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Contextualizing the DAO Landscape with Joey DeBruin

Mint Season 5 episode 10 welcomes Joey DeBruin, founder of Backdrop.so, who explains the overlap between being a neuroscientist to building consumer applications in web3 for DAOs.

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • 00:14 – Intro
  • 00:05 – Understanding Joey’s Interest in Token-based Communities.
  • 07:25 – Biggest Challenges in Starting a DAO
  • 09:55 – Improving Education Around Crypto
  • 12:15 – How to Find Your DAO’s ‘Why’ and Purpose
  • 15:17 – How to Build a Minimum Viable Community
  • 25:50 – Understanding the DAO Scale
  • 35:42 – Traits of a Good Community Manager
  • 38:44 – Current State of Social Tokens
  • 45:50 – Best Practices in Reaching Anonymous Collectors
  • 56:26 – Outro

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Joey, welcome to mint. How are you doing?

Joey DeBruin: I’m doing well. Yeah. Thanks for having me.

Thank you for being on. Thank you for being a part of season five. How does that feel?

Joey DeBruin: Yeah, a lot of history. So, it’s kind of see if I can live up to it.

Intro

I know better, it’s better than Ellen. That’s what I tell everybody. All right. There you go. The way I like to get this thing started is with a quick intro. Okay. So, for those who don’t know, you, and they don’t know what you’re working on, who are you, Joey? What does the world need to know about you? And more specifically, how did you get your start into crypto?

Joey DeBruin: Yeah. So, I’m Joey. I think what the world needs to know about me is that I started out as a neuroscientist, and so I still very much take like a scientific approach to, I think, for better or worse, everything that I do. I’m currently the founder of a company called backdrop, we basically help people launch and participate in tokenized communities. And I got my start in crypto actually, as a writer, so I was writing a newsletter and I wrote actually originally about sea club, and kind of like, why the article was like, why I think the crypto for YC will be bigger than the original. And yeah, just like founder of sea club reached out and was like, you know, no more writing, like start doing, which was awesome. And, and that’s kind of like pulled me and I started work for some DAO as you know, experienced the pain points there. And then, you know, I’ve been like a product builder for a long time and just needed to build something like I just had this urge and that’s how we started building backdrop.

So, neuroscientist, that’s not something you hear every day, I usually hear like X RuneScape player tends to be like a lot of the silver lining, but how did you go from studying neuroscience to then transitioning into product building and crypto, I feel like it’s like two completely different worlds.

Joey DeBruin: There were a couple steps in between. So, I left science, because I was just frustrated with the way that like the system of science works and I started working, I moved out to Silicon Valley and kind of like worked at a few companies there. And yeah, so I think generally speaking, I’ve always been really excited and interested in kind of like public goods, and how do we make it easier for people to, you know, follow their passions, which is exactly what being a scientist is all about. And that’s kind of what has brought me back, you know, I think to crypto now, it feels like a coming home. For me in some ways. I think a lot of like the ethos of the space is very much rooted in academia. And yeah, I still have some long-term aspirations for what we can do with academia and crypto.

So, did you fit you finish your studies studying neuroscience, and you also practice as well?

Joey DeBruin: I was in a lab. Yeah, doing a lot of like, you know, slicing of my brains and staining like very non sexy, moving clear liquids into other clear liquids was kind of like, so I did that for a while. But yeah.

What would you say the similarities are between, I guess, being in the lab to building products? I feel like there’s a lot of underlying similarities.

Joey DeBruin: Yeah, I mean, I think in general, like, what feels very similar to me is that a lot of people think that, like, science is this, you know, just like wandering down the various paths like undirected just learning curiosity, it’s actually the reverse. So, people, you know, scientists have a belief, and then they basically try to disprove that belief via experiments and so, it doesn’t actually work in the other direction, you can just like, have random experiments and figure out like, you know, what you believe. Same thing with building a product. So, I think you have a belief, you have a vision for the future, and then you just run as many experiments as you can and iterate until you get there. So that process, I think, is very similar, which is why I think a lot of scientists are attracted to that kind of entrepreneurial work in general.

So, when you kind of jumped into Silicon Valley, then I guess, presumably working at startups or bigger companies.

Joey DeBBruin: I worked like a garage startup, basically.

Oh really?

Joey DeBruin: Yeah, my first, that was, you know, 10 years ago.

Doing product?

Joey DeBruin: Actually, doing growth. So, my, basically, I called my friend, and I was like, you know, I’m pretty frustrated in the lab. Like, I feel like this bureaucracy, I had some pretty bad experience. I was like, these really bureaucratic experience. Like, this is not how it’s supposed to be. This is like, you know, entrepreneurialism at, like, at its worst, and he was like, hey, there’s this thing called growth. Like, it’s basically you can still be a scientist, you just run experiments, but, you know, there’s no bureaucracy, and you can move at the speed of your ideas, like rather than experiment costing millions of dollars and taking, you know, two years it cost like $10 and takes, you know, 20 minutes, and that was, it was just the right pitch at the right time. For me, I was like, yes, like, that is what I need. And so, I had no idea what growth was or what product was or any of that and it just like knew that it had experiments in it. And I was like, well, I’m good at experiments like, I’m sure I’ll be fine.

Understanding Joey’s Interest in Token-based Communities.

Yeah, I feel like there still lacks a lot of solid products in crypto, I’m still tainted by the defi days where it would be like the curves interface, and it’d be like old windows. And then all the interesting steps that you’d have to climb through just to submit a transaction, all these signatures and all these experiences that are still pretty, pretty bad today, but early adopters have kind of swallowed the pain for the upside. So okay, jumping into crypto wrote about Sea Club got justice attention, who’s also think he was a part of season two of the podcast, big fan of what they’re doing at Sea Club, I also hold the sea tokens. I’m part of the M Club as well as the M Club, are you part of that? I assume you are as well. Yeah. So, I’m a big believer in Jess, I’m a big believer in Sea club. But I guess like, to your point why you had to initially write about tokenized communities? What is it about like the foundation of a token-based community? Like why the natural alignment towards it?

Joey DeBruin: For me, I think I’m most attracted to the ability for people, creative people to follow, like what their interests are, and I think in the modern world, the scarce ingredient to that is basically helping people go from zero to one. So, I think if you’ve been like a builder of any kind, or creator of any kind, you just, you know how excruciatingly difficult it is to get something off of the ground and I think the magic of crypto for me is basically like, you know, lowering or Lacoste to that like first meaningful piece of traction, because there is like a community is aligned with you from the very beginning. So, you know, I always like thought about as like a newsletter writer or something, it’s like those first 10 subscribers that are with you, like, they are as much like on your team, and they’re as much like your investors as they are consumers and I think like, that was what initially drew me to the space. And I think still, what is actually most exciting to me is how do we just help more people launch interesting things, follow their passions, and like kind of like leverage community ownership to do that.

Biggest Challenges in Starting a DAO

So, I guess you’re also from what you told me like an active participant in DAOs. You mentioned that there’s quite a bit of challenges with DAOs today, I’d love for you to kind of like take a swing at breaking them down. Like what are the biggest challenges? Because DAOs is very much romanticized. In my point of view, I say this a lot on the podcast, like more people want to start a DAO, than actually necessarily participate in voting to help grow collectively a DAO with a group of people. What, from your point of view are some of the biggest challenges in starting a DAO today?

Joey DeBruin: Yeah, I think one of the biggest challenges is that DAOs is, you know, like, at least in our current conception of them, they are big and complex, like multi layered beasts. So, if you want to really build like a self-organizing community, that takes a lot of effort, and especially, like, so many DAOs have lost have grown so quickly, that the work of really like building that process just takes a lot of time and there’s a lot of chaos involved. And if you think about, like, the different layers of the community onion, you know, there’s like a core team of whatever, five or 10 people that are typically like, really steering the ship and making sure that things are moving forward. And then there’s, you know, a much wider group of, you know, supporters and contributors, and then there’s even wider groups of people that are interested and all of those people are kind of, like, thrown into the same soup, I think, in a lot of places. And, and to me, that’s partially just the nature of the game. And it takes time for those processes to be built. But I think it’s also because the perceived cost of creating, you know, communities is really high. And so, and the actual cost, I think, as well, which means that you kind of need to have these, like big, you know, hefty organizations that then take on a lot of overhead, where I actually think that like, over time, we’ll see much smaller, more granular, kind of more focused communities be like more of the dominant model. So that’s one of the problems I see right now is just like, there’s very few DAOs that have traction, and the ones that do have just a huge number of people that are interested in them and they’re just kind of drowning in that a little bit.

Improving Education Around Crypto

So, one thing you mentioned that you’re excited about is the education side of crypto, I think with better education comes better knowledge and better participation, better contribution, from your point of view as someone who went through academia so intensely, and seeing probably what good education looks like, what are some of those missing components that you think Cryptos lacking? That could I guess, better the entire ecosystem as a whole, from a DAO point of view, from an adoption point of view, from a user experience point of view everything? Like, what are your thoughts are on that?

Joey DeBruin: Yeah, there’s a lot of answers to that, I will tell you the one thing that I’m thinking a lot about now is there. I think there is like a fundamental mismatch between the people that are excited to create something or to launch an experiment or to launch a community, and the people that actually have like the tools and network to do that. So, if you think about this as like, a marketplace for ideas, there is like, I think a large like there’s like a market failure in that, there’s actually tons of people like everyone’s like, oh, the crypto space is small and yet it’s small. But there are definitely millions of people that you know, are really excited and passionate and want to create something, want to like, see what it’s like to build something of their own. But the number of people that can actually build something that have the resources and network and knowledge to do that is super small. So, if you were to go out on the street, and you were to ask someone like, hey, do you have an idea for maybe not the street, maybe like the crypto Street? Do you have an idea for, you know, something that you that you’d like to see in the world? Like some experiment that you think would be cool, I think generally you’ll find the answer to that is yes. But then if you ask like, okay, how would you get that done? By and large, you’ll find people saying, like, I don’t really know. And I think to me, that’s like the biggest missing educational and kind of like, UX piece, right? Like, I think these tools that crypto is building are, generally speaking, they should be to make things more seamless, more frictionless, more permissionless and more like lighter, like more fun. So, I think you the experience of using them right now is the opposite. So that’s both like an education and like an implementation, you know, aspect that we I think we need to work on.

How to Find Your DAO’s ‘Why’ and Purpose

Yeah, I think with starting any community, you first have to find the why like the purpose as to why the community should exist and the why ultimately finds those initial few contributors and of joining the community. And then to which a token may be issued, where incentives are aligned, and then you grow harmoniously. Hopefully they’re on after, but finding the why right, finding that underlying purpose is quite difficult. There’s only so many groups that have found the why that may have otherwise done like Treasury diversification, rounds, issued tokens, brought outside investors, etc. And I think this may be like more of like a human question like, how do you find your purpose? How do you find your why, but from an organizational point of view, how do you actually find your why like, why? How do you find that question? Okay, and I’m trying to phrase this correctly? How do you find that reason why you should exist? And then from there on out, find the first few people that align with that purpose? Like, what’s the process of doing that?

Joey DeBruin: Yeah, I think what you’re describing is something that we and someone like sometimes internally talk about as, like, the minimum viable community and, I mean, that is like, not as sometimes people think about minimum viable community and like the kind of like 1000 true fans sense, which is like, hey, like, you have something that you’re building and you need, like, a core group of people to help support it, and then kind of just be your diehards. But I think a little bit differently, in the sense that the most important thing that you need in the beginning is people to like battle test and refine your vision for what it is that you want to do. So I think there is like, in general, there’s too much of this feeling that you need to when you start something like know exactly what the 10 year vision is, or what like the, you know, world changing impact is, I think there’s that’s like a myth also, that comes from people post rationalizing, you know, whatever, Jeff Bezos and being like, oh, yeah, he could have he foresaw, you know, Blue Origin from the first day that they launched a Book Marketplace. It’s like, that’s, frankly, bullshit.

Yeah.

Joey DeBruin: And so, you know, like, the way that we experience I think communities and projects is typically at the first moment is when they like, launch and put a stake in the ground and say, like, this is who we are, this is what we’re doing. And I think actually, the most important moments are actually before that. So, it’s that group and the way this happens in the kind of the quote unquote real world now is like you have the people who are lucky. Like they have some core network of people who they can bounce ideas off of, and they can get feedback on, and they can iterate and learn and then they get to the point where they’re like, okay, this is that, you know, like, let’s go out and do this. And I think there’s just a huge number of people that don’t have that kind of a community and so, I think that’s like the minimum viable community to actually building something purposeful. Is that kind of like initial core group?

How to Build a Minimum Viable Community

Yeah, I, that’s something that we talk a lot about on the podcast like the MVC, like, how do you build that minimum viable community? And everybody has a different answer. And the only reason I keep asking you about community related things, because backdrop the core, like, core reason why it exists is to support these tokenized communities, which I’ll let you talk about in a minute. But one thing that stood out to me about backdrop, it feels and I’m looking at it, my screen over here, like it feels like the aggregation layer, to DAOs and everything that a DAOs kind of needs it’s there, at the top, from governance, to participation, to who’s doing what, who bought what, and it feels very much like this, this really fun and friendly feed, that allows you to keep up with the day to day of your community. Right. So, I guess, like transitioning into backdrop, like, did I did I tackle that correctly? What am I missing here?

Joey DeBruin: Yeah, you did. That’s totally kind of what we’ve been building, I think, like, you caught us at a good time. Because, you know, we were kind of three months after our launch. And I think we’ve been able to, like, we’ve been lucky to have like, a lot of success momentum and think about, you know, what is like the next major push for us, and I think where we started is exactly what you mentioned. So we believe that, you know, the world is networked, especially like now more than ever, and I think that when we think about web three, and DAOs, and all these kinds of communities, there’s often like, sometimes it’s easy to be like, okay, these are new organizations that like, oh, you know, that kind of like, there are these walled gardens for people to live in and do stuff in. But I think in general, like, they are more like, you know, think about community as overlapping clouds. And so, you know, if you and I are part of two of the same communities, and also two different communities, like, what is the experience that we want, and I think it’s much more like people centric than it is, you know, just a community centric. So that’s what we wanted to think about building. And so, what we do is we, basically, aggregate key information from all the different communities and projects that we can find and we put it into like a people centric network, so that the experience for you Adam is like, just, you know, to be able to have one place where you can go to discover and keep up to keep up to date with communities that you care about. And just make it easier for you to participate and you know, to be to belong, I think like, as we are, you know, going forward, we actually want to take it one step further, which is to, like I said, like help more people create new communities, new projects. So, we want to actually extend the value that we’ve built to stuff that’s even earlier and kind of even newer. So that’s kind of like the next major milestone for us is that we think about our long-term vision of like, making it easy for everyone to participate in web three. Part of that is making it easier to connect with your existing communities and then I think the next major frontier for us is like helping you actually go out and launch something brand new.

So, let’s talk about those last two points. So, connecting with the communities and helping you launch something brand new. So, what’s missing today that would, like I guess, better connect one another, like individual people within a community together? Like what do you think is missing? Like what are some of the core problems because right now community live on Discord? Like being able to manage a community through Discord is very daunting, very overwhelming and quite frankly, I hate it. Like I love my family on a mint Discord, I love you guys to death. But it’s very hard to actually build a community, let alone empower other people in the community to do something and to kind of Co-contribute to something all you have is a bunch of servers, right? Again, this is not to shit on Discord more so to realize that there’s a set of users that have different needs and wants, that a new product may be better suited for them kind of thing. Are you thinking about it the same way? Obviously, I assume.

Joey DeBruin: Yeah. I mean, I think one thing like, just to say, I mean, a lot of people have kind of I think position backdrop as like an alternative or competitor discord, we actually don’t internally see it that way. Because I think communities always need like a place to just like, hang out, like you need a place that it’s like the coffee shop or something like you can always go there and you can hang it on, there’s gonna be people there. But I think what makes communities like really powerful is their ability to bring people together around like discrete information and moments. And so that’s the kind of stuff that and you know, Discord or conversational tools, like they’re just not built for that, and I think they’re not optimized for that. So, they’re optimized to be the coffee shop that where there’s always going to be chatter, there’s always going to be the sense of vibrancy. Whereas what we want to think about optimizing for is you know, how do you bring people together to create something magical. And so that’s, you know, what we the kind of information that we look at is different. So, we think about, you know, events and governance and announcements and all these kinds of key moments for our community, and how do we make sure that their people are able to come together over those? And I think that’s, you know, so again, I would expect that communities always have a, like a multiple of different tools and I think we just want to be one of them that’s really focused on information as opposed to conversation.

Yeah, a core component of these tokenized communities is the concept of ownership, which I think ownership is very much still a gray area in Web three, depending on what you tied into, for example, a lot of season four of mint was about music, NFTs, and music industry in general and the concept of what you actually owned when you purchase a music NFT whether it’s rights, royalties, whether it’s just purely the collectible itself that sits in your wallet is very much a gray area. Does some of that still exist with like ERC 20 base communities, for example, because I’m looking on the site here, because I see like doodles, I see all sorts of communities, but a lot of the ones that I aligned with that I initially joining the beginning, prior to NFT communities popping up or like ERC 20 based communities, right, is that concept of ownership, still a gray area as to in terms of what you own and the level of ownership that you have in these communities?

Joey DeBruin: I mean, I’m not sure if this is going to answer your question. But I think one of the things that’s most challenging, and frankly, most exciting about building backdrop is that we want to, like build at the absolute frontier of the data that is currently available, and we want to build products that are delightful and easy and fun at that frontier. And the reason for that is because we view our like role in the ecosystem as helping push that frontier forward. But the challenge is that right now the kind of information that we can get, that we can get, you know, on chain or an open place is almost, I mean, it’s predominantly ownership, right and so, lots of people have talked about this, but if you want to build like, a social product or a product, like we think a lot about, like engineering, serendipity. So, we want to find like, areas in which people are, you know, share interests or share excitement, or, you know, share community, right, and we want to actually spark new things there. So, in those serendipitous moments, but when you just look at ownership, it’s a very, like, blunt instrument in order to do that, right. So, there’s no difference between people that earn tokens versus buy them, there’s no difference between someone who, you know, like, is so obsessed with this one community token that they just versus like, someone who maybe bought it and doesn’t like it anymore, but doesn’t want to sell it, because they think it’s probably going to go back up, and then they’ll sell it right. So, like, we don’t have any of that kind of information right now. And it, you know, it’s just a challenge. So we’re always looking to like, add utility and add joy, and add delight around the data that we can have, and also work with the ecosystem and work with people to think about, like, what’s the next step? Like, what is the kind of information that we need, that will allow us to build like one step further is basically we just really believe in the value of like an open interoperable web three ecosystem, I think, like all of us, but and so we have to kind of like work with what we’ve got in order to take like, one step forward, I think that’s what makes building products in this area, like, just super challenging, and, but really fun.

So, working with all that data, it’s real time data, for the most part. Have you discovered, like, any interesting insights by analyzing and working alongside so much data and so much different diverse data?

Joey DeBruin: Yeah, that’s a good question. I don’t know, if we have, like, you know, just game changing insights right now, I think we, there’s a couple of things that that we know, which are maybe obvious, like, we do know that people, like we’d look at a lot of how people want to, like, reflect them represent themselves and I think what we find is that generally speaking, people want to, like layer their contribution to multiple communities in order to, like present themselves, right. So, if you look at someone’s profile, and like, you know, for example, like simple data that we get is like allowing you, we have all this information in your wallet, and it’s kind of like, okay, what things do you want to highlight? What things do you want to hide? You know, what projects do you want to pin? What projects do you want to remove? So we give people that control and I think through that you really can learn like, okay, I think for us, between three to five probably projects that people tend to be like, okay, this is a decent representation of me right now, and that changes depending on like, whether someone is like a casual contributor to these communities who was the founder, the founder be much more likely to just say like, this is it, this is my project, that’s all you need to know. So, I think like we have learned a lot about that, again, it’s not as maybe not shocking, you know, these are things that are fairly intuitive, but it’s good to actually get the hard data on it.

Understanding the DAO Scale

You know, one thing that I’m seeing in the creator economy, as I guess, more traditional creators try to form these tokenized communities or DAOs, there’s a spectrum to DAOtification, there’s a completely decentralized, which I’d argue not everybody is just yet to just a token base community where the creator is at the center, I’d argue my communities token based on the creator, creating content for an audience and I reward them with non-transferable NFTs here and there every single season and there’s a spectrum to it. So, from your point of view, how do we get more creators, more of these creative entrepreneurs who want to use these primitives, these DAO primitives to kind of like move across the scale were from completely centralized to like just a token-based community like myself to decentralization? Like, how do we move from that scale?

Joey DeBruin: Yeah, I mean, first of all, I don’t think that our view is that like, the ideal is for every community to be fully, you know, I don’t want to say even decentralized, but like democratic like that. So, I actually, I mean, I think one of my, I don’t know, spicier takes, I guess, is like that. I think democracy is the ideal for physical, like nations, and maybe not the ideal for digital ones. Because I think it just democracy is like synonymous with bureaucracy, and a lot of ways, like, you need a lot of process in order to do that. And I think a lot of communities like don’t want necessarily to process, they just want to hang out and like use and like do stuff together and that’s actually very hard to do. So anyways, I think it’s like you said, it’s a spectrum and I think it’s more about where do people want to exist on that spectrum in terms of like, how we get more creators into the space? I think, right now, like the dominant way that a Creator would think about, like, do I want to do crypto is like, you know, do I want to sell some kind of like speculative asset, and I think that is probably not like a supernatural Mindspace for most creators to be in. And it’s also puts an extraordinary burden on the Creator to, like, continue maintaining the value of those things. And so, you know, I think we, what we need to do is to, yeah, just like simple, good, good, like product, like UX work, right? It should be like, okay, what are you trying to do? Like, what values are you trying to provide to your community? And then, like, how did these technologies and tools actually just help you do that in a way that you couldn’t before. So, you know, if you want to, you know, if you have, like, a 1% of your community is like, loves you a ton, and you want to offer them some, like unique, you know, benefits or special events or whatever. You know, like, yeah, you can do that. And you can do that with crypto in a way that’s going to be better maybe then like, without and I think that’s like, should be the first just like, do stuff that’s fun and light and simple. And, and that’s like should be the entry point, not like you okay, launch what is essentially feels like, you know, some large financial asset.

Yeah, that’s a lot of my hesitation. Personally, I’ve gotten a lot of questions from the community lately, like when you get to do an NFT, when you’re going to do a social token, when are you going to take this thing and make it more web three native and like, we’re moving slowly, here, we’re only issuing more like Soul boundish tokens where they’re nontransferable and solidify your participation in the podcast, and to really try to source my most active contributors and listeners, and then try to figure out a strategy down the line, how to tie in all that value together. And one thing we chatted about, because you bring up this, this concept of speculation, which could be a point of resistance for a lot of creators, because like, wow, there’s gonna be a publicly traded asset about me. Yeah, there’s ways to make money, but how do I actually maintain and manage this thing? This concept of a soul bound token, which you and I, we talked about behind the scenes? Do you have any, like, thoughts on that something that metallic recently pushed out as, like this new primitive that might be viral in a couple of years?

Joey DeBruin: Yeah. I mean, I think like, one of the things that, you know, we obviously have been thinking a lot about is that, you know, there’s a lot of signals that you want to give, you know, to a community that are not financial, that are really, I think, as a product, like building products, that’s one thing you’ll experience very acutely is like the wow, if only there was more data in the space that wasn’t so inherently financial, it’s like, it basically just blurs, like, all of the lines that you would want to draw. So, if you want to say like, hey, like, here’s a community that, you know, some people might really care about, alright, who are those people? And that would look at all the token holders. Well, it’s like, well, some of the people really care about that community. Some people just like think it’s going to make money. And so, I think like the, you know, the value of soul bound tokens, and these kinds of like nontransferable primitives is that we can build products and experiences and you know, that are not so inherently fine. Actually, like our lives as humans are so much less financial than our lives as crypto people, right, and that, I don’t think that’s how it needs to be.

And the other but like, the other aspect of this that I think about sometimes is, I think there is this paradox in a way, when you think about things that are really early, right, so a lot of people, like, you know, I was talking to Jeanie, at Coin buys, like they, you know, issue they, you know, tokens, NFTs to tons of people, and we were talking about, like, when is the right time for a creator to launch a token. And I think the general recommendation from people is like, not for a while. And the reason for that is because like you said, you want to have a vision, you want to have a clear purpose, you want to have a community, you want to like set up all these things. And if you launch a token before that all of this, like financial speculation and pressure or whatever, kind of like drowns out your ability to do all those things, it just adds a ton of noise. At the same time, like, if you have been in this space, you’ve experienced this like magic moment where like, there is something in your wall that you care about, like that is a just a truly magical moment. And so, what’s the balance between those two things, and I actually think soul bound tokens are the way forward for a lot of people, which is like, let’s say, I create a community. And I say, hey, I’m going to issue like, some soul bound tokens to you all, because you, you know, you’re in my early group, and you’re helping me out and so there’s no financial benefit to these, this is just symbolic, it’s just like you are part of this.

And, you know, there is real value to that. And it also allows you to build on chain data that you can, or you know, open data that you can then use down the line, if you do want to like launch something that has financial value, it’s also nothing wrong with financial value, right? Like when you get to the point where you want to launch NFT, and you want to distribute it to people that, you know, we’re supporting you along the way. Great. So, I feel like there is an opportunity to let because the right the alternative to that, by the way, is to just say like, hey, like, we’re not going to issue anything, you’re only going to help us build and then don’t worry, like, at some point, we’re gonna launch the NFT. And we’re gonna send it to you all right, and that promise is meaningful. But it’s not the same as if someone is like, cool, like, look at this, solidified you know. So, I think there’s a real opportunity to now build like, those kinds of experiences that allow people to delay or defer anything that is like financial, but also still, like, build that real connection with their community, with their audience.

Yeah, there’s a lot of questions that I still kind of like have around like Soul bound NFTs, like, the purpose of them. For those who don’t know, from what I understand, it’s like, they’re soul bound, like they’re bound to your wallet. And they’re nontransferable by nature, to kind of apply to all different types of use cases. Like there’s like collegiate used cases for like degrees, and whatnot. There are mint season pins, so you can prove your participation on the podcast. There’re all sorts of like, used cases, but I’m like, I’m always like, here’s okay, like how do you buy soul bound tokens? Like what does that entail? I guess it’s one initial transaction. But what does the value like how does value accrue to it from there on out beyond just solidifying participation? What happens if you die? Like what happens to your soul bound tokens if they have value, for example, and all these like interesting, like questions that have yet to sort of be discussed, I guess, on the concept of data, one of the most interesting things for me at the moment, is kind of learning more about who your collectors are on chain. For me as a podcaster. I know where my audience comes from on web two, I know that a lot of them come from Twitter, a lot of them come from organic search results on Google, etc. I know very little as to who they are on chain, which is like an interesting concept. Like we have like Nansen, we have dude analytics that provide very, like transactional data, right? What’s trending etc.? What are the recent spikes, wallet, etc. But I’m interested to know, who are my collectors, like, who are they, as addresses, as anonymous people or pseudo anonymous people on chain. And one thing that I’ve noticed about backdrop is it creates more context to the entire ecosystem and allows you to see who these community members are, which is incredibly interesting from what they participated into what they voted on, ensure you can find these things manually. But when it’s all aggregated and condensed into like one sort of funnel, it makes them more enjoyable, I’d argue.

Joey DeBruin: Yeah, no, absolutely. And I think it’s so important, like, and I think the, you know, whether you call it like the unbundling of ether scan or something, yeah, you could take the same underlying data, and you could bring it into like so many different contexts. And it depends on what you want to do. So, like for us, like, what the context that we want is for you to understand someone so we don’t like necessarily, you know, want you to know how much money they have, or we don’t want you to know like it In our case, like how good of a trader they are like, it’s more like, do you want to work with them? You know, who might they have already worked with, like, those kinds of like questions. And so, we just take that data and we contextualize it in a very specific way. And I think every time, every time you try something more specifically, like it gets you closer to the actual, like, someone’s actual intent. And I think right now like, something like an ether scan, or whatever, it served for every intent, it’s just like, here’s the underlying data. And so yeah, I think there’s a huge opportunity for, and this is such, what’s so cool about this open ecosystem is you can take the same data, it can be open to a lot of people, and you can recontextualize it in so many different ways and build so many different products on top of it.

Traits of a Good Community Manager

Yeah. Speaking of tokenized communities, wherever every community, there needs to be great community managers. And some can call that like centralized leadership, depending on how they lead is incredibly like important for the sustainability, for management, for day-to-day operation, etc. in a DAO tokenize company, whatever you want to call it. But you’ve been a part of many dollars, you’ve seen the rise and fall for sure of DAOs. From your experience, Joey, what is a good community manager entail? Like, what is a good community manager profile look like?

Joey DeBruin: Yeah, I think there are, so it’s such a difficult role.

It is difficult.

Joey DeBruin: Yeah. And I think like.

By the way, also incredibly high in demand as well, because everybody needs a community manager.

Joey DeBruin: Yes, totally. And I think like, one thing is, you need to be able to, like think in systems because the community is really like a system. So, if you’re like, I think they’re really good community managers understand that what they are doing is like building the spaces for the community to exist, not necessarily like managing the community, like someone in a factory, like manages a factory. So, I think good community managers are often like, well have like a design background, or like some design, you know, tendencies. And then, you know, the other one is just being able to really like, be like, tolerate a high degree of uncertainty, because I think community managers are always like, working at the edges of, you know, what is currently working in, you know, in any given space. So, you know, and to me, I think that also is like, in some ways, a design skill. So, it’s like, can you understand all the different, you know, flows into and out of your community? And can you really empathize with people who are in very different moments than you’re currently in? So, I think like, you know, it’s funny, sometimes you talk to like a founder of a DAO, you say, like, what’s the experience, like for joining your DAO? And they’re like, oh, you know, you go through this onboarding thing, and then you join, and then you like, you know, vote on a proposal, and then you maybe submit one yourself, you’re like, oh, it sounds really nice and then if you talk to someone who like, you’re like, oh, you just joined that DAO? Yes. Like last week, they’re like, What? Like, you’re like, well, it’s like being thrown into a cocktail party with like, a million people that you don’t know. And like, everyone’s shouting at you. It’s like, okay, well, that sounds you know, different. I think it’s, that’s like partially a joke. I think it’s really about being able to like to step out, and almost like re-experience things over and over again, that makes people like really good at design, but also really good at community management. Because your vision for what you are and like, where you may be like, where when, like, when you join the community, it was like maybe what small, maybe it was like super nice. And maybe now it’s like really chaotic. And I think you just need to be able to, like remove, like step outside yourself in order to do that.

Current State of Social Tokens

Yeah, I think one of the primitives for tokenized communities and DAO are slowly transitioning to membership passes, versus like ERC. 20s, for example, which was the typical norm for a lot of these early phase are V1, V0 DAOs. That kind of came about in the last year and a half. How do you feel about social tokens? Like there’s conversations online, I’m still incredibly bullish on their specific purpose, I think the last year and a half kind of showed us where they fit in better in terms of the entire lifecycle of an on-chain community. But what are your thoughts like, are we still bullish on social tokens as being like the introductory asset to form a community? Should they come later down the line? Do you think they’ll still be a thing where creators are tokenizing themselves? All sorts of speculations?

Joey DeBruin: Yeah. I mean, you know, I think in general, I’m still bullish on social tokens and kind of, like fungible tokens in general for a lot of things. I do think that I mean, there’s a few things that I think we’re seeing that makes sense to me. One is that communities like if all you have as a social token, then you basically are incentivized to growth like forever. So, I mean, if that is the way that you essentially sustain yourselves, then, you know, it puts this huge pressure on the community to keep growing in a way that I think a lot of communities don’t need to. So, you know, I think pairing, you know, those kinds of like scarce, whatever assets, that maybe more like are symbolic for ownership and governance are these kinds of things with, you know, like, Season Passes view and NFT that you can actually use to build like, essentially revenue, like, communities. And I think like these are not brand-new concepts to communities or to clubs or whatever, like, if you join, I don’t know, like, Country Club, or you join a social club, like, it’s actually.

It’s monthly.

Joe DeBruin: Yeah, you pay monthly, but you might also like, so I think like the, like a timeshare or Country Club is like an interesting model where it’s like, maybe it cost you $10,000, to join, and then you have to pay monthly dues. But then if you if you leave, like two years later, and now you know, the price of joining is $20,000, you get to like you change your 10,000 to 20. So you’re both like, yeah, you have to pay for the upkeep of that community, every week, every month or whatever. But you’re still also like, incentivized to make it better, and to make it more attractive and to help it grow. So, it’s not one or the other. I think it’s like, it is the balance of those two things that feels sustainable to me long term. So, you don’t want I think, if it was just like, every season is a new NFT. And that’s it. Like, you know, there’s no, there’s no permanence. There’s no like, you know, like long term perpetual ownership, that’s also not as interesting. It’s just like, it’s just subscription. So, I think to me, it’s like actually pairing those two things that’s most powerful.

Yeah, I’m curious to see how social tokens kind of evolve. And in 2022, especially with the new concept of soul bound, Soul bound tokens, and what that really means. I think the best, of course, always widely used as board, APE Yacht Club, and how they’ve kept like strategically introduced every single collectible, which could be considered as a membership pass, in many cases, for this grandiose vision of building some type of like gaming, or Metaverse, and all the little like, cookie crumbs that kind of came with that. So first you buy the avatar, that’s going to be the metaverse, and then your avatar is going to mutate. And you can have the opportunity to buy that and you’re gonna have a little pet like a dog. And then from there, you got to live somewhere. So, you got to buy some land. And if you buy that land, you might get another friend this way. I forgot what it’s called. And this entire narrative is like unfolding and with that they’re generating revenue. But they also have this DAO formation that’s kind of carried out through the governance token, right. So that’s one model. Another model that I really love is Daniel Allen’s model, where he crowdfunds, I think, crowdfunded, 150k, 180k, in like 48 hours, we did a whole entire episode or series on that, but basically how you get your entrance into His club via the social token, and then you kind of earn by the consistent revenue that gets accumulated by the sales of his music NFTs. So, he does like a 50% rev share, and half of that goes back into the treasury. And with that the members get special perks and interesting access, etc. So yeah, yeah. What are some of your favorite models that you’ve kind of seen prevail being a part of so many groups online, let alone hosting and being a home to many groups now on backdrop?

Joey DeBruin: Yeah, well, my favorite models, I mean, I’ve been thinking a lot about like, media organizations, and like, what is the nature of like a more decentralized media organization going forward, I think we’re lucky to work with and just like, have close connections to, you know, organizations like global coin research, or water and music, or dirt DAO or at least kind of like, you know, different models for building really valuable content communities. And I think what is interesting to me is that it’s not about decentralization or centralization. It’s about thinking about, like, the process of building a really great brand, and which elements of that need to be decentralized and which elements don’t. And so, it’s a much more systems level, like, so if you talk to Sherry from water and music, like, you know, actually editorial, her view is that it should be highly centralized forever. And I actually tend to agree with that. So, if you think about the consumer experience of a media company, you want to know, like, what are you going to get, like, what’s it going to feel like? What’s the vibe, what’s the voice? But there are elements of that, like, if it’s a research organization, for example, it’s like finding the coolest stuff to be talking about or finding all of the data or you know, even like soliciting contributions for different kinds of people, having a more flexible or fluid model of contribution, like all those things can be highly decentralized. So, I think when I think about, like, you know, what is the DAO that’s going to, you know, be the next New York Times like, and it’s going to be the biggest media? Or like, what’s the DAO it’s gonna be the biggest media organization in the world. It’s certainly not like a just democracy of people voting on what they think is the coolest article, you know, it’s like, it is much more sophisticated, much more nuanced than that. And that’s what I get really excited about is that I think it’s this like systems level thinking where you can, you know, put together these different building blocks from the old world and kind of like more decentralized approaches and recreate them into something that’s really interesting.

Best Practices in Reaching Anonymous Collectors

Yeah. Another thing that I noticed on backdrop, there’s a big problem in the space where it’s hard to get in touch and get context on your collectors in terms of their activity. And I think it is a big challenge for everybody. Because part of like, web two is having a CRM and being able to message people and being able to have cookies and see where what everyone’s doing, where they are, etc. I think it’s a really interesting insight and feature that makes backdrops so powerful, and on the concept of contextualizing a lot of things in the ecosystem. So, I guess my question to you is, what is the best way to get in touch with anonymous collectors?

Joey DeBruin: Yeah, there is no great way right now, I think that, you know, we do kind of, like, enable that in the sense that, you know, people give us ways to contact them on backdrops, whether that’s their email, or whether they just want to use kind of like backdrop via wallet connect. But then, you know, there is this, like, benefit that accrues over time where like, if a new, if they were to select acquire, like an NFT, from a given community, right, they will just automatically start getting updates on backdrop or to their email or whatever. So, they only need to, like connect that thing, one time on backdrop, and then like, but that’s not the only way that this will be done. I think there’s a bunch of protocols that are being built, you know, to do kind of like, you know, messaging, you know, that is wallet connected or wallet aware. And, and so I think there will be a variety of different ways that people will connect with, like their collectors, eventually. The other thing that I’ll say is like, I think we, we’re excited right now, like when you think about understanding who you know, your collectors or your community is, the way that works on backdrop is like, you can see everyone that is holding the token, you can go to their profile, you can check out who they are like, you can see their Twitter connections and their whatever, like so they build their profile and I think that’s really cool. I think like, there is a level in between what we have now and like dune, you know, so dune is like, okay, it is like very just like data-oriented analytics, if you want to see, you know, who holds whatever, C club tokens, and also these other tokens, like, what are all of those wallets? I think, you know, we’re really thinking as, like some of the new features that we’re building of ways for people to kind of hit that middle ground. So, you might need to launch a poll that says like, hey, like, you know, not like a, you know, full on governance, you know, vote but like, hey, we’re thinking about building X, Y, or Z, like, which would you guys’ think is cooler? And you know, people vote on that. And then you’re able to, like, look at some analytics, like, okay, like, you know, what are the kinds of data from people that voted yes, versus voted no. And I think there’s just like, very interesting, again, like middle ground between what we have right now, just like individual people focused and then what like a dude would have, which is like full just like aggregate data focused, I think that that middle ground is where like, community can be really powerful.

Let’s take it to the next level. Because a lot of this data is just out there. It’s one thing to have the data and to find the data, it’s another thing to know what to do with the data. Something that I’m incredibly excited about is like when AI and machine learning kind of make sense of the picture and starts giving you actionable insight as to what you can do with that data. Okay, so I know that this community holds a board ape and this token, okay, so what like, what do I do with it? Or I know, XY and Z, they voted on wanting to do this. Okay, so like, what’s next kind of thing? That’s like, that’s like the missing piece that I think we have yet to tap into. And funny enough, we talked on this conversation on data. I’ve been working with various creators, one of the, I guess, use cases that I kind of worked with is with this independent artist, her name is Queen George, we did a concert at Eth Denver and sold tickets as NFTs, and we kind of realized like, okay, she’s already royally screwed by Spotify, because she doesn’t have access to her streaming data unnecessarily, let alone all the people that watch her TikTok videos or Instagram Stories, etc. But she has all these collectors now, oh gee Ethereum collectors not only that, they came to watch her perform in person, so she meant a lot of her collectors, right. But what can she do with that information then? So now she has 100 plus new collectors that bought that got something from her for free, enjoyed an experience. How can she tap into like aggregated wallet data and understand who these people are in line and use that data? To kind of like pursue new opportunities in the future, she might realize that a certain amount of them have like, point 01 Eth. So, or a point 5 Eth in their wallets, so maybe she should do a drop for like point 05 Eth kind of thing, you know, she might realize that a lot of them are in forefront, they spend their time voting and M Club, they do have all the interesting insights, this is what you should do kind of next leading up to that. So, this whole concept of like data analysis and data analytics, and what you do with that data, is really, really fascinating to me, and something that we’ve been talking a lot about on the podcast as well.

Joey DeBruin: Yeah, I mean, I think there’s like two, two elements of that I would say, one is that I think, you know, anyone who’s worked with like ML, or AI, or whatever knows that, like labeling is the scarce resource in so many ways. I think that’s very much true of where we are right now, in web three, which is like, the data you can get purely from people’s wallet activities, frankly, not that interesting. From if you want to build anything that’s like a richer experience or like a human centric experience. So, you know, we need ways for people to tell us like why, you know, did you get this token? Why did you go to that event? Like, what do you care about right now, and I think, you know, that’s, you know, so I think it’ll be backdrop, it’ll be a number of other products that are enriching or contextualizing information with the help of people? So, like, people actually using the product to help contextualize. The other thing is, like, you know, that specific use case of, you know, it could be that you had a concert that you use a token to, like, you know, for a ticket, and then you want to figure out, like, oh, what should I do with all these people? Like, I think also, that is how we think about emergent community in a lot of ways.

So, you know, maybe the thing that you should do is, you should say, hey, you know, I have three concerts over, like, the last year, and, you know, all those have NFTs and there’s ways that you could just plug that together, you know, into creating, like, just a little community full of those people and give them, you know, you like additional utility, you know, give them new things on top of that. And I think, like, that’s where, again, I think people’s conception of like creating tokenized communities is way too heavy. So, people think about okay, like, am I ready to launch a DAO, you know, capital D, capital A, capital O? And I think like, in that, in that case, like, yeah, you kind of already, like, maybe have one, maybe like a low. If we’re talking about the democratic to non-democratic spectrum, it’s like, pretty far away from the Democratic part, like, people are not voting on what you should do next. But you have to kind of community, you have a connection to them and what do you want to do with it? And I think like, that’s how we definitely want to build the product more is like really enabling these light emergent groups to form.

Yeah, I think that’s a solid point. And I want to ask you a couple more questions before we kind of wrap it up. So, the way you kind of explaining your thoughts and your analysis and how you critically think about things, it’s really interesting to see it from the origin of a neuroscientist, I guess. Because your concept of research is much different than my concept of research and analysis, I’d argue. So, I’ve learned a lot from this conversation. One thing I want to ask you, though, because I know you’re a puppet chef, or at least you were at some point. What’s up with that? Are you still in the kitchen? Like, what’s going on?

Joey DeBruin: Yeah, I mean, like, I’m still in the kitchen all the time, for sure. I had like, this pop-up restaurant that I ran in San Francisco, and then very briefly, in Berlin as well. I don’t do that anymore. I think like, what I learned is that I don’t want to be a professional chef. What I like is, I mean, for so many, like as you may be conceived by the kind of products that I want to build, like I just like, bring people together. And you know, over some shared experience, and for me, like a meal is one of the very best ways to do that. So, you know, at this point, in my kind of cooking career, mostly what I do is just have 20 people over to the house and cook a big dinner. But I’m definitely interested in you know, having some hosting some pop up dinners for you know, crypto or web three people. So, if anyone wants to do that, let me know.

Let’s do it. I’m down. We’ll talk about it afterwards. what’s your favorite thing to cook? Is it baking or cooking?

Joey DeBruin: No, definitely cooking is far too chaotic to bake. And think like, you know, like I’m like a mad scientist, right? So, it’s about constant iterations during the actual cooking process. I think my my favorite stuff to cook is, I mean, the pop up that I have is called latitude 15. Because I don’t like cook anyone cuisine or I don’t cook anyone cuisine particularly well. And all the foods that I like happens to be sort of, you know, I guess, for whatever reasons, like on the same latitude of the Earth, so it’s like Mexico, Southeast Asia, India, basically all of the places where people cook like bold, spicy, you know, highly acidic, just like slap you in the face food, not like the refined sauce that you know takes On hours and so that’s kind of what I like to cook. I tend to just like, you know, merge those stuff together and do a lot of like fusion, you know, like the rice bowl with whatever Mexican, you know, stuff in it or tacos with, you know, so that kind of food is generally what I’ve always cooked.

Sorry, I only eat 10-hour liquids.

Joey DeBruin: Yeah, we’re gonna have.

Outro

Thank you for being on. I hope to have you on again soon. Before I let you go. Where can we find you? Where can we find backdrops, show it way?

