Creator Spotlight: Benny Conn and The Era of Generative Music

Beat Foundry’s Benny Conn returns to Mint to highlight his thesis for the music NFT consumption layer, problems facing music NFTs today, the upcoming drop with Oshi and more.
Beat Foundry’s Benny Conn returns to Mint to highlight his thesis for the music NFT consumption layer, problems facing music NFTs today, the upcoming drop with Oshi and more.

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Background

Mint Season 4 episode 33 welcomes Benny Conn, who’s a developer at Gallery.so and co-founder of Beat Foundry, an NFT platform for entirely on-chain generative and curated music. Benny is back for a second episode on season four of Mint mainly because I love what the team is building at Beat Foundry, his energy and passion for music beams every time he talks about what he does. It’s genuinely contagious.

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 09:56 – What Rights Do You Get When You Buy a Beat Foundry NFT?
  • 17:19 – Benny’s Thesis Around the Consumption Layer As it Pertains to NFT Editions?
  • 19:25 – What Traits go into Valuing Music NFTs?
  • 20:44 – Should Artists Prioritize Social Media Virality or Web3 Collectors?
  • 22:44 – Benny’s Favorite Music Artist in the Space
  • 23:21 – From a Collector’s Point of View, What Makes One Music Artist More Valuable Than the Other in Web3?
  • 26:50 – How Did the Collaboration With Oshi Come Together?
  • 31:33 – Why Does the Music File Itself Need to Be On-Chain?
  • 37:27 – Benny’s Biggest Challenges With Bringing This Project to Life
  • 41:08 – 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!


Intro

Benny, welcome to man. Thank you for being on. Welcome. This is your second time now first time was Twitter spaces. And now we’re doing an actual, intimate session. Thank you for being on that. How are you?

Benny Conn: I’m doing really well. It’s great to see your face and my face this time. I’m looking forward to this.

Yes, before we had the barrier of Twitter spaces, but no more. Here we are. I want to dive right in. Okay. For those who didn’t maybe check out the first episode, which I highly recommend you do. We basically cover the first drop that beat foundry initiated, which was super dope, I collected a few myself. Can you tell the world who are you, Benny? What is what is the crypto community to know about you? But more specifically, how did you get your start in crypto?

Benny Conn: Yeah, so I’m Benny. I’m a software engineer and founder of beat foundry. And I’m also a jazz musician. So originally, I actually started playing jazz in high school and playing jazz trombone. And I wanted to take that into a career path, it kind of seemed like the right path for me at the time, I’d been traveling a lot playing trombone, and I ended up going to Manhattan School of Music, where I studied jazz for one semester, before I realized that the lifestyle of jazz musician just really wasn’t for me. I wanted to pivot somehow, but I wanted to stay near music some way or another. And, you know, I’ve been interested in tech for my whole life. And I had picked up some software engineering skills a little bit before I dropped out and decided, you know, what I can probably couldn’t find some way to, to get involved in tech somewhere in the music scene. And so, I dropped out and happened to meet somebody who was working on what at the time was a side project. Gallery, which is like a music, or sorry, it’s just an NFT display platform. And next thing, you know, I’m working there, full time, it seemed like the right thing to do, I just dropped college entirely. And, you know, thinking about ways to get involved in the NFT space, you know, kind of because gallery was not necessarily tangential, but not making NFT’s directly gallery is not an NFT project, I wanted to figure out, you know, kind of understand the context behind what we were doing. So, I tried to put myself or try to find a way to get involved in the space directly. And being a 19-year-old college dropout, I did not have nearly enough beat to start collecting NF T’s. So, I decided that I would make my own and being a musician, I thought that would be the perfect path is to find my own music NFT space. And from there, I found my way to beat foundry. So.

So, dropping out is no joke. Okay, that’s a that takes a lot of balls. Honestly. What, what, what kind of led to that? Like, what led to like, talk to me about the final weeks in college, where you’re just like, fuck this, like, I’m out? How did that kind come about?

Benny Conn: Totally. Yeah, it might have had something to do with COVID. Because, you know, we were we were at music school. And thankfully, I was allowed to be on campus, a lot of my friends, you know, had to stay home for at this point, this is, you know, pretty early on. And I was able to play with people. But, you know, I was just realizing, as I, you know, met all these musicians that I knew a lot of them before, but it was as if, you know, in college, you do have to think about like, hey, where’s this going to take me? In four years? I’m gonna be out of here, and what am I gonna be doing? And I can kind of see their perspectives on what they wanted to do. And every time you know, they would say, like, yeah, you know, I’m going to be gigging right out, I’m going to be, you know, at jam sessions at 4am, trying to get heard, and when somebody hears me, hopefully, I’ll get picked up and I’ll be playing those things. I’m just imagining, you know, that lifestyle doesn’t sound like something that I want to be doing, I want to have a little more stability and know, you know, where it’s gonna be the next, you know, what’s the next thing that I’m doing? Right? I’m not just gonna be like, okay, hopefully, I can schedule some gigs for next week. And, you know, there was a couple other paths in the music industry that I saw myself doing, but you know, at the end of the day, and I wasn’t like, for sure I need them. So yeah, dropping out, I was just, it was constant calling with my mom, you know, calling or talking to her friends and figuring out like, is this a path I can do, even talking to the teachers and faculty at the Manhattan School of Music that I went to, and a lot of them, you know, could see me going in those other directions and saw that as being a valid path. So, I just, I follow my instincts and decided that you know, dropping out, and also, being a jazz musician, too, you have to be very self-motivated and self-driven. And I thought, you know, what, I’ve motivated myself to get here I can, like, self-drive myself, to get somewhere else. I didn’t think it would be too much of a job, it was a fun challenge, honestly.

