Mint Season 6 episode 15 welcomes Richard Chen, general partner at 1Confirmation and a dune top wizard. For the next half hour we discuss all things venture investing, where data meets the creator economy, music NFTs, building a successful community, and so much more.
I hope you guys enjoy our conversation.
00:08 – Intro
02:05 – Crypto Startups at Universities
05:26 – Balancing Data and Privacy
06:29 – How a VC Can Use On-Chain Data For Investments
08:14 – Understanding the Web3 Creator Economy
09:33 – A Crypto-Enabled Music Industry
12:01 – What’s Preventing Music NFTs From Getting to that Next Phase?
13:31 – A Breakthrough Artist in Web3
15:45 – The Overlap Between On-Chain Data and the Creator Economy as a Whole
17:18 – Metrics to Measure the Success of a Community
18:04 – Things to Look For When Collecting an NFT
20:21 – Data Products’ Role in Web3
21:09 – Richard’s Investing History
23:12 – Building a Successful Community
24:36 – Debatable Thoughts in the World of Crypto
26:37 – Thoughts on Web3 Social Applications, New Social Graphs, Etc.
28:10 – Web2 Social Versus Web3 Social
32:25 – Outro
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Richard, welcome to mint. Thank you for being on a part of season six. How are you doing?
Richard Chen: Good. How are you, Adam?
I’m good. Thank you for making the time, we didn’t get the chance to connect in Berlin. But I did see your magnificent wizardry talk at the dune con. So, props on that. And I have some questions to ask you about that entire ordeal, about your presentation. And I guess also just the general state of on chain data. But before we get into that, I want to know who are you? Let the audience know. And then more specifically, how did you get your start into crypto?
Richard Chen: Cool. Yeah, I’m Richard. I’m a general partner at one conformation and we’re a seed stage crypto venture fund. Some of our big investments include the seed round of open sea back in 2018, DYDX in 2017, super rare, Nexus mutual, a lot of the blue chip defi NFT projects we know today. I guess how he got started in crypto, this was around 2015. And I was doing research in cryptography in like with Dan Monet’s PhDs and that’s how I learned about Bitcoin Ethereum for the first time, then, like, thereafter, co-founded the Stanford blockchain club with a few other folks and really just went down the rabbit hole from there.
So, you actually seem like a community builder at heart, having co-founded the Stanford blockchain club, but also you seem incredibly technical. And, yeah, with a very, like investment sort of mindset, considering the fund that you’re running. I’m curious, how did starting the club lead to where you are today?
Richard Chen: Yeah, so I mean, this is back in 2017. And like, we would be inviting guest speakers. And other thing is like, there weren’t that many people interested in crypto at the time. So, you know, probably like a dozen or so in the club. And maybe like 40, or 50, who attended, like events. But it was a really tight knit community just to find like all the like-minded people on campus. And that really kind of translated well as like I worked full time in crypto and like understand crypto native communities, community building, kind of the ethos and culture.
Interesting. So, I co-founded the blockchain club at USC. I graduated in 19. When did you graduate?
Richard Chen: 18.
Crypto Startups at Universities
18, Okay, so what I feel like our paths have crossed in the past at some point somehow, but that’s really cool. I wouldn’t be here in crypto if it wasn’t for like the university ecosystem. And what’s interesting about where we are today, I’ve yet to see like more university based crypto startups sort of emerge and take charge. I’m curious, how are you seeing the current university landscape in terms of like crypto startups?
Richard Chen: I say the quality is still like a tear below. People who’ve, like been working in the real world for quite a bit. And I think it just takes, it’s more so like a mindset, like maturity and focus. And like, when you’re still a student, you have a lot of optionality. You kind of get distracted, you feel more FOMO and pressure, but you sort of like mature and mellow out the older you get. I think that’s a really important character trait of founders, especially working in web three, because you have these like boom, bust cycles, or crypto crashes 90%. And you need to have the stoicism and the conviction to like stick through a long term.
Yeah. Because three of the like three of the six most valuable companies in the world, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, were all born on college campuses. And the list goes on, like Snapchat was co-founded at Stanford, Reddit was created in a dorm room at the University of Virginia. I’m curious to see what sort of like crypto projects emerge out of that young, ambitious sort of energetic culture that that we have yet to see, like more either on a protocol level and application level, what are some things that you wish existed today? Like, if you had a wand kind of thing, taking inspiration from another podcast that I heard? If you had a wand to sort of kind of like, poof, you have this product that you sort of envisioned? What would that be as an investor, for example.
Richard Chen: I mean, like the list could go on. I mean, there’s still a lot like a big kind of open space in like scalability research. And, you know, right now, like, the big thing is, zero knowledge ZKEVM. But that’s just the very tip of the iceberg. And there’s still a lot of state of the art to be done in like, for example, ZK hardware, that’s kind of one of the bleeding edge research areas of creating custom ASICs, for general generating zero knowledge proofs. There’s a tradeoff space right now between scalability and EVM compatibility and you know, finding the right trade off, there’s a lot of projects working on that and like kind of picking the point on the efficient frontier. So that’s like one area, I guess another area like bleeding edge, I think AMMs is is like one of the top contributions that crypto is like made to like the world and there’s still a lot of research and kind of greenspace. And like the next gen designs of AMMs, like, constant function, market makers, replicating market makers, which basically you can replicate the payoff of a derivative with the spot markets. And so, this is like so much coming out of research. And like, that’s why I’m really excited about, like crypto projects are, like kind of taking this new ideas and research and then turning them into products.
Balancing Data and Privacy
Where do you think data products fall into place with all these new privacy-based primitives? Right, and zero knowledge proofs and all this new tech that’s sort of emerging? Where does data come into place in all this?
Richard Chen: Yeah, I mean, privacy is important. I think the next, the bottleneck of real-world data on chain is privacy is like kind of you look at like, what are the use cases, people want to bring real world data on chain, it’s like, cross margining. So, like using your Trad fi or Coinbase FTX bank accounts as margin, which you probably don’t want people to know your balances. So, like, that’s where privacy comes in. Even things like credit scores, healthcare data, this is like very down the road. Privacy is a is an important attribute that people want to bring their data on chain.
So very much used case dependent, in terms of what these applications will be sort of, like integrated with.
Richard Chen: Yeah, yeah.
How a VC Can Use On-Chain Data For Investments
When you think about as a VC using on chain data to make decisions, investment-based decisions, what is your mental model of sort of using like, let’s say a product like Dune, for example, in finding the right projects to invest in?
Richard Chen: Yeah, so I use dune like, every day, like more than I want to imagine.
You’re the top wizard on there.
Richard Chen: Yeah, I guess. So. Yeah, I just hit 10,000 stars today.
Richard Chen: So pretty big milestone. But so like, I use generally we divide our investments into like pre product and post product. So pre product like Dune, maybe you could get some insights into like the industry trend and like understanding the macro landscape of a specific sector, say some verticalized NFT marketplace, like vertical. But it’s still a lot of intuition and just developing DC like more qualitative, but if it’s post product, then you can use dune. And like really find hidden gems that aren’t really hyped-up Twitter narratives. But there’s real usage there and like getting investing early. So, I talked a little bit about this in my talk at dune con, but a super rare was like the perfect example, where this was during the middle of defi summer, all the DMS on Twitter were raving about yield farming and like they are kind of Too Cool for school kind of attitude with regarding NFTs. But if you look at the data superare was growing, 50% month over month. And that’s where we made the investment until I say like March 2021, when that’s when people did the big sale and suddenly NFTs became mainstream and it finally exploded. But by then it was kind of late to like jump on that bandwagon for NFTs. So that’s were using data like Dune you can really inform your decision making and get into good projects early on.
Understanding the Web3 Creator Economy
What metrics or trends would you look at to understand sort of where we are today as web three, native creater economy sort of exists? Like, how would you sort of measure the growth? What metrics would you look at to determine that?
Richard Chen: Yeah, I think, well, obviously that big KPIs are volume, like monthly volume growth for a lot of these marketplaces. I think one underrated metric is like distribution of collectors. And that’s really with the way you inform, whether or not it’s a organic community or it’s kind of this like narrative. That’s like kind of being forced. So, like, basically, the more equitable the distribution of collectors is like, the lower the Gini Coefficient, then I feel like the community is more organic. And that’s, that was actually one like underrated aspect of super rares community at the very beginning is, it was a very robust community. And there was a buy in from like, tons of collectors, not just a couple of whales that were kind of buying a bunch of stuff in shilling. I think that’s really important when you kind of measure the health of a lot of these early creator economy projects and markets is like, are there a lot of people like collecting and like supporting these artists?
A Crypto-Enabled Music Industry
That makes sense. One of the more interesting sectors that I’ve been, I guess doubling down on as the music NFT sector. I know you’ve made some investments in that category from catalog for example. I’m curious what is your thesis on, I guess like a crypto enabled music industry. What does that look like for you?
Richard Chen: Yeah, I mean, I think music NFTs is kind of the tip of the iceberg for like new search and discovery. Yeah, like music creation is like basically kind of filling the void of like what SoundCloud failed to do. And maybe there’s a future world where musicians are getting started don’t have to sign with record labels and management companies and like, have very onerous terms. Because music NFTs and like web three music gives them alternative business model for starting their careers.
So, when you see the current state of music, NFTs, is it evolving into what you expected when you initially made some of your bets or has it changed?
Richard Chen: So, I guess, volume wise, it’s gone down a lot in this like, kind of mini bear market. So that’s different than what I expected. I think another thing that was different on the flip side is like the growth of kind of on chain music creation and like these tools, like didn’t really exist a year or two ago. So, like our pay is a really good example that we invested in is like building a doll fully on chain. And you know, there are a lot of doll projects, just like in the traditional music world. But having like a crypto native doll is like really interesting when you can tie attribution to like creators of like different layers of the music, like people who create beats, people create like certain like synthesizer tracks, and you can layer them together. And with like NFTs in the blockchain, you can attribute those to the original creators. So, when someone remixes your music, you can kind of have this dependency graph and like down the road, you can tie in interesting business models like royalties where like, say you made a really popular beats and like every remix or who uses it, you get like some share of royalties. So, it’s a really novel zero to one idea that’s kind of just at the very tip of the iceberg. I like to see this experimentation.
What’s Preventing Music NFTs From Getting to that Next Phase?
So, let’s kind of brainstorm for a minute. So, as we continue down this road of experimentation, what other products or services do you think are missing, that are preventing music NFTs from getting to that next phase?
Richard Chen: I think it’s more of just like awareness, more so than mechanical services. And this is also another thesis I have is like, I’m more skeptical of like, big name, like mainstream artists, you know, getting into music NFTs because it’s usually, it tends up turning into a cash grab. And it’s kind of a, you know, innovators dilemma is like they have this really profitable existing business model. So, they could probably care less about web three, if things go south. Because they have a really nice, like, a fallback option to go through. So, like I feel like for music, NFTs like the thing that’s going to catalyze the industry has to be like a web three native artists like someone who became big only because of music NFTs. And you can look at like crypto art as an example where artists like x copy, Hackett Tao, Puck, maybe people and others, like they were not big traditional artists that were selling like millions of dollars at Christie’s and Sotheby’s like they only became big because of crypto. And they really understood the crypto native ethos. So, we’re just kind of waiting for that moment and music NFTs. And I think it’s bound to happen sometime.
A Breakthrough Artist in Web3
Is that measured through primary and secondary sales? Or is that measured using like traditional metrics, like Spotify streams, going on world tours? Like, how do you kind of categorize a breakthrough artist in web three?
Richard Chen: Yeah, I guess it will be sales. And I think like the value the NFTs is like comes from like the NFT appreciating, not like through like adding cash flows to the actually, I think that’s like, a big misconception a lot of people make, is they try to apply this web to business model to music NFTs. But if you look at it, like the amount of value capture is way more from like the NFT appreciating than, like earning some fixed income from whatever concert ticket sales they do, or whatnot.
Yeah, that makes sense. I’ve been collecting a lot of music NF Ts either on catalog, on sound, whatever it may be. And I really enjoy the process of being able to support an artist through patronage and I actually feel a much closer connection to them, right? Because one of these group chats, are giving us updates. And with that, I remember, so I had Reo Cragun on the podcast, he’s dropped a bunch of stuff on catalog across other platforms. And there was this interesting sort of moment where he released a song for us in web three. It’s sold out, it did well, but the secondaries were still kind of lacking. And then when he published it in web two, it did really well on like the charts right. And then he posted this tweet, that his song, I think in the week got like 200,000 listeners, right? 20,000 plays. And I remember like literally an hour later, that sort of got reflected on the secondary sales of the music NFT itself. Right? And it was the first time I saw that sort of, that connection kind of play out in real time. Have you seen that happen regularly? It’s the first example that I’ve sort of come across. But are you kind of like imagining the success of these artists kind of playing in the same realm?
Richard Chen: Potentially, I can’t think of like other examples. I think like, I think web three musicians I follow like, generally sent you stay crypto native and like, are active on Twitter, but like, not so much on like, Spotify and like other mainstream channel.
The Overlap Between On-Chain Data and the Creator Economy as a Whole
Yeah, sure. You know, on top of that, Reo was on the podcast again, and one of the things he talked about, that he could do in web three as an artist, but he couldn’t do and web two is sort of like the data that comes with selling music NFTs and understanding who his audiences right? And something that you’re big about, obviously, is on chain data. I’m curious where you kind of see the overlap between on chain data and the creator economy as a whole. What does that sort of vision look like?
Richard Chen: Yeah, I think growth marketing is a good way to look at it, is like you can become a lot more like analytical and like, be more targeted in how you spend money on like promotion. And like seeing like which channels are working, which channels aren’t and this is not just like creator economy marketing, it also applies to like yield farming and other areas of crypto is, this reminds me of like, web two back in like the late 90s, where like companies would just like spending, like hundreds of millions of dollars is like burning money on like advertising before, like we figure it out. The industry figured out metrics such as like cackleberry, CLV, and others and like basically got a lot more targeted and like better at like customer segmentation, I think a lot of those tools will be important for like growing, for the creator economy and like growing these brands, measuring the effectiveness of each channel affected effectiveness of each platform, and really being able to have like custom tailored marketing campaigns.
Metrics to Measure the Success of a Community
What sort of metrics would you use today to measure the success of your community, right? As a crypto native creator, as your, yeah, kind of like issuing more NFTs, building community? What will that look like?
Richard Chen: I think like community like activeness is like really important. So, like, you can use like monthly active, like people who like post on discord in your like private discord server is like one example. Because like I’ve seen way too many, like token gated discord just kind of turn into ghost towns, like, after a couple of months, that’s a really important metric to track. Yeah, and like there’s a lot building off of that. It’s just how do you measure user retention and activeness?
Things to Look For When Collecting an NFT
Yeah, but I feel like that’s like very much off chain kind of thing, right? Like, yeah, understanding how active the chat is, right? But as someone who builds so many dashboards and analyzes so much data, what do you look at, let’s say before you buy an NFT, for example, as a collector even right? To understand the health of a community?
Richard Chen: Yeah. I usually on chain data, you could probably only look at sales, like sales type data, and distribution. So maybe you could look at like, kind of historical price charts. But that’s kind of a really basic metric. But like, I think like going back to what I said, In the beginning, like collector’s distribution is really important. Because if you have no buy in from a lot of owners then like that’s how you develop a more robust community rather than like a couple of whales who like buy up the supply and basically try to like shale and like pump their bags, which is more of like short term.
Yeah, makes sense. I want to jump back to privacy really quick, because I forgot to ask you a question that, I think is actually super important to note. I remember a while back Vitalik kind of tweeted this new token standard idea of stealth addresses for ERC 721 and as someone who’s the number one dude wizard has 10,000 stars on there is like the creme de la creme of a data analyst, right? How do you kind of feel when you see a post like that?
Richard Chen: I mean, Vitalik poses a lot of like interesting ideas and like on Eth research, like kind of implementing a lot of new cutting-edge cryptography and like there’s one like this one for like stealth transfers of ERC 721 he’s like written a lot about bridges. I had to trust minimized bridges. So, it’s great to see like kind of what I call like more purist ideas like what’s the best way, the most secure way to do bridging, to do like privacy. It’s this kind of question of implementation. Like, are there tradeoffs in implementation such as, like how much like gas efficiency, scalability, runtime, things like that? And also, like, are there any teams that are going to build what Vitalik is building?
Data Products’ Role in Web3
It’s in a world where something like that gets implemented, right? Where everything just becomes super stealth. What role do like data products play for example? In a, yeah, in an environment like that? What do you think?
Richard Chen: Yeah, I mean, yeah, you wouldn’t be able to track the individual transfers. But maybe it could be kind of like a chain analysis like product, right, where you track the inflows and outflows. So, you can see like how much usage is, but you can’t like necessarily attribute like individual users. That’s like one way to look at it. And also, it’s another way to look at it as like, kind of centralized exchanges. Like there’s a lot of data products that look at exchange inflows and outflows. But you can’t see like what exactly users are trading on binance or other exchanges?
Richard’s Investing History
Yeah, that makes sense. I want to jump into your investment career. Okay. You seem relatively young, you graduated a year before me, you have this huge fund, you’ve made a bunch of bets, you seem like you know, what you’re talking about? What’s your history with investing? Like, how long have you been investing for prior to doing it professionally? What does that look like?
Richard Chen: Well, I was doing like some consulting work for like web to VCs about crypto, like before one confirmation, but like, it’s just like a whole different beast for them. So, like, that’s why it made sense just to focus solely on crypto native, because a lot of the lessons that you learned in like web two, it’s like kind of the opposite, applies in web three. And like, I can, like, go on.
Please. That’d be interesting. Go into that.
Richard Chen: I mean, like, one mistake I see is like a lot of VCs, like, take founders who pitched well, and are good at sales, as like a positive signal. And I think, especially in web three, like ability to pitch VCs is like, not an important skill at all. And the reason is, because like in web three, projects are not operationally intensive. So, it’s not like food delivery, or like ride sharing, where you have to hire a lot of a huge operations team be good at people management, hire executives, do a lot of sales be aggressive, like, like launching a new city. Whereas web to the teams is like really small, like a lot of these defi, blue chip defi protocols are like only 20, 30 people. So, it’s a lot more product, community oriented. founders and founders that are really good at building stuff that users need. And like, they might not speak well to VCs, but they’re just really good at product. And that’s kind of a lot of, the kind of the hidden gems that we found like throughout the years in investing, is like founders like from like Dao, Nexus mutual, others who don’t have the traditional silicon valley polished resume, but just understand their product and users really well and they end up being successful.
Building a Successful Community
Hmm, interesting. Can you elaborate more on what it takes to sort of build a successful community? Coming from someone who started his career in crypto, I guess like building the Stanford crypto club, right? You understand the value of bringing people together and unifying them under a specific theme, for example, right? What do you look for when kind of like measuring and this could be off chain related stuff? Like how do you actually build like a great community in crypto?
Richard Chen: Yeah, it’s like ultimately authenticity and like finding people who are like intrinsically passionate about certain areas, not just join the discord like to like, kind of get alpha leak on like when they can like quickly make money and then leave. So, like, what’s really cool is like, a lot of like, founders were like potential coworkers who like met each other through like these discord chats, because they were interested in particular topic is like, for example, like the XE infinity founders, like met each other through discord because they were interested in gaming and NFT back in 2017. And like these, like people like living like in Vietnam, and versus Norway that’s like on opposite sides of the world that they would have never met otherwise. So that’s the great thing about community, is like finding authenticity, people who are intrinsically motivated about a topic and just like kind of bringing them all together in one place just to like bounce ideas and chat for hours, days.
Debatable Thoughts in the World of Crypto
Yeah. What are some hot takes you have in the world of crypto that you think most people would disagree with you on?
Richard Chen: Well, I gave two of them at the Dune Day and talk. I guess I’ll repeat the first one, which I think, which is like I think aggregators are overrated. Because if you look at the on-chain data, vast majority of volume is still going through the underlying marketplaces. And the reason so it’s because like these marketplaces, it’s still very much a winner take all business or like, winner take most business. So, when did uniswap has 63% market share, when open sea has 93%, when hop has a 73-market percent market share for bridges, users is kind of out of habit, end up using the underlying products rather than going to an aggregator. So that’s a it’s one hot take I have.
Any other ones?
Richard Chen: What’s a new hot take?
Yeah, give me the fresh one.
Richard Chen: Well, I guess this wasn’t, this isn’t really a hot take any more. But I was like, kind of sounding the alarm on Solana like back in January, of a lot of VCs were saying that, like, look at how much talent is going to Solana. And like my response to that was yes, like, it’s a lot of good, people who look good on resume, but are more of like tourists when it comes to crypto. And I was like, betting that a lot of these founders would leave when the crypto bear market happened. And I guess I know more and more anecdotes of like, I won’t name a specific project name, where that’s been the case where founders go back to college, go back to their web two jobs, or they like pivot to building on Aptos and sweet because that’s like the new Solana of the next slide of what is going to be the new slot of next cycle. Just like how Solana were EOs of the previous cycle.
Thoughts on Web3 Social Applications, New Social Graphs, Etc.
Interesting. Okay. Okay. Interesting. Noted. Another question I have for you is because you’ve already made a few bets in the creator economy. And you’re pretty public about sort of like your thesis. I’m curious what you think about this whole uprising web three social applications. And whether it be like new social graphs, etc. What are your general thoughts around that?
Richard Chen: Yeah, so we invested in forecaster that’s like our big bet in that space. And I think web three social has a good wedge in search and discovery for NFTs. And there’s been a lot of these like type of products I’ve seen, like being pitched of like, building a nice, like Spotify, like recommender algorithm for NFTs or kind of aggregating, like social data. And like when artists are announcing drops across like Twitter, and Instagram and all that. So, like, like a good search and discovery, token gated NFTs communities all in like one place is, I think, a good wedge for web three social products. And I think like, it also has to do something different. It can’t be like perfectly skeuomorphic with like what we have in web two. So, I think people have like a lot of social media fatigue. So just, you know, building Instagram, like UI is like not going to cut it. And that was like why Coinbase NFT failed, is like it’s it was like this Instagram like product that was super watered down. And kind of catching the tail end of the NFT hype, but wasn’t a product that people wanted to use.
Web2 Social Versus Web3 Social
How do we build a social network that works in favor of creators, whereas versus like, exploits that which we’ve seen, I guess, across web two, like what is web three needing to do better that web two fail at when it comes to social?
Richard Chen: Yeah, I mean, I think, I don’t think anyone’s cracked, like the decentralized Patreon business model yet, or like that idea yet. Where, you know, I basically like, it’s like the membership NFT model where like, each tier like gives you different access. It’s like kind of a buying like Patreon. So, membership, except this works better for kind of more blue-chip artists. And there’s also like a kind of a secondary market to like value the artists time and their work. And I know there’s a lot of projects like tackling this, but it hasn’t been cracked yet.
Yeah, I know, there’s a bunch of attempts to sort of go after that problem space. I’m not sure what would define it, whether it be membership NFTs, whether it be like new funnels to capture attention. I’m not sure, what do you think people are sort of doing wrong? Because there have been attempts, right, and there are attempts to sort of solve that problem space. What do you think is missing?
Richard Chen: Yeah, this is interesting, because I think it’s a product that actually suits better for existing blue-chip artists rather than like a new and upcoming like web three like crypto native artists. And like mainly, the big pin point is that the largest artists, people like Lady Gaga and like others, like they literally do not know who their top bands are. It’s like, it’s kind of bizarre to think that be given like 10s of millions, hundreds of millions of people like know who they are and listen to their music, but they don’t know who the top bands are. And like they just don’t really get that data from Ticketmaster or whatnot. So that’s like a unique pin point for them. But NFTs is still like this brand new. This brand-new industry that it hasn’t like crossed the chasm yet to these mainstream used cases. So, I think it’ll be like a while before, like these used cases, really like this, like kind of web three Patreon model like really takes off.
Yeah, I feel you, I hear you, I think because you already reference Lady Gaga, something that I bring on the podcast a lot is like, Lady Gaga, in my opinion is like one of the best community builders there are like she builds community without building community. If you go on Facebook, for example, and you search up Lady Gaga on Facebook groups, you’ll see all these communities formed around Lady Gaga. And Lady Gaga is not in any of those communities. Right? It’s just her fans sort of congregating because they like the whole monster brand or whatever, whatever she stands for, right? We’ve also yet to see that happen in web three, we’re fans kind of form in a decentralized manner around some type of, I guess, like artists or whatever might be like, NFT artists or crypto artists, or have we? Am I not catching the right one, they need to be on the podcast.
Richard Chen: You could argue Vitalik is actually that type.
Oh, yeah, yeah, that’s true.
Richard Chen: Like he like starting Ethereum and then now you have all these subcommittees within the Ethereum ecosystem that congregate around some like-minded topic, whether that’s like really deep like L one, core dev research, like infra stuff, or it can be like, you know, financial stuff.
Richar Chen: It can be like NFT, like more artists, creators, but like, at the end of the day, they’re all contributing to the network health and growth of Ethereum.
So, you’re saying metallic is web three’s Lady Gaga? Is that what you’re saying?
Richard Chen: He’s like, kind of celebrity figure, everyone loves him because like he’s so artistic and, like, just like it’s like so focused on like, building and like research and like, just doesn’t give a shit about like.
Richard Chen: Like been greedy, like, pretty much every other L one founder. And like, that’s how they get Ethereum ecosystem has like such a good culture is because it comes from the top. It’s not like a mercenary like get rich quick vibes.
Yeah, very true. I think this was great. Richard,
Before I let you go, where can we find you? Where can we learn more about everything that you’re up to. Show it away?
Richard Chen: Sure. I get emails. Richard at one confirmation.com. I’m Richard Chen 39 on Twitter, R Chen H on Dune and like, pretty much every social.
Cool, man. Cool. Well, thank you for your time. We’ll have to, thank you for your time. We’ll have to do this again soon, Richard. Yeah, till next time.
Mint Season 6 episode 14 welcomes Reo Cragun, the web3-native music artist, multi-talented rapper, singer, producer, and songwriter who shares about his journey in web3 and his vision behind his biggest NFT project to date called Frameworks. We also discuss how Reo uses data to be a smarter creator, his relationship with Nipsey Hussle, the dynamics between artists and labels, and so much more.
I hope you guys enjoy our conversation.
00:08 – Intro
09:14 – Current State of Music in Web3
11:41 – Your Connection to Music NFTs
13:59 – Using Data as an Artist
20:44 – The New Sound.xyz Drop
25:35 – Reo’s Creative Process
27:03 – Pre-Web3 Reo Versus Now
30:01 – Creating Experiences for Your Collectors
33:49 – Lessons Learned Along the Way That Helped Perfect this Drop
34:34 – Your Relationship With Nipsey Hussle
39:05 – How Artists Should be Thinking About Label Opportunities
40:19 – The Value of Web3 as an Artist
43:07 – How Labels are Thinking About Music NFTs
45:14 – What’s the Status of Loners Dao?
47:58 – Joining the Music NFT Launchpad
49:44 – The Process Post Launchpad
50:56 – What Do You Look For in an Artist While Collecting?
55:07 – Outro
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Reo Cragun, welcome to the pod man. How’s it going? Thank you for being on.
Reo Cragun: Let’s go. No, I’m excited, man. I’m glad to be here.
I’m glad to have you part of season six. You have a cool drop coming up with sound and a bunch of other cool things that you’ve been working on in crypto. So, what better time to just highlight them than now. But before we get into all that cool shit that you’re doing, I want to start with a quick introduction. Who are you? For those who aren’t familiar with you but more specifically, how did you get your start into crypto?
Reo Cragun: Yeah. I’m an artist. First and foremost, honestly. Yeah. So, I come from Vancouver, Washington, which is this small city in the top left corner of the United States. It’s right next to Portland, Oregon. And, you know, I was going to school full time, I was on a full ride scholarship to Washington State University. And out of the blue one day, I just decided that school wasn’t for me, and I was just gonna go pursue music. So, I left to Los Angeles with like, pretty much zero money in my pocket and just like did the classic couch surfing move, and just prayed that everything would work out. And that’s really how I got my start in music for like, a year and had a song that just caught and that’s kind of what was the catalyst for my entire music career.
What was the first couch you slept on? Remember? Yeah.
Reo Cragun: It was my managers. Yeah. Okay. So, I had met my manager. And in Portland, Oregon, I was, I used to write like hooks for other artists and whatnot. So, there were these like Portland artists that I was writing some hooks for, super talented dudes. And yeah, and he was managing them at the time or consulting for them. I don’t know, which was the correct answer. He was doing that. And that’s how I ended up meeting him. And yeah, couch surfed on, on his house in Los Angeles.
Okay, so how many couches dd you actually end up surfing? I know, it might be a weird question. But it’s actually quite fascinating to kind of like, just on like, peel the hustle.
Reo Cragun: Quite a bit honestly. Like the two long term stays that I had for sure were with my brother, Jeremy Taylor. He’s like a professional basketball player. I met him super randomly. And, like, we just became really good friends super quick. And he was like, dude, I got a room for you. And yeah, so shout out to Jeremy because definitely changed my life.
Wild. Wow. It’s a it’s like when you look back, like everything just sort of makes sense, when you sort of piece all the dots together. But in the moment when you kind of got to your managers house that first night, on the first couch that you served, right. I wonder what was going through your head at that time? Do you remember like what you were feeling? Like, just move to a new city, all this stuff?
Reo Cragun: Yeah, I was terrified. I was completely terrified. I was like, geez, did I make the right decision? You know, like, I had everything, you know, I had stability, you know, I had a car, I had a nice job. I had a full ride scholarship. And then to kind of give all of that up in the blink of an eye to going towards uncertainty. And just like uncharted territory, because like no one that I had ever known, you know, had like made a successful career off of music or anything like that. So, I was just completely in the dark. And I was terrified for sure.
So, where did that courage and that will sort of come from?
Reo Cragun: I think it came from a place of me just being unhappy and unsatisfied with like, where I was at, at that time in life. I was just, school came really easy to me. And I thought just because something came easy to me, like doesn’t mean that this is my calling. And I always felt like it wasn’t my calling and the direction that I was heading. So yeah, I wanted to be more creative. And, and that’s why I chose music.
What did you actually attempt to major in before he dropped out?
Reo Cragun: Yeah, so I was studying medicine and business. And I was, it was interesting, because my school had this program where I think like a few kids were able to go to college as soon as we turned 16. So, I had already like had two years of college under my belt by the time I turn 18. And when I was 19, then I go to Washington State on this full ride. And you know, pretty much like after three years of school, I was like I’m out of here, even though I only had one year to go.
