth, that, the creators is saying that they’re gonna use to build a project or saying that, certain types of value are gonna be routed back to the asset holders or like the token holders of the project. Then I think governance, we comes really important cuz you’re talking about like, this giant sum of money and you know, for me to have confidence investing in that thing, I need to know that I have some rights to governance over, you know, where that gets used or how it gets spent, et cetera. I think that’s sort of different in my mind than like engagement or contribution where it could be like it more creative engagement or creative contribution. It could be, things like voting on, on the next album cover or voting on who opens for my concert. I think that type of stuff is community contribution. It’s like engagement that I think could be really enriching and it could be really powerful. I think it’s very optional. It’s very like nice to have certain creators will want that others, won’t want that at all. I do think of that as being pretty different than like governing a treasury and that’s where I feel like it’s most required or it’s at least required for collectors, I think, to have confidence really collecting in these communities. So that’s maybe where I would draw the line.

Yeah. Melissa, anything to add to that on the needs or wants of governance? Cause I have so many more questions, but I know you guys are just like so into it. So I’m curious to hear.

Melissa: Yeah. I mean, I agree. I think when there’s a treasury, I think that’s when governance becomes important, but I don’t think every creator necessarily needs a treasury. Like it could be that the token is just for a reward point to reward contributors, people who are day one and just be able to distinguish between the fans that have been around for a while. So I think it’s not necessary, but I think it, does become like really interesting when you start to involve more of like these tokenomic models and that I think it’s yet to see like if that is a great model or not, if you financialize everything, but I think you can start to get really just interesting models where everyone is aligned financially and see how that plays out. So it’s not a solid answer, but

Yeah, let’s go back to the DAO spectrum from just like a token based community to like completely decentralized and autonomous. Okay. A lot of token based communities, they use platforms like Snapshot or Tally, or even like the discord reactions as a way to kind of dictate a path forward. And when you think about on chain governance versus off chain governance for creators and their fans, how do you differentiate the priority between the two? Like when should someone like Daniel be using a discord react on their messages to decipher a direction versus putting something like on chain and having it permanent or off chain using snap? You know what I mean? Like how do you kind of decipher which path to go in and which context?

Matt: Yeah, I think it maybe maps to I guess like that distinction I was trying to draw before between, like, you know, if it’s gonna be a material use of treasury funds or it’s going to have implications for the value of the asset, then I think it’s very critical to involve the community in a way that is a little more robust. If it’s who’s gonna open for my concert, then I think, it’s very much like discord reaction is just enough way to get signal in almost like a social contract that, okay, this person who won the vote is actually gonna be opening and that’s all that’s really necessary there.


Yeah. Makes sense. So guys, let’s talk more about Bonfire. Okay. We talked a lot about like general high Eagle type of stuff, excuse me, I’m curious cuz you guys actually summed it down to be something really interesting. So the front page for creator DAOs. Okay. And this is very evident with the page that you guys built for Daniel Allen. Okay. That showcases his different assets. For example, like his treasury to his discord links to buying, the Overstm token and actually doing the swap on there for all these different, like really cool gadgets and components, for the creator itself. So when you think about building the homepage for a creator, what does that really look like? Big picture for you guys?

Matt: I think the first thing is that there needs to be just a, a public way that somebody can arrive and learn what is this DAO about. What is the Dow? What are the assets that are connected to that community? Like what are the various perks and benefits of participating in that community? Who is the artist? What type of art do they make and like where can that art be enjoyed. So I think that’s the first thing is there does at least for a community that is public and there needs to be a public way for people to understand the value of the community. I think that there’s a big part that is a very critical part of our roadmap, which is also like what about the private or community only sorts of events and experiences that maybe live behind the token gate and like, how do you, whether it’s content or events or other, types of value, how do you allocate that, to the token holders or the community members? I think there’s definitely an aspect which is like public versus private and probably you want both depending on what it is, exactly that we’re talking about. And then I think the other thing is just right now, there’s a ton of focus on buying your way into communities. But if you just look historically at the creator economy, most fans are paying with engagement, their attention, their time, their passion, and not with dollars. And so I think we have a kind of limiting form of social tokens right now, where for the most part they’re purchased. I think that earning and the ability to actually like, be a valued member in a community because of your fandom or because of your non-financial patronage. I think that’s a really big, sort of gap in today’s web three meets creator economy. So that’s another thing that’ll be a focus for us.

Yeah. That makes sense, Melissa, anything to add to that?

Melissa: Yeah. I think like a big huge need is just to onboard the community that you have already into web three. And I think there’s like discord is not the best first entry into crypto, I think, but I actually think what Matt was saying around earning, like being able to earn your way into community and not be your first experience with crypto, I think is actually a really great experience cuz you like getting Fiat into a meta mass wallet to go purchase something. That’s a lot of friction to get people to go through for like an asset that they might not even really understand or understand its value. Whereas if you’re earning something it’s like kinda like a reward at the end of the tunnel where it’s like, okay, I get to learn all these different things. And then at the end I get an asset that gets me closer to my favorite creator. So I think earning is just gonna be a great way to onboard new people and to web three in general.

Yeah. That makes sense. Let’s talk more about this problem space that you just brought up Melissa. So I wanna wind it back for a second. A lot of people, a lot of creators need to find a way to bring their audience from social media, into their web three native communities. So what does that really mean? So we look at like creators who have fans across Instagram, Tik Toks, Snapchat, Facebook groups Twitter, it the list goes on and on and on where that’s like their main form of communication to their end user. That’s how they communicate stuff in a story, right? They do a swipe up, they have a call to action, a link and bio and that entire journey needs to be optimized from like one destination to another destination. So you guys are kind of saying that bounties earning your way into a community is like a really good incentive and a really good way to kind of build that initial traction of moving a user from like a pillar platform to like a sub platform. That’s how I’m understanding it.

Melissa: Yeah. We definitely think of it as a funnel, as like you have these big social media platforms where maybe you have a really large audience and then you go from there to your most dedicated community members who might want to join your discord or just have more engagement. And then those are the types of people who will then go to your personal website, your bonfire page, and find ways to earn to interact and like engage in new ways. So I think we definitely think of it more like a funnel where it’s not gonna be all of your, not everyone who follows you on social media is gonna really care about your community, your token. So I think like you end up with probably the people who are most excited about you and your community that actually end up making it through.

Building A Bridge Between Web Two And Web Three Audiences

I think you’re absolutely right. Not, everybody’s gonna care about your web three initiatives, right? And the question is like. Now you have to build a whole new audience, but a web three native audience. So you’re already, you’re creating content for TikTok. You’re creating content for Instagram. You’re creating content for Snapchat, for Facebook groups, for all these different platforms. And now web three is another medium, right through quote unquote discord. Discord is like the To go kind of destination. And when you think about it, like, all you do all day is create content for the most part or whatever your respective creator medium is. Right? And now you have to focus on building a whole new type of community like Daniel Allen’s community on Spotify or on Instagram, for example, were not necessarily the people who contributed to his crowd-fund across Twitter, in Mirror. And now he’s dedicating a lot of his time and attention to build for that community. Right. So I guess part of what I’m saying right now is like realizations as I’m creating these interviews. And as you guys are kind of building products for creators and seeing like, okay, this is just, this may be another hurdle for creators to overcome, but it actually may be one very worth it because of the opportunity behind it to create like direct communication and lines of ownership and monetization between one party to another. But I guess my question to you is like, okay, how do you actually do that now? How do you dedicate your time to now focusing on a new class of creators, right. A new class of audiences that otherwise wouldn’t really, really care about what you’re doing on web two, for example, which it’s more homework, right? More time, all these things that may be very daunting, for example.

Melissa: Yeah. I feel like we’re kind of in this world right now where people are kind of on like this content treadmill, I guess, where, because of the algorithms you’re forced to like be creating content all the time. Whereas I feel like with web three, like you don’t actually have to do that anymore. Like you can monetize and sell your work as like NFTs and then like you can focus on like creating like pieces of content that you think are gonna be super valuable versus like a lot of it. And I think that’s the big difference where like, yeah, you hear about like creator burnout all the time because the algorithm just dictates that you need it otherwise, like you’re gonna lose followers, but if you can find like a few hundred people who are, who really love you then that like, you don’t have to have that constant pressure anymore. That’s how that’s how I would see it. Yeah.

Matt: Yeah. I mean, I definitely think that it allows the 100 true fans, 10 super fans to sort of self-select and support the creator. As Mel mentioned, that means, maybe not needing to produce as much content and you’re not as beholden to the algorithms because you aren’t creating for pennies of ad revenue. You’re actually able to just create for your fans for the community who like loves your work. But then I think the other big part of what you said that, that resonated was today, you kind of do have to make a choice between like, do I engage with web three by creating like a new audience of maybe your asset collectors, but they actually didn’t like follow my music before I started putting out NFTs. And like, there’s kind of like a clear distinction there, but I think over time as the space becomes more mature, like those things really should be one and the same, it’s like the people who are collecting your NFTs should be the biggest fans of your content, not the biggest fans of NFTs. And like right now you have this where like, as a musician, you can announce that you’re gonna be putting out NFTs and your biggest fans might hate you for it. Like they could be like the ones, you know, commenting on Twitter and like ripping you apart for it. Yeah. Where really, they should be the ones who are most excited. And so I think right now we’re in this kind of like awkward teenager phase of maturity, where like, you do have, have to make some of these trade offs, which you really shouldn’t need to make, kind of as the space continues to mature and mainstream adoption is a little further along.

Converting Viewers And Listeners Into Collectors

Yeah. How do you guys think about the balance between, well, not really a balance, but how do you get more viewers, more listeners, more Watchers into collectors?

Matt: I think the simple answer that I would say is you, well, two things, I think one is you create a lot of utility for the assets, which those biggest fans are going care the most about. And so, why is it called a social token? It’s like partially it’s because a lot of the value is derived socially versus like purely financially. And so if the thing that holding this NFT gets me, is access to every concert, then that’s gonna appeal much more strongly to the real fans versus somebody who’s purely in it for speculation reasons. So I think creating greater utility is going to mean that the real fans are gonna value those things relatively higher than somebody who’s only in it for financial reasons. Then I think the second way that you get your fans to be collectors is you allow them opportunities to earn the assets. And again, it’s like let them contribute in non financial ways via their engagement, via their like loyalty via their passion, and then give them assets in return for that. And I think that’s another way that you end up with your fans being the ones who hold those assets. And if you think of this as almost like this open source CRM that, isn’t controlled by any platform, and can’t be taken from you as a creator, it’s like very important to get those assets into the hands of your actual fans and like the people who care most about, what it is that you’re about the type of art that you create. I think that both of those are, are big key unlocks and things that really just take a lot of product and tooling to, to enable.