So yeah. So, what I understand you’re working full time at gallery and doing part time beat foundry. Right? 

Benny Conn: Yeah. 

How do you how do you divvy up your time between the two, full time job and a part time side hustle that has basically captured the hearts of like the, the music collector space and web three? How do you how do you balance the two?

Benny Conn: For sure, yeah. So, you know, I, my work would be Foundry is mostly, you know, one, talking to people, getting people on board, you know, getting the project out there and planning and scheduling all those things. And that kind of stuff can happen you know, all day long anytime during the day, thankfully, with my work at gallery, you know, it’s not like a nine to five, I don’t have to like be on a certain time so I can mix it up with the things I’m doing there. It’s all remote work. And the then the engineering side of the stuff that I do for Beat foundry, which is like smart contracts. And for a while I was doing the website as well. You know that stuff I can I consider myself I guess a pretty quick engineer, so I’ll just like pop it out in a couple hours later at night, I’ll get the things done that I told myself, I would get done for gallery later that night, I’ll pop some stuff out. But you know, doing that does require a little bit of sacrifice on the other aspects of life, you know, hanging out with people, sometimes it’s harder to find time to do this other thing when I’m, you know, working at smart contracts at 10pm at night, so yeah, and my weekend the same thing. So.

We love to hear man we love we love the side hustle, side hustle lifestyle. So, when beat foundry came about, what was like the Genesis idea or problem that you tried to solve or experiment, experiment that you wanted to basically go after? Like, how did that come about?

Benny Conn: Yeah, yeah. So, I had been looking at some other projects at the time. This was like September of 2021. And I had seen, you know, some projects, really nailing one thing, which was, you know, NF T’s give these artists a platform to release something that they find interesting that the collectors find interesting, and then support themselves by, you know, selling that thing, right, and then continue making art, right. And I thought that was super cool. And I think that’s just kind of a byproduct of NF T’s. And then seeing that work in the music NFT space, with the products that were around at that point was really cool. Because, you know, the music industry is something that even people not involved in the music industry know a lot about being, you know, little skinny, you know, they try to take a lot of value from the artists and it’s hard for artists to make a lot of money, really hard to hard for artists to get in. And seeing artists that are able to connect with even their niche crowds, right, the people that they’re small, even if it’s only like 2000 fans at the time, they can connect and build something, release something and make enough money to continue doing it right, continue growing, it just it’s much better cycle. So, I wanted to for sure capture that. But I also wanted to give a reason for, you know, the music to be an NFT right. And I’d seen a lot of people releasing music that they had either previously released on Spotify previously released on Sound Cloud, you know, releasing this song, again, as an NFT. Maybe later, they already wrote it, or they just released it both at the same time, one on Sound Cloud, one, one as an NFT. And maybe there’s even like 1000 copies of the same song. And I saw that, and I was just thinking, like, from my perspective, what I was, what I was getting, you know, I also couldn’t really describe what I was getting, you know, it’s like, I’m getting to own this one has something that a bunch of other people own the exact same thing, but also everybody has on Spotify, right. And it’s something that they really, they’ve already released. So, like, you know, it’s interesting to have, and I want to support the artists, I’m going to do it. But you know, it’d be really cool to have something even more interesting, something that’s like personal and something that actually connects me to the artist that makes me feel like, I’m part of this artists journey, right. And for me, that was coming up with some way to allow an artist release something that is unique per person. And the best way to do that, for me, or the way that I thought about it was generative music. Because, you know, in generative music, there’s going to be all these different iterations, each person’s going to get one that is completely unique. They only have it right. And that feels pretty special. 

So, but the issue with that is, you know, like with art blocks, you know, there’s these artists who know how to paint, but they can’t just go and make an art block straw, you know, you have to know how to code you have to know how to make generative art, right. And I was thinking, you know, I don’t even know how to make generative music, right. And I don’t want to learn how to do that. I’m a jazz musician, that just doesn’t seem like something interesting to me for the type of music that I enjoy. And other artists, I’m sure relate to me. So I want to figure out is there a way that we can make generative music in a way that any artist can get on board with it, they don’t need to learn anything, they can just make the regular music and we can make it generative. And the way that I discovered doing that was splitting up the song into various stems, maybe it’s the drum part, it’s the solo, it’s the lyrics, it’s a, you know, a little background part that’s going on splitting that up. And having the artist write a bunch of versions of each of those. And what’s cool is a lot of artists actually do that in their composition process. Anyway, a lot of artists will write three drum parts and me kind of picking out like, you know, which one do I actually want on the record, right, so we’re actually gonna have the write all of that up front, right, so all three drum parts, all of these, all the melody parts, all the lyrics. And on chain, we’re gonna mix and match them. So that you know, there’s a certain amount of total combinations, a certain amount of iterations that you can make, and each person is going to get one combination, right? So, when you get one, you’re getting this unique thing that the artist fully composed, right, every part of the song, the, from the drums to the lyrics, that was composed by the artist, so you know, it’s guaranteed to sound good, so long as the artist makes good music. And you’re going to own this one of one that is super unique, they compose it, you get to feel that connection with the artists being like, you know, you have this thing that they compose that nobody else has. And you’re you know, you’re that you’re then involved with the greater community of like super fans that also enjoy that artists who all want to have the same thing as you. So, it creates this really cool sort of community around the artist and you know, gets the artists community involved with them more directly than I think I’ve seen with other music entities. I think that’s kind of the idea behind having the generative miss.