So, what did your parents think when you dropped out?
Reo Cragun: My mom was concerned for sure. She was just like, mainly concerned if I was eating or not. Yeah, I mean, she was super supportive the whole time. They didn’t know if it was gonna work out or whatever. But they always believed in me, for sure.
I think it’s always that assumption, when I was in college, I had a couple of friends that also dropped out. And it was always one of those things like, okay, whatever you go and attempt to doesn’t work out, you can always go back to school. Like, there’s always that option, but you only have so many opportunities that sort of kind of present themselves to you at a certain given time. And if you don’t take him, you miss him.
Reo Cragun: So true, at such a pivotal point in life too, like that 18, 19, 20. Right. You know, like, you still got a whole bunch of drive and ambition and whatnot. And yeah, I mean, yeah, it’s just so interesting.
Crazy. So, when did crypto come into the picture?
Reo Cragun: So definitely came into the picture during the pandemic.
Okay. Like many people, by the way, a lot of people kind of came into it. Yeah.
Reo Cragun: for sure. I was late to the party, I had a whole friend, I had a whole bunch of friends in it from like, 2016, 2017. That run and, and I was sitting it out, because I was like, in the middle of like, touring cycle and album cycle. So, I didn’t have like a lot of time or bandwidth to do a whole bunch of research on my own. You know, like, they were, you know, making money or whatever at that time. But that doesn’t justify me like putting my money into somewhere. I need to like know what’s going on, I need to understand how things work. And so, during the pandemic, I had a whole bunch of time to just like, do a whole bunch of research and figure out what everything was. And that’s where I like, literally just fell in love with the whole ecosystem.
So, when you jumped into web three, as people like to use the phrase, yeah, what were some of the initial resources you might have kind of like latched on in the beginning, like, did you listen to podcasts? Did you read blogs? Did you talk to friends? Did you open a Metamask right away and try to buy shit? Like, what was your, what were some of the steps you took in the beginning?
Reo Cragun: Yeah. So, the first step was, I guess the conversion from a whole bunch of my friends just being like, yo, you got to check this out. You got to check this out. And so that was the first step. The second was definitely YouTube. I watched so much YouTube, it was ridiculous. Like 1000 hours, probably in like the course of a few months. And yeah, that was mainly it. And then after that is when I really got heavily into seeing what was going on Twitter. And so, I realized that content comes super streamlined fast on Twitter for like, crypto related writings. And so that’s where I was at a lot of the time as well.
Yeah, there’s a reason why they call it crypto Twitter, like everything lives on Twitter. And if you’re not in Twitter, are you even in crypto? Right. That’s how I like to think about it. And it’s funny that you said that you came in late. Do you still think you came in late despite all the sort of like exposure, you’ve gotten the drops? You’ve had the collectors you’ve built like are you still in that that, not regretful mindset but like the belief that you came in super late?
Reo Cragun: No, I honestly, I don’t I think that it’s still extremely early personally. I think that I came in late like to, when it comes to like, even though I want like a blockchain is pretty much like that is, that’s where I feel like I was late. As far as like the knowledge. I think that the ecosystem is still early. We’re there’s still like, the beginning stages in some of these protocols and whatnot. And just like the possibilities where things can go with the technology, for sure.
Current State of Music in Web3
How would you explain the current state of where we are in music today and where music intersects with crypto?
Reo Cragun: Oh, geez, man, this is extremely still at the beginning.
Why is that?
Reo Cragun: So okay, so last year, I’d say probably around this time last year, and like September, I saw everything that was, I had been paying attention to everything that was going on and NFTs and whatnot and the PFP culture, and I was like, oh, shit, this is kind of wild. This is cool seeing everyone rallying and whatnot. And it’s like, everyone’s excited. And I was just a little confused. I was like, where does the music exists in this, because there’s like definitely a used case for it. And so, during that time, I was like seeking out people who were releasing on chain. And just like seeing people who were experimenting and from, you know, trying to connect the dots is where I initially linked with David Greenstein from sound, one of the cofounders of sound. And he told me about this idea that he was, you know, like going to launch and whatnot, and how he sees like, the future of music. And I was like, this is so sick, this is everything that I’ve been looking for, you know, and like. And so yeah. And so that was like the inception of sound. And then, for the next few months, you know, there was a few artists like in these calls, like trying to, you know, just like offer. It was like the UX experience, you know, like, yeah, and I got, like a bird’s eye view into that. Really cool opportunity. But yeah, but that, to go back to why I think it’s still early. That was like, I think sound had launched probably in November of last year. And we were like, oh, shit, I wonder where it’s going to be in six months and like to see all the growth that’s happened, right? This such amount of like, short amount of time, is just so insane, that’s why I think it’s extremely early on the music side. Like, you know, who knows, the ecosystem could be completely different a year from now.
Your Connection to Music NFTs
I collect a bunch of music NFTs. And admittedly, when David came and approached me with sound, I was an artist, right? I have a drum set behind me. So, I’m a drummer. And I’ve never really experienced the artist to fan relationship. Right. I always just played immaturely in the concept; I saw like people do music NFTs. And when David came to me and told me about sound, I thought it was a really cool concept. But I had to like see it like visually to understand, right? Whereas you, you are like you just told me you’re like, wow, this is everything that I’ve been looking for. I’m curious, like what initially resonated because it extends beyond just minting, right? Like, these platforms they allow the artists and the fan to come closer together. Right? Is that what resonated with you or what sort of stuck with you around this whole entire ethos, ethos around music NFTs?
Reo Cragun: Completely. Yeah. So, for example, generally, like, traditional music has been like, artists, and then top down. So, like, for example, if I put out music on Spotify, and it streams very well, and there’s listenership all around the world. The bummer is, I don’t own any of that data. I don’t, it’s not mine, even though like, it’s my music and I put it out, I have no idea in relation, like really where these people are listening or who are my biggest supporters? Like, I can’t pick out Henry from New Jersey, you know, and, you know, send them a poster or anything as like a token of my appreciation, or, like, take somebody out to lunch, you know, but yeah, so that’s like, that was always like a problem for me. And the thesis that, you know, instead of top down, it’s like, artists center, and then spread out this way to where you can have a more direct connection with listeners, collectors, supporters, you know, of all kinds and whatnot. That was really what resonated with me. And I guess, like the future of how things could be for sure. Yeah.
Using Data as an Artist
It’s cool that you bring up the data component. And you also bring up the sort of like, the horizontal approach to kind of like growing a fan base and growing a community. Because that’s like, what web three is good at, like, there, there are no borders, and web three in crypto when you when you mint, a token on chain, and somebody collects that token, like Ethereum will never shadow ban you, right? You have all that information. And when products get kind of like created, they build around the creators, right? They build around the artists, whereas in in traditional social media or traditional platforms, it’s very much like creators building audiences on the platform, right? And you’re also very limited with the type of information and value you can kind of capture on those platforms, whereas in web three, right, you sort of own quote, unquote, your community. And that’s sort of measured by the tokens that they hold and the experiences that you can kind of cultivate with that. I’m also like, I’m also fascinated that you brought up data because I’m curious, how do you use data in like web two sense like, so you couldn’t get Henry from New Jersey, right? But how would you typically use data as an artist, either on Spotify on Instagram or whatever other platforms you sort of build an audience on?
Reo Cragun: Yeah, so one of the easiest ways to use data is like, I know that I have 30,000, you know, fans in Australia that stream my music every single month, you know. So, I know that I can go, you know, play a headline show out in Sydney, I can go play a headline show out in Melbourne, in Perth, and I can go to Los Angeles, and that data tells me pretty much like, it gives me a rough estimate of ticket sales as well, like how much we could probably do. That’s like one of the general used cases of like, the data. But, you know, that’s for, like selling tickets, you know, and like things that like generate revenue and things of that nature. It’s not like, like I said, like, personable though. It’s like, I wish I had more information because, like, there are a lot of instances where I would love to, like, you know, figure out a way to give back or else like, go, if I see a whole bunch of people live in like a community that like, listen to my music, I can go through a pizza party or something like that, do a meet and greet, and like, you know, hang out with people. So, yeah, for sure. I would like more ways of connecting with people in that fashion, rather than just going to, you know, knowing that I could go play.
Right. So, on that same thought, I’m curious if you figured out how web three changes that and how issuing NFTs and building a collector base change that, have you sort of untapped and like uncovered that secret? Any insights over there?
Reo Cragun: Because it’s so early, no. I have like an idea of like, where it can get to. But all of that needs like we need scalability for sure. In order to get to those points. And I think as it scales, for sure, I think it will be much easier. Yeah.
Okay. So, walk me through more of your drop history in crypto, because you’re a part of the first cohort of sound. I remember that vividly. I think I also collected, if I’m not mistaken. I don’t know if it was, was it at the time? I can’t remember. I think it was at the time. Because didn’t you also have, the song that you minted on sound, you then later released on traditional platforms, right?
Reo Cragun: Right.
Or was it the other way around?
Reo Cragun: Yeah, it was my second song that I had minted it on sound. I ended up releasing traditionally.
That’s right. And I remember vividly, actually, because I referenced this example on the podcast a few times, where that sound dropped didn’t sell out fully. But the second you announced that, or no, it did sell out fully. But it had a lower secondary floor. And the second you announced that it got like hundreds of thousands of listeners, the floor automatically bumped up. And I remember I saw that tweet. Yeah, I remember I saw that tweet. And it was like a minute, posted a minute ago. And I was like, alright, I’m buying. You know, like, Yeah, this is an experiment. I bought it in the floor jumped. Right. Yeah. And I thought that was such a cool, like, interesting sort of taken seeing how web two kind of created the virality. But you’re able to capture the value in web three. Right? What walk me through that moment. Am I getting this correctly?
Reo Cragun: Yeah, you’re getting it. Yeah. Extremely correctly. Yeah, that was wild. So, I had, that was the second song that I minted on sound. We put it up, it was 50 editions at point one Eth. So, and it sold out, like instantly. So, it was like, I think, five Eth and primary value. And it did like some secondary numbers. But I just loved the song so much that I was like, yo, I’m releasing an album, I want this to be one of the singles. And then I got my homie Kid Ink on it. And we ended up putting it out. And it did really well. And so, I was like, I made that tweet. And then just like, yeah, like you said, secondary just started going crazy. And I was like, that was not my goal. Like I was just trying to be like crazy. Look at like the power of like, you know, web three pretty much. And like we kind of all did this together. And then yeah, just started going crazy, which was unexpected Definitely, like I said, not my goal.
And what a cool example to sort of reference, when you talk about how both worlds connect, right? And seeing how artists are building communities and using crypto primitives, but also still relying on traditional means of distribution through Spotify, Apple Music, etc. Like there’s a world for both right and they actually maybe even work in tandem somehow. Right? And I think as more listeners become collectors, that bridge is going to kind of like tighten right, and it’s gonna become stronger. But right now, it’s a little bit dispersed because not every listener is a collector, but every collector is a listener.
Reo Cragun: So true. So true. Yeah, I think, you know, it just, it takes time. You know, like, in a lot of traditional fans just still don’t understand the concept of music NFTs, currently, or just digital collectibles in general. And, yeah, I think that just takes a little bit of time and a little bit of education. But yeah.
The New Sound.xyz Drop
Soon, soon, soon, TBD. on that note, because we’re already talking about drops, we’re talking about sound, you have a new drop coming out, right? Walk me through it. Because it’s, it was, also at the same time where sound analysis protocol, and ended up being one of the largest drops next to Daniel Allen that I saw kind of like come out during the bear market, too. Right. Yep. So, walk me through it, what are you doing? What’s so unique about it? And yeah, curious to learn more?
Reo Cragun: Yes, sound protocol, it’s the first project that’s going to be incorporating the use of sound protocol, which I’m super excited about. You know, from the beginning, I’m an artist who makes a whole bunch of music, and like, I just, I crank out music. And I kind of always have, and because of that, like, I like putting projects out. It’s really fun to put singles out, don’t get me wrong. But the cool thing about web three is like I have a new way to express like my creativity. And so doing a project, you can express a little bit more of like the creative side. And so, with this project, that’s exactly what we’re doing. It’s called frameworks, like we worked on the pieces for like, months. My, a friend of mine created like these 2d digital assets, and then everlasting who like I work closely with, like, turn them into 3d digital assets, which is so sick. And then we spent a lot of time on this music, and we wanted to put it out in a really meaningful way. And yeah, and I’m super excited about it. We think.
That’s wild. Yeah. Go ahead. Go ahead.
Reo Cragun: Yeah. I’m calling it frameworks, because I think this is like the frameworks of like, how I’m going to be moving forward. This is like the building block of like, kind of the next era. And it’s the first project on sound protocol. So, it’s like, okay, cool. This is square one. This is how we are moving from here on out.
And what’s cool about this drop is that it’s five songs in one, right? And it’s, but it’s not the first time you’ve dropped five tracks at a time. I remember there was a previous release, maybe I think, was a year or so back in fill in the gaps of where I’m blanking out. But you sort of had this model where you dropped five songs, you did this entire, like PR thing around it. And this is sort of the second time you are kind of releasing with this numeric kind of like, I guess, a theme and but this time in web three.
Reo Cragun: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. No, I’m super stoked because it’s like, I wanted to do so many more songs. Just because like, man, I just get ahead of myself a lot. But five felt just correct. You know. So that’s where we landed on the five. And then there’s threes. So, like there’s 333 total additions, and.
Reo Cragun: It’s three by three by three. The reason why is because it’s like, it’s a cube. It’s like.
Okay, oh, that’s part of the whole art. Okay. Okay, cool. So, five songs, three by three by three. So how does that actually work on a like a drop mechanic, they’re all editions, obviously. But are they back-to-back to back? Are they separated across a couple of days? Because this is the first time, I’m seeing a one drop bundle a few songs, right? I’ve seen artists by the way. I’ve seen artists combined like EP and mint, a one on one on a catalog, for example, right? But this is the first time I see it in this sort of format. Help me understand a little bit better.
Reo Cragun: So, this is why sound protocol. I’m extremely excited about it. It’s making, it’s an easy way for an artist to release a long form project, in a pretty easily digestible way. So, the, really what’s happening is like, say, for this project, I have five songs, you’re not going to know which song that you mint. It’s going to be like randomized. And there’s not the same amount of editions for each song. Yeah, so there’s like, you know, rarity baked into it into which song that you get for sure.
And in what are the songs that are dropping?
Reo Cragun: Yeah, so we have a song called, actually got a pull up list, of a song called Zoom with Daniel Allen, I have toxic, which I’m super stoked about. That’s what’s bloody wide, I have a song called a combo with production out from clear eyes and Terra Lago, whose sub made the beat and then bulk which is like the squad song, with all these, that’s like Pluto, Deegan and black honey.
Reo’s Creative Process
Yeah, okay, cool. So, I feel like each song will have its own kind of like looking fields vibe, I’m curious what is your creative process sort of look like? Especially in in putting together this project?
Reo Cragun: Yeah. So, the creative process kind of varies with me, because I like to switch things up otherwise, like, if I am writing in the same manner, for like, too long, a lot of the music will start to blend and feel like I was making it and like a specific, you know, era, I guess. So, sometimes I start with, you know, making a beat. Because I’m a producer as well. Other times, like, I’ll just, like, get outside production from some of my friends, and just do the vocals and the melody. And, yeah, other times, I’ll completely make a whole song, scrap all the production and just send it off to one of the homies for them to like, build totally upon. Yeah. But yeah. And then as far as putting the music together. This was all kind of like, made during the same time. So, it all felt like, you know, like, it should all be in a home. Right? And so, yeah, so, I was super excited when we were narrowing down the songs and whatnot. And, yeah.
Pre-Web3 Reo Versus Now
Cool. Okay. So, you know, earlier in the conversation, you sort of talked about how you got into crypto because COVID kicked in, you could no longer tour, which a lot of your money was coming from that your income. And then it just kind of like cold turkey stopped, like out of nowhere. And then you spent all this time in web three, and now your curating projects that are crypto native, right, and you’re building a collector base, and I feel like you’re making a good, I don’t want to say good amount, like that’s up for you to decide. But you’re making money online, right? By doing the things that you love, without having to go on a world tour. But where does the tour fit in still, right? So, if you’re creating drops, specifically for like, a web three native audience, it’s still relatively small, I think it was like less than even 10,000 Music NFT collectors as a whole. Right, how do you now think about what you used to do? Right, which is touring traditional music producing, publishing, etc, to what you’re doing now? Like, where do the two sorts of mix and match?
Reo Cragun: Yeah, no, that’s a good question. It’s interesting right now, because I took time off of touring in the last year. So that way, I can build on this side of things. And then also just like, crank out a whole bunch of music, I just wanted to be extremely creative in this last year, which I’m so grateful that I did. Because like, at the end of the day, like, I love making music in my bedroom more than anything. You know, like, that’s what gives me extreme joy, and coming up with ideas and whatnot. And being in kind of my element. Touring sometimes it’s really difficult on like, my mind, and like my body and whatnot, which is just rough, but it’s like the truth, and it’s the fact of the matter. But I love touring though, don’t get me wrong, I love it. And I love being in front of like, in front of everyone and performing the songs live. So, when COVID happened, I had just got off of like, I think Harley and I were like on like a seven-month run or eight months run or something like that. So, I was on towards Flume. And we had gone all around the world and whatnot. And when I came back, I was just so confused, because the world pretty much shut down, after we got off tour, you know, it’s like, and I had other shows lined up and I was like, well, I feel weird. I don’t know what to do with my hands.
Going back to school.
Reo Cragun: And I was like, dude, what’s going on? So, thank goodness, I found, you know, like web three and in crypto and whatnot, because, you know, I just, I found something that I became extremely passionate about and that I loved just like I love music, you know, and so it was easy to want to learn and just to soak up a whole a bunch of, right?
Creating Experiences for Your Collectors
Yeah, where do you think crypto fits in, like the touring model and the live performance model? So, when you do a show now, you have all these collectors. I guarantee you they’re global, right? From all over, I think they’re global. And now you’re going to be performing for your existing fan base, that was there prior to all these collectors. Maybe there’s an overlap. You know, as you sort of maybe plan your next tour, you have all these collectors, you have these original fans. How do you mix and match the experience to cater to those who have NFTs, those who don’t have NFTs? What are your thoughts on that?
Reo Cragun: Yeah, so I’m still piecing that together. The interesting thing is, I remember like, the first moment that I spoke publicly about, you know, like, oh, yeah, I want to experiment with music NFTs. Man. My traditional fan base was like, you’re killing it. I was like, oh, geez, I didn’t realize like, yeah, I mean, which, definitely.
You’re like, shit. I didn’t know that was the case. Now, they can’t say that. we’ve transitioned to steak.
Reo Cragun: Proof of steak now for sure. Yeah and I. So yeah, that was very interesting to see. Like, all like the pushback. So, like I said, I think it’s still just, we just still need a little bit more time and like education for certain groups, and whatnot. So, we’ll see. I don’t know how it translates, because I do have two completely separate groups of like, supporters, you know. And I’m trying to find a way to bridge the gap. I want to get a music NFT in everyone’s wallet, you know what I mean? And so that’s like, that’s definitely a main goal of mine, for sure.
I wonder how that could work on a live performance basis. And if you have like LED screens, everybody sort of scans a QR code. And they all get Airdropped an NFT of yours, right?
Reo Cragun: Like, I know, Justin like Blau.
Reo Cragun: He’s done some really cool stuff like that, I know like, the common answer is like, you know, the ticketing system or else like the festival wristband becomes like, you know, an NFT that, you know, concert goers can keep forever, you know, have it, be a novelty item after the show’s done. Yeah, I don’t know, where it actually fits currently though, beyond that, because it’s like, like I said, you know, one day something’s going on. And then the next like, there’s so much quick evolution. So, it’s cool, like, you know, so I’m sure it will, NFTs will be all over music, you know, like in the next like year, year and a half right, in ways that I’m definitely you know, like, not capable, probably of even thinking about right now.
Yeah. I’m curious, this is going to be drop number one in your history. What drop number is this? Yeah. Fifth drop, sixth drop?
Reo Cragun: I’ve done a lot of singular drops. Right. I have a lot of releases across catalog. I have a lot of releases across sound. I was part of Daniel Allen’s glass house drop.
Reo Cragun: Yeah. And so, this is going to be, this is my biggest drop as Reo Cragun, by myself like to date, for sure.
Lessons Learned Along the Way That Helped Perfect this Drop
So, across all the other experiences and drops you’ve had, what are some things you’ve learned along the way that you’re applying to this drop?
Reo Cragun: That’s a good question. I think we’re scaling it. It’s way more in depth. Sound protocol, being, like a main part of this drop as well. And just like continuing to experimentation, like I said, like, the main goal was to like, release a long form project in a meaningful way and like a really cool way. And I think we’re, you know, we’re gonna do a great job at delivering that. Yeah, for sure. And then also, what’s different is generally in like a sound drop. There’s only one golden egg. So, in this there’s five separates.
Your Relationship With Nipsey Hussle
Got it, Oh, wow, five, five golden eggs. Kind of like crammed within 333 editions. It’s gonna be a war zone my guys. That’s crazy. That’s wild. So, I want to jump into Twitter for Second, and I think yesterday we tweeted, hosting you tomorrow on mint, what should we talk about? And one gentleman that goes by the name of Cooper, listed a couple things, okay. He wants us to talk about Nipsey. He’s proud to pay culture, how to treat label opportunities, and early Hip Hop stories. And what I learned behind the scenes, is that you actually had a relationship with Nipsey Hussle. And he kind of like, mentored you to an extent as well, right? Can you talk about that?
Reo Cragun: Yeah. So really, what it was, is Nipsey was one of the first like, artists of like that caliber, like, just like larger artists to believe in my music. Back when I you know, barely had any music out. And when I was getting no looks, and just like, head down, grinding, you know, what I mean? And, yeah, my manager had introduced me to him, and yeah, he just really schooled me and told me about, you know, the power of, of ownership in the music business and why he went the independent route and how that could be beneficial. And, yeah, and so, that’s how I met Nick. It was just crazy, man.
Crazy. Can you can you talk about also behind the scenes, we were telling me how he started selling hip hop beats, right. And tapes, essentially for a certain price.
Reo Cragun: Yeah. So, he was a, made a whole bunch of mixtapes, right. So, he came up with this concept of proud to pay, which is, which was pretty much like, you know, like music NFTs and web three, four, it existed, it was like the ethos of it, where you should look after your core fans and offer exclusive experiences and, and whatnot. So, he started out with dropping a project at $100 each, which initially was like, brand new, you know, it was like a, it was insane concept. And he sold out all of the copies of the mixtape. And then a couple years later went on to release mailbox money. And I believe he sold that at $1,000 per unit. Yeah, for sure.
Crazy. How is your relationship sort of, yeah, kind of like paved your career as an artist? What were some of the biggest things you kind of took away from him? You can either apply to and like music traditionally, or even in like dropping music NFTs.
Reo Cragun: I mean, I went independent, because, you know, the early conversations that I was having with Nick and whatnot. So originally, I was signed to Capitol Records. So, I’m sorry, Virgin. It’s in the Capitol building. And that’s where I put out my first album. It did really well. And I put out another project, but I was losing creative control. I can just feel it, you know, like, it was more suggestions of you should make music like this. You should hire this person to do a video. You should, you know, start. Here’s a stylist for this. And it was like, yo, why is it like, this isn’t me. And so, I opted to leave. And so, we ended up getting out of it pretty smoothly. And it was pretty solid experience of getting out because I’ve heard some horror stories of like artists that have deals. And yeah, we ended up running an independent and again, just like moving to Los Angeles, and I was terrified. That was another defining moment where I was terrified as an artist. I was like, geez, can I do it without the label? You know what I mean? And thank goodness, yeah, I ended up completely doing so much better. Yeah.
How Artists Should be Thinking About Label Opportunities
How do you think artists should be treating label opportunities today?
Reo Cragun: I’m not against labels. No, I’m not like a contrary to popular belief. I think what needs to happen is, I would love to see more artist friendly deals. That’s what I would love. Because, you know, my first deal was not artist friendly. I mean, I can openly say that my first deal was an 80/20 split. I actually even got, I think I only had 16 points on the royalty, so it was 80416
Reo Cragun: Yeah, and I didn’t know the masters. Yeah, so pretty much I don’t see anything off of that project, even though went on to do like, really good numbers. But that’s kind of like how new artists like are. Those are the deals that you know you can get offered. I think that there needs to be a new take on, you know, partnerships. Because that’s what they should be. It should be partnerships. It shouldn’t be like, here’s this loan where you know, like, you get pretty much nothing in return. Yeah, for sure.
The Value of Web3 as an Artist
Yeah. Okay, that makes sense. So, in the context of crypto, in the context of music NFTs, what role do you think labels play? Where do they come in? Because you can now raise money. If you build an audience independently across social media, that is your distribution platform, right? You can be scrappy enough as well to kind of even get like your own organic press, if you’re doing something. Right? Now, candidly, many people don’t do things right. And they don’t kind of like break through the noise. But if you kind of experiment and you’re open minded enough, you can actually make noise in crypto. I’m curious, like, what sort of value do you think they provide now as, as you are kind of like, even more becoming a web three native music artist?
Reo Cragun: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I think that, you know, ears are still everything, you know, like, every artist still wants their music to be heard by a lot of people. And for good reason you know, like, this is how we scale things. This is how you, you acquire new fans, how people have good experiences and whatnot. And, yeah, so I think that, you know, distribution is still very much needed for artists, because it’s one thing for you to be successful in music NFTs, like as far as, like volume or whatever. But, you know, you still want that to translate to like, a greater audience as well. Because that way everyone’s happy. You know, like, if you have, if your songs do a lot better theoretically, the, you know, the music NFTs should have music, more value and vice versa. Yeah, for sure.
That makes sense. That makes sense.
Reo Cragun: I think labels can play a role in all of this. I just, I feel like, I feel like new forms of probably, partnerships can be formed throughout all of this now. Because, you know, like you said, artists are making a little bit more money, they have a new revenue stream. And, you know, a lot of people don’t necessarily need the labels funds. So maybe there can be like these types of deals where an artist doesn’t need an advance and can, you know, retain a lot more ownership, while still having the distribution services of the labels.
Have we seen anybody execute, that the right way yet, like any artists comes to mind?
Reo Cragun: That’s a good question. I know, certain deals, or certain artists have like really favorable deals like for example. I mean, I’m sure that Drake’s deal, like they’re not taking 80%.
Sure. I guess, I’m talking more in the context of like us in crypto, for example, right?
Reo Cragun: I don’t think that exists yet now.
How Labels are Thinking About Music NFTs
Okay. Interesting. Because we’re seeing more labels, kind of a start these web three music labels, right, like the crypto native music labels. And none of them have really like made serious noise just yet. They just got the attention because it shows this, this legacy brand is now entering crypto and sort of validates maybe everything that we’ve been kind of like, paying for right, so maybe they’re gonna buy our bags, who knows? Right? But we have yet to see, like a big label do it, right? Publicly, yeah. And maybe it’s intention, maybe it’s just like part of their R&D fund. Maybe they’re just experimentating. Wow, just as much as we are, you know, do you have any insight on that as to how labels feel about these NFTs? How they feel about crypto native music artists? What are your thoughts, any insights?
Reo Cragun: Yeah, I mean, I know everyone’s excited about it. I think that really, I think that they’re trying to figure out like, correct and solid entry points, you know what I mean? Because I think like, a lot of the consensus in like, the music NFT like, ecosystem is kind of just like, no one’s really fucking with the labels type stuff. You know, it’s like, there’s so many horror stories, you know, like, me having 16 points royalties, you know, like, I know that a whole bunch of other artists in the space have had disgusting, you know, relationships with the label system and whatnot, and it’s just unfortunate, but, so, I think that, you know, probably they’re just like trying to figure out a solid entry point because they have to start being the good guy, right? More favorable artists deal honestly is like how that, I think how everything comes full circle. Yes, like probably a new take on like what it means to be in the music business, you know, yeah.
What’s the Status of LNRZ DAO?
I think, you bring a really cool perspective into the space because you’re not just an artist, you dropped out of college like you’re very much an entrepreneur yourself right, in many respects, whether it extends on the music front, right? Whether it extends to you couch surfing and just continuously doubling down on yourself or even starting a project and web three, or I don’t know if it’s like necessarily a web native project but this like creative incubator that you have called loaners Dao, right? Yep. So, I guess it is, I guess it is a web three if it has the Dao at the end. Talk me more through that. Because I remember when the mirror campaign came out, and you’re doing a crowd fund for loner’s Dao. What’s the status of loner’s Dao? Like, what have you been doing with that? Because I know you’re also in the in the music NFT incubator. A Cooper started right. So, is there collaboration? I have so many questions. I’ll let you kick it off. Yeah.
Reo Cragun: Yeah. No, there’s no collaboration right now. A lot of my focus has been geared towards, especially in the last like six months, has been geared towards onboarding more talent into the space. And just like educating people on, you know, the music NFT side of things. I think, you know, as the space continues to grow, the space will just continue to get better. There will be more creative drops, there will be you know, like, a lot of music, probably really good music that interests, the space and whatnot. And it’s just gonna push things forward. And so that’s been my whole, you know, thought process for like, quite some time now. And yeah, I’m on the board of Cooper’s Launchpad, which I’m super stoked about. I think there’s so much talent in this first group of artists. It’s just so insane. We just had a space the other day, where everyone was talking about their experience. And I was just like, dang, man, like, this is really cool. I feel like I’m part of something like, great. And loner Dao, you know, is a creative incubator. Also, like we on boarded. I think like half of the talent on loner’s Dao web to three, which was really cool. And then a couple of the artists were already in this space.
Reo Cragun: And really, what we’ve been doing is, we’ve been working on a long form project, and then we’ve been working on a generative project for loner’s Dao.
Got it. When can we expect to see some public stuff from this projects that you’re working on?
Reo Cragun: Yeah, pretty soon, within the next couple of months, for sure.
Okay, maybe we’ll have to run another episode around that time.
Reo Cragun: Yeah, we would have to run another for sure. Yeah.
Joining the Music NFT Launchpad
Talk to me more through the music NFT Launchpad. You’re on the curation board. From what I’ve seen from Cooper, when he was on, I think, a couple, a few episodes back. Every single person on the board had sort of one pick to bet on, right? And then artists to bring up on board. What did the curriculum sort of look like? And what sort of value did these artists get once they joined the launchpad?
