Why Beats, Loops, and Sample Packs Need Crypto and Web3

Two-time Grammy-winning music producer !llmind shares his motivation for launching Squad of Knights and argues why beats, loops, and sample packs need to be on-chain.
Two-time Grammy-winning music producer !llmind shares his motivation for launching Squad of Knights and argues why beats, loops, and sample packs need to be on-chain.

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Background

Mint Season 4 episode 23 welcomes two-time Grammy award-winning producer !llmind who shares his motivation for launching Squad of Knights and argues why beats, loops, and sample packs need to be on-chain.

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • 00:40 – Intro
  • 09:24 – Understanding IP On Chain
  • 12:23 – How to Eliminate People Sending Files to One Another; Sending the NFT and Integration
  • 15:56 – !llmind’s Point of View on Web Three and Web Two
  • 19:08 – Why do Beats, Loops, and Sample Packs Need to be On Chain?
  • 25:00 – How to Track Payments On Chain?
  • 27:09 – Who Does Web Three Work Against in the Music Industry?
  • 29:13 – Why !llmind is Starting Squad of Knights
  • 45:23 – How do People Gain Access to !llmind as a Producer and Mentor?
  • 48:03 – Community Building in Crypto Around NFTs
  • 52:16 – Roadmap Project Launch
  • 01:02:39 – Outro

…and so much more. 

I hope you enjoy our conversation. 


Support Season 4’s NFT sponsors!

1. Coinvise – https://coinvise.co

2. Polygon Studios – https://polygonstudios.com

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


!llmind Welcome to mint my friend. How are you doing? Thank you for being on

!llmind: My G. Adam. Appreciate you dawg. It’s honor to be here, man you already know.

Intro

Dude, I’m excited to have you on. You’ve been like, you’ve been pretty loud in the NFT space for quite some time talking on the music side of things on the general NFT side of things. So, genuinely a pleasure to have you on let’s dive right in. Okay, for those who don’t know, you, okay, which I find hard to believe. But for those who don’t know you, how do you introduce yourself, but more specifically, tell me about your journey into crypto.

!llmind: Cool. Yeah. Well, first of all, it’s honor to be here always. Um, man, how do I describe myself? I’m just a kid from New Jersey, who’s curious about a lot of things. First thing I was curious about was music and took matters into my own hands. And like dove right into the art of music production, was inspired by guys like J Dilla. And Pete Rock and Dr. Dre and timberland and Neptunes, and went from took that curiosity and started in mom’s basement. And you know, almost 20 years later, I’m thankfully still around and doing what I love and, you know, it’s a new adventure every day, and I got into crypto. You know, you what? I want to say my entry point into this whole thing was probably October of 2020. So, a good friend of mine, Jan Silva, who is an amazing artist, amazing photographer. He actually told me about NFT’s back in October of 2020. And, and at around that time, I was kind of like, looking for a way to, just something different to do in terms of like, the little side businesses that I was running, so like selling drum kits, you know, I have a very long-standing history of, of interacting with like, digital media and selling digital goods, sound, sound packs, stuff like that. And so, when I heard about blockchain technology, and a way to authenticate digital files, I was like, immediately blown away and intrigued. So that was kind of like my first introduction, NFT’s. But I didn’t really start getting fully into it, until around January of 2021. And that was when, you know, shit really got real for me. And I think for the rest of the world, I kind of you know, it changed everything, right? And when you combine that with the pandemic, and everything that was going on, it was an eye opener. So that was my kind of entry point. And since then, I’ve been doing a lot of homework and studying and getting into discords, and interacting with different people in the community and learning a bunch. And I’m still learning right to this day, I’m still, I still consider myself very fresh and very new to the space. But we’re here now. 

We’re here. Now, can you walk me through your first few drops that you actually issued? And like what you learned from doing them? Because I remember in the beginning, I was doing some research on you, you focused a lot, like you said, On the Beat side of things and the music side of things for the first few drops. Walk me through that, how they how did those come to life? What were some takeaways, lessons learned? and whatnot?

!llmind: Sure. So, I’ll take you to the beginning of like, what it is, and then what we did. So back in 2011, I don’t know a lot. I don’t know if you guys know.

Damn. 2011.

!llmind: Ten years ago, right, I released my first sound pack, right. And if you don’t know what a sound pack is, a sound pack is basically a zip file containing different types of audio sounds that are original, you know, snare drum sounds, kick drums, high hats, drum loops, melodies, original melody loops, stuff like that. And they’re basically tools for music creators, music producers. And back in 2011, this wasn’t a thing at all, like if you wanted to purchase sounds, you had to go to Guitar Center, or very, very few online retailers sold actual, you know, sounds. And it wasn’t really, there wasn’t really a market for it yet. So, 2011 I told myself, I’m like, I wonder if there is a market for me to sell my own original drum sounds and Melody loops that I created from scratch. And I’m wondering if there’s other music producers out there that would want to use them. And so, I did that in 2011 You know, on my blog site, and ended up blowing up and then from there, I migrated to a Shopify account and created a Shopify, and it turned into a whole thing, you know, and, you know, 10 years later, it’s become a multi-million dollar a year business. It’s grown to about a $10 billion a year market cap globally, which is huge for my industry. And so, in 2019, no, early 2020, okay, it was January 2020. I decided to release a sound pack on eBay. Right? So, I told myself, I’m like, instead of selling the sound packs individually for like, $20 $30 each, and sell, you know, an unlimited amount of them. What if I sold a one of one, right? And so, I was like, I’m going to create a one-on-one sound pack and sell it on eBay. And this was the beginning of January, or the beginning of 2020. So, I did it, and ended up selling for like $12,000 for one sound pack, right? So exclusive one of one, you know, kind of similar to like the Wu Tang album, The one of one type thing, but it was a sound pack. And so that was unheard of at the time. So, I did that. And then October hits, like I said, 2020, October hits, I hear about NFTs. Jan Silva puts the puts a battery in my back. And I’m like, Dude, this is crazy. We might be able to do an NFT sound pack. So, I think it was February of 2021. If I’m not mistaken. February 2021. I release a one of one NFT sound pack, which is the first of its kind. No one’s ever done that before. I did that in January of 2021. On mintable. Right. And I did it and it sold for 4.5 Ethereum. And, and back then it was 4.5 I think was like $8,000.