What Rights Do You Get When You Buy a Beat Foundry NFT?

Got it. So, you brought up a couple points that extremely fascinating, okay, which is a, it’s like a topic of debate for a season four, we talked about patronage, ownership what it means to buy music NFT, what do you actually get when you get it? What does it mean when it gets diluted by via multiple edition one of one? What does it really mean? And you share a lot of the same sentiment that Justin Blau shares when he came on mint a couple episodes back, basically stating that I don’t know what I get for collecting music for the sake of collecting music, if it’s, if it’s not a one of one, for example, right. And I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna like quote him word for word, because it’s very much like a high-level paraphrase. But it’s very much the same energy that your kind of communicating right now. So, you’re telling me when someone basically collects something on Beat foundry, it’s unique within itself, it’s a one of one off the bat, right? Because the way the music is composed, the way that the stems are stacked on one another, the way vocals are basically integrated with the drum track in the sense, etc, etc, etc. So, what kind of rights you get what you get, when you buy a, beat foundry NFT, like, any IP ownership, is it fully ours to fuck around with? Do whatever we want? Like, how do you how do you think about that?

Benny Conn: Yeah, so I guess at this point, we have decided that it is fully yours, you can do absolutely anything you want with it, the artist, you know, that they’re gonna release their music in the other ways that they want to, but like in this format, in the beat foundry way, right, which to add kind of to what you were saying, which I think is even more special is that, you know, they were, these artists write music for the average, this is you can’t really, you know, use a song you wrote a bunch of years ago to, you know, release that on beat foundry because you haven’t read all the extra parts. So, you’re getting this thing that is nowhere else. And in our format, the artist agree that you know, yeah, it’s whoever owns it, or not even whoever owns it, literally, anybody who can listen to it, you know, anybody can take any information, whether or not you own it or not, and all the rights are there. It’s Yep. 

Okay, so I’m going to the beat foundry site right now, as we speak, I know, Oshii is doing a drop on the 16th. Right on the 12th.

Benny Conn: On the 12th. 

And there’s gonna be 808, if I’m not mistaken, right edition. So, 808 editions of randomly generated on chain music by Oshii was a legendary artist, tons and tons and credibility both in web two, and web three. So, you’re telling me when I collect one of Oshii things, I can then go listen on Spotify, if it just so happens that I get randomly selected with the best sounding auto generated part or a song, I can actually do whatever the hell I want with it, monetize it, use it in my podcast, have a Super bowl ad around it performing at the Grammys do all these things. And it’s mine. 

Benny Conn: Yeah.

808 versions of that song on Spotify, worth streaming and worth listening to? Is that kind of like, is that what I’m understanding?

Benny Conn: Yes, you’re definitely right. Although, you know, it’s, it’s a question of why, you know, like, at a certain point, I mean, obviously, you are bringing back, you know, things to the artists, I don’t imagine anybody releasing all 808 versions on Spotify, if they did, I would add all of them to my playlist, because I’m trying to listen to that, because they are all connected to Oshi, one way or another, people are gonna try to figure out who this is, if the person releasing it doesn’t say that already, you know, so. Yeah, I think given that it’s an NFT to like, enough of what Oshii needs to get from this, which is, you know, having his music tied to him, right, all the on-chain credits are there and all the lyrics are there. They’re his, and then, you know, whenever somebody trades this, there’s gonna be royalties and all that. And that’s what he’s getting from this, right. If somebody uses his music, that’s only good for him. Right? That’s, that’s good for us as well. Right. So.

You know, Benny, what’s your end goal with doing something like this? Is it just to like, play on the edge of what’s possible and creative for musicians? Is it to actually produce legit music compositions that could end up in top 40? Like, what’s the goal here for you? And also, what’s essentially the goal for the artists that you guys are partnering with currently, and will essentially partner with in the future?

Benny Conn:  Yeah, so we are talking, you know, we talked with a bunch of artists, and a lot of them are from different perspective, some of them have never even done anything related NFT’s, but they made it pretty large in the non NFT space, you know, millions of listeners on Spotify. And I’ve been just kind of gauging, like, where they see the value and beat foundry the most and for most of them, it’s creating something unique and interesting, that is going to connect with a, you know, the crowd that is most close to their center, right? They’re their strongest community, their strongest fans. And I think our goal is to just facilitate that for all these various artists, right? Because, you know, there’s gonna be the artists that only have, you know, have only released music NF T’s they’ve never released anything on Sound Cloud, never released anything on Spotify. You know, they’ve, they don’t have too many listeners, their music is, but their music is amazing. And they’ve got people who love it. And they want to connect with those people. Like we want to facilitate that for them, as well as the people who have, you know, millions and millions of streams on Spotify, who just want to release something to connect with the 1000 or so people who are in that top 1% of listeners right and truly love them. So, the first thing is yes, we really want to just release Something interesting and unique that’ll allow these artists to connect with those people. And then I guess on the other hand, I had something but I’m totally losing my train of thought. But.