Joey DeBruin: Yeah, for sure. backdrop is at backdrop.so. And you can find me probably easiest place is as on Twitter. I’m Joey­_DeBruin. Or I write a newsletter called Flying penguins.

Nice. So, what is that about?

Joey DeBruin: It’s basically like insights and experiments into the future of like public goods. So, a lot of science academic web three stuff.

Cool. Thank you, Joey. Till next time.

Joey DeBruin: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Categories
Podcast Transcript

How Crypto and Web3 Will Change Social Media Forever

Mint Season 5 episode 9 welcomes Wilson Wei and Ryan Li, who share their vision for putting creators and users at the forefront of ownership with their decentralized social graph, CyberConnect.

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • 00:15 – Intro
  • 09:13 – What Inspired Ryan and Wilson to Build in Web3 Social?
  • 15:07 – Elon Musk’s Potential Acquisition of Twitter
  • 18:34 – How To Defeat Bots and Spammers in Web3 Social?
  • 20:53 – What Does Ownership Actually Mean in Web3?
  • 29:59 – Web3 Social Tools to Empower Creators
  • 33:08 – How Does Virality Work in the World of Web3 Social?
  • 42:38 – What is a Social Graph?
  • 54:12 – Big Picture Vision for Web3 Social
  • 59:13 – Outro

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Wilson and Ryan, guys, welcome to mint. Thank you for being on, how are we doing?

Wilson Wei: Awesome. Hey, Adam. Thanks for having me here.

Ryan, what’s up? How are you doing?

Ryan Li: I’m doing great. I’m doing great. Thanks so much for having me.

Intro

Guys. I’m very excited to have you on. There’s a lot going on social right now with Elon Musk attempting to buy Twitter and conversations around data ownership and creators liberating themselves using web three primitives, so we have a lot to talk about. I always like to start with intros first. Okay, so, Wilson and Ryan, who the hell are you guys? What does the world need to know about each of you, but more specifically, how did you get your start into crypto? We can start with Wilson, and then we’ll go to Ryan.

Wilson Wei: Sure. This is Wilson and graduated from UC Berkeley. And that’s how I met Ryan. We were in the same entrepreneurial club. And then I got into crypto in early 2017. We started off with by creating a pretty novel, you know, content blockchain called Lino blockchain. And then later on, we also introduced the lifestyle TV, the first decentralized live streaming platform. And then we got acquired. After a year break, we tap into building cyber connect right now. And I’m the co-founder of cyber connect. And Ryan.

Ryan Li: Yes. Well, I’m Ryan, also graduate from Berkeley. Before this, Wilson, we did the venture together with the blockchain with the live.tv, where we on boarded a bunch of creative streamers. And before that, I actually had a year and a half building this social application at Berkeley and Stanford, which didn’t really work out. But I learned a lot during that experience. Yeah, and that’s where I might, my step into crypto is really the steam blockchain, which was really kind of interesting back in 2017. I think that’s where a lot of inspiration for the live video was coming from, as well.

So, this club that you guys met in Berkeley, I also got started, I guess, with a lot of my entrepreneurial endeavors at the university as well. What is it about the club setting you think that kind of like, prompts you into now working in web three, I have my, like, hot take, but I’m curious to know how like starting in a club, meeting each other in the club, and how that’s kind of like, influenced your, your, like product mindset, in your entrance into web three?

Wilson Wei: Yeah, I think we did a lot of, you know, company touring, we went to a lot of the startup companies in the Bay Area, and also some other areas as well. And that taught us a lot, we got a chance to, you know, actually see all those entrepreneurs and see them, like grow their company from like zero to a multi-billion-dollar company, and also how their point of view or product and the whole ecosystem. And also, we learned there, you know, how hard it is to actually start a company, and how important it is to create value and remains, you know, always keep, keep going back to your mission constantly, don’t lose focus on of that, like we learn a lot from our previous entrepreneurs. And we got those opportunities based on The Club. I was, you know, precedent before Ryan and Ryan, after me, will tend to a lot of those trip up to gather opportunities, talk to top entrepreneurs in within the space for web three, we, you know, we didn’t actually talk to so many other like web three companies back then, or blockchain companies back then. But we have a very good environment, when we have a whole ton of discussion into Bitcoin and, for example, also the steam blockchain. And that’s how we got started.

Got it. What about you, Ryan? So, you joined us president after Wilson? I guess like what some of like the initial companies were that inspired you guys. I only asked this, by the way, because I was also in a similar situation like you guys. And I remember our club ended up going to Redwood, near Silicon Valley. And we got to tour all these like tech startups like offices, and I’ll never forget seeing boxes office and it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever come across. And it really like sparked a lot of my motivation and inspiration to kind of do and enter more of the tech scene specifically, I guess. You guys already like tech centered when you guys entered the entrepreneurship Club? Where did that come afterwards?

Ryan Li: I was protecting senator. So, I, before that I worked at Facebook and Google before as interns and hacking on my site. So, I kind of knew what’s going on. But like the real inspiration part was like some trips to those companies I’ve never heard of, but it turns out to be, they are tackling something really interesting with very simple tech, actually, a lot of them are just great businesses.

Got it. How did you guys go by building the life? Like what was the inspiration for starting that initial project?

Wilson Wei: Ryan, so, you know, live streaming, like we started off with the Lino blockchain. And then later on, we bought on the live. So, for the for the, you know, the leader blockchain, that the fundamental problem that we were trying to solve was the unfairness or the conflict between content creators and platforms. That’s how we got started. And we think live streaming, it’s a very good form of media, where users will generate a whole bunch of smaller transactions, and you can leverage the blockchain with that a lot. And also prevent a lot of the, you know, just botting. And, and, you know, like, just spamming the incentive system, because people are actually paying for tips or donations. Yeah, that’s how we actually got started.

Got it. Got it. You know, part of my journey into content creation started with live streaming. Prior to mint, I started this like Tuesday weekly segment called blockchain and booze, it started doing COVID. And the whole idea was to kind of like, bring people together over a drink while we were locked in doors. And that was like the first step for me into content creation. And then kind of like, inspired me to go be my own creator, as we’re doing right now, with mint. So now that you guys have pivoted into kind of building cyber connect, it’s actually quite exciting for me, because a lot of the ethos behind web through social, and I guess it’s more for you guys to answer. But I very much alignment, like being your own bank, for the most part, owning your data, owning your audience, a lot of these primitives that we’ll talk about, but I guess before we even get into there, before I answer those questions for you, why social? Like why tackle the problems in web three social? Why you guys specifically?

Wilson Wei: First of all, like why show, show? I think right now, web three and blockchain in general, are focusing so much on financial industry, we got all those tokens floating around, and NFTs. But in order for web three, to actually become more mainstream adopted, I think, social, it’s going to be a huge part of it. Without social like, it’s going to be just a, you know, financial game. And I don’t think that’s, that’s the whole purpose of web three and for us, like, we have years of experience building social platforms, tackling on problems on the infrastructure design for data and also content distribution in financial incentives. So, you know, we back in the live and Lino, we work with more than 60,000 live streamers. So, we know how it is like to be a streamer, and also the demands from users. Yeah, so. And also, we were pretty web three native team. We have been in the industry for more than five years already. Yeah, I hope that answered the question. Like, why us?

What Inspired Ryan and Wilson to Build in Web3 Social?

Yeah, no, that makes sense. I guess why you guys specifically, but I guess why? Why do you align with the problems in web two like web two social and how you try to solve them in web three? Because when he talks about a founder’s journey, right, you really have to align with like the purpose and the mission that you’re trying to build towards, right. And I at least for me, personally, I can’t go into something because there’s a lot of money and just commit to it and build something like I really need to align with the foundation in terms of what I’m building for like the purpose right so that was kind of like it does answer the question I guess also from like Ryan for you specifically like why? Why the interest to build in web two social like what are the problems in web two social that have inspired you guys to go and build into web three social?

Ryan Li: Well, I can’t wait, I think the social scene in web two has reached this like top of the S curve where the acceleration of growth has just stopped, like for the past 10 years like there is very little information except from Tik Tok probably the other thing that we’ve been using for the past 10 years or so around. And back, like eight years ago, when I was building the social application on campus, it’s like, you can build a great app, but they nobody will use it, because everybody has their own circle on those platforms. And they’re just controlling everything, building up their moat by having those users on the platforms, and you just cannot build a better user experience and expect people to come, that’s the point. Like there’s no innovation happening, that very little innovation happening in social thing. And having ownership back to the hands of users. And making platform less of a central place for those interactions to happen. But more like a top, a top bottom, bottom to top kind of approach where people can own different parts of the data, different part of the stack, could really be the maybe the beginning of something very interesting on web three social instead of hoping we’re going to be around with Instagram and TikTok for the next 20 years.

So, you’re telling me, it’s not going to be a good idea to be with Instagram and TikTok for the next 20 years for them to dominate the entire social scene.

Wilson Wei: Yeah, and I want to add on a little bit on the problem. Like, I mean, TikTok, and Instagram, and YouTube, those are great platforms. But fundamentally, the problem is like, they own all of your data, and therefore they owned a channel, they owned all the, you know, creator’s channel, no matter how many years you spent times to be on, let’s say, know, a male and follower. Those are not your data. And what we’re building could actually solve the problem would give back a channel to users, and especially, it’s going to be super meaningful for influencers, because there’s all ours, actually their social capital, that’s how we call it. And then cyber Connect will enable your mobility officers who capital meaning you could go to another platform, and still have the same amount of following because you actually owned those data. And that’s going to change the whole game that’s going to solve the relationship problem and internal mental conflict between creators, users, and platforms, because now we’re on the same, you know, table lately, you provide your service features, I own my data, and you don’t have the dominant right, bargaining power against me. So, I got more control over what I want to do. And what I want to do with my platform that could potentially solve the problem with the monetization unfair traffic distribution and other stuff. So that’s a huge problem. And yeah.

Got it. So how do you guys’ kind of understand the current state of web three social, like, where are we? It’s 2022? Are you seeing headlines of Elon Musk wanting to buy Twitter, we’re seeing all these like these like purpose driven revolutions of content creators issuing NF T’s tokenizing themselves building an audience on chain? We’re seeing like, like grassroots movements, kind of like sparking up that leads that may lead into something bigger. Right. And I know you guys have over a million users on your social graph specifically. So, what better person to kind of ask like, what is the current state of what three socials? How do you think about that?

Wilson Wei: Yeah, I think it’s exciting to see all those creators in an application trying out different use cases. But in general, like, web three socials is still, it’s pretty early stage. And I think mostly because the infrastructure is not 100% ready yet and that’s why we started with building cyber connect as the social graph infrastructure for developers. And it has a huge potential for social application and content distribution platforms to get into web three and be more crypto native. For example, like NFTs could solve the problem with a lot of the copyright problem, and the loyalty split problem. And then what we do or like, you know, what I just mentioned previously, but so kind of ownership problem and data ownership problem and the mobility of your social capital. Those are the one thing that is very different than, like between web three, and web two would be web, web three would be very user centric, meaning users are going to use their wallet as their account system and try to own everything Okay, instead of platforms owning everything. And I think that’s going to change the whole thing. And yeah.

Elon Musk’s Potential Acquisition of Twitter

Got it. What do you guys think about the current like offer for Elon Musk to buy Twitter? Can we talk about that for a second?

Wilson Wei: For sure. I mean, it’s pretty interesting. But I think like Elon, right now, Elon Musk, it’s, you know, holding on to deal because he’s suspicious about like the 5% of true or that Twitter claim to have the 5% like, less than 5% of bots. But, yeah, I mean, I personally, I love Elon Musk. He’s kind of like my role model I bought in Tesla too early on. Yeah, but I think he’s trying to, somehow, if let’s a Twitter, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s Elon Musk, or someone else, if Twitter become more and more decentralized, enabling users to own their channel, I think that’s genuinely a exciting thing to see. And by seeing their like, like, first step of, you know, enabling, recognizing the NFT as avatar for the, I think that’s awesome. Like to see more and more mainstream web two major giants who adopt a system. But fundamentally, what would change is the data problem. The question here is like when and how they would get to a point when they are willing to give up all those data back to, you know, where it belongs the user?

 So that’s the question like, is there an incentive to do that, like the way Twitter is run today? It’s very much like an advertisement model, right? And there’s power behind having so much data, not for Twitter, not just for Twitter for all these, like main web to social platforms and audio platforms, and a lot of these creator first platforms, is there an incentive to democratize and make the social graph like open source like he wants to, and gave users ownership of their data? I guess, from a Twitter point of view, like, do you see that world coming into picture from how things are run today?

Wilson Wei: I think, in the short term, it’s going to be extremely difficult. Because Twitter as a public company, their major goal is actually to make money and maximize their profits. And by owning those data, they remain as the dominant social media platform online, ever. So but if they could just, you know, think a little bit more longer term, and see how the web three world could potentially be much bigger than just a social media platform, they could maybe change their mind and try to convince their board members, you know, we’re chasing after something that’s, that’s going to happen, like within the next five years, or 10. And we want to maintain, remain as, as the leading technology firm, instead of, you know, being left behind by the whole revolution of web three, that’s the probably the only, you know, potential and, and if Elon Musk actually buys Twitter, I think that he might be the person but right now seems like this not happening, the deal is off.

How To Defeat Bots and Spammers in Web3 Social?

So yeah, it does seem like the deal is obviously on standby. Given all the botting issue in the spam issues, I guess, that’s a big problem in web two, social, like, it’s hard to authenticate users. And it’s hard to prevent all these bots and spammers, like, if you tweet meta mask, right, now, you’re gonna get a bunch of bots, saying that their meta masks support, right? And it’s like, it makes the experience less enjoyable. So, I guess my question to you guys, in a web three social standpoint, how do you mitigate bots? How do you mitigate spammers? Like what, what is the formula for defeating these bad actors online?

Wilson Wei: Yeah, so very interesting question. We’re exploring to that constantly. And, you know, one thing that would trying out as like, we recently come out with the product calling readout to and what we do is to verify manually with other projects that are trying to create their own page on LinkedIn dot 2 to and the thesis behind it, it’s we want to start establishing a group of trusted account, which is address space. And then starting from this group of trusted accounts, they are going to start making connections with different accounts. For example, the trust account could follow you know, 10 out accounts, and that would create another A group of trusted accounts and starting from this, you know, trust the standard group, expand the trust beyond that, and ultimately create a very healthy environment of real human engagement account system. And also, another way to do it as to use the assets that we have with tokens and NFTs to increase the cost of, you know, fixing a, a, you know, a bots account. For example, you could almost definitely say like, if your address has an, let’s say, crypto punk, or an ape, it’s going to be a root, you know, user behind it, it’s not going to be a bad attempt, but based off, you know, those assets. And so that’s, that’s our way to explore into it.

What Does Ownership Actually Mean in Web3?

Got it. Got it. So, another thing we keep talking about is ownership. And this is, ownership is a big topic that I have consistently talked about, I feel like on almost every episode, because the way I think about ownership, it’s still a gray area, like what does ownership really mean on chain? So, from a creator’s point of view, okay. When you say a creator can own their data in web three, what does that mean? Like, what is, what does that visually mean? What’s the benefit of that? And how do you think about that, that process?

Wilson Wei: Yeah, I think the example Yeah, let me take like, Tik Tok or YouTubers as an example. The ownership means that you only have followers. For example, you already have your YouTube channel, and if you want to create your tick tock channel the other day, and you could, you could have the same amount of followers. And that’s essentially how, how we, you know, defining the ownership of data, without the ownership of data, you will never be able to do that unless, you know, YouTube somehow change their mind and give you other rights to those data. And they will have like those two platforms that will have to be fitted into one account system, which is not happening. But the differences here in web three, it’s we have this like universally, pretty well adopted account system that is wallet base address base. So, everything that become much more interoperable. So, when you are establishing relationship between your followers, that’s address to address. And that piece of data. It’s valuable because it could be bought on to other platforms. And it could, be meaningful relationship.

Got it? Yeah. So, Ryan, I guess, from your point of view, you’d like being more of a tech minded person here and the CTO of Cyber Connect? How does this work from a more infrastructure level, because a lot of what Cyber Connect is about is creating an ecosystem that allows developers to build on top of and to build applications so that you can take your following from one place to another? So, when you’re designing this, this protocol, this ecosystem, what goes into actually making it successful? Like, how do you think about that?

Ryan Li: Yeah, of course, well, first of all, visually, like only a piece of data, it kind of means like, I can show you the data without like showing you a central platform of displaying that data, like I can tell you that I have this amount of followers without relying on YouTube telling you or telling us that that’s the amount of followers that I have. But instead, I can show you a ether scan, where I can show you something that’s very neutral, you can replace it easily, and shows that the others are watching our lives in a decentralized store, which everybody can rely or trust on. So, to design a system that we have, we aim for very scalable, very performance system, and also making sure that all the data integrity are kept safe, and all the data are always available. So that can be like so out of them is growing them down. Like I wouldn’t just take away that piece of data, throw it in the garbage can, that doesn’t work. And we have to make sure that all the followers Adam has here always wants to them like has to be initiated from some account that’s authenticated to initiate some action. So, in the end, it’s very similar to, what we had was very similar. We started out with the on-chain approach to save everything on chain, on polygon or on Solana, some cost efficient, effective way but then in the end, we actually have much more performance system that’s sufficiently decentralized for now so that we can onboard the amount of user that we have like almost a million users right now. And all data are safely backed on those decentralized stores are like so people can always rely on, okay, this is not just cyber going to tell them what data is but also everybody can check on are we.

So, let’s go back to this concept of ownership for a minute. Okay? When you say you own your data, the way I think about it is, and I’m testing in public here. So, every single season, I issue free NFTs to my audience, okay. And I do this in an effort to kind of give back to them as a thank you. And also, to solidify the participation early on in the podcast. As I grow as a creator, as the platform grows, they can prove that they were there before, the people who joined in season 10, for example. And that’s what I think about of owning an audience, when they own an asset that came from you, from your smart contract address, that NFT, that token sits in your wallet, that’s a form of ownership from the Creator to the listener, to the fan, right. And with that, you know, and I don’t think it exists yet. But with that, I feel like I could tap into data that otherwise may have been restricted from more of like web two platforms, for example. So, let’s, let’s think about this out loud, I would love to brainstorm with you guys. Okay, so over 6000 NFTs were collected just as the example. Now, through that, I can see really interesting information that I otherwise would have been able to see if it was coming, let’s say from Spotify, or Apple Music, or Instagram or Twitter, for example, then the most important metric, I’d argue is like net worth, right? Like, how rich, how affluent is my audience, for example, right, which is super important, because as I create more content, as I create a better experience for my fans, I want to know these things, because it will, it will kind of dictate how I lead my content direction, for example. And that’s a metric I remember doing like Facebook ads back in the day when I was doing like, like amateur e commerce and shit. I remember that was, that was a data point that Facebook would never really give me I would always have to find like, zip codes and try to find, like, where are they living? Like, are they in Beverly Hills? So, if they live in Beverly Hills, I can target people in Beverly Hills, and based on that they may have money, for example, right? But with this, it’s a little bit different. Like, am I thinking about this the right way? Are you guys thinking about that similarly, like, guide me here?

Wilson Wei: I think that’s definitely one of the potential uses of it. And would, you know, with the connection data that we are establishing here, you could also come up with, you know, analytics, for your follow up base. And everything is address base, you know, but other than, like, their wealth and their assets, or tokens, I’ll be more interested in who they are. And how they’re connected with other communities, like who they really present them, like how they present themselves into the space, because the web three, it’s not going to be like, you know, might not be as, as that ad driven as web two. So, I would, I’ll say like the potential of leveraging those data and knowledge to build a community that, that it’s really tight and loyal at a much better potential use of those data.

For example, Wilson, so let’s use again, the NFTs like the 600 free NFTs, for example. So based off that, seeing what part of community what which communities they align with, which communities are part of. So, with that kind of like logic, I can then go and see, okay, how many of the people that collected my free NFTs also hold a board A? Right. How many of them collected a specific pull up from Eth Denver? For example, right? These types of scenarios? Right? Can you elaborate on that for a little bit?

Wilson Wei: Yeah. Ryan, Ryan?

Yeah.

Ryan Li: This is just something I’ve been I’ve been dreaming about. So, before this, there’s no way for you like from, from Spotify data coming back to you, there’s no way you can tell if they like this particular YouTuber, right? So, what’s the preference or what their interest lies outside of this platform? But with the same address being used across different platforms, you can tell oh, maybe this is also asked if I can, I can have a better demographic view of all the different users and find those interest groups that could never exist before. Like now, probably you have a better view of oh, maybe they’re all NFT collectors, or maybe they’re all just plugged farmers. That’s a really cool value. Or you can discover some interesting communities around who are the other people that also listen to Adams mint podcast, and also share some experience similar as I would I do like, or whatever I can, I can find all the other holders. That to this means five, five, but also was also holding, let’s say, Eth Denver, a poll app. We’ve all been there. We’ve all found out about this, mint to the vibe, that creates a unique group of people that can have great conversation.

Web3 Social Tools to Empower Creators

Got it, yeah. So, it’s funny I’ve been talking about this like scenario because there aren’t any tools out there just yet that empower creators on a very simple level like there’s NFT analytics, there’s doing analytics, we need to know sequel to kind of query data to kind of learn more about these addresses. But there’s nothing that’s like plug and play that you can just copy and paste an address, and boom, you get your answers like that, right. And I did this experiment, I think it was at Eth, Denver with this artist, her name is Queen George. She’s an independent music artist. And we put together a concert, essentially, at Eth Denver, we issued tickets as NFTs on polygon. And the sole intention was to try to get in growth hack, like a few 100 core Ethereum collectors to come and attend the concert. Because at the concert, we had the opportunity to mint a one of one song that people could kind of scan their phone and kind of get the link from the QR code. And we did this entire, like funnel this entire experience. And it made us think afterwards like wow, like there’s a whole interesting like opportunity over here for Queen George as a music creator. And to tap into data that she otherwise wouldn’t have had access to through Twitter or through Tik Tok, or through Spotify or Apple Music because their power comes from the data, for example, amongst other things. So yeah, I’m interested to see how this kind of like plays and plays forward. Another question I want to ask you guys is, a lot of, I guess what web to social platforms aim to do is empower the creators because without the Creator, there is no platform. That’s an argument. So, in web three, what kind of tools do you think creators need to kind of liberate their creativity? How do you guys think about that?

Wilson Wei: Yeah, I think, you know, we already mentioned one of the most fundamental infrastructures, the data ownership. And other than that, would be a whole bunch of, you know, explore, exploring into like, NFTs I will say and then something that we’re building like Link three, I think that could potentially become a hub for creators to manage their community. I think for web three, it’s not too much of solving the problem of content delivery, it, it’s kind of like solving the problem, it could better solve the problem of how you form a tight community, almost like a VIP group of fanbase. And you can, you can leverage a lot. Other tools like NFT and for example, like we recently read the newest essay from Vitalik. Talking about, like, so bound token, that’s something pretty interesting as well. If, you know, if we come up with a, you know, a soul bond token, and that could become another tool to, you know, give you the badge, which is nontransferable, but give you the status of being Adams number one fan, you know, that will be interesting. Yeah, a lot to explore into. But those are the, you know, examples that I could come up from my head right now.

How Does Virality Work in the World of Web3 Social?

So, speaking about sold on tokens before this, like keyword even came out, this new buzzword. All of the NFTs are non-transferable, like it’s intentionally made, so that you can’t sell them on secondaries for the sake of being able to solidify that this wallet address interacted with the podcast at this date at this time. And that’s it, it’s there forever, you know, and there’s something special to that. And it’s funny, because now you see on open see, like, if you go to the smart contract address, you try to see people sell it for more than just won’t, it won’t sell it because it is nontransferable, right. So, I think this concept of non-transferable NFTs with no secondary value, are still very new and very early. But I think solidifying one’s participation or engagement with the Creator is a great use case for them. For example, I want to talk about virality for a minute, because virality is a very key component of social Of course, arguably TikTok, like killer feature, one of them at least is they’re able to make almost any creator, like famous, like, reach 1000s to hundreds of 1000s to millions of followers really quickly, like they’ve, they have an interesting model. And I only bring them up because I think a lot about this in web three, like how does virality work on a decentralized level? Does the decentralization affect the widespread, I guess, reach of content? Is it independent of one another? And I only ask this from my point of view, because I don’t, I don’t know. Right? Like you guys are the experts here. But I figure if a web three social platform were to get legs, it would need that viral component to track creators and to build an audience. How do you guys think about that?

Wilson Wei: And that’s a, you know, something that we have been working on. It’s what we call the social data network. And that includes a whole bunch of recommendation system. I think Tik Tok, it’s really good at recommendation algorithms. And that’s like one of the key components of how they make your video content viral by pushing the right content to the right people. And that’s what we would think it’s called like interest graph. You know, you have the social graph, that’s your connection, your interest graph, it’s like what content you will be interested in, what other people that you’re not following, that might be interest to you. And that could be built on top of the social graph. And right now, we’re trying to aggregate a lot of the data from on chain and off chain, for example, whether you hold the same poll app batch, or whether you vote it, or the same snapshot proposal, whether you are holding the same NFT collection, those kinds of things that add up together to build up a pretty good interest graph for each account and each user. And based on the social graph, like the secondary connection, and that third, multiple degree connection, could also add on to that into scrap and empower a better version of recommendation system as well. So, I think there’s a chance in web three, the whole recommendation system could work collectively, instead of just belonging to one single platform. And that could potentially change the, you know, the basics of the how influencers, or creators get viral, and they could have more information on onto those supposedly Blackbox algorithm.

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, on the other side, though, if you make these algorithms accessible to multiple platforms, and you are welcome competition, like heavy degrees of competition, because if you can take for one your following anywhere. And then on top of that, you can apply the same like, how did you call it you said interest?

Wilson Wei: interest graphs.

Interest graph, you can take that same interest graph and implement it onto a different platform, I guess, and how do platforms build a moat? Like, how do you build stickiness?

Wilson Wei: I think, yeah, that’s actually like, how we imagine the future, platforms should build their moat based on the ability of creating a good product experience, is just taking data, you know, building up those data wall, building great experiences. And also, natively you know, when user go to your domain, when user go to a website, when user download your app, you know, those traction, those network are your moat, down to the bottom, they should compete against each other based on the user experience and the service that they provide. And that’s a very healthy, competitive environment.

No, no, go ahead, what were you gonna say?

Ryan Li: I think that’s what happened to defi as well, right? Like, apart from what, what happened on and all that, but people have their like, you’re not bound to a defi protocol, because they hold your assets, not like what banks do, right? Like you and I only have like one or two banks in you ever worked with. But you probably have way more defi protocol you play around with, and they all compete for a better service. But are you supposed to they’re interested in.

Ponzinomics.

Ryan Li: But it’s actually more efficient, right? Like there is more difficult because that’s the existence than the banks that do have a significant amount of traffic. Because people, they don’t hold user’s asset, they actually just provide a better service.

I guess that that gets me into our next point. The market did take, like a dipper for the most part. How do you guys think that affects, I guess, education, how that affects content creation, and just more widespread creator growth in web three?

Wilson Wei: I think for sure. The general market, it’s going to be less interested because of the market. But I’ll see the trend changing because the basics are not changing. We saw great talented teams working on products and efforts and money that put into you know, projects that try to be a wider range of adoption. Yeah, yeah. But when the market is down, it’s down like things will tend to grow like slower, but not like stopped growing. And I’m just happy that like, within the last couple of years, a lot of the smart money and smart people are getting into the industry. And I saw that still happening even when the market is down, people are starting to clearly, you know, understand this could be the potential future, and this could be a huge change. And it’s not a game of just one year or two, it’s a game of a decade or two, or even longer. So, yeah, like for us, you know, we’re here for the long term, we’re well prepared for a bear market. We’re well funded with a very top group of selected investors. We’ve just recently announced our series A.

Congrats on that, that’s huge. Was it 15 mil?

Wilson Wei: Yeah.

No big deal. Just a quick 15 mil. That’s awesome. That’s really cool.

Wilson Wei: Yeah, so I think it’s not it’s not like necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes when the market gets like too hot, creates a lot of problem. You know, the problem with Luna, it’s the same thing. I think it’s, it’s so hot, and the bubble growing too fast, or affecting so many other people. If we got more of a reasonable market sentiment, users and products, and teams will have more time to testify to a lot of the experiments happening in the space. Therefore, I think it’s healthier in the long term.

Right? You agree as well, or you have a different take?

Rya Li: i Well, I agree. It’s good to have the cycles where people can just take breather and think outside of NFTs to launch this week, right? Like in the hot market, people are just launching defi protocol and NFTs and everybody’s opinions are speculating them. And you always feel more like you always feel like you’re missing out. But actually, there’s nothing much happening in those really hot markets, but like, really the build phases during the bear market, like oh, well open seas, it was like uniswap, they’re doing 2019 where nobody cares about NFTs or defi, and they just keep on building. And that’s what was happening next. So, it’s great to see those times like that people can slow down and build and also, we get less Bots as well. Like we were, hopefully we get fewer bot.

Yeah. Are you saying on Twitter in general on cyber Connect?

Ryan Li: Everything every channel that we have. There are way too many bots. Hopefully.

What is a Social Graph?

The funniest spammers are the are the Sirs like Hi, sir. Like, hello, sir. All those random DMS, you know, one thing you guys keep mentioning? And I guess between the three of us, we kind of understand what we mean. But for those who don’t know, what is a social graph? Can you quickly define that? Either of you?

Wilson Wei: Yeah, sure. So, a social graph at its base basically represents the relationship between users or entities or organization, you know, a quick example would be your following or followers on TikTok. On Instagram, that’s your social graph, your connections on Facebook, your local address book on your cell phone? Those are your social graph?

Got it. Got it. So, when you think about like data, and the data collected through a social graph, right, and infrastructure, like you guys are developing? What is security look like? So, because blockchains are so accessible, and so open? I feel like it’s a threat to privacy at times, especially when users connect their ENS to their Twitter profiles as well. And of course, they, I mean, I do that, I’m guilty of that. I do that. But I feel like I do it strategically where everything is not on there. So how do you guys think about security and privacy on a social setting, when everything is inherently public?

Wilson Wei: Yeah, I think it’s a pretty obvious problem. But it’s not necessarily the most important or urgent problem. I think a lot of the social media or data are supposed to be public, or for example, your Twitter, but if you link it to your wallet, you better do it with your wallet that it’s, you know, you are comfortable with the public knowing it. And the more challenging question would be privacy data that, you know, really sensitive, like for example, your close circle like fretless, or your social graph in your messaging app. Those should be more sensitive data. And for those data, first of all, it should not be stored on any publicly accessible blockchain. And we have seen some great efforts in the encryption. Vertical for example, like ZK roll up is great. And then improving a lot on their scalability. And once we get to a point, when we have more, you know, encrypted and privacy reserved infrastructure ready, we’ll start to see more use cases and applications tackling into the more sensitive kind of abuse cases.

Got it. Got it. Okay. So that comes to my next question then. So, because the hype around social media right now, with Elon buying, it’s creating more conversations and creating more awareness in general. And with that comes more competition for like web three social graphs. How do you guys think about the competitive landscape? Is it a one size fits all? Like one winner, can multiple winners exist? Would you see like interoperability between competitors? Is that a thing? How do you think about that?

Wilson Wei: I think it’s possible to have like multiple networks, okay. Some serve for maybe, you know, for example, you could have like a subgraph. For the gaming community, in a very specific use case, you could have another grab for content driven platforms. In terms of like competition, I think it’s, it’s not, it doesn’t worry us as that much like, I think, I believe that we were the first one out there, and we’re the accumulated the most data. And that will create a huge network effect. But if someone else come in, you know, create another type of social graph, as long as they provided a good service, or in certain verticals, I mean, it makes sense to have like multiple parties providing different type of graph.

How do you guys think about development on a social graph? Because a big part of cyber Connect is empowering development groups and developers in general to build applications using the social graph? So, I guess my first question is, what does that look like from an infrastructure level? Like, how do you empower a group of individuals to build on top of something? Because I’m not a developer, I don’t understand that into what are some of the more like successful applications using cyber connect today?

Wilson Wei: Okay. Ryan can take the first question.

Go for it.

Ryan Li: Well, we want we want to experience to for developers to be like, let’s say if they’re building a game, they’re gonna publish it on Steam, where they don’t want to manage all the social graph, like because people have friends on Steam, and they can immediately tap into this the existing user base, and how are people playing the same game together. So, we’re providing those SDKs for developers to build when they’re like, let’s say, if I build a game, they can tap into cyber connect, social graph with the SDK and APIs. And when they released the game, all the existing users can bring their existing friends and followers and followings to this new game and start playing with those existing friends that they know and for any more social applications. It’s the same site, it’s like back in 2010 when applications are voting on top of like Facebook, sign in with Facebook, and you get all your, all the signups, new signups their friend lists, and you can tap into that graph and wreck to do interesting stuff around them like Tinder, what are the Facebook integration? Where they were trying to recommend that second degree friend like the friend of your friend, the friend of your friend to you in the in the Tinder feed?

So, wait, they were doing that?

Ryan Li: And they were they were also blocking out all your friends on Facebook and not showing their profile and yours.

That makes sense. So that’s really funny, though, I didn’t know that.

Ryan Li: Those are those are like 30 days of Facebook; people are building on top it. So that’s what we want the experience to be like for the developers they can easily tap into, because we don’t own this data. All users don’t own data, they have to say, to use my data, give me a better user experience.

Got it. Got it. So, with that, what are some of like the more successful applications?

Wilson Wei: Um, right now we have like more than 2025 developers are already integrated with cyber connect. And I’ll give you a couple examples like for example, Project X Cid, they are already using it. So, when you are following each other through those Project X ID. You’re establishing connections on cyber Connect. And we created that, you know, we help them to bootstrap the whole idea relationship between their ecosystem, within their ecosystem. And another more intuitive example would be, for example, meta puro. They create a, you know, a structuralized forum for different projects. And also, they have their own forum. And, for example, one of their forum examples would be the open Dao. And so, by integrating with cyber connect, first of all, once a user logged in, even for the first-time logging into the forum, you already know like, like, what kind of a, you know, what are the addresses? What are the users they’re following? And therefore, you could do recommendations of a list of topics that they might be interested in, or a list of posts from those like your following accounts. And then also establish the connection there. In a decentralized manner, we also empower that as well. So essentially, like, a lot of the apps leverage cyber connect as a for two reasons. Number one is to solve the costarring problem, whenever you want to create a network, just like how, in a mobile era, when a lot of the mobile apps are trying to request assets to query your data from your local address book, right to bootstrap there. But within Web three, within this address, space account system, there’s no such thing. And therefore, we’re here to provide that to help them to solve all those problems and could immediately provide the user experience with an existing social graph. And then number two, just be aligned with the ethos of building a decentralized application, you need to give back the data ownership back to users. And if they tried to do it by themselves, it’s going to be problematic, they’ll have to do everything that we built all over again. And but by using just simply our SDK, it’s super easy for them to, you know, to provide that service.

Do you guys have any, like specific visions for applications that you’d like to see built? Like, do you have any specific ideas that you have yet to see someone kind of encounter or problems, you have yet to see someone solve, that you guys would be interested in funding, for example?

Wilson Wei: Yeah, for example, like, you know, you know we’re building link three, and I truly believe this, this is a great application with great demand, you know, and some other potentials as well, like, for example, like, right now, addresses doesn’t mean anything at all, like, some of users already have their EMS, and you kind of know their name. But it needs to be, you know, the address and account has to be able to represent somehow a identity and status. And that’s a great opportunity for projects to tap into and create like a platform, maybe like LinkedIn, or some other opportunities would be like content platforms, I think that’s pretty cool as well. Because with all the assets that you could leverage with, it’s much easier for content creators to, you know, generate profits, and, and establish a very loyal group of fans. And obviously, games, games will generate a whole ton of social networks. People enjoy playing games, and it’s very intuitive. You make friends in different games. And that’s how we build up the whole network.

Big Picture Vision for Web3 Social

Yeah. I guess as we as we kind of wrap up the conversation, I want to leave you guys with one final thought that let’s think for macro for a minute. Okay. We talked about data ownership. We talked about protocols. We talked about interoperability. We talked about what creators, I guess, kind of like look like in web three. I want to think about big picture like what is the grandiose vision for web three social look and feel like?

Wilson Wei: Yeah. I think first of all, we’re going to have a lot of the web three native in decentralized platform providing services that we have already on the web two and also services that we’ve never seen before. You know, for example, like NFT, kind of iteration. And second of all like those like by defining those, like decentralized platform, I think it’s do fundamentally the key is to enable a user centric web instead of a platform centered web. So that’s starting from the bottom, like the account system, the data ownership. And then later on, like empowering all the interoperability for users to choose across all those platforms, and then eventually evolved into a real user centric app. That’s some people call it the metaverse. But I think like this, you know, user centric concept, it’s, it’s basically the backbone of the future that we’re imagining.

What about you, Ryan? How do you think about that?

Ryan Li: Giving people the ability to own stuff that holds value, it doesn’t really need to hold value, but exists in a longer horizon and might really change how people interact. Like, there’s no way for you to show what your, I don’t know, I’ve never used Myspace before. But there’s no way for anyone who has used Myspace before to show what they have done there. But probably in 10 years, you can still show people? Well, I was the one of the participants in Adams, well mint five, because I have this NFT, I think that kind of unlocks a lot of interesting social interactions and provides the content types. To show what they’re interested in, where the community they belong, and using all these different user own assets, gifts, applications, the ability to build stuff, that doesn’t necessarily have to be like from the ground up. So, cyber connect kind of provides very interesting components that are very crucial infrastructure for them to build the graph, the social graph, while they can always leverage on the existing like assets and NFTs that the people have owned throughout the years. That’s my thinking on this, that’s like, never could happen in web two.

Oh, yeah, go ahead.

Wilson Wei: I noticed that, you know, ask the question about macro. So, I think people might not notice how important it is for users to own data, and also all those assets, you know, on web two era, we have billions of users on the internet, and none of them have the rights over any kind of property. All of the things that we do on web two was, you know, would purchase services from different giant platforms, you purchase that equipment, you purchase this membership, but all those are services. And on web two users will be, user and creators will be able to own stuff, including their own channel, and data. And those consider as the core means of production. And by enabling users to own like, basically enabling them to have the property right. And plus, you know, we’re have other smart contracts to facilitate transactions and cooperation between different parties. I think those are the two key fundamental elements to create a free market, and motivate individuals to, you know, to maximize their productivity in the long run. And I think that’s a dos of the free market as well, like enabling, you know, individual property rights. And also, you know, you have some kind of like consensus over contracts and legislation to facilitate all kinds of collaborations. That’s changed the whole thing. Yeah.

Outro

I agree. I mean, I’m a big believer in this vision of kind of like creators owning their audience, it’s obviously a lot of what I talked about in the podcast, ways of owning your audience is by issuing assets and forms of tokens to for people to collect. And with that you unlock all sorts of data and interesting like benefits that you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to experience on traditional platforms. So this entire vision of a user own internet of have a user own social graph of people being able to kind of control their audience not from like a negative point of view, but more so they have more ownership and say, as to how they reach them, how they grow with them, how they build with them, how they interact with them, and be able to take their audience from one platform move it to another because, like, if you guys recall, for everyone that’s listening when Tik Tok came out a lot of the Instagram artists and migrated to Tik Tok weren’t able to build as viral kind of like followings as those who were on Tik Tok prior. Right? So then you have this rise of brand new influencers and brand new individuals that are kind of like leading the charge on culture, on pop culture, and it affects like it messes up and now you’re forced as a creator to create content on Tik Tok, and then build an audience on Tik Tok, and create content on Instagram and build an audience on Instagram, and then on Twitter, and then build an audience on Twitter and then on Spotify and all these different places. And it’s just gets it’s like way overbearing for me myself, personally, I already feel that pressure, I feel that pressure trying to do things on tick tock and build an audience on tick tock, and that I have to abide by the specific algorithms, just to build some type of audience when I wish, I could just kind of take everybody that’s collected my NFT in the past, bring them over to one platform, be able to grow them simultaneously in a new form of content. So, I really, I really get this vision as a creator, it really makes sense. I’m excited to see how you guys’ kind of tackle this in the future, especially with this new series A. And I guess before you wrap up, like where can we find more about cyber Connect? Where can we learn more? And where can we find you guys specifically online?

Wilson Wei: Yeah, so go to our Twitter, cyber connect, and then our website as well, cyberconnect.me. And the best way is actually to go to link3.2cyberconnect, that’s, it has everything. It has my profile, Ryan’s profile, and everything that you need to know about cyber Connect.

Cool. We’ll put that in the description. What about you, Ryan?

Ryan Li: Well, yeah, I think that Wilson said it well, go to link3.me You’ll find everybody there. You can also see all of our backers, or is it the stories behind the scenes or mirror blocks? Cool.

Amazing, guys. Thank you so much. And shout out to this awesome collaboration that we’re doing for season five. I guess I’ll end with this season five would not be possible without you guys, I am a big believer in what you’re doing. I’m super excited to kind of see you guys spearhead the forefront as to what web three social is and what it’s going to become. So really excited to be working with you guys and to kind of like discover the vision and learn more. Till next time.

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Podcast Transcript

How NFTs will Change Professional Sports with Ice Cube

Background

Mint Season 5 episode 8 welcomes Ice Cube, the legendary rapper, actor, and now web3 entrepreneur who shares how NFTs can be used to buy ownership into one’s favorite basketball teams on the BIG3.

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 03:48 – What is BIG3? What Does it Aim to Do?
  • 08:53 – Curating Unique Experiences for Sports Team Owners
  • 13:53 – Perks of Collecting a BIG3 NFT
  • 20:09 – Why Ice Cube Took a Major Stake in Dogecoin
  • 23:57 – The Intersection of Movies and NFTs
  • 26:58 – The Intersection of Music and NFTs
  • 31:27 – Outro

and so much more…

I hope you enjoy our conversation.


Ice Cube Welcome to mint, my friend, thank you for being on how you doing?

Ice Cube: Pretty good, how are you doing?

Good man. You’re a legend, bro. It’s an honor. Seriously, it’s an honor to have you on the show. I’m super excited to have you talk about BIG3, talk about NFTs and web three in general, I think the best place to start. A lot of people already know who you are. So, there’s no need for an intro as I typically do, but I think a good place to start is how did you get your way into crypto? Like what’s your like entry story?

Ice Cube: Really, through NFTs.

Okay.

Intro

Ice Cube: When I saw how cool NFTs were, and that people were, you know, basically creating a way for artists to, to interact directly with their fans, for their fans to be able to you know, buy a piece of art, and if you know, they sold it, then artists still participate in it, which is cool. You know, you want artists to get paid for their work. And so, it was interesting. So, I wanted to kind of figure out the right way to do my own NFT. Yeah, I started working with Trevor Jones. And we started to collaborate on you know, what it would look like?

Got it. I remember also seeing earlier, as I was doing some more research on you, it’s like you’re also issuing initially like music NFTs earlier in the day, if I’m not mistaken.

Ice Cube: Yeah, I mean, I’ve always looked at, as, you know, any different kind of way, I can figure out how to connect directly to the fans, without going through these middlemen. Whether it’s, you know, record company, or studio execs, you know, I think, you know, the NFT technology can be great for movies in the future. So, you know, I just think it’s a, it’s a way to disrupt the status quo and what’s going on. You know, some of us can be a part of some, but some of us can’t.

you know, you’ve seen the rise and fall of so much yet, you’ve personally managed to stay so relevant, and continuously reinvent yourself, whether it be through movies, or music, and whatnot, and you’ve always managed to kind of stay authentic to who you are, where you come from, how have you managed to remain so constant throughout the years of watching, like various industries change?

Ice Cube: Well, you know, I made a promise to myself that I would always be myself, no matter what. So, I’m never really concerned with the consequences of the business. Like, you know, I’m gonna do what I feel and let the chips fall where they may were some people I think, are worried about, you know, if they do one move on what could happen if they messed up, or if they made certain people mad, you know used to be a saying, like, you’ll never work in this town again. You know, I mean, that’s bullshit. You know, so if you got talent, you would work. And so, I just always the same, decided to do what I feel and not what other people want me to do, or what the society or system expect me to do.