And that and that was for one buyer. Right? Because it was one

!llmind: That was for one and mind you these are going for $20 $30. 

Right.

!llmind: In the market. So, I sold a one on one for I mean, I don’t know what that is. 8,000x.

Yeah, yeah, crazy.

!llmind: Right. So that kind of created like a bit of a shockwave. And it definitely woke me up to how powerful NFT’s could truly be. If you associate them with like the right utility. And here’s a little fun fact. So, the person, I want to put them on the spot, the person who purchased the sound Pack NFT for $8,000 for pro five Ethereum. They actually recently used one of the sounds in that sound pack and got a placement on Migos his album, and they’ve since 20x their investment.

Wow. And were you able to recoup any of that? 

!llmind: No.

Was it an exclusive outright buy, the one of one?

!llmind: It was exclusive 100% ownership. And so, from there, I told myself I’m like, that’s, that’s, at least to me, that’s what makes the most sense with NFT’s is, you know, and this is not taking anything away from other types of utilities and use cases. Sometimes, an NFT is meant to be a work of art. But for the NFT’s that aren’t meant to be a work of art, you got to ask yourself, what kind of value am I giving to the person? Like, is this something that they’re going to make money off of later or hang up in their living room or, or actually use for something and maybe make money from it in another way. And so, I love the idea of giving intellectual property to the person that invests or purchases the NFT. And that’s exactly what I did with the with the sound pack. And I’m super happy that you know, the person that bought it has since like gone on and done some cool things with it. So that’s the part of the NF T’s that I really love.

Understanding IP On Chain

Got it. Can you walk me through like your journey of understanding like IP on chain? Because when you sell something outright, something that’s traditionally done through paperwork and a ton of middlemen, right to kind of make a sale online, you actually just did that one transaction. Right. So, was there something in like the unlockable content that was able to provide like a legal contract to sign to make it official off chain? Or how did you kind of walk through those problems?

!llmind: Yes, so I I think that we’re kind of still in real time figuring that out. I don’t know if there’s like a foolproof method on deploying that. But from the one of one pack that I released a year ago, what we did was I had my attorney write up, you know, an exclusive contract that pretty much grants full usage forever to the person to use all of that IP that they purchased in the pack. So that’s one way of doing it is a natural just like web two you know, contract that comes with it. But in terms of having that actual you know, information in the smart contract, I think that would be probably the next step is if I were to do this again, it would be the contract, but in the smart contract so that whoever owns that piece has those rights. But again, you know, it’s very still very new.

 Yeah. Yeah.

!llmind: You know, that’s what my instinct tells me, but I think it’s something that we need to figure out collectively.

You know, it’s really cool. Like the evolution of the marketplace, you started selling that one on one on eBay, which is something like when you look back and you try to use eBay today, you basically use it for like physical items, right? And it makes you think, like how early the concept of NFT’s were without the buzzword of NFT’s, right? And now come to today, now you’re releasing your own sample packs on chain that, like have exponential more value than if they were off chain. Right. And you’re doing in a very curated one of one way to keep it super legit super scarce, which outright has its own value within itself, right, setting up that dynamic. So.

!llmind: Exactly. Yeah.

Yeah, keep going, keep going, you’re gonna say something?

!llmind: I’m gonna say, you know, it’s, it’s a little bit different from like, you know, an artist selling an mp3, right, which is also I think, you know, something that we want to talk about today. But, you know, if I’m a rapper, and I have a song, and there’s a million things I can do to turn that into an NFT. But essentially, my NFT’s, my sound pack NFTs are like, I’m selling the shovels, I’m selling the shovels to the people, right? For them to use, I’m selling tools to create music. So, it’s a little bit of like a, there’s like an additional like, layer underneath that, which is what I think makes some of my stuff a little more unique, because it’s very much more of a person. But all of it excites me, man, anything that has to do with like music and chains and NF T’s like, I’m super fascinated. You know.

How to Eliminate People Sending Files to One Another; Sending the NFT and Integration 

It’s interesting. For the last few days, I was learning more about like how the producer industry works from like a grain of salt point of view. And you see, like, up and coming producers, uploading loops, sample packs, beats whatever, on Dropbox, right? And sending like files to people in their inbox, and basically defining the terms of the usage of the file in the text file itself within the email. And it makes you think, actually, how outdated and how old a 2022 music industry actually works with the advance of technology that we have today. And it makes me think like, could NFT’s actually be the new standard for ownership for beats, loop samples, etc? And what does that look like unlike when you scale that process? Right? How do you actually eliminate people sending copies of files to one another, more so sending the NFT as the actual example of what they want to integrate into a song or sell to a producer or whatnot? Do you have any thoughts around that?

!llmind: Yeah, I think I mean, the whole thing is so interesting, man like, I feel like on one hand, it’s a golden opportunity for us to potentially, you know, create a brand-new way of doing things, which I think is at this point much needed. With that on the other hand, you have to be realistic about the idea that there’s a system in place in music business, that’s obviously skewed to benefit one party and one type of person. And that needs to either be completely changed, or it needs to be completely obliterated and replaced. And that’s a really, that’s a really a tough battle. That’s a very, very bold adventure to go on. But I’m all for it, like I’m with the smoke, right? Like, I’m with the smoke, but you know, that in my opinion, that’s what needs to happen. Because when you think about performing rights organizations, right, PROs ASCAP, BMI CSAC. That’s just America alone. You’re not Europe, Asia. So, you’re talking about all the PROs have to be on board with this. All the major labels have to be on board with this. All you know, Harry Fox agency, and all the royalty collection agencies have to be on board with basically saying, Alright, cool. We’ve been making billions and billions of dollars every year. But, you know, let’s just switch everything up and go with the web three route because the artists are fighting for it, and it’ll help them and it’s just the right thing to do. Like, no, that’s not gonna happen. Yeah, that’s not gonna happen, like you have streaming services like Spotify. Like they’re not gonna bow. They’re not gonna just say, Well, okay, cool. Well, I guess we’re web two and the web three community. They got us we’re done. That’s not gonna happen. That’s not gonna happen guys like and trust me as much as I want that to happen. I do as a producer, as a songwriter, like, of course, I want that to happen. But we have to be realistic. Like, there’s so many innovative forward-thinking people that are creating amazing technology in web three. But we have to really be mindful of exactly what we’re up against. It’s either we have to work with them, or we have to completely obliterate them. And so, it’s your choice, right? Like, it’s gonna be interesting to see what happens.