Reo Cragun: Yeah, it was, a lot of the curriculum was, it was broad, right? Because it was great curriculum. By the way, Cooper crushed it, Cooper kind of like did all of this and spearheaded it. He’s just an animal, honestly. Yeah. So, it was kind of broad because, you know, like, it’s, I think the concept was, how do you educate somewhat so like, it was like, okay, here’s how you download the meta mask, was like the early classes, let’s get everyone’s ENS domains. And then like, how to be in like the discord and telegrams and like on Twitter, how to go about creating in drafting up ideas for music NFT launch. other creators in the space. It was like, it was really cool. So, it started out broad and then it got a little bit more focused and whatnot, which was really cool. Yeah.
And what is the, oh, yeah, go ahead. Go ahead.
Reo Cragun: Yeah, and then everyone’s like been drafting up like, their initial thoughts on like, what they are planning on doing for their first drop and whatnot, which has been cool
The Process Post Launchpad
Okay. So now when these artists drop, are you guys playing like a major role in sort of finding them the right PR, finding them the right kind of like letting other collectors know like, what happens post Launchpad when they are ready to drop? What sort of, I guess like coaching or consulting or whatever they get do they get from you guys?
Reo Cragun: Yeah, so a lot of it, the one on one with Coop, for sure. And then, you know, like, I’ve talked directly to probably like four of the artists in the launchpad. Well, I’ve talked directly to a lot of them, but on a consistent basis have probably talked to four of the artists. And so yeah, I mean, for sure, yeah, I mean, I’m a music collector myself, I have close to like 100, music NFTs, from other creators in the space. And just like friends and stuff like that, so yeah, I’m gonna be pressing the men button for sure on a lot of these artists, and then yeah, of course, introducing them to other collectors in the space and just putting them on people’s radar. Because there’s a lot of talent in this in this group. It’s just mind blowing.
What Do You Look For in an Artist While Collecting?
Cool. So, you’ve collected about 100 music and excuse yourself? What do you look for as a collector when you sort of spend your Eth on an artist?
Reo Cragun: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, it’s interesting. I like, people who are like, hard working in this space, and who are pretty vocal. I also like good music as well. So, like, I’m looking kind of like for all those criteria. And people, you know, who are showing up for sure. That’s like, that’s my main.
How do you advise people to consistently show up? That’s something that I also advise artists and creators that want to come into crypto, you just consistently show up? How do you define consistently showing up? Like, what does that look like on an action base level?
Reo Cragun: Yeah, I mean, that’s a good question. I think really being active on Twitter, being active on certain telegrams, you know, joining certain Daos to, you know, be part of community calls and get more education, things of that nature, and then constantly releasing music NFTs as well, not like taking three months off before you’re doing your next drop and whatnot. Yeah, for sure. And then, you know, especially people who are like boundary pushing, trying to do things outside of what their peers are doing, is always a really cool thing for sure.
Yeah. That makes sense. I guess, before we wrap up Reo, anything you think that I’m missing? Because I find your background really cool. I find, you obviously have a lot of experience, you’ve toured also, from what I understand with Billy Eilish, Flume, Lil Yachty, like all these really big heads. And you’re obviously making now a name for yourself in crypto too, what am I missing here? What do you think?
Reo Cragun: Man, I mean, nothing really, I do just want to say that I’m just like, really excited for the future. And I think that, you know, we’re just really on the surface of this, I think that it turns into an animal, just like gets legs. And I think that it’s really going to impact music as a whole. And the way that people think about, you know, releasing music, for sure, I know that my personal releases have gotten extremely creative, since like, you know, I started making music NFTs. And it’s become way more artistic. You know, I feel like the music has, you know, I’ve always worked extremely hard on the music, and I always want it to be like, top notch. But it’s really cool that I don’t just make cover art anymore. You know what I mean? Like, it’s like, you spend all this time on the music all this time, you know, sometimes a year on the music, and then on the artistic side, like you spend like a week on it, and then over, you know what I mean? It’s like, now it’s like, okay, cool. Like, I can also spend, you know, some blood sweat and tears and a little love on the digital side of the art and whatnot, which is really cool. Because I feel like, you know, you can make the music into an experience now. Yeah. And, you know, some people are even using it as you know, like content for their live shows. Yeah.
Do you do you ever imagine playing concert just for your collectors? Like a room of like, 300 people?
Reao Cragun: For sure. Yeah, for sure. Definitely. Yeah, I think that would be really cool. I think it would be amazing, honestly. Like, you got to think to like, this stuff existed before just in a different medium. You know, it’s like Jay Cole playing shows for his fans only for $1 because you got $1 and a dream. You know? Like that’s like really similar thing and it’s like, yeah, I would love to do that. You know what I mean? Throw free show for collectors. That will be so sick.
Alright, so I’m gonna keep collecting then.
Reo: Cragun: Let’s go.
Before I let you go. Where can we find you? Where can we stay in touch? Show it away.
Reo Cragun: Yeah, of course. You can find me on Twitter, Instagram, anywhere. My handle is the same. It’s at Reo Cragun. And on sound XYZ and catalog, I guess.
Amazing. So, Tuesday, this is when this episode’s gonna come out as well, on Tuesday. That’s when the drop is. I’m excited to be listening to the drop in the five tracks that you have called framework, with all these different artists collabs and honestly, your biggest project to date. So best of luck. I’m stoked for you. And yeah, we’ll have to do this again soon.
Mint Season 6 episode 13 welcomes Black Dave, the web3-native music artist, creative thinker, and self-proclaimed genius. From dropping free NFTs to setting records across crypto Twitter, I wish I had him on the podcast sooner. We had an awesome conversation on all things music NFTs, the early days of Clubhouse, building communities, designing experiences for collectors and so much more.
I hope you guys enjoy our conversation.
00:13 – Intro
11:05 – Getting Started With Music NFTs
17:00 – The History of Black Dave
23:09 – Why Community Ownership is So Important
29:03 – Rent-Based NFTs
32:19 – Creating Experiences Around Drops
34:56 – Snoop Dogg’s NFT Drop
39:30 – Any Collaborations On Your Wish List?
43:00 – Free NFTs
58:26 – The Balance Between Documenting Processes and Creating Music
01:03:20 – How Do You Build a Legacy On Chain?
01:07:58 – New Things On Your Radar
01:15:29 – Outro
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Black Dave, the one and only, welcome to mint. What’s going on man?
Black Dave: Hey man, I’m about my girlfriend’s house. She’s watching industry and I’m chilling. How are you?
I’m feeling good. I’m doing well. It’s Wednesday, September 21, it’s the first episode we’re recording together. I feel like it’s long overdue. I’m a collector of yours across the different music NFTs that you’ve issued, and sort of just been like watching what you’ve been doing. So, I think a good place to start like Dave is who are you, man? What does a world need to know about you? And more specifically, how’d you get your start into web three?
Black Dave: So, I normally say my name is Dave, Black Dave in the streets. I got; I’ve been making music in varying forms for the last 20 years. Nothing crazy. I don’t have some like I went on tour with this person kind of story. But I’ve been making music just with my friends in Charleston where I live. I’m from Charleston, South Carolina. I got started in web three at the end of 2020. My story’s similar to a lot of people that just happened earlier. I was on clubhouse, someone was showing people how to make NFTs, it was Seer Sue, in case you know Seer Sue and he was doing a five-day course with, there’re like a few o G’s in there, Shawn, sometimes Sophie, his girlfriend was in there. There weren’t a lot of people. There’s like six or seven of us learning how to make NFTs at this time. And I started minting NFTs then, my first maybe 15 or so NFTs weren’t actually music. They were all images. And I started minting music in March of 2021. And then from there, I went full steam on music.
But you’ve been you’ve been a music artist for a minute now, right?
Black Dave: Yes, yes, I started out playing bass in pumping hardcore bands, which is why my music has like screaming and why music has guitars is because like, I’ve been trying to think a lot more about how to fuse all of my interests into one thing. And so that’s like what my musical goal and constant chases.
How would you explain, like your creative side to someone who’s not familiar with your work? Because I would consider you, not all over the place, but like artistically all over the place, which I really appreciate. How would you sort of explain it to someone, that isn’t maybe familiar with your work?
Black Dave: I tell people my goal like is like Virgil Abloh was a rapper who watched anime. My whole thing is that, I don’t want to be limited to a specific media, I really just want to be known for like my tastes and like the quality of work and the quality of ideas. So normally, I tell people that like I’m an all-around creative person, or I’ll say a lot of times, and I’m a creative director. But I like to just say, I’m a creative person, working out the intersection of anime, streetwear, rap music, sneakers, and fashion.
Walk me through more of like the early days of clubhouse. Because I think that was like an iconic moment for a lot of people who kind of came across NFTs in that era and clubhouse set the tone for a lot of new projects, a lot of like icons that maybe have set the tone for, yeah, like the standards of how to do drops, how to design websites, etc. And I remember all these like clubhouse spaces sort of activated that and considering you came into crypto through clubhouse, and you didn’t start with music, you started with images. I think that’s super interesting. Can you talk more about that?
Black Dave: Yes. So, in 2019, I had quit my job and decided that I was going to try to find a way to be a creative person for money, as opposed to working for somebody else for money. And so, when 2020 had started, I decided I was going to make more music. And so, I was making a three song EP every month and I was making a beat every day and uploading it and like putting it on my beat store. And so, when it got time to get into like crypto, web three, etc. I was already into crypto, I bought my first crypto and like 2017, with everybody else. And one of my friends early in the year was trying to get me into NFTs. He was like you could totally do this. And I was like, oh, I don’t do 3d art and that was pretty much the end of the conversation. And so, at the end of it. At the end of the year, I was going through the course and I minted a cover that I did use for one of my EPS is my first NFT. It was like December 19 or 20th. Right before Christmas, and it was a small clubhouse room. You know, Lady Phoenix, I think like, it was one of the big oh geez, who was on clubhouse at the time. Sirsi was a super old shrine, Israel. There was Cashmere, there like a handful of folks. And at that time.
There’s a ton. Yeah.
Black Dave: But at that time, there were a lot. I think, the early, early, earliest conversations I remember were all led by black people, which was kind of funny to think about now, just because of like, so much of the different race related things that happened throughout the space, but like, that was really interesting. And I just met lady Phoenix in New York. At NFT NYC, she’s amazing. I’ve met Seer Sue, before that, something I don’t know which one, somewhere, I’ve met all the people I named but I had minted an image, I didn’t sell it for about a month and a half. So, what happened was through that, I ended up teaching other people about NFTs, I joined the like, clubhouse crew NFTs dot tips, if you remember that, if you were around for that. So, I joined that crew a little bit after they started. And we would just onboard people for like 18 hours a day like literally like I would sit probably for like six- or seven-hours in time and when onboard people and we would just rotate like the like core team quote unquote and from there we just onboard so many people, you think about like the like the team for like Oni force like all of them were like pretty much on boarded by NF T’s tips like the OG team. I know they’re like, going through it as a project but like that team windboard APR club minted, it was still clubhouse time. So, all the rooms are happening on their, part of the reason that super Yeti is such like a meme is because that was clubhouse time. Just a bunch of stuff from that era. And then like something that I think is a little bit different now that was not, that was like, that was that, it was it’s different now but was really, I think important then was like the power of a crypto punk and owning a crypto punk. And like early 2021. Alan henna was like the only person we all knew who had a crypto punk at the time. And he was one of the people who was helping onboard tons and tons of folks and like, I would spend a lot of time like CO hosting rooms with Alan, which I think really informed like a lot of how I view the space because like, he’s such a deep thinker in general and was already working in crypto and like was already an engineer and all that stuff. So, hearing him describe the space versus hearing somebody who’s natively an artist described the space, I think really informed how I moved and thought.
How would you sort of explain to someone who wasn’t around the early like clubhouse days, the influence that black culture had on mainstream adoption? How would you sort of explain that narrative and kind of even reference examples?
Black Dave: I think the easiest example, especially for like clubhouse in particular, was clubhouse really took off when Atlanta rap music showed up on the app. So, I got on clubhouse in November of 2020, which was still far before a lot of people and I got one of my friends on before me because he like he made more, he was further along in the music journey than I am. And so, I was like, yo, you should get on clubhouse. I know your manager lives in Atlanta. Let’s see if you can get somebody to get you on. And so, he ended up getting on like a month and a half before me. And Neezy who’s 21 savage’s managers had like a really booming club on there. Sonny digital had a really booming club on there. And then what happened was clubhouse sort of, I remember tweeting, like, where all the white people on clubhouse at a point. And obviously, they’re all there. But this space, it was just such a different like space and territory. I think once like web three was kind of that thing that I think allowed race like to sort of be obfuscated a little bit and then all sorts of people started joining. But I think when people started joining, they also started creating and looking for communities like within their identity.
So, like when I had joined there was a cohort called one off and they had crypto voxels show that was all black NFTs like NFTs by black art. As the NFTs weren’t black, but yeah and so that was like kind of one of my early entrances into it. And so, through that, and then through float, which is like a music based collective, or music-based project, founder of that black, lady Phoenix, of course. You know, Alan, and then black NFT art, the community, that community whom a diamond etc., etc., popped up around that time. And so, there were a lot of like, I think the first spaces that really catered towards certain demographics of people were all the black spaces, and then and then you started to see the women and NFTs, then you started to see, you know, people in Asia, especially in NFTs, and even at that point in time, we were like, through NFTs tips, people were like translating for other people. And so, we were teaching people about NFTs in another language, even through clubhouse. So, I think, I want to say like Japan had started onboarding maybe. And so that that kind of happened.
Getting Started With Music NFTs
Okay, so at what point did you sort of get involved on the music NFT front? Because you started with more of like, digital art, right? Yeah, I’m curious around the time, like the year, right, so was it like 2020, 2019, or more of like, 2021?
Black Dave: it was 2021, for sure. I saw my very first collection. So, I had done a whole collection before I’d done music. The collection was called flips. It’s like, if you just search flips on open sea, you’ll find it. But they were all logo flips of just popular brands. And they would just say like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Doge, etc. And what happened was I did that. And then I remember someone being like, oh, these are just like cheerio cards. And then I was like, shit. And then I like I still do; I still do them. But like I do them far less just because I know that there’s like a project that kind of already pushed the logo flip narrative for me. I ran a brand in Charleston, or I ran a brand in Charleston, called Charleston hype, which essentially did the exact same thing. But I would flip logos of companies and they would say Charleston instead. So, like, I had a Nike T for instance. And people it said Charleston and like in big cities, Nike does collaboration shirts, like are they do city shirts, but people would go to the Nike store and be like, I saw a Charleston Nike T, can I get that? And people would be like, oh, no, that’s not here. And like, the idea was that like, it was like tourists’ tees for locals. And, and I kind of felt the same way about the project. The flips project was it was like tourists’ tees for locals or tourists designs for locals. Were like, if you knew about the cryptocurrencies, you would get it. But if you knew about the brands, you would also want to get it because of the brands associated. So, like it was a nod to my streetwear. And then in March, I think I mentioned my first music project. And what I did with that, I think is kind of unique, even still is, I had minted a collection of 2d artworks, a collection of 3d artworks. And then just like the straight up audio file, like with the cover art, and I did that. And every, all the unlockable content was a download link to the song. So, it’s just an IPFS link, hash, I guess I should say, to the song. And that was like my first NFT drop. And because I was doing so much onboarding and stuff through NFTs tips, I decided to do like a, you know, clubhouse drop room. And I think I sold out, like that night of that whole project, which was really sick.
You know, it’s cool, just hearing you’d say this story in, like walking me through your process and the details that went into sort of creating the drop using IPFS to sort of figuring out what the dynamic would be between doing, like minting the audio file separately and whatnot. Like, it seems so complex on the surface, it also seems like you know exactly what you’re doing. And what’s interesting is that a lot of creators that you talk to, they’re just like sort of focused on just like minting the music NFT, but that’s also why you’re here today. Like, why I wanted to feature you is because like, I feel like you think so critically and so in depth on how you’re going to construct the drop and you also know some of the tech stack and infrastructure that’s related to kind of minting and bringing these pieces to life.
Black Dave: You know, so I think lazy minting on open sea might have happened December 29. So, like my very first NFT was on wearable, I paid full gas, it might have been like $4 at the time and I know like right now, you know Ethereum is low, transactions are low. So, gas is low as well but like that, it was so cheap to do and I already had crypto from buying in 2017 that I just it was like a no brainer for me. But then like, you know, I said earlier like the whole like Virgil Abloh kind of reference, I feel like when you design something, and when you create something, the details are what really matters. I like to say that luxury is in the details. Like one of my recent cars, I go through cars like hotcakes, I guess. I had a BMW 323; it was a 2001. It’s like last year, they did the 323 series. And I remember when I got it, I would crank the car, and the radio wouldn’t turn off, while the car crank. So, you’d like most cars, when you crank the car, the radio turns off, and then it turns back on when your car cranks up all the way. My BMW didn’t do that. And I was like, wow. And like that sort of clicked to me that like, all the best parts of things are in the details. Even like more BMW stuff, like, under my passenger seat, there was a whole first aid kit, you know, and so it’s just like, just like little things that would make it better. You know, when you switch lanes, it would automatically turn the signal light off. And like in 2001, that was crazy. You know, like, just little stuff like that is really what makes things special. And so like, I always wanted to have attention to detail. And I always wanted to like, create stuff that like resonated with me because even like that first song was all anime themed, I use a sample from anime, my pet tag is anime. A lot of the images I was using were anime. But then like, trying to make it more like, considered, I guess, I think considered is probably the best word to explain. Like, I wanted to do things. And so, and then, like you said on the tech stack end, right. Like, I think my number one question this whole time has always been, why does this need to be an NFT? And why can’t this exist in a traditional sense? And so that’s what I’m always like, pushing for through every project I do.
The History of Black Dave
So that ended up being the first music NFT, what was the next one? Like walk me through the history like Dave, and sort of how you curated your drops shortly after.
Black Dave: So, the next NF T. One thing that’s crazy about the first NFT drop that I failed at, I was learning unreal Engine at the time, when I was trying to build a little Metaverse, that was an art gallery, and then upload it to my website, I failed. I didn’t sleep for a lot of days, I had burnout. And then in July, was in July, maybe June, the end of June, I had minted my second collection of works. And this time I’m into two songs, and that I mentioned a bunch of 2d artworks, some 3d artworks, and then the cover arts. What I did this time was, I created a special edition cover for the songs. And this is my second drop. I did a special edition cover for the songs, everybody who had my first song got that for free. So, I was already like doing versions of airdropping. And then the 25 editions of each song I had available as NFTs. And the special thing about this drop was, I had a token that was called the Black Dave verse token. And what that token was, is whoever owned that token, can get a rap verse for me, whenever they want.
I remember like thinking about like another like, why NFTs, why web three and thinking about like, when I’m like one of the biggest artists in the world. And it’s really hard to get a rap first from me, somebody who bought this token really early, still has access to me through that token. And like I was thinking about this idea of like a service based NFT, so the person who want it, was the only person who bid on it. And he was like, I bid on it to start the auction but I thought this was a genius idea and that it would sell for a lot of money. And so, they paid point three Ethereum which was around $1,000 at the time and I think that’s going to be a great deal in the future. But I think like more than anything it opened up the idea of like services rendered by NFT ownership, so like, I had I had a discord back then but I don’t think my Discord was token gated, my Discord still not token gated. But I’ve token gated like channels, but it’s like open to all and but like even that, like is a service, right? Discord access as a service. And so, like just thinking about all the different services I could do. So, I did two songs, I had Airdropped all my previous collectors, a special edition version of the song. And then I had released two new songs and did the verse token. So that was my second music NFT drop and that was still on open sea like everything I did so far up to this point was on open sea, except my very first NFT which was on rare able and it was mostly because lazy minting came to be and I was like all right, cool. Let’s just run that. So that was my second drop.
Right. And then and then sound that XYZ comes into the picture? Yep.
Black Dave: Sound catalog. I minted on catalog first, before sound. And I minted on catalog in November of 2021. And I minted a song called sharp. And I feel like every story has like some obnoxious like, this is what NFTs can do thing to it. But like, I minted that song sharp and it was priced at three Ethereum, party bid was like a big thing at the time, especially for people making rap music, we were all, not we were all, a lot of people were like minting music videos and selling that for one Ethereum or two Ethereum. But getting the whole community to buy in on it, community ownership is like, definitely one of those things that I think web three enables really well. So, what I did was sharp was three Ethereum priced NFT. And I set it up as a party bid, 42 people got in on it. And from there, I gave governing power of the song to the collectors. So, everyone who bought in a fraction of the NFT, I gave him governing ability, the NFT didn’t sell in total for about two months, I was going on this crazy like run of like Twitter threads, Twitter spaces, clubhouse rooms, like, just like explaining the gospel of like, why this NFT matters, why I matter. Like making like NFT like music NFT hot takes, which is still like a thing that I do. And an NFT sold in January.
So, like, I think at the beginning of January, it sold the same day, I’d gotten on the 22 artists to watch in 2022 lists by NFT now, so I got on that list the same day, the NFT sold, I was doing a space called why isn’t your NFT selling, where people would come in and talk to me about why their NFTs weren’t selling and we would just talk about it. And at the end of the space, somebody pretty much like paid the whole like last one Eth that was remaining. So, I was at like 2.1 out of three. And at the end of the space. Eric Spivak was like, Yo, I just ran up the last point nine NFTs done. And I was like, oh shit, and so 42 people in total, it was a crazy like, because he was like, did you notice you got on this list? And I was like No, not until after the room. And then the guy who collected the verse token, he hits me up every so often with like different ideas about like, what he could do, where he just wants to talk about, whatever. And he was like, he was like, did this sell because you got on the list. And I was like no, the list came out after I sold. And so, it’s like crazy timing. Because maybe if that didn’t happen, it would have ended up selling through like me getting that notoriety of being on the NFT analysis, which I also made it on the NFT 10 in 2021, which was sick or 2022, I guess.
Why Community Ownership is So Important
Wild. You know, earlier in the story, you sort of talked about this concept of community ownership. I’m curious why you decided to use that keyword and what that sort of means in the grand scheme of things, as you’re building communities and building like a fan base, the collector base in crypto, like why is community ownership so important?
Black Dave: I think like, the thing about communities owning things is, in a lot of ways communities haven’t really had an opportunity to own something together. This is going to be like a probably reach of a metaphor. But I live in Charleston, and I live on land that’s owned by my family. And my aunt is my neighbor. And I live with my mom and my great aunt’s my neighbor and I live with my mom and my aunt, her sister, and my grandma is going to build a house in front of us and my sister might build a house beside us and I might build a house somewhere. And like the idea that like my family is the community has this opportunity to own land provides a lot of new opportunities for us, but also allows us to create things we couldn’t create before. I think with web three, when community’s own thing, communities can benefit from owning a thing. So, like even with sharp, the whole idea of this project was that, we would do governing things around the song, so like stuff like the music video treatment, stuff like marketing, stuff like you know the budget for the song, stuff like you know, whatever and like when the song ended up going crazy in whatever form it did, we could sell the NFT in the community that supported me, now got a return on their support. And I think that’s something that’s really special about communities owning thing is that, if we all own something, we all can benefit from the ownership, either through participating and whatever the thing is that we get by owning it, or participating in the sale of that thing. And because we’re all owners, we all get to benefit from the sale of that thing.
That makes sense. I think a lot of creators still don’t understand the beauty and the value behind ownership, let alone like majority of people that exist on this planet. I think NFTs might have maybe educated people on what the value of ownership really means and what you can do once you own something. But I think it kind of comes down to like being financially literate, to an extent, right, or just being literate in general of why it’s better to own versus rent. Would you agree? Would you disagree? What do you think about that?
Black Dave: I think it depends, right? Like there are massively rich people who say don’t own things, because as soon as you own something, it’s worth less. And they’re like, you just lost money, because like driving a car off the lot, you know, depreciates the price of the car by a bunch of students, you get off the lot. I think that this is different. I think digital assets don’t depreciate and then a lot of ways only appreciate, especially when you factor in the blockchain, and like provenance, and like trackable ownership. Things really, in a lot of cases can only go up in value if shepherded the right way. When I was talking about the first token, and I made the comment about being the greatest artist in the world, and you know, what I’m doing being worth a bunch of money. If a community had owned that token, a community could benefit from the sale of that token, to a record label, to a rapper, or the community could benefit from, you know, getting one of their friends a song with me, and maybe it’s the same thing as getting a Drake verse, you know, in 2022.
I think like, you know, owning things, and not only owning things, but understanding that there’s power to ownership, and that, especially using this tech, you can enable special things for that ownership is the thing. You know, I know, we’re like going through my journey, but one of the most recent NFTs that I dropped, I had split the sale of that NFT with all of my collectors, it’s like the, I want to say, it is the and I hate using superlatives like this, but the largest on chain split for an NFT sale, it’s 159 wallets. And all 159 people are wallets involved in this, get a percentage of the sale of this NFT and varying amounts. And so just by being an owner, and something that like, you know, links back to me, you receive benefit through ownership, I think digital ownership is so different. I was on a call today, and someone used the phrase digital supply chain. And I thought that that was really interesting. And I think that there are all these like digital forms of things that are natively physical, that we’re coming to terms with. And because they’re digital, they have different properties. And we really need to be aware of what those properties are and what those properties mean. And so, I think owning is far more important. I do think that digital renting, you know, we’ve been doing that with like renting movies, you know, through like Apple TV and stuff like that. I think that that is useful. Because in a lot of ways that utility, right? Like the utility of owning the token that represents that you rented this movie is that you can watch the movie. And once you start the movie, you have 24 hours to finish the movie. I think that that’s really sick and so digital ownership through, digital ownership, I think matters most when utility is applied or used case or experience or whatever, I try not to use the word utility. I like to use the word experience.
Okay, let’s talk about more rent based NFTs for the music sector. What do you think are some interesting experiences that can be created around renting NFTs?
Black Dave: I think on the music sense, a lot of its going to be tied to things like access to, I think a lot about seasons. And I know like seasons isn’t normally like a fashion or television thing. But I think a lot about seasons of music, especially as we move or we have moved more into a single driven economy for music and a lot less of an album driven economy for music, especially for independent and smaller artists. You know, every single is a chance at that in a sense. I think being able to be involved in different seasons of artists is really interesting. I know that’s not quite a rental. But if you think about something being seasonal, then it runs out something that’s been on mind a lot, is creating work in seasons and allowing people access to my work for that season. And then if you didn’t participate in that season, then the only thing that exists for you to do is get it on the secondary market. It’s to me a lot like street wear, you know, when supreme drops, and you don’t get the supreme item, you gotta go on stock X or eBay or Grail to get it. And I think this is kind of the same thing, where you have an NFT, the NFT is usable for a period of time, which would be the season, you can collect work from that artists or you receive work from the artist during that season, and then the season ends and all the work that you’ve received during that season. Is that’s just the work. And then you need to get a new token for the next season. I think something similar is like, I wish I could remember the name, when Moon birds does their artists, series drops where like, if you own a moon bird in that time, then you can get the artwork that drops in that time period. And yeah, that’s, I think rental is interesting.
And I think more so, I think NFTs that are consumable might be better, right? Where, you know, with kudos, which I know is another project that I haven’t talked about that I did, with Matt Monday, we made a physical digital NFT and the commonly used case for a physical digital NFT is you get the NFT, you burn the NFT, you receive the item, what we did was you get the NFT, you go through a claim process and the metadata on the NF T changes. And the metadata represents the status of shipping. And if you think about changing metadata to make something consumable, in the same way that you think about like an HP bar, that you could put onto an NFT that becomes consumable if you put it into a game, for instance, then that becomes really interesting used case for NFTs, where something’s not rentable, but it’s consumable. And I don’t quite know, you know, what platform needs to exist to create that or how that could work. But I think thinking about the different ways to consume NFTs. And renting could be time, could be the thing that changes the status of the NFT, just as much as metadata itself.
Creating Experiences Around Drops
I think you do a good job of sort of like really thinking about not utility, but you’d like to use the word experiences. Okay, so let’s continue on that path. So, sort of creating experiences around. Yeah, collecting something and what sort of gets unlocked once you enter the black data ecosystem. How do you get your ideas for sort of creating experiences around your drops? That was one of the questions that somebody asked on Twitter?
Black Dave: For me, it’s funny, because I was reading the questions to my girlfriend the other day, and she was like, how do you, like I read it and she was like, what’s the answer? And I was like, I don’t know. I just think, I guess. And it feels like, I think what happens is, and this is another virtual vibe, you’ll hear me hit a lot of vibes like that reference other people. And I think there are lots of vibes in art, that are the same thing is this. Looking at things that you think are sick, and then trying to execute that with your own version is really important to me. When I think about like fan clubs, and when I think about, especially video games, I think a lot about, I remember explaining NFTs to my mom, and saying, okay, you know what fortnight is? And there’s a skin in fortnight, and what if you could sell that skin to somebody else, but only that the person who owns the, like digital skin could use it in the game. And she was like, oh, okay, I get it. And so like, for me, it’s always been like trying to find different used cases. But really challenging the idea of what an NFT could be. I actually, like, I’ve had a few like, I don’t want to say like confrontations but like conversations, I’ll say, now I feel like, yeah, and about, like the type of work I make and then it’s all anime referential. And they’re like, aren’t you just stealing other people’s ideas? And I’m like, sometimes, but I’m also like, I think that context matters. And especially like, art, right? Like, when you think about art, putting you know, putting a basketball in the middle of a museum versus putting a basketball on the basketball court. They have completely different values. And you would do completely different things to each of those basketballs, even if they’re the exact same ball. And so, I think that is, it’s kind of my energy going into this space is just like, a ton of reference and a ton of ideas, stuff like that.
Snoop Dogg’s NFT Drop
So that’s actually pretty interesting and I think experience can maybe extend beyond unlockable content, right? Or like Token gate, I think the experience can sort of extend into the art itself. And something that you did that was very experience based, was sort of record a song and mint a song with Snoop Dogg, amongst other independent artists on sound, which, that was an iconic drop within itself, hands down. And the fact that you got to participate in that was also even cooler. Can you talk about that entire experience? Because I remember when that came out, we were all just like, yo, like, that’s legit. Like we’re certified like everybody that’s been dumping money on NFTs like Snoop Dogg came in like, and he’s bringing up all these independent artists with him as well to sort of make this track. Like, I just remember it being like a very iconic moment. And you got to be a part of it. Can you talk to me more about that story and share how that came together?