So, it’s for the for the edge of experimentation, essentially, it’s like breaking the boundaries of what’s possible, experimenting, thinking outside the box, I still think back to my like, part of my questions like, could these songs end up in top 40? Could they end up being nominated for a Grammy. And I know, it’s only the second drop, and it’s the first drop with an artist, but I’m already thinking like, 10 steps ahead, because I’ve never seen like music being composed, in this way, this format, let alone on chain, let alone using software. You’re basically like really testing the boundaries for what’s possible and what’s not possible. And, yeah, I’m really curious to see how the how the songs will come out. And if they actually are enjoyable, if your thesis of stacking stems like that, and automatic, like, auto generating them actually produces a list able song and you’re smiling, I take it as if it is, right. It is it is to that extent.

Benny Conn: Yes. I mean, already, just from the samples, we posted on Twitter, you know, the just the short samples, you know, those are auto generated from all the various stems. And when I listen to it, like, first of all, you would never think it’s generative, you would never think, okay, there’s another version of this somewhere out there, if you just heard that, right. And, you know, I’m already trying to make sure that when I’m, I’m going to be there at the minute and getting like one of each song. Because when I when we originally got the samples from Oshii, when he just wrote the original four bass songs, because basically, the way that this works is theirs, you know, four bass songs. And then of those songs, there’s a certain amount of combinations that reaches 808. And right now, it’s actually even its 202, 202, 202, 202. And I’m trying to make sure that I get one of each. So, it’s like a little album of mine, right? Because these songs are seriously insane. Like, I wish, I’m going to try to find some way to be listening to this, like add it to my Spotify playlist or something just like will be in the mix. Because I need to be listening to these songs all the time. They’re, they’re really insane. And well, and you know, we’ve already, we haven’t announced any artists, we’re getting music from a couple other artists. They’re in the pipeline right now. And everything I’ve been hearing is unbelievable evolved different genres. You know, we haven’t, we don’t have any artists working in the same genre right now. So, it’s just it’s truly great music and the general thing doesn’t even get in the way.

Benny’s Thesis Around the Consumption Layer As it Pertains to NFT Editions?

I gotta tell you, dude, your energy is so contagious. I feel like I feel like beaming off of you. Your excitement is unmatched and unreal. Unreal. I love to see it. You know, part of minting all these collectibles and part of buying music NF t’s a lot of the conversation currently, as we go through the music, music cycle music NFT cycles, like okay, how do you actually enjoy these collectibles? Now, all these collectibles are sitting in your wallet, and they’re each worth X amount of money, whatever the community is willing to buy, buy it for. There’s multiple variations of them. How does the consumption layer tie into this? What is your thesis around the consumption layer as it pertains one to multiple editions? And I guess to music as a whole and web three?

Benny Conn: Yeah. So, I always say when people ask us about, like, you know, how do we think about royalties? How do we think about all these kinds of external problems that, you know, it’s not going to be up to us to find that solution. And this is kind of one of those cases where I would also say that, you know, the consumption layer isn’t necessarily like, our responsibility. But you know, thankfully, I work at a, I worked full time at a company that is kind of this consumption layer, right gallery, is that consumption layer, and there may or may not be like a little partnership in the works, or beat foundry Gallery, and all the holders so, but I’ll say, you know, like, the, these consumption layers, having this perspective of being working out this consumption layer, I know that this is a big thing that they’re thinking about, the music, NF T’s you know, music, in, you know, free web three, music is just the greatest or like the largest art form, or at least I think it is, you know, it’s a most people listen to music. So, I foresee that this music NFT thing will grow quite quickly, when, when, when interesting things are happening. And I hope beat Foundry is one of those interesting things, I think it is. But these platforms are thinking about this and I think, you know, with good enough curation, being able to create playlists and play through them and have a good user interface and the sound to sound good. And then I think, you know, I’m going to be wanting to have like a, you know, a gallery app with my playlist and be listening to that in my when I’m walking, so.

What Traits Go Into Valuing Music NFTs?

Interesting. Okay, got it. Got it. How do you think about like the types of traits that go into valuing music valuing, excuse me music NFTs? What is your thought process around that? Like, what do you look for? Because I know you collect yourself and beyond building you support artists, whether it be through beat foundry or independently. So, when it comes to actually valuing music NFT whether it be in addition, whether it be a one on one, whether there’s IP attached to it, how do you think about like, what’s your mental model around that?

Benny Conn: So, I am it I’m pretty simple person in that I just, it’s good music. And honestly a little bit of value for me in the art that goes with it. I think album covers are very cool. I think that’s been around for a while, I think that that adds to the experience having some sort of visual aspect. And it could even be a video, I think that’s interesting as well. But if the quality of music is really, really high level, then that, that creates all the value for me, I honestly don’t really think too much about the rights. I don’t think too much about, you know, what any special technological capabilities is has or whether or not this NFT is gonna be useful for something else in the future. I just want to collect great music, and I want to support the artists that make that great music. So yeah, pretty simple for me, and I’m sure a lot of people share my opinions as well.