!llmind’s Point of View on Web Three and Web Two

You know, you know what is interesting? You see startups actually saying, the new payment rails, the new system needs to be completely on chain. And there’s some that believe the thesis that there needs to be like a collaboration and build rails between web two and web three, right? There needs to be a way to work with Spotify, bring streaming data on Chain, make royalty payments via USDC or whatever, then get Airdrop to all the contributors and their wallets associated through splits. And it’s very hard to tell which one would actually win and which one will actually work, from your point of view is the way to completely go web three and build an entirely new streaming platform, distributor, publishing platform, royalty, everything, like the entire operation is it is it better to just redo that, or work with web two and build rails from what to two, web three?

!llmind: I think that the better way, like if it was, if it was like, our choice, like if we were, if we had the Infinity Stones, we can snap our finger and make it happen. I would program my Infinity stones to completely get rid of all the streaming services and create a brand-new web three thing. Like, the entire industry needs to be replaced, I’ll be honest, like, you know, this is me, like trying to be, you know, because I know a lot of really good people that work for, obviously, for labels, and these are good people. But we’re all doing a job that we were assigned to do, right? Like, you can’t blame the good people that work at Spotify for what’s happening. You can’t blame all of them. So, this is no direction to any one of them. But at the end of the day, if we’re keeping it really transparent, we need a brand-new system guy, like we need a complete overhaul. Like we need to, we need to replace the idea that like music producers, typically get four points per song per album on royalty. You know, a four-point royalty is, I mean, for every 100 million streams, I’m making $4,000, that makes no sense. Like, we need to redo the numbers, we need to redo the process of how songwriters, producers, artists get paid. We need to redo how publishing works. I mean, there’s a lot of amazing people that work in publishing, that are creating new systems like MDRC deals are no longer really a thing, you have term deals. Now, you have co pub deals, you have admin deals, those are all really great. And they’re working for a lot of people. But to be honest, we need it, we need some new energy, we need to overhaul and if we want web three to be the thing. Like you said, I think having a railroad like a railway to kind of bridge the two together and maybe segue into some different partnerships that might make everything work and have it all kind of coexist, that’s probably the most realistic way to go. And it could work that way. But again, I think only time will tell. And again, that’s gonna take time. You know.

Why do Beats, Loops, and Sample Packs Need to be On Chain?

Yeah. You know, it’s interesting. All these streaming platforms were very much intended to benefit the record label in their large catalog of work, right. And I think we can all agree like the revenue models and the royalty models behind Apple Music, Pandora, Spotify, etc. Don’t really value music, the way it’s supposed to be properly valued. And hence why we’re seeing like this entire new wave of music NF T’s where you have platforms like catalog, sound dot XYZ, Mint songs, etc. Treating music as a collectible, as if you were to collect the fine piece of art, right? And it’s interesting, because like, back in the day, you would collect vinyl, right? Sure, they had utility of playing them. But these were physical objects that people enjoyed collecting. We’re seeing that same mindset being applied in the digital realm as well. But one thing that I find super interesting behind beats loop sample packs is that these assets, these on chain assets actually have genuine utility. They’re the molecule, the atomic unit of a song, right? And being able to actually purchase these things and create utility and make a song from them, actually introduces a whole new layer and like building blocks, and now I start thinking about defi and how this entire kind of ecosystem kind of bridges in to one another. So, seeing what you’ve done so far in producing and creating genuine value from a producer’s point of view on what you want to sell sample pack for, not necessarily plugging into let’s say splice or beat stars etc. Letting them define whatever it is that art is worth on their platform, is just interesting to see. And I guess from like your point of view, okay. Why do beats, loops, sample packs actually need to be on chain? Like, what is the problem that’s solving? I know you touched upon it a little bit earlier, but just to give more clarity to the audience that doesn’t really have true familiarity behind it. Yeah, what was like the aha moment for you? Was it the provenance? Was it the ownership layer? Was it the royalties on chain, like, walk me through more of your mental model behind that?

!llmind: So, the number one issue it solves is ownership. Right? And so, think of it this way, think of it like you said Legos, right. So, let’s say these sound packs are Legos. And let’s say for instance, I have a Lego set. And I want to sell it, right. And so, let’s say I placed this Lego set in Toys are us, there’s, you know, 50,000 units that are shipped that are expected to sell in all these platforms. And after a couple months, all 50,000 of those Lego sets are sold, right. And it’s the same Lego set. So, you have 50,000 different people that have this Lego set. Now, let’s say they put the Lego together, and they create what was intended to create right from this Lego set. And now they want to resell that Lego set to other people, well, it’s going to be difficult to do that, because you have, you know, 49,999 other people that have the same exact Lego set. And if you sell your Lego set, you’re not selling, you don’t, you don’t have that ownership to sell that Lego set, because there’s you know, tens of thousands of other people that have the same one. And you, you really have no way of proving that you own it, right, you just have a receipt that you purchased it. So that’s sort of how I look at these sound packs, is, it’s a way to transfer true one on one ownership to use this one Lego set for this one purpose for this one person, right. And so, it just kind of solves all those issues of like usage, what you’re able to use, and create with that sound pack. And it gives that person that freedom to be able to take advantage of using that sound pack the way it was meant to be used. So that’s number one problem it solves. And this is guys, by the way, this is a huge problem in our industry, you know you have, I mean, even me personally, I’ve run into cases where you know, one producer will use one of my sound packs. And then there’s another music producer that uses the same sound pack. And now Drake has a song with one piano, but then Travis Scott, just recorded to the same piano. And now, you know, who gets to release what, who owns it? Now I’m in the middle. And I’m like, who do I give this piano pack to? Do I give it to Drake? Or do I give Travis because they want to release it as a song. And they can’t both release it? Because it’s basically the same thing. So, you know, it’s a big problem. It happens all the time. And I felt as though the sample pack NFT was one way of potentially solving that problem. Yeah.