What’s Next For Bonfire?

Yeah, yeah. Makes a lot of sense. Yeah. For everyone that’s listening, I think there’s a lot of alpha in here. I think there’s a lot of opportunities presented. Matt and Mel, you guys are very, very in it, like in the weaves, like you guys are the onion, that’s like getting peeled in my opinion. And I’m very excited for your journey, I guess before you wrap it up and I let you guys go anything you want to add? Any shout outs? I know you guys had the Daniel Allen project that you put together, you guys announce the public launch of bonfire. I know you guys were very much in stealth mode, doing stuff with rally. Matt, I remember you were telling me that thing behind the scenes, anything to add on that front, what can we expect from Bonfire in the next few months? Fill me in I’m excited.

Matt: Yeah. I mean, the biggest thing is just building, trying to get the platform ready for really just self-service on the Ethereum side. As mentioned, we’ve been in rally and partner closely with that team for the last several months, but, really wanting to just sort of achieve platform parody and make it available for anyone on main net as well and then polygon will be a big focus for us in terms of scalability. I would say like, that’s a really big focus. The other big focus is gonna be on kind of those two things that I just mentioned utility and really trying to, solve for where we see gaps in the market today and, and try to help creators, I guess it’s really like helping the reality of like the value social tokens. And when I say social tokens, I mean, NFTs and fungible tokens, it’s like having the reality of the value that gets created, like match the potential. I think that, there’s a couple of big gaps that need to be solved for that to really happen.


Yeah. I love it. I’m excited for you guys, Melissa, any last words before we wrap it up and we share our socials and all that?

Melissa: Nothing to add.

Guys, this was great. Where can we find you, Matt? Where can we find you, Melissa? Where can we find Bonfire? Give us, give us the rundown.

Matt: Yeah. On Twitter, I’m at Matt_Alston, cause I was sort of late to the Twitter game.

Melissa: Nice. Yeah, mine is MelissaZhang13, or you can find us just at Bonfire tweets.

Matt: Yeah.

Amazing guys. We should definitely do this again in a, in a few months. And thank you for being on.

Matt: Thank you.

Press Release

The Largest Gathering of Web3 Creators Unite At ETH Denver February 15

Denver, CO — February 3, 2022 —  The largest gathering of web3 musicians, artists, videographers, bloggers, builders, collectors, and creators unite for a half-day packed with a free brunch, creative networking, and a live performance by independent music artist Queen George. The event will take place during the jam-packed week of ETH Denver on February 15, 2022, from 9 AM to 1 PM MT at Your Moms House, located at 608 E 13th Ave, Denver, CO 80203. You can register to attend in person for free by visiting

Hosted by Dystopia Labs, Mint Podcast, Bonfire, and Polygon Studios, the four unite in an effort to celebrate the creative and ownership renaissance occurring on-chain and to create more awareness for the booming web3 creator economy.

Those who attend the in-person event will receive a POAP and other goodies in addition to meeting a collective force of other like-minded individuals leading the front for where crypto meets creators.

Following a decked-out brunch, attendees will enjoy a live performance by wbe3 independent music artist Queen George, whose eclectic artistic style reflects a goddess voice unlike any other. The modern jazz-pop artist will perform a 45-minute set followed by a live music NFT mint to commemorate her new on-chain musical work.

The event is proudly sponsored by SmartDeFi and hummingbot.

Register for free to attend the in-person event by visiting

More on Queen George

About Dystopia Labs

Dystopia Labs is a grassroots events & edu org that’s focused on growing the Web3 ecosystem. Each month, we run technical summits around the US to help kickstart new IRL crypto communities. 

Follow us here to join the movement:

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 10 to 20 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

About Bonfire

Bonfire empowers web3 creators to turn audiences into communities powered by their social token & NFTs. We’re building white-label infrastructure to enable creators to build custom web3-native homes for their community, and tools to provide greater utility to their assets through things like airdrops, bounties, and token-gated experiences.

Learn more by visiting us at

About Polygon Studios

Polygon Studios is the Gaming and NFT arm of Polygon focused on growing the Blockchain Gaming and NFT Industry while bridging the gap between Web 2 and Web 3 gaming. The Polygon Studios ecosystem comprises highly loved blockchain games like OpenSea, Upshot, Aavegotchi, Zed Run, Skyweaver, Decentraland, and Decentral Games. If you’re a game developer, builder or NFT creator looking to join the Polygon Studios ecosystem, get started here.

Learn more by visiting us at

Podcast Transcript

How To Buy Back Your Music Catalog From Record Labels with Crypto

Listen on: Spotify | Apple Music | Google Podcast


Mint Season 4 episode 14 welcomes Mark de Clive-Lowe, an American-based Japanese-New Zealand DJ, musician, composer, and producer who’s making headwinds in web3. I wanted to have Mark on because he’s attempting to do something very unique; he’s in the process of raising funds to buy back his music catalog from the labels he initially signed with early on in his career. Not only does he share his journey so far and how he’s raised nearly 10 ETH to date, but we provide tips on how you can follow in his footsteps as well. 

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • 01:12 – Intro
  • 09:15 – Is Web Three the Perfect Medium for Music?
  • 19:37 – Buy Back Crowdfund
  • 24:55 – Is Revenue Shared with DAO Contributors?
  • 30:53 – Who Owns Your Catalog?
  • 35:28 – Give Us Your Roadmap
  • 37:57 – How Do You Price The Material?
  • 40:28 – The Importance of ISRC Codes
  • 48:01 – DAOs That Buy Music Catalogs
  • 51:48 – What Happens if the Crowdfund isn’t Fulfilled?
  • 52:50 – Outro

…and so much more. 

I hope you enjoy our conversation. 

Support Season 4’s NFT sponsors!

1. Coinvise –

2. Polygon Studios –

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

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

I’m good, man. What’s up. Thank you for having me here.

Ah, what an exciting time to be alive, huh?

Right? Every day. I haven’t been this happy every day in a long time.

Let’s go. What’s driving the majority of your happiness right now?

I’m obviously a web three junkie, but, it’s that whole thing where things are changing every day and evolving and, and getting improved upon and ideated on. And the emergence is, everywhere. So it’s, it’s like, you never know what’s gonna happen each day. And the last time I had that feeling was when I first went to the UK London and I was doing studio sessions with different people every day. And I’d wake up in the morning thinking by the time I go to bed, there’ll be some new music which never existed before today. And that’s what web three is doing.


So speaking of web three. I always like to start with intros before we, before we jump into what’s actually happening. So who are you, Mark? What does the world need to know about you? More specifically, how did you get your start in crypto in web three, the whole shebang?

Totally man. So I’m a musician, I’m a composer-producer. I DJ remix kind of do everything. I grew up in New Zealand and partly between Japan and New Zealand, but mostly in New Zealand, and learned piano from like age four. Like my dad forced me on the instrument, so there was no choice. I grew up playing classical music and then started messing around with Beatles songbooks and stuff like that. Fell in love with jazz through my dad’s record collection, primarily actually. I just loved the idea of improvisation, growing up, playing classical, it was like, yo, let’s free this up. Then my life became this kind of weird pendulum swing between wanting to be like a straight-ahead, acoustic jazz piano player in the mold of history and then falling in love with Boomba hip hop and like club music and jungle and drum bass, house music, and kind of going back and forth between these two things like I did in college, in Boston at Berkeley. I spent a lot of time in Japan with family there as I was kind of getting into the music scene in Tokyo and things led me to London. Like I got a fellowship in New Zealand which allowed me to travel the world for a year chasing music. I focused that around the UK because the girl I was seeing then had moved to the UK, but it was like, I was in Cuba, San Fran, New York, London, Paris, Tokyo Sydney, just for a year. It was nuts. But that was an epiphany time and pre-YouTube. So you had to go to places for real. That kind of led me into this world of this hybridity of jazz and club music, which is really where I evolved mostly in the UK, in London. I spent 10 years there, firstly, as a session keyboard player and then as a producer and remixer, and live performer. I was one of the first people to do things as you have ostensibly what’s a jazz group. And then you bring, MPC like you bring a drum machine into the band and like programming live and sampling live with the band that kind of hybridity, which isn’t that unusual now it was totally unthought of then. 98 was when it really peaked for me. Okay. As far as hearing music, that was the culmination of everything I’d grown up loving and it was re-digested and assimilated and re-expressed in a whole way. I’d never imagined it possible. Like that was wild for me. Like seeing guys, like this guy, IG culture producer in London, seeing him on a SP 1200 drum machine, just banging out beats. And it sounded, like a Harvey Mason drum solo. I didn’t understand, but I was like, yes, I understand. I found my people. So that kind of brought me to this point in music of like, okay, I can, bring the jazz, what I love about jazz improvisation organic-ness evolution. And I can intersect it with what I love about electronic music. You know the textures, the Sonics, the whole culture of loops dance floors. And that became my thing. I spent 20 years recording, releasing, touring. I was on the road literally half the year, every year for 20 years until COVID hit. I was with a major label to start with, with Universal. I went through all iterations of independent deals and then self-releases and everything, agents, managers, self agenting, self-managing, like I did it all. And so for 20 years have been able to travel the world, play literally everywhere and develop this kind of, I guess, a cult audience everywhere. It’s a niche, but it’s like a prevalent niche everywhere I’ve gone, which is beautiful. So then COVID hits obviously touring gone, calendar empty and every musician on earth had the same reaction. It’s like, well, what are we gonna do? Right. So I had dabbled in crypto, I would say 2017. Like that moment right before it crashed. When, if you were the last of hearing about it, it’s like, oh, let me go in now, this is like making money. Like I’m gonna make bank now. Right. And then obviously the whole thing crashed. And I didn’t have kind of like an information community around me or a mentorship community where I understood anything about what crypto really was like, I understood the premise kind of, but that was it. So it was funny recently, I was looking back at my coinbase transaction history and I was like, wait, I sold Bitcoin in 2017!

What was I thinking?