What is BIG3? What Does it Aim to Do?

Yeah, I think knowing your story, knowing your history, in music, and like in the 90s, in the 80s, etc. It’s very you, right? From all the movies that have been created about you. And I guess like all the interviews that you’ve kind of had in the past, you really see that, especially with the things that you’re getting volved with now and kind of combining sports with crypto. And I guess that’s a good segue into what you’re doing at BIG3. So, I don’t want to butcher it. I’d love to hear your kind of introduction of what is BIG3, it’s obviously been around for what I’ve seen around since like, 2017 or so. So, for those who don’t know, can you. Yeah, can you give us a quick a quick intro? What is BIG3? What does it aim to do?

Ice Cube: Well, BIG3 is professional, you know, three on three basketball, you know, from, you know, when you first look and then when you really get into it, you realize victory is it own sport. But, you know, in a nutshell is taken, what people always looked at as an amateur, kind of pick-up game, sport and treat it extremely professional, to find the best players in the world to play, and to play it at a very high level with unique rules that make the game fun and faster, and just more interesting to watch. And so that’s what the BIG3 is. And, you know, it’s the perfect lead for this technology. You know, for web three, it’s the perfect lead to marry web two, and web three together. Matter of fact, what we’re doing, I don’t even know if you can call it a traditional NFT, you got to come up with a new name for what we’re doing, because it’s truly utility that, you know, you can have for lifetime with lead. And so people say we’re in a bear market, this is the perfect bear market, purchase, you know, what we’re doing, where we’re connecting the NFT technology and the blockchain G, and we’re marrying those with unique experiences, and, you know, rights and, you know, merch and, you know, surprises and, and, you know, it’s gonna grow and as being part of a major community, because we have some major players who have bought teams, or they bought all the biggest NFTs that teams have to offer. So, it’s really a unique situation that I don’t think we’ve seen yet in crypto.

Yeah, we have yet to see like being able to purchase ownership in sports teams, there’s various styles that have tried to attempt to buy NBA teams, but it’s, I feel like it’s taking like the new way and trying to apply it to the old way, when what you’re doing is like you’re kind of starting from scratch, you realize the inefficiencies in the old way, you’re like, Fuck it, we’re just going to start from the beginning, and do our own thing and kind of have our own take on it, which I guess I want to name some, some points and some stats to kind of better understand the BIG3, and I want you to stop me if I if I butcher anything. But there’s 12 teams in the league, right? teams aren’t tied to cities. Games are three on three, not five on five. And you’re basically using, go ahead.

Ice Cube: Half court.

Half court. Okay. And you’re using Ethereum to basically fractionalize ownership of these teams. Right? Did I get that right?

Ice Cube: Yes, we were, I mean, in a lot of ways, were using the NFT technology to create ownership, like experiences.

Okay,

Ice Cube: so I mean, you know, it’s as close to being owner as you can get, without being billionaire days, trying to own a sports team, you have to start off with so much money, it’s impossible for the average person to even be a part of that, but we’re able to offer that, it’s known, it’s fresh enough, and it’s open enough to do this. And that’s really what it’s all about. It’s about creating some new for the fans to be a part of, and to be a part of this league. So, it’s where we’re trying to connect our fans to leave.

Curating Unique Experiences for Sports Team Owners

Yeah, so when you when you talk about like a unique experience like ownership base unique experiences for collectors, can you talk more about that?

Ice Cube: Mainly it’s really about access, practices. You know, press conferences, suites, great seating, access to our, you know, parties and our you know, everything owner would get, and do you know, we’re offering that to fans to get closer to the league. You know, we expect this to land in the hands of you know, super fans who really loved the league and want to be part of the league in long term. You know, this to me is a one of those kinds of, you know, get it get it and flip it kind of NFTs. This is for people who really are interested into this For, who really can see that the value of this, you know, wants to sell out could, you know, over the years, be pretty lucrative. So, you know, I just think it’s, it’s some, I wish I could have did it with Lakers and underwriters or, you know, people that I been following for, you know, 30 years now. You know, if I could have bought into something like this, when I first started to love those leaks, then you know, it will be pretty cool. And, you know, it’s kind of like what they do in Green Bay, you know, that the whole community owns the team, and brings them closer together. And we got some of the biggest people in the space has team owners, you know, for Gary Vee, to, you know, the guides, to Krause’s house, you’ve mentioned. And if you want to get closer to those communities, you know, you can purchase, go tear are their teams. So, it’s really a way just for communities to interact in a fun way. But also, the network, you know, when we get out of it as a league is to have enthusiasm around the league from these communities that are already enthusiastic. And so, it’s a win, win situation for us. And we think it’s a win, win situation for anybody who wants to get one of the NFTs.

Yeah, I was a part of the initial mint of Krause house, I bought like one of those initial NFTs because I love the vision of being able to participate in your favorite sports teams, whether they would be able to pull it off or not. I just feel like there’s so much bureaucracy, and so much BS that comes with actually buying more of those, like professional national leagues that we all kind of like no mainstream. And I really enjoy the concept of like this experimentation of take on sports, on ownership-based rights, and kind of seeing the evolution of your favorite players in the NBA and how you guys are scouting them for like this next stage in their career. Which is, which is super interesting. So, talk more about the NFT. So, each team, from what I understand, has about 1000 Total NF T’s split between two different tiers, right?

Ice Cube: Yeah, and we, you know, we’re thinking long and hard about how we can really improve the go tier, you know, you look at that fire tear, and it’s amazing, and we want to go tier to feel the same way. Because everybody’s not gonna be able to purchase that. And, you know, one of our thoughts is reducing the number. So, it’s, you know, it’s a little more precious, you know, I mean, to get a hold up. So, you know, we’re thinking of all kinds of different things. So those numbers won’t be the same when we remake. And we relaunch the gold tier, we just kind of been doing our homework, and figuring out what we need to do to make it you know, as close to attractive as the fire tier is. And so, you know, we listened to the people in the discord, and we want to make sure that we give them something that they really, you know, want to be a part of, you know, for now or the future.

Perks of Collecting a BIG3 NFT

Yeah. Yeah. Make a lot of sense. So, when you buy ownership into a team, the first thing that comes to mind from my point of view is like I’d love to make some form of decisions based on the team so it’s one thing to have like a level of fandom, it’s another thing to actually feel like you’re an owner, when you’re an owner, you have the same things you have somewhat of control over how things are done. So, what are some like ownership-based traits that come to mind as a co-owner of one of the teams in BIG3 so for example, like being able to make team decisions, choose a CEO or president, creating merchandise like what like what comes to mind?

Ice Cube: Well, you know, with ownership you have depending on what tier you are on, some rights to the IP. Definitely access to coaches and player captains. Access to referees, being able to talk to them and you know, voice your opinion or good explanation, being able to vote on, you know, uniforms, you know, who should they pick, and, you know, these things are things that come along with it, you know, ultimately, you know, we don’t want to do too many things that mess with the game on the court. Because we still want it to be decided by the captains, and players and coaches, you know, so we have to draw a line at a certain point. But, you know, when it comes to having a say, and what direction the team go, you definitely have a say, you know, and we’ll think of more things to add to that, you know, what’s cool is, what’s great about this technology is you can keep dropping in things to people and, you know, keep offering better experiences, you know, as we, you know, it’s a trip because when we started this league, nobody had ever seen professional player On Three, before, not even us. And so, we had to mold and shape the game, and be able to pivot real fast to make sure we were giving the people exactly what they want. And we’ll do the same thing with these NFTs. Nobody’s ever done this before.

So, we have to be able to mold and pivot into things that we know will keep the people who purchase these owners happy and that’s, you know, what we’re dedicated to do because that’s what makes them more valuable is that people are happy with them and, you know, that’s the key to be able to give people something that, you know, is valuable, and is worth it. And it’s cool, if they want to, you know, do the experiences they self, it’s about as close as anybody who’s ever gonna get into ownership on one of these teams, on a professional level. So, we want everybody to keep that in perspective to you know, the minority owners in the NBA don’t get shit, you know, you might not even get a seat at the game, you put your money, shut up and tell people you know, your fan, I mean, that you’re owner. You know, that’s kind of basically how it goes in some of these minority ownership roles and these franchises basically, you know, put your money in and shut up. We definitely not going to approach it that way. Because we need the community to be active, and to be advocates for the league. And to go out and say this is great shit since the NBA and so that’s our goal.

So, I have a few questions for you. Crypto is inherently like still really, really early. And I’m sure you’re aware of them and when you introduce like these primitives of NFTs, the mainstream doesn’t really understand what NFTs are just yet and sports basketball is such like a mainstream thing. Right? How do we get more people? I guess, like, into NFTs because I think sports is a great vehicle to do that. Right? I think it’s an interesting kind of like pivot in, but I guess how we introduce this concept beyond just like the crypto native crowd who enjoy collecting and buying NFTs and more into the mainstream crowd that loves sports, for the sake of sports for either investing sports betting etc.

Ice Cube: Education you know, and drops like the ones we’re doing, you know, a lot of traditional sports people, you know, put the antennas up, NFT is still something that people need to be educated on. You know, what is mean was does it do? how’s it work and same with cryptocurrency, you know, a lot of people hear the word but don’t really understand how it works, and how they can be a part of it, or they are intimidated. So, it’s really about you know, showing people what it is, you know, still the educational phase. You know, we know but I’ve been through this, you know, with hip hop, you know, it’s like all of a sudden people had and when I first started on only certain people into it and so, you know, you educate people, you show people how cool it is, and people always want to be a part of that.

Why Ice Cube Took a Major Stake in Dogecoin

Yeah, you know, I think you did something that’s really smart, I guess from a brand point of view. And potentially, we’ll see how it plays out from an investment point of view. But you took a major stake in Dogecoin. Can you talk more about that? Like, why the need to do that? What was the vision behind you that doing that? I guess, do you imagine using Dogecoin as a form of payment in the stadium’s as well, like, walk me through this entire, like thought process of doing so?

Ice Cube: Well, I mean, we understand is one of the most active communities out there and, you know, we feel like Dogecoin could actually really catch on widespread and we see other industries, you know, starting to adapt it, and embrace it. You know, having a guy like Bill Lee, as owner, who’s, you know, saw invested into Dogecoin, it just, you know, we see that it is the future, and it’s something that, you know, we hope we can use in stadiums, and we can use, you know, more in our business, is something that we believe is going to really catch on, and be here for the long haul.

How does it tie in to the BIG3? Like, what’s the aligning visions?

Ice Cube: Well, I mean, we hope to use the act of community to blow up the league and got it know that they have, you know, now, you know, they have the alias. And, you know, we feel like when the seasons start to competition between these communities that are heated up, and it’s gonna, you know, with that competition, with that activity out there, with all the trash talking, going back and forth, it will bring a lot of attention to the league. And then, you know, all boats will rise on that. And that’s kind of how we see it. That’s the benefit, the unseen benefit that the BIG3 gets, when you connect with these major communities. That if you get the noise, that these communities produce, talking about the BIG3, your blown and going to league.

Yeah, makes a lot of sense. I want to talk to you more about, like, what if the NBA or the NFL start implementing a system like this in the future? Like, do you imagine that ever happening?

Ice Cube: I can’t see it, you know, but, you know, he’s very smart people running those leagues, and they may come up with something that satisfies people and now works. Pretty sure they’re looking at it. We’re always happy to be first are one of the first to, to break down those old barriers and it was on walls. No, we have the most diversity in the world, with the makeup of our board of directors, you know, commission owners, female coaches who win championships. And so, I just think, you know, the follower leader, we just happen to be the leader on this.

The Intersection of Movies and NFTs

Yeah. I want to transition out of sports for just a minute because you have such a diverse career. I want to try hitting on music and movies. So recently, you just signed a new multi picture production TV and film deal, right? For you to kind of produce more entertainment on that side. How do you imagine the future of NFTs and movies kind of colliding?

Ice Cube: Man, you know, in a perfect world, I would love to see NFT project around a movie where, you know, let people know what kind of movie you want to make and people say, hey, I want to see that, I want to own a piece of that. You know, and I want to be a part of that. And so, it’s happening with music. And I’m pretty sure that it’s probably happening with music. You know, I mean, we’re moving somewhere. But that’d be a great day for artists, directors, writers, actors, to be able to go straight to the people and say, do you want this movie? And if you do, let’s, you know, here’s how much it’s gonna cost. Let’s raise this money and do it. You know, that would definitely kick the studios in the nuts. Because they’re the gatekeepers, you know, they’re not Yeah. They don’t just do with smart, or they don’t just do what they should or do with the they, you know, so a lot of propaganda and what they are doing, so they won’t push the propaganda, push those old narratives about people, stereotypes, all that shit, is part of the agenda as well. So, to be able to bypass these people and get great movies made to me is, will be a dream come true.

So, can we expect that with this new deal that you just signed from you? Like, do you do see like a collab on your end with NFTs?

Ice Cube: I mean, you know, we’ve been talking to a few people. I don’t know if that’s the route, we’re gonna go with this deal. But you know, it’s not exclusive. So can do other stuff. But we’ve been talking to, you know, gala games, on doing some cool like that. I know, we’re gonna do some with them Company music. So, you know, we were talking about how to do it, and do it right. Because that’s the key is to not just to be able to launch it, but to be able to deliver and, and know that I’m big on delivery. I’m not a person who, who will run his mouth and then not be able to deliver at the end. So, we got to make sure we can do it all.

The Intersection of Music and NFTs

Yeah. So, with doing it all that also kind of introduces my next question with music. Obviously, you’re a legend on the music side of things from NWA and so much more. How do you imagine the intersection between music and NFTs and even more? So, we’re seeing an amazing movement online with independent artists kind of getting their freedom breaking through the gates that kind of like this ethos in crypto has of hating? What are your thoughts around that entire movement? And a few years from now, where do you see the intersection of music and NFTs on the major mainstream?

Ice Cube: I think it’s a great way, once again, for artists to connect directly with the fans, it’s a great way to, for fans to own a piece of this music and not just listen but promoted as well, you know, because, you know, they have a stake and outcome. Not a success at a record. So, it’s a great it’s a new day, you know, it’s a new frontier, when it comes to being able to not only, you know, make that collaboration, but to be able to push promoted, you know? Tight overtaken you know, sell it somebody Yeah. You know, and to have exclusive music. I remember when Wu Tang did that album for the one guy, you know, I mean, like, that’s a concept that is interesting, you know, I mean that you can make music for certain amount of people and if you want to hear it, you got to buy the NFT. Think it’s an interesting concept.

Yeah. So last question I have for you before I let you go, is let’s talk about like more in the future. Okay. So, with everything going on in web three, how do you feel about this, like new world that’s emerging in which people and projects are coming up fast seeing success fast? Are we still breeding longevity anymore? And I feel like this question is perfectly positioned for you because you’ve been so innovative, and you bet you’ve been able to kind of mix and match yourself across many, many different industries. So, what are your thoughts around that?

Ice Cube: Yeah. Oh, think you should always plan for longevity and what it is, is you have to, if you plan for longevity, to me, you’ll make sure the quality is high. And that’s how you get longevity is to have high quality and not just quantity. So, when you think like that, you make sure that you pay attention to the details of any project you’re working on, to make sure that you become the cream of the crop or the best at it. So, people will always keep coming back to you. So, I just think that’s how you should approach everything. Like, you know, if I do this, right, you know, we can do this for 10,20 30 years, 40 years, whatever. Yeah, as long as we want to.

Make sense. So, I guess the last thing I’ll say, before I let you go is the draft for 2022 starts on Wednesday, right? May 25, right in LA in person.

Ice Cube: Well, you know, we’re gonna do a virtual draft. A lot of people are gonna be here in person, we’re gonna be over at the Microsoft lounge here in LA. Lots of cool people in the building, but a lot of people are gonna be, you know, checking in with us on the virtual to, you know, whether they get picked tonight. You know, we still as a league You know, a lot of people have relaxed on COVID. But we haven’t, you know, we still got to make sure that we stay as healthy as possible. Don’t take no unnecessary chances. Because we’ve got a whole league and the whole summer to get through.

Outro

I love it, man. I’m excited for you. I’m excited for the league. Before I let you go, Where can we find more about the league and everything that’s coming up.

Ice Cube: Get the BIG3 app, go to BIG3.com That’s how you can really keep up with what we’re doing. You can join our Discord, BIG3 ownership. And, you know, just keep checking us out. You know, follow me on Twitter, follow the BIG3 on Twitter and Instagram. And you can see what the league is doing man, it is fun to have and going on with a lot of class and come be a part of it.

Amazing Ice Cube. Thank you so much for being on, till next time.

Ice Cube: All right, Adam, take it easy.

Categories
Podcast Transcript

Releasing an EP in Web3 with Queen George

Background

Mint Season 5 episode 7 welcomes Queen George, the modern jazz-pop artist who’s been publicly, yet thoughtfully experimenting with web3 primitives since April 2021 in an effort to find and build a collector base.

She joins the podcast for another episode and shares how she plans to release her up n coming EP in a web3 native way.

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • 00:00 Intro 
  • 12:48 – Find her Voice
  • 20:04 – Queen George’s Mental Model for Releasing an EP in Web3 
  • 23:00 – The Emotional Rollercoaster of Trying Something New
  • 25:23 – Understanding the Difference Between a Collector and Listener
  • 27:47 – Identity
  • 37:44 – Outro.

…and so much more. 

I hope you enjoy our conversation.


Queen George.

Queen George:  Adam Levy.

Welcome.

Queen George: Thank you.

To the mint podcast. That was a good intro.

Queen George: That was a good intro.

How are you doing?

Queen George: I am doing really well.

We are in Tarzana, California, my crib.

Queen George: The crib of cribs, you are missing.  

Yes, you are on one couch. I’m on the other couch. Soon enough. We will have cameras in here to record this.

Queen George: It’s gonna be good because this is a nice corner.

Nice corner.

Queen George: This corner deserves cameras.

It does.

Queen George: Yeah.

You’re back.

Queen George: I’m back.

On the podcast.

Queen George: I’m back on the podcast. I’m also back in the United States.

Where were you?

Queen George: I was in Costa Rica. Living my best life.

Why were you in there?

Queen George: I was being a complete stranger. I was in a place where nobody knows me. It’s not like I’m famous. I can’t remember my grandma knows me here, right? It’s really not that big. But it was so nice to be in a different country and plan my whole drop and EP roll out from a completely blissful place. Just like ocean and jungle and tangled hair. The whole thing.

Tangled hair. How long were you there for?

Queen George: Three weeks?

Wow. On the beach?

Queen George: Yeah, there was a beach and where I was staying was on this hill. And there was a huge Rocky Mountain to get there. And it was a.

What’s it like writing music in the setting like that?

Queen George: Writing music in a setting. I mean, the music writes itself, there’s no, you just kind of show up. I try to create experiences that where I just have to show up and the inspiration happens for me. I actually have yet to look back at my journal in my notes. I made it a point to write any time I was just anywhere without thinking. So, I’m curious, in retrospect, what that’s gonna look like if that will even become a song because I just wrote a lot of poetry.

Do you write better during the day or at night?

Queen George: It can hit me at any time it can. I’ve woken up from dreams with ideas. I’ve woken up in the middle of the night, I have voice memos of like mumbling in my sleep. It can happen in broad daylight. Really just depends on the wave. It’s just like it comes through. I would say as opposed to me bringing it out. I just have to enter spaces that support that vessel.

Where was the most random place? You’ve recorded or written a song?

Queen George: Oh my god. This is really bad. This is really bad. A memorial. It’s bad. I had an idea. And I went outside and recorded it. I know. It’s really bad.

You just like left the memorial.

Queen George: It was just for a minute. It was just to get the idea.

A minute too long.

Queen George: It was just but when the idea goes, it’s gone, that’s probably the worst place. I’ve pulled over on the street a couple of times.

You’re back on the podcast. What a way to start the episode.

Queen George: Take to live.

Take to live. For those who are not with us. We’ve taken about 36 takes, dying of laughter and crying.

Queen: And I wish you guys could hear all of them.

Maybe I’ll include a few.

Queen George: A blooper reel, if you will.

A blooper.

Queen George: I actually can’t believe we’re having a normal conversation right now. I’m not gonna lie to you.

See, we talk like 12 times a day.

Queen George: Minimum.

At least. And this feels way too formal for me.

Queen George: Yeah, I need you to I mean.

You know, as a podcaster one of the most difficult things to do is to have a conversation as if there’s nothing recorded.

Queen George: Yeah.

Dinner table or something.

Queen George: Yeah. I feel nervous truly because of these mics because we talk all day in every shape and form. Like in happiness and sadness. So, to have mics is like I don’t know. Last time like they’re not here.

Last time they were. Last time you were on?

Queen George: Oh, no, it’s already started, that’s where the juice is gonna be.

Okay. Yeah. Last time you were on. We were in Eth Denver. Right? It was November.

Queen George: It was February Adam.

Was it?

Queen George: Yeah.

Geez. Cuz it was my birthday.

Queen George: It was yours.

Oh, yeah. That’s right. That’s right.

Queen George: Remember that’s why Eth Denver plan Eth Denver because they were like it’s Adam Levy’s birthday.

Right? Oh, it was so nice to them.

Queen George: They really didn’t have to.

They didn’t have to.

Queen George: Yeah, we were already in Denver. I just performed that the event that you put on. Yeah.

Let you perform that.

Queen George: Correct.

Which is lower that I put on? Yeah.

Queen George: Correct. And we were sitting in my hotel room.

But we were talking about, we were talking about at Eth Denver and how you, the title of the episode is how your growth hacked over 100 collectors.

Queen George: Yeah.

On Ethereum during Eth Denver and gave out free tickets as NFTs and did this whole like Spiel which we’ll be talking about in a second, but just introduce it. So, for anybody that didn’t catch episode, you can go and check it out and listen to it, I really encourage it, it was a fun one. And basically, what we did is we issued NFTs as tickets, people collected them for free on polygon. And then they would use those tickets as a way to come and watch you perform live during Eth Denver. The beauty behind it is it was highly curated crowd of OG Ethereum people and over 100 people have collected one of your NF T’s now. And from there, we created this experience where they could scan their QR code and be able to mint a one of one song that you were going to perform. It was one of your newer songs that I fought for, and I won, thankfully. And yeah, it was a fun experience, it was a big learning lesson for me, which funny enough? Okay, I talked about this is a podcast with you. On that episode, specifically, how, you know a lot about like your audience in web two, and where they come from. And I mean, you have very surface level data right there, web three, you don’t have that, like you weren’t able to tell who your collectors were, and you just got a bunch of addresses, funny enough, that inspired me to have a new idea that I ended up taking to Eth Amsterdam a few weeks ago, and presented it to like this team of friends that we ended up building this MVP over the weekend. And we won the hackathon. Because the idea, because of you, because of the project that we worked on together. Funny enough. I talked a lot right now. There’s a lot to wait the breakdown. Yeah, yeah. I never told you that.

Queen George: No.

Yeah.

Queen George: You never you never gave me the breakdown.

All right. Really quick. Let’s reflect on Denver for two seconds. Really quick recap. Go.

Queen George: Oh, man, I’m nervous. Okay, I need to pretend like this mic isn’t here. Ready? Reflect on Denver?

NFT tickets concert, minting one of ones, QR codes everywhere.

Queen George: Wow. Thank you. When I think about Eth, Denver, I think about just putting my QR codes all over the venue, so there were two QR codes, right? We had the QR codes for my Discord, and QR codes for the one of one from that my new song at the time. And I just remember my focus, because we talk a lot about just one thing at a time, right. And that’s just been like the biggest bone to bite on and entering web three for me. And I just remember going, okay, one thing at a time, I mean, one thing at a time, and my biggest focus was new people, new people, new people. I know my web two people; I know what they like. And here I was in front of a roomful of people that you know, function on a completely different wavelength and are used to something totally different. And I’m an alien to them. And they’re aliens to me. And it was just about getting to know a new audience and the way that we did the ticket and completely opened my mind. And, you know, I’ve obviously brought that into the way that I want to do things in the future. But yeah, Denver for me, there’s just a whole lot of newness, a whole lot of newness.

So, like I said earlier because of Denver, I learned a lot through that experience. I’m a big believer that at least me personally I learned by doing when I was in school, I sucked at like working at the textbooks. I actually got like C’s, D’s and F’s on all my exams.

Queen George: Same except for choir and lunch.

Oh, lunch, I aced.

Queen George: Aced.

I aced like a mofo. But your event when they performed that, the trial that we went through using dystopia Labs is impish ticketing service opened my mind to new insights. So, because of you, I thank you. And I thank you. And it’s always fun having you on and I wanted to have you on specifically, even though you’re not part of the initial lineup of season five, you were a part of season four. It’s always fun to have past speakers on to do like these recap episodes, and kind of like, check in every once in a while. Especially with people that I love so much, and that I love seeing what they’re doing. And I really believe in them.

Queen George: I also think that speaks a lot to what we’re trying to do here. All of us in web three, I think it would be truly a waste if we just had our good first impressions and good first dates, especially with shows like yours that do give people a lot of insight. Because we do make a lot of mistakes a lot along the way. And it would just be a true bummer. If we didn’t come back to the drawing board in a group setting like this for people to hear. I would love more of that.

So, since you’d love more of that we’re doing it now. And from Denver to now. Okay, a lot has happened since February. So, it’s May.

Queen George: Yeah. That was in February.

It’s actually exactly a month. I think it was February 17th. We’re filming this recording this on May 7th.

Queen George: Interesting.

Yeah. Funny enough.

Queen George: February. So that was about three months now.

Is it?

Queen George: Yeah.

March, April, May. Yeah. Three months.

Queen George: Three months I’ve done a bunch of shows since then. A couple in New York. I did a couple.

You did good karma.

Queen George: I did. I did good karma. Yeah, it’s my first time ever doing good karma, shout out to them. I love them. They really just took me in, like family.

Shout out to them.

Queen George: Till now. I mean, it that relationship is just growing, really such beautiful people who, I remember walking into the soundcheck and feeling like I was getting a hug. I don’t know how to explain it. You know, when you perform a lot, you walk into venues, the initial vibe is the initial vibe and that care.

The funniest part about it is when Brady came to introduce you.

Queen George: This is the funniest part.

Introduce you and everyone, King George.

Queen George: I’m so happy to introduce King George.

It’s Queen.

Queen George: King George. Yeah, did get the good karma showcase back in March, performed a lot since then. Got my whole EP done. All the songs are kind of being finalized. Right now, I have about one or two mixes that are just waiting to be signed off on and yeah, early June, it is going to belong to the world. So no longer to me.

And you’re doing it. I mean, you came to me you’re like, Adam, I want to do this in a web three NFT a way. Yeah. So, what does that mean to you doing something in a web three NFT way?

Queen George: What that means, to me in a very broad term is, is redefining my experience as an independent artist, and trying to push the boundaries of what it means to be independent. And when I came to you and said, Adam, I want your help, I want to do this in a web three format was me saying, how far can we take this? And you know, how many new people, how many different people can I get interested in what I’m doing? How many new people can I connect with, how many new heads, people who I’m an alien to and vice versa. Just you know, shake, shake the mold a little bit. And you know, it’s very easy to kind of lose hope, therefore lose sight in the standard web two way. Especially in a world where people are like, oh, varieties King, and, you know, sign or, or die and wait around, I just realized I don’t want to wait any more, to release anything or do anything. And in web three, there’s this awesome opportunity, huge opportunity to just put yourself out there because people will want it. And you know, you don’t need anything standard quote anymore.

Finding Her Voice

So being not part of the norm. How do you think about that? Like, why do you think you’re not a part of the norm? Why do you fit with that so well?

Queen George: Well, I think it goes back to the kind of music I make. I think that my music. The music that is on this EP is, is not pop, I don’t see it fitting anywhere, truly, I don’t, I listen to my music, and I grab my face, and I hold my head in my hands and I go, this is gonna hit or it’s gonna miss. And it nothing excites me more. That kind of jump, because my music to me doesn’t feel like it fits anywhere. It doesn’t fit in a box, it doesn’t fit in, you know, a lot of times a lot of meetings I’ve had, you know, meeting sometimes I sit in these meetings, God knows who and labels and whatever. And they go. So, what do you do? What kind of music do you make? Because it makes sense. They want to try to make sense of you. And I’m like, how am I going to tell this girl that it doesn’t fucking make sense? How am I going to tell her you know, it’s just, it’s just a product of all the sounds and cultures and flavors that I’ve been raised on. And it was made in a different country as well. And, and where I find myself really fitting in and web three is that there’s a big stage for anything that feels other, and a big stage for things that you can’t necessarily name. And because you don’t have to, just do shit that you like. And that speaks to you. Because it’s not rocket science. It’s frequency based and vibe base. And if it speaks to you, it really might speak to someone else. And that multiplies when it’s honest. So, I’m finding that to be very invigorating and interesting and honest. And that’s the pool for me in web three. It’s a very limitless space and it’s exciting as someone who doesn’t exactly feel like her music fits.

So, part of part of not fitting in is well something I’ve talked about on the podcast is music artists being forced to make music in a certain structure. In a way that it goes viral on Tik Tok, or that there’s dances associated with it. And it’s a process that’s not really designed for everyone. Right? I think web three is that platform where innovation is rewarded, right? There are no real algorithms. The only real algorithm is maybe trying to get a viral on Twitter. There are methods, there’s resources, there’s things of that nature, playbooks for that matter.

Queen George: But the stats and the tips can only take you so far.

Yeah. And it’s not controlled by an entity that has up above power that can determine whether or not something gets exposure. Right, AKA a lot of these web two platforms. Hence, you coming to me and me being so excited, you tell me, Adam, I want to release this EP in a web three native way. I was fired up, I’m a big fan of your music, I love your stuff. I’ll always like support you because I just feel so aligned and connected to what you do. And there’s music like yours doesn’t exist in my opinion. And when something brings you happiness, and something brings you joy, it’s hard to kind of like, push it away. So, I’m excited for this up and company EP. Can you walk me more through it? How much of it was written in Costa Rica? Or what’s the origin of it? What’s the first song that you’re going to be releasing? How do you plan to release it? Yes. All these things?

Queen George: Yes, yes. So, Costa Rica was so fresh, I mean, this is just a kind of a reset from working on this EP, so nothing from Costa Rica will be on this. This is, this was a meet, so the EP is Queen George and a meet my real self, one on the Strip. This has nothing to do with that it was a nicer, unnecessary reset. But um, the first song I’m going to be releasing off of it. It’s called bow dead. And it’s a Hebrew word means alone. And it’s about me being with someone who was alone. And I didn’t want to be with someone who wanted to be alone. It’s that simple. And I wrote that in France last summer, with a wonderful group of producers. Dean Watson jonka, I think that’s how they pronounce his name at a castle called leopard, in Bordeaux, in France, and going there again, the summer long to make a very, could be long story short, we huddled up in France during a time where I was going through a lot, during a time when I was going through a lot. And we wrote a bunch of music. And that was it. And I didn’t know what else to do with myself at the time but write this music. And they’re from France, there’s going to be bow dead minimum wage, keep it together. And hero. And then two other songs are if I ever go down, and which is already out, but that needs to have a home on my first project, very aligned with the rest of the music, and California boys which was written here. But France is kind of the focus. France is the heart with this. And.

My favorite song out of the EP, I’ve gotten the luxury of being able to listen to it quite a bit. should find a way to create some type of teaser now that I think about it, like some of the people that collected some of your initial, like ticket NFT’s during Eth Denver, find a way to show them and show them previews at least the ones that are in the discord. I feel like that’d be cool. I would love that. I’m just thinking.

Queen George: Like a little sound bite?

Yeah, like little soundbites. That could be interesting. But okay, favorite song. I love bow dead, there’s nothing like bow dead out there.

Queen George: And I’m actually, I’m dropping that on sound on Thursday.

Oh, sick.

Queen George: Yes. Okay, dropping that on sound on Thursday.

You chose to do that one.

Queen George: Yes. I chose to do this one. Because it’s just, I don’t think anything else exists?

I don’t know. I thought it was California boys for a second.

Queen George: No.

Bow dead.

Queen George: Bow dead.

Why Bow dead?

Queen George: Because I don’t think it sounds like anything else. It to me, I hear it and I go who made that? I don’t even know if that’s good or bad. I really, I’m not even sitting here like it wonderful, beautiful piece of music. I really just I hear it. And I’m like, What the hell is that? That’s gotta be first like throw it, throw them into the pool. One by one. Yeah, it really is a marriage of, of the feeling when I wrote it, of all my cultures, and just, I don’t know, music that I really resonate with, sounds that I resonate with. So, I decided to make that my first sound drop. I’m so happy that they’re having me on their platform. I think they’re doing great work and they’re fucking trailblazers and really excited to release this with them. So, yeah, it’ll be a few weeks before the rest of the music comes out.

Queen George’s Mental Model for Releasing an EP in Web3

So, before the rest of the music comes out, we have the first song that you want to release. Yes, right. It’s on sound. And I’ve had a bunch of music artists on the podcast, and I’ve always run this question, I think I’ve always done this question by them. It’s pure out of curiosity for me, how do you kind of come to terms with the format in the medium in which you release a song in EP? How do you know whether you should do it as an addition, as a one of one initially, as a music video first as an audio file first, with a graphic, without a graphic, like there’s so many different ways?

Queen George: Honestly, you just don’t know.

You don’t know.

Queen George: You just don’t know. And you go with what feels good and what you want people to have.

So why did in addition format as the kind of like the introduction to the first song in EP, feel good?

Queen George: This felt good, because first and foremost, I know that this might be a little tiny piece of it. But right under where the song place, there’s a huge box for where the story is. Number one I like that viscerally at a story oriented on sound. I like how friendly it is. I like that it is catered towards people and connecting with people. It makes it really friendly and easy. As a supporter, as a listener, whatever you are, you come to their site, and you go well, I’m wanting here, and they want me to understand and they want me to connect, I especially felt that with the ability to do you know, the golden egg situation, I chose to have my golden egg winner, it’s basically like, it’s a random winner, the collectors, that gets a price that none of the other collectors get. And for me, for mine, it’s gonna be a pair of tickets to any three Queen George shows in my career. I could pop off in a year and play Madison Square Garden and they would still be able to redeem their two tickets. To me, I’m like, okay, when I say three shows, I mean any three. So, let’s do it. And then for the collectors in general, for anyone who collected it’s just it’s going to be like a compilation of the iPhone voice memos from the day that I created the song from empty canvas to final product, and fights and ideas and banter back and forth. But kind of like a highlight reel of like the turning point moments in the integrative process. Because that, to me is something that I really want to share with people. That’s and so I just felt like this is a really safe space for that. And for people to connect and see the raw process. And that’s what I, that’s what I like about them, but truly I won’t know until I do it. I like this thus far, right? But I haven’t done the drop. I don’t know I’m kind of learning as I go but excited to touch you back and let you know how it went in retrospect.

The Emotional Rollercoaster of Trying Something New

Walk me through like the emotions. I feel like it can be very nerve wracking.

Queen George: Yeah.

Preparing for the first drop.

Queen George: A lot of question marks, because you just don’t know. You want your stuff to go well. It’s like writing a diary and putting it out in the world and hoping people like what they read. And at some point, I honestly, it stopped me from putting out music for years. And I never understood that that’s what it was. I always said, oh, I gotta wait for the right team. I would always kind of say, oh, this isn’t the right time. This isn’t the right this and I realized that actually this morning, I was brushing my teeth and I was thinking about this drop and I’m like, I’m nervous. Wait, why? And then I’m like, wait, because I’m putting my art on a pedestal for people to buy and support and decide on whether or not it’s worth it or whether or not they like it and there’s a lot with that. So, a big part of you has to go. Alright, I put it out and I move on. And I make room in order to make room for the next thing. And so that’s how I’m feeling right now. That’s where you’re catching me right now. I’m interested to see how I feel day off the job.

Yeah, you called me earlier today. Feeling very emotional. If I’m able to share.

Queen George: Yeah, yeah.

Cuz, I think a lot of what happens in crypto or at least on socials. Everything always looks fun and like glamorous and.

Queen George: Random person just made $20,000

Yeah. Yeah.

Queen George: Oh, wow. How did they do that?

And a lot of the process can be incredibly overwhelming especially leading up to it like you said, like you don’t know how the world is gonna respond and how they’re gonna react.

Queen George: You just know it’s your baby?

Yeah. Yeah, I applaud you. I think it’s a really, I think it’s a really like vulnerable way to release something. I think sound did a great job. I’ve been kinda like doing perfecting the model for not perfecting, it’s still a work in progress, but really like getting to the point where you’re able to better connect with the artists and the fans who enjoy the art from the artist, right and the music artists.

Queen George: Yeah, but a good point that you’re making is that it also makes it very friendly for the artist. It’s a very comfortable, comforting space.

Understanding the Difference Between a Collector and Listener

What does a collector mean to you? Like, how do you think about what a collector means versus an everyday listener?

Queen George: To me, a collector is somebody that I, somebody that becomes a part of my life and my journey. That is someone who read your diary. And when that, that’s cool. I, there was a line in there that sounded like something I felt last week, and maybe we could get coffee next week and talk about it. That’s what a collector feels like to me.

Is that the relationship you want to have?

Queen George: Yes, absolutely.

Well, why, like other people would be like, Oh, it’s so time. It’s like such a time constraint.

Queen George: No, why do I do this, then I would have gone to be an accountant. I’m here because I like human connection. Right? Like it’s funny enough that I came to web three, for real human connection. But if this is a medium of doing that, then absolutely. Yes, I want people to go, I heard something in that. That reminded me of myself. And can we talk a little more about it? I like this, and I want more, because it brought out something in me that I liked, because that’s how human interaction works. So, to me, that little hub of people, that’s a that’s a seed that I want to water. It’s, yeah, listeners are wonderful. And I am so grateful for anybody who takes the time to listen to my music, even if it accidentally comes on shuffle, really, but like for someone to go, oh, that that sparked something in me. Yeah, fuck yeah, I want to nurture that. And if okay, let’s get coffee next week. Because that’s a, it’s a give and take relationship, in a really nice way. give and give.

That’s a really good way to put it.

Queen George: This is just, not to be fooled. This is just another medium of connection. This is brilliant, because it’s just another way, we’ve created another way, we went all the way to computers, to create another way to connect with each other. That’s crazy. Look at it if you tear all this shit away. It’s just to do what we’re doing right now to find other like-minded people who believe in each other. Who can then go do you want to meet next week? This is going so well. So far. We’re connected online, there’s no way we won’t connect in person. Look what we did. For human connection. It’s mind blowing when you just simplify it.

Identity

Who do you? What do you what do you identify as like, what is your identity?

Queen George: In 2022 you want to ask me that question?

I want to ask you that. You want to know why I want to ask you that because I know you so well. Yeah, I feel like Queen George is like your alter ego. In a sense.

Queen George: Yeah. It’s my.

It’s like, oh my god, what is your identity? But no, but this this artist image that you’re portraying yourself as Queen George? I obviously know it. But Queen George like Queen, George. It’s like something so like, feminine queen. You’re so masculine, George, right?

Queen George: Every man needs a woman.

Every man needs a woman.

Queen George: And that’s not really true. It’s just really fit in this moment. Actually. You just you need whatever you want. Honestly, you are great at what you need. Do your thing. Honestly, Queen George, I don’t remember if we talked about on the last one. But King George is a famous street in Tel Aviv. Spent a lot of time there. It was just an idea for the name of my first project at the time. And then every time I went on stage, I stepped into this body, this alter ego. And I really enjoyed stepping into something on stage and stepping right back into my personal self-offstage, and I really started to enjoy the separation. I enjoy it now. I enjoy going to Costa Rica and riding an ATV, in the dirt in the mud and feeling like a meat separate from this life. Because, you know, I used to think music was absolutely everything. Really. I used to sit here and be like music is everything. Yes, it is a lot. But it is not everything in the second, if is everything I’m fucked. Because there’s a lot, there’s mental health, there is emotional space. There are boundaries. There are things that we, if we want to really learn from other artists. We want to build healthy walls. And I personally, I know myself, I’ve gotten to know myself as I’ve gotten older as a woman especially and realize that I want to have a separation between me who is my parents, daughter and a friend and I know my be a mother one day, and this person on stage, I need that to be a part of my life, not my whole life. It is something I love. And I feel lucky to have this gift, but I feel like it can’t be my whole being. And so that’s been a really healthy way for me to separate that. And I just like the name Queen George, I can’t tell you that. You know, crazy meaning to the name. I think about that. Sometimes I’m like, shouldn’t George mean something to? And honestly, just I heard it in my head once and I went that’s it and didn’t think about it. Maybe it’ll make sense in reverse. We spoke about that earlier. Everything makes sense backwards, but it just feels right.

Do you ever find yourself turning on that alter ego, like random times during the day when you go to the market?

Queen George: Absolutely.

What is that, like?

Queen George: That is just something that exists within myself. I mean, it’s honestly, not that I really think about it. No. What am I saying? I could think so for a moment at the gas station. But truly, it’s just when I’m on stage, or when I need to in a session. when I feel like I can’t really get my shit together. And I need to get the take I go. I mean stuff. What would Queen George do right now. It’s just, it’s the best version of myself that I turned into something real. And I said, why can’t I be that, it’s me, it’s just a separation that built in love.

So, what version of Queen George has highlighted and put in boarded?

Queen George: This is a really interesting question. I’ve never thought about that. I’ve thought a lot about this song. And I’ve never thought about it from that perspective. I think the part of Queen George that is human. I’ve turned her into this persona that is absolutely untouchable. This is the part of Queen George that is human and divine and in pain, and she’s so, she can’t believe she’s in such pain that she has to turn it into this grand composition of music. That was really my way of dealing with when I went through, Queen George. At that time, Queen George was my way of dealing with that. But bow dead, that means alone in Hebrew. And it’s about me being with someone who wanted to be alone. And I realized one day that I wanted that person alive, alive and thriving here with me and not numb and dead and not here. So that’s exactly what that song is about. But yeah, feels big. It feels kind of larger than life. Sometimes I can’t believe it’s me.

One thing that you’re really good at, that I really admire is you’re really good with people.

Queen George: Thank you.

You’re really, really good with people.

Queen George: I really love people, people are good to me, that’s why.

You really know how to connect with people. And I gotta tell you, a lot of my conversations on the podcast, I’ve done over 200 episodes. Being a podcaster, you have to put yourself in a position where you have to try to connect with people very fast, very intimately, right, and get to know them and ask them questions. Without really knowing who they are. Maybe you read something online about them, or you follow to some of their tweet threads. You know, they’re good at some type of subject. And spending a lot of time around you have taught me how to be more of a human and less of a podcaster.

Queen George: Beep boop.

Beep boop, not seriously.

Queen George: I appreciate.

And that’s why I think you’re going to do so well in this space. Because at the end of the day, it comes down to people.

Queen George: This is just another medium of connection.

Building any type of community, it all comes down to people. And you’re in, when you’re put in a situation where you’re forced to make something out of a group of people, you’re really good at that. So.

Queen George: Thank you.

I’m really stoked to see your journey. And you’ve, you’ve been trying, you failed, you’ve succeeded, you’re learning.

Queen George: and may say on the note of people, it has been a fucking challenge for me to translate the human connection that I feel, that I kind of pride myself on, that I really enjoy into like a virtual setting. It has been very challenging. We spoke about that this morning. Very challenging for me to translate that and have that reflect online. And I feel like I have to work really hard for it. But I’m here for it.

So, with that, I’m stoked for your drop on Thursday.

Queen George: Thank you.

 I’m really excited to see how you release the EP and the web three in a way which I’m sure we’ll be collaborating on more as the time comes. Because you also be dropping on catalog?

Queen George: Yes. So, I’m dropping on sound now. I’m gonna do it. An awesome catalog drops right before the EP, in light of the EP itself. So, I’m really, really excited, really excited, good people in the space, I’ve really gotten lucky and gotten to meet some awesome people.

You went from not really knowing anybody in this space to making awesome relationships and friendships and performing a good karma. And in just being at the right place at the right time. And again, it goes back to me saying you’re really good with people, you have a knack for that.

Queen George: Thank you.

How do you do that? How have you managed to do that in such a short period of time.