So, do you imagine Drake or these other artists that are kind of like, fighting, quote and unquote over the same sample pack? Do you imagine them going onto a platform and buying that? And then underneath the hood, there’s like some verifiable standard, like an NFT. That would prove outright because x person bought it and it’s in their wallet, and they outright fully own it. Is that how you imagine the process kind of coming into play?

!llmind: I do. I do. Okay, I’ll give you an example. Yeah, and this has happened. Okay, my one of my good friends, music producer, Boy Wonder, one of the best to do it. I don’t know if you guys are familiar, boy wonder as produce all of Drake’s hits. Let’s say he, he calls me and he goes, Hey, !llmind, I’m in the studio with Drake. Send me some sound packs, right. What I can do is AirDrop him sound packs, with the smart contract already on the thing. Be like, Alright, use those. You’re the only one that has them, because I just AirDrop them to you. Simple. And then the usage, you know, the smart contract, the contract is in the smart contract in the airdrop so 

How to Track Payments On Chain?

Right. Yeah. No, but then. So then once they get it though, okay, let’s, let’s say once they get in their wallet, and they actually use it. How do you actually track payment? How do you actually like integrate the licensing and the splits in the points everything else that you kind of talked about that make up your contribution on the song? That stuff still happens off chain? Right? Yes. How can we bring that process on chain?

!llmind. Well, I think.

It doesn’t need to be on chain.

!llmind: I think it does. I think it speeds the process. I think it, it’s a very different way of doing things as opposed to traditional contracts. I mean, you have to keep in mind, like, every every transaction in the music industry is still lawyer, lawye,r redlining, you know, contracts, going, going to, you know, the printer to like, print out the contract for 50 pages and physically redlining stuff with a highlighter, like, that’s still happening, right. And so, I think you still have the challenge of lawyers having to negotiate and I think there’s no real, at least to my knowledge, there’s no like web three solution to solve that issue. So, it’s still gonna take a while, like, it’s not gonna just be this like, quick. All right, like, we’re in the smart contract, like, one push of a button, and we’re all good. Like, you know, we still have to figure out like, how many royalties do I get? How many royalties does boy wonder gets? If we hire an additional musician, which that person also gets, you know, royalties on this or publishing? What kind of publishing agency Am I signed to? What are you signed to? So, it’s still, like I said, and it proves the idea of having to redo the whole system, right? Like, we still have to, we still have to figure out the publishing, the writing, the royalty. So, if we redo, we need to redo the, it’s almost like, do we renovate the house? Or because it has like good bones? Or do we fucking destroy the house and start from scratch, and we have to destroy the house and start from scratch?

Who Does Web Three Work Against in the Music Industry?

I agree with you with that, because there’s too many incentives in the house that already exists, right? And, like, let’s be real, like people feed their families with a model that exists, currently exists, right? There’s no need to generally fix something that isn’t broken for the people who are running it, right. But what’s interesting about web three is like, artists, creators, creative entrepreneurs are really realizing the potential behind these web three primitives, these crypto primitives to actually be able to build, to monetize and own their audience without needing to basically rely on these big middlemen that kind of run the day to day of how things work today. So, you know, part of recording season four and making all about the music industry’s kind of dive into what does the current process look like? And how does crypto change them? And one thing we haven’t really touched upon yet, which I’d love to hear your point of view is, who doesn’t want web three to work in the music industry? Like who does it work against?

!llmind: I think it works against people that are making a shitload of money. People that are making a lot of money from the system that’s in place right now. And those people not wanting things to change too much. Right? I think if you, if a web three opportunity presents itself to an executive that’s making $1.5 billion a year, and you tell that executive. Hey, check out this web three system where you can make $3 million a year, I think that person will be open minded to hearing that person out. But until that day happens, I think there’s too many people that are in too much control, that control many things. They’re not bad people. They’re just in control and their money and they’re comfortable. And it’s just what it is. And until there’s a solution where everyone is happy. It’s either, you know, we create something where we can coexist, or we try to revolutionize something. And that’s just the rock and the hard place that we’re all in.

Why !llmind is Starting Squad of Knights

Yeah, makes a lot of sense. So, part of revolutionizing things. Okay, here comes squad of knights. Okay, I want to talk more about that. A revolution within itself led by a revolutionary Okay. Walk me through more of like, your thought process behind starting squad of knights. What do you actually try to do with squad knights right now all I see is a landing page. I see records on the back. I see horses like it’s sick. But walk me through like what can we expect? What are you trying to do? Give me the whole thing.

!llmind: Cool. So, this is an exclusive, so by the time this goes live all the info will be out there. So, like this literally, first time.

Okay, let’s go. 

!llmind: Excuse me. So, back in April of last year. I immediately that was when I got into board apes. And I started collecting PFPs and did pretty well honestly, I sold my ape a while ago, took profits but we can, yeah. Paper ill mine. So back in April, I was like super fascinated with like, the PFP idea. And I never wanted to jump into it. Just to do it. And I’m very, very humbled and blessed that I’m able to like, have continued to make a living off of what I do. So, it was never a money play for me. All of this stuff is strictly excitement. And wow, new technology, what can I do to contribute? So, I was thinking to myself, I’m like, what kind of project can I create that actually contributes to the community? But also, again, just like the NFT, the sound pack, NFT did something that solves an issue that I have experienced myself, along with other people that are sort of in my similar situation, right, as a creator. And so, after many, many, many iterations, and changes and evolutions, back in October, we landed on an actual use case, for a really good project that I want to release. And so here we are, it’s called squat of knights. And it’s 8888. Programming. How do you say that word programming?