So pandemic hits and that was really the turning point. Like, you know, the way clubhouse took off and the conversations just happened. Then my real kind of coming into the space, which is my Genesis collection a project called Motherland. So Summer of 2019, I was on an artist residency in Japan and one of the other artists on that residency who I met and became friends with then was SESU. And I didn’t know anything about his kind of involvement with crypto, but I met him as a visual artist and on this artist residency. So I shot all the footage, which became the motherland film. I shot it during that residency. Oh, cool. And then, you know, COVID hits and I’m like, well, I never knew what I was gonna do with the footage, but it eventually became evident. I wanted to explore it through an ancestral homage, music, art piece. And I put this all together. Then I was like, well, this is, this is too much. I can’t put this on YouTube and Spotify. Doesn’t make sense. This is like a narrative kind of it’s an art piece. Yeah. And so I was speaking to Amir de SESU and he’s like, man, you gotta mint this, and the reason you have to mint this is because of its cultural narrative. And so what was interesting to me now, looking back over the last is being mentored into the space by someone who really instilled the idea in me of the importance of putting culture on-chain. So the achievement wasn’t like, I mean, the goal wasn’t like, okay, I need to bag 15 Eth from this project. And it’s like, obviously whatever money comes in fantastic. But the whole principle and the success was to put the project on-chain. So it’s a contribution to culture on-chain. And so that kind of became my founding kind of premise for how I look at web three. And I think the way you’ve brought in is really important. Right. That gave me my perspective and then over the last year it’s been everything you know, I’ve joined the FWB community and love that meeting a lot of people through there. Starting up a mentorship program, doing my NFTs, like joining a crew, and building a new web three music platform, which will hopefully happen this year. It’s gone full 180.

Is Web Three the Perfect Medium for Music?

Yeah. Yeah. Wow. So you’ve really lived very much a traditional life of an artist, of a musician. Now you’re coming into web three you’ve been in web three exploring the new fronts of where music intersects with crypto and exploring this level of independence essentially, that you’re after. But why is web three, the perfect medium for music? Beyond bringing culture on-chain, right. Because that’s also NFTs in general with art with fashion.

Sure. I mean, the perfect medium for music is live, to be literal. I think for the exploitation of music and for the financialization of it and the sense and community building, like for all those aspects, web three provides solutions, primarily through decentralization. Like my MySpace account, I would love to have that back. Are you kidding me? Like with all the content comments, friends, like just to see it, like all that data’s gone forever like it’s gone. So that perspective, I think, is really important of being able to have immutability and perpetual content. I think that’s really important. Then access to our people, if I post on Instagram, like what is it 2% or 5% of people who chose to follow my account will see what I wanna share with them. I mean, all that kind of thing. It’s nothing sustainable. And I think it’s more for me than the solution’s web three provides it’s about how problematic the music industry has been up to this point in time that the entire music industry, I believe is predicated on the idea of exploiting the creative in favor of the exploiter. That is the music industry. You know, music is a different conversation. Music is art and music, and as a human culture that’s different, but the industry, it’s not there for music to be great. Like that’s not what it’s made for. The idea that there’s a potential solution to that, that excites me to no end. And so now we have all these toolings to explore the idea of a potential solution without the middle man, it’s the first time in history when musicians have not been behind the ball with tech and industry. And I say that to say whether it’s any technological development in music history, but let’s go with the most recent ones, like MP3, like digital download culture, and then streaming. Like those things happened and then we had to comply. That was how it worked. And then the same way with the industry, the way all the industry framework is put together, it’s intentionally made in a convoluted way. So it’s difficult to find all your money that belongs to your asset called music. And it’s very convoluted and that’s by design. It’s like, it’s difficult for a musician to understand that all by design. So to take those two aspects and have the tooling, which can just get rid of both of them. I’m like, at the worst, this is great.

Yeah. Can you talk more about, so you just went on a little bit of an example, the tangent of comparing traditional music to crypto music? Can you talk more about, what are the biggest, insights that you’ve developed as a traditional artist coming into web three that maybe others won’t necessarily have the purview of seeing, right? So you talked about payments, right? You talked about all these dashboards. You talked about social media data and right in like everything living on one centralized server versus being repurposed on other platforms what other interesting insights that might not be as common to the more modern-day independent artists that you’re kind of seeing being a better format in web three for them?

Totally, man. I think one thing that comes to mind straight away is how labels work in the traditional system. There are two kinds of labels, fundamentally. There’s one, that’s a catalog label and there’s one, that’s a new music label. Some of them are big enough to be both, but, you know, as far as people who are new to new artists and emerging artists and aspiring artists, we’re talking about new music labels primarily. So their whole business model is based on, you have some new music, it has a buzz, they capitalize on the buzz and then they make some money. But the buzz is by definition, it always happens when the new release cycle’s happening. You know, if you are one of these huge artists who just kind of can plateau at a really high level consistently, I mean, that’s, that’s an anomaly. Cool. But for the average artist in any genre, you’re gonna peak when a new release comes, and then it’s gonna kind of plateau down. And so the label has never had any kind of financial incentive or tooling to keep your exploitation consistent. In other words, to keep your money growing and to keep you in the marketplace, if you’re not in the new release cycle. So the best thing they can do is come back to you as an artist and say, yo, give us a new album. And then we can push you and that’ll push your old album. Right. And then, and we’re in this cycle, right. It’s never-ending. So I think that’s one fundamental thing where, I mean, someone, we all talk about a lot Latasha, who’s just doing incredible things in the space, the way she’ll give you like a new joint, a recent joint, an old joint. It’s all art, it’s all music. And it’s all valid. And just because like, for me with my catalog, just because a track was recorded in 2005, doesn’t reduce the value of the track. Right. But in the traditional system, it does like until some show decides to sync it, then it comes to life again. Otherwise

Let’s talk about that again really quickly. Why isn’t the old track new in crypto? Why is that okay versus not okay. That’s a really interesting insight because I have realized that a lot of artists that jump into web three music, end up publishing and minting tracks that already are in existence that already have streams. Like Blao is the best example of that. All the songs that he basically sold in that iconic drop that made headlines, were all repurposed tracks. That was re-bought to life. Why is that acceptable here?

Well, why shouldn’t it be right?

It’s also true. Like why shouldn’t it be?

Yeah. Yeah. At the end of the day, it’s like, if we looked at visual art through the same lens, then you could look at an artist who, I mean, every artist I think of right now is not even alive, but you could say, well their whole work. I mean, it’s old. Like that’s not worth any money. Like I want the new joint, like, you know, Picasso, I want that new Picasso. I don’t want the old Picasso. To me, this is art. And I think there’s a distinction here to make as well between music in its genres and functionality is a huge spectrum. And I skew to art music, I skew to music as art before I skew to music as a product. And that’s not to disparage anything. Does that make sense what I’m saying?

So I just wanna clarify something like not all old music doesn’t do well, if it’s repurposed, right? Like you can still hear Michael Jackson songs being played. Right. And it’s old stuff like his, his catalog has value. Like your YouTube catalog has value. It still accumulates views depending on who you are. I see what you’re saying, like, with more everyday songs, those don’t get necessarily repurposed on mainstream radio or on Spotify playlists because they’re already in the past. Right. Whereas here on this medium, you’re actually reintroducing them in a new format and a new way to capture true value depending on what the market wants to value it as.

100% man. The way that backs catalog is part of an artist’s story and that we now have the tooling to be able to share our story and frame it in our own way. That’s totally unique. You know, beyond that, it’s like you click on discography on Spotify and it’s some JPEGs. Yeah. But for me to actually contextualize that for people is amazing. And at that point, it’s not about, and I alluded to this before. It’s not even about it being collected or bought it’s about it being on-chain. And when it gets to the point when it meets its collector, the person who, yeah, I resonate with this, then that becomes a transaction. Cool. But it’s much more important to me that the story is there. We have a thing happening in the space already where people feel like, oh, if my NFT didn’t sell on the day I dropped it’s a failure. I’m gonna burn it or whatever it might be. And that happens. But it’s like if you are putting this into the space forever, then maybe it’s gonna meet its collector in five years’ time. And that doesn’t pay the rent this month, but there’s so much value on that to me.

Buy Back Crowdfund

Yeah. No, I hear you. So speaking of catalogs, speaking about buybacks, speaking about all these things it’s a perfect segue into where we are currently with you specifically Mark, as a creator, you have two main things that you’re kind of working on right now in web three is buying back your catalog and owning your work and your art, and also building some form of creator club around you around your music, around your niche and the collectors that decide to support you and be a part of your journey. So the first thing I wanna talk about, okay, is this buyback crowdfund. First of all, congratulations, because you’re already more than halfway at your funding goal. And I’ll share my screen in a second for everybody that’s watching on YouTube. If you’re listening on audio, go check out YouTube because it’s really, really interesting what you’re doing. Okay. Can you give us all some context on what it is that you’re trying to buyback? Why are you using crypto as the medium to do it? Where are you gonna take it once you have it?

For sure, man. I mean, the fact that I was able to deploy this crowdfund alone to me is really huge. The conversation it’s is kind of given rise to with a lot of artists is entertaining at the very least and kind of paradigm-shifting at most. So what I’m trying to do is, you know, raise funds through the mirror crowdfund in order to buy back to reacquire seven of my back catalog albums from the labels who control them. And the idea is that there are about 15 or 16 albums I say about because I’m producing other artists. But if I look at my catalog, it’s around that number. So it’s around half the catalog. And the idea is in reacquiring that my whole back catalog becomes the foundational asset for a DAO for the Mashy Beats DAO. Mashy Beats was my record label at first and now it’s kind of become a disco community, a collector creator kind of convergence, and I realized, okay, well now the label can kind of be revived, but not as a label. Like there’s something to build on here. So the idea of buyback, you know, firstly getting my own catalog back as an artist personally, is so important to me because I do believe we should own our stuff. And it’s also important to me because these seven albums are kind of gathering dust with the labels who have them because as we talked about earlier, most labels don’t have the tooling or vision or they’re too risk-averse to support old catalogs. You know, they want the new album. So these albums, they tick over on their DSPs, on their Spotify’s, and on band camp and vinyl and whatever it, but there’s no care given to it. There’s no growth potential. And so I’m like, let me bring this back under one umbrella because I care about it, I want it to grow and I can see what this can grow into. Also at this point in my career, that’s 20 years of albums. And so it’s like, that’s a life’s work for a lot of artists. I have a lot more to come ahead of me, but it’s almost like a nice way to look at a chapter and be like, let me just kind of silo off this first 20 years and use it to build the next 20 years. So the idea with the Mirror Crowd-fund campaign is that everyone gets tokens for their contributions relative to their amounts. I think it’s like a thousand tokens to one Eth so the tokens are the buyback token and then the buyback token becomes the top-level governance token for Mashy Beats DAO. So essentially those crowd-fund contributors become the committee with which we’re gonna move forward with the DAO. And that’s gonna be, I mean, it’s kind of what we expect of a DAO at this point, as far as proposals and snapshot voting, you know, people having a say, I think there’s an interesting conversation there around creative DAOs where people feel like there’s a risk of I don’t wanna open up my creative process to voting and that’s not what I’m doing. That will never be the case. As a creator, I’m autonomous and I’ve spent over 20 years, not one time compromising stylistically, so I’m not about to start now, but then when it comes to, how do we build the treasury? You know, what’s the strategy for this? Maybe there are these five sick projects, but I can only do one right now, which one do we think is the most beneficial for the community and the DAO and then, okay, the Treasury’s got a surplus now, what are we gonna do with this? Let’s bring in some more artists and so basically having a community co-op label is an idea. If I took some of my favorite, favorite, favorite labels, like say Blue Note Records and Def Jam Records and Brain Feeder records and it was right at the beginning of their stories, but they were all one label and I could have a seat at that table in the evolution and development of it. To me, that’s a really interesting proposition, which I would’ve loved to do that. So that’s what I’m trying to create.