Queen George: Showing up to events with a lot of happiness and excitement and genuine desire to enhance each other’s journeys in life and in this space, the space is a little piece of that, but looking at someone and going, like really reading them and going, is there a vibe between us? And is there chemistry here as people I mean, just honestly, I understand that my strong suit is, is showing up and speaking to people in person. And it’s there, you know, rare the opportunities in web three that you get to really hang out with people in real life. So, every conference that there was every event that there was I went and because I just trust myself in those settings. That really just I don’t know, just like you would at a party, you vibe with someone or you don’t, it’s a really honest interaction. And then you kind of go from there. And if you can, if you can help each other in some way, fuck yeah. I mean, just looking for that. And looking to do that for people.

Yeah.

Queen George: I don’t know.

I think too many people get caught up in like, trying to think like, okay, what can you do for me type of mentality. It’s a lot of the mentality in LA actually.

Queen George: And it’s fucking rough. And I’m thinking I need to leave.

I need to leave. Definitely.

Queen George: Yeah, I mean, and then also just entering relationships and going, okay, I mean, are you cool? Is this fun? We’re having fun. Right? Okay. And that’s it. And that’s enough. And we can’t overthink everything. We really can.

Look, on one. I’m very, like grateful. And very, I feel very lucky. And yeah, I really enjoy what I have. And I really appreciate everything that I have. But this, like, this mentality of, I don’t know, like, what can you do for me versus how can we go together? It’s very, it’s very present here and I’ve also been noticing that energy across crypto Twitter as well. It’s like less about wagamese. Like, we’re all gonna make it. And ever since the bear market kicked in, it’s been interesting to see how attitudes and characteristics and how people’s energy is like shifting.

Queen George. Yeah.

Outro

You know. And I guess, the bear market always vets’ people, right and always filters people out. The same people who joined in the high will not stay throughout the low and going to these events and go into these conferences will help people kind of like rejuvenate, reconnect on a more intimate level. So, I’m looking forward to it. There’s beauty in the bear market. I don’t even know how we got to this conversation. But I’m stoked for your drop on Thursday. Where can we learn more? Where can we find more?

Queen George: Twitter, QueenGeorge.com.

What’s your Twitter?

Queen George: I am Queen George. And I am because sometimes people do just, I am but I am Queen George. I post a lot a lot of random thoughts, a lot of updates, a lot of pictures, singing videos, whatever. Just go. Go message me. Let’s be friends. I would love to connect with as many people as possible. And yeah, thank you for having me. I love coming on.

You’re always welcome.

Queen George: I’ll probably call you later.

Till next time.

Categories
Podcast Transcript

Web2 Fans vs. Web3 Fans with Will Collier


Background

Mint Season 5 episode 6 welcomes Will Collier, co-founder of Decent.xyz, one of the more innovative and experimental music NFT marketplaces that have been making quite the noise lately. From fractionalizing royalties to optimizing artist liquidity through bonding curves, they’re focused on helping artists capture more value from their careers.

Will is an experienced entrepreneur whose origin starting a food non-profit very much overlaps with his new mission to change the old systems in the music industry.

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • 00:08 – Intro 
  • 08:57 – Decent.xyz Origin Story?
  • 13:38 – Current State of Music NFTs
  • 20:06 – Why Should Fans Collect Music NFTs?
  • 23:24 – How Current Market Conditions Affect Music NFTs
  • 26:15 – Web2 Fan vs. Web3 Fan
  • 31:41 – How is Decent Strengthening the Relationship Between a Fan and Artist?
  • 44:29 – Music NFT Price Psychology
  • 51:17 – Decent.xyz Roadmap
  • 54:39 – Outro

…and so much more. 

I hope you enjoy our conversation.


Will Collier, welcome to Mint, my friend. It’s about time. Thank you for being on.

Will Collier: Of course. Thank you for having me, man. I am stoked to be here.

Intro

I’m stoked to have you, Decent has been making a lot of noise, we did what, season four was all about the music industry. And then the recap article I named dropped Decent because I was excited to have you guys a part of season five. Season Five is here. Here you are. So, let’s just dive right in. Who are you Will? I always start with an intro. Who are you? What does the world need to know about your like, what’s your background? And how did you get your start into crypto?

Will Collier: Yeah, so I guess hello world, I’m Will, glad to be here, I, I got my start in crypto back in 2017. A couple of my buddies from school actually introduced me to it during that sort of, you know, 2017 Bull Run. It’s, I mean, it’s a crazy small world, I feel like when you when you get into the space and so it turns out one of my good friends from school actually was an early member of the uniswap team. And so, so he got a few of us into it back then. You know, it wasn’t something that I dove into as a builder, or I think got too deep into for a little bit after that. But you know, thank God, he introduced me to it then. And I guess my background, I went to school at Brown University, I graduated a couple years ago. That’s actually where I met, you know, two of my co-founders. And my, my love for music starts far before then. But my journey into music started freshman year. One of my co-founders, Xander Carlson, he himself is a musician and artist. When I first met him freshman year, he was just, it was actually pre his current artist’s project. He was releasing his distributor account sophomore year, he recorded his first album in our dorm, he was still independent then, signed to an independent label junior year, senior year he actually signed to Sony palm tree records. And so, he’s been touring now for a while with cargo, he just had his first headline tour. He’s one of my best friends in the world. And it’s been you know, an absolute blessing for me to have that experience right on the sidelines of his growth all the way through every level of this industry. And so that’s been so special and something that’s been inspired me to get in and really want to work with him to change a lot of the inefficiencies and some of the I guess the macro problems that he has seen and experienced first person as an artist in the industry and so that has been really special to witness and now become a part of with him.

So, he’s had a big impact on I guess your journey into music in web three, right? Also, palm tree cruise is a big name in the space as well. Brett shear has been on the podcast season three, big music NFT collector as well. So, it’s interesting how small worlds are also I’m under the impression that we know similar people as well so my homie Bobby who was in YC with you also and AJ Eckstein, I guess who was with at a center with you or something like that, right? Okay.

Will Collier: Yeah.

Also, great friends, great friends. So small world, so your love for music, okay, I guess a lot of your path into wanting to work in this space stemmed from your friend, from what I understand but the origin of where your love for music, like kind of where does it start? Like are you a musician?

Will Collier: So, stint in music is actually, it’s half in, I guess a little embarrassing. A lot of people wouldn’t guess but I started as many kids do. I played piano you know.

Okay. There it is.

Will Collier: But, then in middle school, I joined the choir and in high school I actually sang acapella.

Wow.

Will Collier: And so yeah, so something I actually don’t think I’ve talked about very much at all with people in the space, but I love singing, I love the, I think music in general is just so as it is for everyone. It’s just so I guess emotive and emotional and so that side of music is amazing. I love the way it makes me feel and the way that it makes others feel, but personally, I’ve never been creative enough to actually write and create that music myself. And so, you know, kudos to everyone that is able to because it’s insane.

So that was actually my next question like, at some point did you ever feel like you could do it professionally. Alright, so, I’ve been playing the drums. I think if you’re like a frequent listener, you know, I’ve been playing the drums, I talked about it a lot. But I’ve been playing ever since, like five years old. And I never thought I could pursue professionally because there I never thought there was money in it. For the most part, despite all the idols that I’ve watched, like growing up, and despite how good I thought I was, or at least what people told me, I never felt like I could do professionally because I could never, never make income from it. And I always be competing with the gospel drummers and all the people that play like grew up playing in church their entire, like, I don’t, I’m not gonna get too into it. But music NFTs are like the kind of like the aha moment for me like shit, I’m an idiot, like, I should maybe pursue music, and it’s dropped into this space.

Will Collier: I think one, something that I you know, I haven’t put much thought to in the past, but from what you just said, being someone that was, I guess, performing or being, you know, being a part of music groups, you know, casually as a kid. I never had that thought like you asked if I could do it professionally or make a career out of it. So, I guess I never, at that age thought too hard into, If I wanted to, how would I? But truly, I think something to what you said, as an aspiring musician, as someone that’s younger, knowing where to start and knowing Okay, I have my music, I have maybe some smatterings of people that think I can make it, some smattering of people that believe in what I do. Or I, you know, through the internet have built a small following maybe have gone viral. I guess. There’s no and to this day, there’s no real equation or there’s no one path as to how to get started in music. And I think that is something where, for example, I mean, just sort of comparison to if you leave college and you want to go you know, work in finance, or you want to go do a job path that is pretty marked out. I think that’s a lot less daunting than going and saying, well, I’m going to be a musician, where do I start? Right? I think that, like you said, music NFTs. Being able to rally together with a community, with a small group of people that believe in what you do. And then use that, that small network and slowly grow and build that together and work with this team or community around you are one of our main goals. Our mission with Decent is how do you accelerate and actually make it easier for anybody that’s looking to grow an audience, grow each to actually do that, through these interactions, through his engagements and by leveraging today, social networks and digital opportunities that have made it so easy, yet also so hard to get access to these audiences and this this broader sort of success in music, right?

Yeah, yeah. So, speaking of Decent, how did that come about? Well, every project has a really interesting like origin story. I know. You guys are a few co-founders, you guys went through Y Combinator. You guys’ recently finished Y Combinator. So, congrats on that.

Will Collier: Thank you.

Decent.xyz Origin Story

And I’m curious, like, how did you guys like all come together and say, okay, we need to build this new vehicle for the music industry. And we need to do it in a way where we envision a completely different vision because if you go on Decent, you see that you guys are actually up to something completely different. Which is cool to see which we’ll talk about more. But I guess before we even get into that, what is the origin story? How did Decent get started?

Will Collier: Yeah, so like I said, you know, that, I guess problem statement of artists, not necessarily capturing the value that they should or could be seeing the different inequities and deal structures throughout the industry that all really you know, stemmed from that experience of Xander but also, you know, from what I’d seen on the sidelines, and so we had started talking about how NFTs and the blockchain could play into being a part of that solution in early 2021. And we actually were lucky enough to, the team really came together in the late summer or early fall, all four of us, Will, Charlie, Xander and myself, we came together, Charlie got introduced through a mutual friend to me and Xander who had been ideating around, you know, the, the nascent idea of Decent for a few months had had done a bunch of artists interviews, and, and you know, unbeknownst to us, Charlie had actually been building a very similar platform, or, you know, his mission, his vision was the same as what we were doing. And so, we got introduced through someone that knew what each of us were working on, said, hey, I think you’re doing something very similar. And it was incredible. I mean, we actually all sort of clicked immediately it was, what was really cool. And I think actually, almost a metaphor for what we have continued to build in our buildings today is Charlie come to the same conclusions about the different inequities and what artists were facing. But from a very analytical perspective, his background, he went to Princeton, studied behavioral economics there, actually in college wrote a few papers about Bitcoin and, and the dynamics within those markets. And he was working in investment banking, but actually on the, in the music industry, in the music sector, so covering M&A and different deals between independent music technology companies, and so having to do a deep dive into them and figure out you know, what are these companies and how are they plugging into this independent artist journey

And so all the conclusions in what he was building, which was very, on point aligned with what Xander and I had been thinking was from this extremely analytical and sort of economic model based approach, whereas, you know, our approach thus far, what we had been really building before was also completely artist interview and in qualitatively driven and so by combining both of those things, and figuring out what is the best way to use some of these economic models to really optimize value opportunities for artists, while also making sure that the way that we come to those conclusions is figure out and talk to artists, figure out what is needed, what is what would be used? And then ultimately, the how of how did we then build the best opportunity to capture that, we came together, and it all just clicked. And so that’s sort of the initial origin there. But we really, I guess, I would say, the true. The true beginning really was sort of that they release what we did in December, and then ultimately, how that played into you know, the sprinting growth that we’ve been, you know, journey we’ve been on the last four or five months.

Current State of Music NFTs

So, since December, the music NFT space has kind of like has gone crazy, quite berserk, actually, artists are getting liberated, left and right. New works, new types of genres are appearing from like autogenerated music that I’ve never really heard before. It’s all these really cool things that artists are getting creative about, to these new economic models, which is something that’s also unique to Decent. And we’ve seen like an insane like rise, an insane rise, and a lot of that was covered during Season Four and why I’m continuing it on season five, I want to understand Will, but from your point of view, like how do you see the current state of music NFTs?

Will Collier: Yeah, I think music NFTs is a very broad term. Right. And I think everyone acknowledges that the, in terms of music NFT releases and platforms and different opportunities. There is in our eyes, I think, a little bit of a stagnation in sort of the movement of how things are happening, and the way releases are, are being marketed and occurring. Even though it’s you know, just this first year of music NFTs, it does feel like still to this day, the most prevalent, most leaned upon opportunities are, you know, limited editions or one of one. And there’s still either platforms or sort of central entities that are setting fixed prices. And there’s, you know, limited quantities in certain ways. And I think it’s, you know, obviously there’s a lot that goes into innovating and moving past and building on top of these things. But I think one of the core theses of how we’ve been approaching at a Decent is the only way that we’re going to continue to figure out what the true product market fit of music NFTs is as an industry or music NFTs as a disrupter, or an augmentation to web two music, is by just trying new things, and ultimately saying, okay, what did we learn from this last one? What was good? What was bad? How do we then keep the good? Well, finding new ways to sort of cut out those negative externalities in certain ways?

So, how do we ensure that like collecting music NFTs, doesn’t just become a fad and becomes a part of culture, it becomes a part of like an innate action that fans need to do to support in artists, like how do we ingrain that into society? And do we need to?

Will Collier: Yes, I think the answer to do we need to is yes, I think actually, in a lot of ways, I think what we’ve seen is web three, you know, maybe it’s not going to be 100% of fans, 100% of collectors, that are engaging in these new ways, engaging at these higher levels. I think the amazing part about web three is from what we’ve seen, you don’t need a million, two million true fans, you don’t need more than maybe even 25 or 50 so far. But if you’re able to, I guess have that true fan community, you can then you know, work together with it, leverage it in certain ways that can ultimately lead to greater growth, I think sustainability is the most important, most important part of making sure that and scalability, that this is something that sticks around and ultimately, that’s where with Decent, we really are trying to look at you know, what is the relationship? What is the artist getting out of the relationship? But what also is the fan getting out of it the collector, right, the marketplace or a transaction or a relationship? You know, everything has two sides? And I think there’s a lot of questions around how, and but also, I think the biggest question we need to answer for music NFTs is why right? In terms of why on the blockchain, why music NFTs? Why not, you know, just continue the sort of web two way of music.

 Ultimately, if it’s very patronage based, collection based, that doesn’t necessarily to me feel sustainable, or like there’s long term, you know, vision associated or long term scalability. The why I think, with music, NFTs is, is like how are we using these new engagement methods between artists and their fans, artists and their collectors? How are these new communities and groups that are all you know, aligned on certain actions, that are aligned on value creation and ultimately able to, you know, have this incentive alignment such that by creating the community through music NFTs, by engaging at this, this next level, we like to say, you know, at Decent, we’re building this the next level beyond patronage, that post patronage relationship, the why of how that then allows independent artists, artists of all kinds to grow and accelerate their growth and actually grow their total fan base. I mean, if you look at sort of streaming fan base versus web three fan base, right now it’s truly bifurcated in a lot of ways. But how does web three integrate and augment the total success of an artist not just web three or web two, but both together that bridge that I think a lot a lot of times is, is debated whether it’s a bridge approach or a break approach.

Why Should Fans Collect Music NFTs?

Yeah, so thinking about like the why again, okay. What is the why right now for fans? Like why should fans be collecting these music NFTs, right? Whether it’s a patronage-based music NFT, whether there’s ownership attached to it and ownership again, that’s another question I have for you, like, what is ownership and web three, right, which we can get into later. But the first point is, like, why collect even? Like, why collect an audio file, right?

Will Collier: I think ultimately, it depends on the fan, right? It depends on the collector and what they’re, what they’re optimizing for, what they are really excited about. And in a lot of cases, so far, we’ve seen across platforms, across the music NFT space as a whole, a lot of people are excited by being able to support and discover these new artists that they haven’t before been able to find, a lot of it is relatively patronage based. I think the just acknowledging the crypto or NFT space as a whole, a lot of the hype and the current or the previous market conditions, I guess, this week has been, you know, a new story. But the hype of the first few months of 2022, there was a lot of speculation and flipping and growth of secondary markets. And I think, actually, so far, those secondary markets may not be entirely based on that same support and patronage. But it does seem like that a lot of that was sort of financially based. But I think that ultimately, the why for a sustainable long-term opportunity needs to really be more about what is the collector, the fan getting out of the relationship, getting out of the experience as well. I think the question around utility is a big question that relates to the why right? Is this relationship? Is it the being close to the artist? Is it that they are then in a community or in a chat or engaged with 4050? However, many other people that have similar passions, similar interests? Is it the opportunity to earn on this early support, early notion that this artist is going to be big, and I think the sustainable long-term answer is it needs to be a combination of it all? And there needs to be the ability for someone to participate, give early support, feel like they are winning as well, you know, create wins for not just the artists, right artists winning in terms of getting these new communities, these new resources, the upfront capital, all that, but also, for the fans, you know, the what’s in it for me is I think the most important, the most important opportunity for sustainability.

How Current Market Conditions Affect Music NFTs

Yeah. So, given the current market conditions, because you brought that up, like, is the affected? Like does that change? Like does that, does the relationship between the artists and the fan, different now that market conditions have tanked? And we’ve seen absolutely like, like, a destruction of everything. That’s like, that’s been happening.

Will Collier: I don’t think the Y changes, I think the Y is all that more and more, all that more important. The Y I think, is during a bull cycle, during a hype cycle, sometimes that Y can be a little obfuscated.

Yeah, it can become gray, it can come great when shit is down. Yeah.

Will Collier: And so, ultimately, the Y is I think going to be what makes it such that even in a bear market, there are buyers and there is demand, and there is this sustainable relationship that is not solely based on if I can, speculatively flip something or there’s going to be, you know, I guess liquidity through a secondary market or external buyers. But, you know, certain things that we’ve explored with Decent is the idea of assurances and the idea of liquidity and how, even with NFTs which, at a macro level across, you know, all verticals within the NFT industry, there’s not a ton of automated liquidity or immediate liquidity for NFTs. I think the big question that we look to answer is, what is that assurance? Or what is the sort of risk level for people entering and outside of the bull markets. In the long run, what are the next million, 10 million people going to need to be able to participate in these relationships, in this game and in opportunity with the artists and so, you know, that, you know, last year or so, the sort of early crypto adopters, I think, in the space as a whole, there’s a lot of, or there was a lot of, you know, irrational spending behavior, because it’s the hype cycle. And there’s so much value that’s been created over the last few years. But if you’re looking at now, we’re trying to get, you know, mainstream adoption, or the next, the next wave of demand into the space, that next profile of person is going to be a lot more of a rational sort of reserved consumer behavior.

Web2 Fan vs. Web3 Fan

Can you help me build a profile around what a web two fan looks like? And how does it differ from a web three fan, because it’s super important, and understanding this whole entire concept of what music NFTs is, where this excitement is coming from, who’s buying into this, what it means to them as a fan. And I think it’s super important, because a lot of collectors are obviously listeners, but not every listener is a collector, right? And understanding the differences between what causes someone to actually collect versus just simply listen, right? I think there’s similar, I think there’s similarities, like if an artist ends up opening, like an only fans or Patron, or Patron, or some other type of like, like subscription based platform to support them and their content beyond what’s publicly available, I think it’s like the person who subscribes to that is very similar into the category of who would fit into someone who may buy music NFT, maybe not at the price point that we’re seeing around $300. But at like a $20 price point, $50 price point, maybe someone who goes to a concert and buys merch, or buys the cups, or buys all these things, they would fall under that category, but from your point of view, because a lot of that the ethos behind Decent is bridging the gap between the artist and the fan in a much more intimate setting. Right. So how do you understand the difference between a web two fan and a web three fan?

Will Collier: Yeah, I think the sort of the, one of the core differences is that mindset of the relationship between the artist and the fan. So far to this day, it’s been very one sided, right, and I think through the distribution and the way that platforms work, even for artists, it’s a, it’s a very opaque relationship. And that’s something I think that has just kind of been accepted, you know, celebrity has been created, the idea of, you know, a person being a celebrity has been created, because there’s sort of a mystique around the fact that, you know, they’re being observed, listened, loved by, you know, millions of people across the world, but they don’t, they’re sort of at this higher level, right, you know, artists have been and different, you know, actors, whoever have been put on this pedestal, but I think web three, it does seem like the mindset shifts a little bit towards, oh, well, I love what this person is doing, maybe there’s actually a way that I can be a part of that, that I can, you know, get in and be a part of the journey, help accelerate what they’re doing. Be a mouthpiece for them as a person, as a brand, as an artist, as well.

The web two fan I think, is has also that mindset that in a lot of ways, the access to music, and music itself is something that is accepted as almost a given at this point, you know, streaming and the democratization of distribution and audiences through you know, DSPs and other platforms. The access to music isn’t inherent right and a lot of ways but that I guess the ways that people then decide to spend their money on you know, on the artists, isn’t that sort of merch opportunity. But in sort of the web three mindset, I think, really instead of being the artist and the fan in a transactional relationship where the mindset is, well, what can I give to this artist? What can I do to show my support in terms of just a transaction? It’s now, Will I have a lot that I can offer in a more active way? How do I participate and support and help them grow, but also retain, sort of, I guess, in this case, my piece of that because fans are really, in with artists are a part of that, you know, fans are the reason, the sort of momentum driver of artists success and so capturing sort of your small piece of this culture, this movement that you’ve helped create, and support and love and put yourself into now, it’s not just a one person at the head of it, but now surrounded by and appreciated and participated within, you know, a ton of different fans all working together would be the sort of mindset step, if that makes sense.

So where does Decent come into play now? Like, how does Decent focus on strengthenising? I don’t even think that’s a word. What’s the word that I’m looking for?

Will Collier: Strengthening?

Strengthening, strengthenisng, I’m gonna I’m gonna start using that I’m gonna make a word.

Will Collier: strengthenising works better.

How is Decent Strengthening the Relationship Between a Fan and Artist?

That is, right? strengthenising, I think that’s not a word, you guys will let me know if it’s a word or not. Strengthening. What is Decent doing to kind of strengthen the gap between the artist and the fan. And I guess that also goes into like, a lot of what makes you guys unique through this bonding curve model that you guys’ kind of went forward with? Can you talk to me more about that?

Will Collier: Yeah, ultimately, the big vision for the why, right, coming back to that, why, right. The whole point is to be creating more value for creating opportunities, tools, relationships, to better and accelerate artists careers, and where music NFT stand today, a lot of emphasis, a lot of the focus, it all comes around a mint. And in sort of a split second or a period of time, that’s relatively short, in which a lot of this value is captured in which a lot of this hype and marketing happens. And then postman, which is when I think the work truly begins and where the needle can really be moved is actually, I think it’s been under scrutinized or you know, there’s a lot of gaps to be filled there. And so, with the crescendo or bonding curve mechanism with that dynamic pricing model, the fact that you know, it’s community and network value, that is also you know, a part of that equation where, you know, the more people that participate and enter over time, there’s a correlation between then the price of the NFT as well as the returns to the community members as well. The idea is to really optimize and set the rails for that postman relationship because that is where we see the most important, the most important period for artists and their collectors and their fans and even today, I think the word community gets thrown around a ton. The idea of an active relationship, of you know, what can, or I guess the question is a lot of times what can the artists do to keep entertaining and giving utility to the collectors but I think that mindset again of it being an you know, a burden on the artists to give a or be making that utility or creating those opportunities themselves? I think that is a little misguided as well, but ultimately, how do the rails right, how does setting the ability for those active relationships to be incentivized, to be you know, made into a true opportunity for each individual within that artists community to share things with their networks, to spread the rich, to feel like they are, you know, actually making relationships with the other people that are also supporting the artists with the artists themselves. That postman relationship is where the needle gets moved for independent and emerging artists, especially being able to use that team around them. And that’s something that we think is deserving of a lot more focus than, you know, just that that initial mint. And so, with the bonding curves, with the NFT staking to earn social tokens and ultimately, you know, engaged to earn NFTs which we did with Marty Grimes, and are going to continue to roll out a few things along those lines. It’s I think, for us, it’s all about setting the rails for those relationships to happen, not necessarily giving exact instructions or being overbearing about that than takes form but making room for and creating the space for these artists and fans to continue to align and work together and create value jointly not extract value from each other, if that makes sense.

Yeah, that that makes sense. Hold on a second. Can you hear me?

Will Collier: Yeah.

Yeah, for a second. Yeah, that makes that makes a lot of sense. And I guess like more into your, like, your unique stack as to what you’re offering for artists that kind of makes you guys different from the crowd. I’d love to talk more about like the stake to earn right, models. And a lot of these like, defi primitive ask models that you guys have in place that introduce I guess more liquidity, right for artists and for fans. And I guess what that means, like big picture.

Will Collier: Yeah. Really, the, I think the opportunity to have something, you know, NF’s are really a reputation layer, right and NFTs themselves, the visual component, the, I guess, more tangible, excuse me, the more tangible, the more tangible sort of asset, the fact that it is something that has some sort of inherent in what it is, that is a big part of the sort of social side, in a lot of ways, sort of the cloud side of the why and music NFTs. A lot of people have talked about the fact that discovering music early now, if you do that, you can, you know, you can truly prove it on the blockchain have that NFT or asset that you can display and hang your hat on. But the defi mechanics, I think are something that is really exciting for how value can be elevated and created. Not just for the artists, but also for the fans and creators as well, where the, I think I said this earlier, we just want to find the best way for these digital models, these rails to be set so that relationships can happen and respond to real world artists problems, right? So, for example, when we first introduced crescendo, the bonding curve mechanism, one of the reasons that we did that was we were seeing that, okay, there’s a stigma that’s been created. There’s right now it seems like the market is trending such that metrics of success in music NFTs are a sellout. And how quickly did you sell out? And if you don’t sell out, it almost is sort of like what what’s going on? It’s a little bit, it felt like for a while they’re almost.

Exactly, yeah.

Will Collier: Failure.

So true. Yeah.

Will Collier: And so well, as an artist, it’s sort of counterintuitive to want to cap the amount of people that can support you, that can join your community, that can become this movement behind you. Yet, when you have something like a limited edition, that doesn’t necessarily have a fundamental value or an attachment to revenue or a stream of, you know, quote unquote value, then that initial, that scarcity, I guess become sort of the true value creator in that regard, right? But really, why? What is the true IRL logic of, well, if I want someone to be able to support me, someone else has to leave my community or someone else stop supporting me and so with the crescendo model, with the bonding curve, if there’s no hard cap on the amount, but as the fan, as the price discover, you can see that okay, right now, the NFT, if I wanted to buy is point two Eth, well, I might not value joining the community, joining this artists group, or, you know, what I’m going to get out of the experience at point two Eth, but someone else might and so, it’s allowing the market and the demand of the entirety of the market to dictate that true, I guess, scarcity cap or level, and similarly with the NFT staking, and also the vraicqueur model that liquidity I think I mentioned earlier assurances really, you know, how do fans feel like they’re going to be able to, you know, get in get out in ways that they want to sort of, in a way cash in on the value that they’ve created together with the artist and realize that opportunity and so they’re, you know, certain ways that they can do that with the automated liquidity within crescendo as well as you know, those social tokens and ERC 20s that are just an inherently more liquid, you know, piece as well, with the staking.

I guess I never thought about it like that. Like the end goal is to grow your community. And when you do, like kept additions like that, then someone does need to leave for someone to enter. Yeah, and I guess it’s like, it’s like counterintuitive for the most part. Because if you think about, like, what’s happening web three, I asked this question like, should artists choose virality on the web two or a niche group of collectors in web three? And you think about it, like, why should they have to, I guess, compromise, right? Why can’t you? Why can’t you build a big grandiose audience and web three, while also having your virality? But does it in a way where? Yeah, that’s a good point, I guess, like having someone leave in order for someone to come in. And I never thought about it like that. I guess I never thought about like that.

Will Collier: And I think it also then begs the question of what are you optimizing for? Because I think with scarcity and limited editions and saying, Oh, well, because there’s not that inherent or fundamental value here. The scarcity is what is providing that value. And so having that dictated scarcity is a way to sort of assure or signal to the collector that it’s going to potentially go up in value, or that there’s some way that it can go up in value, because, you know, to buy someone else to buy it from you. But if what Decent is optimizing for what we are focused on our vision is creating these communities, these individual, you know, every artist is independent, and they have their group around them rallying around them, but through the greater Decent and music NFT ecosystem, the network effects of being within Decent platform, within being, within, you know, these protocols such that I can, you know, click on someone else’s profile or wallet and see what artists they’ve been collecting and discovering and in a lot of ways, wanting those communities to keep growing and flourishing and not have that necessity for immediate scarcity that is a value driver. We really are looking at with all of our experiments. What is the real-life action that we want to create room for or incentivize, and then build the models that will allow that to happen in these relationships within the web three ecosystem?

Music NFT Price Psychology

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I also want to talk to you about well, like how do you think about price psychology for NFTs? Like when should one be priced at $5? When should one be priced at? I don’t know, $300, $4,000, 20 cents. Like, I know, a lot of it is just throwing shit at the fan right now. But if you think about scalability, and you think about onboarding, the next 100,000, a million like 10 million, right? And we try to think about it at the scale of the amount of listeners that kind of like our consuming music today? How can we convert more of those into collectors? And what does that mean? Is that the goal? Like how do we do that? Because I can tell you right now, and I think everybody knows this, you and I know this at least, we’re not going to get a million collectors in the space buying $300 worth music NFT’s right? So, when you think about designing a platform, when you think about designing experience, how do you think about the psychology around pricing these assets, without devaluing them without letting the artists feel like what their art is worth is not like, too little, let alone too much, right?

Will Collier: Yeah, well, so I think really where it becomes interesting, or it becomes in the web three native mindset, price curation. Everything becomes Decentralized, right? Everything, the point of starting to look at it as this network or, you know, a protocol where, you know, anyone can plug in, right, and that’s one thing that we’re really looking at is how at scale. I mean, if you think about Decentralization at scale, how does Decent look more like a protocol rather than a platform, right? where anyone can plug in, you as an artist can plug in with your music, with your fans, and start to build and create and flourish within our ecosystem, within the greater music ecosystem as a whole. The, sorry, for a second, I honestly just blanked on.

It’s all good. I strengthenising. Remember, that’s the word. No, no, no, no, the price psychology between? Yeah, figure out the right price point for these things.

Will Collier: So, sorry, in that nature of Decentralization for both the price and curation, I think it becomes a question of what does the artist want to set that initial price at? Or what do they think, you know, looking at the data of who has bought from them in the past, what they’ve been able to sell in the past, almost also being able to look at what comparable sort of artists or communities have had for pricing? You know, so far for us, we’ve actually, you know, been working with the artists on deciding pricing, deciding, you know, for a while it was, you know, addition numbers, all that and so it has been a burden in a way on the artists, on the platform to decide that, but to find the scalable opportunity, I think it becomes a market question of what really does the, like, if you put something out at point one Eth and no one buys it? Well, that’ll tell you that you need to lower that initial price, right? You put something out at that point 04 Eth and in there’s a ton of market demand, well, with this dynamic pricing mechanism with crescendo and sort of putting that price discovery on the fans, on the collectors, then, well, maybe those first few went for a lower price, but you’re actually optimizing in a way that true value capture where well for example, with Amanda Francis, you know, that first, she ended up selling within that first day or so I think it was you know, 34, 35 NFTs, and the price started at point 05 Eth and went all the way up to, I’d have to check it what it is now but in that, in those 35 purchases, she was then able to bring in something like 3.84 Eth of a value there, where she had just put out you know, the standard sort of 20, 25, 30 at point one, we aren’t necessarily sure that one, you know there’s no telling whether or not it would sell out immediately or sell out in a way where then there is opportunity for secondary market action but also even if it did, it would have left a whole point eight to one Eth, right, where with allowing that market you know the fans to decide there’s that that added value of being able to not just you know get the lowest sort of price point but also up to the highest of what anyone you know, anyone out there is willing to pay for it.

Yeah, I guess that is. Yeah, we haven’t seen like we’ve seen bonding curves, right. Like, it’s a thing. It’s happened before, I guess the most. The first example that comes to mind is, what is that one that OG, OG music project? Or their beats, I think. Yeah, Euler beats like they introduced the bonding curve, I think early on to bond.

Will Collier: That was Hujoe. I believe Hujoe. Yeah, go. You know, Jack, I believe was a jack. It was Jack’s, was a Jesse grew Shaq. And then Simon, de, I don’t want to miss de la riviere, I think they were the first one’s way back, maybe 2017, 2018 to do bonding curves and actually claim to fame. Simon, who I think is sort of touted as the inventor, the creator of this bonding curve model. Amanda Francis, when we did our drop with her, she actually, she made this incredible video that was explaining how it all worked, why it was being used. And he actually retweeted and shared it and said, you know, later, I’m still finding out new and better ways to be explaining my bond and your model. So that was that was something you know, props to her.

Decent.xyz Roadmap

That’s cool. Listen, I think it’s incredibly innovative, what you guys are doing, I’m excited to see it kind of come to fruition and see this thing scale to more and more and more artists, you guys, out of all the platforms that I’m seeing, everybody’s doing incredible things. But I think like, I think Decent is the one that is like introducing new thoughts into my mind for the most part as to how artists could be issuing their minutes. And what that means to kind of growing a community, let alone leveraging their existing assets to build the community. Most recently that comes to mind as someone like Harrison first, using his social Token as a way to kind of introduce new value and new incentives for collectors who decide to stake his NFTs like we didn’t even get to talk about that. But we have an episode with Harrison coming up shortly that we’re going to be talking about the drop and everything. Because it’s something that I’ve been talking about on Mint for a while, like where does defi meet the creator economy, let alone music, right. And I think these primitives that you guys are introducing is the foundation for a lot of what’s going to come and is the right level of experimentation for us to kind of like, see this stuff play out in real time. So, I’m applauding you. I’m applauding the team. I guess before I let you go. Final question like what can we expect from Decent in the next few months?

Will Collier: Yeah, I think it’s same as you you’ve seen for the last few months, we’re going to continue to experiment and really, I think the next step, one thing that we’re really excited about is we’ve now you know, with crescendo, with the NFT staking, with the engaged earn NFTs, you know, everything that we’ve done to date, it’s been a lot of, I think the one piece of feedback that we’ve been really critical on ourselves about but also I’ve heard from some people is, you know, how does it all tie together, right? How are you going to tie it all together? And so, we’re excited to release a few, you know, blogs, white papers, actually start showing how these different sorts of one-off opportunities that we’ve introduced, are all going to tie together into a greater model into our sort of next step of the Decent product. And with that will come obviously more experimentation, we won’t lose that fire. But we are excited to start to release more analysis and learnings and say this is what worked this is what has not and really involved the, continued to involve the greater, you know, artists and music NFT community and helping us find that true model that is going to create that best relationship between fans and artists. And so I think in terms of innovation, and it’ll be you know, even this week, and the next couple weeks, we have a couple more sort of v2 of crescendo on its way, but also looking at, in general starting to take the different experiments and pull them together, tie them together in a way that is you know, going instead of from one plus one equals two, but you know, one plus one is now going to equal four and a lot of ways.

Outro

I like that. Will, well where can we find you? Where can we find Decent online? Where can we stay in touch?

Will Collier: So, Decent.xyz flows right off the tongue? Decent.xyz. You can find us on Twitter at Decent XYZ, I on Twitter, I’m WD Collier underscore. I am actively trying to grow my Twitter presence. It’s really hard for me. It’s tough. Yeah, the craziest thing is I never thought in a million years that I would get, you know, just going and trying to, you know, it’s like, oh, it’s a tweet. It’s, you know, a sentence. It’s two sentences. It’s like, well, it really matters. And so I feel like the most trouble that I have is like, okay, well, what do I write? You know what I mean? Like, what? I tried to tweet more and more, and it’s like, well, who cares about Will Collier, you know what I’m thinking, you know what I mean?

I saw a recent tweet recently, a recent tweet recently. That’s another good one, strengthenising and a recent tweet recently, that basically it said that tweet the way you DM people and you’ll find or tweet the way you DM and you’ll find your people. And I really liked that because it allows you like it reduces the pressure as to what you kind of put online even when I’m preparing my tweet storms for introducing the season. I reread it and reread it and reread it and double check it and put it through Grammarly and make sure nothing’s wrong, links there like everything. Right. And so whatever, it’s part of it. Will, this has been great. We should definitely do this again soon. Thank you for being on.

Will Collier: We look forward to seeing you on Decent soon, you know, we have our DMs open on the Decent Twitter, my DMs are open. We are always looking for feedback. I think that is the number one thing that comes with experimentation is you have to be open to and we’re excited about you know, criticism as well as positive feedback because that is I think one of the most important things for this space is we all want to support each other. We all want to rally around each other and, and really be supportive of every project of every person that’s putting themselves out there and trying new things. But constructive criticism is the only way to grow. So yeah, thank you. Thank you again, Adam. It’s been an absolute pleasure. And I’ll talk to you soon.

Of course.

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Podcast Transcript

CC0 Licensing: What is it and Why it Matters

Background

Mint Season 5 episode 4 welcomes Emma-Jane Mackinnon-Lee, Founder of DIGITALAX, a web3 fashion company, and founder of The Copyright Cartel, a dedicated Web3 Creative Commons DAO.

We deep dive into the CC0 license: what it is, how it works, and the bull case for dedicating rights to the public domain.

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • 00:10 – Intro 
  • 01:36 – What is CC0 DAO?
  • 03:03 – Getting Started in Web3
  • 05:58 – Emma-Jane’s Upbringing
  • 13:48 – Biggest Takeaways Working on Wall Street
  • 19:34 – Motivation Behind Starting CC0
  • 24:11 – Examples of CC0 Licensing
  • 28:16 – How to Capture Value With CC0 Licensing
  • 34:54 – What Are Some Areas That You Think People Have Yet to Experiment with Using the CC0 License?
  • 41:50: – The Future From CC0 DAO?
  • 46:32 – Outro 

…and so much more. 

I hope you enjoy our conversation. 


Emma-Jane, welcome to mint. Thank you for being on. How are you doing?

Emma-Jane: I’m doing well. How are you?

Intro

I’m good. It’s been what? A year and a half since the last time we did one of these, last time you were on, I guess, a panel or segment that I was hosting was my last, gig blockchain and booze. What was it? I think about a year and a half ago. Like I said, ferocious was on, Jordan Lyle was on, and a couple other people were on. And it’s been a long time coming. Okay. Long, long time coming. last conversation we had was on fashion, okay, fashion and NFTs in general. But this time, I want to really talk to you about CC0 and this whole CC0 summer craze. It’s kind of like going across crypto Twitter, and what better person to talk to you than yourself with all the projects that you’re involved with. Okay, before we dive right in, who are you? What does the world need to know about you? We can start right there, and we can kind of move.

Emma-Jane: Right? So many things. But probably the most relevant to this podcast is a founded a web three fashion protocol and ecosystem back in 2020. That’s called DIGITALAX. has been building that out for the past year and a half now. I also have my own web three fashion label manifesto and I’m a big supporter advocate amplifier user of CC0 public domain content, and particularly in the web three context. So, I also started what’s called CC0 DAO, which was more recent around December last year.

What is CC0 DAO?

Okay, CC0 DAO. What is CC0 DAO? How does that work? And how does that kind of tie into you getting started into crypto?

Emma-Jane: Yeah, so, CC0 DAO, its stands for copyright cartels, zero DAO. But it’s a DAO, it’s a community and kind of infrastructure builders, where we’re really dedicated to pioneering web three Creative Commons, content, knowledge, usability, within the space, because, like you said, are moving into what we’re calling like CC0 summer after defining NFT summer, it’s becoming much more relevant to creators of understanding, how do they keep advancing their self-sovereignty? And what are the tools and mechanisms available to actually do that. And a lot of the, really all of the copyright licensing that’s out there today incredibly restrictive. It doesn’t actually promote the free exchange of ideas, inventions, people being able to engage in free markets. And so, web three and NFTs in the technology around us and we’ll go into more details of that changes, the whole model of how creators can actually deal with ownership and use of their content. And so CC0 DAO is all about pioneering that when we do a ton of cool projects and have a really awesome community around it as well.

Getting Started in Web3

So that’s like that’s like sub niche, sub niche, sub niche culture. And I’m curious more, how did you get your foot in the door into web three? Like, what did your journey into the space look like?

Emma-Jane: Right, so, I started quite some time ago, I first became really interested in Ethereum, and Bitcoin and just the crypto space in general, around 2016 was very much like me on my computer, reading forums, you know, joining kind of tech communities to understand more about it, and the really salient thing that stood out to me it was all about self-sovereignty, and really, as an individual, what am I inherent rights? And how can I actually increase my self-determination? How can I just be able to walk down the street and know that I have optionality, and I’m not at the whims of someone else, and very much how societies set up today. I mean, literally what we’ve seen over the past, think it’s almost been two months now since Putin invaded Ukraine, that there’s all of these choke points. And if you’re not the person that is controlling that choke point, because maybe you’re, you weren’t born into it, or your daddy’s, daddy’s, daddy didn’t kill this person for land that’s gonna lead you to where you are now. And we’re kind of given you that that seat. You’re ultimately at the whims of someone else. And a lot of us are in that situation where we’re kind of living these borrowed lives. And going back to it, just like with Putin, invading Ukraine, one man and you know, the horrendous, tyrannical decisions that he’s made. It’s just causing absolute death and mass destruction for innocent civilians, you know, completely disgusting, but at the same time, it’s like what can people do in a sense, it’s all been just yet collapsing because of the decisions of this one person. And so, it’s very much even in what we call a western culture and society the same thing, it just seems sometimes more abstracted. Like I mentioned before, I like to call it like communism with margins. And what I mean by that, it’s like, whenever you want to do something, or get something done, get something passed, you have to go to some bureaucrat somewhere who is signing off for you or saying that they believe that this is good or bad, and what the outcome should be for your life. And so that’s really got me interested into it. And from there, yeah, things kind of kept tumbling. And I went from more the finance side to then NFTs, looking at web three, gaming, and then into NFT web three fashion.

Emma-Jane’s Upbringing

So, Emma, I have a lot of people, I’ve interviewed over 200 people on, I guess, collectively over across different shows. And you’re the first person that brought up that self-sovereign point of view, despite how big of a topic it is in crypto, one that I also somewhat aligned with that that level of individuality of self-sustainability, right? I really, I really aligned with that. You’re the first person that kind of like, brings up this comment of, I guess, marginal communism. I’m curious to learn more about like your upbringing, like what type of environment if you’re open to sharing, like, what type of environment that you grew up with? That has naturally led you down this path you think?

Emma-Jane: Yeah. Good question. So, in terms of like my childhood, I’m from Australia, and the majority of it from like, very young to around 10, or 11, I grew up in a really small beach town on the east coast of Australia, called Lenox head, it’s near Byron Bay, which to anyone listening, that’s kind of where I’m from.

Shout out.

Emma-Jane: Exactly. But that was really incredible childhood in terms of just never having to really go without. And then when I was 11, I moved to Sydney, which is more of like, biggest city in Australia, compared to the US. But yeah, it’s like tall buildings and highways. And so, I moved there. And from 12, to I’m 23. Now, around 21, there was a lot of kind of different things that I experienced, from more of a personal family side. Schooling side to also, I’m very much in kind of like the workplace may never work for anyone, I was always more on like a collaborative co-founder kind of levels, but all of these really salient situations where I realized that if you don’t own yourself, and every part about yourself your most intimate tools, that ultimately you’re always going to be at the whims of someone else, if you’re whims of someone else, they can do whatever they want, they can turn on the on and off switch, mess around with you, in very varying degrees from, you know, extreme severeness to lighter, and you can’t really do anything about it, it’s very, very difficult. And so, yeah, it was really just kind of kept getting

stronger, a lot of those passes as I grew up, and me coming to more of that conclusion of, well, you need to be able to have that full inherent right to self-determination. And now we have the technology to actually do that.