Should Artists Prioritize Social Media Virality or Web3 Collectors?

Yeah, Benny, how do you think about like, how artists should be prioritizing their time should be should they be prioritizing their time to build virility on web two or building like an intimate collector base on web three, in which one’s more important, you think?

Benny Conn: I guess it would depend on the artist with for, which one’s more important, I think they’re both, I think they’re both very important, I think, you know, like some artists might need just to support themselves to have kind of a majority and one or the other, or, you know, if you have virility, you’re probably going to have also like a tight collector base, unless you’re kind of pulling the sort of industry plant kind of thing where you’re just making music that is a mass appeal, but doesn’t have anything truly interesting about it and isn’t going to be remembered in a year, then you might not have that that close collector group. So, I think, you know, at the core, you should always try to have that that core group of people that is going to support you, because that’ll allow you to just keep going. And they’re also going to be your best gauge for how well you’re doing and what you’re what you’re making and who your audiences right, because those are the people who listen to you the most. So, if you’re going to get to that viral stage, you know, I think you should definitely have the grounds to for the small tight knit community first otherwise, you’re what I said before, which is just like you’re making music that is maybe mass appealing, but not truly interesting not gonna be remembered a year because it’s just the hype of today, right?

Benny’s Favorite Music Artist in the Space

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, makes a lot of sense. You know, we’re seeing we’re seeing with every new platform comes its creators. So, tick tock has its tick tock creators, Instagram has its creators, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. And now web three is starting to birth its creators, right? We’re seeing very strong instances of that. People really creating web three full like immersive experiences, and bringing value back to the collectors and how that’s really benefiting them financially and on an ownership level with basically being able to own the crater economy, monetize their fans the way they want to without having some form of middlemen in between and platforms like yourself, actually empowering artists to further engage with their independence and further engage with their creativity and give them that level of financial freedom that a lot of music artists and web two don’t necessarily experience. Off the bat. So, who are some of your favorite artists in the space right now music artists, particularly that are on your radar?

Benny Conn: Yeah. So, two favorites got to be oshi and Daniel Allen.

Okay

Benny Conn: Love, love them both. I think I’ve heard music from sober Rob as well, that’s really fantastic. Lac honey, he showed me some stuff recently, that’s absolutely amazing. Latasha always thinks she’s doing some interesting things. And those are, those are probably, I guess, my top five. I would say that’s my top five.

From a Collector’s Point of View, What Makes One Music Artists More Valuable Than the Other in Web3?

So, from a collector’s point of view, what makes one music artists more valuable than the other and web three.

Benny Conn: In, in web three, like I’ll say, there’s kind of two perspectives, there’s the in web three, and then there’s just the alone, like, what makes us more valuable. For that second one, I’ll say it’s kind of what I mentioned before, which is just the quality of, music and the quality of the effort that went into this. And then, like, if I actually enjoy the music myself, the second part of the web three is, you know, I see like, artists like Oshii, who are truly you know, he’s pioneering in every, every space right now. He’s done, you know, sound, he’s done catalogue, he’s done, you know, he’s working on his own thing heads Dao, which is super cool. Then he now, he’s doing beat foundry and he’s kind of pushing the space forward as well. So, like, I think that is really interesting to see because I, I can almost predict for somebody like Oshii that if I’m following him and you know, if I have his NF T’s that they’re going to, you know, be high value and that it’s worth owning, because he’s going to continue to be pushing the space, he’s going to do things that are interesting. And I think for all those five artists that I just mentioned, they’re you know, they’re all doing that, they’re all participating in the new things that are coming up, the new projects that are coming up, all the new technological ways to get these music entities out there. I definitely see that as kind of be like the web three appeal, I guess, who’s pushing the space because I can predict that it’s gonna happen more, they’re gonna continue to be at the forefront.

Are the models that music artists are engaging with today from building a creator Dao and bringing value back to their collectors via social token or issuing collectibles is one of the ones on gated curated platforms, and other activities that like music artists are engaging with from creativity from creating to, to making money, etc? Is this niche culture, or could this actually be mainstream you think?

Benny Conn: I think they’re a lot of what you mentioned is probably niche. And I don’t foresee it becoming mainstream.

Why?

Benny Conn: Because I think, you know, one, there’s a lot of, you know, the average person just wants to listen to the music. And that’s why I say like, the main mainstream thing being like, sure owning a music NFT might become mainstream, right. And people might not even think about it as an NFT, like, in a far future, it’s like, okay, I’m just buying music online, it’s just back to like, iTunes days, like, I’m buying this song online. And yes, it has a lot more advantages than when I was buying things in iTunes, like, it just follows me everywhere. And, you know, I support the artist, with it with a little more, and this is something really interesting that I find really cool, I think that is something that will for sure, become mainstream. But the things that are more like, you know, get involved, do something specific and bring, you know, like, with some Daos that I’ve seen, that allow people to vote on what the artists are going to make, you know, I don’t foresee anybody except for the small crowd that likes those artists, that the niche collectors, you know, getting involved in those kinds of things. Unless there was, it would have to be a very large-scale Dao where it’s like any artist, because if you’re just limited to like the five artists, you can choose to, you know, vote on right, then it’s only going to be those five artists, you know, they’re their big collector base, they are their strongest collector base, right? The super fans of theirs, right. So, in that way, like those things are going to be siloed, which is why I don’t really see it being you know, necessarily mainstream. And then like I said before, like there’s just there’s the added layer of, I’ve got to do something to make this happen. You know, there’s a lot of action there. And that’ll always be there. I don’t I don’t foresee it going away. But I think there’s too much action for the average person who’s just interested in music. If we’re talking about music NFTs, specifically, music, blockchain technology.