Programmable.

!llmind: Programmable generated. NFTs, that are basically pixel style, and their chess nights, right. So, the reason behind the chess knights is because I’m a huge chess fan, I’m not going to sit here and say, Oh, I’m the best. I’m pretty good, right? But I love the game of chess. And the knight is one of my favorite pieces. And so, I wanted to go with the knight, I’ve always wanted to do something with the chess piece knight. And so, it just like felt good. And I’m a retro guy, like, you know, I love Sega Genesis, so like, pixel all day, like, I’m like a pixel head. So, they’re randomly generated. And so, the whole idea behind this NFT project is, and I really want to apologize ahead of time for saying this, because it’s like such a buzzword right now. But it like really is about community. Right? And so, I’ll tell you why. So, back in 2011, when I released my drum kit, that was the beginning of what, what I didn’t anticipate to be a series of just like, different things that I would do in my career that would just like, bring people together, right? So, like, I sort of became really fascinated with utilizing my influence in my voice to bring creative people together. So, it started with like my podcast 2012, which was a music producer podcast, it was the first music production podcast to ever exist, to my knowledge. That was before people even knew what a podcast was right? 2012. So, we did, we released that it was called blab on the radio. And then I used to do these like a live producer event where I would, you know, rent out like a club or like a studio space. And then a bunch of producers would come plug in their laptop and play beats basically. So instead of a DJ, you would have a set of like five to 10 producers that would just play original beats all night. And then you had people networking, like, at the bar again. Yeah, so it was like this really cool community event. I did these at this venue called contra in New York City. And we used to do those once a month. So, we started doing that in like 2011, 2012. And then in 2015, I started doing these events every month, called pass the ox, where I would go to a different city every month, and I would rent a very like intimate recording studio space. And I would sell tickets and I would invite 20 music creators to come through network, each person would be able to play their music, like plug the oxygen, hence why it’s called pass the ox. Yeah, each person will plug their oxygen, they will play their music. I would give them constructive criticism, you know, rappers, singers, music producers. And we would all just get to know each other. And I did those once a month. And I did those from 2015 all the way up until 2020 Right before pandemic. yeah. 

Wow. Wow.

!llmind: So once pandemic hit, we started doing them virtually. I ended up building a Metaverse partnering with a platform called spatial.io. I built a Metaverse studio, where we can do some networking and get to know you know, get to know each other and to do networking. And so, I hosted a few of those events in my Metaverse last year and sold NFT tickets for those. And we did two of those and those were really amazing. And so, I say all that to say that a lot of what I’ve been doing for the past 10 years has been all about bringing people together. And that’s exactly what the squad of knights NFT project is. So, if you’re a squad of knight older it’s basically this idea of being able to meet your peers and being able to collaborate with your peers, and getting rewarded for doing that, right. And so, the whole idea is this, you purchase a squad of knight NFT. And then from there, you get into the discord. And you get to meet other musicians and other, you know, people, creative people, basically. So, you get in, and you basically, the first thing that happens is you choose a role, right? So, we have six different roles, right? So, if you’re a rapper, you choose your role as squad of voice, right? Or, sorry, Knights of voice. And then we have a knights of rhythm role, where, knights of rhythm role is basically drum programmers, right beat makers. And then you have knights of melody role, where you’re either a musician, you play guitar, or you like to make sample loops, sound packs, your knights of rhythm, or knights of melody. 

But then you have knights of audio, which are audio engineers, right. And so those are the people that are mixing the actual songs, engineering, the actual songs, stuff like that. And then you have knights of vision, which is basically graphic designers, audio, you know, our visual artists, wants to make album covers stuff like that. Those are the knights of vision. And then you have Ambassador knights, which are aspiring, and ours, aspiring executives, aspiring music industry executives, people that are just like forward thinking in the industry, those are Ambassador knights. And so, you take all these different categories. And what happens when you put them together? Well, you have beatmakers that are, you know, creating music with rappers you have rappers that can now find producers to work with, you have singers that can collaborate with producers and musicians. And when you put all these different people together, you can create some really amazing, fresh energy, new music and create some new IP. And so, what squad of knight does is it solves the problem of finding people to collaborate with and you know, you know, very much as much as I do, how difficult it is to find people to collaborate with. I mean, social media is cool, but like, you can’t just go on Instagram, and be like, okay, cool. I need a rapper or if you’re a rapper and say, okay, I need music. Like, you can’t, it’s still so hard. And you can go beats stars, you can go to YouTube, you can get beats that way. But I’m talking about real connection, Adam, right, like, talking about, how about, like, we really get to know each other. And maybe you can be my producer, just like timberland and Missy. Just like, you know, Forelle and the Neptunes and just like Dr. Dre, and Eminem, like, so that requires access and requires like real human to human interaction. So being part of the squad of knights, not only are we going to do a lot of Metaverse related squad building, but we’re also going to host you know, a lot of different things like live events where we’re doing networking parties, we’re hosting parties, you know, across the globe, we’re gonna offer free studio time for squad knights, squad members, where they can book studio time. And you know, get in studio with people they’ve never worked with, that are other squad members as they can get to know. 

And then we have a knight token that we’re going to distribute for people and reward our members for collaborating, right. So, imagine, the more you collaborate, the more music you make, the more knight tokens you earn, which you can use for studio time for, you know, a budget thing up. So, I’m super excited. That’s like a super like, sloppy, quick explanation of what it is. But that’s the idea behind it. And I didn’t want to create an NFT that was about me. Nothing about squad of knights is about your mind. It’s all about the people. It’s all about me and my team, utilizing our resources and our knowledge to curate events and to bring people together. And that’s literally what it’s all about, like we want to like, my idea is to just like spoil every single squad of knight member for the next 10, 15, 20, 30 years as long as I do this, because that’s just what I’ve always wanted to do. And the fact that I can now do this with web three, and do it as an NFT project is like a match made in heaven for me. So, I’m like super excited about it.