So, preparing for this interview, I read a little bit about your bio, and did some research on you. And since you got started in 2016, surfing the web for Bitcoin Ethereum, I also understand that you had like a hedge fund kind of like background, right, which, which is like weird to think of, because off the surface, you come off, so creative, and you come off, so like expressive with the pink hair and the things that you’re involved with. And I feel like it’s like the antithesis of what a hedge fund job may look and feel like, is that like, am I onto something here?

Emma-Jane: So, I’d say a few things. So definitely, like traditional hedge fund jobs, like yes, like boring, corporate, you know, sit in a great cubicle and screen for like, what, 16, 17 hours a day, I was on the crypto side. So that’s entirely different, in many ways, because it’s like Wild West. And for me, as a creator, it’s all about being able to just have full range or the full extent of across like every field. And I’ve always loved that. And so, finance, it can be incredibly creative, especially when you’re in a community and you’re on the bleeding edge of technology and markets, like in web three, where the entire thing is not only dynamic, but you know, like you’ve mentioned, you’re actually building new rails and new financial economic rails for guaranteeing self-sovereignty for every individual globally. And that is incredibly exciting. So, when I was at the hedge fund, it was definitely more rooted in the trading side. And I was mostly an options trader. That’s what I absolutely love it. I cannot do a trade. It’s just entirely gambling. Like you have no idea what’s going on. It’s all no noise, no signal. But I was actually trained at the fund by Bruno XO, who’s known as the London Whale. He was part of JP Morgan and their CEO office from 2000 to 2012. And hedged the entire bank’s balance sheets during the global financial crisis. But he taught me what’s called variant swaps, which is this more complex and advanced options strategy. And it’s all about really setting up these mechanisms, that when there are what’s called these black swan events in the market. So, you know, one day everything can be great next day, you see, everything’s crashed, or it’s gone crazy up, it’s really about like the difference in the Delta itself. And that, that asymmetry, and being able to create these trading strategies that actually capture that. And so, it’s very cool, because it’s completely different and left field to pretty much how the entirety of Wall Street American economy, American stock markets run, where it’s all about, really that more day trading approach. But Black Swan and variance swaps is about all going back to the fact that you actually know nothing. And everything around you is dynamic, and you cannot predict. So instead of trying to predict or guess about what’s happening in the future, let’s set up a mechanism that no matter what happens, you’re going to be able to capture and profit off of the moves in the market. So that as well was like absolutely interesting. And there’s so much that I learned during that time that I take into building DIGITALAX, what’s your fashion protocol that I founded and everything else?

Talk to me about that? What were some of the biggest takeaways that you kind of like took with you from? Was it an internship first of all, was it a full-time job? How long was the gig?

Emma-Jane: Right? Yeah, so, I’m completely full time, I was, I slept in the office.

Nice. Wow

Emma-Jane: Yeah, literally. For like, three years now. I’ve slept.

But wait, you’re 23 though. You’re 23? What? How old were you when you were doing this?

I was 20. Yeah. So, it’s like.

Timeout. How did you get an opportunity to like that? How do you put yourself in a room of that, like of that nature, of that professionalism at such a young age?

Emma-Jane: So, I guess, like a few different things led me there, I was studying space engineering at the time and that was when I decided to drop out. I wanted to go and pursue the fun, like full time dive into cryptos as like, this is entirely the future. Staying in a traditional educational school is not going to get many things, it’s gonna get me certificate on paper. That’s it. So, I dropped out and went into that full time. And it was pretty crazy. It was yeah, like 19, 20 hours a day to like, two three-day vendors. I slept on the floor of the office, you know, showered, when I could, it was very hectic. But I love that. And I’ve really extended that like, including to flex and I think that’s for anyone that comes into crypto, they realize this space moves fast. And because there is such a dislike founding of financial incentive to it in a sense. And the markets are very much more like roar to like the community. And when people are coming in, they’re looking at floor prices, or they’re looking at okay, how’s the token actually trending? How’s it doing? Yeah, things are a lot more hectic. And so, I’m really happy and so grateful that I had that background because being a founder in this space, if you don’t have at least some understanding of you know, how does the economic system work? Why is it set up the way it is? You get kind of a lot of punches thrown at you. Yeah, days, like what we’re experiencing now everything’s crashing down, it can be pretty scary if you don’t know how to ground yourself.

Biggest Takeaways Working on Wall Street

You know, I’m a big believer. I also did a bunch of internships throughout college, I didn’t study aerospace or anything of that nature, which congrats, like that’s sick as hell, like, that’s really, really cool. But I’m a big believer that everything that you do kind of like in those early days, those first few gigs that you take to yourself, and you start like getting into the professional space, really end up shaping the rest of your career as to the examples that you see how people work, how things are done, processes, systems, strategies, all these things. And I often look back to all these past experiences that kind of helped me go throughout the day to day of being more independent self-sovereign during the podcast in other things, right. I’m curious now that you’ve kind of left the hedge fund world, which seems incredibly intense, like incredibly time consuming. And now you’re more of in the creative world doing fashion, doing CC0 related things. What were some of your biggest takeaways, like what were the biggest learning lessons, I guess, either learning lessons strategies, working for this guy who is like a beast on Wall Street that you kind of took with you into what you’re doing now?

Emma-Jane: Yeah, I would say one of the really big things is that often when we grow up were made to believe that things are just the way that they are. But when you look into it more, it’s really, there is like kind of strong narrative to it and if you follow how money is routed or how value flows, you can often kind of understand better why people are incentivized to do different things and I think that was a really big part, the fun of it, I’ve always been incredibly curious and never just accepted things, because other people said, or because the system was set up the way it is. But really being able to just go deeper into like, economics, and, you know, capitalism, communism, you name it. Yeah, just like understand how, why that set up and why governments, politicians, you know, corporate giants, why they keep reinforcing things that are actually incredibly negative for the majority of the population and why things don’t change. And that was really key to me and that’s also when I realized just how transcendent web three is, and the technology that’s being built. Because for the first time, it’s really about going incredibly upstream to economics, which a lot of stuff before it’s been hijacked, when you think about web two, and that was completely hijacked by VCs, corporates, you name it and that was really because although this amazing technology was being built and being advanced, it was detached in a way to incentives, and will help people able to influence incentives that was still very much concentrated to the very few. And so web three is all about decentralizing the capital stack, it’s about open access permissionless, anyone now can build an economy from the ground up, you have the technological tools to do that and that’s super powerful, because it means that you aren’t reliant on governments, you aren’t reliant on corporates and other centralized bodies, where fundamentally their incentives are misaligned than yours and if that’s the case, then you can go out there and say, hey, I want to take on the world. But a lot of your efforts will become altruistic, which is really sad. That’s what we see today with so many things, whether that’s sustainability, whether that’s, you know, human rights causes, so much of it really does become people walking down the street, and it’s a rally cry, but the impact is so little, and things just continue on the way that they have and seem to have been for a very long time. Because if you can’t change the way that money flows, and who can create and destroy money, or create destroy value trade value, then you’re always going to be stuck within that that same system.

Yeah, I’m curious to kind of to hear your perspective on I guess, would you go back to that period of working on Wall Street? Do you ever see yourself doing that again? Like, would you spend time doing it again?

Emma-Jane: Right, I feel like I still spend time doing it now, in the sense of when you’re in web three, and crypto and if you know, building a project, running a project, partner project, whatever shape or form, that financial layer is incredibly salient and strong, it doesn’t leave. And when you’re building out a protocol, this is what’s like, the most coolest thing about it, what I say to people, like when I meet people that are still in web two, or they’re building like a social media app, kind of like, you know, explore more of the web three space, because you’re able to literally create an entire economy and civilization across every layer of the stack, from capital to culture, to technology to governance. It’s amazing. And it’s all about, you know, incentives, being able to actually construct systems that incentivize people to engage within free markets to build out different things to collaborate within a network, but then also, at the same time, continue to advance their own independence and self-sovereignty. And this is something even with building DIGITALAX, we have a number of different tokens in our ecosystem from ERC, 20 tokens trading to NFTs, and different varieties of NFTs as well, that act as like keys and passes to unlock whether that’s physical experiences, content, whatever. And that’s a huge kind of extension from the more traditional financial system as it is now.

Motivation Behind Starting CC0

So can we shift really quick talking about more of the cartel that you formed, the CC0 DAO, okay. Can you walk me through like the genesis of creating that organization, and more of the motivations as to what kind of like inspired his birth?

Emma-Jane: Yeah. So, the inspiration itself, it really came back to the same thing of self-sovereignty, self-determination, and how do we keep advancing and extending this Across all layers. And a huge part of that is content itself, which within, you know, more of web two, and also very much society and how it’s set up today, we have a lot of licensing agreements, copyright trademarks, you name it, all of these restrictions that are placed on what creators can and can’t do with the content that they make or other people make, and how that can ultimately be used by others within the network or the market. And a lot of those and really, actually all in the majority of those copyright restrictions, they don’t actually benefit the creators that have, you know, made the original or the derivative works, or are going out there to seek some licensing for what they think will kind of create this protection over whatever they’ve created, and then be able to give them some more financial reward within the future. And what we’ve seen, you know, over many decades is actually this model. It’s highly impractical. And it doesn’t work, it only benefits the very few. And it only benefits those that already had the power in the first place. So massive corporations like Disney, Pixar, Apple, Airbnb, Facebook, whatever, any of this kind of big content production, technological companies. So, the copyright cartel zero CC0 DAO, this was really created for two core reasons. One was to bring forth more infrastructure, and also establish more of a community dedicated to advancing web three Creative Commons. So public domain, but particularly within the web three landscape and field. So how NFTs, DAO governance, how this all contributes to actually further advancing well capitalized open source and public domain content. And then the second part of it was also really about bringing more of the knowledge out there to other creators, so they can understand okay, well, how is this relevant to me? And why is this actually giving me more rights than the traditional restrictive copyright system? Because there is this stigma that many creators have of oh, if I give my work into the public domain, it means that I’m devaluing it, or it must mean that I can’t monetize off it that now it’s free. So that was started in December last year. And it’s been a really exciting journey since then, because more of the crypto community is understanding, well, public domain and CC0 is something that’s super exciting and cool, and we’re kind of like leading up into CC0 summer.

So, what are some of the earliest examples of CC0 licenses being applied to NFTs that come to mind?

Emma-Jane: Right, so a really big and prominent one is definitely NOUNS DAO, which a lot of people have heard of, that started around seven to eight months ago. And it’s these daily auctions that around on Ethereum, these little nouns like pixelated characters, but everything is entirely public domain. And then one also dear to X is another one of the kind of early samples that was even back in 2020, we started open sourcing 1155 material texture and print NFTs as like this open source fashion library, but the entire protocol now is completely CC0. We did that around February.

So, what does it mean to actually I guess, like open-source textures in digital fabrics and more of the fashion world online? What does that mean exactly?

Emma-Jane:  Right. So ultimately, it means that anyone can use that content material for anything they like without restriction, it means that there is really no policing on what they can and can’t do. They don’t have to attribute, they can screenshot, they can download, they can remix, they can just take the thing and like literally remint it with the same name and put a price tag on it. Yeah, absolutely no restriction on the usage or derivations that come out of it.

Examples of CC0 Licensing

So, NOUNS and DIGITALAX are like examples in the NFT world. What are some examples of CC0 licensing being applied? I guess, in the physical world, for example, and the real, like, the more I guess, present world?

Emma-Jane: some of the bigger examples is definitely like artworks. Like if you think about the Mona Lisa, like famous, prominent artworks, these are all entirely in the public domain, which means like any creator can use them. And it’s why you often see like, fashion or posters or whatever incorporating, you know, significant artworks. It’s because actually, yeah, it’s entirely free in a sense for them to be able to access and then not have restriction when they’re using that in other forms. So, there’s that, there’s also scientific journals. A lot of those have been put out into the public domain so they can be used in different ways. But in many ways in web two, CC0 content is considered more rare and something that’s more like an altruistic or like government level. It’s not often that you see like an indie creator, or a private organization, that is saying, hey, we’re going to actually just create all this stuff and put it out there. Which is interesting. And there’s a few reasons why that we can go back to kind of like the foundations of why copyright started in the first place. And ultimately, the founding fathers, when they established like this, the copyright regime, it was only ever meant to be temporary. And it was really about having this understanding that ideas are always best propagated when there is this free exchange, and there isn’t restrictions put on where they can go and how they can be used. But at that time, really the economic infrastructure, it wasn’t able to support and incentivize, and it wasn’t set up in a way where it could incentivize a broader range of creators with kind of just saying, hey, we want to promote innovation invention within the economy, but we’re not going to really give any structure around it, we’re just going to say, hey, go out there and create, and then let’s hope that it kind of propagates something. And so, they put the copyright regime in place as this temporary incentive for creators to say that when you actually go and you put something out there, you can have some guarantees that it’s not going to just be used in ways that will exploit you will mean that all of your hard work potentially might go to zero. If someone else just takes that and then claims it to themselves, you can have kind of some more. Yeah, like ledger within our system that you actually created at this time. And that’s going to be recognized. But unfortunately, that got completely hijacked by what is really the copyright cartel which exists today, amongst corporates. More like the political side of things, you name it. And like Disney is a great example of this, where it’s just used by these bigger behemoths and players to bully independent creators into actually giving up more of their rights and paying huge fees for a certificate on paper where they really don’t ever see anything back from that. And that’s what’s been amazing about web three and NFTs is that it entirely moves on to a new infrastructure and system, where because you have this transparent on chain record of what you created, and when it’s time stamped, now you don’t need to have this like additional convoluted licensing. Instead, you can say, well, actually, anyone can use it, I’m not going to restrict the propagation of my content, because it gains more valuable, the more people can see it. But I’m going to actually define now the ownership specifically. And that’s where you actually monetize on who can actually own what detaching from how the content can be used.

How to Capture Value With CC0 Licensing

So, let’s talk about value capture. So monetizing ownership. So, when everything is public domain, free to use, free to license, free to duplicate, do whatever the hell you want with it. How does value get captured back to the original owner? What does that look like on chain?

Emma-Jane: Yeah, really? Good question. So, I would say two points to that. I mean, ultimately, today, it’s really the same thing. I mean, everything can be so easily copied like the biggest in NFTs is like right, click Save As, and oh, I own it. But everyone in NFTs knows, well, hold on. It doesn’t really matter. Like I could go and screenshot literally BAYC or a punk now, and I can put that on Open Sea, no one can stop me, am I going to get bids on it. Maybe, there might be people out there who don’t like to know how to verify, like, read the verified contracts, and so forth. So, they’re going to be bidding. But ultimately, that NFT is really going to hold no value, unless I do some like major public stance around it that builds more of the narrative story. And that’s really what this comes down to is where does the actual value come from? Where does the money come from? And it’s not actually from just the content itself. It’s really about the broader narrative that is built around that content. Even you know, people are a great example. A lot of people kind of scratch their heads and said, well, how did this you know, random 3d artists, you know, get a bid of $69 million on like a JPEG. But now when you go back and you look more into people’s story, well, it wasn’t random at all for I think it was like over 13 years. He was putting out art every day into the public domain entirely CC0 is a great example, entirely open source, everyday consistently for 13 years and he built up this amazing narrative and story and also a community around him that supported him that believed in what he was doing and could get behind that. And now when he was able to go out there and sell some of his work as an NFT, there was this new mechanism for him to be able to now capture all of that value, which wasn’t possible before. And that’s a really big part of it. It’s using this new technology to say, well, we’re actually going to separate the use or more the publication of the content from the actual ownership of it and status, the story and symbol around owning it.

Yeah, I try to think about how this can kind of come back to let’s say, like a podcast level, like how can this concept be applied to every creator, from images, I get it, I get there’s also like web two libraries of royalty free music that you can use and apply. And kind of like use to your own work, however the way, however you want. But I guess from my point of view, and I know we talked this offline, I talked about this offline for a little bit is how can this apply, be applied? Excuse me to audio, for example, like podcasts? Should I just put my voice out there, for example, and allow anybody to kind of use it for whatever the hell they want? And what are the pros and cons of doing that? Right? Like, what are the pros and cons of NOUNS DAO, for example, giving full access, so I get the pros. Okay. But what’s the downside to that?

Emma-Jane: Right. So, I wouldn’t really say that there is more of a downside. I just think it’s more about recognizing that when you do this, it’s about changing your mindset from often how we’re kind of total brought up within the current system of that policing? Or how do we lock stuff down? How do we make sure that someone doesn’t say take if you put your audio out there in public domain, then don’t go and take that and then put it in some weird Family Guy, that then you might feel embarrassed by or you might not want to have associated with.

Which I guess like in the big picture, like that’s, that’s a net positive, like it’s getting more exposure, it’s getting more virality. But I guess then the question like to counter that. It’s like, how can I capture that value back to myself like, okay, you might be scrolling on Tik Tok and Instagram. And you hear a tidbit, right? And maybe Instagram or Tik Tok, they get that value. But me as a creator, I don’t get that value like that, to transfer money. Maybe on a smart contract level, we can program addresses to basically be intertwined within every single, I don’t know, share, retweet whatever that looks like in the future. But currently, the way things stand today, I still don’t capture that value. Like I know, there’s a lot of content on Tik Tok that gets transferred to Instagram. And it’s just repurposed audio. And when you click on the audio, there’s like, there’s no real way to kind of identify who it is where it belongs to. But it went viral, you know, the person got the exposure, but the person never gets like the recognition for it, if that’s what they’re after, for example.

Emma-Jane: Right. So, I would say that today. It’s already live in, it’s very doable. And what I mean by that is that this is really what NFTs, and ERC 20 tokens are built for, it’s all about being able to actually capture that value. Because like you said, if something goes viral, and Tik Tok now and you are just putting out content there? How do you actually capture it? Well, it’s almost impossible, because what can people buy or purchase? Where can they put their money towards? I mean, you can’t really on Tik Tok, or Instagram. Okay, there’s ads kind of, but as a creator or a consumer? Yeah, it’s very convoluted. It’s not actually like this kind of clear step by step of how you actually get to like that source and then see what the creator behind it. And so today, if, as a, you know, a podcaster and running a podcast, well, if you had a series of NFT products out there, and also a community token, will immediately as your content is gaining virality, or it’s being used in all these different forms and mediums, that is able to be directly channeled back into the price that people are willing to pay to be part of your community to purchase your NFTs, to gain access to the content, you know, maybe exclusive drops, early access to different podcasts or whatever. So, it really is built in that way, you now have these very direct financial rails where if someone likes what you’re doing, they can put their money where their mouth is, in a sense and purchase that. And the great thing is it’s not just this kind of yeah, I guess purchase where it’s like a key that is buying product off the shelf. And that’s it now that it’s an NFT, it’s also this key that unlocks within the ecosystem, that and community that you’re building out. And you know, like I mentioned, that could be something as cool as like being able to attend an IRL NYC rooftop party, to then, you know, going on another adventure, where maybe you could even contribute to like the story of the podcasts or who’s going to actually be on the show, like having governance rights within that which is super exciting.

What Are Some Areas That You Think People Have Yet to Experiment With Using the CC0 License?

Yeah. So, this this kind of reminds me back to a conversation I had with David Greenstein founder, co-founder and CEO of sound dot XYZ, the music NFT marketplace where he basically as he’s, he on boarded, I guess over 100 artists so far to the platform bringing over $2.6 million. And he’s like, oftentimes what you see these artists doing with their NFTs is an unlock secondary value. So, what do I mean by that, there’s a primary value of the of the NFT selling the secondary value of being part of that list to purchase the NFT and then kind of like having these all these additional perks and rights that come with future drops? So, for example, I think it was Pussy Riot who did a drop on sound on XYZ, and then use those NFTs as a way to kind of whitelist people for another drop that she was doing separately from sound dot XYZ. And that brought in more value to the entire collection. So, I get that, I get like the new web three, like meant to models, of creating value, of bringing value back to collectors, adding utility, unlocking content, all these other things. I guess we’re just still so early on to the process seven to eight months is the, I guess the most found example of NOUNs, which is the most successful CC0 project from, from my understanding to date. So, we have yet to see how this kind of, how this stuff kind of like unfolds in the future. So, what are some areas that you think people have yet to experiment with using the CC0 license?

Emma-Jane: Look, I think every layer, I think, like you said, because it is early, really, the big thing is just more creators submitting works into the public domain. And for themselves, seeing how that doesn’t mean that that work is exploited in any way. In fact, it’s granting them more rights, and that they can still go out there and sell their NFTs for significant amounts of money. Just like NOUNs, you know, like you said, it’s every day, there’s bits of like, 80 Eth, or whatever coming in, for these little pixelated characters when they’re there’s no licensing or copyright around them at all, which is pretty amazing. And what that show is, is again, the value doesn’t come from just a JPEG or a more unique JPEG, or more different JPEG, because that has no defensibility in itself. That’s, you know, really fighting for a lost cause. Because as a creator, if you’re going in from that mindset of well, how do I just create something more and more unique? Because that’s certainly where the value comes from. It means that as more creators come into the space, it just gets harder and harder to differentiate yourself because more people are gonna be doing more unique things. And so instead, the way to look at it is really, how do I actually build up a really strong community around what I’m doing? And then how do I use these NFTs as keys, like you mentioned the secondary value, to unlock even greater things and build the strength of that that economy because that’s really where the defensibility comes for. But I’d say that a big part of that I’m excited for, what we’ve definitely seen in kind of like the past three months within the NFT space, particularly is this corporate consolidation. It started appearing a little bit towards the end of last year, but it’s definitely picked up. Were these bigger corporates, Legacy fashion brands in particular from Nike, Adidas, you know, Louis Vuitton, you name it, they’re coming in, and they’re dropping NFTs, taking large amounts of liquidity out of crypto and back into field.

But really not caring so much about the community and doing these NFT drops is just kind of staying in that hype race of oh, where, you know, building for the metaverse, so we’re experimenting the NFTs and web three, because that’s the new thing now. And that’s the thing making headlines. And although, you know, when people say is that good or bad, I’ve kind of two thoughts that in one way is like great in terms of just amount of publicity, and more eyes that it brings on different topics within NFT’s like it definitely furthers more of the message to more people out there. But at the same time, these corporates in these groups are not incentivized the same way as like a retail or an independent builder or creator within Web three, their priorities are entirely different. And they don’t align with decentralization. I mean, their model is so wrapped up within traditional liability that it can’t become a flexible, dynamic DAO and so why CC0 is kind of very important to that side. It is really a stopper against this corporate consolidation as well and what I mean by that it undercuts these corporates because their business model really relies on that traditional licensing system. It relies on being able to punish creators that use their IP or their content without their permission. It relies on then being able to in terms of the supply chain, just reduce the cost of what it makes to create their items and increase slave labor to be able to do that. And then put higher margins when they sell their products to the market. That’s how they gain more of that profit. So, if you’re as a creator, able to reduce your supply chain costs to, you know, even below zero by using public domain content, gaining access to free resources materials out there, to then use that to make a more unique work or another derivative, it really means that now you have the ability to actually go up against them, and to undercut the prices that they’re putting out there. Because ultimately, what the prices you have to put out to actually make that product are becoming less and less through access to CC0, so that’s something really exciting.

So, when someone wants to make something, CC0, quote, unquote, how do they do that? They just put that in, like the description. Okay, this is a CC0 NFT, do whatever the hell you want with it. Is there some formal process to go through to legally I guess, make it public domain? What does that look like?

Emma-Jane: Yeah, so the best way to do it, especially in the web three space is just to post on Twitter. You don’t even need to put it in description, like some projects do. Some don’t. Like even for example, like with NOUNs, the actual NOUN description, I don’t think has it, but when you go on the site, there’s just like an FAQ section FAQ section. So, it says like this project CC0. That’s it. So yeah, you don’t need to and that’s the amazing thing about it is you don’t need to go and pay a lawyer or pay some clerk to process a document, you know, which it’s ends up costing hundreds of dollars. And that is something that a lot of creators don’t just have put out there. You can just literally do a post on Twitter and say, hey, this image CC0, do whatever you want with it.

The Future From CC0 DAO?

Got it. So, what can we expect in the future from the cartel that you started, the copyright cartel? What’s in store? Yeah, it’s copyright cartels, what’s in store?

Emma-Jane: Right? So, we actually forked where we do a lot of engineering deployments, we actually fork, the nouns contracts, and we have daily CC0 auctions. So, every day, a different creator puts out a CC0 image, video, whatever. And that goes to auction, which has been really cool. And the DAO bids on those items as well, sometimes to really support the creators behind it. But we’re deploying soon, a purely CC0 NFT marketplace, which is really exciting. So, it means that any time anyone meets on there, that content, it’s understood that it’s in the public domain. But the CC0 DAO is also collaborating with a number of other products, particularly within the DIGITALAX ecosystem. So number of fashion brands, and designers that we have within like the global design, network DAO, and bringing more of their fashion content to the public domain, where the streetwear brand and like web three fashion label that I have a few manifestor that’s all public domain and in CC0, so anything that’s created out of that, from like, the physical fashion, to modeling images to like digital blender files, that all gets submitted as well into repository for any creator to be able to use.

So, with DIGITALAX, do you, I guess, your bet is that there’s more money to be made by making everything public domain than there is in trying to control it and spending lawyers and money on lawyers to try to fight and retain ownership and control and all that stuff. Which, if you think about it, that’s what a lot of these big brands or all these big brands kind of like bet on, it’s like the control the ownership of their IP from Disney, you named a bunch. So, I guess your bet in your experiment here is that by making everything open source, there’s more value to be captured. It’s better for the ecosystem as a whole. And, of course, there’s value to kind of be generated with that it’s opened a lot of doors for you as well for new opportunities, and what not from what I understand.

Emma-Jane: Right. So yeah, I’d say there’s two really cool things to that. Number one is network effects. Network effects gain value, the bigger they grow, and the faster they can be accelerated. And when you try and lock things down, you disable the network effects. And web three is really built around that. And so, CC0 public domain content like that viral mimetic propagation, that unstoppable propagation, it’s completely enabling that so that’s a really amazing part of it. It’s really aligned with network effects. And the other part of you knows, like you said, okay, well, this bigger bet that definitely there’s more money to be made within public domain than actually locking things down, is again, really understanding about how web three technology actually works. And like we’ve talked about with NFTs, ERC 20 tokens, they work better and they gain more value, the more people that can kind of create and form this narrative and story around what you’re putting out there and what you’re selling and when you restrict how many people can view or use that you’d use the value, like a really good analogy is what use is a car that you can’t drive. And that’s also what we’re talking about here. When you restrict or you lock something down, you’re pretty much keeping that your car in the garage saying, hey, it’s got this amazing engine, but you can never drive that I’m just going to sit in the garage. And what I’m saying is actually show the car has value when it’s in the garage. But you know, where it gains way more value, when you can actually drive that across the country?

I think that’s like a that’s like a mic drop moment. Right there. That’s an epic analogy. I don’t know how to follow on from there. To be honest, that makes a lot of sense. It honestly, it everything just clicked for me right now, like that makes a lot of sense. Makes a lot of sense. And it makes me curious and want to experiment with what I guess like mint NFTs, may look and feel like in the future. And this marketplace that you’re putting together. There’s value in curation, especially in web three. And I think kind of like introducing a marketplace on that realm. But that theme might actually end up doing really, really well, when can we see that coming to fruition?

Emma-Jane:  About a week or so.

Oh, wow. Okay. So, is this going to be like highly curated drops, like they do in music NFTs, or are these just gonna be like an open marketplace anybody can come publish, try to sell what does that look like?

Emma-Jane: So, it’d be different progressions to start with, it will really be within CC0 DAO. But then yeah, moving it out so that anyone can use it because that’s a really big part of this is keeping it permissionless.

Outro

Wow. Emma-Jane, that’s really cool. I’m watching you from afar. I’m rooting for you before I let you go. And to wrap this up. Where can we find you? Where can we learn more about what you’re up to? Give us the details?

Emma-Jane: Sure. Our Twitter’s the best one. So that’s my username is Emma-Jane 1313.

Amazing. Emma-Jane. Thank you. Hope to have you again soon.

Emma-Jane: Thanks, Adam.

Categories
Podcast Transcript

David Greenstein: The Artist’s Beginner’s Guide to Music NFTs

Background

Mint Season 5 episode 3 welcomes David Greenstein, Co-founder of Sound.xyz, one of the most popular music NFT marketplaces in the space.

I’ve been watching the growth of sound all the way from day zero when we first met and he shared his excitement on how he’s about to change the game for independent music artists. It’s incredible to see how far he’s come.

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • 00:24 – Intro 
  • 18:56 – Sound.xyz and the Drop Experience: Editions, Golden Egg and More.
  • 29:39 – Creating an Assembly Line: Pumping Out Drop After Drop 
  • 33:22 – Paying Out Over $2.6 Million Dollars: Recognizing David’s Power, Responsibility, and How He Plans to Scale Without Diluting the Value of Curation.
  • 42:09 – Should Artists Optimize to Grow Like Their Collector Base or Reach Virality on Streaming and Social Platforms?
  • 44:58 – David’s Advice for Strategizing Around Editions, One-of-one Drops, and Selling Ownership in a Song.
  • 50:29 – What Makes One Artist More Valuable than the Other in Web Three?
  • 52:43 – The Difference Between Collecting to Collect and Collecting to Own?
  • 58:48 – What Other Unique Experiences Does Sound.xyz Plan to Create for Collectors?
  • 01:03:21 – Plan for Onboarding the Next Hundred Thousand, One Million, Hundred Million Music NFT Collectors.
  • 01:05:12: – What is Your Vision for the Music NFT Space?
  • 01:12:16 – Understanding Sound.xyz’s Smart Contracts
  • 01:21:17 – Outro

…and so much more. 

I hope you enjoy our conversation. 


David Greenstein, welcome to mint my friend longtime coming How you doing?

David Greenstein: I’m doing well, thank you so much for having me in. And this has been a long time in the making.

Intro

A long time in the making, Season Four was all in the music industry. We didn’t manage to catch you on that one. But we’re continuing to the subject to season five, hence why you’re here today. Okay, so I always start with an introduction. Okay, for those who don’t know you, what does the world need to know about you? How’d you get your start into crypto and kind of what are you doing now?

David Greenstein: Yeah, before crypto, we obviously got to, you know, get it get started with the music side. And music is for as long as I can remember. And it really and I’ve talked about this before, but it’s really just being in the right place at the right time. And growing up in New York City. One of the alumni of my high school ended up being the CEO of Atlantic Records. And it’s still there to this day, Craig Kalman and I got really lucky and started being able to intern there when I was in high school, because Craig was willing to sell it to let me work on their A&R department and just got started studying the music industry. And it never, never dawned on me that like, like the music industry was not going to, the record label industry was not going to be the source of innovation in the music industry. And I was always obsessed with where that was going to come from. And I’d say the intersection of music contests have always kept me up at night. And the main thing is just there’s so much talent sitting on the internet waiting to get discovered. And the tools and the methods for discovering new music have largely remained unchanged. And so, you’ve ended up in this world where there’s just so many incredible musicians that want and need to be heard. But there’s not the systems and the methods of engagement to actually surface that music. So, I’ve always worked at startups and music related, worked at Pandora for a couple years and started a music company. And I was like thinking about what I wanted to work on next. And I just started going down the web three rabbit hole from a like product perspective, I’d been in crypto for four or five years, just as you know, a person working in tech, and a few different communities, specifically, one Friends with Benefits and where I met my co-founder and so many friends now that have helped me along the way. And then another party bit or two organizations that really helped shape. A lot of the people that I’ve met along the way to make sound possible. So, I’m always eternally grateful to those two places, because without them, I would definitely not have sound right now.

Do you play any instruments? Like, what’s your connection to music like early on?

David Greenstein: Yeah. So, I mean, I went through every, every failed attempt to try and be an artist. And that’s kind of how I ended up this side of the table. So, growing up, I used to play guitar. And then I also went through a nice little stint as a DJ, I think I’d better DJ skills, and I did a good guitar skill. But and I enjoyed it like music has always been at the forefront, whether it’s listening to music, playing music, I’ve always been just obsessed with just kind of writing songs and watching artists take things from nothing or inspired by something that like I walk past 100 times a day and never even think about. And so, I’ve always been just an admirer of those like behind the scenes documentaries of how that made because just peoples like creatives brains work in a whole different dimension. And I think that’s obviously part of why I’ve always just like hung around music and been lucky to obviously meet a lot of people along the way. And all those things. It’s always inspired me from the beginning.

Have you seen Calvin Harris’s slide creation on YouTube? How he kind of like, documents his step-by-step process on how he created the hit song, what you’re saying, and I really remind me of that.

David Greenstein: Yeah, I mean, even I mean, those are great examples. And obviously, there’s like some famous cognate video and create beats behind the scenes, but, and I would love to see more of that type of stuff. Even Kenny beats on a modern-day example on Twitch, like has built a huge audience of just, you know, showing people obviously like him in the studio. And that’s obviously been really, really, really, really insightful. And yeah, I think one of my other favorite podcasts is something called, and the writer is, which is a podcast by Ross Golan, who’s a very large songwriter. And he interviews some of the biggest songwriters in the world, like Benny Blanco, and a few others to like, talk about the stories behind the songs and kind of how they came to be. And I think that’s, like, those are the types of things that I was studying.

So, we met prior to sound launching, we met through a mutual friend Connor, who was like, top, top manager in the space. And I remember one thing that was really unique about your story that always stuck with me, is like your entry into the music scene. I think it was like your early teens, you said something about Pandora, right? Joining Pandora early and starting at a music A&R firm, right, but like you got it like the above like above have normal age to actually, like start working at one of these places from what I remember.

David Greenstein: Yeah. So, it was it was working at Atlantic when I was like, which is obviously part of Warner Music Group. And I think it’s really that’s, that’s something that I like never to take for granted is that I’ve just been talking to artists and managers and people in the music industry for so long, which is where I’ve been able to kind of like learn some of these insights about what works, what doesn’t work. And I’ve just always been a student of the music industry. It’s not just like, like, it’s the entire, like economy of music, right. And we always talk about artists and listeners, and those are two very, very important pieces. But there’s an entire business that surrounds music, and to understand why things are the way they are because like put out as the output is the music industry is broken, or artists aren’t getting paid. But it’s equally important understanding why artists aren’t getting paid or why things are the way they are. And that’s kind of been a lot of the journey. Definitely. People like Connor, Connor runs one of the most successful indie labels called listen to the kids, it was signed, like Alexander 23, and manages over Fetty and a few others, like being able to learn from people directly like him is part of what’s helped shape a lot of the insights that drive even sound today.

So, what was your past startup, your startup prior to this that you were working on?

David Greenstein: Yeah, it was a basically like a tick tock analytics tool that we were just using scrape data across the, across the Internet and track a lot of it like I’ve always been obsessed with, as I told you, like, like all this talent that just sitting there, and a lot of talent was blowing up on Tik Tok. And it was like an A&R tool for discovering emerging talent. And that’s actually how I met Connor because a lot of the labels were using it, as you can imagine, I wasn’t as passionate about like, a small SAS business selling to labels. And I wanted to go after the big problem, which is how do we help as many artists as possible, make a full time living off their music? And also, how do we help artists reach the most amount of people with their music as well? I think one thing that that often gets talked about as the money because the money is very visible, it’s obvious. Things is, artists aren’t always getting paid what they’re worth or what their value is, or what their music means to somebody. But on the other side, making music is not just about making money. It’s also about getting your song heard by as many people as possible. And I think today, like just there’s not enough places to shine eyeballs on songs. And I mean, other than Tik Tok. And I have these conversations with like music industry, people that don’t know anything about web three. And I talked a lot about this with web three people who maybe are less exposed to the music industry. But other than things like tick tock or YouTube, there aren’t really many places right now in the music industry, where songs are just blowing up or getting eyeballs and so, chicken in the egg problem of like, yes, I want to sell them. I want to engage my community. I want to build my initial like, I want to build things with my listeners, but also, how do I get listeners? How do I build that strong connection with my community? And that kind of feels like a black box right now. And I think is hopefully obviously part of what like the web three music scene is about given just the transparency and participation aspect of just web three.

So, there’s, there’s a few things here building an analytics tool for tick tock to discover up and coming talent, and also the element of building your community and web three, I think one of the more interesting things the more artists I talk to, the more overwhelmed they feel to create music for a platform to reach virality versus creating music for the sake of music and showcasing their art. Right. And I think web three has a home for that right and being able to value your music for what it’s worth versus trying to build hit songs that go viral via dances or trends on Tik Tok. I mean, how do you feel about that?

David Greenstein: Yeah, so I think it’s all about what game do you set up? Right? So, I think the game of Tick tock was the dance. And I don’t even think tick tock was meant to be a music thing. I think they stumbled into that, by nature of the fact that, you know, music is attached to every single video. And I think the point of like, kind of the web three music scene is since is to build sustainable models for music, right? Today on Spotify, the game is set up so that you have to get 10s of millions of streams in order to make any real money on your song. And that means that you basically obviously need to achieve some level of popularity in order to be a full-time musician through your music. I think in web three, we have a fundamental way to change the way that music is structured today and build systems that allow you to make a full time living off getting 25, 50, 100, 1000 people who support your music. And that to me feels a lot more achievable for a mass amount of artists. Of course, some people will go on to get millions of listeners or millions of collectors and that’s amazing and nothing wrong with that. But that shouldn’t come at the expense of somebody wanting to get 25, 50, 100, 1000 People who want to support their music and that’s why I think for us like it was never about building on top of something like Spotify because something like Spotify isn’t fundamentally designed at its core to support millions and millions as any, as most artists will tell you. And that’s why we felt we had to start from a bit of scratch here to kind of reshape and show that you can do this with 25, 50. I don’t pretend to know yet what the exact magic number is. There’re obviously the famous 1000 true fans. But I do think that that was directionally along the right line of building these small intimate communities and really making them about the strength of them versus like today, it feels like just get a million fans, but how many of them are actually true, true, true fans.

So, the other portion is you creating these analytics play for Tik Tok, which I feel like really works like peanut butter and jelly with what you’re doing. It sounds XYZ. But I’m curious to hear your point of view when you create a tool that helps scout up and coming artists. And then you build a platform like sound to basically put people on the map and you have this power to create this like level of like, creative freedom for these individuals. I feel like your experience and curation and buildings analytics tool really played a part in you kind of designing sound like it was like the next evolution.

David Greenstein: Well, it’s basically like I said, it’s the like, there’s so much good music, I think one thing, like the best basketball players are in the NBA right now. Like, I don’t believe that there are people that could be in the NBA that aren’t. But some of the most talented artists are not yet discovered. And I think for me, it’s like drives me insane that the next whoever your favorite artist is, is just sitting on the internet waiting to be discovered, and how do we build systems and tools that obviously, you know, surface that that information? And I think obviously with NFTs you kind of get that out the box, right? Because people have all of a sudden, for the first time, like the ability to say like, hey, I was here to discover Billy Eilish first. And there’s an actual on chain proof that that’s actually true, which I think has never been before possible. Like if you go on SoundCloud, or you go on Spotify, even on SoundCloud, right, there are people that have commented on the song, but there’s millions of comments, you can’t really tell who was there first. And I think that’s kind of like the interesting part of here is that artists have never had the relationship directly with our listeners, which is a misperception in terms of you would think that artists are getting all this data about who their listeners are. But it’s always at the aggregate level, they never know who their actual heart like, day one fans are. And on the listener side, I’ve been running around the internet my whole life saying I discovered this person and that person before you and arguing with my friends. But there’s never been an actual way to prove it. Right.

And I think those two forces coming together is actually quite interesting, because then you can actually, the whole point of this is to incentivize people to go check out the music. I think that’s what makes I always talk about the concert, and how influential the concert has been to me because I think the concert is a powerful experience in music, just in terms of like the artist is performing as a community of people around you. It’s social, it’s engaging. And I think that’s what makes a festival so interesting is that you go to a festival to see some of your favorite artists but then you might wander around and discover a new artist you’ve never heard of that you fall in love with and go support and then go to their concert right. And the cycle kind of repeats itself and I think that’s part of an addition to like music discovery kind of having a bit of a crisis today. I think that’s part of it is like the pandemic obviously took out touring and people stopped discovering new music and kind of fun ways and the digital experience of discovering new music is a little bit broken today right outside of the core Tick Tock, YouTube, why not which are like great, like we use those for what you got to use those tools for but they promote a certain type of content kind of emerging right like tick tock is definitely like viral dancing short clips and I think YouTube has its own scene right but there should be other methods and ways to discover and surface like incredibly talented like the ultimate dream for the Internet is, if you are a talented artists like you will rise to the top or you will get some type of following or you get some type of notice because that’s obviously the way it should work. And today I like we believe like the tools to surface new music and content are somewhat missing from the internet.

You’re so like calculating in particular with everything you do. I’ve really noticed this since like, since we actually first met and seeing the birth of sound from seeing you first time and meeting you in person at NFT NYC at the FWB event and seeing all the hype that you were generating around the upcoming launch to then seeing you at Brett’s What was it like the first music NFT night later on? And like yeah, kind of thing you like bounce around from circle-to-circle kind of like what, here’s what we’re gonna do it sound, this is what’s up and coming. Stay tuned. Let me get your number blah, blah, blah. And there’s one thing that really stood out to me about you in particular you have this Instagram account that is obviously private. So, you have one, you have your personal Instagram account, you have this other Instagram account where you follow all the biggest people and you kind of source someone’s legitimacy or like you kind of curate interest in like sparks and people based off who Following those Instagram accounts from the people that you follow, if I’m not mistaken, if I understand that correctly.

David Greenstein: The inverse of that is like, nothing I’ve learned is like the world is so small. And I mean, even all the artists on sound, there’s been so many people that I had no idea follow each other. And I’ve learned just the ability, like if you have a mutual friend, like the introduction, or the ability to kind of meet that person is somewhat, is 100 times stronger. Yeah. And then I also obviously have my you know, personal Instagram, and I want to leave that. So, one, one small thing that I did was just, like, follow everybody in the music world that I could ever want to talk to or meet. And whenever I am, including people that I actually know. And then it gives me an easy way to look up, like if one of my friends that I know, know somebody, I can easily reach out. So, it’s just like a little thing. But I think to answer your broader point, I’ve just always talking to people from a curiosity perspective, I think that’s where the best insights get generated is just talking to people about their problems, whether it’s artists, whether it’s listeners, whether it’s collectors, whether it’s songwriters, and producers, and I think in order to really like, at the end of the day, like I’m not an artist, right, and in order to get like to solve problems for artists, or solve problems for listeners, the best way to do it is to really put yourself in front of them and talk about what’s going on. And I think that’s kind of been like at the core, even before I started sound, I mean, 1000s of conversations, and I don’t juggle that number in terms of just getting the insights on like, hey, would you, would this work for you, showing you early marks, etc. And I think that’s part of, like, part of like, just what went on behind the scenes, was building those relationships and learning and kind of studying just what works and what doesn’t work. And I’m very, very, very grateful to all the artists, and there’s too many of the shout out or too many to count. That been generous with their time to, like educate and, and teach and obviously, in return, like try to build things that are helpful to them.

Yeah, I really respect the hustle and kind of seeing the birth of sound from meeting you prior to its launch than seeing it like launch and all the excitement around it, and then seeing it where it’s at today. It’s really fascinating. And I really applaud you for it. And you like to see the value that sound is creating for artists that otherwise wouldn’t have a stage and a platform to really showcase their art connects with listeners and build a collector base in web three, it’s really cool to see that dynamic kind of unfold and this new genre, this new era of what music is worth online, and it being valued differently than let’s say what the big corporations kind of pin it to be, as, for example.

David Greenstein: yeah, I even take like the other, like opposite approach of like sound only exists because of the artists that have like been willing to participate in the ecosystem like sound is literally nothing without the artists. And I think that is like probably the most like that was the most obvious thing to me is if we get strong artists that believe in the community, that believe in web three music, then obviously like maybe we have a chance of getting this off the ground. And I think what people don’t necessarily realize there now is like, we didn’t lay down the first lines of code for sound to like mid-August of 2021. So, like three months after we started working on it, and with Oshi as our first artist on December 6. And it’s been a whirlwind ever, ever, ever since then. And that’s part of the reason why this is happening a little bit later. But it’s really been just something that could have never even imagined against my wildest dreams. And it’s probably the, it is the greatest like, it’s like the greatest privilege and pleasure to work on sound because it’s doing everything that I’ve ever wanted to do since I was a kid, of just helping artists and shaping kind of how the music industry can look. If we kind of are able to experiment with music and new ways.