Is Revenue Shared with Dao Contributors?

Got it, got it. So there are a couple of things here. Let me actually share my screen for a minute. Okay. Gimme a second. I wanna pull up the value and actually what it is specifically that people are buying back. Okay. So we know it’s a catalog, but this is basically like an overview. So today you’ve raised 8.68 Eth. Your funding goal is 12 Eth. You have about, 39 backers to date so far each collectively getting their own perks and their own NFTs. Talk to me more about, what happens afterward now that you’ve collected your work. Okay. You’re probably earning royalties on this work as well. Right. You’re probably making money off this work that’s being conducted through some type of rev share with these labels. I apologize if I missed this, but are you gonna be sharing some of the royalties with DAO contributors as well? Or what does that look like?

No, I’m not. I think the royalty of fractionalization conversation, I know it’s very polarizing. I’m on the side of not doing it. It was interesting actually speaking with I dunno if, you know, Decent X, Y, Z. Speaking with them recently, I was like, oh, that’s an interesting take on it. So there’s room to move, but to get back to the buyback. So there’s no master or IP share implied in the buyback tokens. The idea is that future revenue helps fund the treasury. And then the token holding community, have the governance over the treasury. If at some point, you know, say there’s like 30 Eth in there, and the proposal is, do we want to prorate pay this out to the token holders? That can happen, anything can happen, but also the whole, SEC securities issue. This is the only way I could do that, basically, without going a whole other route.

And by the way, I only asked that question from a very like, dumb down point of view, because it is illegal to do that like, well,

Exactly. And cause people are offering like, as Royal went through, they have a whole legal framework to make that even a possibility. You can’t just as an independent artist, you can’t just offer up your royalties connected to a token.

Makes sense.

So thanks for the question

I say this again because part of these conversations is aimed to be educational. Now I’ve had people on the podcast before that have they’re like, fuck that. Like I’m just gonna do what I think I need to do, I wanna share revenue with my collectors. Everybody has their own point of view, their own direction everybody’s building in public while it is still very much a gray area, none of this is meant and intended to be like financial or legal advice, right. More so documenting the pulse and seeing what’s happening and how people are kind of responding and reacting and building in public. Just to make that clear, so I don’t get attacked later on okay. So you buy your catalog, you own it, you talked about future revenue coming back to the DAO, what type of revenue streams do you imagine coming back to the DAO? I’m gonna list a few like concerts, merchandise, what are we talking about? What kind of revenue?

I mean, I see it as being the further web three exploitation of the catalog. So primarily that means NFTs in whatever shape or form that could be, that goes back to the treasury and then a percentage of what we could call terrestrial revenue, so DSPs sync licenses, anything of that sort. So a portion of everything goes back as far as anything else, like when it comes to concerts tours, merch, I mean, I’d be happy and it would be quite fun with tours to break down the budget for all the buyback holders because there’s nothing in touring. Like there’s nothing in it. When I say nothing, I don’t mean there’s nothing but proportionately for the hours you put in, for the 15-hour flight each way for that 40 minutes on stage. I mean, touring’s not, it’s not the money maker that we’re told it is. And that kind of ties back to my whole perspective as a traditional industry artist coming into web three is that the traditional industry has literally traumatized artists into thinking what’s acceptable. Touring is your primary revenue, this is how much Spotify pays. And so just shake all that off and try and re-contextualize it is dope. So I’m diverging from what you’re saying though.

Yeah, I hear you. Okay. So NFT revenue, merch revenue, if any touring revenue. What happens next?

I personally have, I’m sure you do too, a laundry list of projects I wanna do in the space. Yeah. And so that’s one thing is putting those all to the proposal and just seeing what is really beneficial and doable and how to prioritize those. How to take the back catalog. And I wanna get web three artists remixing it too, like have remix drops, which are re-contextualizing the back catalog in collaboration with artists who are in the space. Also maybe the same kind of approach to bring like producers who I’m tight with, who are not in the space, help bring them in. Like, man, let’s remix some of my old work. Yeah. And we’ll end NFT this and like get you in the space. So using the back catalog in that way. And then beyond that, I’m really excited to bring on artists, like to basically get to a point where we can say, okay, now there’s some money in the treasury, wouldn’t it be crazy if this, if these two collaborated and that’s never happened, let’s make it happen. And having a chance to be really creative with it and knowing that, based on the foundation of what I represent through my artistry and Mashy Beats as a community, knowing that, okay, I can get one of my favorite jazz drummers, like an Eric Carland or Nate Smith or someone. And then I can team them up with this person from this whole other world and they’ll probably be down because we are tight, to have freedom, to create things, which wouldn’t be possible, that is wild to me. Yeah.

Who owns your Catalog?

So what’s the legality of actually buying back your catalog. Who are you buying it back from? Who owns it right now?

Right. So there are two labels. Okay. And one of them made me sign an NDA before we could even start talking about this. Like I alluded to, I told them what I wanted to do and they’re like, yeah, NDA, then we can talk, that’s wild in itself as an idea. So they’re both independent labels with pretty large artist catalogs.

Are they like relatively well known in the artist community?

In my world, absolutely. A hundred percent. They’re very active, you know, they have a lot of artists and a lot of releases. And so this whole issue of like a new release becoming obsolete in proactiveness. That’s kind of common with most of these labels. People talk a lot about owning your masters and the ill and the evils of a deal, which is in perpetuity. And they’re totally right. The reality is that more and more and more deals are not in perpetuity now they’re licensed deals. And so that might be a short time, like three years, five years, it might be 25, 30 years. For all intents and purposes, the label basically owns the masters for the period of the license. Right. What people kind of overlook with that is that if the label cannot earn back all the recoupable, so the costs that the project has incurred then even a short license, a three-year license, that’ll go on forever until it’s recouped. So it’s a bit of a trick there. So these albums are all on licenses and some of them are on horrifically long licenses with a label that has no intention of supporting the product. And then some are with a label who just don’t have the tooling to get them to earn more to recoup.

Got it. Yeah. Got it.

In short, I’m not naming names.

Sure. For sure. So really quick, what kind of support are you looking for that they’re not providing that you think communities could provide in crypto?

Right. So I think the point is here, it’s not even so much the community in crypto, it’s more myself. Like I can reimagine anything with this work. I can contextualize it. However I want to, and these labels are not interested in that conversation. Okay. You know, one of them was never interested in the conversation. Like even when it was new, I was like, well, what if we did this little thing and it would cost this much. It would recoup in this time. And like, no, we can’t do that. It’s like, well, why are we even in business? Because we signed a contract. Okay. So this like, yeah, got it. But it’s interesting because in the independent music sector, licensing is the norm, right. And the situation you find, like say a year after the new release, this is normal like unless you’re touring super hardcore, but then as soon as you stop touring hardcore, you better have a new record to drop. So it’s a hamster wheel, right? Like a Groundhog day hamster wheel and it ends up really, it does inflict on people’s relationships, mental health, and most independent artists are chasing their tails, like eating hand to mouth month to month. And then you might have a great month and then you might have a shit month. There’s a reality to that, which I think web three possibilities from, from one of one collectors through the addition supporters, through the crowd funds, like to be able to create infrastructure, which can then, take the foot off your neck a little bit and allow you to get back to creating. Yeah.

Give Us Your Roadmap

Yeah. Mark, can you paint for me a roadmap a plan for others that wanna follow in your footstep that want to take control of their catalogs that want to tap into web three, who wanna buy back their art so they can own it. And then co-own it alongside fans and community members. How do you do that? Because what we see on the surface, Mark is the polished pitch and the money getting raised. What the hell happened in the back end, behind the scene to get to the point where you wrote this blog post to basically issue the process of buying back your work. How can other people basically learn from you to apply that in their own context,

The way it looks, the way the idea is presented, and the way it works with the token and what the token represents, that was like, I think there were like six kinds of versions of this whole thing. So the idea got workshopped and kind of brainstormed a lot. And I think that’s important for any idea anyway like to have a little brain trust, you can depend on people you can go to who are happy to sit down with you go through something and offer their perspective. Like no matter how on point we think we are, blind spots are human nature. Right. So rewinding before that, you know, I had to approach these labels and that wasn’t the most, friendly, or comfortable conversation to have,

You wanna leave us, like what?

This is unprecedented. We’ve never it’s happened before. So I was very, very polite. I’ve tried through this whole campaign to not look like I’m label bashing. Some labels are good.

Exactly. Like everybody has their own needs. Their own wants their own requirements. Like there is no bashing. Everybody has their own level of expertise, their own level of skills that they need outsourcing and help with. There is no cookie-cutter, like puzzle piece here. None of that shit exists. Just like a side tangent, I think like throughout a lot of the content that I create, people may interpret it as me bashing on like the middleman. And rather it’s less about that. It’s more so even the middleman can partake in this and just adjust their models to this new era. It’s a new way of thinking. It’s like, yeah, it’s happening, whether they like it or not kind of thing.

Exactly. Exactly. And that whole thing is if it’s equitable, I’m cool. But for me, equitable means that the person who created the art or the product, the art product should always be the majority earner always. And it’s things are the other way around. So it’s like, that’s where the middle man needs to catch up for sure.

But anyway, I digress. The first step, step one approach the label, approach your partners. Hey guys. Yeah. I want out step one, step two.

This is why, this is what, how much is this? You gotta put a dollar figure on it. Right.

How Do You Price the Material?

How do you figure out the dollar figure actually?

It’s based on projected future earnings. Okay. So that’s difficult with a perpetual deal like to buy a record out of a perpetual deal, you need a ninja level lawyer, for sure, but with a licensing deal, you can project this. Right. so you can look at it, so there are 20 years left on the license. It earns this much per year. So that’s that time’s 20. Maybe they wanna sweeten it up a little bit or whatever. So a little back and forth, you land on a number. One of the labels pushed back on me actually soon after, because I Sub tweeted something. But you know, like I know how to, subtweet like unless if I subtweet about you, unless you are the person that did the thing, no, one’s gonna what I’m talking about. So it’s like the fact you picked up on this is hilarious, but they were kind of like, look if you continue to tweet kind of like this, I was like, well, look, look at my Twitter feed. Most of what I talk about is about the music industry. Most of it’s anecdotal and most of it is redacted. So it is what it is, but it was interesting that there was that kind of immediate. Like they came back to me saying, well, we don’t have to give you your records back. And so that could be interesting. It’s like, you make the raise, go back to the label, like, Hey, can you invoice me for that bread? And I’ll send it. And they’re like, well, actually, we’re not gonna do the deal. Yeah. So that’s an interesting proposition there. And then that’s when it goes legal and then it becomes a battle. The principle of all this, honestly, is more important to me than my catalog. I want the catalog back, but the idea of proof of concept, around some disruption and new model iteration, like that’s so much more important to me because other people are gonna do this better than me. Right. Like without a doubt. And I’m so excited to see that happen.