How Did the Collaboration With Oshi Come Together?

Yeah, makes a lot of sense. I want to talk about more of this upcoming drop, okay. The reason why I’m here today, which I’m so, I’m so excited about. I gotta tell you, I think it’s so sick. I heard the sample on Twitter, I’m like, Shit, this was randomly generated. Like, how and it sounds good. Like I could, I could actually, I could see myself listening to that, you know, what is the what is the inspiration behind the straw? What what tell me the story like, how did this drop come about? How did the collaboration with Oshi come together? Why oh, she has the first artist that you’re collaborating with? Kind of give me give me the entire narrative here.

Benny Conn: Totally. So yeah, with our, I guess I’ll start back with our last drop, which is the FreeNAS. And, you know, our, when we were thinking about that one, you know, we had all these ideas about how we could get the music on chain in the form of MIDI, to represent how the compositional content of a song be on chain. And then just like the actual technological feat of getting it all to be put together and making sure that the Midwest well, and all those kind of things. And, you know, we, it went as well as it could, and we’re super happy with how everything went with that one. But you know, the, the actual music itself was interesting. And it was it was, you know, it sounded good, but it wasn’t like the kind of thing I’m trying to listen to on Spotify, right? Like, I do enjoy when I hear them. They’re very, they’re very interesting. It proves the concept of okay, yes, this can sound good. But it wasn’t fully there yet. And when we were introduced to Oshii, and we heard his music, you know, I was thinking like, how is this guy, you know, and it’s because he just hasn’t released his, you know, too much music and these other platforms, and he’s kind of focused a lot of his energy into the web three space. At least that’s my perspective. How is this guy not like, you know, top, you know, top charts, artists like this music sounds unbelievable. I have never heard anything like it, I can’t even tell you what genre it is. I don’t know how to describe genre it is. His voice is so beautiful. I was just listening to music. And I’m thinking like, Okay, I need this, all my playlists, right now, I need to be listening to this. And when I was, when we were just, you know, thinking how can we get this with the lyrics, you know, because now there’s this new element, you know, the first drop with the green is we didn’t have any vocal element, it was all produced in logic, by just like, writing the notes out in MIDI. And, you know, now there’s, like, these audio things, you know, he’s going to be sending us a recording of his voice, and we have to be able to get that on chain somehow. And for us, we were, we were just trying to figure out, like, how we could do that. And next thing, you know, many actually includes lyrics in the format. So when you’re getting, like, let’s say, you download the MIDI for when you whenever you buy a bridge for the for this upcoming drop, you could put the MIDI into like GarageBand, and it’ll show above the notes that are show the lyrics that she was singing. And we, you know, it was just trying to figure that out.

And then and obviously, you know, figure out like, you know, now we’re working with a new artist, it’s not in house, you know, we’re truly going to be accomplishing what our goal is, which is to allow this artist to connect with a large amount of people and then you know, reaping the benefits of that and connect with their super fans. And then also bring in people just who are in beat foundry, not everybody was going to be buying one of these is an Oshii fan, maybe they just like beat foundry. Right? And they’re trying to stay and volunteer, but, you know, they like the music. They heard the music, right. So it’s just trying we, we’ve just been trying to think a lot about you know, how can we truly accomplish this with somebody out of house and that is, you know, You know, that kind of stuff made us put a lot of thought into, like total supply, you know, 800 nits, we’ve got this allow us that we’re doing before, right? There’s gonna be 404 people who can mint the day before. And all of Oshii’ s current collectors are in that allowed list as well as a bunch of offering holders. And that was something we really wanted to do to get back to the people that are his super collectors already the 100 or so people who collected NF T’s. So, and then, yeah, the songs themselves the fact that there’s only four songs, right, and for the arena’s, there are seven songs, kind of curating a sort of album vibe, and then all the art that goes with that, this time, there’s going to be more than just one piece of art per song. When you look at the screen, as you see, like, there’s various colors, there’s the black and white one, there’s the you know, blue and pink one. And every, within those various colors, there’s a bunch of combinations, but the art stays the same for the kind of global sound those give off. Whereas for this one, you know, each song is gonna have various different art, you might get one that has the same chord progression as another, but hasn’t, you know, really cool, like steel looking case, looks like a CD case that looks like it’s made out of steel, or one of them might be like more plastic looking, or shiny and kind of translucent, a little bit. So yeah, there’s a lot of stuff that, a lot of thought that went into this one, we’re just super excited to be really seeing the quality of music that comes with this one, I think that’s just the most important part is that this is music that anybody can enjoy and listen to. And the generative thing truly does not get in the way that’s just a, that’s a feature that allows more people to connect and more people to  feel connected to Oshii. So.