Sound.xyz and the Drop Experience: Editions, Golden Egg and More.

Yeah, I want to talk more about sound now like jump into the platform itself. I’ve been collecting on your platform quite a bit. I was a part of season one, picked up first, the first few golden eggs I think the most, the first one was Matthew Chime, which was an epic drop. I remember that being in the Twitter space and then being able to get the golden egg. I want to talk to, I want to get like more of your point of view on how you kind of came about to design the drop, and what the drop means to you and what kind of process went into formulating from the golden egg to the point one Eth as initial drop to the 25 editions as like the base premiere of a drop. Can you walk me through more like the design principles that kind of came to mind as you were building that out?

David Greenstein: Yeah, so I think the two principles that have never steered me wrong are simplicity and obviously focus and so they wanted to keep things simple. Like this is a new product. This is a new platform like we didn’t want. We didn’t want to overwhelm people because we know people are taking time out of their day to kind of kind of come check us out. And so, from the beginning, it was really, as always shaped with the artists themselves. So, every decision that went into the first kind of iteration, I mean, I can’t even imagine how many artists we shared that with. But the gist of it was, we wanted it to feel, as I said earlier, as close to a concert as possible. And so, part of that was just gathering multiple people around the songs, which is why we obviously chose to kind of go with this multi, like edition approach. The question then became how many editions and I looked at Oshi, and we’re like, how many things we could do. And we didn’t really have any, like context before, obviously, the drop because we had no data. And so, we picked a pretty random number 25 and 25 felt like, hey, that’s, that’s not nothing. And that’s not but it’s not too many. And we obviously wanted to drop to be successful. And so that’s where the 25 came from. It was just a group conversation with me and Oshi for his first drop. And after it started to work, we were like, Let’s keep it and let’s see when it stops working, and it never stopped really working. And so that’s kind of how we got here. I think the golden egg was an example of just like being like, making it fun, right? I think sometimes people in the beginning like it takes to take themselves too seriously. And I think the golden egg was a way to inject real value. Without like, you know, I think against our principles is we tried to, we tried to keep the price like, like low at point one, relatively to like, you know, other mints, or obviously in the music industry that’s still very, very expensive, but we just wanted to make it fun to participate and like learn something new about that artist.

So, I think that’s part of the reason why everything was so kind of like straightforward. Point one, support the artists, there’s no waitlist, there’s no way to game the game the system, you basically just show up and purchase it. And that aspect combined with the Twitter spaces, which I think have become like a hallmark thing of sound was kind of the magic ingredient again, and getting this off the ground and Twitter spaces was really important to me because I always talk about this, the music is super, super, super obviously the most important but the other thing is the story behind the music is as important and for us it was really important to highlight these stories because it built such an emotional connection with not only that song, but that artists themselves so Oshi, she is an example like, you ever talked to him you get to know him. You can’t help but want to support him like that’s like, like the journey that he’s been on. Obviously, over the last seven years or so being obviously like a premier artist on SoundCloud. Getting Started in the music industry, I don’t even know what age like 16. And knowing what he’s gone through now. It’s an incredible journey. And we felt that there wasn’t a clearer way to tell those stories. They’re like, let’s do it Twitter spaces, so that everybody knows what I kind of know about Oshi and maybe that will make the job a little bit more contextual. Obviously, we got really, really good reviews on that. So, we just kept doing it. And we’ve now done like 140, 150 Twitter spaces where we’ve highlighted every single artist that’s been on sound in their journey for their first drop, because we think it’s really important that people get to know why we’re doing these drops, and why this artist isn’t getting involved with web three, for all different shapes and reasons. And I think that’s really, the beauty of it is like everybody’s coming from their own journey or their own walk of life. And I think everybody’s story is unique. So, I think it’s very important that we highlight people’s stories and not put them in a box.

But one of the most unique things about sound, which I noticed off the bat is the virality of saying my drops sold out in a few seconds. And being able to pin the amount of money that you’re able to create from that, the wow factor behind that is instantaneously viral. Like the ability to go as an artist, to go out there and say my song on Spotify, or Apple Music has X amount of listens. But this just generated X amount of value in a matter of seconds. And now I have these passionate collectors who not only like bet on me but are going to be holding my thing give or take for the long run is unique. There has never been an experience like that before to enjoy or to consume or to listen to music. And that that moment of virality of saying, oh my god, I can’t believe this sold out in less than 30 seconds, two and a half k or 2.5 Eth etc. There’s something to that like I feel like also that psychology lead to a lot of the virality about sound, would you agree? Would you disagree? What do you think about that?

David Greenstein: Yeah, so I think in the beginning, like obviously like the sellout, like causes people to obviously like talk about what’s going on, why this etcetera. I think it was really about starting a conversation like obviously, like not every song is going to sell out in every in every you know, in anything. And I think that’s not the point of it. But I do think that the sellout kind of shows that there’s demand. And I think the demand was really important because before obviously sound existed, and even like the just broader music and empty space more broadly like the criticism is, who would ever want to support this? And are there people out there that want to reshape and reimagine, like how we value music. And I think the shock factor of saying, like, hey, I just generated 3 million streams worth of music in the span of seconds, I think gets you thinking, because I think anybody who’s tried to, like, go generate 3 million streams on Spotify, that’s not easy to do across anything. And it can take a long, long, long time to get there. And I think not only to get those streams, but then to get paid out is like another three to six months later. So, I think from an artist’s perspective, that’s like the most shocking thing that you could ever imagine, because of what the alternative is, right? If you’re talking about a music NFT, where you can potentially get paid out instantly, and build an intimate connection with your listeners, versus a system where you have no interaction with your listeners, you get paid out three to six months later, it’s you have to get millions of people to support your music, that is a 100x difference to how it works today. And that, to me is what causes a lot of the kind of virality with sound, and I think, is part of what, yeah, part of what like helped launch kind of the music NFT movement. But I will say we’re, we’re so early into the movement that I don’t, I always joke, I don’t think we’ve really gotten started yet. And so, I think, I think anything that’s been done so far as, I don’t even think we’ve left the batter’s box. So, I think we have a long way to go. And I think this is the start of obviously, a cultural, like revolution on like, unlike just what music is worth and reshaping that music itself is valuable.

Yeah, I want to share my screen for a moment and highlight the website for a sec. Okay, because one of the biggest metrics that you guys consistently advertised as being the most important metric is the amount of value kind of like money generated to these artists. So, 2.6 mil. Okay. I’m curious to me, like, what does that mean to you? Like, what is when you see 2.6 mil on this board, like front and center? Why showcase that one? And two, what does it mean to you? And I guess, like the success of sound?

David Greenstein: Yeah, so I think this was something that we did fairly early on. I think the main point here is to show that real value is being created for independent artists, right. And I think that’s really been like the Hallmark point of sound, I think the, the main point of like, showing the value is just showing that like this, that this space is growing, and that this thing can thrive and that people want to participate in this because I think the stereotype and the reaction is, like, why would somebody kind of collected music NFT, which we can get, which we can get into. And I think that’s really the main point about why we put that front and center as to like, I mean, the whole web three space is, is transparent, it’s on chain, everything is, all the metrics are easily kind of calculated, calculated, calculable. And I think the main, the main prospective, was just to put that front and center and like, you know, kind of, I always say this, but just bet on yourself and double down. So, if it doesn’t work, the number of days that, you know, still does work, it goes up. And I think that kind of puts the pressure on us to kind of deliver and create value. Not just like for the artists, but also for the listener themselves, too.

Do you remember like your feeling after selling out the first drop, of selling O’Shea’s drop? What was that like?

David Greenstein: Yeah, it was pure chaos. I remember being on FaceTime with O’Shea. I might even have some FaceTime screenshots. But it was just like, it was just like, we don’t know what is happening because the whole site, which wasn’t the first one happened due to like too much traffic, and when the whole site went down. But then, like, somehow people bought them, and I was like, how are they buying them, the whole site went down. And we were just like, we don’t know what’s happening. Like, like it literally just like, like, and I was my phone was blowing up. And I’ve never experienced anything like that. Like, I’ve never like, it was the most wild experience of one of my whole lives. And I think me, O’Shea was just like, such a good sport, as he always is about, like, what was going on. So, we were he was just like, we were just, I mean, we were just like what is happening, because we never in our wildest dreams ever thought that like people would kind of come and support at this time. And so, it was like the most humbling and exciting experience. And the next day, I was like, holy shit, we have another drop. So, we gotta get back to fix the site. And then we went with Grady as a second artist, and third, and then just kind of like build out from there. And I think I was like, I’m gonna keep doing this until I can’t do it anymore.

Creating an Assembly Line: Pumping Out Drop After Drop 

And at this, at this point, you’ve kind of built such like a well-oiled machine, you have like two to three drops a day. How, like, how have you managed to create that assembly line effect where you’re just pumping things out? Like McDonald’s like pushes out hamburgers, like, What’s the secret to doing that?

David Greenstein: I mean, one is I have an incredible team that I work with that I think makes it even all possible and the team has obviously grown since then. So, it’s definitely no one man army anymore. And I think too, like, I think it’s just a lot of hard work like I’m up till very late right now, these drops, working on the tweet storms, working with our team to make the marketing assets and really just, we promote every drop of saying, like, we always want to make every art experience. And obviously, it goes without saying, I don’t think we can do Twitter spaces for every song on Earth. But what I will say is, it was really important to shape kind of the world we want to live in. And we think a world where artists are able to tell their stories, highlight incredible music, and build a community around that music is a better world. And so that’s why we kind of wanted to just do the things that don’t scale. While we can. And I think that’s kind of played a core role. And when I saw it was working, and people really enjoyed the Twitter spaces, I was like, well, I’m gonna, I’m just gonna double down in order just to make sure that they keep happening. And I think you know, doing today, it definitely, obviously, it’s hard. But it’s 100% worth it. Because I think giving the artists anything that we can do a small part on to help artists tell their story is, is worth doing. Because that’s ultimately who we’re here to help.

What were some of the initial bottlenecks in the beginning that prevented you from kind of like reaching the output that you have right now.

David Greenstein: I think just the product and others that we went straight from the product being finished to launching with OG and so we never had any. Like, we never had any like, like wiggle room for like just fixing things. And so, it was like, all hands-on deck there. And then I think one thing that people like maybe don’t realize is like there’s two sides to this. There’s artist side. And there’s also the listener collector side. And I think it’s really important to keep kind of collector demand in line with kind of artists. And I think because this space is so nascent, those two things kind of go together. And so, for us, we were always like keeping track, obviously, we have a ton of data and just the drops and traffic and everything. So, we want to make sure that we kind of grow this space sustainably because we think music NFTs and just the work that music movement has the chance to literally upend the music industry. And for us, it’s not I mean, even and even in the way that sound works today, like we don’t take a percentage of the drop at all right now. 100% of the revenue generated by artists on primary and secondary sales, go to the artists themselves and whoever they’re splitting it with. And that’s not because like we won’t figure out a business model in the future. But that’s just because we wanted to make the best experience for collecting music NFTs right now. And that was really what we’re, what our focus was on. And when we get to the business model, we’ll figure that out. Just like we figured everything else out in partnership and in conjunction with our artists, because that ultimately, is the best way to build a sustainable, thriving ecosystem. So, I think in this world, like and this is obviously a lot different, like the artists, like our partners, and artists are like what helped shape this, and I think that refers to on Spotify and kind of streaming services today, artists didn’t give any input into the price per stream, told and determined for them. That kind of is like the beauty of web three is just the collaboration and interoperability of kinda the entire ecosystem.

Paying Out Over $2.6 Million Dollars: Recognizing David’s Power, Responsibility, and How He Plans to Scale Without Diluting the Value of Curation.

So, let’s talk more about those two parties, the artist and the collector, okay, sound at the moment has a very highly, like highly curated process, which I think has also led to its success with kind of mitigating who gets to drop on and the quality that gets a drop on has attracted certain collectors as well. And, you know, you have that power, like you have the power David to like, put someone on the map, give them your platform, give them your stage, actually, like you have the power to basically like give someone a stage, give someone a platform, and to nearly change their lives in a matter of seconds, or at least help change their life in a matter of seconds. Right? Like what does that responsibility mean to you? What does that power mean to you? And second how do you bring that to more people without diluting the value of curation?

David Greenstein: Yeah, so I think why sound curation as an important and important question, important answer. I think one said the product was just so early that we wanted to make sure that we deliver experience for every single person to, we wanted to just see what works. And before we didn’t want to scale, a bad experience to many people. And so, it made sense to focus on a small, a small group of artists. And I think the third thing is just the legality, which is if we opened it up too quickly, and people started to put you know, unlicensed music or unlicensed samples, then we could end up solving problems that are really boring instead of focusing on the problems of like, how do we help artists, you know, builds community amongst their music, and that was kind of the initial reason why we started curated was just to sustainably like the community and wrote that community, I think in the future, right, like, I think something that I’ve been very consistent about and no problem saying is I have very little interest in building a music platform for 100 artists, because ultimately there are millions out there that kind of need help. And I think the only way you can do that; you can’t do that in a curated approach. I think for us, it’s about the right path to kind of getting there. And I think that’s why he obviously tried to open it up every single season a little bit more. But there will be a time where, you know, you let the floodgates open, and you figure out how to do so. But also maintain curation, I mean, so there are ways that you can build tools that help artists, reach the most amount of people as possible, but you still have some type of like way to highlight music. So, I think, in that regard, like, we’re kind of, as I said, the very, very, very early stage, and we have a lot of really exciting improvements and product features coming out over the next couple months that I think will catch people by surprise. So, I think that’s kind of the little teaser of what’s to come. But I do think that the curation question comes up a lot, and just base more broadly, and I think some parts of it are great, but I think other parts of it have fundamental flaws. And I completely agree that like, as many people, the more artists that are experimenting with music NFTs, the better for the space. And I think that’s ultimately like one of the goals for us is how do we get music NFTs into the hands of as many artists as possible so that they can start, you know, building and experimenting, because I think one Pinnacle aspect of web three is just, you don’t need to have all the answers yourself, you can, the more people experiment, the more people might come up with it their own solution, which another artists can be inspired by. And that’s kind of like the remix culture, I think is so awesome to see. And I think a lot of artists have learned from each other just by watching what other artists have done and kind of influencing them to do and to include in their drops. And I think that’s kind of like some of the most beautiful aspects. So, we can only get there. But the more minds and eyes on the problems, the better.

So, you guys recently announced like you crossed the 100 artists mark? I’d love to hear more of your thought process into finding those first few 100 artists. Did you have any like specific like data points? Or like checkmarks that had to be reached? Or was there a certain like criteria you were looking for to bring these people on the platform? Like what was the story of bringing those first few 100 authors on the platform?

David Greenstein: Yeah, every chapter has a bit of a different story. So, I think the chapter which really like called the Genesis artists, it was really about taking 20 artists that have inspired us to build sounds in the first place, right. And it was really important to highlight emerging independent artists in the web three kind of community that had been basically pushing the boundaries way before sound even existed. And we felt it was important to give them a stage to basically like highlight, like their contributions to the space. And that’s kind of the way that we chose the first 20 artists was just the ones that kind of, I don’t think sound would exist without their kind of efforts and contributions. That doesn’t mean there were actually a lot of people that we like wanted to get as gems as artists, that scheduling just didn’t work out or whatnot. But that was kind of the inspiration behind that. And then each season, we’ve kind of run different approaches where season one we had like kind of some of the artists curate who gets on next we wanted to experiment with like, what does it look like from an artist curated perspective. But I think that the main, the main thing is just building like music is diverse. And just like how music is.

So, we wanted to build a diverse community, across every type of music, across every type of gender, across every type of sexuality across all different sides of the spectrum. And I think that’s, that’s kind of always been at the core of sound is making sure that the music that’s out there in the world is reflective of like the artists that we’re obviously onboarding. And I think, to say the obvious when you do 100 artists, it doesn’t matter what the number is, you’re never going to curate the perfect 100 artists like there’s obviously to get on town. And that’s why I think like the ultimate solution is to figure out a way to open it up in some way, shape, or form. And I think, yeah, I think 100 is I mean, it’s slightly over, over now. But it’s been considering the time frame that we started, it’s given us a lot of conversation shots on goal. We’ve talked to a lot of artists because every single artist has gone through onboarding with us. In personally onboarding all those artists, it’s been able to give us a lot of insights on like, what works and what doesn’t work. And I think one thing that I think we pride ourselves at sound is like we’re constantly changing. And so, if we see something not working, or we see something working, we’re going to double down on the thing that’s working and we’re going to get rid of the thing that’s not working and so I think sound is also a living breathing organism that is like changing day by day based on kind of the feedback from artists and listeners in the community. And I think that’s kind of the beauty of it is where we want to be as nimble as possible and kind of just work with our community.

So, what are the next 100 artists look like? Like you said there was like some form of theme in season one or for the first 100. What do you imagine the next 100? Looking like?

David Greenstein: Yeah, so I think the goal was obviously like, and I think there’s a lot more to do here, which is like sure to keep highlighting independent emerging artists in the community, I think there’s so many talented web three artists that need to be highlighted. And I even think the term of the artist is going to be pretty much gone in the next year, where it’s really just people making great music, like whether they’re going to like upload to Spotify, they’re going to upload to a web three site, or they’re going to make their own NFTs, it doesn’t really matter, if the music’s fire, like, that’s ultimately the only thing that matters at the end of the day. And I think artists should always have creative freedom to put their music wherever they want. And so, we feel like, it’s really important to kind of highlight people that have been driving the space forward, we also want to act as a bridge for people kind of getting into web three and making it like fun to experiments. Because I think, in order for the space to really take off and grow, you need to have more than 100 artists kind of experimenting with the music. And I think that’s kind of like the, to like Hallmark things are, can we onboard more artists into the web three music space, and then two, can we help those with three music artists achieved success, not just in the web three scene, but just in the music scene more broadly, like, I think the first time that you go into a coffee shop, and you hear some of the artists that have obviously been on sound or any of the other web doing music sites, like it’s gonna, it’s just gonna like, cause a complete, like mental shift that this isn’t some like internet, kind of click, it’s actually affecting the entire music landscape more broadly. And I think that’s one thing that I think people don’t realize yet is like, there are already superstars in web three, and too many to count. And I think it’s just a matter of time before the visibility in the spotlight gets shined on them. Because they, they absolutely deserve it. And I think that’s kind of the point of like, what got us here in the first place is, we’re like, hopefully proving and showing how many talented artists that literally existed way before kind of all the started are out there. And it’s everybody’s job and our job, especially to tell those stories.

Should Artists Optimize to Grow Like Their Collector Base or Reach Virality on Streaming and Social Platforms?

So, do you think artists should be optimizing to grow like their collector base or reach virality on web two streaming and social platforms? Like, what’s more important now, do you think?

David Greenstein: Yeah, so I don’t ever believe in like a one size fits all solution for artists depends on like, what their goals are, like, if somebody wants to build a tight knit 100- or 1000-person community, that’s incredible, like, and they should be fully empowered to do so. And you can have wild success with 1000 people that really fuck with you. I think on the other hand, if somebody wants to be a superstar, and like tour, and do all these crazy things, and be on the radio, then that’s another path, right? And I think the problem today is that you don’t really have an option, in the Spotify world, you really do need to be that superstar, because that’s basically how the system is set up. And I think here, it’s about making space for both right. And I think championing whatever cause are artists, I think a lot of the just conversations I’ve had with artists is that they feel like they have to do something, or they feel like they can’t be themselves or what they want to be. And I think that’s always like the most dangerous side where like the ability to express who you are, and freely and freely be yourself is like probably the most important thing to creative expression. And I think that’s kind of the beauty of the web three space is that it should cater to all shapes and sizes. I don’t think that there’s something about web three music that is like, against the bigger artists kind of getting involved. And I also think that there’s nothing about an artist that like has no following that can’t get involved as well. I think both are just tools to shape and build kind of how you engage with your community.

I think that’s kind of like the hope and the belief that we can kind of shape there. So, I think it’s really, to answer your question directly. Like, it’s really about what does those artists want? Can the tools help them achieve their vision, and I think that should work for as many artists as possible and if it only works for really big artists, then that’s not solving the root problem, which is how do we help artists, you know, reach the most amount of people and identify their communities and build them. And so, I think ultimately, like, the independent artists, definitely, when I say independent, I mean, a lot of the like, like, they don’t have as many resources is kind of maybe like a Drake out there. And so, it’s really important that like we’ve kind of leveled the playing field just in terms of like being able to sustain making a living off your music because I always hear you can’t make money on music. You got to do touring or merch, and I think that’s amazing and awesome. And I think as I said, concerts are the greatest thing ever. But I think music itself is so valuable, that you obviously should be able to make a more of a living off your music.

David’s Advice for Strategizing Around Editions, One-of-one Drops, and Selling Ownership in a Song. 

So, quick story, I’m a drummer, I’ve been playing the drums for since I was five years old, I never ended up pursuing it professionally because I never thought there was a real way to make money in it. I always felt like I’d be competing against like a lot of the gospel drummers that grew up playing in church, and they got all the gigs and they got everything and like, there’s no room for like this Jewish kid that loves playing the drums to go and pursue his passion. And kind of seeing the evolution of what’s happening in music NFTs has really opened my mind up to there’s literally an infinite amount of ways if you really set your mind to it. And you really get creative, and you learn different ways to make money, and put yourself out there and create value for your art. It’s possible. And I think like going back to your point of understanding what an artists want, what should they strive for virality? Should they strive for building a collector base? Also, kind of ties into my next question is, how should artists be thinking about doing addition drops or one of ones or selling ownership into their songs, the NFTs? Like what are the mental models that you think people should be looking for or looking from to kind of answer these types of questions?

David Greenstein: Yeah, so I think just like everything I always say it’s up to the artist on what they want to do. And they should, they should have the freedom to create an experiment in whatever way shape or form right, so I think we’re so early in the space that there isn’t one right answer. path is best for you. I think it’s what are you looking to accomplish? And what are you trying to experiment with? And one way to find out what’s for you is to try them. All right. And I mean, it’s like a very common approach. And I think that’s something that we even encourage, go try them on, see what works and what doesn’t work. And I think part of the beauty of web three is the interoperability and trying new things, right. So, I think it would be kind of against the ideals of the space if like, you can only use one kind of tool. Alright, so for us, it’s like, yeah, go try, go try it all and figure out what works. And then obviously, like, there are even more tools that like, let you stitch those altogether. And I think that’s kind of the beauty of the whole space. So, it’s definitely not a one size fits all solution, which I think is really hard for sometimes people to wrap their heads around. Because that’s exactly what happens today. Like it ends up being a one size fits all solution. And so, it ultimately, like it takes a bit to like to unbundle that. I think it is that like it depends on like, are you trying to get multiple people around your music? Are you trying to build one intimate experience or relationship with a with a collector? Like what is the ultimate kind of goal that artists and I think it, it feels like there’s enough there starting to become enough tools out there that artist can kind of experiment with what works best for them. So, at the end of the day, as long as the artist is in control, and the artists can, can like, pick and choose what fits best for them. That’s kind of a step forward in the right direction. And I think there are some more tools to build for sure. But I just like the idea that there’s already kind of optionality in the space.

So that’s, that’s a really good way to look at it. Because earlier in the conversation, you’re like, I wanted to find a way to make sound as if it was some type of concert experience, right, a listening party of some sort. And going through the edition model, right. And doing multiple for, multiple NFTs for one drop is very much like a very, like rational way or logical way to kind of think about this is why I should be doing additions to kind of get this party type of experience around my music. And I guess like when should artists be thinking about doing one on one, for example? Like, what is your mindset around that personally versus from the artists point of view?

David Greenstein: Yeah, I think I think like one of ones are like, I mean, a lot of the I don’t even think the NFT space necessarily would exist without the one of one space. So, I think there’s always been a place for kind of that like, one of one, like scarcity. I think it’s really, really helpful in educating artists and listeners on just like, it’s simple. It’s like, there’s only one of them, right? So, by nature of their only being one of them, the scarcity is just the highest they could possibly get. And I think there are things that you can do for one person that you maybe don’t want to do for 25 or 50 people. And I think that’s like an incredible way to kind of view and shape the space. And so, I think you’ve seen a lot of artists do one of ones on other sites and also drop on sound as well. And I think it’s just about figuring out like, and I think we’re so early in the space, like which use case works best for which scenario and giving artists the tools to basically pick and choose with both. So, I don’t think it’s any like, I don’t think it’s as good as any one versus the other. I think they have different fits and different use cases. But I think with sound because we were going for this like community oriented, kind of approach with building like multiple people around the song and kind of building that type of experience. That’s obviously why we chose to do them the multiple kind of editions because it allowed us to play a little bit more social games, which I think we’re just really exciting to I think that was kind of like more just how like, I’ve always experienced music and going into so many concerts and so for us it was is really just about giving artists a way to kind of engage their community in a little bit of a cheaper manner, which I think obviously has helped, hopefully helped bring in a little bit more collectors to the space, which I think overall benefits everyone. Because we have, the goal is to turn every listener, obviously into a collector because the line should get blurred. And if that happens, then we’re going to be, we’re all going to be in good shape. So, I think that’s kind of the name of the game for right now.

What Makes One Artist More Valuable than the Other in Web Three?

So that’s on the artists point of view. Okay. So earlier in the discussion was like, I want to split this up between the artist point of view and the collector’s point of view. So, I think like, you brought up an interesting point of view right now, which is one of my questions, which we’ll get into for in a minute, excuse me. But I guess from a collector’s point of view, after talking with so many of your collectors, or I guess, learning more about your collectors, what makes one artist more valuable than the other in web three? Do they have a point of view on that? Do you have a point of view on that? What are the thoughts around that?

David Greenstein: Yeah, so I mean, I think like, I think it’s always weird to like to put a value on a person because I think people are just valuable in general and like, there’s not nobody’s getting more than the next person at the end of the day. But I do you think that like people obviously like, like music, right and have their own tastes and music means different things to different people. And I think it’s really just which music is resonating with people. And I think that’s ultimately, the point of this is if you liked music, you have the option to support it and obviously get something in return. And I think certain artists that have like, obviously been able to build followings in the space, I think one consistent thing is that they’re typically very involved. And that doesn’t feel like it’s like a onetime thing and that they end up leaving. And so, I think there is some type of like involvement. And I don’t have like a tangible thing around it. But it’s the artists that are just like really, really like thriving like Aman, who obviously is an artist and also works with sound, or Latasha or O’Shea, or Daniel Allen or Grady, and so many others and Rio Cragin. And Jeremy for Marion Hill, like. They’re like daily participants, they really live, breathe and believe in this stuff. And I think that really resonates, in addition to their music, being world class, and incredible and just undeniably amazing. And I think that’s what makes them like special, special, not just artists, but people is their belief and kind of championing of the space. So, I think that’s kind of like one of the things I’ve noticed is like, when you mix good music with like, authenticity, and like their story and why you’re experimenting, that kind of has resonated, obviously, from the collector side of view, in terms of getting, like collecting. So, I think that’s kind of my answer there.

The Difference Between Collecting to Collect and Collecting to Own?

Yeah, I would agree with you. A lot of the people that I collect, I try to see like, what else are they doing in the space that not necessarily like directly brings value to collectors, but I guess increases their presence in web three. So, the best example is like looking at Matthew Chime, for example, and all the amazing work he’s doing at song camp and chaos, but also doing his own individual drops, right. And kind of seeing his full comprehensive understanding of what’s happening in web three at a very expert level kind of makes me more bullish on him as an artist and in web three specifically. And just like speaking more on the collector side, really like interesting, I guess, like point that goes across crypto Twitter all the time is how do you think about the difference between collecting to collect and collecting to own, so what do I mean by that? Okay, because I also get backlash on this. So just to iterate before everybody jumps on me. Collecting to collect for the sake of collecting, like what we do on sound, okay, you do it from the form of patronage, you end up owning the NFT, it sits in your wallet. But there aren’t necessarily like web two IP rights or royalties attached to it versus other NFTs that you can buy that generate royalties and income. How should collectors be thinking about the different models? I guess, on that and because one of one’s very much fall in the same category as like editions, I would argue for the sake of collecting the way they’re being done right now at least. Right? And then there’s the other model of collecting in with that you get certain IP rights, royalty streams, etc. How do you think about the difference? is one method more superior than the other? And maybe you may be a little bit biased because you do more of like the edition drops, but I don’t know I’d love to get your take on this. Because back in season four, there are so many hot takes on like, which one, which model is better than the other? So, it’s always I don’t know, I’m curious to get your point of view.

David Greenstein: Yeah, I think we’re too early to play the like, which one is better than the other but what I will say is every NFT in the entire web three and space and even the more NFT space more broadly, it’s never been about the IP rights. It’s about being part of a community right having access to certain like artists, or events or weightless or whatever, whatever the access kind of is, it’s about obviously making money. I mean, crypto as a whole is a speculation game, and then three, it’s about the visibility that comes with owning it. Right? Those are the three things that obviously shape and drive value, I think is an example like if you take any, you know, PSP project, there’s never been you get equity in, like the board a yacht club, you do by nature of owning it and obviously being a part and then you know, all this kind of like you get Airdrop a token. But it was never about owning equity, people purchase and FTS because they wanted to be a part of the community, and they value what was going on. And from an art perspective, you wanted to directly support that artist, and you thought their art was valuable, right. And if other people think that artists valuable, the NFT went up in value. And I think what I think maybe people don’t think about is like, there’s so many on chain ways to generate revenue for those kinds of collectors, that that’s ultimately like, like, I think a, a more like more lucrative opportunity than kind of building on top of the existing music worlds. And I think the way we, the reason we feel that way, is because like most artists that we spoke to aren’t making any money in kind of the current streaming world. And so, we felt it was more important to like to generate new revenue streams for artists, because that’s ultimately, where we can be most helpful and impactful to multiple different artists. And we didn’t want to, like we want to help artists reach new sources of revenue in the music industry, because one problem with music today is that there’s very, very few ways to monetize music, but they typically don’t change. And there’s usually one at a time, whether it’s like, you know, cassettes, CDs, iTunes, and now streaming. And we would love to see a world where there’s so many more sources and ways to monetize music. And I think that’s ultimately, what I think excites us about kind of, like web three music spaces, that it opens up the possibilities for monetization for music, in ways never before possible versus kind of confining us to building on top of the existing system. And obviously, like, we inherit all the problems that we ultimately started with in the first place, so I think the freedom to value and the freedom to express and not putting a value on music is kind of the beauty of it. And I think something that a lot of people have said is like I collect because I think the art is valuable, and I think is going to be you know, obviously increase their prominence in both the space and in the music world. And honestly, like, I think it’s too early to put, like put a finality on what these things. And I think that’s part of what’s going to happen is you’re going to start to see use cases and monetization opportunities and access to certain things that you’ve never been able to see before. Because that’s the beauty of building in the web two space. And so, I think with certain other kind of like NFTs that have been valuable and right, right now, obviously, we’re in this whole PFP craze. And so, like nobody really knew at the beginning that like this type of NFT would lead to and allow a spot for this NFT, which would then lead to an airdrop from this token, right? When you initially bought that thing. That’s kind of the main thing is all we’ve done is mint, the initial NFT associated with the song, that type of landmark moment in music history and with that artist and with that song is going to be the like the access key to like a much larger world around that music. And I think there’s so many opportunities, and I think we’ve only seen a few of them with like, Daniel Allen has done this with his treasury where they NFT kind of play a role in how the Treasury managed and governed. And there’s so many different things that can kind of be kind of be explored and done with NFTs. And just even just the whole crypto space more broadly, that I think it’s, I think just the opportunities are going to end up being just a lot larger, which is going to attract a lot of artists to kind of experiment on this side of the table.

What Other Unique Experiences Does Sound.xyz Plan to Create for Collectors?

Yeah, I’m curious to see how that kind of unfolds in the various creative, like, I guess, creative ways that artists find, find methods to kind of tie value back to collectors. So of course, the art is the utility within itself. I don’t believe the art should maybe have more than that if artists want to attach more value to it beyond just the music piece. That’s fantastic. I think we have yet to see where defi comes into the picture. And when you can stake the value that that’s kind of like locked in your NFT, I’m really interested around that. I think like you said rev share in like diversifying, like what you get, like the various revenue streams that you get from selling collectibles and putting that to Treasury and issuing a governance token that then gets more value accrue to that. I have yet to kind of see more models beyond that, to be honest, that have worked and that have gotten like a lot of attention. And I’m really also curious to kind of like, I guess like learn more about in season two, you guys had really interesting unique opportunities for collectors to engage more with previous drops that they’ve collected by basically allowing like a pre-sale, for example prior to the drop going public. I’m curious like what other value do you guys’ plan to create or like other unique experiences, you imagine creating for collectors on sound? And I guess what, what do collectors want? At the end of the day? Like, what does a collector need? At the end of the day?

David Greenstein: Yeah, so I think there’s those two things. And I’ll get a little bit of a preview on

All right let’s go. Let’s go.

David Greenstein: One side is obviously like giving collectors a way to kind of show off and engage their music collection and building exciting products around that, I think are really at the forefront of what we want to do. We want to make it really, really fun to collect, we want to make it exciting to show off your music collection and show how early you are. And I think that’s, that’s kind of like at the core of some of the product work that we’re doing right now. I think on the other side, right, it’s about access to the artists and access to the community more broadly. And I think there’s been a lot of really interesting building in this space around like token gated merch stores, chat rooms, countless other tokens, I mean, even when we do with like, basically token gated, like, allow us for like, presales. But what I think you’re gonna start to see is like, artists are going to be able to use these NFT’s because that is, again, the whole point of the whole space, is that to build whatever experience they want. And I think the surprise is actually like, delivers that like incredibly like cool experience. And I think you’ve seen this a few times where like pussy right gave her sound NFT holders access to it, and not even a music and if you just separate like our drop that and it delivered a lot of value to obviously like the collectors and holders, the initial sound drops, nobody bought the NFT or the sound drop, because of that they didn’t even know it was happening. But I think that’s part of obviously the interesting and exciting part of what’s been going on is just seeing artists do things that, you know, haven’t been before possible. I’ve seen, I’m starting to see artists, like fly out winners and golden eggs and all this cool stuff. So, I think it’s really about the just what’s up to the imagination. And one thing I don’t try to do be more creative than an artist. And I think artists are gonna, you know, that’s one of the beauty of like working with artists, they’re so creative, that they come up with so many different things. And then obviously, where a lot of artists want to do the same thing where like, maybe we can help you build something to support that. But that’s kind of answers, I think, you’re gonna start to see a lot more ways to engage and have access to that artist. And I think the other side is, there’s going to be a lot more ways to have your kind of visibility of your music collection and show things off and kind of flex on like your music tastes versus your friends. But I think all at the same time, it’s really important that the person who doesn’t able to, isn’t able to collect still has an incredibly fun experience. And I think there’s a lot of features that you can build for people who don’t collect and still have them that contribute a lot of value to the system. So, I think that’s kind of the name of the game is like how you make it fun to collect, keep it open, keep it affordable, but also make it for like a open ecosystem for anybody who wants to participate, that could be an artist that hasn’t yet uploaded their first music NFT that can be a listener that hasn’t first collected their music and update. I think the main aspect is to make this inclusive for as many people as possible. And I think that’s ultimately the journey of sound is to do so.

Plan for Onboarding the Next Hundred Thousand, One Million, Hundred Million Music NFT Collectors.

Yeah. You said something earlier. And I want to bring it back. So, every, I guess, nearly all collectors or listeners, but not every listener is a collector, how do you envision kind of onboarding the next hundred thousand, one million, hundred million NFT collectors into the ecosystem? Like what does that look like?

David Greenstein: Yeah, I think you have to blur the lines between obviously like, a listener and a collector, like, possible. And I think the main thing is that that is the opportunity, like as many people that listen to music can obviously be collectors. And I think the real, the real thing that I’m saying is what I just talked about, which is like you have to build better ways for listeners and collectors to basically show off and their profile and obviously like their music collection and build ways for them to discover new music. Because I think that is ultimately like one of the things that’s missing. There was a there was a tweet the other night about what would you like to see and with music NFT and I think a lot of people are really, really liked the idea of playing and hearing them and I think right now like we’re kind of using systems like open sea, which isn’t necessarily the best place for like listening to music and just focus, it wasn’t intended or built for that. And I think there’s been some really cool experiments that are being run with like my friend Anthony, who created hate machine has started something called Future tape, and a few others that are awesome. There’s this feel like there’s a new one every single day. I’m just building cool ways to just like listen to the music out there because it really opens people like minds up to like how much incredibly talented music is. And I think at the end of the day, like one of the things that’s never steered us wrong and it’s just as long as you’re putting good music in front of people, it really like the rest takes care of itself. And I think the good music plus the good stories is kind of the secret sauce to everything. And that’s kind of wow, what keep what makes us excited?

What is Your Vision for the Music NFT Space?

What is your vision for the music NFT space look like? What is your like your picture-perfect type of scenario that you’re kind of building towards? And has that changed since you started sound initially?

David Greenstein: No, we want to help a million artists make a full time living off their music. I think we want to build that music economy that is accepting of all participants. And I think in order to define the music economy, right, there’s multiple participants, there’s artists, there’s listeners or songwriters, there’s labels, there’s producers, there’s music curators, and all of those a huge role in why music is able to reach the masses today. And I think it’s really important that everybody can kind of thrive in because if any one party is upset, then ultimately like it’s going to get disrupted at some point. And I think, I think obviously, like in the current business model of music, like songwriters and producers are clearly treated as second class citizens. And that’s a larger answer on why but the main answer is just like the deals were done with the recording companies and those artists, those companies protect recording artists, not producers and songwriters. And so, we want to build something that is open and accessible to as many, many, many different types of people as possible. And that’s ultimately, like the end goal of sound is to build an open kind of music ecosystem where anybody is free to experiment and monetize their music in cool and novel ways. And build a listener community that ultimately values and supports artists and helps us reshape how music is valued. And if we can do so, then we can actually help many, many, many more artists make a full-time career so that you as a drummer, or somebody that you or your friend can like actually to think of music as like a full-time kind of career profession, and not do so in a way that doesn’t require them to dance on Tik Tok, necessarily, or build a million listeners or whatnot. And can build this kind of, you know, small communities around.

What do you imagine the role of like Spotify and Apple Music playing in this entire movement? And is there any fear or I guess any worry about them coming out with some form of like NFT compatibility for collecting songs? Like what do you what do you kind of see around that?

David Greenstein: Yeah, I think that helps artists monetize and experiment with their music, like, never going to have a problem with right, so if they want to do that, that power to them, because honestly, at the end of the day, like the mission is how do you help artists reach the most amount of people? Anybody who plays a role in that it deserves a lot of credit. I think Spotify, what they’ve done is they’ve built an incredible audience of hundreds of millions of listeners. And I think that plays a role in the visibility side, because you have hundreds of millions of eyeballs that like come to their app every single day to listen to music, how concentrated, the listening is another conversation. But I think ultimately, like the best product and the best solution will ultimately win out and there may be multiple, great products and solutions. And so, I don’t think like, like, we’re never focused on like what a big player might do like Spotify, we’re more focused on just building cool products for artists and serving our community and letting that kind of speak volumes to itself. And we think at the end of the day, if we do that something of value will be created. And if Spotify or Apple Music enters, then that’s awesome. And help obviously legitimizes the space and as long as they’re obviously sharing revenue with the artists in a fair and transparent manner that we think that that’s great.

Yeah, I another thing that I want to see kind of unfold is more collectors building communities around the artist versus the artists building a community around the collectors. Number one, have you seen any examples of that? Number two, what is kind of like, what goes into doing something like that? Like how can you motivate a band of collectors to build something like on Facebook, you see all these crazy Facebook groups of like people creating fan pages across Lady Gaga, right? Like those are fans creating groups around the artist. How do we get to that same mindset for music NFTs and collectors?

David Greenstein: Yeah, and then that’s like a really, really interesting point. And there’s a great blog post that bass grass Meyer, who works at colors, and is one of the most like incredible music tech writers. I’ve told him about this like six different times, but he has a blog post and I’m gonna get the name wrong, but it’s something along the lines of like, why like networks are better than channels for as models. But today, if you think about Instagram and Twitter, right, it’s very much the artists like blasting messages to their listeners. And sure, there’s some comment back and forth, but it’s not like a coherent place now. Versus if you talk about like Facebook groups or Instagram groups to what you’re talking about all these fan pages where without the artist permission, the kind of listeners and collectors are able to kind of engage in in new ways. I think that’s a like a lot like strong fan bases, whether it’s like a Billy Eilish or Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga or even on, like some of the more legacy acts like a Grateful Dead, these are like fish like these are like cult followings where I think the artist is 100% involved and like they’re following in their community like I think, of course, the Grateful Dead acknowledges the deadheads, and everything along those lines, but there’s like a lot of value that’s been created by just deadheads talking to each other. And building that sense of community. I think there is a place 100% for artists and listeners to build, like those own worlds, even without the artists, maybe the artists see that, like these listeners are like hanging out and like doing all this stuff and kind of coming in and kind of contributing from there. So, I think that’s 100% something that I haven’t actually seen happen. It’s been a lot of obviously, like artists, driving right now is inevitable, obviously, like, the more something grows, right, like you can’t just manage everything. So, I imagine with like some other larger kind of collections of the web three space, like, there probably is sub fractions of groups that kind of emerge. And I think that’s an inevitable outcome, obviously, as the presence and the notoriety of an artist kind of emerges. So yeah, I think that’s like a great point in terms of kind of like, just like loosening kind of the burden on artists because I think people don’t realize is there’s this conversation of like doing, you know, utility and work and all this other stuff, but a lot of the artists time and work goes into making the music, right? So that’s really the main craft there. And I think obviously, like some artists are extremely talented at community building and management and involving but not every artist is really wants to participate in that and I think a large part of this is like letting the listeners and kind of collectors drive that and I think yeah, I think the easiest examples you’ve seen a lot of like in discord like a lot of listeners have become the community moderator and just stepped up and like done. Like, that’s all I got a role on artists teams, and I know some famous stories of, of the community kind of members that have basically like joined the artists official team at some point, right. But in today’s world, like building an intimate connection with your community, and your listener base is like critical to an artist success. So, I think it’s 100% possible.

Understanding Sound.xyz’s Smart Contracts

So just off that point, for those who are listening to reference, you can check out the episode with Henry Chatfield and Daniel Allen basically like a duo. Henry came out of Daniels kind of like success and rise and see what he was doing web three, joined him and then they became this epic duo online where Daniel was kind of, excuse me, Henry was managing the day to day the community, the discord, a lot of the ops related around drops and different events that were going to happen while Daniel had the basically the creative energy to focus more on his craft. And I think like seeing more of those Duo’s, more of those, like artists management, kind of like collabs in web three is something we have yet to see more of on like a successful basis, I want to talk to you about a couple more things before we wrap up. Something that’s really unique to sound is the smart contracts that you guys’ kind of use to operate in Fulfiller drop. And I think it’s something that may go unnoticed behind the scenes, but it is the foundation of everything that happens. Can you talk to me more about the smart contracts? Because from what I understand you guys use custom smart contracts to kind of curate and organize every single drop, right?

David Greenstein: Yeah, so for us that was I mean, one of the core principles was like, on every music, you know, service today, artists don’t really own the relationship with their fans. And the best way to really showcase that point is to basically give every artist their own kind of custom smart contract that basically is their relationship with their listeners, right. So, like not even us can like withdraw the money from the contract, only the artists can, right. And that creates a different kind of sense of ownership that doesn’t exist today. So, when an artist like joint sound, they deploy their own kind of smart contract, which obviously gives them provenance over their work. And I think that’s something that like, the way that’s manifested in like everybody sees every day, he’s like on open see, every artist has their own collection, they’re not grouped under some central sound page, I think that’s been really, really helpful for just helping artists like this is your music NFT collection, not ours. So, at the end of day, it sounds like is just as I said in the beginning, like it’s just like an aggregation of all the artists and all their works. It’s not like the other way around, which is very like platform in terms of how it is today. And so, we felt it’s really important, because what if like, you know, sound doesn’t exist, it’s really important that artists maintain that relationship with their collectors. And I think that’s something that we spent a lot of time and effort on is just building the system to like let artists create their own smart contract with obviously with an no code environment, so that they can have provenance over their work and definitely is something we feel is like very integral to just not even just the music web three space, but there’s the NFT space more broadly and there’s been a few companies like manifold to kind of lead the charge on this, which has been really, really exciting and cool to see and definitely, definitely champion that as well.