Okay. So step one, contact them. Step two, if you need to get legality and lawyers involved. Step three, come to some terms of dollar amounts of what the value’s worth. Step four?

Get your shit back.

The Importance of ISRC Codes

Get your shit back. So issue the crowdfund?

Issue the crowdfund. We don’t even have the kind of best practice strategies around crypto crowdfunds at this point. Get the crowdfund out and then it’s just a process of like you, it’s transactional, you pay the amount, they take it off DSPs, you put it back up on DSPs if that’s what you wanna do. The ISRC codes will retain all the data. So what I mean, not literally not as a smart contract, but for example, if something’s had 10 million plays, it gets taken down. I put it back up as long as it’s the same length file, same ISRC code that all gets [inaudible]

So you lose all the streaming data around that too.

You retain it as long as you keep the ISRC code. And the file link was the same. This is like, the first time I thought ISRC codes are actually useful. I was always like if I can’t get my money instantly, what are they for? You know?

Okay. Solid. Solid. So what comes after that?

So yeah, after that as far as the buyback the governance level of the DAO, like that’ll be a discussion too. What happens next? Like I’ve imagined, what if I put the whole catalog on something built off Nina or something just what would that look like having the whole catalog on the blockchain? That’s one perspective. One perspective is like I was mentioning remixing reimagining. Then really it’s just about moving forward. Let’s make new work. When I say the back catalog is the foundational asset of the DAO and the treasury. What that means to me, most of all is there’s something there that can create value when needed. And that can’t quite be measured in advance. But my biggest motivation in anything is to create new art, new music, new collaborations, contribute newness to the world. I’m not trying to get caught up on a loop of like my back catalog, my back catalog, but, but it’s there to build off. So, I’m like all of us experimenting in plain sight which really excites me. I don’t know where that’s gonna lead and any roadmap with any more detail I’d be lying. Cause all I could promise is that it probably won’t be that. I was just gonna say there are projects in mind that are too alpha to share, but I just know this is gonna facilitate some wild stuff.

So that sounds like, that’s the end of everything. Like you got it now, figure out what to do with it. Figure out what to do with it, alongside the people who helped you purchase it and build some type of tangible community and figure out retention, figure out engagement, figure out how you can keep people engaged figure out how they can support you even more. What other things can you issue that they might be interested in doing? Because like talk about up-selling, right. In a very traditional sense. Like if you’re a collector, if I collected something, chances are I’ll collect something from that person again. If they continue to like, wow, me, quote-unquote, which you shouldn’t be doing things to wow other people, like if you pursue your craft and you pursue your creativity, that should be enough to bring more people in. You shouldn’t be doing for the collectors kind of thing. Like we look like we I’m a very amateur collector, like very amateur. Right. But I look for things that like, wow, my kind of thing. And if an artist continues to wow, you know, like, wow, like this is cool, like let’s support anyways. I digress. Okay, cool. I think that’s super helpful hope a lot of people listen to this and if they do decide to kind of pursue the same model that you’re pursuing and the same plan of action that they can learn from you and use you as a guide using this audio. So super helpful. You pitch this concept already to some of the labels for example, why don’t we try this and experiment with this? And you’re like, yeah, no, we can’t do that. And you would think that everybody is Spotify’s bitch. And you would think that this type of medium would actually be a cool experimentative medium to explore new ways to monetize new ways to engage. New ways to be innovative, new ways to be first at something. But you see people hesitant with it. Why like the first thing that comes to mind as to why they’re hesitant with it is because it’s like, it’s just change. It’s something new, it’s different. They have their business model. They make money from it. Like, this is what they’re used to, why the hell would you put money into something that you’re very uncertain about it. But if you look at some of the best companies in the world, they allocate money to R and D they try to find, they try to innovate. They try to spark things internally that might be, you know, an avenue that might grow or put them out business kind of thing. Right. And that’s not to say that web three will put them out of business.

No, no, it’s all good. I mean, you’re on point. Labels don’t have the profit margin for R and D let alone artist development. You know artist development is very rare now it used to be standard with labels. But I think there’s just so much risk. It’s the same reason we don’t see Drake in this space. It’s like, if it doesn’t work, that’s not a good look. So I think there’s a bit of insecurity around that, but more to the point I think right now is that the mainstream media narrative around crypto and blockchain is horrific and it’s like plays a role. It totally. I definitely had pushback. On my mailing list, I did a mail-out when buyback launched and, you know, most people who replied were supportive. I had to get one reply. It was like, you know, I’m a long-time fan. I love what you do, but what do you say to people who followed your instructions and then lost 30% of their money yesterday? The timing of buyback with the market, is not ideal, but of course, we know that, well, this is the best time to come in. But that whole education is so complicated. So for a label to risk that I think is there’s a lot of risks there, so I can see the apprehension, but the mindset doesn’t help. You’re right. Like there’s a fundamental mindset of, this is how the industry works. So this is how we work. And by the way, the deal we offer you is a little better than their deal. Therefore, we are the good guys. It’s like, no you’re still not the good guys.

DAOs That Buy Music Catalogs

You know, we’re starting to see these like DAOs dedicated to buying music catalogs in a very smart, intelligent way. Universal music group is not gonna spin up a DAO. At least not yet. Atlantic is not gonna do it. Interscope is not gonna do it. They’re gonna end up being LPs, investors in other DAOS that have this subject knowledge expertise that wants to spend time innovating that want to spend time experimenting, which will be beyond their grasp and beyond their wheelhouse of like central focus. So I think at some point we’re gonna see more of these like record labels. It’s like a dumb move, not to do it. It’s a dumb move, not to further explore what’s happening. And I may be dumb thinking, like, they’re not even doing, they’re probably already doing it. For the most part.

I’m sure every major has their kind of whatever they call it NFT department. Right. But I highly doubt they’re staffed by the right people. You know that, but just speaking to what you’re saying about like, hopefully, they would adopt in some way. When MP3 happened, like, I was, I was in London, I was very much part of a vinyl community. For someone to press up a 12 inch of some underground club music and sell 10,000 copies was not unusual. And that was pretty good money too. And then at the bottom end of the scale, it’s like you do a new 12 inch and maybe Japan pre-orders a thousand copies. And like now people struck to sell 500 units of like a super independent kind of release. So it was all about vinyl, sometimes CD, mostly vinyl, then MP3 comes in and vinyl, like, you know, we talk about the vinyl re resurgence because it died, it got killed. So early two thousand vinyl got killed and I saw distributors in London, they were the distributor for whole ecosystems of labels. And I saw them go bankrupt, like left right, and center because they didn’t believe MP3 was real music or if it’s not on vinyl, it’s not real or this is not even gonna take off. From our perspective now, 20 years later, MP3 underpins the entire music ecosystem. So yeah, I mean, that whole thing of adapt or die, I think is very real. Time will tell if web three is another of that kind of Z [inaudible]

Yeah. Yeah. Man makes a lot of sense. I mean, I’m rooting for you. I have full transparency. I contributed, I think 0.1 Eth if I remember correctly.

Thank you, Man. I appreciate you

Of course, dude. I know it’s not a lot, but hopefully, it’s something and I’m excited. I’m excited for your journey. I’m excited for people to be watching you because you are the example of what’s going on right now. Everybody’s building in public and I commend you actually for what you’re doing. I think it’s super cool. So Mark, before, before I let you go really quick any last words, any final messages because your crowd-fund is still going.

It is still going. Any support with the crowd-fund is amazing and that’s everything from a retweet to a conversation about it. Like, I know there are labels and artists seeing the crowd-fund and having the conversation and that really excites me. So yeah, I appreciate all the support with that. We have a few days left and are super hype to over the, over the goal line and just be able to get that project rolling. Beyond that, I’m here for everyone in the space to win and I’m seeing it happen. I’m seeing us all experiment in different ways, different models, but I really feel like, as a creator, whether it’s, music, visual, art, whatever it might be, if, if that’s your path action and there’s integrity and diligence there, then I want you to win. And in this new world, we’re all gonna make it right. I believe it. So I’m just happy to be part of the community and looking forward to what comes next.

What Happens if the Crowdfund isn’t Fulfilled?

Let me ask you this Mark final question. Because the crowd-fund is still going. What happens if it doesn’t get fulfilled?

That’s a great question. So if it doesn’t reach the goal, then I mean there’s different options. My first option is gonna be to wait a little bit for the market to recover and then I can reach the goal because the labels will come Fiat. So the goals are in Fiat. Beyond that, if I’ve gotta top it up myself, whatever has to be done? Like this is happening no matter what, the governance level of Mashy Beats with the buyback token, that’s happening, no matter what the next projects are happening, no matter what.


Amazing dude, I’m rooting for you, Mark. Where can we find you? Where can we learn more about what you’re doing before I let you go show yourself? Give us the details

I mean Twitter is the easiest place. It’s my initials. MDCL otherwise what do you mean otherwise? That’s where to find me, find me on Twitter. The pin tweet will always be whatever I really wanna let you know about and you’ll know what you’ll know where it’s at.

I love it, Mark. Good, man. Let’s do this again soon. We should definitely do one once the crowd-fund fulfills and you actually buy back the catalog that’s fulfilled and we’ll do a recap and if it doesn’t get fulfilled we’ll also do a recap and kind of learn about the process afterward and what need to kind of make it happen. So rooting for you, man. Let’s go!

Thank you, man. I appreciate you, man.

Of course. And we’ll cut it there. Amazing, bro. Cool. That was great.

Podcast Transcript

How On-chain Generative Music Works with Beat Foundry

Listen on: Spotify | Apple Music | Google Podcast


Mint Season 4 episode 13 welcomes Benny Conn, who’s a developer at and co-founder of Beat Foundry, an NFT platform for entirely on-chain generative and curated music. Benny dropped out of college to pursue his love for where crypto meets music and Beat Foundry was his first stab at this passion. Congrats to him and his team for a widely successful drop and I’m glad I was able to lead the post-mortem deep dive. We recorded this episode on Twitter Spaces so excuse the AirPods level quality. 