Black Dave: You know, yes. So, what’s crazy about that specific drop was, that was Snoop second drop on sound. His first drop was a mix, and the second drop was a mix. And today, actually, they announced Snoops, third drop on sound, which is actually a free mint, which is crazy. But so, when Snoop dropped the first mix, I heavily critiqued it publicly on Twitter. I, you know, I remember the first song on the first Snoop mix, had Cray Shawn on it, who I love. I’m obsessed with Cray Shawn; I think she’s amazing. And she was on it. And I was looking at it. And I was like, man, like, I don’t know how the splits are working for this. But knowing like Cray Shawn label situation, she had that song Gucci, Gucci that was really popular in like, 2012. She got pregnant, got dropped from the label, but still owes them a ton of money Gucci, Gucci went viral again, and 2021. And she was like, hey, guys, like thank you. But I still owe my label $100,000. So, I get none of that money. And I was thinking about how the blockchain could enable an opportunity for someone like her to be able to get money for her work. And I didn’t see any of the splits on chain. They weren’t really trackable. And then I complained about that. And then I complained about, I won’t say complaint, I had recognized an opportunity with that. And I had also said something about, well, why doesn’t Snoop Dogg add web three artists, like he came into web three, and he’s not going to work with us. And David from sound actually called me and was like, he was like, you make some good points, blah, blah.
And so, when it came time for Snoop to do a second drop, they pretty much threw the idea at him and was like, yo, you should add some web three artists. And, and I was at my girlfriend’s house, it was like, had to be like, midnight, 12:30, I might have been just leaving her house. And Iman calls me and it’s like, yo, Snoop is going to add a few of our songs to the mix. Can you send me a song? And I was like, I’m in my car. I don’t have any of my files. But as soon as I get home, and I sent two songs over. And he picked one, and threw it on the mix. And so like, and then I think what was even better was like, he took the criticism. And then like, did everything I said, right. So, he did the mix, added web three native artists to the mix. It was myself Maroof, Heno, and Iman, and then gave us a percent of the sales. And so, it’s like, you listen to me on like, all fronts. And like, I think from that moment, I had like a really, like, a new respect for Snoop in web three, my previous Snoop experiences weren’t as great. You know, his first drop was with crypto.com. And that drop was a mess. It sold a lot, I think Snoop had made like, like $20 million, or something obnoxious through it. And but what happened was, it was such a mess. The customer service was bad. No one understood the blockchain it was on, et cetera, et cetera. And so, I kinda was like, another rapper coming in and make money and he kept going. And so, when he did that drop on sound, I was like, oh, Snoops, like, really doing this. And I know he was already doing like, I don’t know, is it, I guess he, I don’t know if he was or wasn’t Cosmo, Dima de chi, but like that whole thing. And then like collecting a lot of works and talking about NFTs and stuff like that, and really digging in. The sound drops really like I think was the cherry on top of my respect for Snoop in web three.
Any Collaborations On Your Wish List?
That’s actually crazy, because I remember when that got announced, it was like it was a big moment for the space. And it’s so funny how you like you publicly critique him, despite doing a drop with him. And I think you being so vocal and being so honest on your feelings, and not sort of keeping that in, is sort of what maybe got you or at least kind of contributed to you getting that opportunity. I’m curious as to, is there are there any more collaborations that are going to be happening between you and him or any other, I guess more mainstream type of artists that are going to be coming into web three? And if not, are there any artists that you sort of like have on your maybe like, I guess, like wish list?
Black Dave: I don’t have anything planned. My main focus right now and I do want to work with more big artists and I definitely have like a bucket list. Someone who’s collected NFTs, that I really want to work with is Jaden Smith. He’s collected a couple of sound NFTs, he’s picked up a few other NFTs. So, he’s like in the space, I don’t quite know his wallet address, or I’m tracking him. But I’ve heard people say that he’s collected their stuff before. That’s somebody that I’m super interested in working with. I just think he’s like my favorite rapper in general. But I think Childish Gambino, as well, as somebody that I really want to work with, Donald Glover, he, there was a clip of him talking about like NFTs and he was talking about, like, just the things that blockchain can enable from like, an authentication standpoint, so he understands it from the tech perspective. It’s really tough, I think, to get mainstream artists to enter the space because they have a lot on the line, like they have a lot at stake, when they drop in the space, you know, I think the merge is going to help a lot of people on that front, when we can start to educate people on the enhancements to the environmental impact, that’s through proof of stake.
So, I’m super pumped for that to happen. And artists who fan bases were complaining about the environment saying, hey, look like I think it said, the stat said that in in a one-year period Ethereum will use 126 of what Pay Pal uses. And so, I’m really excited for that to come to be, I do want to work with more large artists, I think, an ultimate cheat code. And I don’t know how many industry people listen to your podcast to like steal ideas, but an industry cheat code is exactly what Snoop Dogg did. Call one of us on the ground in web three, and do a song with us. And let’s put it out. And you will be like it’s the easy stamp. I think for like, a mainstream artist entering web three, and it’s probably a lot less paperwork. So yeah, like, you know, it’s like, and that was my whole thing was Snoop was like, meet us where we are, don’t hover over us, you know, don’t celebrity yourself in. And I think he’s done a really great job of that. And I think any, literally any artist who wants to enter web three, call us, I’ll do a record like, you know, I know a lot of people would do records with a lot of artists that they look up to. So, it’s about finding the artists and then doing collaboration with them. And I think that’s like the perfect way for almost anyone to enter the web three space.
I completely agree like 1,000%, I think too many mainstream artists overthink it. And I think the best way, like you said to get a stamp of approval, is to sort of lock arms with those who are already doing really well on the space. Because just like web two streaming is a completely different beast. The same thing applies to web three music, right? Like, there’s people who are doing really well in web three music that might not see the light of day, and like across streaming platforms, for example, right. But they built this like brand, they built this virality, they built a collector base. And they’ve generated like hundreds of 1000s of primary and secondary sales combined, that someone new entering the space, that maybe has clout in the streaming side of things, might need to sort of latch on to kind of fit in with the quote unquote, cool kids of the web three music scene. Right. And I think you’re absolutely right. And we have yet to see another mainstream artist’s sort of latch on to that strategy. I think mainly because there’s ego involved. There’s pride involved. But I guess what people don’t understand that in crypto, it’s like a level playing field. Like, there are no rules like everybody’s new here, right? And if you bring your cloud and you try to use your cloud, it will only get you so far in the traditional world, if you try to apply it in crypto, right and at some point, like authenticity is going to kind of like prevail and people are gonna see like whether you’re here for like the short term or the long term, despite what happened with crypto.com And in your opinion around that like Snoop continuously showed up over and over and over again right and came through with consistency and even now, introduced his third drop and he’s probably as mainstream as it can come right and now, he’s a legend Yacht Club. And the whole Yeah, he killed it. He killed it and he continues to kill it. He continues to reinvent himself which is really, really impressive to see. Especially as you kind of like join more and more industries, whether it be from like brand deals to acting to now, crypto to music to all these different sectors. Yeah, we can go all day. I want to talk to you about free NFTs because you brought that up during Snoops drop. And I think it’s a great segue. Because you sort of experimented with your NFTs. It’s something that I’m very vocal about. I’ve written a lot about; I’ve been talking a lot about on the podcast. I’d love to get your perspective because I know you did a free NFT drop. You were the first artist, if I recall correctly, to do a free NFT drop on sound that XYZ, it did really well. And the secondaries are actually like, really, really popping and even like generated maybe like, I don’t know, if more, more value than they would have in the primary sale. But yeah, I’ll just shut up. What are your thoughts on free NFTs? Talk to me about that first drop that you did? And we can just start there?
Black Dave: Yeah, so the free mint meta had just started. And David of sound does a really good job of like, hitting me up and asking me about like trends in the space. I remember, at the time, he was like, what do you think about them? He was like, I think he could work for music. And I was like, I’m interested to see because, you know, you lose out on the primary. And I think one of my actual complaints about music NFTs, and especially music NFT pricing is that we price at the max that people are willing to pay. And that kind of flattens the music secondary market. So, if you think about like, the secondary market of music outside of sound, there isn’t one, right. But the secondary market of art, there is and I think that artists aren’t pricing at the very edge of what people are willing to pay for something and that’s why. And so, you know, I was just like, okay, let’s try it. I was like, I got a song. Let’s try it. Like that was literally the conversation. And, and I was fine being the guinea pig. And as I thought about it more and more, I thought, okay, cool. This is an opportunity for community to happen. This is an opportunity for people who couldn’t get in, especially on sound because of price. Because that was still when NFTs were all point one Ethereum on sound, then they have an opportunity here. I think it went super well, one special story about that drop in specific is, the person who won the golden egg, he was in NFTs for about two months, he won my golden egg and sold the golden egg point7.
So, he got it for free, sold it .75. Shout out to Cooper. And that point 75 Ethereum was the money for him to fly from Germany to NFT NYC. I think it was his first time in America. He met me at the wave world event. And he was like, it was crazy. He met me at wave road. And he was like, dude, you’re the whole reason I’m here. And I was like, oh, dude, I’m pumped. You came to see me, you know, like, oh, I didn’t, you know, I didn’t realize that. That’s what happened. And he was like, yeah, I sold your NFT that I had. And I was like, dude, I’m super pumped that you’re able to make money from my work. And, and he was like, yeah, and so I’m here and I was like, well, you can’t see me since you sold my NFT. So, I got him and all his friends NFTs. And they saw my wave world set. And I didn’t realize until like right before my set that he sold it to fly to America. And so like, that story sits with me forever. It’s definitely one of my like top web three stories. One of the greatest things that this happened to me like as an artist in general, and so like, that made me believe in free mints. Because what happened was someone who didn’t have the point one Eth to buy my NFT. Got to create this really special experience, not only for him, but for me, like utility aside, like, this is a truly special experience that two real people experience together. I even said like one thing that’s funny about me is like I’ve never smoked weed in my life. I’ve long dreadlocks, everyone thinks they smoke weed, but I’ve never smoked in my life. And I told him I was like, look, if I ever go on tour in Germany, I’ll come smoke weed with you. And he’s like, super pumped and like, I’ll probably end up smoking. Because like, he’ll remember. It’s like, I’ll be like, okay, like, this is my first time, so just laugh at me. I guess so. Yeah.
That’s hilarious. And it’s not if you toured Germany, it’s when you tour Germany, I’m a big believer in manifesting things into reality. I think like you sort of nailed it, like, the whole point of my opinion. Okay. Maybe a hot take. But I think the whole point or at least a big part of sort of having these mechanics and being like, being open to kind of like publicly selling your work and having secondary markets is so that collectors who support you, can have the opportunity to make a buck, right, and make some type of financial sort of yeah, I guess like, profit and benefit that extends beyond just kind of enjoying you as a collector, or as a creator, excuse me. Now I know people have controversial opinions and like maybe some platform founders don’t even want there to be secondary volume around music NFTs because their whole bed is like this thing is designed to kind of reconnect fans and bring them closer together and sort of like bridge the gap of, of your biggest, most passionate listeners. But I think a lot of the fun comes when you’re able to share and have experiences like that. And your fans are able to sort of like profit, right and gain value beyond just like the music that they enjoy from you specifically, right? So, I think you nailed the head, like, like being very cognizant of how you price your things, and allowing the secondary market to kick in, and it’s sort of like consume some of that value as well. And enjoy that value will just like play, like so much in your benefit, right, long term. So, I love your perspective on that. And I couldn’t agree agree more.
Black Dave: I appreciate it, you know, to that effect, I dropped into NFT that is an open edition, that’s available until the end of the year. And the price is point 01 Ethereum. And the idea is that, of course, I’ll deliver some sort of experience down the line. But anyone who wants to get in, can get in and price is not the thing that restricts you, you know, it’s mostly just your ability to get Ethereum and get on the blockchain, I think, you know, people are so caught up in making money, that they aren’t caught up in making communities. And what’s happening is people are saying they’re creating community, but they’re just creating customers. And I really want to find more and more ways to create communities. Because I think at the end of the day, those are going to be the people and the experiences that we have together individually through my work, are going to be the things that keep me around and keep me alive and keep me paid forever. But also keep them satisfied. Like here’s something that I always talk about is like, you know, a ticket to a concert could be 100 bucks. But people when they go to the concert, they don’t want to try to resell the ticket, you know, they got 100 bucks worth of experience. And I think as long as you’re delivering an experience that’s worth, whatever the person paid for the thing, they’re not even going to have a desire to resell it.
It’s like keeping a ticket stub from a movie, right? Like, if you know, if I think about the first date, I had was my girlfriend, another Virgil Abloh reference, I went to go see figures or speech in Atlanta. And keeping the ticket from that has value to me, I got the money out of it, whether it’s through the day with my girlfriend or through seeing the work. And so, I really don’t want to sell the ticket because the value, I already captured the value but having the thing like continues to hold that value for me, no matter how much other people want for it. And I think it’s going to be the same thing with music, where if you have this token, you’re able to get the experience, you’re going to want to keep it as a as a memory of that experience. But I think that music NFTs especially, and I noticed this in the music NFT but especially popups, I believe popups are going to be the tour t shirt of NFTs, like in the in the music use case. Because if I’m only making popups at my shows, then you have the shirt that only has the date of that show, theoretically, and it’s tradable. And it never deteriorates in quality. And it has you know, it can possibly have its own utility that comes with having it, I used to always make this comment about like if Travis Scott’s AstroWorld tour, if every date had its own popups, but then you had to have seven popups in order to get a limited-edition t shirt, then what happens is the popup has a secondary value. And it was the NFT that you got for free just by being there. And I don’t think that it has to be like that. But I think that it’s really cool. And there gonna be people who want, who are going to say, I don’t want to get rid of my poll app, because I want other people to know that I was at the concert, and they’re going to people that are gonna say, I don’t care if other people know that I’m at the concert, I want the money. And I think both options are fine. And just thinking about, continuing to think about experience, delivering experiences is the real thing. And in trying to figure that out at a price point, that allows your common fans to be involved and allows people who are willing to spend a bunch of money to be involved, is worth it as well.
You know, I, it makes me so happy to hear how you sort of talk about your strategy and how you use sort of like create your own mental models and understanding like different ways to create values or value in general for your collectors and kind of recognizing that there is a market for both while, I think it may scare a lot of creators, right that sort of enter web three. They see the secondary market and they maybe feel pressured that they need to have like high primary and secondary sales to be seen as a success. While partially true, right? You’re just like, you’re just so open, I can tell it like, you’re just like, you’re like, have a bucket mentality. You know, like, if something sounds like something sounds cool to explore, maybe worth experimenting, like, you’ll double down, you’ll give it a shot. And you’ll see what happens, right. And I think that that energy, that mentality will obviously take you a long way. Another thing that’s really cool that you brought up earlier, is having something for anybody to collect. At any point in time, you have an NFT, whose timestamp kind of like expires at the end of the year. And for whatever reason, in case you go viral, right, or you have a spur of Twitter followers, or we have a new type, you have a new level of engagement, a song goes viral, whatever it may be, you will have some type of collectible to capture value. The second you are kind of like, hit that mark, like you’re ready, like you’re here loaded, you lock, you’re locked and loaded. And I love that. And you’re the first person that I’ve sort of seen approach that and think that far in advance. And I really appreciate that. I commend you on that. That’s really cool.
Black Dave: Thank you. I agree. I think that’s the goal is, like, I always want people to have some sort of access. I think scarcity matters. But I think openness matters, right? Like, we don’t need to hide songs from people. But I also think that a song that only one person can hear, is cool. For me, I want to make sure that people who are getting involved or people who want to get involved have an opportunity. The scarcity of assets model that we’ve been running on, is great, but it’s not sustainable for something that needs to play Madison Square Garden, for something that needs to perform at Coachella, you know, like, I need as many people as possible there. If I want to be on the stage at Coachella, I don’t want to say like, you know, only if you hold insert NFT, can you show up to my set, because then I’m limiting myself. And I just really want to be as open as possible. And like, you know, I talked earlier about seasonal NFTs, when this time period runs out. That’s it, you know, my goal for this drop is 100, I’m at about 55, 60. Right now, my goal is 100. If I get to 100, by the end of the year, I’ll be happy. And what happens is those 100 people, when next season’s drop happens, and I have a fan base, or collector base of 1000 or 500 or 200 or 300, people are going to want to have that previous season because you better believe, I’m going to say if you have season one and season two, you get something because I think like you’re able to play this game of thank you for supporting me early. Or if you want to look like you support me early, you got to pay and then offering experiences those people the same way that I was able to with the free mint, the same way that I was able to with the special edition cover of my second music NFT, the same way that I’ll be able to do with, you know, sharp whenever that song goes crazy. I just want to like people who support me early, they’re always going to be the biggest winner. So, I think, you know, crypto rewards you being early. And I want myself to be a reflection of that.
The Balance Between Documenting Processes and Creating Music
Yeah, I think another way you sort of build community is through content. And you’re very active when it comes to writing mirror posts. And like blog posts, just sharing your thoughts and also like tweet threads that you sort of compose every so often. Which is not something to sort of take for granted because I think a lot of creators lack the ability to sort of document their process, as they’re experimenting, as they’re creating. Right? Can you walk me through how you find the balance between documenting your process and sharing your thoughts versus like creating music, dropping NFTs in sort of like yeah, thinking about the whole, I guess monetization side of using these crypto primitives as a creator.
Black Dave: Something that Gary Vee once said, he says that a lot. Because he says everything, he says a lot. That’s what he does. But like, he says, I can tell you everything that I do every day and 95% of you aren’t going to do it. So why not share it right? If there’s a benefit for me being giving of my information and my knowledge. Why not? Most of you aren’t going to use it anyway. And I’m not competing with you anyway, right? The only person that I’m really competing with this myself, I say that right now, but I literally compare myself to people all the time. But I’m like, that’s the whole idea behind it. I think. You know, I’ve given away enough ideas in Twitter spaces, in clubhouse rooms, in threads on podcasts, et cetera, et cetera. That could probably build people really profitable businesses, which I’m cool with. Because I know that I can keep coming up with ideas, and I can keep doing things. And there’s always new information to be gotten. And I just want to be like a beacon of that information. And then I think, on top of that, something that I’ve learned about, you know, web three and NFTs, I’m trying to stop saying space, the space. I haven’t figured out a proper word yet. But something I’ve learned about being in this in this world is like, people resonate with, like, you being for real, and you’re not trying to sell me on stuff. And so, me just coming in and saying, hey, I’m Dave, these are the things that I’m doing. These are the hardships I’m facing. These are the positives I’m having. This is what I’m thinking about. This is how I’m thinking about, I tweeted earlier, before this space, before this space, before this podcast. I said, you know, reminder, genius isn’t what you know, but it’s how you think about things. It’s how you think through things.
And I really think that that’s the thing, and I like, I almost turned that into a thread because like, I always make this joke to my friends that I’m a genius. And then I took the test to be a genius. And when I was in, like elementary school, especially, I had moved a bunch of times, but I was always in like those special student programs. And all of those tests that you take, have nothing to do with knowledge, right? They hand you a bunch of shapes, and say build this thing. They show you something and say, move this from here to here, following these rules, do this do that, if I have this, how do I get to that? And taking that test, and then being like, oh, you know, Dave’s mom, I think your son’s a genius, like, made me realize that genius isn’t what you know, genius is how you think. And if I can share that with other people, and hopefully inspire genius within them, knowing that genius isn’t what you know, but it’s how you think, then that’s really sick. And one of my biggest goals as an individual and as a creative, is to inspire other people. So, like, if someone ever comes to me and says, like, Dave, you inspired me, like that’s the day I can go to sleep like right then. So yeah.
Would you would you consider yourself a genius?
Black Dave: I like to say I am. But I try not to say I am like with a serious tone. So, like, my friends, like you guys know I’m a genius. I took the test. But I didn’t take the test, I really took the test. So, I don’t know if genius is the right thing. I definitely, I have an appreciation for how I think about things. And I think that the way that I think about things, is going to allow me to create great things and be remembered as a great person. I’m like, another like, blockchain thing is like legacy. And I think that, like what I’ll leave to the world, even if it is just through art is going to be really, really important. In the same way that I think what Virgil Abloh left behind, in terms of what inspires me, is really important.
How Do You Build a Legacy On Chain?
How do you think you build legacy on chain? So, in the reason I emphasize on chain is because we are so consumed in crypto culture, but there’s going to be a wave and a generation of users that sort of haven’t experienced the moments in a time that we’re sort of living through, right. But there still needs to be a way to sort of like prove provenance, right? History, legacy, etc. How would you measure legacy on chain? What does that look like, exactly?
Black Dave: Something, another tweet, Dave tweets, this episode of Dave’s tweets, like, I tweeted, a lot of people, so I guess for context, mint songs, the platform is going through its sort of shutdown phase, and they closed their minting. And they’re just no shutting down. They migrate all their NFTs, et cetera, et cetera. I said people who migrated their NFTs off of mint songs have ruined the provenance of the NFT and have such ruin the value because there’s no longer proof that you minted on a defunct platform. I think what’s going to happen and a lot of artists, I think, in response to this tweet, a lot of artists don’t understand what provenance is right? They don’t understand that the trail of who collected, who held for how long and when, really matters. I think one way that I was explaining it to someone is that the Ultra Rich, they buy art as a status symbol, as a flex, the same way that We buy NFTs, right? People want to own art because of Rockefeller previously owned that art. People want to own art because an institution previously owned that art. There’s something to be said about the impact of who owned something, for how long, how much they paid for it, and how much you paid for it. And I think that, in the long term, especially as the chain becomes easier to read and easier to translate, they’re going to be a lot of people who are going to be able to quickly look at something and be like, hey, did you see that, Dave sold this NFT, as a fraction of 42 people in this was that song. And then they sold it after the song blew up. And that story is the legacy or people will say, did you know that that person got it for free, and that person is now this person. And when they sell it, it’s going to be worth money or because it’s an addition piece, then everyone who owns that automatically has an inherent increased value, because the cool person also owns that, it’s kind of like when celebrities wear a certain clothing brand, and that clothing brand pops off. I think, you know, when you look at the long-term history of that brand.
I think here’s a great example, black scale the clothing brand. When mega the guy who founded black scale talks about the brand, he says there’s pre-ASAP Rocky in this post ASAP Rocky, and he uses that as a reference point for the brand. And so, the legacy of black scale has ASAP Rocky included, the legacy of ASAP Rocky has black scale included. And they both are like huge pivot points. And really important. And I think that ASAP Rocky’s involvement in black scale, will always contribute to the value of black scale. And then if you’re in street wear first, then the value of ASAP Rocky will always be valuable because he was involved with black scale, something that you place a lot of value in. So, I think Providence is the thing that we won’t think anything about for a long, long time. Because it doesn’t actually matter for a long, long time. We do it in small amounts, right? Like when prank C bought 1200 board apes, which I think was the actual catalyst to board API clips selling out. Like when he bought 1200 apes, there are what we call prank C apes out there. And so, owning an ape that prank C owned has a value to it, whether that’s why you positive or negative, it has a value to it, and prank C legacy is going to be tied to 1200 apes and the legacy of born ape Yacht Club is always going to be tied to prank C, if you believe the theory that I believe that prank C buying, you know, one 1/8 of the supply of board API club, is what pushed them to sell out in the last few days. Yeah, so provenance matters, people just don’t see it yet.
New Things On Your Radar
Wow. That’s really well put. That’s really, really well put, I haven’t thought about that. I guess, when I, sometimes when I collect stuff, I sort of look at who else bought it. But I’ve never went back in time to kind of further analyze and peel through the layers of seeing who has bought this from the gecko. Right? Like I’ve never, when I collected something, I never sort of thought like, this is a blockchain Brett NFT or this is a cooper music NFT right. Assuming these guys never sell their music NFTs but it actually makes a lot of sense. What you kind of use the analogies comparing it to, the fashion brand and ASAP Rocky, and how they sort of uplift each other’s legacies, as they kind of evolve over time. I think that’s a really, really interesting perspective. I’m curious, before we sort of wrap up like because I feel like we’ve been going like for about like, what, like, an hour in 15 minutes. Now, I think it might be the longest, one of the longest episodes of the season. So what other things are on your radar right now, that you think people should be sort of like paying more attention to, that you’re maybe thinking about, that you haven’t maybe talked about publicly yet? Fill me in on that.
Black Dave: Most immediately on the front of my mind, is enhancing what service base NFTs look like. I’m soon going to be coming out with a platform slash idea that’s specific to me. So, it’s not quite a platform. It’s a platform for me, but I’m thinking about trying to build it maybe as a platform that other people can use called minutes, where you mint NFTs that allow you a certain amount of minutes with someone, whether that’s minutes in consultation, whether that’s minutes in you playing your music for someone, whether that’s minutes in advisement, or anything and you’ll mint an NFT that then granted you token gated access, to schedule meetings on my calendar. That’s something that’s like front of mind for me, because I’m literally building it. I hope to announce it in the next week or so. But consider this the announcement. And so, I am going to be doing that soon. That’s really important.
Let’s go. We got we got Black Dave’s product launch on mint. I love it. All right, yeah.
Black Dave: So, that’s like, that’s really front of mind for me is, how do we continue to enhance the service economy of NFTs. Second to that, something that I have seen. And I think these are the only people doing it, E commerce completely run through smart contracts. The Quantum tech team, they created something called rug supply, it’s rug dot supply, where if you have one of a bunch of different NFT projects, you can get a rug of your NFT. And you pay for it in USDC, you get a soul bound token, that is your receipt and the soul bound token updates with like shipping confirmation, you can actually take a picture of your rug when you get it and put it on the corner of the receipt, which is a soul bound token. I think that that’s really, really cool. I think like, you know, blockchain, and this is what Donald Glover was saying, blockchain is proof of receipt is gonna help with fraud detection. You know, and I think in the same way that you think about Digi mint this from that smart contract, or that smart contract, is the same thing. And so, I think that’s really important. Enhancing the physical to digital experience. I think it’s going to be really important as well, I think burn to claim, should find a way to exit existence. And then I think, lastly, looking at gaming and NFTs, I think a lot, I have a couple of game ideas that I want to try to put into the ether and, and play with.
And then I have one more, curation, I’ve been thinking a lot about curation. Just like for everybody listening, hopefully, in sort of three methods, the idea of curation from like a centralized stance where like, platforms let artists in, and if the platform has that artists are then that sort of like, their sign like that, like we rock with them, thinking about community based, like fully, like community-based curation, where like, I really want to build a platform, where, and I’ve been DMing people about this, but I’m just gonna put it out there. And if someone builds it great, where you can put an NFT up, and then people can rate that NFT and comment on that NFT, whether it’s a song, whether it’s an artwork, whether it’s a collection, whether it’s like let’s say, for instance, you know, as a key, for instance, like if someone could go to the ASCII collection and rate it, and then leave comments on what they think about it, kind of like, like Amazon reviews, but then people can go to specific ASCII NFTs and say, this one has three out of four the same traits as that one.
So, one star, you know, or this one has, this is the only one that has a red shirt, and this hairstyle, five stars, or whatever. I think that that could be really interesting way of curation. Even along the lines of music. This is Dave’s best song, five stars. I think Dave has better songs in this, two stars. I think Dave shouldn’t have used this word. I think the production is great, but the lyrics are weak. I think that that’s going to be a really big thing that allows the mass influencers, to lose power, I think decentralization has an opportunity to give power to people, to individuals. And if individuals can use a tool to empower themselves in mass, then I think that’s really going to change the face of the space. It makes you wonder if your favorite NFT artist is your favorite NFT artist because of the work or because of what an influencer said about it. And if the influencer is the only person who feels that way about it, then you can realize that you’re being gamed by an influencer and have a different feeling on the work or at least approach it from your own individual perspective.
And so, I really want to create some sort of platform that empowers individuals in their opinions and hopefully like we get, you know, true critics right, like real art critic show up and say, you know, I study 3d artwork. I studied generative artwork, and I believe this and then you can go to their profile and see all the generative artwork they’ve reviewed, and really have like people who are becoming influential because of their tastes, because tastes matter so much, another virtual Kanye, like Pat, I think tastes is so important. So those, all of those things are front of mind and then just empowering and enhancing the community for koodos. KOODOS, which is an NFT that I dropped with Matt Monday, that dropped the same week as headless chaos, so it didn’t sell well, but we’re still pushing forward and trying to get that out as far as possible.
You have really quality ideas. And I’m getting incredibly stimulated just listening to you sort of like think through these problems, and how you could sort of solve them. I’m so upset I haven’t had you on the podcast earlier. I’m really happy we did this episode. We’re gonna have to run it again very soon. But before I let you go Black Dave, where can we find you? Where can we learn more? Where can we stay up to date? Show it away.
Black Dave: I’m at Black Dave on Twitter. I am Black Dave, Black Dave on Instagram. And also, on Tik Tok, I promise I’m going to start using Tik Tok, everyone’s yelling at me. You can head to Black Dave dot XYZ, to check me out, especially on the web three side and then also Black Dave Black Dave.com, to check out some of my music and then I’ll be posting also a lot of my other work because I am a multi-disciplined, creative person. And so, I’ll be showing more of my photo work, more of my video work, more graphic design, etc., etc. So, feel free to follow me on Twitter. I am most active there.
Amazing. Thanks again. We’ll have to do this again soon. But till next time.
Mint Season 6 episode 12 welcomes Jenil Thakker, Founder of Coinvise, an open platform on Ethereum where creators can launch a social & build a tokenized community. For the next half hour we spoke about the launch of the new airdrop tool on coinvise, expectations for the new feature, how the airdrop filter works, and so much more.
I hope you guys enjoy our conversation.
00:06 – Intro
01:40 – Membership NFTs
06:00 – The Airdrop Tool
07:21 – Incentivizing Participation
10:04 – Expectations for the Airdrop Feature
13:06 – How the Airdrop Filter Works
14:54 – Thoughts On People Airdrop Hacking
17:11 – The Next Focus for Coinvise
19:14 – ETH Berlin
21:59 – Who Else is Using Sponsorship NFTs?
24:33 – Current State of the Web3 Creator Economy
26:29 – Details for Today’s Announcement
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Jenil, we’re in Berlin. What’s up, man? Welcome to mint, how are you doing? Round three, I think.
Jenil Thakker: Round three.
Jenil Thakker: Thank you for having me.
Yes, season one. I think you’re one of the first episodes and then last season we did one on membership NFTs. And then today what are we doing?