Yeah, what does the next six to 12 months look like at sound?

David Greenstein: So, I think the big question that we’re gonna want to do is obviously, like scale the collector experience. So, we definitely want to make collecting music NFTs so addictive, so fun. So, like, just enjoyable that people will come out of the woodworks to learn about obviously like how to create a wallet or how to how to buy Eth. And we think that that is like the next step for obviously, music NFTs. I think on the artists side, it’s more, it’s most important to figure out how do we build systems that scale and kind of open this up, but also maintain some type of curation, even if it’s in a more public open way. And I think that’s kind of the riddle I’ll leave everyone here with is, I think there are ways to open it up, but still maintain curation, and do so without kind of intersecting with each other. And I think over the next couple months, people will see kind of what we have in store, which I think will catch people by surprise, otherwise, we won’t have enough time for episode number two, but the feeling sore. And I think the one thing is like we do a lot of like just talking to listeners in ours and we talk to artists on a daily probably hourly basis. And then with collectors we have like a biweekly kind of town hall with our collectors in our Discord, people that are like their town collectors in terms of holding an NFT in their wallet. And then we also do it sound Twitter spaces with the more broad community, anybody can come and pull up that I’m on leads and it’s incredible. So, we’re constantly just learning and evolving. And that’s kind of where the insights come from.

Amazing. So, two I guess three more questions. Okay. These are more fun questions that when I tweeted them interviewing you and coming on mint, what do you guys want to ask him? So, the first one is, what’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

David Greenstein: I’m gonna go with cookies and cream,

Cookies and cream. All right. And then what’s the ideal size for a tungsten cube?

David Greenstein: 4 inches 100%

And last question. Do you have any questions for me?

David Greenstein: I guess I mean, to see you kind of build this from like, I mean, even this is entirely entrepreneurial journey as well. But I mean, I feel like Mint is really, in the level of like guests that you have, like, I feel like I’m amongst legend, and definitely the least important person in the space. So, I’m super honored that you would even consider me and thank you for making the time. And yeah, I’m just curious, like, where do you see Mint headed? And what’s kind of?

Yeah, so first of all, always welcome on the show. I think you’re one of the like the leading people that has, that has a purpose that kind of like beats his drum. And you really see that through your work. So welcome, anytime. So, in terms of mint, it’s a good question mint started 10 months ago, with the sole intention of trying to selfishly learn more about what’s happening in the greater economy by inviting people that are smarter than me onto the show to teach me about it. And then just so happened to document the process along the way. And it slowly spiraled to now reaching like over 20,000 people a month across all platforms. And every single season, I give out free NFTs to kind of document who are my early participants, who were my early contributors via po ops or minting on my site. Season Four was the biggest season yet, we had over 6000, NF Ts minted for free, which is wild. And we had like 1000s upon 1000s of hits to the site to which was really, really cool to see. And the community is growing and growing and growing. You know, my whole intention of starting Mint is like I’m a creator, creating content on a podcast, right? Creating content on the web through creator economy. So, through my business model, through my levels of growth and engagement through my content, I kind of set out this thing to be as web three native and as crypto native as possible. I envision me kind of doing more drops myself in the future. But I want to do it in a way where I really do it like really thoughtfully, and part of it is kind of rewarding my earliest contributors first somehow, and because we were able to provably show that either they were a speaker on one of the seasons, a listener on one of the seasons or a sponsor on one of the seasons, they somehow have a role into kind of like playing the future of mint. But the goal is not to create a coin desk or an NFT now or a decrypt or one of those, it’s more so to create it as independent as creator first type of environment and see where it kind of goes from there. I take it a step at a time I get lucky enough to learn from people like you and other people in the space and kind of helps me inform. My end goal like the way I see this kind of unraveling is I’d love to build something at one point and kind of use it to benefit my audience somehow in the web through creator economy space. So, depending on what’s brewing, we’ll see what kind of happens in the future, but I guess I’ll leave it at that. So, from either tokenizing my content, I brought that up and building something, and just continuously creating more content to help other people. That’s kind of like a future. You know, the most rewarding part about this, David is getting tweeted at afterwards and be like, yo, I listened to your episode with Daniel Allen or with catalog or with this person or with that person, you know, really inspired me to launch my first collection. And look, I got my first collection because of it, or I use the principles that Verde talked about in season four to price my collection, and it helped me do this. And then it helped me do that. Like, that’s the most rewarding thing ever. And I hope at the end of this episode, listening to your point of view, that same value kind of like trickles down to more and more people like that’s selfishly, what it does for me.

David Greenstein: You know, I think, in that sense, we have a very shared mission and terms of just building things for to help as many people as possible. And I think something that’s really cool is what you said, like just even on a podcast level, like it’s not most podcasters don’t know who their initial listeners were, I think, the opportunity and obviously, they know who their speakers are, but the opportunity to intertwine those two. Like I’m very excited to see what you come up with. I’m looking forward to hopefully being a participant and anything that I’m officially.

Yes, sir.

David Greenstein: I’ve been a longtime listener.

I appreciate it.

David Greenstein: Thank you, Adam. Pleasure, pleasure.

Outro

Of course. Before I let you go. Where can we find you? Where can we find sound, show us the way, and then I will wrap it up.

David Greenstein: The name is our domain. So, you can find us on sound.xyz or sound xyz on Instagram, sound xyz underscore on Twitter. My personal is D Greenstein one with a Napster logo is kind of how I run around the internet. So that’s where you can find me but most of the time, I’m on Twitter, talking to artists and listeners and kind of just building sounds so.

Amazing.

David Greenstein Thank you, Adam.

Thank you, sir. Till next time.

Categories
Podcast Transcript

illaDaProducer on Building The Web3 Incubator for Music Producers

Background

Mint Season 5 episode 2 welcomes illaDaProducer, the Grammy-nominated multi-platinum Producer who created numerous hits alongside Eminem, MegTheStallion, Future, Gunna, DJ Khaled, lil Pump, Rick Ross, lil Wayne, and many more.

He came on to chat about his latest venture, Who Who’s Tree House, which acts as a launchpad for hungry producers looking for intimate mentoring and potential placement via his deep music network. 

What an incredible upbringing and his immigrant-inspired hustle is one worth learning from. I hope you enjoy our conversation.

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • 00:08 Intro 
  • 04:48 Working with Eminem
  • 16:04 Where Does Your Persistence and Hustle Come From?
  • 17:52 What Do You Look For in Producers That You Take Under Your Wings?
  • 22:37 What is WhoWho’s Treehouse?
  • 32:54 Finding Purpose in Crypto and Web3
  • 36:55 Collecting Music NFTs
  • 52:05 Outro

…and so much more. 

I hope you enjoy our conversation. 


What’s good Illa? Welcome to the podcast How you doing, bro?

IllaDaProducer: Okay. How are you doing?

Intro

Good man, I’m happy to have you on thank you for being a part of season five music NFTs videos and CCL and you’re here, obviously because of your music background, being a fucking killer producer in the space, but now making a name for yourself in crypto. Okay, so I always like starting with an introduction. Who the hell are you? How do you introduce yourself to someone that doesn’t know who you are? And then also, how did you get into crypto?

IllaDaProducer: I’m IllaDaProducer, I’m a Grammy nominated multi-platinum producer. I’ve worked with everybody from Mega stallion to future to Ghana, to G Herbo. Eminem a lot. And the list goes on and on. From there. I got into crypto because I did half a M&Ms Kamikaze and then I also did the record kill shot where he dissed MGK. And that record got me a pretty substantial publishing deal. And an admin deal with that to where I was able to keep most of my ownership of my music. So, I had a nice sized publishing deal. And I just kept hearing from people close to me, like, yo, you know, you’re not letting your money work for you, you know, you’re not letting your money work for you. So, it was Thanksgiving, around Thanksgiving, a friend, a mentor of mine, named pooh bear, hit me and he told me about crypto because I was like, I’m gonna, he’s like, what are you doing? I’m about to go buy a chain. Because do me a favor. Take the same amount of money you can spend on that chain and buy some crypto, buy XRP.

Oh, man.

IllaDaProducer: So, I was like, you know what fucking pooh bear is so instrumental in my life. He’s the one who helped me learn how to write and arrange songs. So, I’m like, fuck it. I’m just gonna buy the crypto. So, I bought XRP and the shit with the SCC came out and that was my first lesson in the crypto. That’s what got me into crypto.

All right, all right. You had to find the chain.

IllaDaProducer: Later on, later on. Because I got Bitcoin after that and took some profits and bought the chain.

How you get your start in music?

IllaDaProducer: Another crazy story, man. I got started in music. After graduating college. I moved to Miami. And I was getting into a lot of trouble. I was doing things I wasn’t supposed to be doing. And you know, because Miami’s expensive so I had caught two charges. And I had just got my baby mother pregnant. So, I had a daughter on the way. So, I’m tripping. I’m like, bro, I can’t get no more trouble, my lawyer said, you get in trouble one more time. You could afford it. Because I wasn’t a citizen. So, boom, I’m In Miami, and I’m trapping so I’m over at Scott Soldier’s house, we’re just smoking weed. I was everybody weed man. I can say it all here. You know what I’m saying, that’s how everybody knows me. That’s how I started, right? So, I met Scott Soldier’s house and for like a week, and I’m sitting there trying to figure shit out and I just was smoking the vibe and go to the club and kicking it with girls. And I’m just seeing him this lawyer. I mean, his manager keeps coming in like, yo, yo, the front end. You ready? And Scott’s like is the front end here? They’d be like, he’d be like, Man, it’d be like, oh, like a half hour is like, I ain’t starting until it comes. So finally, I’m like, what’s this front end you keep talking about? Is that a car some shit? What are you talking about? He’s like, I thought he’s talking about the front end of a whip because he has so many cars. He’s like, no, front end is my money. You know, I’m saying I don’t touch these keys until I get the front end of my money. I’m like how much you charge for a beat? He’s like, 200,000, I’m like so every time you manage a company, he is talking about front end of 100 grand, he’s like, yeah, so I’ve seen him make a million dollars in a week selling beats. And I’m like, and I was already doing beats a little bit and I’m like, fuck that. This is what I’m doing. This is what I’m doing.

Wait a minute, but were you already doing music around that time? Or that sparked the initial like, like that sparked the initial like fuse to go towards it?

IllaDaProducer: No, I was already doing it. I was already trapping and taking my money to go and book studios.

But it wasn’t full time?

IllaDaProducer: Nah.

Okay.

IllaDaProducer: I wasn’t, it was like, I was making so much money doing other things that I was like, okay the music. Obviously, that ain’t for me. So let me just, you know what I’m saying and then I was using the studio as a way to meet artists to track you know what I’m saying, so as I’ve met on everybody, including Scott.

Working with Eminem

So, where does Eminem come in? And I’m kind of fangirling because Eminem, I grew up like, a lot of us listening to Eminem. Eminem is like the number one like number one, and I can’t even imagine being in the same room as him. It’s a goal of mine to have him on the podcast one day, so we’ll see if that happens. But that’s great. I got to trap. I got to be in the rooms that you’ve been in. But what’s it like working with him?

IllaDaProducer: Incredible man. And how I met him was another crazy story, right? That’s why I always just stay humble and just wait for my time. Because the story along the way is always incredible. You know what I’m saying, when you skip, you try to skip ahead. Or, you know, take shortcuts, to do that you probably got to burn somebody or do something janky that you shouldn’t be doing. So just play your position. So, with the Eminem’s situation, I had first got started Fat Joe, and 2012. So, he believed in my music. And we worked exclusively for like a couple years and I did all the music that he put out. That’s how I was able to work with future, fresh Montana for the first time, ASAP Rocky, Little Wayne several times, a bunch of people. So, then he got, he went to jail for tax evasion. He went to jail for a year. So, during that time, I was just grinding and trying to sell beats. And at that point, I was selling these for around 5000 a beat. I met a friend of mine, Jaya Dino who used to do radio for Interscope, and he had an artist from New York. So, like I said, I’m not American. I came from Guyana, South America. So, when I first came to America, I moved to Brooklyn. So, anyone that’s from Brooklyn strapping or is a street guy and he wants to get out. And he’s trying to do music. I always try to you know, lend a helping hand. I’ve always been like that.

So, he had an artist named Fresher. Fresher from Brooklyn. So, boom. You know, I work with you. I’m getting 5000 a beat right now though. So, he’s a man, I got 500 a beat. But I bought four of them. I’m like, Alright, cool. That’s two grand that’s, you know, it’s, it’s something from my time at least. And it’s helping me, it’s enables me to help somebody from Brooklyn. So, I do the four songs one of them takes off. It’s called wait a minute, the hook. Wait, wait a minute, wait a minute. Wait, wait, wait a minute, and the thing blew up in the tri state area. So, he was touring the tri state and every radio personality picked up the song because it was a great club record. And every rapper in New York started remixing it from French to Remy Ma, 50 cents, so 50 cent remix it and Royce to five nine heard that and Royster five nine loved it and remixed it, and then Eminem heard that it was like yo, what the fuck is that? Like, this shit is hard. What’s that? And he goes, oh, this this song. Wait a minute from this artist Fresher from Brooklyn. Eminem like yo, I need to get with fresher because I need his voice. He sounds like a Buster Rhymes, young buster. He’s like, I need this voice and this energy. I got to work with him and loves people with certain tones and deliveries. He’s really like, a hip hop historian. So, boom. He meets Fresher, Fresher is Eminem. Eminem is Fresher’s favorite artist in the world so freshly goes in his studio. Yo Em, you’re my favorite rapper, telling him his favorite songs. And Em was like, yeah, yeah, who made the beat? Like, cool. I need Illa. So, a $500 beat got me to Eminem.

Wow. Wow. So, he called you? Like, where are you when you heard that?

IllaDaProducer: I was in Florida at my mama crib, and I remember. I was there visiting and I’m making beats. And J and Dino, my friend who I met who’s a fresher, who was Fresher’s manager. He hit me like yo, where are you at? I’m at the crib. He’s like, bro, pick up the phone right now. I picked it up. He was just like; you would not believe what I’m about to tell you. You sit down. I’m like, what’s going on? Like, of course I’m sitting down. I’m making beats what’s up? Eminem wants some beats with you. I’m like Eminem? What are you talking about bro? He’s like, yo, like he is fucking loves that wait a minute song and yada yada, yada, he was in the studio Fresher and Fresher going off about how much he loved them. All he was talking about was the beat. So, he had me reach out. He’s like, get to Ellis. I’m letting you know. Send me some beats for Eminem. And he’s like I gave Paul Rosenberg, Eminem’s manager your contact. So, I look at my email showing up, Paul hit me. I’m like, oh shit, this is real. This is real.

What would you send them? Like how do you know what to send first?

IllaDaProducer: I just went through all my beats from that year. And this was tailor picking because I’m somebody, I’m a real producer. Another shout out to pooh bear man because there’s beat makers and a producer somebody who can make a beat, he can also write the song, you know what I’m saying? A producer takes a song from A to Z, and you can mix it and master it sometimes. So, when I’m going through the beats, I’m just picturing him spit in certain pockets. You know what I’m saying? well with Eminem sound like right now, not what he sounded like back then. But what he sounds like right now. So, I just picked, like 30 beats. And he had picked, like six of them, but he only one of them made the album. And it was crazy because that album was revival. Right? And it wasn’t really well received. It was probably his lowest rated album. Right? So, and it just at that time was the first time he picked up social media. So, he never was watching social media, reading social media on Twitter, YouTube, nothing. He picks it up, and everyone’s like, Eminem was whack. Yeah. Oh my god, I gotta be honest, what he’s singing is trash like, but by the grace of God. By the grace of God, people fell in love with two songs, and mine was one of them. So, I’m gonna dude, man, I appreciate people who come into my life and helped me out.

So, I could tell that that was probably hard for him. You know, I’m saying without knowing. So, I’m sitting there, email him, like, yo, Em, I’m like, fuck these motherfuckers like, you know what I’m saying? Like, they gotta they try to negate your legendary like, all the shit you’ve done. You’re a fucking legend certified. Yeah. Jay Z, Little Wayne, Kanye, everyone’s favorite rapper, number one, or number two. So, I’m just giving them you know, giving them all this motivation. You know what I’m saying? But as I’m saying this, I’m like, yo, but at the end of the day, this is how social media work. So, if you read between the lines that I hate, they are telling you what they want, they’ve let man fuck this. He should be doing this. You know what I’m saying? And I was like, so, they want you to snap on some trapeze, they want you to do the new flows. And as I’m sending these emails, I’m putting beats in there, like something like this. So, boom, I’m sitting there. And like, three months later, I think three or four months later, maybe. Maybe less. I see an email from my lawyers like yo, you did some songs with Eminem. I’m like, really? He’s doing another album. Like, okay, he’s coming back from revival. I see. And it’s like five songs. I’m like, What the fuck is this?

Oh, shit.

IllaDaProducer: And it was an EP, and I did every song except for like one.

Wow. Wow.

IllaDaProducer: I almost lost my, I still could feel that feeling bro. It felt like I was like a firework went off me or something. I was hot and like, holy shit. What the fuck is going on? So, I didn’t know that. as I’m sending them these shits, he’s recording, as I’m giving him the emails and giving them, he’s recording and like, you know what I’m saying? So, then Venom comes along, Venom the movie comes along. And they needed, I guess they was gonna, they need an album from him. And so, he was already working on, this body of work was going to be an EP. So, then he put the whole thing out, added a few more songs and put it out as the as the Kamikaze with the venom single. You know what I’m saying? I wouldn’t doubt if you got a big old bag for that too. Because the movies. You know what I’m saying? They pay for the whole promotion, everything. So yeah, man. Like, that’s how I ended up doing like half of that album. Yeah.

So, that probably that changed your life from that point on, huh?

IllaDaProducer: Hell yeah. Then the kill shot story, bro. A week after the album, or two weeks after the album, or the day after the album, MGK dropped the diss record and the shit was hard.

I remember that.

IllaDaProducer: I’m like, oh shit. MGK going crazy. I’m like, but he set himself up for the, like because am I gonna play with like, he forgot. I’m like, oh, he got chased because you know I’m about to chop his head off. So, I hit Tracy, my point person with Em. And I’m like, yo, you hear this shit? She’s like, Yeah, I told Marshall just ignore the shit. She said my friend. If he responds, I’m gonna kill him. So, I’m like, I I’m like, but just in case, just in case. I sent her some beats and like, and then I’m sitting there thinking later that night. I’m like damn. I sent my boy Gigs some beat, shout out Gigs. He’s one of the biggest artists in London. And he always wants horror movie beats from me. That’s what he said, Send me horror movies. That’s what you make. So, I’m like, alright, boom, I got some horror movie beats that I sent to gigs. I sent them three of them. And I’m like, let me see which one he didn’t use. So, he used one of them. And then the other two he didn’t use and one of the beats was kill shot. So, I sent that one and eight at night. I never forget. I’m like yo, Tracy, one more. Just in case I know you said but just in case, ain’t got a murder beat, two days later, my lawyer hits me again and this time, bro so much it was happening. I had an artist at that time and every label wanted to sign up, so I’m like it’s going crazy right, so boom, my lawyer hits me yo, you got another song with Eminem? I’m like, he’s like yeah, they’re already sent the invoice, you’re already getting paid for it. Like wow, that was quick. It was kill shot, I sent that beat, he didn’t even ask for the file. So, I’m like, okay, well, I guess when they released it, they’re gonna ask for the files. They never asked me, so that killed shots on that broke the Guinness World Record. That’s my mix and mastered, flamed, ended on MGK rap career and MGK to rock music and shit. But his rock music is hard. But that was it, that kill shot was it.

Where Does Your Persistence and Hustle Come From?

You know, there’s like this. There’s a level of being persistent and feeling uncomfortable and not giving a shit and just keep on pounding and keep on driving. Where does your persistence come from?

IllaDaProducer: I come from a third world country role. I remember like, man, literally like sometimes like I didn’t have to, but I take like Batson rainwater like barrels of rainwater because our family was sending us these barrels. With all with like, all these clothes and food and rice and, and VCR tapes. Like so you can watch movies and shit because like, there’s no channels in Guyana at that time. You know, I’m saying so. It was crazy, man. It was really crazy. But yeah, that’s where my persistence comes from. Because I wasn’t born in this country. I first came to the country. I never forget the first day I landed up. I was eating McDonald’s and it took me two days to finish. Because it was to me it was

Really, yeah. Oh, really?

IllaDaProducer: Yeah, man. So, like, I didn’t grow up in like a grass shit like that. But you know? I come from a third world country

How old were you when you landed here?

IllaDaProducer: Eight years old.

Eight years old. Wow. And you came with your whole family?

IllaDaProducer: No, just me and my sister.

Just you and your sister?

IllaDaProducer: Yeah, we went to Grandma’s in Brooklyn.

What Do You Look for in Producers That You Take Under Your Wings?

Oh, yeah. Wow. Crazy. You know, there’s something about being an immigrant. When you come to America, or an environment as like America, that there’s a reason why I feel like immigrants stand out from the rest than someone that’s typically born in America and is born to everything. Coming from my side, my dad is an immigrant. My mom is an immigrant. They migrated from the Middle East. My dad came here after the army, maybe had a few $1,000 in his pocket with a vision of the American dream, didn’t know the language, took English classes at night, working multiple jobs during the day, and just trying to build a path for himself, my mom, eagerness and drive to come over here gets migrated through Mexico, right? They meet in LA have my brother and I. But there’s something about that, that level of persistence, that hustle, that drive that immigrant come with and immigrants possess, that I haven’t seen, kind of like, through any other natural born person or, or native-born person in America, for example, now that I’m sure there’s outliers, and I’m sure I’m gonna get shit for that. But I guess the takeaway from my comment is immigrants just do it differently. And when you’re put in an environment and you move to an area where there’s more opportunity, and there’s more freedom, and you see a lot of success stories left and right? And you feel that you can be a part of that, you know, you can be that I think there’s like a level, there’s a layer, there’s a grit, there’s a layer of hustle that immigrants just possess and proof like literally prove yourself, you know, having that level of persistence of being just one more, just one more, just one more. You know, what comes to mind right now, there’s this meme of these like these two guys, okay, same guy. One of them gives up as they’re digging a hole and you’ll see like a diamond at the end of the picture. And then one below him keeps digging, you know, despite whatever, despite the troublesome activity, finding the diamond and just like winning, right. And I don’t know I imagine that as your kind of like you’re telling me the story because being a producer and you tell me, I’m sure you got people hitting you up all the time. Y’all check my beats. y’all, can you pass this along? Y’all, can you do this? Can you do that? And like what determines whether you would help someone, like what do you look for in producers that you take under your wing, or artists that you take under your wing? Characteristics that you look for? Are there other things that you look for in their upbringing? Like, what is your mental model around that?

IllaDaProducer: With artists and producers, I look for people who have new sound, somebody that’s like, completely left of center. You know, I’m saying but can bring it back to center. And in their own way, you know, I’m saying, but somebody that’s not copying exactly what’s winning right now. You know, there’s an artist named Julio right now. And I’m so pumped to work with this dude, I said, I don’t mean reaching out to people. I reached out, somehow, I was talking about him in a space with him on Twitter spaces, in a dental fields room. And they had one of the A&R from Atlantic, is for dental funerals. I think he’s a member dental fields and a holder. So, we talked and he’s like, yo, who’s hot right now. And I say Julio, and somebody else in the crowd in the room is like, yo, you know about Julio, that’s crazy. His managers my people, so two minutes later, the managers in the room and I’m like, oh, like I fuck with Julio. He says, Dude, he sounds like a fucking punk rock singer for real, but he’s like a six to black kid like, swirl his hair like, looks like a damn heavyweight champion. But his voice is way up here. And he be like, chilly. He starts all his songs like that. Song is like, punk rock trap shit. And I’m like, yo, I am fucking love this shit. Like, when I get that feeling and it’s like, I can feel like my almost water in my eyes welled up and I start doing this like goosebumps. Yeah, I felt the same way with little pump and XXX. So, that’s why I was able to work a little pump. I’m mad I didn’t get to work with X, but I was, it was lined up because one of my good friends was close to him. And coming to find out he used to come and watch, him and Ski masks used to come watch me and my friend make music together. And I didn’t even know. I just look for people like that man, people who do shit. And I’m like, what the fuck? Like, that’s how it was with Travis Scott when he first heard his beats. I’m like, What the fuck wrote like, it’s so dark and different and breakdowns with these analog synths. So that type of shit is what I look for.

What is WhoWho’s Treehouse?

Which also kind of like transitions into your latest project or your project in crypto, WhoWho’s Treehouse, right? And giving more opportunity to up and coming artists, producers, musicians, etc. With the ability through your network and what you’ve built for yourself and kind of like, share that success and share that love with others who join the community. Through the NFT right from what I understand. Yeah. So, can you give us a quick intro what is WhoWho’s Treehouse? How did that come to fruition? And like, what is the biggest takeaway?

IllaDaProducer: WhoWho’s Treehouse is my music NFT project. It’s very unique because the profile picture project mixed with music. So, once you get a who who, right, the who who are 3d house, they are super colorful, super swaggy. You know what I’m saying and each of them have a beat attached to it. So, if you’re a singer, songwriter, or a rapper, you can take that beat and record to it, we have a website called the whodio that you can go in and it’s token gated you enter your wallet, put your wallet, or connect your wallet, and then a reward, who who’s you have and then you could download the beats. Once you get the beat in your possession, you can record a song to it. So, we have a submission period. Our first one opened up, opens up on Friday, actually, that you can submit your songs. And then me and my team listen to every song. So if your song is dope, I’ll put it in front of the biggest publishers, the biggest A&R, the biggest labels, the biggest artists and the biggest execs in the game, because they hit me all the time, for music, and I don’t have enough, so you know, with this project, I wanted to, to actually do a real utility because when I hear, NFTs in the space is so cluttered, there’s so much noise there’s so many bad actors that are using the words that are dear to us. That really means SHIT to us. They’re using it as a buzzword from community to the roadmaps to tokens to play to earn, Metaverse, all this shit they put in the roadmap as utilities, and they never even give you a t shirt. Yeah. So, when I hear utility, I hear I think of something that solves a problem. Well, my utility is solving the problem of all these dope artists and dope creatives around the world. From India to Iran, Afghanistan, Africa, Asia, Syrians, Philippines You name it, they can be dope and be in these areas of the world and not have a platform to get themselves heard. Well with my NFT, that my utility actually solves that problem. It gives all these artists a platform, it gives them exclusive access to me and my network, because I can’t multiply myself a million times. With this NFT. I can actually tokenize myself and tokenize my network and give it to all these amazing, talented people.

So, what are the risks with doing that? So, when you open up yourself, when you open yourself up to that, to that extent, right, and you build a community, and utility is a promise of some sort of, if you have a dream, you have a vision, I can be your Metaverse mentor to an extent, right, and help you get to where you want to be. If sound good, if it sounds good to the ear, I can present it etc. Like, are there any risks of that? Like any anything come to mind with that? Or, if not, I mean, I’m just curious to see like, how are you thinking about the entire curation process, presentation process selection process, and the pros and cons of like doing.

IllaDaProducer: The risk, and the con is the amount of time but luckily, for me, I’ve been I have over well, over my $10,000, I’ve probably got like $50,000 in the studio shit. So, my ears trained to know, a hit within 15 to 30 seconds. I know it sounds crazy, but that’s just what it is, you know what saying? I can know when something’s a hit, because it’s a feeling. And every time I’ve got that feeling I haven’t been wrong, you know what I’m saying, knock on wood. But I haven’t been wrong. And you know, that lets me know that. I have an ear for curation. That’s how you know, my beats. When I give my beats to certain artists are like, damn, this shit sound like me. And it’s because when I did the beat, I was writing as you I know your flows. I hear you; I’m watching your Instagram; I see what songs you’re posting on Instagram. That means as the shit you’re rocking with, it means that you’re going to adapt that shit on your next music. You know what I’m saying, that’s how I was able to become successful in NFTs and crypto because I read market sentiment, you know what saying?

And the other, like, another pro of it is that say you’re a dope artist, and in the 15 to 30 seconds I listened to you, but you’re like, here, instead of here, you know what I’m saying? I’m like this instead of like, so I’m gonna give you, if you’re almost there, I’m gonna hit you directly, like, yo, check this out, do this, do this, do this for your next submission, because this is your strong points is your weak points, you know what I’m saying? And we do that we have a space every Monday, a open mic and if you pop into open, like you’ll see me doing that to the to the people who come up there to rap. Once, if you don’t make it, it’s not, you’ll get off the stage. It’s like, yo, you didn’t make it because of this. Work on this. And it come back next week. And we’ve only done it three weeks, and the guys who are on the first week, they’re starting to come up and get to the finals by the third week because they’re they listened on the first week. And I’m like, yo motherfuckers are getting really good. And there’s people who weren’t there on the first week that I trust in the trust areas. They’re like, yo, this is hard man, who picked these guys killing it. And I’m like, yo, y’all. In my head. I’m like, you should have heard these motherfuckers the first week.

Damn, so it seems like it’s like a training camp, like a boot camp to an extent with mentorship attached to it, with your network and your power and your expertise attached to it. And I feel like it’s like the golden opportunity for any hungry producer, any hungry artist, and I’m thinking to myself, everybody should be jumping on this. Right? So, but you tweeted something which was, which was super interesting. And I really appreciated about your take and how you think about the space is you’re not too worried about a crazy, like, two second sellout. Like that’s not where your head’s at. Your head is more at organic growth. So, can you talk more about that? Because that that tweet really stood out to me?

IllaDaProducer: Yeah, I really feel like that man, because, you know, I jumped in the space last August with board apes. And I was really blessed to jump in that community. You know, and I learned a lot, and I’m still learning every single day. But I learned about the real meaning of community. And I watched just from me going to business school, I watched how this model that we have right now, where we are upfront and we load all these people all this money upfront without delivering a business plan or having any expertise to deliver the things they put in their roadmap, like this isn’t sustainable. I’m like everyone is in here and like just gambling at this point. You know, I’m saying so when all these bad actors started drug pulling, and the pixel mons and the squiggles and all these Metaverse, and all these projects that had all this hype started, you know, rug pulling or slow rugging and, and just not delivering on anything. It just, it was obvious to me. But you know, me having the capital that I do and me releasing a project, I had the meetings with the marketing guys that guarantee to sell out 50 to 100 grand, there’s a price on it just like anything else. Once you put a price on success, then bad actors, they’re going to take the shortcut. Like, oh, like, so wait, I don’t know how to even deliver shit. I just put these things. Metaverse played around gaming and token in on a website. And I’ll spend 30, 40 racks on a website 100 racks of marketing, I can make 10s of millions of dollars.

So of course, guys are going to do that shit. Anyone who has capital and just wants to get to the money. And realize this is just a free for all. You know, they were doing that. So, I’m like, Man, I’m watching the shitness pissing me off because I really love this space, man. I show up every day. And I’m in rooms all the time because I love gaining this free information nonstop. And I’m like, a hound dog for free information. That’s my thing. I want to get smarter faster. So, I’m sitting in I’m like, I’m launching this project. I had the meetings with all these people. I’m like, you know what, man, fuck all that. Like, I don’t want to be doing the same shit that I, that I’m pissed off about. And it just felt to me like no hate against flippers, because flippers bring a lot of liquidity in the market, then I flipped sometimes. So, a lot of times, so I’m like, no hate no damn, but they’re not going to understand what this is. You know what I’m saying the art is amazing. The beats are dope. But I want this to get in the hands of as many creatives as possible. That was my mission. So, I was like, a way to do that is by just doing it organically. I was like, just like you were saying, Adam, what’s the pros and cons I’m like, bro, I’m gonna have to work my ass off. To Win It person by person. Like I’m doing like I’m starting a t shirt business. I’m gonna have to do it person by person, word of mouth. The real grassroots marketing way because I went to a great business school, I understand the level of the different types of marketing. And this is the hardest one. But this is the one that gets you the most concrete holders. You know, I’m saying a real community people who came in from word-of-mouth, people who heard it or heard me speak and hear my vision and believe in what I’m trying to build. So, I’d rather that any day, bro. I’d rather that any day.

Finding Purpose in Crypto and Web3?

Why do you align so much with like, crypto values and web three values? Like why? What is it about the space that you love so much that maybe pertains to your upbringing, you learning stuff like, like, how come because I’m listening, you speak about this and you’re echoing a lot of things that actually a lot of people I guess who transition from one industry to another versus are born through it? Like I came out of college and in college, I was already doing crypto stuff. And that was my first gig. Like I didn’t go into like web two tech, you have a really unique situation where you’ve already done really well in like the traditional music scene. And now you’re trying to build your passion, your interest and mix it with your love for technology. And I’m listening to you say these things right like that the problem that it solves through your utility, building a community, doing the hard work, building a t shirt business, like you clearly get it like you clearly get that there are no shortcuts to this stuff. And to build something quality, you really need to put the sweat equity into it. Now I’m curious like what is it about the values and crypto. What is it about the ethos of web three, that you’ve like so aligned with, that you saw that you’ve like completely attached to?

IllaDaProducer: it’s man, I got battle scars from the music industry.

Yeah, talk about that for a minute because I that’s what I was, like hinting at for a minute, right? Because I feel like you know, the music industry so well. And I guess maybe seeing the opportunities in web three and the problems that it solves. I mean, I don’t want to put words in your mouth. What do you think?

IllaDaProducer: Yeah, you nailed it, though. I came in here. I’m a fan of the blockchain because of the transparency, right. And I got into crypto because I saw okay, this is something that I understand, this is tech, this is finance. And this is like a counterculture. These guys are on the fringe of what’s considered normal, but they’re also very tech savvy. Very brilliant. And I was like, okay, I fuck with this, I live with these people, you know, saying I want to learn a lot more about it. So, then NFTs came, and it was like, okay, it’s the blockchain, but it applies to transparency applies to art. And the artists and the creatives are gonna get paid fairly. And they’re gonna actually get royalties perpetually for the rest of their lives, right, all those values right there, struck home, was a homerun for me. I’m like, holy shit. Like I said, I signed a great publishing deal, I own most of my shit. I’m 85% owner, and my publisher is 15% just to collect my money. So, I just saw-like opportunity over here, just to be able to create freely. And then it was the getting into board apps, and then given me the IP. So, I’m like, I have an IP of this ape, I could do whatever I want with it. They’re like, yeah, I might. So, I could sign this ape, as a music producer, sign this ape, as my artists and have somebody huge voices ape, and nobody would know. And then I’m the new gorillas. That’s what I’m thinking. I’m not saying it out loud. I’m like, Holy shit, I’m gonna do that. You know what I’m saying.

So, I started my ape. And you know, if my ape is voiced by 11 times, platinum, Billboard Top Five artists, and he has music coming out. So, it’s just those things and I’m like, okay, like, this is also another option, that I can tell every upcoming producer who gets jerked, every up-and-coming artist gets jerked, or the producers who got out of their deal and own all the rights now or the artists would catalog that have their rights now that they just got their deal is like the promised land for all those people. So, the people who just started and the legends who have their rights because the people in the middle if your sign you know, I’m saying until you get your freedom and you get your, your rights back. This might not be, you know, as beneficial for you as everything, as everyone else. Yeah.

Collecting Music NFTs

How do you how do you think about the entire, like, hype and excitement around collecting music right now? And buying either editions or one of ones and either collecting a song for the sake of collecting or collecting a song for like owning when there’s like royalties or IP attached to it? Like, what are your thoughts about that? How do you make sense of what’s happening right now?

IllaDaProducer: I think it’s fascinating. I think that I’m envious of the photography NFTs and of the digital art NFTs because they were able to come into the space. And the price of their art has always been subjective. So, whatever the person wants to buy, or pay for it. With us, we have these behemoth record labels, and streaming services that are priced our music at 99 cents or $9 for unlimited music. So, they took the value away from music because they have all of it and put it at $9 for unlimited, which as for us and then pay the creatives pennies, so people get to enjoy this music, but the artists behind it, the creatives behind it, whose art you’re enjoying don’t get paid. So that’s not right. You know what I’m saying? And in this space, the beauty of it is, we saw people, I see people on Instagram, and I be like, yo, I can just, it was crazy. Like, let me dissemination is just too much, you know what I’m saying, baby with the Donald Trump and suddenly all right. He came over and MCs I see, 69 million. I’m like, holy shit. Like what the fuck that. Then I see Blau, what he’s doing I’m like, yo, this is dope. So, I understood right away. Since we have a unique obstacle as music as web three musicians to actually reprise music to make sure that people understand music is an art form. It’s one of the god art forms. Like, because we’re all frequency, this whole everything, the universe, and everything is frequency is created from frequency. That’s why your heartbeat is the same as like, I think it’s 120 BPM. That’s why most beats all production does, the standard start setting is 120 BPM. Like there’s something about when you start dancing, that’s where like your heartbeat goes to?

So, like music is the is the thread of everything, you know what I’m saying? It also is the art form that evokes nostalgia. You don’t look at a picture and be like, oh, yeah, like, you know what I’m saying? Or a song takes you back. And I mean, big moment in your life. Adam is timestamped by a song without you knowing it. You hear that song and be like, damn, I remember my first kiss. Oh, that was overhead, your first football game we won. So, we have a unique situation here, so I love what everyone’s doing with giving people royalties. And, you know, that’s what we’re doing with our project is, it’s a profile picture project. It’s a music project, what if you don’t do music? All right? Well as a holder, you get the benefit of getting in. And being part of a story that matters. Being part of a story that people care about, you get to see the creation of a superstar from their first beat. From the first song they wrote, that’s a unique situation of a holder of a piece of art, because your art gets to grow. And you get to see that art turned into something and you backed it, you were the one of the first believers in it, and you get, you get paid dividends for believing in it, for being a holder. So, it’s a unique, very unique situation.

It’s almost as if you’re building like, excuse me, an incubator slash accelerator. But for music and for producers, and I’m not too in tune with the producer culture, the producer’s scene, I’m really just taking what you’re telling me. But from what it seems like it’s like one of the first of its kind, at least, from that  unique point of view, offering your level of mentorship, offering your level of like, bootcamp ask environment, where you give feedback and you have them iterate and you come back and get 1% better, 1% better and 1% better, 1% better, until it gets to the point where you feel it’s like, presentable to all these contexts in your network that you kind of built for yourself. I think it’s fascinating and this story, and this belief, and this narrative around music is an art form. And for whatever reason, we’ve just grown to accept that it is worth 12 bucks a month, nine bucks a month, it is worth 99 cents, because that’s just what’s convenient for the user to enjoy a song that you spent, God knows how many hours kind of producing, how many years of effort and skills you’ve built, just to get that one hit in place, right? People don’t think about that. They just go out to the club, they go out to the party, they listen to it, alright, I fuck with it, it builds a memory for me. It has that momentous, right and we move on. But what should that experience be worth then? Like, what do you think is the right value for that? And why are NFTs like the right medium to capture it? You think big picture.

IllaDaProducer: I think NFTs are the medium to capture this is because it’s like I was saying it’s so unique to be able to grow with the artists from their inception, right? To actually get experiences like okay, if I’m like, if I hold this artist gold NFT, I get a percentage of the royalties, if I get the platinum NFT, I get to meet him in real life. For all their shows, I get free entry and backstage passes to literally all their shows. Now this artist goes to be Ariana Grande level, they are actually you have the NFT. And they actually have to honor that. You know what I’m saying? And the thing I think really, I have faith in the artist to come out of web three is because all these artists couldn’t make it in the traditional world. Or if they could, it was going to take a long time because there’s only so much room. So, it’s just so unique for this space to capture the next Drake, because if he comes through this space, then that gives every artist after that the option, you know, another option, okay? I could be dope and signed to a label and they could put me on Jimmy Fallon, or I could do this, like the new web three superstar just did that I keep seeing everywhere, and he owns all his shit. And I can do ticket to go that route because that is another route for me to reach superstar. And as a holder of these NFTs you really get that experience. Just like if you’re holding a dope piece of art. But people you have to show it to them on your wallet. Or you have to, in real life, they have to come to your house to see it and if you’re a holder of a collector of a web three musician, and their NFT and they blow up. It’s like this the easiest explanation ever like so what’s this NFT, oh, you know, such and such say his name is Jaden, you see, you know Jaden, like, this is his NFT, and I was with Jaden when he first got his first beat from IllaDaProducer. And I was like, holy shit like, and this thing is not worth 100 Eth because Jaden has blown up to be the biggest star in the world and I have access to Jaden, and everyone wants it. You know what I’m saying?

Yeah, it’s like a lot of what I talked about, at least in season one, we’re already in season five so almost a year ago is being able to prove you’re a supporter of someone and their art and their craft prior to them kind of reaching that level of famous success that everybody now knows and loves him for. And when people ask me like, okay, why do you need to hold this thing? Why do you have an NFT? Why can’t I just like, say I was there, you know, it’s like, it’s like going to a concert, you know, and buying merch, and going to support that artists by wearing the merch and having the merch and then two years later when they’re huge, or if they get huge, having that piece of merch to basically prove that you were there, you collected it, because that merch is now extinct. It’s no longer available. And basically, collecting one of the who who’s NF T’s kind of like symbolizes that experience from what I’m understanding at least.

IllaDaProducer: Oh, yeah, man. Who who’s NFTs? Like, that’s just like I said, that’s my, my favorite utility. But I have a meeting tomorrow with this huge, like, high fashion, high end fashion brand that wants to give me their manufacturer to help me do my merch because they heard me in spaces. They fuck with me, they’re from the music industry. And they’re like, yo, I want you to have some of the dope merch, you know, I want to extend my network to you like you’re helping all these people from around the world. And then I have my partner Dre, who’s my community manager, we’re having our first who who Thursdays at this club in LA because his mom owns the club. So, one of the things that I want to also push with who who is you know, I’m from the music industry, but I’m also like, heavy in the nightlife in Miami. So, I understand lifestyle, and I understand how much fun that could be. So as a who who holder I want to bring, I want to be a lifestyle brand. As well as have this incubator. If you don’t do music, we have to also, you know, like, give something back to our holders and add value to our holders that don’t do music, that are just along the ride for this experience. They love the art. They love the beat. They love the artists that we’re incubating. They also can’t wait to go to our in real life events because our real life events. It’s gonna call motherfucking, it’s gonna call polo G or it was gonna call sway Lee or it was gonna call YG or it’s gonna call Montana. And have our party be up there competing against, you know, board apes and doulos because I have all the artists in my phone. You know what I’m saying? And I know, I understand the value of in real life. Like a lot of people put that in their roadmap Adam, but they don’t do that shit. You understand? That’s another easy way to onboard people. If you bring normies now I don’t want to say not the negative?

No, I mean normies are normies you know, there’s nothing negative about it. It’s a level of experience.

IllaDaProducer: If you bring normies to an NFT Party, and the shit is lit, you on boarded. That that easy. People like how you onboard people, bring them to a dope NFT Party, and then be like, oh, shit, this is what NFT are like, oh, this is cool. Like yeah, it’s not what you thought it was. It’s not a bunch of like,

Weirdos.

IllaDaProducer: Weirdos.

Its culture.

IllaDaProducer: Thank you. Well, I went to the works on party on Melrose. When I was on Fairfax. And they had the RSVP, the list of security guard food truck. Mad people inside, we are smoking, vibing, drinking in open bar. And I’m out front changing my flight to Miami, and I’m hearing groups of people walk by like, oh, what influence a party is this? How are we not on the list? Like somebody is shooting tic tac like five people they stop, what kind of party is this like, seeing the people try to get in? They’re like, No, you’re not on the list. Like why aren’t we on this list? Like? So, I’m showing my girl like, Yo, you see this? This is it. It’s the future. Now this shit is cool.