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • Intro
  • Who are your Biggest Jazz Music Influences?
  • Beat Foundry – Why is Generative Music Important
  • The First Drop: Ocarinas
  • Beat Foundry and Ownership
  • Does Music Need to Be On Chain?
  • Current State of Music NFTs
  • What’s the Next Drop in the Pipeline?
  • What’s Next? The Oshi Drop
  • Outro

…and so much more. 

I hope you enjoy our conversation. 

Support Season 4’s NFT sponsors!

1. Coinvise –

2. Polygon Studios –

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

What’s going on, dude?

How are you doing? I’m doing pretty well. I’m out here in Miami. Just enjoying the nice weather.

Let’s go, dude. I’m feeling good, man, feeling good. You guys gave me a heart attack on Saturday as I was freaking trigger fingering, trying to buy this drop. But let’s start with the congratulations. Okay. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard that a bunch of times, but congrats, bro. What a great drop. What a great concept. How are you feeling post drop? What’s going on in your head?

Yeah. Thank you so much. I mean, yeah, this first drop was so monumental for us. I mean we’ve been working on this for at least the idea has been, you know, around for since October maybe, and you know, it’s just been slowly figuring out, what kind of music we’re gonna be making and how the smart contracts are looking. And after all this time, finally being able to release something is so rewarding and have it go with such success, just seeing the fact that the website had trouble even handling the amount of people clicking the mint button. Although that was a struggle for me. I had a very stressful moment in that moment. It’s very nice to know that there was a lot of people there trying to get one of these, arenas and that, people are interested in them after the fact, you’ve got a lot of people now on the discord posting about making remixes, which was super cool. We wanna be seeing that kind of stuff then obviously, we just posted about our next collection, right? So we’re just super excited to keep going and moving forward with this

Benny, I was on the way home from the gym, because I thought it was 12:00 PM Pacific time, not 12:00 PM Eastern time. So it was 9:00 AM my time. I was coming back home from the gym on a Saturday morning and I think it was already like an hour into the mint. And I was like how did I mess this up? And I was in the car and you know, how shitty the minting experience is on meta mask mobile. So I downloaded Coinbase wallet and sent money to Coinbase wallet and created a Coinbase wallet account. But like I was trying to mint on the go, like on mobile. And I managed to get the two, I think I got three in the end from all the trigger finger clicks that I tried to do, but I was like, I had my meta mask and my coin wallet open, just try to mint. And neither platform would actually work like the minting experience on mobile sucks with wallets and not related to your site. And then I got home, because I was like, I need to get home and like try to do this from the desktop. And I got home and I had like my phone open and then I had like a brave browser open and a Chrome browser open trying to understand what the problems were of why I couldn’t mint. And dude, I was just like clicking on my phone, clicking on the mouse, just trying to figure this entire thing out. But needless to say, I’m glad I got, I got a few, but it was the most stressful mint I’ve ever been a part of.

Yeah. Sounds like you had just as much of a stressful experience as I did, man. That’s something a little tidbit that we kind of posted about just about that kinda whole stressful situation was on the back end, we actually kind of sound similar, you were downloading another wallet, right. We actually spun up a whole new database because the provider we were using couldn’t handle the traffic we were getting. So we had go to a different provider, spin something up separately and connect that to the mint site. So yeah, it was a fun experience. I don’t think I wanna experience something like that again.


These are the memories that we make online, but I digress. Okay. Let’s jump right in. Okay. Benny, who the hell are you like? What does the world need to know about you? Tell me about yourself. How’d you find Beat Foundery? Gimme some background

There’s a lot of platforms out there right now that are being written by these engineers that are trying to get into the music NFT space. I’m really thankful to kind of have a little bit of a different perspective than some people getting into the music NFT space. Whereas actually, I started out as a musician, so I’m a jazz musician by trade. I play jazz trombone. I went to the Manhattan school of music for one semester before realizing that that was not the right way for me, but all throughout high school, I was playing jazz trombone and I was very lucky enough to travel around and play in Japan, play across the United States play across Canada and really enjoyed that. I think when you’re in that kind of zone, when you’re playing and you’re traveling and you’re doing well with it kind of seems like the right decision to just go on and play music full-time. So I was like, you know what, gonna go to New York, try to make this as a full-time jazz musician, play at the Manhattan school of music. And I ended up getting into the Manhattan school music went there. And I think I realized while I was there that the lifestyle of a musician and specifically a jazz musician was definitely not what I expected. There’s a lot of things that I think people, apart from the jazz world in the music industry, we kind of just have to accept is the reality, right? Like popular music these days, you kind of have to fit into a couple different grooves to make sure that your music will be seen as some of the other songs, right? So sometimes you lose a little bit of that artistic freedom and creativity, because you just have to be able to pay the bills at the end of the day. And I realize that the lifestyle of making music that I didn’t really wanna make and trying to always be self-promoting going out there playing with people that I maybe I didn’t even like playing with, but I needed to make it that just wasn’t kind of where I wanted to be. So I decided that I would try to find another direction for myself, and I ended up dropping out because I had been programming for a while and wanted to take a deep dive into the computer science world. Next thing, you know, I’m meeting people who are working on what I thought was a side project at the time, but turned into a gallery. I’m sure many of you know what gallery is, and we’ve got the founder in the space right now, Mike Wen. They were so gracious to offer me a full-time job at gallery. So that’s what I’m at. I’m actually full-time at gallery. And then I’ve been doing Beat Foundery on the side, but now to kind of get into what Beat Foundery is. As a musician, I’ve been trying to find ways to take advantage of the NFT space and figure out kind of how I can share my art. Like so many others have been doing like, working at Gallery obviously we see all this art all day long, we allow people to display art, right. And I was then thinking, how can I add my own art to this, space, right. How can I make something myself? And that, for me, that was making music obviously right. Being a musician, but I didn’t wanna do it the way that I had seen. I didn’t wanna, make music NFTs the way I’d seen them so far. I’ve heard a couple music NFTs. I didn’t particularly like any music that I had seen thus far. And I think this was a little bit earlier in the space, surprisingly, even though this was in October, that was already, so far back, relatively to the music NFT space, we’ve moved forward a lot in couple months. I hadn’t heard anything that I particularly liked and I wanted to do something that was super unique. It wasn’t just about releasing music that I would normally release. Right. That if I was a producer or if the artist I’m working with, what they would release on Spotify, I thought I wanted to do something that would be different. Something that captured the space a little more than that. Right. Cause NFTs are really cool for receiving royalties and stuff like that. But I think there’s something you can do with just the medium of being on the blockchain. So that’s kind of where we decided it would be really cool if we could have on chain completely on chain, generative music. Right. And at that point, I had to figure out a technical way to do it, ended up accomplishing that. And that’s kind of how Beat Foundery started and we’re planning on working with other artists and yeah.

And here we are today, so really quick, a bunch of stuff to kind of pick apart, you started off playing music. Okay. And then you went into software development actually. When did you pick up software development?

Yeah, so I’m self taught. I ended up picking up probably around the beginning of the pandemic while I was home, I was still a senior in high school. So I was just home playing trombone most of the time, I had needed something else to do. So I was like, you know what, let’s try to learn something new. And that was software engineering for me.

Who Are Your Biggest Jazz Music Influences?

Yeah. What are your biggest jazz music influences?

For sure. Yeah. So as a trombonist it’s kind of hard. There’s not too many trombonists out there that I even would call a large influence. And in terms of my trombone playing, I would say mostly influenced by people, not many people might know these people, but JJ Johnson and then a modern trombone player named Vincent Gardner, but also the probably the two biggest ones that I’m most influenced by apart from just trombone are John Coltrane and Cannonball Aly, which are maybe people know them a little better, but yeah, very amazing music from them.

I’m actually like, I feel like jazz is one of those things where too many people don’t listen to it anymore. I grew up playing drums as well. Like you, Benny, you started off with music. I started off with drums. I’ve been playing since like five years old, got started playing rock then funk and then transitioned into like R and B gospel, jazz and fell in love with that entire world. But I’m curious, like use your reactions in the audience. I’m curious, how many of you guys still actually listen to jazz? Despite it being the influence in the backbone for a lot of like mainstream music, I’m kind of curious if you guys wanna show like a raise of hand, just to get an idea. But Benny super, super cool man. Really interesting backstory, surprisingly, you quit college. Like you literally dropped out, to pursue more of this stuff. Walk me through your mindset of quitting school. And what was that like?

Yeah. So for my mom, it was a bit stressful, right. For me I was just thinking that, you know what, I couldn’t see myself doing this anymore and it’s more important that I find somewhere where I’m gonna to be happy and where the lifestyle makes sense for me. Very stressful just trying to figure out where I wanted to go specifically, you know, like I had this idea of going into computer science and that kind of implies a lot of college and I had taken music school and they don’t give normal classes like math and English and all those classes in music school. So I had never,I was definitely behind and I would’ve had to take probably an extra year of college to complete. I ended up deciding that that would probably be the best path. It only worked out in my favor just through meeting, the connection I actually got into gallery with was through my sister’s boyfriend, just a crazy connection. So if that didn’t happen, I don’t know where I would be today. At the time though, it was just deciding, I guess I just need to transfer to another college. And, that seemed like the safest bet at the time.

I didn’t even introduce myself formally. So my name is Adam Levy. I host a podcast Mint on one of the episodes that I produced, I had Tyler Hobbs on the [inaudible]. The only reason I’m bringing him up right now, Benny is because he’s also a jazz drummer, super talented and like one of the godfathers of like generative art, right? Hence I think everybody’s familiar with the [inaudible]. Maybe not, if you’re not go search it up, but when I had him on, we talked about the links between music  and crypto, but more specifically his development style and how jazz has influenced his creative programming. Do you find similarities between your interest of music to how you kind of write code and how you come up with projects, obviously Beat foundery, is like the most like obvious example of that, but I guess underneath the surface, any common themes between your interest for jazz music to  your interest for creative coding  software development in general.