Exciting. But let’s talk about the value for a minute. Okay. There’s value in curation. There’s a lot of value in curation, right? There’s musicians, there’s producers, rappers, beat makers that exist all over the world. But there’s only so many that understand the value of web three, let alone building and creating in the environment of web three. within itself, like finding a group of people that understand that is difficult. It’s very difficult, right? I’m personally, I love social clubs, like I love buying into projects that give me access to a network of people of other like-minded people. Because at the end of the day, if you strip everything away in life, it’s just people, right? It always comes down to people. So, what better way than to congregate, everybody and like-minded people under a unified theme of music, where you can bring a lot of these talent heads under one roof. So, I love that. Yes, that’s really cool.

!llmind: Exactly. And, you know, in our industry, like, if you’re a musician, or you’re a beatmaker, or a rapper, singer, like, you’re a very creative person, and creative people are different types of people. Like, we’re not just like, super outgoing to where, like, we know, like, exactly what to do to, like, meet other people, like, you know, it’s still hard man. And like, I’ve spoken to, I would say, like, more than 10,000 at this point in my life, like, upcoming music producers, beat makers, rappers. And dude, they tell me the same thing. They’re like, I’m not really, like, I make music. But like, I don’t know where to find people to, you know, work with and like, I don’t want to force people to fuck with me, because like, I know I’m good. Like, I want to just work with like producers that are willing to help me, right. And so that’s where the issue is. And we’re still facing that issue today. And I feel as though the squad of knights project is, to me a really, really great starting point, because it means stepping in ill mind, stepping in and creating curated experiences, legitimizes and gives a lot of them the confidence to say, you know, what, I am going to go into that studio session, or, you know, what I’m gonna, I’m gonna go deep into this NFC project, because I know that !llmind and his team has the ability to bring people together, and see what happens, because that’s what music is, right? That’s my job as a music producer, I step into the studio, right? If my job is to make a smash record for Adele, let’s say, my job as a producer is to not only create the beat, but to also bring people together that makes sense, where we can maximize our chances of creating the best song possible. So, I’m going to go and call a horn player, I’m going to call a jazz pianist so we can access different chord progressions that I don’t know how to play, I’m going to call my best engineer to come in and track the vocals. So, when Adele is there, she knows she’s in good hands. Right? So that’s my job as a music producer. So, knights of, the squad of knight’s project is really that times 8888, right? Yeah. So.

Yeah, you know, what’s interesting, it’s a social experiment at this point, because I wonder what can happen when you put all those like-minded people under one roof, what can come out of that? Right, through from the creative process, the production process, the public, like the recording the beat making everything. So, it makes me think like, actually, you’re really cultivating an environment here, that will be like a hot spot and a hotbed for, like a lot of interesting stuff to come out in the music scene, the future.

!llmind: And by the way, all the music that’s being that’s going to be created within the squad of knights is all going to be 100% owned by them. Imagine the different types of opportunities that we can explore in web three, and also web two. But in web three, all the all the music being created, we can partner with, you know, different companies, mint songs, audience, and now we’re creating momentum that way in web three, using all this music, right? Or imagine a scenario where you have a particular squad that’s been making amazing music. Now, we’re pipelining that up and creating label meetings, right? With executive for distribution. Now, all of a sudden, they’re getting, you know, opportunities and like, maybe getting a record deal if they want an old school web two record deal, right? Like there’s, believe it or not, there’s still people that want those. So, any type of opportunities that my team and myself can bring to the table for the squad of knights is, that’s the utility. That’s the roadmap. The roadmap is, this is a problem it solves, hey, you love making music, join, you know, a community of thousands of other people that are just like you, who love making music, that fill in those sorts of, you know, puzzle pieces that you’re looking for, while also being part of this really cool community, and also get rewarded for collaborating with people and creating music. And from there, it’s kind of like, sky’s the limit, right? Like, it’s really going to be an exciting time. So, I’m really looking forward to it.

How Do People Gain Access to !llmind as a Producer and Mentor?

That’s exciting. I’m curious. A lot of the value out of joining a group like this is obviously, it’s spearheaded by you and you’re curating a group of like-minded people, bringing them together. What level of access will people have to you as a producer? As for mentorship, from tracks from samples, etc? Like, how do you how do you manage? Imagine, excuse me, cultivating that type of experience around you?

!llmind: Yeah, I mean, it’s pretty crazy. Like, I kind of see myself partaking a lot. Um, I mean, I kind of already do like, on my Twitch, if any of you watching, watch my Twitch stream, so I typically stream on Twitch every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, from 10am to 4pm. Eastern, so it’s like, it’s almost like a, you know, a full-time job making beats. And so, I’m there literally making beats. And when I’m on there, I’m literally collaborating with different producers that gets us submit their, their melody loops, their sound packs to me. So, on Twitch alone, I’d say I’d probably collaborated with probably three to 400 different producers on twitch in the past two years. And I’ve created definitely well over 1000 beats, that are all collaborations with other, you know, musicians and producers. So, um, that being said, that’s just one example of like, how involved I like to be. But in terms of my own involvement, yeah, absolutely. Like, you know, we have, we’re gonna, and this is, I don’t want to speak too early, but I am, but I don’t give a shit. Because I’m excited. We’re imagining a scenario where, you know, I’m booking a three-day studio lockout, !llmind inviting, you know, guest producers, I don’t want to name names. Because you know, I don’t want to speak too soon. I’m inviting my you know, famous, platinum, selling whatever producers that are, like genuine people that genuinely want to be there. And you throw us in with our top, you know, squad of knight performers, or just how, whatever the system ends up being, for entering that opportunity. Or we’re going to extend those opportunities for our squad of knight holders to come in, create music with us get constructive criticism. So, it’s almost like the events that I used to do but like times 10. Right. So yeah, to answer your question, I know it’s a long answer. But to answer your question, I’m 100%, looking forward to being super super involved with all of this shit, because it’s what I do, I’m a produce like, I wouldn’t, I don’t want to I didn’t grind for 20 years, to create a project that I don’t want to do. Like, this is something that I’m looking forward to doing for like the rest of my life. 