Jenil Thakker: Today we’re doing airdrops
Jenil Thakker: A new feature on Coinvise is launching, airdrops is our like, most used tool and our oldest tool. When I started Coinvise in about late 2020. Airdrop is the first thing we worked on. It was token creation and Airdrops, but I had about $2,000 in my savings, and we work together to build out Airdrops, I think we worked two weeks, and we shipped a feature out and it was the exact same tool, which we, which we’re upgrading today. It was the claim page. So, anybody could create their own claim page and share it on social media, and you can create like a retroactive Airdrop like platforms can. And now we’ve upgraded Airdrops to three different tools. You can send it to wallet addresses, you can create your own claim page. And you can do NFT Airdrops as well. Yeah.
So, last conversation we had was on membership NFTs and now the focus is on air drops. Why focus on air drops? What opportunity are you seeing?
Jenil Thakker: Yeah, I mean, we’re focusing on Airdrops and membership NFTs in conjunction. And we see these two connected in a way where the user can embed Airdrops into membership NFTs. And membership NFTs could be automated with Airdrops as well. And I’m happy to go more deeper into what that looks like. But yeah, those are the two core tools we’re working on today.
Okay, cool. So, I remember you guys had a really viral tweet that happened about two months ago, right? When you guys announced membership NFTs, I’m curious sort of how that announcement go like what was the progression since you guys issued membership NFTs and yeah, I guess the next obvious step would be airdrops because once you build a community using membership NFTs, you want to reward, you want to maybe do some marketing, etc. Airdrops are good way to do it. Yeah.
Jenil Thakker: Yeah. So initially, when we did the membership NFT announcement, we wanted to sort of showcase the idea that membership NFT should look like drag and drop sort of utilities that you can plug into sort of like your Patreon tier, which has benefited a series of benefits for, you know, whenever somebody purchases that tier, and they get access to them, what does the web three version of that look like? So, we introduced something called plugins. And those plugins could be access to discord, those plus plugins could be access to events, it could be, you know, you could route some of the funds or revenue to public goods funding, there could be just a number of benefits that you can get, which are all enforced on chain. And one of the benefits or one of the plugins that we designed was Airdrop, because Airdrop is something we’ve been working on for, I don’t know, about a year and a half now. So, we added that as one of the benefits or plugins for membership and NFTs. So, whenever somebody purchases your membership NFT, they automatically get an Airdrop and the same transaction.
And this sort of idea was something that we were trying to communicate with that tweet that it is all like, it’s not like I’m promising something to my community, to my audience. And then there was this missing link that off like sort of accountability, that once I raise a certain amount of Eth, or dollars from a crowd fund, or from selling NFTs, there was no sort of like obligation for me to even add that value six months down the line, two years down the line. And for projects to truly build networks, it was important that a lot of the value was given back to the audience or community on chain and was proven on chain. So, at Coin vise, we decided okay, why don’t we just build use cases and integrate with plugins like that, where you can just give an Airdrop every time somebody purchases an NFT, which is how, which is why that tweet went viral. And obviously now we’re trying to improve Airdrops more than what it is today, which I can obviously.
Yeah, I’m trying to think of like the use cases around why someone wouldn’t, like create an Airdrop right after they claim something. So, like, if you mint NFT, okay, you get that and then you automatically get something sent to your wallet. Right? What are the use cases behind why you would do something that because typically, you just see like phase one of issuing memberships NFTs and then down the line, you see maybe an ERC 20 Get issued as a form of governance, right. As a form of like community currency. Why do them for example, in the same type of transaction or like, like simultaneously?
Jenil Thakker: Yeah, so a lot of membership NFTs like the word says, they represented access to a community. It was something that wasn’t seen as a mechanism for creating liquidity or using for governance. Maybe they were used for governance, but they were extensively used for access to a private channel in our Discord, or access to a small group of people, right? And Airdrops have community tokens specifically. So, if you have a community and the community ends up having a token, even if you’re a personal creator yourself, you can sort of give those tokens for broader use cases outside of the NFT. So, we saw, before we launched this as a plugin, we saw a lot of people asking us, hey, I want to sort of Airdrop tokens to all the people that invested in us, when we release it, because you sort of want to, like distribute tokens or ownership to people that truly support you. Right? So might as well like sort of create this automation where you having to do it later or even like you having to, like expand use cases to governance, or are you know, like the tokens itself represented as like royalties. Those were made possible with like community tokens are fungible tokens. And this is optional. So, if fungible token is indeed something that comes down the line, and if liquidity is not something you’re thinking about right now, because the community is in its early stages, NFTs memberships alone can be released, and one of the plugins is discord access, which is live right now. You can start creating a discord and automatically people get access when they purchased the NFT.
The Airdrop Tool
Okay, cool. I’m trying to think of like, examples, like in practice, the most iconic Airdrops I think, if you’ve been in the space for long enough is the uniswap Airdrop, right. I remember where I was, when I got that. I think that was like, it was probably the first Airdrop as well, right? 420, uniswap, or spore 20 tokens, I think at some point even got up to like 15k for that, $100, $420 that I got for free. And from that point on, like we had an Airdrop frenzy. That was two summers ago, right. Looking back today, how would you say, cuz you’ve been working on this Airdrop tool for a while now, as you said, how have you seen sort of the evolution of airdrops from like a feature point of view, from a marketing point of view, from a timing point of view, etc.
Jenil Thakker: Yeah. So initially, I mean, like you said, it was uniswap Airdrop, then we saw the ENS Airdrop, and there were a lot of other platforms in between, I think looks rare did an airdrop and a lot of the overarching theme for all these Airdrops was recruitment. There’s a really good article written on speaking about that Airdrops can be used really well for recruitment, whether it’s recruitment of users, for your platform, for community members, for our community, or even recruiting the right people to support your project and become your early community data project.
Got it. Okay. Got it. So, what does this article actually outline? Because it still doesn’t really create like the initial question was like, how do you create like meaningful connections? Right, right. How do you incentivize long term participation, so that users actually feel like have a voice in whatever system they’re playing in?
Jenil Thakker: Yeah. So, this is the core problem that we are trying to address with Airdrops? version Three, is to date, Airdrops on Coinvise, were similar, very similar to Airdrops, how you’ve seen till today, is you can send tokens to a group of people by creating a claim page or by distributing to wallet addresses. But again, you have to come up with incentives yourself. And you have to like sort of figure out what how you like, give that value back to your community and how value is accrued over a certain period of time. With version three on coin vise, we’ve sort of build templates or plugins. And these plugins are essentially just meaningful forms of contribution or participation. This is the one thing we say in our company a lot, is distribute tokens at the speed of participation. And participation is the core problem. We’re trying to solve with Airdrops because that’s the missing link. And that’s something that you should distribute ownership on, is participate. And that’s how like conditional to participation is how you should distribute tokens.
How would you sort of define participation in an independent creator’s use case?
Jenil Thakker: Yeah, I think like it like for independent creators, I think participation is a like some kind of collective effort into a producing media or like helping them produce media or helping expand the network and strengthen that network. Because a lot of times, it’s not, you know, the number of people in the community, they’re more interested in building stronger relationships. So, anything that contributes meaningfully to building that network stronger, or if media is something that you’re producing as an independent creator, if you can sort of crowdsource content in a very high-quality way, you sort of become a really large team that’s collectively building media on the Internet, but a lot of aligned values. And I think that could be really powerful in so many ways, even efficient, with a lot of battery tools that are out there. But Airdrops could be programmed to be distributed to these people that are A, like helping you provide content or helping you filter content and make sure it’s like the right quality or B, helped, like, further strengthen the network. And you can sort of figure out what’s more important to you, but ultimately, what’s always important or what makes somebody hold their token is either the people or the content or the media that you produce.
Right. Yeah, got it, got it. Okay. So right now, we’re in Berlin. It’s basically Berlin blockchain week, Berlin is towards the end of the week. This is the first time we’re meeting. We’ve known each other for over a year.
Jenil Thakker: Over a year.
Expectations for the Airdrop Feature
Over a year. Maybe close to a year and a half. Yeah. You’re the reason one of the main reasons, if not the primary reason why mint got started. I remember you called, or we were talking about doing some type of token project at the time. And you were also looking for people to do marketing, whatever. And I just had left my job at Draper going home to start the podcast. And it’s funny because a lot of why originally quit Draper going home was to start a token-based community for creator and was thinking of using coin vise essentially, as that foundation to sort of launch the token, build a community around it, etc. And I’m curious how you sort of, and that was about a year and a half ago. So how are Airdrops being used then, right? And now with this new feature that you’re introducing, how do you expect them to be used now?
Jenil Thakker: Yeah, so Airdrops before were used for rewarding soft contributions, and rewarding community specific interactions that were, hey, go retweet this tweet. Hey, help me moderate this discord call or hey, why don’t you sort of help manage our community, and we will sort of give you X amount of returns every month. So, there were sort of community specific actions that were rewarded with tokens. And what we realized is A, Airdrops should be participation first, and because these tokens are valuable, and they often represent ownership in our community, even though they’re utility tokens, so even if they’re non liquid tokens, what are some ways which are meaningful forms of participation that you can scope out, they can sort of be applied to a lot of the creator communities that we work with today. Right? So, we sort of made a list. And some of the used cases that really stood out for airdrops was a, this week’s something we’ve seen with platforms to but vampire attacks, I think vampire attacks, has been like the overarching theme of like, go to market strategy for a lot of individuals, creators, platforms, this is our sushi swap became is because of the vampire deck. And essentially, for people who don’t know vampire attack is essentially when a sushi swap, did Airdrop tokens to people, I think that were uniswap liquidity, LP token holders. And now you if you go to coin vise, you can essentially just fetch any token, so you can put in, let’s say, bankless Dao. And it’ll return all the tokens of a bankless Dao holder, and you can Airdrop them tokens directly to their wallet. So, we’ve sort of built plugins for popup. So, you can get all the people that hold a particular popup, all you have to do is just put in an ID, or you can put, you can get all the people that voted for a snapshot proposal. So, you can just put in the proposal ID, or you can get all any kind of token holder, token NFT or like reward participation on Twitter. And all these tools are like all no code. So, before we saw people, like manually trying to fetch these addresses, and then Airdrop them, but now you can just put in the token, or putting the Popup ID or snapshot ID for governance, and you can Airdrop them tokens for meaningful contribution.
How the Airdrop Filter Works
Got it. So, I like how you sort of segmented the Airdrop tool around either a certain action or a certain sort of filter, right? I’m curious how to what extent this filter sort of go. So, can I find people who were a part of bankless, who also signed signatures, who have about X amount in their wallet, right? And extract that accordingly?
Jenil Thakker: Yeah, so this is exactly the idea is when you look at the optimism Airdrop, they also had certain conditions on what made you a valuable member to the optimism collective. Right. And one of them was, you should be a good coin grantee, you should have participated in their governance proposals, you should have been, like, you know, participated on the optimism network. So, what makes you valuable as a community member is, a that you’ve participated in any form of their governance, snapshot has been by far the most popular. And even when we did user interviews, the requests for a lot of these like, hey, I want you to automate X and reward Y tokens. Right? They range from like really wide, like really like way things like hey, I want to distribute tokens for them having to do some kind of work. So that was like bounties or D work. All the way to like really specific is like if they read this article on my website, I wanted to distribute them tokens. So, we sort of had to find a middle ground on what was possible and what was like, what is something that we can do on chain at scale for multiple communities. So, popup. I mean, if you think about it for creative communities, hosting events is the best way to build and strengthen relationships. So, we saw most of the events that we attended or even studied. popups were one tool that they used almost every single time.
Thoughts On People Airdrop Hacking
It’s like, go back to the events point of view. Like I haven’t seen too many creators sort of throw events and races from like individual creators, music creators, whatever. Maybe they don’t need to, maybe it’s very much irrelevant to them. But one sort of group that continuously does events that I just like always remember like Ravi like Ave, right? There’s DEF CON happening in Colombia and a few months, they’re doing a Ave. It’s like such a cool way to bring people together. But also meet developers, right? Show them a good time, celebrate, do all these things. And now they can maybe even take it one step further, by kind of like everybody that sort of kind of like attend all Ave events, being able to extract that information in a very seamless way, okay, cool. I’m also trying to think in terms of bots, because all these civil attacks, they’re very real. And there’s certain groups that are sort of dedicated to Airdrops and they built like insane bot communities and yeah, fake profiles and fake addresses, etc. What do you have to say to those people?
Jenil Thakker: Yeah, I think it’s a very real problem, which is why we’ve like carefully selected some of the templates we’ve built on how you sort of get those addresses and how you can sort of combine all of these conditions together. So snapshot, it’s very difficult to do a bot attack, even though, even if you could, participating, or like doing a bot attack on a particular proposal and making it sort of go one way or the other. And then once you win. you sort of get air dropped is extremely difficult to do. Same thing with popups if you went to Rave. And if you have the popup, it’s really difficult to acquire that popup, if you were at rate, right. So, we sort of built like, we’re going slow in the sense that we’ve built these considering like bots in the first place, and otherwise, like the previous version of coin vise, was very open ended. So, you could do a lot of these things. And I think that’s when it was like a huge problem. But now, you can sort of choose and you can just select these, and these are, like pre-configured for you right out of the box. So, you can like do multiple conditions, you can say you must have attended Ravi, you must have voted in this proposal, you must hold 75 FWB and you must be like, let’s say a gitcoin grantee. And if you mix those, no, I mean, it’s really difficult to satisfy all of those, right?
The Next Focus for Coinvise
Yeah, cuz like you’d have to actually be a human to do those things. Okay, interesting. So, membership NFTs, Airdrops, what do you imagine being the next focus?
Jenil Thakker: Yeah, so the idea is to go deeper into Airdrops and membership NFT. The premise of coin vise is to build no code tools. So, building communities is easier. And we want to sort of we’ve mean, over the past 1.5 years, we’ve identified that to be able to build start and just grow networks in general Airdrops and membership NFTs play a crucial role. membership NFTs is a great way to start out. So, if you’re just starting out, you might launch membership NFTs that would attract your early community. You will progressively do Airdrops as in when they participate more. So that’s A, acquisition and B, retention with airdrops, and you continue doing that over a period of time for different meaningful forms of participation. So, that’s exactly what we’re going to do with coin vise, we’re going to add more plugins for memberships. So that right now, you have you can add in an Airdrop add an access to discord as a benefit. And obviously, you can add custom benefits to your tiers. But you could in future, you’d be able to add like you get access to events online and watch in person, you get access to, let’s say, some kind of media or content, because a lot of creators produce content, you just drag and drop that into your tier, and we make sure that you sort of are able to token gate that. Same thing for Airdrops, we want people to be able to do Airdrops similar to how ENS or a lot of these platforms are doing but in a very meaningful way. So, you can add these conditions, like I just mentioned, and we’re going to add more and more of these plugins, you can think of it like similar to Zapier, where we build these integrations, so that it’s easier for you to build a community.
So, it feels like a marketplace, essentially.
Jenil Thakker: Yeah.
Like a plug-in store, essentially.
Jenil Thakker: It’s just a variety of used cases. And we just want to like show our users used cases when they go to our platform because before it was just, they had to come up with use cases. But now they just see all the used cases right in front of them and you just drag and drop like Lego blocks.
Yeah, very cool. I like that. That’s like a big focus on like user experience, a big focus on like on product because we lack, I still think we lacked like really good products. In crypto consumer facing products. Yeah, man. This is super cool. Super exciting. What’s on your agenda for Eth Berlin?
Jenil Thakker: So, for Eth Berlin, I mean, this week is really important to us because we’re releasing Airdrops version three. We’re releasing a billion glorious music NFTs. This is one of the first used cases of music NFTs going live on coin vise. He’s going to be doing his sort of Patreon style subscription tiers for access to his content, all via coin vise so you can pay in Eth, and you get access to a lot of his content, as well as a lot of the music albums that he’s going to be producing in future, we’re also doing membership NFTs. And going live with Eth vest Dao, which is an investment Dao based out of LA. And their membership NFTs are now live on coin vise, you can go to Eth members on coin vise and check it out. And then we are doing membership NFTs with rider. And these are like sort of sponsorship. So, they’re hosting an event in the future, which obviously everybody will learn more about. But they’re raising their funds for this, for the event with sponsorships. And all the sponsors can go to coin vise get the NFTs. And for like coined those NFTs, they get a certain amount of benefits, visibility. Sponsorship is also very interesting used case that we see over and over again, because most of these events that you see in crypto are funded via sponsorships, even like content that is produced today. If you’re writing a premium newsletter, a lot of the sort of funds are raised by riders from sponsorships today, believe it or not. So, I think that was also a really interesting avenue for us to explore.
How did you figure out that correlation riders bring in a lot of the sponsorships just like newsletter ads?
Jenil Thakker: Yeah, I mean, we saw like a lot of the newsletters that I read or even if like you talk to you or go over a lot of the top 10, top 20 publications, most of the people if you look at them, I think, I forgot the number, but you can actually contact them. And some of them, you know have them on their about page, is you can sort of get featured on their newsletter because they get certain views. And that’s how they, that’s like an additional source of revenue that they have in addition to subscriptions.
Okay, so you see sponsorship NFTs as being a?
Jenil Thakker: Yeah, something’s going on. I mean, I just think that this is one of those areas, which is a bit more under explored. And this is one of those early used cases where sponsorship NFTs could be used as a way for creators and communities to get funding or even, like attract people from the outside to work with.
Who Else is Using Sponsorship NFTs?
So, I’ve been using sponsorship NFT since episode one, your first person to collect my first sponsorship NFT. And I think I’ve given it like over 15 today across six seasons or something, which is crazy to think about. And a really cool concept because all revenue for me has been on chain, since like day zero. And I haven’t really seen anybody really explore like sponsorship based NFTs like NFT that unlocks a certain level of utility, if collected. For me, though, I kind of see it as the as like my sort of steppingstones to building some type of on chain community in the future. And these brands playing a role beyond just sending me money, right? And me just like promoting the brand kind of thing, like they have something to collect for them to see that they were part of the community, for the community to see who else is collecting alongside them. Right? Yeah, super, super cool. Have you seen any other communities sort of mingle and like mess around with the sponsorship NFTs?
Jenil Thakker: Of course.
So, is it, but is it just from the point of view of just like sending money on chain to then receive utility or do they get an NFT in return?
Jenil Thakker: Yeah, so this is perfect segue. We just did FWB fest. And coin vise was one of the sponsors in FWB fest. And that was a perfect example of what sponsorship NFTs could look like. Being like one of the partners of FWB fest, we got to Airdrop NFT’s to people that attended the fest and even attended some of the sessions. As well as like, it was a great way for us to get utility because we were physically at the event, we hosted a workshop, we sort of got access to a wider community of artists, that we’re all there in person. And we could do like a session on what coin vise has to offer. So as a brand, and as somebody working with FWB I think it was a great opportunity for us to explore like what sponsorship NFTs could look like. And once we started like seeing more of those examples with like, I started radar, which is going live this week, and a few other communities’ refraction is one of them, refraction as an events community. There’s so many other Daos, even pizza Dao, a lot of these communities, if you like sort of scope out and see where does the Treasury come from? Sponsorship NFTs is like, are just sponsorship or advertisement revenue that creators do for brands is like huge portion of it. And I think that could be an interesting used case of membership NFTs themselves. Because when you’re sort of working with a brand, you’re like, that’s your acquisition costs. That’s your community building cost. So, I think like that’s something that could unlock a lot more potential. So, I’m interested in seeing what it’s got.
Current State of the Web3 Creator Economy
Yeah, really, really cool. I still think sponsorship based NFTs are super early. Yeah. Let alone NFTs in general of course. Yeah, I’m curious for you to also like to also hear your point of view of, you’ve been in the creative economy space building web three for a minute. What have you seen sort of the vibe is right now? Considering we’re in a bear market, in terms of like creators doing new projects, funding all these other cool things that are happening in and around like creators?
Jenil Thakker: Yeah, I think like, if you look, ask anybody, it’s like one of the ones difficult times for funding But I think like, some of the, I guess gaps are wide, if you look at just scope out for projects, and web three, one of them is like messaging. Messaging has been the weakest link in web three for a really long time. So, I think we’re starting to see like better UX and better UI, but also, that should be in conjunction with real used cases. So, seeing a lot of used cases evolve is something that I’m really interested in seeing. And one of them that I’m seeing is with yield XYZ, they’re doing membership management. And that was, it was one of those first platforms that showed us that, if you show people use cases in a templatized way, where everything comes out of the box, and you can sort of create unique things out of it, I think that was like something very powerful. And that showed the message. So, I think more of that, where you don’t work against, but you sort of work with a lot of the platforms that are complementary to you. And that was a great article, like it goes way back in the 90s, on how dungeons and dragons evolved. And Joel Spolsky wrote an article on commoditize your compliment, which is very popular, is essentially saying every platform that are or every tool that plays complementary to do, you sort of commoditize that, and what ends up leaving is sort of the core value that you end up adding. And that’s the best way to build a community, which is how dungeons and dragons became one of the biggest games in history.
Details for Today’s Announcement
Got it. Super exciting stuff. Really, really cool. I’m excited to see how people sort of integrate their membership NFT on coin vise, now with Airdrops and sort of like what the evolution is from here, I guess before we wrap this up and go into our time at Eth, Berlin, any last words? What sort of details do we need to know for this announcement that’s dropping today?
Jenil Thakker: Yeah, so, Ardrops version three, the biggest part, our biggest change for Airdrops for claim page and sending tokens to multiple wallet addresses. I guess for multiple wallet addresses. If you’re sending them tokens directly to their wallet. Now you have the option to essentially just type in the token, and it’ll send you all the token holders. And it works for tokens, it works for NFT. So, you can say, give me all the people that hold crypto punks. And also give me all the people that hold more than 75 FWB and you can pick and choose multiple of these options and snapshot popup. And you can sort of curate what kind of audience you’re trying to reach out to and then distribute tokens and you can do it progressively in a continuous way because token distributions are meant to be done again and again. Like I said, distribute tokens at the speed of participation. So, I think that’s something that keep an eye out for if you’re going to coin vise, try to just play around with it and see like what makes sense for your community. Maybe try to curate and send tokens people that actually add value and then even for claim pages you can say you must hold this NFT to claim this Airdrop, you must hold these popups, you can add as many conditions as you want. So, I guess check it out. All these conditions and ways to get these addresses are live. It’s all no code. And now you can create your Airdrop in seconds.
Amazing. Congratulations with the drop. Congratulations and the announcement. This was fun as always, third episode. Can’t wait for the fourth one. But yeah, man, thanks for being on.
Mint Season 6 episode 11 welcomes Rantum – The blockchain data wizard whose work can be seen across Art Blocks, Uniswap Grants, and writer at the Our Network newsletter.
Our theme for the next half hour revolves around on-chain data; specifically, how creators can use on-chain data to build stronger communities. We outline various metrics you should consider tracking, Rantums mental model for analyzing dashboards, and so much more.
00:37 – Intro
03:41 – On-chain Data Tool Set
05:12 – Interoperability in Web3
08:07 – Key Dashboards for Web3 Communities
11:08 – How Many Communities Actively Use On-chain Data?
13:22 – Rantum’s Analytics Structure
16:04 – Using Data vs. Trusting Your Gut
21:17 – Anonymous NFT Ownership and Zero-Knowledge Technology
24:55 – Trends in the Web3 Creator Economy
26:38 – Metrics Web3 Communities Should Measure
29:14 – How Can Creators Become More Data-Informed?
31:22 – Outro
Support Season 6’s NFT Sponsors
🌿 Lens Protocol
Lens Protocol is a composable and decentralized social graph, ready for you to build on so you can focus on creating a great experience, not scaling your users. Learn more by visiting: https://lens.xyz/
(🍄,🔍) Bello: The #1 for blockchain analytics tool for web3 creators
Bello is the no-code blockchain analytics tool that empowers web3 creators and communities with actionable insights on their collectors through a simple search. Join private Beta: https://www.bello.lol/join
Rantum, welcome to mint podcast. Thank you for being on, special guests of season six, all things on chain data. How are you doing, man?
Rantum: I’m doing great. Very excited to be here. Thank you so much for having me.
I feel like an idiot. I’ll tell you why I feel like an idiot. Because when I was planning season six, I was like, okay, I want to do an on-chain data type of topic. And I should have looked at the wizards on dune. And then I came across the wizards of dune after I announced the season, and there you were in the top five created too many dashboards, you can count. So, I’m seriously stoked to have you on. I think a good place to start here.
Rantum: Say that you looked at that.
You got it. All right. A good place to start is, who are your Rantum? What does the world need to know about you? And I’m specifically interested, like, how did you get your start into crypto?
Rantum: All right, so let’s see, I’ve been working in crypto in data, crypto data analytics for about a year and a half now, get started early 2021, had been, you know, interested in crypto, held crypto assets before but hadn’t really been actively participating in it other than, you know, I mean, I had different tokens, you know, held them but not much more than that. Started getting interested more in NFTs actually, and that’s what kind of drew me in initially, with some top shot over their initial summer when they were first out before a crazy, before it got crazy. And then got into sort of like the art side of NFTs. Before I was working in crypto, I was working in E commerce, consulting with other many companies, working in marketing, with web marketing with data analytics in that area, and saw an opportunity to kind of transition some of those skills over to blockchain data. So started making some dashboards on doing analytics and kept making them and some of them have gotten me a lot of stars and moved me up those ranks and help some people to find me once in a while.
I also know you’re like a collector, I checked out your open sea profile is from what’s public. And you’ve got a ton of NFTs as well. So, I guess kind of seeing your interest from the top shot days, and then kind of seeing all these things that you’ve collected. And now being actually an active contributor, I consider your contributions as like, you’re like a participant in a Dao. And I think Daos and communities have different levels of participation. And being able to create dashboards is just like another one of those elements of participation that I would sort of argue is super important. I’m curious, though, of everything to kind of get involved in, why the data side of things? Because you seem to spend a lot of your energy on that side.
Rantum: Yeah, I mean, part of it was that I was already interested in that side of it. And then the other part is that once you start looking into this, there’s just endless amounts of data to keep looking at, I wasn’t used to looking at, to work with data from individual companies. And you know, it’s very siloed data, you could maybe get some metrics of what other companies were doing. But it really was an open data that anybody could use. And obviously, we have a very different case with blockchain data that anybody can go and access this data, anybody can use it. Very different case that we have here. And I found that really interesting. You know, you can look at all of these different things, both from whether, you know, whether it’s a collector perspective, we are looking at tokens, but we are also as a creator looking at all this information is such a different world that we lived in with siloed web two data.
On-chain Data Tool Set
So, when you look at the current, like tooling landscape for data applications, and you sort of think about the different tools that are available for people to sort of either understand their communities, to either build communities, to understand certain metrics, what does your tool stack look like right now, beyond dune?
Rantum: So, dunes do is my number one and is still. I use that pretty much daily. And I well, definitely had to work with the open sea, API, quite a bit. I mean, you know.
Rantum: It’s interesting, because, you know, we do have this, all of this public data, but then we know, we still have a lot of siloed data, and that, you know, open sea data, at least is available via API, but really, that all sorts of different marketplaces out there. And if you’re trying to look at that off chain data, in NFT, specific you’d be looking at listings. Could be hitting listings are the big thing that you’re looking for NFTs and they can be all over the place with different marketplaces popping up. So, you know, trying to come to kind of wrangle that data in you know, different cloud databases for them, although, it seems there our new tools coming or new options coming or features coming to dune that make that easier to access right in their platform.
Interoperability in Web3
Got it. Okay. So, I want to talk to you about, like a lot of this conversation on where like data meets the creator economy in web three, and how creators should sort of be thinking about data. And I think a big trend that we’re sort of seeing recently is this concept of community interoperability, building identity, credentialing, all these sorts of keywords that I guess we didn’t really see a couple of years back, especially when NFTs weren’t at the sort of like premieres type of spotlight in crypto as they are today. How do you sort of understand the concept of community interoperability audience, interoperability in web three? What does that really mean? you can also take it from a point of view of either user being the platform, and they don’t really need to rely on sort of like creating value on platforms like they are the platform in crypto, right? It can also be taken from the point of view of understanding like you can take your audience, wherever you go, sort of in platforms are building around this interoperable, this open transparent ledger that possesses all this information. You know, what I mean? How do you see it?
Rantum: Yeah, I mean, so I guess I do see, I see that audiences can move around, you will see that, you know, for artists, you will see them produce on many different platforms. But there are artists are following them around. You know, when I’m looking at artists, specifically, if I look at someone like Kody, one of my favorite artists, he might produce on nifty gateway, on his own contract, super rare. And it’s different. It may be different audiences at some degree, but it’s really, it’s the same base audience that’s kind of following him from platform to platform, and it’s less, you know, there’s some importance on the platform, but less importance on the specific platform to bring, to go find that community rather than just bringing that community with him to that, to these other platforms, and even enabling people to maybe use what they’ve already collected in the past to get access. And I think that’s something that we’re really seeing, too, that you can, you can use what the audiences have already collected, what they’ve done in the past, actions that you could see on the blockchain and allow more when you move forward with another collection, it doesn’t even have to be on that same platform.
Key Dashboards for Web3 Communities
Yeah, that makes sense. As an analyst, and someone who spends a lot of time creating dashboards, either for your own interests, or for sort of to help communities. What are some of the first few sorts of dashboards you create, to help the community understand who their users are?
Rantum: So I tried to give tools that, I really tried to make data more accessible in general, I mean, that’s one of things that I like to do with these, with my dashboards is build them as tools that others can use, be able to plug contracts and plug contract addresses in or plug different wallet addresses, and be able to build something that people can then look into more, when trying to give insight to an audience for NFTs specifically, looking at what other collections they might hold, what else they have in their wallet. And trying to look at that from a collection wide standpoint, you know, get ideas of what is this collector base interested in, what other things are trying to find the overlap? You know, that’s definitely something that I look at.
Got it. Okay. And when you sort of create these dashboards for communities, what tends to be like the most common metrics that you sort of look at and that you measure across either community like to measure like community’s health, to measure community’s engagement, and things around that nature?
Rantum: Yeah, I mean, I think that’s one we’re still developing a lot, you know, trying to understand how much engagement is there because it’s really different for different communities, you know, how much you want someone to be active, at least on chain. You know, we wouldn’t think that some issues in the NFT world where a lot of a lot of revenue is coming from royalties. And that requires people to be selling, you know, and if people aren’t selling, that’s not necessarily a bad thing for the collection. So, you know, still trying to get some of that, you know, where is the engagement? How do you gauge engagement? But I think that looking at, I mean, obviously, looking at the trends over time, price trends, also, how many holders there may be of a particular token or NFT collection? You know, if you see that falling off over time, that’s, you know, generally people are getting less interested. I mean, there are cases where you can see that people are, the existing community members, may be becoming more excited about the project, but usually see that, you can easily pick that out a little bit better. And that’s ultimately knowing who those holders are, are they new to the ecosystem or they existing holders?