Totally. Yeah. No, I like to talk about this a lot because I think if I wasn’t a jazz musician, I think the amount of things that I’ve learned that apply to way beyond jazz just from playing jazz it’s absolutely monumental. The biggest one for me is probably just the improvising factor. Right. A common thing in the jazz world is, I see kind of a progression going forward in the modern jazz world that people are playing music that is more experimental and less honest, but they’re trying to play something that is maybe a little bit contrived, to get something new. Right. And I immediately, when I was playing jazz, I never liked that. I always wanted to play something that just related to who I am. Right. And sounded as relatable to as many people as I could, you know, connect to. Right. Just something that I’d much rather play, simple music. That sounds good and more people enjoy than making amazing music or, or not, obviously it’s amazing making experimental music, you know, that, that has, you know, amazing technical feats, right. That may not be as interesting to other people. Right. And I think that’s kind of how I go about a lot of the, the ideas that I have and the thought process through designing a smart contract and stuff like that. I just wanna make something that’s simple and works, something that accomplishes exactly what it needs to and nothing else. Right. And I think, alongside that, obviously the improvising nature of jazz, just having to, to learn a language because in a way, the improvising is kind of like a language, right? There’s patterns you kind of have to follow, not have to follow, similarly to, you know, English and other spoken languages and programming, there’s these kind of guidelines that normally lead to something that’s good, right. Something that maybe more people relate to. Right. And same thing with programming, right. It’s just another language, right. It’s just a language that you can utilize, to make something that accomplishes something for somebody else or helps somebody or allow somebody to relate to something. So for me learning these languages, I felt a little bit, you know, I feel like maybe I had an easier time learning the programming languages and learning how to, how to come up with something and immediately execute it just because of the nature of jazz being. That’s what you’ve got. You have a task, you have something you wanna accomplish. And now on the spot, you’re gonna have to come up with something, using the language you you’ve learned. Right?

Beat Foundry – Why is Generative Music Important

Yeah. You know, jazz music is such a creative, collaborative process, trading fours and doing solos between all the different musicians in the rhythm section, whatever it may be. Right. And yet you come out with this project called Beat Foundery, which is also very creative and collaborative process, that’s all generated on chain. I kind of see like the individual loops and the individual tracks that piece up a single song being very much reminiscent of the collaborative trading force process of that like jazz musicians or musicians in general go through. Would you say something similar? Would you disagree? Do you have any thoughts around that?

Totally, totally. We were talking actually about, if we were to possibly do a sort of jazz drop in the future, it would kind of be that sort of thing. We would have people improvise and come up with these different parts. Right. And then those get put together generatively. Right. But at the end of the day, they’re collaborating the initial, all of the initial components and they’re making something together that might work in other contexts. Right. So, that definitely relates. And then also, I think the idea that we want this music to not end at our compositions, right? So we’ve put this music on chain in a format that is very collaborative in nature. Right. It doesn’t define everything about the music and we can get into that in a little bit. We’ve got, what’s called a beat battle going on right now, which is where people are remixing some of the [inaudible] that they just minted and that’s because the music is meant to be remixed. We don’t give everything away. And each mint, we might have a nice recording that demonstrates kind of the initial intention of the music. But at the end of the day, this is very collaborative. We want to hear things that people can make with our music. And I think, yeah, that’s definitely inspired by all the amazing collaboration that I’ve had as a jazz musician and that my fellow co-founders have had as jazz musicians. Yeah.

Makes sense. All right. So on the topic of Beat Foundery, we’ve been talking a lot about it in a very general sense let’s hone in for a minute. Okay. Benny, like what is beat Foundery? Why should people care? Why is it important? Fill me in a little bit, like gimme some context

For sure. Yeah. So Beat Foundery is making, the pretty much the first of its kind completely on chain generative music where the musical output is actually on chain. Right? So we’ve seen some projects before that might be able to get code on chain that can be plugged in somewhere, that’ll produce some sort of sound output. Right. But now the music is entirely on chain, right? So it’s in this format called MIDI, which is right now, it’s the music industry standard for digitally communicating music. Every computer can read MIDI by default, if you click on a MIDI file on a Mac, it’ll open garage band, and it’ll already have all the tracks set up and even your browser like Google Chrome, we can read MIDI by default, right? So this is a very large format, but what’s cool about it is it only conveys the musical content of a song, none of the actual sounds or instruments, so that’s almost like written notation, but for a computer, right. If you’ve seen sheet music, you’ve got all these notes and rhythms everywhere, that’s pretty much what MIDI accomplishes. It just writes out the pitches, the notes, the rhythms, the time, the tempo.

So for those really quick, who don’t know that process, all the loops, all the beats, the rhythms, the symphony, whatever you loop together to create a song those were automatically generated, or did you create those yourself?

Yes. A big thing that we wanted to accomplish was to make the music really sound good and not sound like a computer, right. Cause like I was saying earlier with jazz, you know, I really like the music that I release to be relatable, right. And oftentimes if we allow a computer to have full control and I think this will get better over time. And it’s always very interesting to hear what comes comes about now with computer generated music, but I really wanted the music to sound relatable. So we decided if we could do some sort of combination between human composition and generative computer composition, right. Then that would be the best. So right now what we’ve been doing is we come up with these songs, right. That are divided up into we call them different cord progressions and each component of each song is written by a composer. Right. But on mint, every component gets put together to make a unique song every single time. Right. So those components might be the drum part, the melody, the intro, the solo. Right. And we’ve written all of those ahead of time. Right. And then when a song gets minted, there’s a couple rules that make sure it works tonally, make sure all the pitches line up. Once those rules have been met, a new song gets put together and minted for you. Right. So every person gets like this one to one connection with the artist, they’re the only one who owns that specific output, that specific composition of the artist, but also, you’ve got the idea of the collection, right. This giant collect of maybe for this first drop, it was 1500. Right. Did it all kind of relate and have some similarities maybe in the genre or the, the tonal qualities of them?

The First Drop: Ocarinas

Yeah. Okay. Makes sense. So the first drop that you guys had was on Saturday, right. And for those who are new, okay. We had some like commentary prior to starting, but it was a stressful drop and a very exciting drop too, because you said it was, it was basically the first of its kind. Tell me what was the drops name? I have a hard time pronouncing it.

So the drops name was called the Ocarinas and that was in reference to the video game, Zelda Ocarina of time. We wanted to kind of pay homage to the early users of the midi format, which were early video games in the eighties and nineties. By doing that, we decided we wanted to make music in a sort of video game genre style. Right. And that’s what led to the name being the Ocarinas.

So I’m gonna play one of, one of the ones that I collected just to give the audience some context. Okay. So hold on a second. So it’s like very gamified. Like you can get a good idea just by those like few seconds and not to run that for too long. But when I first heard it, because I remember Benny, when we were talking before this Twitter spaces, before the drop went live, like we really wanna create music composition that actually sounds good. That feels good, but is like generated on chain, right? Like that’s the whole like mission the whole drive. And when I heard this, I was like, wait a minute, this is very gamified. Like, can I imagine myself listening to this on Spotify, whatnot. But I guess the intention for this first drop was that direction to kind of celebrate Zelda and the gamification that came, I guess, with even some of your early inspiration, is that how I’m understanding it?

So maybe not my early inspiration. I was not alive in the eighties and nineties unfortunately, but I’ve been playing video games for a long time and I think, for this drop, yes. Our goal in the end is to have music. That is the kind of thing you wanna play on Spotify. Right. But for this first one, you know, we were accomplishing a lot of things for the first time. And our main focus was making this work. Right. Getting, getting the music on chain, making the generative stuff work and then allowing people to participate in this like historic moment for us, and hopefully the music and the NFT space by owning something that does in fact sound very nice. You know, like even if you might not listen to it on Spotify every day, the melodies are very catchy. They fit together. It’s a fun listen every time.

Yeah. Yeah. That makes sense. So it’s a very creative process. I guess a generative computer creative process, but I guess my question to you is like, how does Beat Foundery allow the creative process to continue beyond the artist behind the collection? Like what are you guys doing to kind of empower that element?

For sure. Yeah. So I think the big one is just kind of the nature of the format we’re releasing the music in. So I had mentioned that the MIDI does not define anything else about the music other than just the notes and rhythms and pitches and tempo, right? There’s all these other parts of the music that can be manipulated to make something super unique. We wanted to kind of leave the MIDI as basic and as, surface levels we could so that our collectors, or even those who aren’t collectors can download the MIDI and make something really cool with this. Right. And so in that kind of sense, it’s continuing this creative process beyond from what we originally intended with how we wrote the music. Right. And that’s really cool because we get to impart, we almost get to share the process with the community or with whoever wants participate. Right. We get to write this music and an artist will release their music and have these one-to-one connections with each individual collector. But then even further than that, even if you’re not a collector, even if you are a collector, you can create an even deeper connection with your artist by writing some sort of remix or making a visualization. What’s really cool is we’ve already seen some of that stuff kind of happen with this first drop. It’s really cool to see the interaction between the artist for this first drop and the community and see how everybody’s ideas kind of collide on the different art that was produced.

Beat Foundry and Ownership 

So let’s talk more about the mechanics. Okay. Actually, what are you buying in reality? Cause ownership value, these are all very arbitrary, gray area concepts that many other platforms are exploring. Like what does it mean to actually own something on chain now in the context of music NFTs, and even for further in the context of Beat Foundery, when I buy this really cool sound, inspired by Zelda, as you mentioned, like, what do I actually get with that beyond the NFT? Do I get to own the music so that then I can go and partake in that collaborative process, Benny? Or what does that really entail?

So we definitely wanted to make sure that not just the collector has full access to the music, right? So as a collector, when you’re buying this music, I think you’re more buying into the artist than you are buying the actual music itself. I always say that I don’t foresee in the near time future, and this might be a hot take, but I don’t foresee the web three space replacing something like Spotify, or Apple music. I really hope that artists even release their music, maybe on different platforms, some might decide to release one song as an NFT and then release something else on Spotify or Apple music. But I think as a collector, you’re almost in a different category of fans, right. So there’s just the regular fans that might listen your music on Spotify. Right. But then there’s also the fans that 10 years ago, would’ve bought your vinyls right or gone to a concert. Right. And I think by buying into these NFTs, I think that’s closer to what you’re getting. Right. You’re buying into the artist and yes, you have, the ownership tied back to you, right. You’ve got this NFT that now kind of represents your digital identity in a way. I think it’s more about just this connection between the artists and that’s really what you’re buying. Right.

Got it. Got it. So beyond the actual minting of the songs beyond the generative element. So when you talk about the experience, the connection with the artist, like how does Beat Foundery actually empower that?

Yeah. So I was saying a little bit earlier that I think the main thing is just that as a generative piece, you’ve got this connection with the artist that is unique. Whereas I think there’s a lot of one of ones out there that are super cool, but maybe they’re done in a sort of fractionalized way, which I think is interesting. But at the end of the day, you’re kind of lumped into either being the only guy who has this one of one, right. Being the only person who has this and that, that kind of restricts a lot of the other people from feeling that same connection that, that one person might have, or in the case that is fractionalized, maybe there’s a, a thousand or 10,000 different almost copies, NFT copies of a given song right now. You’re kinda lumped into this bigger crowd again. And although that’s really cool, you still have a closer connection with that artist. You don’t have the same one to one connection that having a piece of generative art allows you to have. Right. And then also, the music itself is different format. As we explore different genres, there’s different, there are some limitations to doing this sort of generative style, right. And as we’ve seen with art blocks, it’s almost a new medium, right. It introduces a different form of art. And now, instead of just having, like I said, that regular piece of music, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Of course now you have a piece of art that couldn’t have been made in any other way. Right. It’s something that it’s more about now, the art right now, you’ve got, rather than this, just being about the artist, you’ve got something that is standalone

Does Music Need to Be On Chain?