Community building in Crypto Around NFTs

You know, what’s interesting about your, your background, !llmind is like you, you are a community builder, like from doing all the meetups that you’ve done, the podcast that you’ve done, you’ve you understand the value of bringing people together, and NFT’s are just the way to kind of solidify value around that. Right. And for everyone to kind of a collective share and what that can look like in the future. When you’re trying to build an online community, it’s different than building a physical community, right? It’s different than traveling and moving from place to place promoting a venue to come together. How do you think about community building in crypto around NFT’s? And also, maybe tackle like, what are some of the challenges that you’ve faced starting off trying to build a community online? And what does that look like?

!llmind: I think, you know, I think the two things are very important, they coexist. I think we’re still kind of in the trenches figuring it out. But when I think about community building online, which is basically omitting real, anything that has to do with real life, you know, I think discord, I think social media, I think Twitch, I think, you know, any type of video communication, zoom, and the metaverse, obviously, right? So, one really cool thing we’re going to have is our Metaverse, right, so the virtual reality studio that I built last year is sort of going to be our meeting place for all the squad of kights, so and based on spatial technology, we can fit 50 people at once, right, so that’s going to be sort of like a 24/7 revolving door open access to everyone who is a member of the squad of knights. And so, everyone and anyone can just be in there at any given moment, you know, playing each other music, sharing, talking to each other, building relationship with each other, getting to know each other. Um, that’s what I love about spatial. And so that’s going to sort of be like a virtual reality pass the ox session that never ends, which is pretty cool. So that’s going to be an interesting experiment. And !llmind is going to be popping in there every once in a while. You know what I mean to surprise people. I might pop in there with some other friends too. So that’s on the metaverse side of things. That’s what we’re doing. And then discord. You know, we have two amazing moderators in there. I’m in there every day, and we’re keeping it pretty simple tight knit in the discord like, you know, we’re gonna have catered rooms for all of our squad members on that’s going to make it really easy for them to be able to network with each other. So, everyone’s gonna choose their roles in discord. And so, let’s say I’m a rapper, and I’m looking for beats, all I have to do is click on, you know, knights of rhythm, knights of melody, and I can access all of different knights that are, that produce music. And from there, I can just start talking, start networking, right? If I’m a graphic designer, and I want to create or if, if I have a song, and I need some visual design, I need a album cover. I can go to the Knights of visual and or knight vision and you know, collaborate with someone on some artwork, right? So again, all the components are going to be there, it’s all gonna be on Discord. So that’s kind of how I see the community stuff happening. So, discord, Twitter, which is obvious, and then Metaverse.

And I can attest to that too by the way, I know you’re in the discord yourself, because I reached out through discord and in less than 20 minutes like you hit me up and DM me. And I was honestly impressed. I was like, wow, someone like !llmind who’s probably has a million things to do as a family. He also has time for a lot of these like strangers online that he genuinely feels like in love with, you know, in a connection. So, I can attest to that.

!llmind: Yeah, dude, I’m super excited and there’s some good people in there already. Like, like, these are the discord community right now. Like, is super healthy and like I want to, we’re gonna try my best to, like maintain that, that energy in the discord because I don’t want it to turn into, you know, I mean, I don’t want to talk down on any of the discord communities. But like, I don’t want it to turn into like a shill community, you know what I mean? So, we’ll see what happens.

Roadmap Project Launch

Sure. So, give me some context. When does the project go live? Okay, so I guess we might end up actually publishing this after the project lives. We’ll decide behind the scenes. But when does the project go live? What are the first few things that you have on the roadmap, if any? Walk me more through that?

!llmind: Yeah. So, minting, the whitelist minting happens March 28. Public mint March 29 and then the reveal March 30. Right. So, we have about 30 days from the time of this conversation. And the first thing on the roadmap honestly, Q1, or I’m sorry, the stage one of the roadmap is all community building. Right? So, it’s, I know that sounds cliche, but it’s our label. Lay motherfucking rug for us now. But first order of business is squad members getting to know each other, getting to know each other in the discord. We’re gonna host our first in real life, kind of kick off networking event. I’m probably in Los Angeles. There’s some exclusive news right there. In Los Angeles, probably in either April or May. So yeah, so about 30 days after mint. We’re gonna have our first in real life on really big in real life event happening. And you know, from there, we’re gonna open up the metaverse is, everyone’s gonna get, to all our white listeners are going to get AirDrop to VIP pass to be able to access our Metaverse 24/7 Metaverse I was talking about and from there, it’s really the phase one is everyone getting to know each other. Collab starting to collaborate with each other and then starting to form groups, right? So, one of the first tasks in the beginning of the roadmap is to find squad members that you can collaborate with, and create a group, right? So, in one group, you want to have you know, a producer, musician, you want to have a rapper, or a singer, you want to have an audio engineer, you want to have a visual designer, and you want to have an ambassador. Right? So, I’m gonna, I’m gonna reward our knights’ members. For creating squads, we’re gonna call these groups squads, right. So, first order of business, create your squad sent to know each other. And then from there, the real fun begins, right? We’re going to do a series of, of gamified experiences, to allow for knight members to earn knight tokens. And then we’re going to start opening up studio sessions where members could redeem their night tokens to book studio time, or going to give studio time, it’s all going to be for free. So, we’re never going to ask knight members to pay any money to do any of this shit. I mean, the only money you’re gonna have to spend is like travel and lodging, depending on that. But in terms of studio time and events, it’s all gonna be free. We’re gonna have you know, we’re gonna launch our merch, and yeah, it’s just gonna be fun times, man. It’s gonna be a lot of cool things we’re gonna do.