How Many Communities Actively Use On-chain Data?
How many communities do you actually see using on chain Data actively? Like, the day-to-day process of building a community, trying to create unique experiences? Or is it very much like the top 1% of communities actually use data, despite all the dashboards that are out there?
Rantum: Good question. For community building, I don’t know that they’re being utilized all that much yet. I think that we’re at a point where there’s, you know, there’s so much opportunity that people are running ahead, right now to try to get somewhere before, you know, before all the competitors do, and that the small, some of the small data differences aren’t quite coming into play yet, I think they’ll become a lot more interesting as people start really taking the time to dig into them. I think there’s a ton there for artists, for creators, especially when you start looking at what people are doing. Otherwise, I know, you’ve talked about it on your podcast, how you’ve used it, use data, and with your own tool to find what your audience was interested in. And I think that’s such a smart thing that many people are not doing yet.
Interesting. Why don’t you think many people are doing that yet? Like what’s missing here?
Rantum: Good question. I think some of it may be, Oh, well, I mean, sort of, was the first point, you know, that I think people are running to stake their claim to different areas, but, you know, areas within this ecosystem, but you know, I think the other side is, it’s still thought of as maybe more difficult than it needs to be, I think there’s this idea that blockchain data must be really difficult to decipher. And, you know, it’s much easier to just use these, you know, look at open sea history or something for NFTs or to, you know, occasionally, you know, go scan, very easy to read things. And, you know, the truth is, I think a lot of these dashboards, a lot of these tools have made it very accessible, and people should start taking more time to look into this.
Rantum’s Analytics Structure
You know, for me, I see the biggest setback with creators and communities trying to use data is trying to understand what action they can take, by understanding and looking at that data. And my next question to you is, do you yourself have a mental model? It’s one thing to create a dashboard. It’s another thing to understand what to do with that information. Do you have a mental model yourself as to how you analyze information, whether it be a pie chart, whether it be a bar graph, whether it be a light, whatever the media may be? Do you have a specific structure as to how you approach things?
Rantum: Yeah, I think one of the reasons that my NFT dashboard specifically have become so popular is because I am active as an NFT trader, and I look at them much, trying to use it for my own purposes. And I think by looking at what some of the other dashboards were out there, when I first started creating them, they weren’t, it seemed like they weren’t getting into some of the details that traders would need. And it’s much more about kind of volumes and total transaction numbers, but that doesn’t really mean a lot to, when you’re making an individual sale, I think a lot of these like a lot of metrics out there are giving you total volume numbers and I don’t know that that means a lot, especially when you’re not looking at, it just some of the more detailed metrics that are happening looking at things like how many, I mean, how many sales is that really? How many, what’s the collection size? And how much what’s the liquidity in a particular project? I mean, you know, I think a lot of times these big numbers, whether it’s Eth, or dollar, or you know, whatever other numbers are used kind of as a, you know, this big shock number, and it doesn’t always mean a whole lot, you know, for praises is definitely something that you can look at more, NFTs that’s used often. And I think there’s even more than that, you know, when we see that there’s little volume over at all. And he just said that don’t use volume, but trying to see volume or turnover over time inventory turnover, how fast is a collection moving? Trying to get a better idea and some of the details of a particular collection?
Using Data vs. Trusting Your Gut
Sure. I think also another element to that is like, going back to the question of, there’s a lot of data out there, but why communities? Maybe not why, but maybe the argument is like a lot of communities maybe aren’t tapping into that data on a regular basis. I want to pick your brain, another tangent of that is like, how do you find the balance between using data to make a decision versus sort of following your gut? What does that balance, that trade off look like?
Rantum: Yeah, man, I wish I had a very good answer for that, because I think it is really hard right now. You know, somewhat, there is so much data, and I think you can use it to inform decisions. It doesn’t, you know, I don’t rely 100% on data. You know, I don’t think that’s even possible. So, you know, trying to weigh those other, I don’t know, because those metrics that can’t be measured as well. And is definitely tougher in this industry, especially when, you know, I think you probably know, how much sentiment plays a factor NFTs and crypto in general. You know, I think, you know, I do actually try to keep an idea of that, you know, what is the center, what is the market sentiment overall, and try to keep an idea, you know, my falling into something when I’m making a decision, am I trying to confirm something that I’m hearing out there or my final, you know, trying to look at this objectively?
Another thing I want to know about you, Rantum is like, what is a day in your sort of life look like? Because I see you’ve created so many dashboards, you’re obviously living on dune, you study data consistently. When you sort of create these dashboards and you’re like, you’re waking up in the morning, like, it’s the first thing that you’re doing sort of like building a dashboard, or trying to find something new to create?
Rantum: I think I get what you’re asking there. I mean, I looked at a lot of my dashboards, I tried to build dashboards that mean something to me, when I do look at them in the morning trying to get an idea of what’s been going on, you know, both in crypto and prices, token prices, you know, as you know, there’s often surprises when you wake up, so like to know what’s going on a bit and build those dashboards. You know, there’s a lot of maintenance in dashboards and whether it’s because of you know, whether it’s a dune, whether it’s dune updates or upgrades, upgrades still require some work. But also, open sea changes, different NFT marketplaces coming up. And as much as there’s, as much as I’d like to rely on, on chain data, there’s still a lot of manual data that needs to be put into dune right now. A lot of collection names need to be put in there. So, you know, update a lot of those things on my own. So, I also work, do some work for art block right now. So, make a few internal dashboards for them, less collector, focused and more internal for them when they’re trying to reconcile royalties and things like that. So those are always fun getting little different and find those but, you know, I like trying to build these dashboards that can be used over and over again, and no matter what, there’s always maintenance that needs to happen. And then, you know, when thing, when new protocols, everyone new collections come out, definitely try to dig into that a little bit more and see what’s going on.
Anonymous NFT Ownership and Zero-Knowledge Technology
Right. I also want to talk to you about, like, new technology that’s emerging in the ecosystem. I remember if Vitalik recently proposed, like a stealth address for anonymous NFT ownership. I’m curious if you have any thoughts around sort of that area, and also like with the introduction of like, zero knowledge technology, how that would influence future usage and analysis of on chain data?
Rantum: Yeah, I thought about that, you know, and then one of things that has attracted me, like I said, it is interesting is the openness of data. But I also think that there is some need for some privacy. I know that there’s times where I don’t necessarily want anybody that’s paying me to see every single transaction that I’ve done. You know, it’s a little hard once the wallets public and you know, I think that there will become, there will be, solutions will become more easy to access and not having to go through OFAC. Yeah, things against their terms anyway. But you know, so I think that summons will change. And I do wonder how much it changes once people, once kind of the blockchain park gets pushed a little bit more to the back end, I think right now people have a pretty good understanding of what it means to have your wallet public and people that are in it, it’s a pretty small number of people, it takes a lot of steps. And you almost have to interact with some of the underlying tech. And it makes you a little bit more aware of this. So, I do wonder what happens when this becomes pushed kind of to the, where people can’t see it, when you’re just opening an app on your phone, and it’s running on the blockchain. You don’t think about this. I do wonder how people, what people will expect for data privacy at that point? You know, so I think that will, we’ll see some shifts here, we may get to a point where we’re seeing more, you know, we’ll see a lot of maybe, you know, the second layer two type of activity rolled up, that you can’t see quite as well, can’t see individually as well, as you can some of the big transactions on the Ethereum network.
So, what happens when that happens? Like what what do you do, as someone who spend so much time on doing, someone who analyzes data and uses these tools as a way to kind of find your contribution in the space?
Rantum: You know, I think, I think one thing to keep in mind is, if we can, if we do have good privacy solutions, that there’s still going to be standardized. And it won’t be quite as much as you know, build a website, and now you’ve got to go figure out all your analytics, and all your data is going to look different, it’s still going to be, going to be standardized. And, you know, maybe it won’t be public, but it’s still there for companies, that companies, creators, whatever that are ready to, use that data. It’s a little bit more, you know, probably a little more. And I wouldn’t say it’s web two, because I think you’re getting user data, but you’re not getting at that point, you wouldn’t be you wouldn’t know the individual person. So, it provides a lot more privacy for individuals, but I think there’s still a lot of data that you can work with publicly and be able to take steps to improve your audience.
Trends in the Web3 Creator Economy
Yeah. The next thing I want to talk to you about is, I guess like the current state of where we are in the creator economy, you obviously spent a lot of time collecting stuff yourself. You spent a lot of time analyzing communities. What are some interesting trends, insights, notable things that have sort of sparked your curiosity or attention that you’ve discovered by being on chain data analyst?
Rantum: Let’s see. So, in real life events, I think are really big for blockchain communities. I think that those, that’s somebody that’s really helped, I’ve helped a lot of communities that I’ve seen, grow more and even grow together a little bit further than you could online I think, you know, these online communities are great for bringing people together. But also, people want to get together in real life. And I’ve seen that in many different communities that mentioned that I do some work for our blocks, they do. They do event of they’re doing a big event in Marfa, Texas, but they’ve done some other events. More with bright moments as another company, I’ve worked with a gallery down in, based in Venice Beach, but they’ve, been going around to New York, or Berlin, London, next month in Mexico City coming up, art block as well. And I see that that brings a lot more people out. And you see people from different cities and different kind of coming out from the crypto communities that are there. And I think that’s, I mean, I got into a lot of this when we were all standing inside and you know, like many of us, and you know, I definitely appreciate getting together with people.
Metrics Web3 Communities Should Measure
Right. Interesting. That’s another like, okay, now it’s about to spark a side tangent. All right, what metrics do you look at to sort of measure community togetherness, and how different wallet addresses are interacting within one another amongst one another? Right? And I guess I asked that question, because when you’re looking at on chain data, or when you’re looking to understand how your community is performing primary sales, secondary sales, total volume look like these things can only say so much. But if you’re trying to build longevity, right, you want to see how your community sort of interacting amongst themselves, right? Are there any metrics or anything that you’ve sort of seen or worked on that indicate kind of like the strengthening of a community?
Rantum: You know, I don’t think I have, it’s a good question. I think those are some good metrics to start measuring. You know, I think right now we’re, when we’re looking at these, we’re looking at things like vote, you know, people are participating in votes. And governance. You can see that on chain, I wouldn’t say that that’s a, you know, great indicator of people coming together. Although I do think that participation in votes is a sign of at least people paying attention as it usually doesn’t take all that much to sign the transaction and do that. I think that is, that’s something I’ve worked on, actually, with the uniswap team, we’ve looked at a lot of issues around the governance there and how much participation there is because there are cases. I mean, they had an issue where there was nearly an improvement proposal passed, that was not there, very favorable to the community. And that was one where there just weren’t very, very many people voting at a certain point. So, I think that is something that is important. And it’s nice to see, I think we’re still coming up with more, we need to come up with more ways to gauge how communities are evolving over time. I do. I think we’re probably; it seems like we kind of need to have off chain data linked with on chain in some way. I mean, when we’re looking at, when we’ve got most of the activity for these communities happening in discord and more Twitter, you gotta start looking at those, when you’re looking at community activity that more than just on chain activity.
How Can Creators Become More Data-Informed?
Got it. Okay, the last question that I have for you, before we wrap up is, in the beginning, we talked about how communities they’re using data, but maybe not as frequent as they should, right? And for it could be for many different reasons. My question to you is, how can one become a more data informed creator, more data informed founder, more data informed community builder? What do you think about that?
Rantum: So, I think every creator, every artist should have some kind of dashboard of their own. When I’m thinking about an NFT artists. You know, I’m thinking about artists that are all over the place on different platforms. I think that having a dashboard for, can give so much insight both to the creator and to the audience, you can see, when we’re talking about all these different blockchain assets, you can see where they all are, where they’re trading. And, yeah, it may not all be about trading, but it’s nice to know where they are and what people are doing with them. And, you know, I think when you certainly get that, as a creator, you can start understanding who the people are, who are they, what else are they doing on chain? What other collections might they have? What other tokens do they have? Are they new wallets? Are they, you know, is there a long history there? And, you know, I think it’s even worth just reaching out directly to some of them. I think, in many cases, when you see that, you know, if someone has a lot of assets that you’ve put out, you know, definitely worth reaching out and seeing what brought them to you. And you can find more of that. I think right now, you know, like you said, there’s a little bit of a problem, what do you do with some of this data? And I think we are, you know, we’re at the point that it’s a little bit of you got to get creative with it. Figure out what to go do with it. But I think really understanding it kind of digging into it and understanding it will kind of spark ideas if you’re in that mindset anyway.
That’s super interesting. Rantum, before I let you go, where can we find you? Where can we find your work? I know you’re also a contributor to our network, as well. I saw that in your bio. Yeah, show it away, where can we learn more and stay in touch?
Rantum: Yeah, I’m Rantum bits on Twitter. And you can find me also Rantum dot XYZ is my site. And yeah, reach out, if you have any questions about data analytics.
Mint Season 6 episode 10 welcomes Cooper Turley aka Coopahtroopa who rejoins Mint to debut his new venture Coop Records backed by a $10 million funding round to double on his love for supporting music artists and early-stage crypto startups. I feel like we’re gonna look back at this episode as an iconic moment in his career as he sets the example for what he calls an Artist Seed Round.
00:43 – Introducing Coop Records
03:57 – Angel Investing
07:41 – Cooper’s Investment Thesis
09:21 – Early DeFi Days and Shit Coin Trading
14:10 – How Do You Evaluate Which Creators to Bet On?
19:45 – What Are You Excited to Invest In That Doesn’t Exist in Today’s Market?
23:40 – The Ideal Artist or Founder to Invest In
25:57 – Cooper”s Vision For the Next 10 Years
28:27 – What is an Artist Seed Round?
33:27 – The Value Of Ownership
36:45 – What is the Average Size Check Artist’s Will Be Getting?
38:31 – How Are You Measuring Success For an Artist?
41:13 – Comparing Coop Records to a Traditional Record Label
45:59 – What is the Current State of Web3 Music?
47:22 – The General Playbook For a New Artist Coming Into the Space Today
49:19 – Thoughts on Free NFTs
56:42 – What is the Music NFT Launchpad?
58:50 – What Does the Curriculum Look Like For New Artists Joining the Cohort?
01:00:45 – How Did You Curate the First Cohort?
01:05:50 – What’s Next For Cooper?
01:10:27 – Outro
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Coop, welcome back to mint. What’s up, bro? How are you doing?
Cooper Turley: I’m doing wonderful, man. Thank you for having me back on.
Of course, man, always welcomed on. I want to start with, what the hell have you been up to since Eth Denver? We recorded an episode at Eth Denver in person. It was one of my first few in person episodes, it was a great episode, got a ton of downloads. But I know you’ve been up to a lot of stuff. And there’s a reason why we’re here today. So, I don’t want to introduce it, you should just go ahead and introduce it. And it’ll be that great moment to just kick off the episode.
Cooper Turley: Yeah, well, I want to start by saying that I’m proud to announce that I’ve raised the $10 million fund to invest in the future in music. It’s called Coop records. And it’s now live in business.
Introducing Coop Records
I wish I had one of those studio audience clapping and whatnot. All right, dude, big moment, big moment, I see the smile on your face. You’re obviously super proud about it. I’m honored for you to release it on the podcast, too. Let’s start with, what the hell is Coop records? What should we expect right now?
Cooper Turley: Coop records is a fund to invest in the next generation of music, what that means is investing in platforms and protocols. It’s investing in artists that’s buying some NFTs. You know, there’s a lot of nuances there. But basically, I’ve been a big collector in this space for a while, I’ve been angel investing in a lot of companies, I wanted to figure out how to really just level up, the way that I was deploying into the web three music space as a whole. And this fund is my way of doing so.
How long have you been building the fund out?
Cooper Turley: About the last six months, I’d say, you know, I’d say that like the inception of it came six to eight months ago. I have a cool story to tell about that one a little bit later on. But you know, a lot of paperwork behind the scenes on the legal front, a lot of just infrastructure setup, then raising the fund for about the last two months. And then, you know, very recently closed it and by the time you’re listening to this episode, you will have seen that it is now live to the world.
Crazy, dude $10 million. That’s serious, that’s legit, that’s a lot of money to a lot of people, what is 10 million mean to you?
Cooper Turley: It’s a way for me to sort of level up my career, my profession and sort of the allocations I’m making into the space, you know, 10 mil from a venture fund is actually a very small fund, relatively speaking, it’s about the smallest fund that I could raise to make sense for myself. But something that I feel like allows me to really put myself on the line, you know, show that I have high conviction in this space, you know, show that other people have trusted me enough to give me money to deploy into the space. You know, it’s really just a steppingstone, I’d say, to really making this whole music NFT, web three music movement, something more serious. And I’m really excited to be working with the next chapter founder and artists that are making it a reality.
Amazing, dude, I think I first heard about it, we were at sea club, they were doing a happy hour, you’re sitting on a couch, I was sitting on a chair, a couple of others were around us, you know, like yo, Adam, starting this fund. It’s gonna be super exclusive, 25 LPS only, but it’s gonna be it’s gonna be propagating the future of music and web three. And I’m super excited about it, I was like, damn cool. Honestly, don’t expect anything less. That’s super exciting. And a lot has happened. Since you’ve dropped you. You’ve helped to sort of propagate many artists too, you’ve dropped some collections yourself. Can you talk about the last six months, at least since February? That’s when the last time you were on the podcast. Give me Give me a quick recap.
Cooper Turley: I would say in February, there was very early traction around music NFTs, you know, catalog and sound had come up, I started to collect pretty actively on there. You know, I was working with some of the more formative what the artists and kind of helping them develop their drops, you know, some that I’ll call out would be Daniel Allen and his glasshouse dropped that launch pretty recently, I was involved as a project manager and help to connect some dots there. The rookie project, which I’ve been super involved in as a project manager, and then behind the scenes just helping a lot of artists think through how to actually release their music NFTs, I started a newsletter called this week in music NFTs, that’s published every Monday to stay up with the space. And then more recently launched a cohort called the music NFT launchpad to bring 10 new artists into web three.
It’s almost as if you’re tripling down on the space, just so happens. I think that’s super exciting. I think it’s a great way to also kick off the episode, as well, because there’s a few things I want to talk to you about the next hour or so. Okay, I want to talk to you about sort of your early days in crypto, how he got started with Angel investing, I want to talk to you about like, the history of music and why it’s been so difficult to invest in music in general? Of course, your fun thesis, what you’re looking for in artists and just all the things sort of in and out of that. Okay, so I think a good place to start coop is out there. How did you get into angel investing? What was the first sort of startup you’ve cut a check to, what did that look like?
Cooper Turley: Basically, defi summer, I’d say 2019, 2020, people were doing pretty well for themselves, just trading these different tokens, you know, doing yield farming, etc. I joined a syndicate group called freak out that was basically a bunch of different operators and investors in the space. We were getting to see private deals and at the time, I was writing $1,000 angel checks. So just about the worst thing I could do. Even if the company 100x says I make 100 grand, which is terrible for investing, I want to go on record saying, but I just was fascinated by the idea of getting to invest in companies in their private rounds. Some of the earlier companies that I invested in were my close friend Brian Flynn, his company, rabbit hole, Alex Masmej, his company, Showtime, a couple early defi protocols like ribbon finance, Fe protocol, etc. And at that point in time, you know, creator economy wasn’t really a thing. It was primarily like, you know, early defi protocols. And then some, like Dao tooling companies. And basically, my early entry into angel investing was saying, you know, I feel like I’ve established a brand for myself, I want to start working with founders more so than just being a consultant or a sort of like an advisor, and angel investing was my way to have more serious ownership stakes in the companies that I was really, really stoked on.
So, between rabbit hole between Showtime, those were sort of like your earliest bets on the creator economy, right? From what I understand. And that sort of just spiral like just a wave of you just like cutting checks left and right, from all the defi earnings that you’re sort of racking up or what am I missing?
Cooper Turley: No. I mean, I think you’re right, it was very much a spray and pray mentality. If I had to think of some other companies off the top of my head, I would say Zora was one that I was really, really lucky to be a part of, I think that what Jacobs building over there was incredible, like, his thesis on hyper structures is fascinating. And that was one that early on, I was just like, this makes perfect sense. And his credit, you know, he was very kind to reach out to me and say, like, hey, I would love to have you involved in that, you know, just kind of looking at some companies on the list here. You know, fractional and what Andy is was building was really, really exciting to me. I think, in total, I ended up doing close to 40 to 50 deals over the course of like the last year and a half. And these were all basically 10 to 25k checks. And so for me, it was really just a conversation of like, how do I get myself on that tweet storm when people announce around to say, like, hey, like we’ve been backed by leading investors and strategic angels, including x y & z, you know, I never really saw angel investing as a way to make a lot of money, although I’m optimistic that the investments will turn into something, it was really just a way to start building credibility in the space. And that’s actually what led to the venture partnership that I had with variant which was something that was extremely helpful and constructive in my career as an investor, general partners, Jesse Walden, Legion, Spencer, they’re all phenomenal. And a lot of the early ideation around Coop records came through that relationship, you know, me thinking more formally, though, why am I investing what I’m investing in? Not necessarily doing it for the sake of investing, but actually developing conviction and strategy around what I’m investing in. And it was through that process that I started to really think about this idea of Coop records, developing a thesis around music, and, you know, Jesse Waltons credit, he was very much like an early advocate for saying, like, I think this is a really good idea, I think you would learn a lot from it. And, you know, here we are today, six months later doing the damn thing.
Cooper’s Investment Thesis
So, the first few investments that you make, did you have any sort of like, north star that you were following? I know, you mentioned it was a spray and pray mentality, but even between cutting a check into rabbit hole, try Showtime, Zora, they all have somewhat something in common. Right. And I’m trying to understand like your thesis as an angel investor, because I feel like that also trickles to the things that you collect, right on like a hobbyist basis too, talk to me more about sort of, like your thesis early on, and how has it evolved to where we are today?
Cooper Turley: Yeah, I would say broadly, projects that help people understand web three is, you know, whether it’s using a product to be able to find new opportunities to contribute on chain, you know, whether it’s something that allows you to buy an NFT, whether it’s something that allows you to join a Dao and get to meet new people, you know, even defi protocols, I was always investing with a thesis of like, okay, this is going to be helpful for people getting into the space. And I think across the board, I started to realize that there’s a vast number of ways that people can get involved in web three. At that point in time, you know, it was really no different from how I was doing shit coin trading, or NFT trading, where it’s just kind of like, I have a real, I really liked this founder, I think this project is great. You know, I see a lot of other good people that are involved in this round, like I’m gonna come into, it was really just like a vibe thing. And I think that’s something that I try and carry with all my investments is like, do I just really back this founder? And do I really like what they’re working on and what their vision is? You know, I didn’t really have too much of a strategy around like, okay, what are projected earnings? Like, what are they? Going to be valued at as a food delivery company or anything like that, it was just kind of like, me getting in the weeds with founders doing a couple calls. And if I liked what they’re working on, I would put in 10k, and then share it with, you know, 10 people on my network that I thought were good strategics and most of the time, those people would come on board as well. Yeah.
Early DeFi Days and Shit Coin Trading
I’m also curious, like, you’re just back to the early days of angel investing. Obviously, there’s a big culture in web three around investing. And a lot of Twitter characters end up investing, everybody makes their money in all sorts of ways. Talk to me more about your defi early days, and you’d like your shit coin trading. I want to just get like up close and personal like the best trade that you’ve made that sort of like set your trajectory of where you are as an angel investor today and being able to back so many creators and change so many lives.
Cooper Turley: Yeah, I mean, it’s hard to recall what the best one was. I would say that the turning point here is in 2018. I started writing a blog called This Week in Defi. I was covering projects every single week. It’s actually the exact format that I’m using for that this week in music NFTs, where I would cover projects every single week, I’ll be finding out about new project launches, new collaborations, new funding opportunities. And so, I was very active as launching governance participant early on for projects like Ave compound, synthetics, Khyber, shout out to my friend Lucas, we actually ran a newsletter called token Tuesdays where we would cover a token and talk about why we liked it. You know, if we liked it a lot, we’d buy some of it, you know, some of those early defi tokens end up doing extremely well, you know, like before Ave was called Ave, it was called lend protocol. And so had a pretty good position in lend that I’d accumulated over time, bought a lot of like synthetics token around like 10 cents and end up going up to like $6. I don’t want to like list off plays here, because I don’t like talking in this way. But basically, it was just like, finding these projects early on, having conviction in them when they were like low cap coins, let’s call it worth like 20 or $30 million. And then defi happens and all of a sudden, these tokens are trading at like 500 mil fully diluted valuations. And you know, for those people that were just paying attention, frankly, it’s not even like you needed to be an investor in the private rounds, there was a lot of upside opportunities for just being active and knowing how to use uniswap, essentially.
Yeah, I think back in the early days, during defi, summer, it was all just gray area, and there were opportunities flying left and right. And it’s cool to see, I have a friend that has capitalized on it and was able to like to make something of it right. And also, to see it sort of like evolve over time, and how you use that money that you made in a smart format. And rather than just like going and splurging, right, which of course you splurge, but doing it in a strategic way where you reinvest back into the ecosystem, carry on your thesis and just like consistently learn and evolve as you go.
Cooper Turley: Yeah, it was fantastic. I mean, that was when Eth started to really see a lot of upsides. At the time, when I was buying a lot of my Eth, I’d say it was like 80 or $100. You know, it was just like me every week investing the money I got from reading my newsletter into buying Eth and buying other tokens, I think what really started to change for me is, you know, not only was I participating in public markets, but I was also providing services for a lot of these early defi projects, and a lot of these creator economy projects. So, I would come on board to help them write their tweet storms, help them write their white paper to be active in governance on these different forums. You know, just to basically like give them a vibe check on what the community thought about their project. You know, a lot of times the founders are so heads down that they don’t really know what the perception of them is like, in the public. And so like, a lot of the times me and my colleagues would be brought in just to be like, yo, people really don’t like the way that you’re doing this or like this is not being well received. Right? Don’t think that this is going to go well. And thankfully, that end up landing me some token allocations and projects very early on, that I ended up doing super well. You know, like a fun example, this is I started eSports style called meta clan, and probably 2019. This was me, my friend, James, my friend, Piers, and Alex. And we’re just messing around, we’re like, what’s the eSports style sounds great. Let’s go ahead and do like an x infinity breeding tournament. This was before access token it ever launched before.
So, we’re playing the game, we’re giving people you know, rewards for winning the tournament, and then access token launches, and it’s trading at like, six cents, let’s call it or something. Obviously, we’d all been familiar with Axi for a very long time. And so, I picked up a couple $1,000 worth. And then Axi token ends up peaking in the last bull market at like $100 a token. And like that was simply just being active and early in these communities. What I’m trying to get across here is I wasn’t some like wizard who was like, getting like secrets or like, you know, like all this unparalleled advantage, it was just like being on the ground floor and being like, really tapped into what was happening, like very actively participating in these communities where I was, like, helping to shine a light on them and like figuring out like the ins and outs of these different governance systems, but no, I’m extremely thankful because I think, for many people, COVID was the worst year of their life. And I feel really terrible for those people. And I’m really sorry that they went through what they did. But for me, COVID was staying inside every single day, it was being on the computer for 13 hours a day, it was the peak of defi summer, it’s when all this crazy activity happened in crypto. And, frankly, during COVID, I was working harder than I’ve ever worked in my life. And I think that that period of time when most people were really struggling to find meaning and purpose actually ended up being like my kind of launch point. And I think that that’s what gave me a foundation to do a lot of the stuff that I’m doing today.
How Do You Evaluate Which Creators to Bet On?
Yeah, let’s transition into Coop records, why we’re here today. Okay. So, this is a fund that’s sort of invested or sort of focused on investing on projects, right, continuously angel investing, but also betting on creators, right. Can you talk more about that, like, what does that mean to actually bet on a creator? And more specifically, in the article that you sort of lay out, you have a specific model as to how you evaluate these creators, like web three has enabled a new business model for sort of understanding the value of what music artists create. Right. Can you talk more about that?
Cooper Turley: Yeah, absolutely. I think that people selling NFTs is really formative because prior to that, it’s been very difficult to value creators cash flow on chain, you know, like we have streaming, we have to run we have merchandise, all these things that have existed in the past. I think that NFTs are a net new revenue stream. And so, for a lot of these the early web three artists, instead of looking at their monthly listeners, the way to gauge the income that they’re making, we’re now looking at primary and secondary sales, we’re looking at things like membership passes, we’re looking at secondary royalties. And I think that that net new revenue stream combined with all of the existing revenue streams of streaming merchandise, touring, ticketing, etc, it creates this really exciting opportunity to start thinking about creators in terms of artists economies, so it’s no longer just about like, what song came out on Friday. It’s like, what is the whole picture look like here? Like, what does this look like if we stack up their NFT sales with their streaming, with their publishing, with their merchandise, with their ticketing, and that landscape, I think paints a very clear picture of like an artist value, I don’t think historically, we’ve ever had a chance to, like ask that question about, like, what is this artist worth? You know, I think that’s basically what labels are asking every time they enter into a deal with someone. But with web three, I think we have new ways to value culture, you know, like, there was a really big wave around social tokens, co-founder of a Dao called FWB, that I think really clearly highlights this. And in many ways, you don’t necessarily need to have specific on chain cash flows or specific revenue statements or something to have value. You know, obviously, that adds a lot to it. But what I see as the big opportunity with web three is to basically stack all of those different income streams together, you know, structure them into one master holding company, which represents an artist brand, essentially, and then basically sell off portions of that brand to the community, and allow that community to collectively participate in the upside of that artists, but do it in a way that feels really collaborative, and truly like in the spirit of web three, in the same way that we’ve seen a lot of these governance tokens launched in the past.
So, is it in many ways sort of scaling what you did with overstimulated or what you sort of partook in with overstimulated?
Cooper Turley: I’d say it’s a fusion of what we did with overstimulated, combined with some of the token launches that I’ve done for teams like audience Gitcoin, Superare, Ens, you know, Rockpool, Optimism, etc. But to really break this down in crypto, most companies raise funding from private investors early on in the company, you know, they build a product, they build a service, they get some product market fit for it, they start getting a lot of people to use it. And then at a certain point in time, they launch a token. And typically, what you see as a user of these platforms is a really big Airdrop, where you’re ending up getting, you know, $1,000 worth of tokens, because you traded five times on uniswap. Like that’s an Airdrop. But what’s happening behind the scenes is that all the investors that invested in uniswap, much earlier on in the lifecycle of the projects are getting their equity converted to tokens, or they’re getting pro rata claim of tokens. And so, what I think’s going to happen with creators, is we’re going to start to see more investors investing in artists early on, basically buying equity in the artist brand. And then over a longer time horizon, I think it’s likely that artists will start to launch tokens that are no longer just social tokens that have like no underlying claim on them. You’re basically buying tokens which represent governance and equity over an artist’s brand that’s very collaborative with that artist itself.