Yeah. So, One thing I wanna talk about is like, there’s a lot of buzz words in crypto that stifle alot of people getting into the space specifically like creators and musicians, all these concept of doing something, quote unquote on chain or minting, or let alone NFTs social tokens, all these different keywords tend to cause a little confusion when trying to figure out what the landscape is for music creators, for example, now one of those buzzwords again, is on chain, right. And that’s something that you guys pride yourselves in. Why is it important for music to be on chain, let alone, like, why do NFTs, like music NFTs need to be on chain? Like obviously, okay. Nfts are on chain inherently. Like that makes sense. But why does music need to be on chain? You think?

Yeah. So I think, think the, the big one for me is tying music back to the creator. We kind of see this future where the royalties or whatever people are producing music or playing music is pulled directly from the blockchain. Right. And that allows the blockchain to kind of enforce these rules that, otherwise would maybe be kind of pushed around. I was talking with somebody else earlier about how there’s this website where you can as a DJ, grab some samples to play at whatever show. Right. And you might pay $50 for that sample, but then make a hundred thousand dollars from the show. Right. And each DJ is different. Somebody might make a lot less, right. But at the end of the day, there’s no real way right now to tie that music back to the creator at play time, right. Or at production time at release time, right. If it’s being sampled or if the different parts of the music are being used in a different song. Right. And by using the kind of smart contract, which is the way the [inaudible] blockchain works, having kind of trust-less system, we can allow these artists to release their music in a way that will always tie it back to them. Right. In some cases it might tie it back to the collectors too. It might allow the collectors to kind of participate in this. But having it on chain is really important. So that in the future, when we have more things plugging into the grander system and we have, you know, there’s other projects like a Arpeggi, that have an on chain DAO, which is like a music production software. Right. But it’s on chain. We have all these different platforms that are plugging into this trust-less system, we can ensure that these artists are getting paid and the collectors are receiving what they were promised. I think that’s really important. I think that’s just one of the biggest, that’s not even an NFT specific thing. That’s just an Ethereum, blockchain huge benefit to everybody.

How far away are we from seeing that, like all these different components being programmed and developed and manage and operated on chain from composition to distribution, to payment, to all these different moving parts that are typically off chain.

So I wish I could give a better answer because, a lot of people have asked us kind of how we want to think about royalties and how we want to go about all these different things that I was just talking about. Right. But at the end of the day, we can’t do everything on our own. Right. There are other groups popping up, like Arpeggi that are kind of taking over the on chain DAO space. There’s a couple groups that are going into royalty specific, there’s catalog, which is doing one of on and those are all great. I think we’ll just have to hope that more of these will get spun up in the different areas that are kind of a little bit lacking right now. Like, royalties, I think is a big one that kind of hasn’t been super standardized yet. And I hope we get there. I don’t foresee that Beat Foundery will be the ones doing that. I think we’ll be participating right using these other platforms, but we’ve got a lot to focus on just, releasing music in a generative style. Eventually, we wanna kind of release a platform where anybody can release their music in our format. And I think that’s kind of where our direction’s gonna be. So I really hope that a lot of these other groups in the space pick up their game and hop on the train, but we’ll see. My best guess would probably be just based on the way I see things moving so quickly in the space, I think we could see something very close to what I described within the next year or two but that’s just hopes.

Yeah. Makes sense. Can you talk more about like what the composition process looks like for an artist on Beat Foundery?

Yeah. So I think what’s really cool as an artist, is that the process is pretty similar to what most artists are already doing. Right. So MIDI is something that is by default read by all of these production interfaces, like logic Ableton Reaper. So all these production interfaces that allow digital music producers to make their music, they by default export their music into MIDI. So if an artist is gonna do a drop on the Beat Foundery, right, it’s pretty much just like making the music they would normally make. And then just sending it over, or maybe writing a little bit more than they would be used to accomplish all of the generative aspects, right. To, to have the amount of melodies we would need to make a bunch of different combinations. Right. So like with our first drop, the composer wrote to the songs, the seven original chord progressions, the way they would normally write any piece of music. And then on top of that just wrote, maybe we can mix in this melody here, right. And then we can have this intro be replaced over here. And then when we do the generative stuff, it’s gonna be put to together into a different combination that we didn’t even expect in the first place.

Current State of Music NFTs

Benny, what do you think the current state of music NFTs are today?

Yeah, so I think this kind of ties into where I see the direction of this space going, and I think there’s already some there’s some players in the space, like I was talking about Catalog and Arpeggi. I would say that right now, we’re just in this early stage where right now, it’s more about the music being released. But I foresee in the near future, like I was saying that the, the space might transition into more these kind of services that allow artists to reap in the benefits of, of things like royalties and and releasing their music in different formats.

Interesting. So talk to me more about those different, those things beyond royalties, beyond composition, anything else you’re specifically excited about?

So I can definitely talk about some things we’re excited about with Beat Foundery specifically, right? The other generative formats. I think that would be super cool to kind of reveal a little bit for those of you that are here listening. This is kind of some alpha, I guess. We’re planning on doing a couple different generative formats in the future. We don’t wanna just do the format we’ve been doing right now, which is having all these different songs that are divided up into different cord progressions and then mix together into using the different stems and different components of a song. Right. We also were experimenting with ideas of possibly releasing an album where each. You might as a collector purchase the album, and then every time you listen to the piece of music or a song on that album, right. It might be different depending on some conditions on the blockchain or even who’s listening to the music. Right. I think that’s something that we’re definitely looking to pursue. What about just releasing the components themselves as NFTs and allowing each collector to, maybe grab a couple different components, put them together themselves to make a unique piece, right. That’s almost like the kind of sampling culture that we have today, right. Where you’ve got all these different parts of a song, right. And those might get put together in the end, rather than us doing it on our end, rather than us making each song and putting together all the combinations, you might purchase each individual combination as you, as you will. Right. And then make something really cool with it.

What’s the Next Drop in the Pipeline?

Oh, okay. Got it. Got it. Got it. So what’s the next drop in the pipeline then?

Yeah. So the next drop we just announced this is with a new artist called Oshi or he goes by Oshi he’s pretty popular in the music NFT space. So far, he’s been releasing on sound XYZ and catalog. He’s gonna be doing a sort of indie music drop. What’s really cool about this is with our first drop, we did you know, all digital music, no lyrics, but this one there are gonna be generative lyrics. So he’s going to be, writing all these different lyrics and, and we’re gonna be mixing matching. And on the recording of the music that we do, that we, we give alongside the, the MIDI that is going to be on chain. He is going to be singing and fully producing the music, which is gonna be that’s gonna be super sick. Specific dates will come soon for when this will be released, but I expect within the next two months, we’ll be able to get this out there. Oh,

Wow. So actually, what does that entail really? So he’s leading the composition, the producing. So is he creating the loops that then get randomly generatively overlapped on one another? And I say that, because I don’t understand the keywords and like the actual technicality behind it. So maybe you can help you out with that

For sure. Yeah. So he is basically going to be writing, the first step is just deciding on what kind of music, right. And then writing a couple songs that kind of capture the idea that we’re trying to accomplish. Right. And once we’ve got a couple songs, these are the type of songs that he would release his one of ones on catalog, just regular songs, with vocals. Right. But then once we have these songs, what he’s gonna do is he’s gonna find parts of the song that could be replaced by something else. Right. Maybe a different melody, a different set of lyrics, a different solo, a different drum part. Right. And he’s gonna write out all those different drum parts and all those different solos and all of those different melodies. Right. And when we put that stuff on chain and it gets minted, a random combination of each of those parts that he already wrote are gonna be put together in a way that makes each song sound good. Right. And what’s exciting about this one is like we were talking about, the, Spotify nature of it, right. Having the songs sound good as if something you would listen to on Spotify or the regular popular music that you’d be listening to. I really think this one is going to accomplish that because this artist is absolutely amazing. I very much enjoy listening to his music and then having the lyric makes it just a lot more relatable.

You know, I’m so excited about that. That’s gonna be so sick. That’s gonna be so cool. I haven’t come across a music NFT for the most part that’s been composed and constructed like that. So interesting. I’m really curious, like I’m having a hard time imagining what that would sound like in reference to using the first drop as the example for like the foundation and structure with how you guys approach things at the Foundery. So I’m really curious to see what, what kind of comes out of his circle and the level of experimentation that will happen on chain. That’s really exciting.

Yeah. No, it’s super exciting. I think what’s great about this is when you get, when you, maybe when you, you know, if you’re, if you’re minting or, or purchasing one on the secondary market, when you listen to one of these it’ll sound like something that was fully composed all the way through something like you’ve been listening to on Spotify, right. Each individual output should sound like a fully complete song. Right. And we’re super excited to, to make that work. I have, a lot of faith in Oshi, his music is absolutely amazing. So I think it’s gonna be amazing.

What’s Next? The Oshi Drop

Amazing. I wanna open the, the room up to the audience. If you guys have any questions for Benny or on chain generative music. Anything like that, feel free to put your hands up and I can bring you guys up. Benny, talk to me, what else is up and coming in the pipeline. So the Osho drop is coming up. Anything after that, or are you taking it a step at a time?

Yeah, so yeah, we do like to, to think pretty far ahead, I think kind of setting goals in different lengths of time is good. So obviously the Oshi is, the first goal we wanna accomplish, we want to have this done within the next two months. But we also are thinking about the year and we released a little bit about, you know, talking about how we want to do five different, at least five different drops with five different genres of music. And that, you know, this is gonna be the second one, right? This will be indie music and we’ve already done video game music. We haven’t exactly decided on anything specific, but the artist that has done the first drop is also working on another collection that we will probably release after, we’ve got a couple artists we’ve talked to and are on board, we’re not there yet to be able to release their names and say for sure that they will be dropping on our platform. What I’ll say is, we’ve definitely got for this whole year we’re lined up, we’re packed, we’re ready to, release music all throughout the year and hopefully have some things going on at the same time so that we can get, maybe two or three drops done in a couple months. Right. I think that would be the goal for sure.


Amazing dude, I’m super excited. So this will be distributed on the podcast. So for everyone, who’s gonna be listening later where can we find you? Where can we learn more about Beat Foundery before I let you go?

Yeah, for sure. So best place to follow what’s going on is Twitter. And that’s just @beatfounderynfts. From our profile picture, you can get the discord link. Discord is definitely the best place to talk with us individually to reach out to us or just to participate in the community. And then if you’re looking for the website where we do the actual collection drops that is