I’m excited for you. I’m curious, like, I feel like I’m gonna end up buying one of these things just because I’m a drummer, and I want to be in that environment. Oh, my gosh. So, let’s go. My question is like, do you imagine a world where you actually have a disproportionate amount of producers to visual designers, to beat makers? Like on the community? Like, if that happens, Is that a problem? Does that, like, interfere with the vision? Or how do you think about that?

!llmind: I think it’s kind of like the fish tank behind me. Right? We know the fish are there, we’re not really in control of how many of one type of fish, I think you kind of have to let the people sort of decide that, right? I know, we’re going to attract a lot of music producers, we’re gonna attract a lot of rappers, a lot of singers. And I think naturally, you know, we kind of let it happen organically. So, I think that’s just one thing that we kind of crossed that bridge when we get there, right? Like, if we end up with, you know, 1000 rappers and 1000 producers, but we have you know, 100, graphic designers, then, you know, we utilize those 100, to do what we have to do you know what I mean? So, it’s, it’s very much and I want that I don’t want it to be like, robotic like, okay, 100 of this type of person, 100 because then it doesn’t feel human, right. Like, the whole idea of this is to feel energizing, and human, and exciting and weird. And I don’t know, who I’m going to collaborate with. And I don’t know, if they’re going to like my, my beats, but I don’t give a shit. Right. This is how I have; this is how it is. And this is, this is what it’s like to be a musician, right? I mean, you know, out of your drummers like you, you can’t predict everything. Like, it’s not.

Music is very feel thing. It’s a very in the moment, when you’re when you’re trading force is in a jazz band, it’s like you’re training force is based on feel like that’s all it is. You’re echoing what the guitarist plays to what the bass player plays like. It’s all in the moment, I feel you.

!llmind: Yeah, that’s the perfect analogy, dude. Like, you know, I might be a great producer, but like, I might not be the best producer for a specific person, right? Like, I might go in there. And I got my squad of knight pass, and I’m good to go. And I’m starting to network with people, I get into studio, and I ended up not really hitting it off with them. And that’s okay, that happens to all of us. But that’s something that you’ve never experienced before. Yeah. Right. Have you not, you know, so again, like, those are the types of things that you want to experience and, and I’m excited to see this community grow. And I’m, you know, I’m betting that there will be, you know, a cool little handful of success stories that come out of this over time, and I’m just happy to be, you know, the guy in the background to help these people make it happen. Like, I tell people all the time when I do my events, I’m like, this is not about me. Like you didn’t come here to meet me like you did. But that’s not what you, you’re gonna walk away. Understanding that it’s not about meeting your mind. Right? The fire I tell people, the fire is inside of you. And it’s been inside of you. My job is to just fanned the flame. My job was to add more fuel. Yeah, my job is to bark whatever is already inside of you. Like yeah, I’m your guide, but you’re the hero, right? You guys are the hero, like so, that what I’m really excited.

I love it. You know, it’s cool tying back our beginning of the conversation to what you’re doing now with, with squad of knights is you start off dropping sample packs. Now I’m thinking you put all these hats in the same room, producing, creating stuff together, there could also be a scenario where they create their own sample pack. And then you use like a splits protocol, where they sell the NFT they all collectively earn from that. And it’s all because it was a curated environment, right? And like the optionality is endless. As long as you get the right people in the right room in the right creative energy synergizing with one another. That’s it. You’re taking off. I love it.

!llmind: Adam, you’re taking the words out of my mouth, right? And I don’t want to speak too soon, but I’m giving Adam all the exclusives right now.

 let’s go.

!llmind: A percentage, it’s inevitable that we’re gonna have a percentage of people that are going to buy and flip right, we can avoid that and people are free to do what they want. Like, you know, I’m not expecting every single person to like purchase a squad of knight NFT and like Huddle forever and like you know, collaborate with everyone, we’re gonna, we welcome everyone to purchase squad of knight NFT but here’s the cool thing, Adam, a percentage of the initial sale and the secondary sale is going to go right back to the knights to basically fund the entire operation. So, you know, all the studio time that we’re going to spend money on, all the you know, curated events and all the get together and whatever else, you know, we implement for the empowerment of the community of the squad of knights, we’re all going to be funded, right? And we’re also going to leave it up to them too, so I don’t want to say like, I don’t want to, I don’t want to put it out there and say we were going to make it into a Dao necessarily, but it is going to feel very Dao like in terms of, hey, guys, what can we do? What do you guys want? You know, in addition to what we’re doing, what do you guys want to see happen? And how can we see that happen? So, all the flippers on the secondary are essentially funding, you know, our operation, of the people that really want to be there. Right. So hey, we welcome you if you want to, if you want to buy into.

Slip away way

!llmind: Slip away. Flipping means you get what you want. And, and the people that are here that want to partake. We get to help them by doing that. So, thank you for your contribution.

Yeah. I love it. Dude, look, I’m excited for you. I’m excited for the project. I’ll be definitely tuning in. Before I let you go and we wrap this up. Where can we find you? Where can we find more of the project? Give us the takeaway.

Outro

!llmind: So, you can find me on every social media it’s @!llmindproducer, one word that’s I L L M I N D producer. And that’s, you know, Twitter, Instagram, all the social media, and then squat of knights. So, it’s knights with a K. So, squadofknightscom . That’s our main website, Twitter @squadofknights. And I’m sure over time if you Google squad of knight, you’ll find our Twitter, our website and all that good stuff. So yeah, follow me on my producer, follow squad of knights if you want to get into discord all the links are on the website. The website should be live at the time of you watching this. So go to squad knights right now. It’s going down, get on that whitelist, get on the discord. If you’re a musician, if you’re a beatmaker, rapper, singer, a visual designer, an aspiring, you know forward thinker in music and web three, and just want to be part of a community where you can actually build something cool and creative. I think the squad of knights is a great place to start. So, look into it and we’ll be here man, we’ll be here crushing it. So.

Amazing, bro. Amazing. Thank you for being on. We’ll have to do this again soon.

!llmind: No, Adam, my boy let me know anytime.

You got it. And I’ll put it there. Good shit. That was awesome.

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