Yeah, I think what’s also interesting is the timing of it. Music web three is like, it’s the category within itself is like, still relatively small, right? We’re like, we’re still growing, I think, what was it? There’s only about like, 5000 music artists based off the water music report, I’m probably butchering the number, but it’s either 5000 or less than 5000 music artists that are wiped through native in the space. And, like thousands upon thousands of songs get published every single day on Spotify. And I’m curious, like, why now like, why now is a perfect opportunity to sort of double down on this niche and release Coop records as a way to help kind of proliferate division and help creators in the process.
Cooper Turley: Yeah, and really, just to highlight that, there are 85,000 songs a week released on Spotify, there’s 8 million artists on Spotify. And I agree with you that there’s less than 5000 artists doing music NFTs right now, there’s probably less than 10,000 music NFTs collectors in the world right now. And so, I think that delta is the opportunity, the fact that there are the possibility of 8 million artists being able to use web three one day and the fact that they aren’t currently. That’s what I see as related to design space here. And I want to go out and say that not every artist is well suited for web three, not every artist is well suited to launch a token. This takes a very specific type of artists, but for the ones that are highly engaged with their community, they’re thinking through new revenue streams and mechanisms like selling music NFTs, I think there’s a really new chapter of music that’s happening right now. And when I look at this fun, it’s basically saying, hey, we had Napster. And then we had SoundCloud. And then we had Spotify. And next we have web three. And in terms of what web threes winners look like, I think it’s way too early to tell, you know, we’re seeing really strong really signals of that, you know, hats off to sound XYZ for what they’re doing, to royal, to catalog, the people that we all talk about on this podcast a lot. But we are very early in that conversation. You know, if we zoom out over a long enough time horizon, I think there’s going to be incredible opportunities to invest in the next generation of music. And this fund is really my way of saying, hey, I think there’s something here, I’m going to raise a small fund $10 million to invest in pre seed and seed stage startups to help figure out what this landscape looks like over the next 10 years.
What Are You Excited to Invest In That Doesn’t Exist in Today’s Market?
So, what are you actually excited to invest in that doesn’t currently exist in the market?
Cooper Turley: I think it’s less about what doesn’t exist in the market. I think it’s just about helping founders get to that point, one at a time, you know, and so the vast majority of the fund is being invested in platforms and protocols. So, think of this of companies like sound XYZ, royal, catalog, but kind of like the next generation of that. And I think that for a lot of these projects today, there’s more culture happening that just didn’t exist previous to that, you know, like, I think there’s a really big shift around like collectives and these kind of like cologne, record labels and cooperatives and whatnot, very synonymous with what we’re seeing on kinda like the Dao side of things. That mentality, I think, lends very well to music. And so being able to play a formative role in setting up, you know, the next transformative record labels in the world, the next transformative collectives in the world, having ownership stakes, and then by purchasing a percentage of equity, and being really involved with the founder, I’m really stoked about that. You know, as we alluded to earlier, I’ve been acting as a project manager across a lot of different artists projects, when they’re doing something bigger than just like a typical music NFT drop. And so, me being able to actually partner with them to build product around their brand, invest into the brand directly, and then bring a portfolio company on board to help like really level that up, I kind of see this as almost like a very composable mash, where ideally, the coop records portfolio is a series of companies that can all work with one another to help any artists really further themselves in web three. And then make sure for those artists that were invested in through the fund, we can be really hands on and helping to connect the dots and make their artists economy as valuable as possible.
Yeah, I think another interesting component of this is, there’s there’s multiple parts, it’s not just a fun because you invest yourself, you also started this new incubator called the music NFT Launchpad. And now you have sort of the capital to support the artists not only coming out of it, of course, but other artists sort of collectively around it. But it’s like you’ve built this vehicle where it’s like, it’s multidisciplinary. And they each support one another, right? Am I getting this correctly? Or what am I missing here?
Cooper Turley: No, you’re exactly right. I think the thing that I want to like highlight here is that the fun is not going to be writing 10k checks into buying everyone’s music NFTs. Like that’s just the design of the Sonics, it is gonna get like an influx of new capital from Coop records, sweeping floors left and right. You know, it’s very, it’s very consolidated. And what we highlighted earlier is that when I was doing angel investing, I was very much taking a spray and pray mentality, right? You know, this fund is a very convicted way to bet on select artists and select platforms, I think that it will benefit the space as a whole. But I just want to put that out there that Coop records is not buying, your music NFTs because I have a new source of capital here, but rather, you know, when there’s something that’s working and working well, being able to add leverage, I think that’s something that does not exist in the sector currently, is that when an artist starts to break out, when a platform starts to break out, there’s so few people paying attention this that it’s hard for them to really scale, you know, let’s think about hiring, let’s think about marketing campaigns ways to kind of get these brands out there. That’s what this fund is for us to really like add leverage to something that’s already working. And then behind the scenes, I’m going to still be collecting music NF T’s all the time, I’m gonna be supporting a lot of artists, but I see this fund as a way to really just help amplify what the space is doing as a whole and take more convicted baths in the people who are winning the space gradually.
Damn, so I thought you’re gonna be buying everybody’s bags now. But I was like, damn, I’m about to eat well, tonight. Yeah. No. Okay. All right. More serious note, I also see it as like a funnel approach, okay, I see you as an individual sort of betting your own money, buying and doing a spray and pray mentality. And basically, using that as keeping tabs on everybody that you find interesting. And using this new capital as a way to sort of like double down, triple down on the individuals that actually want to take to the next level, right? Because of course, just like there’s a bunch of artists dropping songs on Spotify, Apple Music cetera, there’s gonna be a bunch of artists minting songs. And while in the beginning, it was very novel and unique, over time, it’s not really going to become that novel and unique. The artists that are gonna stand out are the ones that are sort of taking it to the next level. And that’s where coop records come in.
Cooper Turley: That’s exactly right.
The Ideal Artist or Founder to Invest In
Yes, I fucking nailed it. All right. So, I want you to paint me the ideal profile of an artist that you would sort of double down on, what does that look like in today’s world. And from there, do it for the same thing as a founder, like what is the ideal founder, the ideal project or protocol sort of look like that you want to sort of kind of tag along to?
Cooper Turley: I’m going to flip that, because the vast majority of the funds being allocated into platforms and protocols. And so I’d say that starting from the founder profile, I think is a little bit better to start with. But ideal founder is someone who really understands the culture of what’s happening, you know, I don’t have to explain to them why music NFTs are valuable, I don’t have to explain to them who the leading artists are, you know, they already have pretty much a good sense of what’s happening. You know, they’re very formative and recognizing that web three will be a net new playbook, you know, they’re not really super concerned with like, bridging over the old world into the new like, I think that there’s value in that. But I’d say that the fund is more focused on like, what’s new that hasn’t existed before, what’s uniquely unlocked by web three that didn’t exist previously. And then more than that, just sort of like who is the founder that’s capable of building a team around them? Like if there’s one scrappy developer who could just like goes out and wings it on the weekends and build tools? Love that. Do I think that they’re necessarily going to be able to build a billion-dollar company? Maybe not, you know.
And so, I kind of look at like the mesh between co-founders, you know, do these founders have kind of the connective tissue where someone’s really focused on development, someone’s really tapped into the community. Someone is really able to grow a discord community. And across that I think the line here is that all the companies that we’ll be investing in have a very good understanding of culture, you know, specifically with relation to web three. And as that translate to the artists themselves, once an artist has been able to demonstrate that they can check all the boxes of doing what’s expected of them, so let’s say like minting NFTs on catalog, selling out there drops on sound, you know, maybe doing a release on royal, they start to go a little bit further than that, right? They start to do drops on their own website, they start to think about, like, what are creative ways that I can distribute my album or bring other artists on board? And at that point in time, you start to recognize that there’s like a launch off point, you know, where they’re basically going bigger than what already exists. And I think at that point in time, that’s where we want to start getting involved to say like, hey, if you want to sell 10,000 music NFTs and have there be like a really formative moment around that. How can we help you hire developers and build a team around you, so that when you want to go and do that drop, it’s not you in a silo, you actually have a team of three to five people around here that are fully on staff to be able to go and make that a reality.
Cooper’s Vision For the Next 10 Years
Yeah, I mean, there’s only one person that sort of comes to mind that fits that profile, currently, maybe two, three, but like one that obviously fits that profile, and not to go too in depth, right. But I think over time, this individual sort of set the model, right? For what’s, maybe not what’s expected, but what’s possible, and there’s gonna be other people that may be taken from different directions. And it’s actually, I believe they’re going to be excellent place to sort of double down on and play like a long-term bet on. So yeah, man, that’s really exciting. That’s really big. And I don’t like you minimizing it, you say like, it’s $10 million in the grand scheme of things. Like it’s no big deal, but it’s a big deal. And don’t minimize it, because it’s legit as fuck. Alright, let’s talk about big picture. Okay. What is the vision here, Cooper, like 10 years from now? Are these like 10-years bets? Are these like five-year bets? Are these three-year bets? Like, what’s the big picture over here?
Cooper Turley: They’re 10-year bets. Yeah, I believe in 10 years from now we’re going to be able to invest in our favorite creators, I think exactly how that’s going to take form is a big question mark. But I think you’re going to be able to buy individual songs, like you’re going to be able to buy into individual artists projects, and I think you’re gonna be able to buy into platforms. And so right now, there’s not really liquidity for any of those events. And you kind of have audience token, which is publicly tradable. But basically, the only thing that you can really buy to get exposure to like web three music right now from an ERC 20 token perspective, you have these individual songs being minted on sound, catalog, royal, which are all really interesting at a very granular level. But I don’t think it’s telling the full picture of like, how do I invest into an artist collectively, beyond one song that they’re doing, but over across their entire project. And then over time, I think just like better connective tissue between all the different pieces of it, you know, there was an entire generation of artists on Spotify and SoundCloud, who ended up creating tremendous amount of value for that company, and they don’t have equity in that, you know, and I think if web three has showed anything, I always come back to the word ownership, you know, I would highlight the early variant piece ownership economy, which is very transformative in how I thought about the space. And I think that needs to apply more to music. Or if you’re an artist who’s creating value for these platforms are able to capture that value in the form of either equity or tokens. You know, if you’re an artist who’s creating a lot of value for their fans, that fan being able to capture value in the form of either NFTs, tokens or equity, you know, I think there’s just going to be a lot more connective tissue between the experience of listening and consuming music. And I’m hoping that over a 10-year horizon, we can unlock a lot more of those opportunities, so that people who are really passionate about this space can have more deeper ways to get involved.
What is an Artist Seed Round?
Yeah, and also in your blog posts, you sort of titled this concept as artists seed rounds. This is very typical in startup culture. But for those creators that are listening right now, what is a seed round? How does it differ from pre seed round? I guess a pre seed round would maybe be you just buying something off sound, right? Would that be considered a pre seed round? Or how do you think about it exactly.
Cooper Turley: I would consider a round basically the first time that you’re selling equity to investors with the hope of building something bigger than yourself. And so, in the concept of artists seed round, if I want to hire employees to work for me full time, I need capital to do that. I don’t think that it’s smart to be living paycheck to paycheck or using your NFT proceeds to be able to hire those people, instead, being able to bring on long term partners that can purchase equity stakes in your brand in exchange for you having the capital to go higher and build a team around you. That’s basically what we’re talking about here. So instead of just doing a drop, you know, making a couple Eth off sound and then going in like spending that on a one-off project. It’s like what if you had a developer working for you full time? What if you had a community manager working for you full time? What if your manager didn’t have to have five different clients on their roster, they’re taking commission off of, but they could represent you full time. And I think what I’ve started to notice across the industry is that when these artists get to be the biggest in the game, you know, they typically have three to five people around them that are working for them full time. But up until that point, there’s never been economic opportunities to have that be a reality. You know, like a manager needs to commission off of five artists because they’re one artist doesn’t make enough money for them to survive off of but if they have a capital pool that was provided by investors to say, hey, here’s a salary and an equity option that you can have long term ownership and get paid on a monthly basis for working for me, I think there’s some really exciting things that come out of that, I’ll be the first to say there’s a ton of complications here. The ways that you structure this is extremely complicated. The way that you help other players understand this that are typically operating on a commission model that maybe might defer some of their commission in the future is extremely complicated. But at its source, it’s just saying, like, hey, we want to formalize this vehicle more, you know, artists can act as CEOs, I don’t think that all artists are CEOs, but I think they have the ability to if they choose to, and if you’re a CEO, taking on some funding to go ahead and build your company into something bigger than yourself. I think it’s a really exciting opportunity.
Yeah, it feels like artists are now becoming startups. That’s sort of how I see it. And it’s a concept we’ve talked a lot about on the podcast, how artists are like creators are going to start very, like operating very nimbly, right, like a very nimble fashion, where they’re gonna focus on creating, but they’re gonna have other people on their team that sort of focus on other things. And it’s going to be living in this sort of, I guess, like vehicle, it’s very similar to how an early, early company sort of operates, right? I also see it from the point of view of, there’s going to be option pools, right? For these artists, employees, right, whatever, whatever you want to call them. And treating yourself as a startup and having external capital to help sort of fund your creative endeavors is really, really powerful. We’re seeing this sort of form through web three through very public markets, people sort of supporting artists through patronage, royalty compensation, whatever it may be. And now it’s kind of coming to the next level with Coop records. Do you imagine this model sort of being replicated? Or do you think it’s actually quite risky, what you’re doing?
Cooper Turley: I think it is extremely risky. And I hope that it gets replicated. I think that over time, it will become less risky, because there’s more standards around it for the early iterations of this, we’re taking our best guess at it, you know, we’re operating off of assumptions that we think are logical but have not been proven out yet. You know, I said, it’s really going to take time. And I think it’s really going to take a select type of artists for these things to work. You know, like I highlighted before, not every artist is well suited for this, I don’t think that every artist should try and do a seed round, I don’t think that every artist should try and hire employees. Most artists just want to make music. And I think that’s perfectly fine. And I encourage that, you know, I collect a lot of music NFTs from artists that just want to make beats, and I absolutely love that. But I think there are a select demographic of artists, let’s call out Kanye, Jay Z, etc. These artists that have built something bigger than themselves, that show that they’re capable of doing something beyond the music itself, I think the music becomes like the bedrock of what all this is around.
But for artists that are building these brands and doing things that are bigger than them, having formal structures in place that you can bring on partners, and long term investors, having it so that if your manager works for you for 10 years, then they get fired, they just lose their income stream now, because there’s no agreement in place such that they can have like early ownership, you know, there’s very small things in the way that the music industry is designed, where if I was your manager for the first four years of your career, and you became a superstar, and you now need a bigger manager, and you fire me, I don’t think that’s fair that that early person who worked in the first four years has no exposure to the project anymore. No, I think that equity and options pool exist such that if you created value for something early on its lifecycle, you got to own that, you know, and that doesn’t mean it’s just given to you on a silver platter on day one, here’s 5% of my company. But these all works with tech startups, you know, you get an options plan over the course of 2, 3, 4 years. If you stick with that company for four years, you fully invest, and you can go do whatever you want. But I don’t think that those models really exist with relation to music right now. And so, I’m hoping that these structures can be very early examples and the way that that might work.
The Value Of Ownership
Let’s also not forget that majority of creators don’t understand the value of ownership. The jobs that they typically work to support the creative endeavors, pays him by the hour, or it’s probably by salary. Tech culture is like the only sort of culture that’s propagated that allows people to get ownership, a stake in the time that they commit to creating value, right. And I think for a lot of creators entering web three, it’s a very new concept, like this whole idea of owning something, let alone digitally, like what does that mean, in the grand scheme of things? I don’t think we’ve sort of seen that proliferate in real time just yet, I think more and more creators understanding it. I think some of that you did back in the day where, I think you tweeted, like, I’m only working for ownership, like you had this entire campaign that you sort of like pushed out or like you had this mirror post, blah, blah, blah, sort of explain the value of ownership and what that means. I think that’s sort of like dented a little bit. But there’s a lot more homework, a lot more work for all of us to do to sort of understand and educate creators what it means to work for ownership. But what that means in the grand scheme of things, how do we get there? How do we teach more creators about the value of ownership, either on a playful level on a forceful level? Like, what does that really look like from your point of view?
Cooper Turley: It’s a really great question. I wish I had one, you know, succinct answer for that. Just to quickly highlight that blog post was called full time, Dallas, and thank you for highlighting that because the thesis of it was basically, I don’t want to get paid dollars, I want to get paid and ownership. So, I want to take payment and equity and tokens, whatever that might look like. And my thesis was that no salary is ever going to amount to the amount of value you’re gonna get from having ownership and things that work out really well in the future. And so, what that looks like tangibly today, I think we owe it to a lot of the early platforms and protocols that exist to be able to allow their creators to have ownership stakes and what they’re building. You know, it’s a conscious decision to say like, hey, at some point in time, we will launch a token and do an Airdrop to our early artists or give some tokens to collectors. I think we owe it a lot to the early artists in the space that are being very forward thinking how they share their brand. You know, I’ve talked to a lot of creators here in LA that don’t really know what a cap table is, they don’t really know the concept of equity, they get really scared about giving anything to anyone because they’ve just been treated poorly for so long. What you start to recognize is that when you have a collective pie, you are being the only owner of that collective pie isn’t important. If it’s not a valuable thing in the first place, you know, like to make it more valuable, you need to bring more people into the picture. And the only way to get them fully bought in is to actually give them part of that pie in the first place.
And so, what I think this looks like is very slowly introducing models where, hey, if you’re a manager taking a 15% commission, maybe you take a 5% commission, and instead you take a base, and then a small amount of equity. Or if you’re an artist that has a superfan showing up to your discord every day, maybe you give them $5,000 a month and a little bit of equity to start working on your brand. If you’re a platform that’s doing your next venture round, instead of only raising from VCs, going out and saying, hey, I want to bring this artist on board and give them a 10k Angel allocation in this company. There’re very small things that happened like in isolation, but I think making this culture around investing and financial literacy and sort of the mentality around like wealth creation, it gets very dystopian and actually get a lot of pushbacks on this because people think I just want to make money. But it’s actually, I don’t really care about that that much. I just care more about like creators being free to pursue their craft and having like, their value actually owned by them. But I would say yeah, like in isolation, I would say, just figure out new ways to give ownership back to the people that are supporting you and figure out ways to capture ownership from the different platforms that you’re giving value to yourself.
What is the Average Size Check Artist’s Will Be Getting?
Yeah, I think it’s also like, the point is, you don’t know what you don’t know. And until maybe you eat enough shit, it’s like, alright, there must be another way. And maybe it doesn’t have to be that way either. But I think with the model that you’re introducing; it’s actually making investing cool. In my opinion, like, it’s like you’re betting on culture, like that’s what it comes down to, right? And I want to highlight like this next point, and sort of talk about the average check size that artists are going to be getting. And with that check, what does the post value check look like? Post check value. Excuse me, that’s the term. What does that look like after you invest?
Cooper Turley: Yeah, so um, who’s going to be a very, very select few artists who are actually being invested in from the fund. So again, I want to caveat this, I’m not invested in a ton of artists, I’m not doing super small checks into a lot of artists, the ideal investment for Coop records is a 250k check. And so that’s typically me taking either a co-lead or a lead position in a very early round, let’s say that someone’s raising anywhere from 500k to a million dollars, anywhere from a 5 to 10 mil post money valuation, Coop records is coming in is sort of the anchor of that, we’re giving you 250k. And we’re acting as a long term partner to help think through your web three strategy, to think about how you’re setting up your corporation, to structure all your companies in such a way that it feels very synergistic, to help you hire your early employees, create a cap table, do all the things that are very, you know, common with tech companies that I just don’t think I’ve ever really been tried to be done with artists before, if they have in very small iterations. And I’m doing that with a very, very select few artists for this first one, I’m hoping that if it does go well, and we can talk about what that looks like, there’ll be opportunities to raise other vehicles that are entirely allocated to this type of work. But for right now, it’s just going to be working with a very select few artists to help, just try it out and see if it really works. And you know, really applaud the people that are taking the initiative to try this today.
How Are You Measuring Success For an Artist?
So, what does success actually look like? Let’s talk about that. How are you measuring success?
Cooper Turley: Success is twofold. I’d say one, are you able to create a community of fans who constantly support you and everything that you do? You know, like, do you have an artist project that’s reputable becomes a household name, are you playing shows that you’re selling out stadiums, etc? The obvious stuff. Like what does success look like in eyes of being an artist today? I don’t think I need to explain that very much. But more from like an investment perspective. Are you able to raise future rounds at a higher valuation? Are you able to bring people in who weren’t there from the beginning to understand why owning a piece of your company is valuable? Are you able to launch a token and give that back to your collectors? Now, if I had to extremely oversimplify this, I would say that the success metric looks like 100 axing and artists, you know, basically like investing in the early stage of their development, you know, giving them capital at their earliest form, they then launch a token, and that token ends up performing extremely well for early investors, for collectors, for fans, I as a fan of an artist can just go buy $5 worth of my favorite creator, I never have to worry about buying a music NFT, there’s a very easy way for me to participate in these artists economies. And I think that over a long enough time horizon across a lot of creators, I think that that opens up a really exciting new playing field and that’s kind of what I’m hoping to be doing with this fund is helping to create those early examples of that chapter.
Yeah, I think something that’s also interesting about your journey Coop is, you’ve always very much focused on building your own personal brand, but you always part take in other communities. Why do this independently versus joining forces with an existing group that already has capital and just contributing additional value to that? Like, why branch off and do your own thing?
Cooper Turley: It’s a really good question. And you know, to be honest with you, I was definitely a bit a little bit hesitant to do it in this way, at first, for that exact reason. You know, I think like going off in an island can be like, kind of scary and like a little bit isolating. But to be frank, I don’t think there’s many people as much conviction in web three music as I do, you know, I could probably name on one hand, the amount of people that are willing to write 250k checks into like early music companies. This is my identity in my life. You know, if you’ve spent time with me here in LA, all I do is focus on music. It’s all I talk about. I don’t think there’s many other companies in the space that are designed to zoom in this deeply on this one specific pocket and sector. I think it’s really important for people to see that I’m not just like, talking the game or like just tweeting music, NFTs with nothing behind it. Like this is very serious for me, like this is literally my life’s work. And I think that this is the first way to highlight that I don’t need a crutch or to lean off someone else’s reputation or prior success to sort of make this successful. Like I want to take the risk of running it myself. And if it fails, it fails. But if it does, well, I think that it’s going to be difficult to attribute that to anyone else outside of myself.
Comparing Coop Records to a Traditional Record Label
Yeah. Let’s also talk about comparing Coop records to a traditional record label. Okay, well, I think like 85% is going to be spent on investing in like founders’ protocols, projects, there’s still a percentage is going to be invested in artists. What makes you different than a record label?
Cooper Turley: It’s a really good question. I wrote a post called web three labels; I would highly recommend that you read it, if you haven’t already. Basically, when an artist answers into a label agreement, they are selling the rights to their future songs. And so, they’re selling three projects, let’s call it three albums, they’re taking an advance against that, and they’re selling 80% of the rights to it, that advances recoupable, which means that the label has to make back their money first before the artists gets paid. The difference here is that Coop records is not buying masters, we are buying equity, that has a claim on those masters. The difference is that these investments are not recoupable, which means that we don’t get paid out before the artist gets paid out. We are partners, which means that we’re all making money collectively. And in fact, there’s not an expectation of dividends being issued. Because when you run an early company, you recognize that giving dollars back to investors is not the most productive way to spend that money, it’s actually more valuable to hire more people and build additional staff and product around you. And then stated plainly, we work with a lot less artists, you know, like most labels are working with anywhere from 10 to 50 artists at a time, you know, I would expect Coop records as a vehicle to be investing in roughly four to five artists out of this first fund. And so, we’re going to be taking a lot more convicted vets and working a lot more closely with those partners, we’re going to do things very unconventionally, but I think for now, those that are willing to take the journey and take the ride. I’m very excited about what this has to offer.
And I’m excited for you. I think this is going to be really, really exciting. And I wouldn’t be surprised if you see more, more record labels sort of pursue a model like this as well. And maybe there’s already some. Well, I know there are some already like pursuing like buying web three assets as a way to like experiment, right? But nobody’s really doing it publicly yet. Everybody’s just being super hush hush about it, because they don’t want to make a mistake, right? They don’t want to like to seem like they were wrong about a bet. But you’re like, you’re going balls deep, like you’re going all out. Like I raise 10 million bucks. Like this is what I’m doing. This is what we’re about. And I think that says that says a lot.
Cooper Turley: I want to add to that last point.
Yeah, please, please.
Cooper Turley: I also want to highlight some of the things that Coop records does not offer that labels do. Because I think it’s important to recognize that like, Coop records isn’t this shiny new thing that’s perfect and record labels suck like, you know, burn them out of the ground. It’s me, I’m an individual, I don’t know how to break your song on Spotify, I’m probably not going to get you on editorial playlists, I’m probably not going to book you for a headline tour. I could name like 5 or 10. Other things that I’m not able to do that a record label can definitely help out with. But I’d say like, the biggest thing to highlight here is that most artists today look to labels as a bank, you know, like they want an advance. They basically want money to make records, we can provide that they need resources. And while we can’t directly place those resources every time, you know, I think that the network I’ve developed is strong enough that we can start to think through, who are people that are going to be willing to work for you full time? And I’m optimistic that there’s a world where Coop records invest in artists who then signs a major label deal. I don’t think that these are mutually exclusive. But what I want to highlight is that these entities will represent the artists share of proceeds and whatever they work on. And so, if an artist signs a major label deal, and they own 20% of the records, that means that the entity owns 20% of those records, but it doesn’t mean that they can’t enter a label deal. And what I think is exciting here is that when you do go to the table to negotiate with a major, it’s no longer saying hey, I need a million dollars to make records. You can say hey, I have this money tucked away from my partners that back me in the past. I need resources, I need to get on playlists, I need to get on radio. I need you to get me pressed and find a talent agent, whatever it might be. And if you’re able to come to the table with very specific ask and not really need to rely on the capital. I think that these deals can be structured a little bit more favorably. And I’m excited to welcome a world where Coop records is working with an artist that’s also signed to a major label.
Okay, interesting. So, do you plan to hire people yourself under coop records? Or is it just gonna be like a solopreneur kind of endeavor?
Cooper Turley: Yeah, definitely plan to hire out, I want to give a shout out to my assistant, Robert, who’s been running all the backend operations on the fund, he’s been doing a phenomenal job. That’s the first hire that I’ve ever made personally, some of the things that I’m excited to bring on-board would-be development talent to help resource all the early portfolio companies, we have analysts to be able to scout out new projects and new investment opportunities, A&R to be able to find new artists to invest in and new songs to be able to take ownership stakes. And so, it’s very early, you know, a $10 million fund is not structured in such a way that I can hire a big team around me, but you know, myself at the center of this, basically scouting deals, some people on the back end to help make sure that everything’s functioning properly. And then some residual pieces around that to help really add value to portfolio companies. I think it makes for a pretty compelling narrative.
What is the Current State of Web3 Music?
Yeah. Coop, what would you say is the current state of web three music? Where are we today?
Cooper Turley: Misunderstood. That’d be my reaction there.
Okay. Yeah, elaborate, what does that mean?
Cooper Turley: I’d say that most people think that there’s like some really crazy weird casino game happening over here that only applies like five random artists. But what do you do, man? What’s really supporting emerging artists trying to take a new path with their music. I don’t think that it’s well suited for major artists yet. I think that most of the artists playing with web three music are emerging artists who haven’t really had a chance to succeed on a platform like Spotify before. I think that there’s a lot of early players, that’s a little bit overwhelming. You know, my music NFT landscape graphic, there’s probably close to 100 companies and from someone on the outside that doesn’t like music or understand what’s going on. You look at 1000 companies on a page and you start to think, Okay, this is like a Cardano map, where it’s like, who knows what’s happening here. But like, when you zoom in under the hood there, I think when you come out to these community events, you start to really feel the culture of it. You know, what’s happening, answer your question directly is there’s a very select handful of artists that are really leaning into this new chapter of music. Now, they’re really focusing on building relationships with their collectors, which may be fans but don’t have to be fans think that’s very important. And I think they’re thinking through new models on how to build their artists projects, and basically connect, you know, the lane that they have on Spotify and touring with this entirely new ecosystem that is web three music.
The General Playbook For a New Artist Coming Into the Space Today
So now that we’ve seen like, thousands, we can confidently say now thousands of artists in web three music, what tends to be the playbook, the standard, the general playbook? Of course, everybody does their own thing, uniquely experiments, whatever. But what tends to be the general playbook as a new artist coming into the space now that we have more experienced than we had in February, when we recorded that one episode,
Cooper Turley: love that. If you’re an artist getting started today that has no prior connections, you basically go and you sell music NFT on Zora, you know, you release 10, 15, 20 copies of that either for free or for a very cheap price, you’re able to prove that you can get some collectors in the door, you do that once or twice, and then you’re able to release on hopefully a curated platform like catalog or sound where it has a little bit more credibility behind it, you do this for maybe three to five songs, we are selling anywhere from 25 to 50 editions, being consistent with it getting a little bit of buzz. And when you put out songs on Spotify, the day before you dropped them, you’re actually selling collectible versions as music, NFT’s. And so, there’s this very clear relationship between my artist project and what people are seeing publicly and what’s happening in web three. And then it starts to kind of leapfrog, which is interesting, where there’s more songs that are released in web three that are currently out on Spotify. And so, you almost have this reverse incentive, or artists have an album that was released as music NFTs, that’s going to be released on Spotify in a month from now. And at that point in time, once you have a couple of wins under your belt, you start to get a little bit experimental. You go okay, what is my artist site look like? What is artists dot XYZ look like? What does it look like for me to do more than one song? What does it look like for me to do more than just sell a song with the cover art and instead start to introduce some different rarity traits? What does it look like for me to have a collector group across all my collections on telegram or discord? And then if you zoom out far enough, you start to introduce things like what does it look like for me to hire developer? What does it look like for me to hire a community manager? You know, a lot of what we were alluding to earlier, but that’s where we’re at. I don’t think many people have gotten like further along that but hopefully this leads to like a full-fledged sustainable artists ecosystem.