Why Does the Music File Itself Need to Be On-Chain?

So sick, you know, one thing you keep bringing up, is it’s genuinely on chain. There’s also like commentary around music NFTs not being entirely on chain, or the media files actually on either on our weave or IPFS. Right, and it kind of just referencing back to the collectible itself. But why  is it important? Like why does the music file itself need to be on chain? Like what  do you get? What can you do when it’s on chain versus if it’s on IPFS or our weave even? Why was that so important to this drop?

Benny Conn: Yeah. So I do spend a lot of time thinking about these kinds of questions. The on chain option one has been probably the most thought that I’ve put into any web three philosophy question. And I kind of narrowed it down to three things that I think give anything a reason to be on chain. And the first one is going to be interoperability, so that you know, whatever is on chain can be interacted with through other smart contracts and other  things right other places on the blockchain, there’s permanence, which, you know, on chain, the blockchain is a pretty solid database. It doesn’t go away, you know, it’ll be here forever. So permanence is a very important one. And then the final one is like, responsibilities slash verifiability. Right? It’s like, can we, is there a reason why we need to verify something and prove it in some way, in a public way? Right? Because the blockchain is totally you can see what’s going on, right? There are reasons to prove like for defi, defi is the best example of that, right? You want all the rules on chain, so that, you know you’re going to make your money back when you pull out? Right? That’s like the best example for verifiability. Right? For beat foundry, I think mostly those other two apply. And the verifiability is something that could apply in the future when you know, if there was, if we were making promises, like, which is something we plan on doing, like, okay, when you put in this input, you’re going to get this song output, right. And that is something that we want to be verifiable. Because when you buy something, and you’ve been told, okay, I, you know, I’m going to put in my birthday, and it’s going to change the song, it’s going to change the output of the song. If that doesn’t always happen, it’s like, what did I just buy, you know, that that rule would be good to have on chain, that’s kind of the verifiable thing that might apply. One permanence, you know, having the composition of the song entirely on chain, right, this means that no matter what the best foundry is, no matter what Oshii is, Oshii can die, beat foundry can die, that is still there, what you got is, is there you have the full composition, and that is yours, right?

And you can do, you can even later on if you don’t like the recording, or if, if you outlive the recording of Oshii and even wanted to redo it later on in 200 years, and you have the composition to remake this song, right? That’s the core of the NFT. Right? You can put that into an Able ton or whatever Dao where people are using in 200 years, and turn it into something and you still have that. So that’s the provenance. And then the interoperability is also really important. Because like I said, this is free rights, right? Anybody can use this. You know, we’ve already been talking to platforms like our Apache, who are interested in possibly connecting to our stems, and allowing people to compose using the stems and by just grabbing the stems directly from the blockchain. And pulling in the compositional content allows them to truly, to make something right off the bat. They don’t have to, you know, find out, you know, for other music NFTs that are based on just audio, right? You can’t really manipulate audio too well. So like, you’re gonna have to download the audio, find some way to turn it into something manipulatable like, you know, MIDI right, turn it into MIDI somehow. And if you’re going to get that into like an Apergy, you know, you can right off the bat with  audio, you can use it as sort of like a sample, you can maybe just grab the drum part or just little portion and have it loop or something like that, that’s interesting. But you know, right off the bat with  Blockchain or with beat foundry, you know Apergy you can plug in, grab the MIDI, and you can be working with that immediately and there’s you know, a lot more you can do with that, because that’s, that’s the full composition, you know, that’s not an audio file, nobody knows how to work with audio files and change the  frequencies and all that kind of stuff to manipulate it. So that’s the interoperability aspect of it. So right now, you know, we’re accomplishing those first two, and then the verifiability is the  third one that will, depending on the drop, will apply.

So what’s the benefit then of having it on our Weave, IPFS? Like, why  use that model? Like, what’s the downside of having it on chain that you would otherwise use our weave or IPFS to basically host?

Benny Conn: Yeah, so the costs are the main thing, you know, the right now the blockchain is not cheap, and getting things on chain is just too expensive. And sometimes, you’re just not feasible, there’s a limit to the amount of bytes you can, you been put on chain at once. And just the size of a transaction, the size of a block is limiting. Right. So, you know, that’s the first thing that I would think about, you know, if you’re putting a huge video, you know, realistically, you can’t get it on chain. Because one, it doesn’t fit in one transaction. And even if you did split it up into a bunch of different transactions, that’s going to cost you literally, can cost millions of dollars worth, right. So that’s what I’d say that the biggest thing for IPFS our weave and also, given the cost is a big thing. I’m a very big proponent of like, what doesn’t need to go on chain, what doesn’t apply to those shouldn’t be on chain, there’s no reason to, like try to get something on chain that doesn’t necessarily need to be it doesn’t apply to those reasons, right? Like, the example I always give is, if somebody is making a website, they want their whole user graph to be stored on chain. Right. And that’s data for their website. Well, I’m thinking, you know, if the website goes down, does this on chain data mean anything anymore? You know, does it? You know, the website went down now, like I can’t this on chain doesn’t mean anything beyond the website, did it need to be on chain first place, right? In my opinion, the website should just have a database on their end, where they store all the data they need for all the users so that they go down, the database goes down to right. And it’s better user experience, because nobody needs to pay gas every time we do anything, right? So what needs to be on chain should be on chain and what doesn’t and IPFS and our weave are really great way at accomplishing the permanence aspect of something without, you know, getting something on chain and having to pay that cost, right. Because on IPFS and our weave, it’s going to live beyond whatever API you set up. Right. So I think that is a valid solution for a lot of people.