There is a difference level of, there’s like a difference in culture, or digital culture, whatever, whatever culture would call it. When incentives are aligned. When financial incentives are aligned, and you’re in it to win it, you’re in it for the ride, you’re in it for the good time. Things kind of like begin to outpace themselves, experiences start to kind of form and manifest differently. Because everybody has skin in the game, like everybody is a part of the process. And it’s different than just going to another party. Like when I went to, I’m trying to think what party it was, I think it was the art party. I’m like butchering the name, but it’s this lifestyle brand, like similar to your vision, but for a different audience and different culture. But they literally had a party for all their holders, I think squarely performed. They rented out this LA nightclub, and it was popping like it was packed. And you see all like all sorts of people from different walks of life. And you kind of get to, you get to see like, who’s behind the PFP. Right, and you get to see who the people behind the NFT and what culture and what environment are what vibe, what class of people start kind of forming from offline, from online to offline kind of thing. And I haven’t seen anything like before, I haven’t seen anything like that before, I’m really stoked for your journey and how this, how this project kind of unfolds, I’m really curious to see what this accelerator model kind of like looks like in the future and its success and what sort of like artists and producers will kind of come out of it. So, we’ll have to do this again, I guess, like in a few months from now, when is a cohort kind of over? What does that look like? Yeah, is that even a thing? Because it sounds as if you’re doing these boot camps, right? And every single week, you have more of these sessions. And at some point, you start presenting this music to your network into your people and effort to kind of put someone on the map. And is there like a timeframe where from the initial feedback loop to the presentation, like what does that look like?

IllaDaProducer: So, after the after the submission period of closes, I go through the songs, right? And then from there, I just tailor pick a curate and see who’s really dope. And then we work, I work with them to finish the song, you know what I’m saying? I’ve given up on has finished the song. So, I know, because I already know what it takes for when I submit something for it to go, you know what I’m saying? Because the people I’m submitting it to they hear 1000s of songs, so I can’t call in these favors, unless I’m coming with that heat. So yeah, this is something that I don’t even see ending anytime soon. It’s just something like, it’s a building something that’s an incubator that’s gonna continue to just spread out and grow and grow and grow like a brand and accompany would for the next 2, 5, 10 years. You know what I’m saying, like, this is a long-term vision and a long-term plan, and a business that just started but can scale as we scale because we all know that music NFTs are going to be huge, like everyone, every influencer has been tweeting it and it goes viral. Because everyone understands like, okay, this is the next art form to take off. What does that look like? You know what I’m saying?

Outro

Yeah, I’m stoked for you, bro. I’m really excited to see what happens before I let you go. Where can we find WhoWho’s Treehouse? Where can we find you, learn more about what you’re up to, show that away.

IllaDaProducer: You can find who who’s, it’s still minting at whowhos.io and we also on open sea. And we have who who tree house. That’s our Twitter, who who’s tree house that’s our Instagram? I know it’s different. But so, like somebody like something happened with the others.

I’ll tell you; I’ll tell you this much when I met you at NFT LA. And one of the after events, you know, kind of sharing your vision on the spot, showed me what you’re about. I remember like looking forward to the drop I collected a few myself. I don’t remember how many actually, I think one or two. I don’t remember. So, I’m excited to see how this thing unfolds. And you’re gonna say one more.

IllaDaProducer: Yeah, you follow me on Instagram at IllaDaProducer and Twitter IllaDaProducer.

All right, my guy. This was fun. We’ll do this again soon. I appreciate you, man. Thank you.

IllaDaProducer: Adam. Thank you so much, man. Thank you so much for having me, man.

Categories
Podcast Transcript

Andre Benz: Runescape, Curation, and Generative Music NFTs

Background

Mint Season 5 episode 1 welcomes Andre Benz, founder of the widely successfully EDM YouTube channel The Nations and CEO of Soundmint.xyz, a go-to platform for curated audiovisual NFTs. 

I wanted to have him on to share his unique perspective on growth hacking one of the largest curated music EDM brands on YouTube, and how that translates into his newest curated venture.

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • 01:30 – Intro 
  • 01:38 – How Runescape influenced his understanding of crypto and web3
  • 01:58 – Growth hacking one of the most popular EDM YouTube channel
  • 17:49 – Biggest lessons learned about the music industry while building The Nations
  • 23:15 – The inspiration behind starting Soundmint.xyz
  • 27:43 – NFT skepticism around drop culture
  • 31:47 – The process of creating a collection
  • 41:30 – What does the average collector look like on Soundmint.xyz?
  • 44:45 – How do you scale curation?
  • 47:24 – Outro

…and so much more. 

I hope you enjoy our conversation. 


Let’s go. Andre. Welcome to mint. What is going on my friend? Thanks for being on.

Andre Benz: Thanks for having me, man. Appreciate it. Not much, man, just enjoying the during the day.

Intro

I’m excited to have you guys on. I’ve been watching you guys for a minute now, I think we got connected when one of your buddies that’s working with you at sound mint reached out was like, yo, you gotta check out what we’re doing that sound mint, it’s the sickest thing in the world, blah, blah. And here we are today, part of season five. And I wanted to have you on we’re celebrating three things, okay, music, obviously you have a big background in music, also doing video and CCO licensing, which I know sound mint has a cross between CCO to an extent and the music side of things as well. So, before we get into sound mint what you guys are doing, I always like to start with an intro. So, Andre, who are you? What does the world need to know about you? And how did you get your start into crypto more specifically?

Andre Benz: That’s good question. My name is Andre, obviously, I come from music primarily, crypto is pretty new to me in some ways, I think like most people, I got started in like 2017 and I got burned really bad. I just lost a lot of money. And that was like a, I guess it was a good way to start and also a bad way I learned a lot obviously, because beaming but also moving into you know, I found all these projects that I thought were super cool, but I didn’t really touch crypto for a while since 2017. And then, you know, Paris and Brian, my two colleagues that I founded Simon with Kane came to me with this idea while I was still running trap nation which I started when I was 15. And they went into this long, lengthy conversation about how you know, NFTs are taking over, and I saw these people for the music industry, you know, eventually kind of transitioned to NFTs and I thought wow, I should be you know, paying attention to this. This looks really interesting. I made a Twitter start following a lot of people and then I kind of took the plunge from, you know, the whole trap nation thing to into segments. And at first it was more kind of just like me consulting, kind of advising a little bit seeing where I could find my fit and then eventually now fully transitioned into like a CEO position at the company, and one of the co-founders as well.

So, what was it like starting trap nation or the nation in general, it’s one of the biggest platforms, I remember when I was in high school 2018, 2019, one of my homies Gavin from King Cavaliers, he got hired on the nations, on trap nation. And that’s around the first time I kind of came across the brand, but what was it like kind of like building out that platform? Building out millions of subscribers and kind of defining your own corner in the music industry?

Andre Benz: Yeah, it’s good question. And honestly, I never thought I would work in music ever, or grow a brand or be on social media at all. It just kind of happened by a miracle almost. But I was never, I started when I was 15. So, before I was 15, though, before I even got into YouTube, I was still like, I was a really big video gamer. I played a lot of games with my friends. And we, I played RuneScape primarily for a game, but I was in clans a little time. And you know, clans are basically just like the communities in games that you go do stuff with, quests or whatever it is kill monsters. And we always share music in these clans. And at the time, like Spotify wasn’t really big, I think in the US, yet SoundCloud was still coming up. And YouTube wasn’t really like a music streaming service per se, but it was a place where you could discover music subsequently. So, what I would do is I found electronic music through Twitch, I was watching like Spark Mac or something like that I heard Skrillex I was like, oh my god is insane. And I looked up on YouTube. And I found all these channels like Dubstep and Ultra Music like all these curators, I didn’t know what they were at the time. And I just thought wow, this is like, easy way to share music, I’m gonna do the same. So, I started a channel called alternation. And all I did was just a couple music that I listened to on the side that showed my friends. And that was just the easiest way to share it at the time. But I started to realize I was like, oh, I should start like a brand around it. So, I started a brand around it. And I just kept running it as kind of like a side hobby, primarily because I just wanted to do something other than, you know, do homework or study or whatever it is, it was just another side hobby to develop. It was a lot of fun at the time.

And then, you know, time went on and eventually just kept growing incrementally everyday staircase almost. And at one point, I think I uploaded like a remix of Miley Cyrus breaking wrecking ball. I think it’s called like, whenever like big singles back then. And it blew up this is when vine was really, really big on social media platform and vine was a massive like it was like that first social media app that really catapulted or changed trajectory in terms of marketing for the music industry, because nobody really looked at social media apps is full marketing like methods for their singles. And vine was really that first like thing that took it to that level. And I didn’t realize that at the time, but when I helped with the Miley Cyrus thing, it blew up in Vine, and then all those people from Vine fall over to my channel. And then from there, I was, like, you know, I feel like probably one of my biggest skills sets or like attributes is, I’m not a super smart guy, or like very clever guy. It’s just when I get good opportunities, I know when to fully go on and, like, take advantage of them, I guess. And I just saw this as like, the only golden opportunity, I’m probably gonna have my life to change everything from there. So, I just looked at I was like, alright, this worked. So, let’s do it again. So, I just got another remix of another Miley Cyrus song and did it again, and it blew up again. And from there, it was just kind of all history because it was just, I started learning like, basic pattern base, like business approaches to everything. It’s like building systems and scaling. And I realized I need more people on my team, even at like 15 or 16, that could do what I was doing, but for other genres as well, other than just rap music. So, I brought on some friends, that curate other channels, and then yeah, just kept at it. And eventually, last year of high school, I graduated, took a year off, didn’t go to college, and then moved down to Los Angeles and like hired my first like formal employee, and then started a record label a publishing company. And yeah, recently, within the last three months, sold a majority stake to create music group, which is an independency music distribution company.

How Runescape influenced his understanding of crypto and web3

So, let’s talk about two things for a sec. Okay, your time playing RuneScape because I was a huge RuneScape head, okay. And I always meet more and more people that started like their childhood, remember a core piece of the childhood at RuneScape, and now they’re in crypto for whatever reason, okay. And two, I want to talk to you about growth strategies and like hacking views and hacking subscribers, and if you use any tactics, but for RuneScape Okay, number one RuneScape. How do you think playing RuneScape has translated into you kind of understanding the world of web three, and the world of crypto, is there any similarities? Or are there any similarities?

Andre Benz: Yeah, it’s a really good question. It’s pretty funny, because I feel like every time, I’ve talked to people, and this is not the first-time people have spoken about, like similarities between RuneScape and I guess, is a bunch of similarities. I mean, I think like, at end of the day, it was a time period and a lot of people’s lives looking back even my own time period, but now being able to reflect that period of the internet was so like, magical, but also scary, because there were so many new innovations happening. This is when like, blockchain was super big still and like, right, it was going crazy and like, blowing people like musicians up and just topics up, and it was kind of sparking, like independent, I guess, like, discovery, like information discovery or something like that. But in terms of RuneScape, it was in this period where there weren’t like a lot of advanced video games out. So, and it was very, like economic base. So, it’s like, I’m sure everybody remembers, if you played RuneScape. You remember the Grand Exchange and the Grand Exchange just like you know, it’s you know, you go and sell yeah, iconic, you sell you learn to trade, you get scammed, you learn humiliation, embarrassment, responsibility, how to look out for scammers, hackers, fishers, whatever it may be. And it’s just like, it just throws you in that world, I think that you can’t get in other video games per se, maybe I guess, like World of Warcraft. And the other one you could say is pretty similar in that in that sense, but I think web three is very, like Do It Yourself independent. And you need a lot of responsibility, humiliation sometimes based on whether you fail whether you make out well, but I think it’s the same thing with RuneScape like it’s just you get dived into this fucking massive game and everybody’s trading things and obviously, with gold in the game and all these items like it’s basically the NFT market now, just without the verification part without the blockchain back then.

Growth hacking one of the most popular EDM YouTube channel

You know, one of my fondest memories is doing a lot of these quests for like, what’s it called? Just like the day-to-day quest of advancing yourself and getting more XP and boosting up your 99 score and all that stuff. And that’s very reminiscent of for me at least of what’s happening in crypto of getting involved with all these projects and trying different things and leveling up like your, oh genius for your wallet address, you know, and yeah, being able to tap into different projects, protocols, defi pools, all these different things. Another thing site damages the amount of times I’ve tried to get a fire cape and I’ve actually fucking failed at doing that and yeah, it’s crazy. Also getting a party hats and all the firecrackers and all the unique like one of ones or one of one hundreds that they’ve released prior to the game going like mainstream because when you saw some of the party hat you knew they were OG you know, so when you see someone with a crypto punk or you see someone with a board ape, you know, either they’ve been OG and they collected it on the mint day or they just have a lot of money, you know, in sets of status in in the in the real world, I guess very reminiscent of RuneScape. Okay, so that’s a RuneScape Okay, what about growth strategies and growth hacking trap nation or the nation’s and getting millions of subscribers. I know you built it a different time than where we’re at today, with YouTube and the algorithms and how people get paid and, and all that stuff. But how did you growth hack millions and millions of subscribers? The way you put it; you just post a link online. And just like that, you get views, and you get virality. Maybe it was like for the first time, you know, but as you progress, I’m sure you kind of picked up different tactics, different strategies connected with other YouTubers that share different insight. I’d assume I mean, correct me if I’m wrong. But how do you go into growth hacking a channel on a brand like that on online?

Andre Benz: Yeah, it’s good question. I say it’s a little bit different for trap nation, like I’m sure if anybody’s familiar with like, the YouTube landscape, like you’re familiar with Mr. Beast, or like PewDiePie and stuff like that. And those channels, I think, when it comes to like actual vlogging, or personality driven like content, that’s in the front, everything is oriented around growth hacking. So, if you ever watch a good interview with Mr. Beast, he can go on for 10 hours, just how he follows all these different systems to make sure his videos do well. For trap nation is a little different. Because I follow a routine or the channel, the brand company now follows a routine where every day basically at the same time, almost the same time, back then at least I would wake up and upload a remix of a song or just like an electronic song in general. And I was delivering content based on people’s routines. So, I saw that like, views on the channel would skyrocket every day from Monday to Friday, right before school starts or right during school starts in the morning, and then right after, which is like that makes sense. Because if you’re going to school or going to work or the office, you’re gonna be listening to this channel from like, 7am to 9am. And then after, when you get home 3pm to like 6pm or 7pm. Saturday, Sundays always went down, but I play it to my advantage. So, I would make sure I was uploading always when people would get notification going to work and going to school or something like that, and I’d always follow consistent sounds. And I knew that the biggest kind of like it back then at least driving factor for YouTube recommending your videos was just audience retention. And then how many people of your subscribers are going back to your videos over and over and over again, I guess like audience retention at that point as well.

So, I just played that to my advantage. Then over time, I started to learn that like thumbnails were a huge player driver, visuals were a huge driver, as much things that I could do, or different opportunities that I could implement in the channel to keep people in the channel but also get new people, new eyes into the channel that helps YouTube’s algorithm push your content even more. But I didn’t have the luxury of doing things like Mr. Beast where he makes these really eye-popping thumbnails with red text circles, you know, the face and stuff like that. I just had to play to the trap nation logo, and the colors that I use to my visualizer that I think were a massive help in blowing up the channel to full popularity. But after that, it was just, I just kept it really consistent. It’s just routine, honestly, you know, making sure I was tagging the right tags, like EDM, electronic music, etc. But honestly, there’s not like a huge secret to growth hacking in YouTube. The biggest, I guess, like tip that I’ll give anybody, it’s just audience retention, the longer you can keep people on your videos, the more YouTube will recommend your video to people because naturally YouTube is a for profit business. So, they want people on their website longer than any other website possible. The longer that those people are on YouTube’s website, the more they’re going to benefit the creators who are getting those people on the website. And you can do that in many different ways. Just for us, that was our method for Mr. Beast has his own. I’m sure if you’re like a podcast or a YouTuber that does blogs, you’ll have their specific methods to those individuals as well as creators.

Yeah, I haven’t really cracked the code just yet on YouTube. I feel like I’m getting more like a bigger audience on Spotify and Apple Music and on audio. It’s actually my biggest platform and my biggest reach, and still trying to figure out how to growth hack YouTube. And as a creator, when you’re very much like a one man show for the most part that’s doing this full time. You have so much responsibility and so much duty to kind of master each platform that you publish on to it to reach its peak. virality. Right. So, with time, so shout out to all my YouTube viewers. I love you guys. Okay, so I want to talk to you about more of your time in high school for me and were you the coolest kid in high school?

Andre Benz: No.

You were not as quiet despite, did people know what you were doing in high school?

Andre Benz: Not really.

Why not?

Andre Benz: Not until I graduated basically or the year of graduation? Yeah, that was that was right, but also just full transparently, the first school that I went to in high school is very small, like it was like maybe 60 or 70 kids per class, and it was sixth grade. No, sorry. It was 7th grade to 12 off grid in one school, so it’s very tiny. And then last year of high school for my senior year, I moved from New Jersey to like Menlo Park and California. And then that school was 1000 kids per grade was 9 to 12. So, I was in this might like a very like a social person. So, when I moved, it was like, I only had a few friends in that high school and to me high schools was like, more of this, I think I was making like 100 grand a year at that point when I was 17, or 18, moving to this new school. So, at that point, I was like, oh, this is totally going to be my future, I really need to, like, pursue it. And then my mindset is like, if I do something, I become obsessive about it. And I can’t let anything else get me out of that, like tunnel vision that I get, which is also a huge Pro, but it’s also a huge con. So, when I went to the new high school, I was just like, I’m not making any friends, I’m gonna be miserable, I’m gonna cut all my classes as much as possible just to get my bare minimum credits. And then that is what really helped me like grow the channel, because I was just on this like, again, like this really obsessive routine clock where I’d wake up at like, 4:30am, or from 4:30, to like, nine, go to school, get back at 2: 30, and then just work my ass off and just continue that for a year straight. And that’s, that was like that. So that didn’t help like my social life.

I can imagine that character in high school, I can genuinely imagine that person. Oh my god.

Andre Benz: It’s a kid that you never notice, honestly, like, yeah, just walk the halls and like nobody would ever notice me because I’m the new kid. And like, I don’t really talk to anybody. But I had a few friends that just wasn’t like, you know, I didn’t make effort whatsoever pass that.

I feel like you could have thrown the sickest high school parties. And you just chose not to, from all the connections.

Andre Benz: And all the network that you built for yourself.

Biggest lessons learned about the music industry while building The Nations

Yeah, you could have definitely become that kid, that kid that everybody knew in high school, but I also understand the idea of being focused and keeping your head down and staying in your lane and all that. Yeah. You know, I would imagine like, so okay, a couple of things. I very much relate to that to an extent. When I was in college, I did well in community college. So, I did two years in Community College before transferring into like, upper grad like the major university. And when I was in community college, I was doing well, I was working a few jobs, studying getting straight A’s, blah, blah. But when I hit USC, I was sucking I was absolutely miserable. And you’re actually the opposite. Like you were just trying to like pass by school just to focus on what made you happy. For me, it was very much I sucked my first semester in college, I ate shit, I failed all my exams, and I realized I was putting so much energy locking myself in these rooms and studying that none of it is paying off. And if I want to put that energy into something else, I would have done exceptionally better. So, I said fuck it, I’m just gonna pass, get the bare minimum and focus on all the extracurricular stuff and ended up getting into crypto through that as well started in crypto club, etc., etc., etc. You know, so I really relate to that mentality. I really relate to that mindset, obviously, in different contexts is, I wasn’t bringing in six figures at the time, I was maybe spending six, spending six figures at the time. But yeah, I digress. Okay, I want to backtrack more and transition into music and web three. Okay. So obviously building the nation’s, building out one of the most successful YouTube channels, EDM channels on YouTube. Definitely taught you things about the music industry, right? As someone maybe you didn’t intentionally try to learn about it, but definitely taught you about how things work, right. And I’m curious to get your point of view, because a lot of what the ethos behind web three music is removing the middleman, right? Removing the scummy deals of artists getting themselves into of doing like 8020, rev shares, and getting these pays. I know, from what I understand doing research, you guys didn’t have the upfront to give people more. So, you were able to pay them periodically, more frequently than the record labels were able to. But backtrack even more. What are some of the biggest lessons you learned on the music industry? Right, what are the biggest takeaways that have kind of shaped your understanding of how to approach sound mint, for example, because I’m sure there’s a lot of relatability and cross lessons you can kind of like, go back and forth on.

Andre Benz: Yeah. There’s a lot for sure. I mean, I see the sound and stuff. It’s really great because I made like, there’s this weird, like, I guess like mental effects of like being thrown into something so challenging at a younger age, because I think you’re just you have such a faster way to learn and improve at least I did. I feel like I did for sure. And I use like all those mistakes that I’ve made then to my advantage now at the sound mint, but with the music industry like people. It’s such a weird, it’s weird. It’s a weird industry, because people romanticize it. And they flaunt it as like this perfect or ideal or idealistic thing that everybody wants to be a part of. It’s very cool. It’s very mysterious. Nobody really understands it. And it’s all kind of on purpose, to be honest. And it’s all run by major corporations and companies like most industries, it’s slowly becoming more independent based on the creators that are part of it and contributing to his growth. But what I’ve learned from it is So there’s a lot of successful people in the industry that shouldn’t be successful. I think that, you know, just ended up getting in there because they were they were friends with the right person who were an artist, they signed the right artists. And that’s like what catapulted the career. And then since then they haven’t done anything, and then just like riding a wave or something of that. And it just made me realize, it’s like, I always thought when I first got into the music industry, when I was much younger, like 17, or 18, I thought that I was always like, the dumbest kid in the room kind of thing. It was like, everybody would look at you, like, you’re this young kid, you got super lucky. And they’re gonna try and take advantage of you.

And then, you know, over time, they started to realize we’re like, oh, fuck, like that it worked out for us, like, this guy is actually, you know, continually growing and like scaling, building your own company. And I just realized this, like, just put your head down and just get your shit done, and do what you think works best for you, that was me talking myself in that scenario. And I’m just using that in web three as well. Like, I feel like web three is very, obviously, there’s a lot of bad media coverage about it. But I think from an outsider’s view, everybody looks at it as just like a bunch of digital JPEGs getting traded, digital JPEG getting paid for half a million dollars, and people are on Twitter, just for 24 hours a day, never sleeping kind of thing. And it just doesn’t have a good perspective. And I think for me, and even inside, like web three, I think a lot of people on Twitter, it can be very toxic sometimes. And I think people get sucked up into this, this vacuum of like information and they can’t get out of it. So, for me, I’m just in this kind of like, barrier where I’m just like, alright, head down, I’m going to continue to build this product. I don’t care what anybody has to say, I don’t care what the community says about the floor. I don’t care about, you know, the fact that we didn’t make somebody you know, $100,000 in a month, based on buying FTS, I just put my head down and just get to work. And just continue to push through and I think that’s what I’ve learned the most from the music industry. Although I wouldn’t even say it’s music related. It’s just growing a business in it. For the most part.

The inspiration behind starting Soundmint.xyz

If you’re familiar with the nations and trap nations audiovisuals, it’s very unique. They’re very distinct the sound waves and how they kind of pulsate, and the color choices. I feel like it’s almost like the perfect medium to transfer into web three. And sound mint focuses on audiovisual, a curated audio, audiovisuals, with really curated artists having exclusive artists doing unique drops. And is that what was going through your mind like, we’re already doing this on YouTube, it only makes sense to bring it into web three, like what was your thought process and kind of building sound mint? Because from the surface, it looks very reminiscent to what happened with trap nations and the audio visuals created to what’s happening now on sound mint.

Andre Benz: It is I mean, to be honest, like I said, I just use what I know from trap nation, I’m using it for sound mint, and I think that’s my advantage. And that’s why Paris and Brian brought me on as a co-founder to really build this out for them. I think the general idea like sometimes I have difficulty understanding like NFTs at its core beyond just like the psychological effect of being in communities and winning together and making a lot of money. Sometimes it’s very difficult for me to justify, like, oh, why are we making these like collections and selling them? But other times, it’s like, well, you know, it’s extremely cool art, like we’re building a brand like, my whole goal of sound mint is, or I guess my whole goal sound mint based off trappings and successes, I built Trap nation to be a curation brand. I’m going to do the same with sound, but I’m going to do it way better and much more curated and have much more taste associated with it, I think with trap nation at work, because it was so much volume, like we had eight channels, doing an upload a day and he uploads every single day. You know, it was a lot of music, and we built the record label off that I think will flip three for us like I want to do the same what I did was trap nation whereas build a really reputable music brand that people can trust that will put out high quality product or high quality content in this case, but do it in a way that’s almost like the supreme I wouldn’t say even the supreme of music NFTs but like, I just want to create a brand that people look at it and like that is the dopest brand in web three NFTs for music related product. Whether it’s NFTs or not it’s just that’s what I want to do, and it just happened to be that it worked out to be sound mint and it is NFTs.

So, what are some of the lessons learned from curation web two and curating a YouTube channel and curating like a brand music brand to now curating artists and drops in web three around NFTs and crypto etc.

Andre Benz: Yeah, I think with trap nation stuff the most that I’ve learned from in terms of curating on that channel is YouTube, your integrity is everything on YouTube, for your community, and YouTube’s entirely community based. So, if you let down your community, like your core listener base, your viewer are your views are coming from your community whereas you know tried most products and most services in web two, don’t rely on community more or less, I think. But YouTube primarily does, I’m taking it to my advantage with sound mint as well based on learning how to deliver product and keep consistent results for the community. I think for sound mint thing stuff though, the patience is not as I think, people don’t have as much patience, I think it went through, but also, they’re investing their time and money into what you’re selling. With trap nation nobody’s buying anything like, it was always a $0 exchange interaction where people would trust me to deliver music, they would like, you know, for their daily routines, whatever it may be. And that existed for a long time. Whereas with sound mint, because there is financials involved, we don’t have the luxury of being able to put out 100 uploads, and only two or three succeed, every single, in this case, uploads mean, NFTs. So, in this case, we can’t do that many uploads. So, every single one has to succeed, every single one has to be a homerun, basically, for sound mint. So, the margin for error is much, much, much smaller on sound mint, which makes the pressure and the stakes a lot higher. But it also makes the importance of actual true curation, and prioritizing the product, the quality of the product that we’re putting out that much more important. And I think that’s really the difference between the trap nation stuff with web two and the sound mint stuff with web three, and kind of like what I’ve been able to take and contrast so far.

NFT skepticism around drop culture

You know, earlier in the conversation, you brought up an interesting point of sometimes you question the drops, and I’m gonna paraphrase. I don’t want to say a word for what you said. So, correct me, if I’m say something, I’m paraphrasing here. So, you said something like, you have sometimes confusion, understanding why are we dropping certain things? Why are some collections doing really well? Except like, what is the value over here? And I’d love for you to kind of elaborate more on that. Because I think you’re very right to feel like that. I think many of us tend to feel like that at times, like why is this collection selling out 70 million and they disappear, and they bring no value, they only take value, there’s no value to come back into the community. And I’d love to hear your point of view. And to elaborate on that more in the context of music and what does that mean for starting a successful music NFT, web three kind of brand?

Andre Benz: Yeah, it’s good. Yeah. I mean, honestly, it’s a challenging question. It’s not, it’s something I still struggle with. Because for me, like, from coming from trap nation, like I was so used to, again, like a $0 transaction, artists wouldn’t pay us, we wouldn’t get paid from the artists, we would make only money from Google AdWords revenue, paying us on ads being placed on the YouTube videos, and the customer or the consumer, or the community would never pay us either. So, it was always like nobody who ever had expectations, because there with financials attached to it. And now that we are moving into a curation based model with financials to it, we have to prioritize much more on what we’re able to deliver to the community, not just as a product, but also as a brand, like we have to do live events, we have to list the best merchandise, we have to make sure everything we do is near perfect, because if you let down even a tiny bit, the community looks at that as a failure in most regards. And it’s just not, it’s just, it’s not great for us, and I’m very perfect about everything I want to do, and which is also a pro and con. But I think for NFTs like when I first got into it. Again, this is most people still have this, I think idea. It’s like, why? Why do you know, projects have to sell mints for you know, two or three Eth? You know, what does a company like? pixel Mon need like a $7 million fundraising rounds from the community from their customers to build this product. You know, that’s not how building businesses work. So, for us.

Example, I was thinking about it too, by the way.

Andre Benz: Yeah, it just blew my mind. Like, honestly, like you don’t need that much money to kick start a business. I think if you truly know what you’re building, your core product is and what you need to do to scale. You can do it with a few $1,000, sometimes 10s of 1000s of dollars. That really depends like how you can sell the vision to other people. For us, uckily, Brian and our team was able to fundraise or basically raising funds by himself through his own personal life and his trade. He does a lot of like defi trades and NFT trades. And he used all that money to kind of kickstart the company. And it was not nearly you know, even close like a million dollars, I think was like 100 or $200,000. It cost us like get it off the ground. But for us, like for music NFTS it’s interesting because we’re in the weird world right now. It sounds like we’re hitting NFT like DJing collectors or we’re also hitting like art collectors and also music NFT collectors. Typically like I would say the music NFT community is not like DJing NFT collectors, but it’s also not fine art collectors either. It’s like this small little micro community very, very tiny. And for that community, I think people are very interested in buying music NFT to support the creators, were for us, we want to support the creators obviously and we do but we want to make sure the product that people are buying, the reason they’re buying it isn’t just to support the creators, they’re buying it because it’s really fucking dope. It’s actually a unique piece of music they can own from one of their favorite artists, if they choose to buy from their one of their favorite artists on our platform. And they also get access to the ecosystem of sound mint, which is like live events, merchandise, brand, partnerships, collaborations and the list goes on. So, you’re kind of getting this, like, we’re trying to make it the best of three worlds, and not sacrifice anything in that exchange, which is why it takes so long for us to do our collections, we spent so much time building them.

 The process of creating a collection

So, can you walk me more through the process of building a collection? What does it look like?

Andre Benz: Yeah, so from like, start, it’s basically from start to finish, I’ll simplify it as much as possible. without sacrificing details, we curate impair talented visual artists with talented musicians. Let’s just say we take X musician and pair them with Y visual artist, they have to make like generic visuals, you have to make hundreds of different layers and make sure they can get layered on top of each other with the algorithm that’s combining them. It’s that same system, but with music as well. So, the musician has to go into a studio. And instead of making stems for a song or an album, or EP, per se, they have to make stem in the same kbpm. And instead of making you know 10 or 20, they’re making hundreds mostly, and they make them in categories. So, for instance, like if you if you were to do a drop of sound, and you’re a EDM producer, and you want to do a drop with us, you would make like 25 vocal stems, 25 stems of Arizer 25 stems of baseline chords, drums, you know, whatever it is. And then you combine those categories with visual traits. So, say you want to combine, you want to make the vocal category of 25 stems paired with the color of a square or something like that, or the texture of a square. And then you would go to like the baseline and you’d pair the baseline category with the background color or something like that, you know, the list goes on, you could do really whatever you want, it’s trying to simplify as much as possible. So, it’s more digestible.

And then you would feed all that all those files to a server or to a computer. And then you’d give it metadata basically, to tell it what to do. So that’s where you tell the, you know, the algorithm basically to combine, you know, visual trait one with music stem, category three or something like that. And then you can debate the rarity. And then you have all these unique generated, generated audio-visual collectibles that normally without the music, most projects are already doing that. That’s how board games are generated cool, cats, etc. But when you combine it with music, and you also make it reactive on audio visual sense, is really fucking interesting because you can, as it was a collector you can own a one out of 2500 collectible from, let’s say, your favorite artist is Karanda. You can own a Karanda music art collectible that is never been heard before. Nobody else has anything like it. It may sound similar to other people in the collection, but nobody’s truly what you have. And you can have rarity attached to it. So, say maybe Karanda wanted to have like three vocals in there that are super, super rare and you get one like, then you could also have a rare visual trade attached to it as well.

I’ve developed a new love for collecting these autos generated pieces. I gotta be fully honest, I haven’t collected one on sound mint yet, I’ve been collecting, I collected a few on beat foundry. Because I came across sound mint after beat foundry and I’m really looking forward to the upcoming drop. I’m really stoked for that which we can talk about as well. But I gotta tell you, I wrote this in my recap blog post of season four that I published on mirror, I dedicated a specific section to auto generative music, I think I’m so incredibly bullish on that medium and on that concept, and it takes a certain ear while maybe the tracks don’t sound as like pleasing as let’s say a top 40 or a top 10 on Billboard. There’s a new level of appreciation that I’ve kind of developed to that because it’s a mix of code. It’s a mix of art. It’s a mix of music, it’s a mix of creativity, it has all these different like potions mixed and combined just to create a single track. And in fact, it genuinely fascinates me, it genuinely fascinates me. And it’s really, it’s like doing injustice to describe in a verbal way. You really just have to listen to what these compositions sound like what they feel like, and kind of go from there. And I’ll link a few in the show notes. Do you imagine there being like a Grammy nominated hit or a top 40 on the near horizon?

Andre Benz: For like a generated.

From a generator? Yeah.

Andre Benz: yeah, I’m honestly, I’m not gonna lie like, I think, yeah, I don’t know if, I don’t know, yes or no, I think there is a chance though. And for us, that sounds like I think we’re trying to prove to people or it’s like generative music isn’t just like bleeps and bloops. It’s actually real music. It can be really advanced and sound like an actual song and I think we’re gonna prove that with our next drop, I think first drop that we do with Cloud, he’s an electronic, there is no vocals or anything really. It’s very electronic and techno driven. With our next drop kind crews, the vocalist or the singer, an artist. It’s taken so long to develop the drop primarily because we’re taking fundamentals principles on the general music bass on electronic music and trying to apply it to an artist. And he can’t be applied the same way because there’s different fundamentals to how that music’s created compared to EDM. But we went through some of the collection, or we did test exports of the collection like two weeks ago. And I can confidently say, at each one’s a minute long, I’ve listened to probably over like 100. So far, every single one sounds vastly different. Every single one sounds like a song you’d hear in Spotify from this artist, like a stream able song. And every single one, it’s extremely good. It’s we have this own; we have an algorithm that makes it, masters it based on reference files that we send to it. So, we can take like a Drake song and say, hey, we want this to be mixed and mastered like this Drake song, send us an algorithm, and it’ll export it like a Drake mixing master. And we’ve been testing out with different songs. And I think people will hear it, and they’ll know for themselves when they listen to it. But I can confidently say that, that’s our second collection. I think once we get to a larger artists like Drake, per se, and we’re on like our 10th collection, and we have a bunch of different protocols and systems in place, and different modes of software that we’ve developed, that can actually continue to evolve and progress and really accelerate the sound, the quality of the sound that we’re able to put out through sound collections, I think you could easily see one of these generative exports, like be able to be heard on the radio or be streamed on Spotify, hundreds of millions of times.

So, when I collect this NFT, okay, and I get a unique version of it, what do I get with it? Because this is a common, this is a common conversation that people have in the space and like, the music is a utility. Do you need anything else like collecting the art for the sake of collecting the art? And I know on sound mint, you get certain rights and access to different things. So, can you walk me through more of that?

Andre Benz: Yeah, so, you get, the way I like to explain it is, you get access to three verticals. So, and each vertical is dependent on who’s participating in the drop. So, the first vertical sound mint ecosystem, sound mint ecosystem is basically you’re buying into you’re buying a sound mint NFT, and you get access to the sound mint brand, similar to if you were to buy in a Zucchi NFT or board A, you know, NFT you get access to the board A brand, to the Zucchi brand. When you buy a music NFT you’re buying to support the artists and you’re getting access to the artist career, but the artist is not a brand. The artist is there a crater they’re creating NFTs for art, they’re not creating NFTs necessarily to build a brand like Zucchi or board A, which are, they are a company that hire people. So, for sound mint, we want to take that same approach where people, NFT collectors buy as NFT is because they believe in the team and the brand. They get access to sound mint as a brand, as a music brand. So, we do, we’re going to be doing live events. We’re going to do merchandise collaborations with artists that we bring on, we’re going to be doing brand partnerships with other Live in companies like sound mint, we’re not doing a partnership with sound mint, these are all just examples. But that’s the plan in my head is I want to build sound, a brand where people can collect these music activities because they actually love the art, but also, they get access to all these extra features and benefits through the brand assessment.

The second vertical is the music artist. So, the music artists can give whatever perks and benefits they want. They don’t have to; we encourage them to do perks and benefits. But I would never put an artist in a scenario or a creator in a scenario where they’re creating art because they’re a creator and an artist. And they feel pressured to give all these benefits and perks because of the system that we put them in. So, we always tell them, hey, look, we recommend doing perks and benefits, but don’t do them. If you can’t deliver on them. It’s worst always to over promise and under deliver than under promise and over deliver. So, we just tell them, whatever perks and benefits you can give, give them so that’s the second vertical you get access to that.

Third vertical is a visual artist. So, for example, for example, the next stop we’re doing with cayenne Cruz Somudome, Someudom already has their own NFT collection called udoms out on trade exchange, it’s already sold out. And he has a bunch of utility and benefits. And I know utility is a hot word but like benefits and accesses to like clubs and shows and events and stuff like that for his own holders. So that now gets transferred over to people that buy this collection as well. Because this is his second NFT collection per se I guess quote unquote, it’s actually his first on Ethereum which is super cool. And that’s the third vertical so when you buy sound mint NFT, specifically sound mint NFT. You get access to the sound and brands, you get access to the music artist, and you also get access to the visual artists and the way I kind of like to explain this is, imagine if we did a drop with people. We did a drop with people as the visual artist, the music artists was Karanda. And it’s through sound mint as a brand. I mean, that’s pretty fucking cool you can get access to whatever the artist decides to give you, whatever people wants to give you through his ecosystem, and then whatever sound mint is developing through our ecosystem. 

What does the average collector look like on Soundmint.xyz?

Okay, got it. When people collect a generative piece, what does the average collector look like? Like who are they, because it takes a certain individual to appreciate this, this medium, because it’s one thing to collect a music NFT right, and to support an artist for the sake of a song, but there’s so much more. I mean, you could argue differently, I was gonna say, there’s so much more, I feel like thought process and creativity and work that goes into not only generating the song, right, but piecing it all together, finding in overlapping the right loops in the right beats in the right sense. And all these different stems together. And I’m a collector, so you’re looking at one of them here. But I’m trying to find other people that really appreciate this medium, because a lot of it is also like the general art trading and flipping side of things, right? The NFTs kind of bring into crypto and the speculative nature of these files. But there’s also the level of appreciation. Like I don’t know, if I’m gonna sell my beat foundry one. I don’t know, I haven’t really thought about it. Like, maybe I’d consider selling other music NFTs that I’ve collected, because I just appreciate it. I really, I really, really appreciate it. When you have drops being sold out, I’m sure you talk to the collectors who purchased these things? Who are they? Why are they buying into it? What do they appreciate from this mix from this collection? What does that really look like?

Andre Benz: Yeah, that’s something we’re still figuring out. Honestly, I think we’re still in a weird period or phase where the first job we did was, I think very, like, you know, like and retweet for whitelist, kind of like, collector driven. So, we got a lot of, we learned, unfortunately from his state, but we got a lot of people who are buying it just for like a quick flip. I think that’s not our target demographic at all, I think we do want to approach people that actually enjoy and find value in holding one of these NFTs for the long-term benefits and also supporting the artists collecting because they actually want to not because they’re going to make profit. I think it’s a mix between music NFT collectors that exists in the tiny community that are already, you know, is valid, is there. And I think it’s also a mix of fine art collectors or people who want to buy something truly, because they just love the art of it, not just the music, but also the visual side of it as well. I think we’re really targeting those two demographics. I don’t think our primary demographic, or community member is somebody who is a part of a lot of other larger NFT projects, per se and is active in those communities. I would never say that our target demographic is somebody who owns music and abort it. Because I think those communities are, they have precedents and ideology, ideologies on how NFT should operate based on the success of those products that they bought. And I don’t think we can mimic or replicate that success in the same exact way. And I don’t think we’d be able to deliver a positive experience if they bought our NFT is because it is a different ecosystem. So, we’re trying to kind of separate those two and make sure we’re targeting the right people to collect from us.

How do you scale curation?

The last question I want to ask you, Andre, is how do you scale curation? So, what do I mean by that? Okay, for those who don’t know, there’s a lot of platforms out there that just allow anybody to come on board, mint their stuff and try to sell it and find a collector. But there’s other platforms where collectors look to the platforms to kind of curate the right drops that bring not only like musical value and like appreciation to the NFT in question. But also, there may or may not be upside in it as well, right? So, there’s a level of curation that kind of like has its strengths, but one of the weakest points of curation is scalability. And versus having an open platform where anybody can go on curation, you really, really take time to really think critically about who are you going to let on next, where are we going to work with etcetera? But how have you kind of come across some different eras, if any, to be able to scale curation? And what does that look like?

Andre Benz: Yeah, I think it’s, it’s slow. I mean, obviously, like the nuance of curation is, you’re playing a mental game based on like human psychology for the most part. You always want everything that you put out to feel extremely exclusive. But you also, when you do that, you also are putting on the pressure that the product that you’re going to be delivering based on expectations they have to been met. It has to be leagues above everybody else. So that obviously quite a lot of time and we’re learning that as a curation platform. We thought we were going to be able to do a drop a month. That’s not the case. We’re looking at media drop every four months at this point because It takes that much more time to develop these drops. I think scalability comes when you can build, when you start building confidence as a company. But also, you build really good systems in place and systems in place to grow and ensure you can bring on higher volume without sacrificing that quality. I think for us, really, scalability, I think comes down to, we’ll never sacrifice the quality of the drops we’re putting out. And I don’t think we’ll ever change the volume that we’re putting them out either, I think we’re always going to keep them exclusive and make sure we’re doing drops with the top artists and the top visual artists, and the product is just absolutely stunning, every single time, I think we’ll never gonna sacrifice that. And that’s going to scale with the size of the artists and the caliber of the artists that we bring on.

I think to scale the company overall, though, as a curation company, we just have to deliver or introduce more products over time. That I would say product number one is, are these generative, curated audio-visual collections. I think product number two could be something where we’re building our own in-house visual team, and we’re making like sound mint original collections, where we bring in the music producers in house, the visual team in house and we’re creating fully like, full commercial licensable like music NFTS that anybody can buy. You can use them in your commercials, you can use them in your production, you can use in remixes, you can do where the fuck you want with them, you own them. I think that could be another product. You know, we have conversations every day internally about oh, what does this look like in two years? What does it look like in a year and I think there’s value in seeing a long term vision, something like seeing the end goal of it. But for us, I just tell the team it’s like, you know, quick daydreaming, just figure out what we need to deliver the next three months, let’s absolutely crush it. And then once we’re there, and the next few months, we can figure out the next few months from there. And we can figure out the next few months after those three months and just keep building and building and building because I think sometimes building a company, I’ve realized that when you have too many visionaries on board, everybody likes to think of oh my god, what if we get to you know, what if we do this question with Drake, and you know, Ariana Grande or some like that, we’re gonna be worth a billion dollars. And like, none of that happens if we don’t make the next three months work for this company. So, I just say like, stop focusing on that. Let’s just make sure we bring in the right artists. And we’ll figure out scalability over time.

Outro

Too many visionaries in one room is not a good thing. Depending on which context and I know that firsthand. Andre, this was grand before I let you go, where can we find you? Where can we find sound mint? I also want you to quickly plug the next project as well, for a minute and when that’s coming out, and then kind of wrap up.

Yeah, yeah, so I’m active mostly on Twitter, at Benz speaks, Benz as my last name and then speaks like I’m speaking. And then on Twitter, we’re at sound mint XYZ. For our next collection. It’s called back in time by Cayenne Cruz and Cayenne Cruz is the music artists, r&b kind of like hip hop artists from South Africa and now lives in Los Angeles. And we paired them with visual artists, some of them who’s done our work for savage, little NAS. Drake, they have a show on Amazon Prime video called Fairfax, that they do all the animation and illustration for and that comes out. Actually, we don’t know the exact date, but it will probably be the next two, three weeks around middle of May.

Cool. Andre, thank you so much. We got to do this again soon. I appreciate you being a part of the season.

Andre Benz: Of course, dude, I appreciate you having me. It was awesome