Benny’s Biggest Challenges With Bringing This Project to Life?

Benny, what were the biggest challenges with bringing this project to life? And what were some of the things you learned from basically producing the first drop to now producing the second drop?

Benny Conn: Totally. So there’s, I would say, there’s two main like categories of challenges that I’ve dealt with. And that’s like, technical challenges. And then just like, you know, beat foundry challenges, like the  idea of beat foundry and how to move it forward. And the technical challenges can be summed up by solving the problem that nobody else has really solved before, which is getting the video on chain, figuring out how to put that together on chain and make something that’s readable, right off the bat, then having all the other data we like the composer, you know, everything that’s involved in, in the metadata, and having the system work, right, you know, a big thing that I’ve had to deal with is, you know, there’s all these generative projects out there, like art blocks, where you can have pretty much an infinite amount of results, right, depending on the input, you know, let’s say the random factor of an NFT is just the transaction hash, you know, whenever somebody meets at our blocks NFT, there could be so many different results, right? But for beat foundry, when you make NFT,  there’s only a finite amount of results, because the artists wrote a certain amount of stamps, and there’s only so many combinations of those right. And normally, there’s more combinations than there are, than we can mint. Right, then then we open up for minting. But if let’s say we minted all of them, right, like, how do we ensure that no, two people mint the same one? You know.

Right.

Benny Conn: That’s, that’s a big challenge that we faced, just technically. Thankfully, we found a solution to that. But that would took us a long time. And then there’s the beat foundry side of it, which is, how quickly do we move? How do we work with a bunch of artists concurrently? You know, are we going to do you know, are we going to just keep it curated and only work with artists one on one? Are we gonna start releasing, you know, five artists at a time and kind of split it up? Or are we gonna allow anybody to release you know, on the platform and just, like, open it up, so that, you know, any average artist can do it, we don’t even need to get involved, right. And those kinds of decisions have been, you know, you know, problems, not necessarily problems for us. It’s just like, the, the, the energy it takes to figure that kind of stuff out. And, you know, those  are, are very important things, you know, a lot of products are going different ways, you know, catalog opened it up, and most people can, you know, anybody can release something on catalog sound is you know, doing more editions, now, they’re releasing a different total supplies. Snoop Dogg just did one which I believe was like, 1000, which is really cool. 

Yeah.

Benny Conn: And, you know, we’re still, we’re also still experimenting with  the supply thing, and then, yeah, just figure out like, how to schedule you know, we’ve talked with probably around, you know, 20 artists at this point, and, you know, managing that and trying to figure out okay, what’s the ordering of this and you know, who we’re gonna have next and we want to make sure that we diversify genres, and get people involved who have never done NFT’s before. You know, there’s a couple, like I said before, there’s a couple artists who just released on Spotify, Apple Music, and they’re trying to get in the space and like, how do we, how do we work with them in the most efficient way? How do we, you know, make the process super easy for an artist? Because we don’t want like I said before, also, we don’t want the artist even think about anything different to make this kind of music, you know, there’s the generative things should be back of mind for them, right, they should be writing music, the way that they want to write their music. And we can handle everything related to generate, generative, you know, MIDI, and making that process, you know, streamlined for the artists is something we’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about, and we’re getting but you know, we’ve only worked with, at this point three artists and we’re just getting better as we, as we go through. And but it’s fun working with the artists and hearing how, how they think about it, how the experience compares to other experiences they’ve had composing for people that are, you know, composing or writing or producing for people that are not just, you know, for their own record. So, yeah, I’d say those are the two main areas that we’ve been focusing on the most.

Outro

Amazing so April 12, the drop 808 NFTs, 404 of which are basically available for pre Mint for Oshii’s first early supporters, including some of the you call them, I keep pushing Archana, right?

Benny Conn: Akarena.

Akarena. So I’m super stoked, Benny, before I let you go, and before we wrap this up, where can we find you? Were can you will learn more about the drop? And what should we expect basically leading up to it? Today’s April 5? So this will be coming out on Thursday. Okay, so what? What should we expect kind of leading up to this?

Benny Conn: Yeah. So I would say, you know, definitely follow the Twitter, which is at beatfoundryNFTs and just keep an eye out, we’re probably posting every day at this point. Tomorrow, we’re doing me a pretty big post, I think we’re the website, there’ll be a big change on the website that’s going to prepare for this mint. And that is where the mint is going to be happening on April 12. And for those of you who are on the allow list, make sure to you know, you have the whole day on April 11, which is next Monday, to mint, you can mint one, at any time starting from 12am. East to you know, 11: 59. Eastern. And yeah, make sure to be there at 1pm on  the 12.

Amazing, Benny, thank you so much. We’re gonna have to do something like this again for the next drop. I love what you’re doing. I love your energy. And I love how you’re helping musicians and tapping into what’s possible with creativity, software and crypto. So thank you so much.

Benny Conn: Thank you so much.

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