And then you believe the artists seed rounds is where we’re going?
Cooper Turley: Correct.
Thoughts on Free NFTs
Okay, so I want to double down for a second on the free NFT stuff because I’m a big fan of free NFTs, I’m very vocal about them. I’m so happy that I’m seeing more artists sort of issue free NFTs as a top-level funnel to build like a wide net of collectors. So, then kind of like create more unique experiences. What are your thoughts on the whole free NFT movement? I know in the beginning we were selling music NFTs for point one Eth, point five Eth now they’re like the new point one is like point 05, right? So far. Yeah, thank you, sir. Thank you. Thank you. And now we’re seeing free NFTs. I love it. I’m a big, big fan. What do you make of all this noise of all this experimentation?
Cooper Turley: I completely agree with you. I think that if you’re just getting started, getting people to collect your work is more important than how much you raise off of selling that work. And so, if you’re able to go and release some music NFT for free and get 50 people to buy it, it’s a lot harder than you think, you know, just getting people to press that button and actually buy the free NF T is a lot more challenging than it might seem. To your point, I think just kind of getting familiar with minting, getting familiar with people like collecting these things, hopefully encouraging people to have a secondary market because you’ve released it in such a way that there’s excess demand. One mistake that I see people make a lot early on as they try and overcomplicate it, you know, they they’re trying shoot for the stars and do 1000 music NFTs they try, and do you know 20 different songs that have some small variation with them. They try and like do this giant six-month project that either is going to like flop or fail on Friday at two PST. And what I’d say now is like if you’re getting started, when people uploaded to SoundCloud in 2013, they didn’t upload like expecting there to be a sell out in the first day they didn’t upload expecting you to get like major repost right away, there was a very free culture around like music discovery and curation, I think that’s where we’re starting to get back to with web three is like maybe instead of scheduling a six month release strategy on Spotify, just upload a song every Friday, and then sell 25 music NFTs for free, and see what happens. And like that sounds really scary to people, because every manager in the game would tell you not to do that because it goes against the status quo. But I’m collecting free music NFTs all the time, you know, like I’m looking at these jobs every week, I think that I’m one of many collectors that are like actively seeking out new and emerging talent. And I think there’s actually something to be said for not scheduling your drops, you know, and instead just kind of uploading it in real time and seeing who’s paying attention. And the absence of you marketing it, you really start to figure out like, who’s here to support me when I’m not posting a big campaign around it. And I think that that’s how you start to build really deep relationships with facts.
So, talking more on the free NFT stuff. Also just talking about building an audience, a music audience and web three, how is that different than sort of building a listenership? or building a bunch of listeners in web two? Like, is the value the same? Is it different? How do you sort of see those two models?
Cooper Turley: I think that they’re two very different things right now. And I think it’s important to highlight that because everyone always says, how do we get fans to buy music NFTs? And well, I think that might happen. I want to highlight that that’s not required for music NFTs to be successful. You know, the current demographic of collectors or music fans, for sure, like most of the people that you go to the sound leaderboards of collectors, and you look at the top 20 profiles, all those people love music, but I would say more so than them like worrying about getting new music or getting like VIP tickets to shows or something. They just want to kind of feel more involved in that process. And so, what that looks like is simply putting people into a telegram chat and having ton of your collectors like say GM to one another saying, hey, guys, I have a draft coming out on sound next week, should I do 50 or 75 editions? And what price should I do with that? Part of having Adam Levy come in and say use my new tool bellow to price your drops. Allow me to release. But yeah, I’d say like broadly, collectors are not, you know, like your average fan. They’re much more sophisticated, in most case scenarios, you know, like, they’re aware of the fact that this is a new emerging medium, we’re not expecting you to get a million streams on Spotify, they’re not expecting you to have like a 10x return over one day. They’re like advanced patrons and a lot of ways right now, where they’re like recognizing that you’re leaning into something early. They applaud you for being consistent. They’re excited when you give back more than just like selling NFT. But I don’t think it’s required. You know, I think like the whole PFP roadmap game really like set us back because there’s this whole, like, expectation of a 6-to-12-month roadmap, but I don’t expect that from artists, you know what I mean? Like, I’ll talk to them when they’re putting out their next song and like help them move along the playbook. But I’m not expecting you to have your next two years figured out, you know, and especially when you’re selling these in batches of 25 or 50, like I said, the simplest thing that I’m hoping for from any artists, if you’re putting out a song on Spotify on Friday, salsa music NFTs on Thursday, there’s NFTs gonna have no ownership they can have no access, they can have no utility, no t-shirts, no VIP tickets, no discord group, whatever it might be. If you do that, at the very, very least, I’m going to be very excited about that. And I think once we have that as sort of the standard playbook, which we don’t currently, then you start to see really exciting games around curation, around discovery around blog culture reemerging because at that point in time, then there’s now opportunities for you to be active and the discovery experience. And I think that we’ve gotten really far away from that and music, and I’m really excited to see that start to make its way back. Thanks to web three.
Can we talk about one of my favorite examples recently? A whole lot of nothing by DlG featuring. I’m going to butcher his last name of Peter Saputo; did I pronounce that correctly? Right. Okay. First of all, fire track, amazing track, released it first in web three, then in web two, and then it got editorial placement on Spotify. And you know, it’s funny, it’s like slow like, they took it really slowly. It didn’t sell out instantly. But I feel like as soon as they kind of went public that the editorial feature made it and then sold out. Like I don’t know why I thought like the timing was just like on par. And I think that’s super cool. Like, I was able to sort of like collect that, like there’s this meme in the music NFT community where it’s like, they don’t know, I own this song, you know that, that I own the version of the song. And I think there’s just it’s something as a collector, it’s so interesting. It’s so fascinating, because I feel like I was a part of that journey. I feel like I have like, even though it was just a small contribution, for whatever reason, I feel a much closer, sentimental value. And I actually appreciate it so much more when an artist released a song in web three. And then they released in web two, it’s like us, we get like the first look, it’s like we’re the coolest bunch before the mainstream gets to see it. Are you thinking about it the same way? Or am I just like, in my own head here?
Cooper Turley: No, that was the first thing that really clicked for me with music NFTs you know, it was Mike Shinoda doing that on Zora and probably 2019, before he put out a song with EMDR. And like, he sold NFTs a week in advance, and then he put it out. And it was the top song of my release radar. And I immediately had this connection with it in a way that I’ve never had with music before. And that was before any of this stuff like before, catalog existed, before sound existed. And, you know, to your point, I think that that is what a lot of people are looking for. It’s just to have a deeper relationship with the song. I think what’s exciting is that over the next two years, most of the artists that are releasing today are kind of like in the middle of their career, you know, they’ve released a couple of songs on Spotify before, maybe it didn’t work out. Now they’re leaning more into web three, maybe I’m a bigger artist that has an existing song that I’m now tokenizing, I think where this gets really exciting is artists who have never released a song before releasing music, NFTs with their first song ever. And so, from the origin of their story, you have the ability to collect their first song and be involved from the very, very insights of their career. I think when that starts, which just takes time, you know, I’d say it’s gonna start to happen over the next two years, when more of those examples start to happen. That’s when I think this stuff is gonna get really, really serious.
Are some of the artists that you curated for the first cohort of the music NFT Launchpad, do they fall in that category?
Cooper Turley: Yes.
What is the Music NFT Launchpad?
Okay, cool. Can you talk more about the launchpad? What is it exactly? I know we talked about like the triangle of you being a collector, Coop capital and a launchpad. Focus on the launchpad really quick. What is that? Why should people care?
Cooper Turley: There’s a lot of artists that are excited about the idea of web three, but just don’t really have the proper guidance on how to get started. You know, these are artists that have incredible music, you know, they’ve heard me talk their ear off about getting in the space for a long time. But they just didn’t really know how, you know, frankly, there just wasn’t a playbook for them. What I found is, the best way to get started is to really just meet other people that are also getting started and having like a collective to be able to share ideas with and just talk through very basic questions. And so, this Launchpad was really a way just to highlight emerging artists, people new to the space now underrepresented creators that might not be on a platform like cataloger sound yet, but that have the talent and potential to get there one day, and then taking them through a very simple four-week course, that’s saying, hey, here’s how you set up with meta mask. Here’s what gases, here’s how you set up your ENS name. Here’s some people to follow on Twitter, here’s some etiquette around why you shouldn’t use hashtags. Here’s some different players to keep an eye on. And here’s some different artists to go and support. And when you give someone those resources, obviously can’t do any work for them. But I think it increases their likelihood of success. I think it brings them in in a way that feels a lot more, you know, connected. And it feels like you have more of a purpose in the space. And I want to really give a shout out here to seed club because seed club was a very early inspiration for this, you know, the way that seed club brings in different web three projects to space, the way that they spend time with their founders help connect them to other founders and talk through different strategies. I went through one of those early programs as a mentor. And I was like, this is fantastic. You know, I think that every industry could benefit from this. I don’t think that we’ve done the best job of doing that with web three music yet. But you know, now that we have these different programs like the launchpad, the program that Hi Fi Labs is doing, what Nifty socks is doing, what a number of other artists people are doing, there’s going to be easier ways to get involved. And I think that the people that are willing to put in the time and effort to learning the space, when they want to get started with web three, hopefully have more resources than what already existed today.
What Does the Curriculum Look Like For New Artists Joining the Cohort?
What does the curriculum specifically look like for new artists joining the cohort? How do you guys’ sort of break down the scary keywords, is the first thing that you do like open up a meta mask, you send them their first Eth, like go collect something or go mint something? Or do you approach it more thoughtfully and strategically? How do you sort of approach it?
Cooper Turley: No, it was open your Metamask, let me send you Eth instead of going to click something go and set up your ENS domain. That was the homework assignment for week one, actually.
Oh, okay. Cool. Yeah, interesting.
Cooper Turley: And so, we’ll start with the basics, we start with understanding like how does all this stuff work under the hood? You know, like what is gas? What is transaction nonce? What is ENS domain? What’s the difference between Ethereum and Solana? Very basic questions like that. This week, we’re planning on getting more into like the music NFT Launchpad so just or the landscape, excuse me, so like, who are the different players that are on the table? What’s the difference between a marketplace versus a collector Dao versus you know, a social club, etc, etc. Then we get into some more of the nuance on like do’s and don’ts so like, hey, if I want to go and apply to be part of these communities, like what are some ones that I should start tapping into, you know, what is the song camp heartbeat called? What streams never die called? What is the music? What are the differences between these? And then the last week it’s just sort of like Let’s go on into music NFT. And so, when you do that, what are the questions that you ask yourself? How do I price this? Where do I release it? Who do I talk to in advance? How do I actually market this properly. And then I think the connective tissue of all that, again, it’s a four-week program. But we’re talking in the telegram every day leading up to that, I’m making time to go and meet with these artists outside of the one-on-one courses we’re doing, the weekly courses, excuse me, and I don’t know, by the end of it, I’m hopeful that all those artists will be able to mint their first music NFT. I’m hopeful that that will happen across different platforms. You know, today, we just got announced as one of the first curators on catalog for their new curation campaign, which I’m very excited about. And I’m hoping we can just give these creators a chance to shine in a way that they wouldn’t have been able to without the launchpad. And then from there, you know, use that framework to hopefully inspire many future cohorts to come.
How Did You Curate the First Cohort?
Interesting. How did you sort of put the first cohort together? I know you have a curation board, but it had to start with you like, I’m sure you sort of like you’re the, the engine behind the vehicle that sort of like organized everything. So, talk to me about putting together the curation board to then sort of picking the first cohort, that is what it is today.
Cooper Turley: Yeah, so I want to give a big shout out here to Charles Taylor, who’s one of the people that’s on the board with me, we were just talking through, like how to highlight underrepresented creators and ways for me to give back to the space that felt very, you know, like ethical and forward thinking, and, frankly, this cohort was the best way to do that, you know, I was thinking through like, how do I spotlight emerging creators? How do I show that I’m not just only tapping into the biggest artists on sound, and this design for a cohort really just came to fruition over the course of many months, you know, at that point in time, music NFTs were pretty early, just kind of sat on the back burner for a little bit. And then as I saw the space progressing, I was like, we need to do this launchpad, you know, like, there’s so many artists that want to get in the space now, you know, frankly, it’s kind of hard to get on to these new platforms unless you have an existing plug in. You know, as I do with most of my projects, I was like, let’s just go for it, you know, like put together a mirror post, like draft up some different curriculums where I got a bunch of feedback from different people in my network. Before I announced that I was very intentional to go to, everyone that’s on that board if you look at them, they’ve all either been really involved in different communities in web three or had like a very formative role in discovering emerging talent. And so, someone like Rio was the loners Dao, someone like CeCe who’s on the team at catalog and has been working actively with Zora topia and Charm, running a lot of her rehabilitation workshops and doing a lot of stuff on the ground in New Orleans. You know, Bihar, who’s super connected here in LA with a lot of different curators, Austin, who was formerly at Venice music, doing a fantastic job there, and just like very plugged into the space, you know, I wanted the board to really help me identify pockets that I wasn’t following myself. And then, you know, in total, we had probably, like 200 plus applications. And the way we did it was, every board member got broken up into a section where you reviewed, like, let’s call it roughly 30 to 40 artists, you got one pick who was kind of like your artists that you were willing to champion and say like, hey, like, I really think this person is gonna do well, I’m gonna vouch for them and put my reputation on it. And then we all basically aggregated some quote unquote, honorable mentions. And then we just voted, you know, everyone got three stars, everyone put those three stars next to the artists that they thought would be a good fit for the program. And then in total, we ended up with, it ended up being 12 artists instead of 10. But 12 artists for the first batch, and I think that that process was really good, because it wasn’t just me, it was kind of the collective whole of everyone. And I think through that we ended up with a really amazing, you know, rounded out lineup of the first cohort.
Yeah, I think the next component to this is, this week in music NFTs. So actually, the triangle is now diamond. From, from our visualizing this. So, you started this week in music NFTs not too long ago, you already racked up a few 1000 subscribers, high open rates, it sort of picks up on your defi days, which you mentioned earlier, but how does that sort of play into everything that you’re doing?
Cooper Turley: It’s a free resource, you know, like, I can’t tweet enough about everything that I’m seeing, I can’t like talk to enough people on a given day, what I can do is spend a couple hours on a weekend rounding up everything I saw from the past week and giving it away to people for free. And so, if there’s someone getting into the space that wants to get started, but I might not be free or available to sit down with them, I can send them the newsletter and say, hey, take 10 minutes a week and read this. And if you read this for four weeks in a row, and then you’re going to start to get a pretty clear picture for what’s going on here. You know, as I alluded to earlier, this week in defi, was extremely transformative in my early career, I learned so much from it, I was able to connect with so many new people, it was a huge, huge role in the way that I developed my own personal career. And so being able to use it as a way just to kind of shine a light on the space more broadly. You know, it’s not about any one individual platform. It’s not about any one individual artist, it’s the collective whole of it and this is just me.
So, this is just my point of view. You know, people will roast me and be like, oh, you never talked about us. You don’t care about the community. I’m like, it’s just me out here. You know what I mean? Like, I promise you, I’ll try to do what I can, but you know, I think tying it all back to coop records when you think about the way that I want to work with companies. I’m a very big believer in value added investors. You know, I’m a very big believer that investors should be on the ground floors with their projects and with their communities. You know, me and my friend Brett we through an event called the music NFT movement, and NFT NYC, spotlighted five emerging artists in the space through a great event together, completely free, the newsletters completely free. You know, when I work with founders, I want them to see that I’m not just talking the game, you know, I’m not saying that I’m not here collecting, and I’m not or I’m not saying that I’m like, tapping in with people behind the scenes and it’s hard to see it’s like, no, like, you want to see the work that I do for the community, go and read the newsletter, you know, like, go and look at the launch track, go come to one of our music nit movement events. And I think that ability to really highlight that this community participation is very serious and active, I get a ton of enjoyment out of I think that it helps a lot of people out. And so, I’m gonna be doing it for a long time to come.
I think when you texted me, when you were starting it, you’re like, This is gonna be the biggest publication on mirror one day. I’m excited to see that. And I started collecting yours as well. So hopefully they play some value capture in that at some point.
Cooper Turley: Not many people know that you can collect them on a mirror, to be honest with you.
What’s Next For Cooper?
Yeah. Bunch of alpha, bunch of alpha, a bunch of alpha. Okay. The next thing that I want to talk to you about coop is coop records is out 10 million bucks, doubling down on some investments, investing in new projects, betting on your beliefs. What’s next, like, what’s next for you, as someone, a character on Twitter, as a collector across all these sound platforms, or these music platforms? As someone who’s investing? What’s next for you? Like, what can we expect?
Cooper Turley: Just taking more consistent shots on goals, you know, like supporting early companies, I think you’re gonna start to see a couple rounds announced that I’m participating in as the fund, a couple of new projects springing up that I think are very exciting, you know, new mechanisms for doing drops together. So other jobs that I’m being active on as a project manager, artist seed rounds, as we alluded to earlier, so announcing a couple of those, and really just creating more of like a mesh around like this movement as a whole, you know, what’s gonna change my Twitter, not much, frankly, I mean, I’m still probably gonna tweet music NFTs every week, so we’re gonna, you know, piss people off, because it’s all that I talked about. But frankly, man, I’ve never been in like a more peaceful state, like with like, how I’ve kind of structured my life, you know, like, I love music. And I’ve loved it for such a long time. Like, I always live this double life. And I talked about this in some of our last episodes, but I like love music on the side, and then like use crypto to pay the bills. And I’ve somehow been lucky enough to kind of connect the two together, I’m well aware that there’s a very vibrant world of stuff happening in web three outside of just music, and I do my best to keep up with it. But the flip side of that is that I can kind of just be in this small little niche that not many people care about, just vibing out, collecting music NFTs. And it’s like, yeah, it’s this fun over here. Like, frankly, like, I don’t have to tell you this. But like, you know, you come spend sometimes at these events, you go to these concerts, you’re on the sound Twitter spaces and whatnot. Like, we’re having a good time. And so, I feel like in a very blessed state right now, you know, I’m super thankful for all the investors who took a chance on me to do something with this fund. I’m very thankful for the network I’ve developed here in LA, I’m extremely thankful for the web three network I’ve developed online. We’re super early. I’m 27. You know, I have a very long career ahead of me. And I’m excited to use this as the next vehicle to really help amplify this space as a whole.
Did you know what else we need to talk about? The whole Kobe debates. That guy has yet to come on. He publicly said, sure. He’s not answering DMS anymore. What’s up with that? I think it’s net positive overall, it’s more exposure. Haters are gonna hate and it’s just better publicity. But how do we get Kobe on? What’s the message Cooper?
Cooper Turley: I think we got Kobe on by doing more impressive work and showing that this is something more than just a meme. You know, I think that for someone of his stature and caliber, it’s not worth his time, frankly, to talk about this stuff yet. I think it’s like a fun thought piece. But he’s got bigger things, bigger fish to fry, let’s call it and I think the reality is that him coming on this podcast was a lot more for us than it does for him. Like I said, in text with you and David, I am hopeful that this happens. But realistically, I’m not expecting it anytime soon. And frankly, for most people that are on Twitter, music NFTs are a joke. You know, like, no one cares about them. No one’s paying attention, whatever all the people say. But we’re having fun in our little pocket over here. You know, if you want to come and learn more about it, I think it goes deeper than just buying all kinds of songs. But you know, it’s across the board. And I’m excited to hopefully use this fund as another way to share this is a very serious space worth paying attention to.
Coop, before I let you go, what am I missing over here? What do we need to talk about? What did I not highlight about Coop records? Tell me like what are we missing here?
Cooper Turley: I think you’ve covered basically everything I could think of, the one section that I’ll talk about a little bit just quickly is that many artists relation with web three, if you’re an established artist is either you just buying JPEGs for fun and just flipping it for profit. It’s maybe you are doing like a drop once or twice here and there and not really fully leaning into it. I’m hoping this fund can be a vehicle to like really allow artists to think more thoroughly about investing. You know, like, let’s take the other side of this. Let’s say that you’ve actually done really well for yourself as an artist, you know, you’re selling out stadiums, you have a number one hit on Spotify. Allocating money to different investment opportunities is super important. And I think that a lot of the times investing just becomes not very fun because you talk about like getting savings rates or like a PRs that are just like fixed rate returns and whatnot. And that’s all great. Don’t get me wrong, but I think that investing culture is extremely exciting. And so, one thing that I’m really stoked on is just bringing in a couple high profile artists who have done well for themselves, you know, like educating them on the culture around investing, sharing investment opportunities, bringing them into early seed rounds. I’m really excited for different artists to start thinking more deeply about how they’re managing their capital. And I think on the flip side of doing an artist seed round, artists becoming investors themselves is also extremely exciting. And one thing that I think Coop records is going to do is show that there’s opportunities for artists of all shapes and sizes and we’re here happy to help out however we can’t.
I love it dude, before I let you go Coop, where can we find you? Where can we tune in? Show it away.
Cooper Turley: Best place to stay up with me would be at our newly launched website which is live at the time of this podcast going live, Cube records dot XYZ, you can follow me on Twitter at Coopa Troopa. This week in music NFTs is the name of the newsletter and then yeah, just keep an eye out for more announcements coming from my personal account. You know, I don’t know whether or not there’ll be a Coop records Twitter account for the time that this is live but I’m just me at the end of the day, so I’m excited to see what happens.
Amazing, dude, congratulations, and we’ll have to do this again soon.
Cooper Turley: Cheers, man. Appreciate you always.
Mint Season 6 episode 9 welcomes Natalia Murillo aka Nati, who’s the founder of Koop, a new home for communities to become more personal and collaborative. In this episode, we discuss Koop’s product vision, Nati’s plan for turning consumers into contributors, on-chain data, her vision for a new social media, the evolution of creator governance, and so much more.
00:10 – Intro
07:22 – Getting Started in Web3
10:18 – Lessons Learned for New Creators Joining Web3
12:11 – What is Koop?
20:25 – How Scalable is Centering Access Around Money?
27:10 – Why are NFTs The Perfect Medium For Membership-Based Communities?
30:06 – How Have You Seen Creator Governance Evolve?
33:30 – What Does It Take for More Web2 Creators to Enter Web3?
36:00 – The Current State of the Web3 Creator Economy
39:56 – What Will Social Media Look Like in Web3?
42:04 – Where Community Governance and Social Overlap
48:58 – Outro
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Natty Welcome to mint. Thank you for being on a part of season six. So, what’s going on? How are you feeling?
Natalia Murillo: Yes, I’m good. Thank you for having me on. Excited to chat a little more today.
I’m excited to have you on, you’re doing really cool stuff at Koop. You’ve been working on great projects with like a lot of mainstream creators that we’ll get into soon. But I think a good place to start is, who are you? Natty? What does the world need to know about you? But more specifically, how did you get your start into crypto?
Natalia Murillo: Yes, definitely. So, I got started in crypto about three, four years ago now, I was a student at USC, I actually met you were in the first people who was rubbing crypto at USC and got introduced to a class, I had a professor who is taught me about zero knowledge proof. So, one of my math professor’s kind of kept sparking that curiosity inside me. And then when COVID hit, I went full time in crypto, I started investing in NFTs, contributing to communities. And that really led me to where I am today with Koop, which is a company I started about a year ago.
So, can you talk more about the crypto scene on campus? I talk a lot about it. But I feel like I’m a little bit bias. What would you say, crypto scene at USC was like?
Natalia Murillo: Definitely, I think it’s unique to every person. So maybe we had different experiences. But I would say it was pretty desolate, being a 2018. So, when I came to campus, around that time, you were one of the few people talking about it. There were a couple of people investing in it. But in terms of building core infrastructure, there weren’t a lot of builders around campus. I was at a lava Lab, which is a student kind of startup organization and very web two products being built. But yeah, I would say pretty, pretty empty. Not a lot of conversation compared to today where I think there’s a ton of USC.
A ton of activity. Yeah, yeah. Shout out to the students that are actually doing it much better than I did and then we did. It’s really cool because back in like when I was doing it, I did the club on campus. And it was like 2017, 2018, 2019, like I transferred in as a junior. And there wasn’t a policy like there wasn’t really going on. I felt like I was trying to make some type of policy on campus, even though it was like struggling, but there were people we were doing like white paper roundtables. There was something but today, I see online like just following blockchain at USC, that they’re killing it, like much better than anyone at the time was sort of doing so props to them. What’s cool about your story, though, Natty is that you also dropped out from what I remember, right?
Natalia Murillo: Yeah.
Can you talk more about that?
Natalia Murillo: Yeah, definitely. To be very honest, I didn’t always love USC. I didn’t love college. I don’t think that it was a result of the university, I think I would have felt there in a lot of places. But I’m curious. I’m really curious person. So even when I’m not in classes, I would be online trying to study topics, trying to find out new things and kind of going down the rabbit hole as they say. And I felt like the traditional structure of school kind of slowed down that process. It’s very structured. It’s week by week, month by month, you take the test, and then you never apply the topic or dive deep into it again. And so, I never really felt fully like I fit in inside of school. And then once I found crypto and could make money to support myself on my own, it was pretty clear that I was going to take a hiatus and thankfully, I have parents who push back at first but came around to it.
Can you talk more about your parents backlash of you leaving, I feel like college is a very big thing in people’s families. And I know if I dropped out, my dad would have hung me. And I’m curious what sort of experience you went through.
Natalia Murillo: Definitely. So, my mom is from Argentina. My dad is from Colombia, and neither of them had the opportunity to go to college. They couldn’t afford it at the time. And so, me being the first in my family to go to college was a really, really, really big deal. And so I think it’s really just that, not even traditional values that many individuals in my family had gone to college before but the idea behind education really acting as a level of prestige, a level of acceptance. I think for immigrant families, it represents all of those things and I think I have the opportunity now building a company to bring that same type of sense of pride and belonging that many look for an education through making an impact by building something that people need.
Okay, but when you left USC, when we were talking behind the scenes, you actually joined a cool initiative. Right? Which is interesting because if you look today, you’re very like crypto native, but the initiative that you joined, they weren’t really doing like crypto native things right? You were telling me you join the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Right? And you got involved in the crypto scene over there. Walk me more through that. First of all, I’m sure like you dropping out and then going into the initiative was maybe like a better point for your parent’s sort of like seeing what you’re transitioning to, right? Talk to me more about that. And also, what you got involved with over there?
Natalia Murillo: Yeah, no, that is an awesome question. I actually forgot, I almost forgot about CCI.
Which I feel like it’s such a big part of your career.
Natalia Murillo: I scraped my whole LinkedIn, like, in my LinkedIn, I like to forget that I had a professional. But, you know, I worked at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, about two to three years after the fund was started to get rolling. So, they’re only about 7 to 10 individuals full time on the team, and I was their first intern, and then kind of worked in an analyst role there. And I got exposure to crypto through CCI as well. The biggest reasons why I wanted to work at CCI is because I think capital is one of the biggest ways to make an impact and actually see change, and CCI, many people claim to represent that value or instill that value. But CCI backs it through their money, where the Zuckerberg foundation takes an incredible amount of funds, millions each year and puts it behind, not only companies and venture funds, but also building out their incubating and building out their own products as well. So, it was through them. I actually was on the crypto initiative there. And so that was how I learned about crypto VCs and investing in tokens. And that kind of led me even deeper into exploring crypto.
So, what was the crypto pulse at CCI at the time? And what year was this?
Natalia Murillo: Yeah, this was 2019. And very early, they were just exploring the topic. I think that they were of the belief there’s no doubt that crypto plays a role in the future. And a lot of my role for that period of time was determining to what extent it plays a future and in what areas, but I learned a ton. I learned a ton from everybody on that team.
Getting Started in Web3
Okay, so dropped out of USC went to CCI, okay, did crypto research. And then you left CCI and joined web three more full time or what’s the transitional story into web three?
Natalia Murillo: Yes. So, I, right after I stopped CCI, I said to my parents, I need to take one year and learn everything possible about crypto from infrastructure to consumer, every single opportunity. I know that this is the future. And if I figure something out, how to support myself over that year, I’ll go back, I’ll still continue. If not, I’ll go back to school. So, I moved back home. I was in my parent’s basement. I know it’s like a meme on crypto Twitter living in your mom’s basement. But that was literally me. And I just spent every day reading white papers on CT and in discord. And I made an Al Anon. And I was just getting inside of communities, hey, how can I help out? What can I build? What are we doing? And I just tried to work my way up, I saw this huge opportunity to almost become this like protocol politician. And that was my goal for three months is how can I become core to these teams? How can I influence, how can I learn? And I did that for about three months. So maybe spent 16 hours a day online.
Natalia Murillo: Which is scary.
That’s crazy. Which I feel like is for a lot of us too like we live online. And I think what’s cool about your story is like your share willingness to just understand things and just go into it like knees deep, not knowing what you’re getting yourself to and just trying to find your place in the noise. What were some of the like, more contributor-based hats that you wore, while you were infiltrating these communities?
Natalia Murillo: Yeah, definitely. So, one of the first ones that I hopped into actually docs was juice box. So, Django is actually one of the first people I DM didn’t crypto, he’s the one of the founders that did juice box. And we were just going back and forth. I was trying to learn about how the protocol worked. And as time went on inside of the community, I would help manage their community calls. I would write articles, I would share ideas around how to manage the treasury, I would have the biggest role that I played inside of, one there is no set roll. It’s like whatever. It’s like a startup whatever’s on the floor you try to pick up but one of the most interesting things that I learned from Juicebox is how big narratives play into crypto. I think Juicebox is an incredible, maybe even groundbreaking experimentation and protocols and governance. And I would get on calls and I DM community, saying you need to launch a token through juice box, and they wouldn’t get it. But then the second that constitution now happened, juice box absolutely blew up and so, I think a lot of web three teams tend to over index on building and less so on distribution. And I think we’ve learned that through web two products, you know, a lot of product lead companies forget their go to market. And I think it’s equally as important for protocols to consider those things as well.
Lessons Learned for New Creators Joining Web3
So, what are some like the biggest insights or learning lessons you sort of took away, kind of like bumping around these communities, whether it be through Juicebox, other organizations that you sort of got involved with? And the reason that I asked, by the way, is because you are the one who possesses the mentality of like, I want to, I see this excitement, I want to try to find a way to get involved. A lot of people coming to the space, I feel like want to do something similar, but don’t know how to get started. And what you just prove to us that there’s no real way to get started, you just gotta get started. Like, you just got to dive in. Right? And by doing so, I feel like you’ve picked up so many things along the way. I’m curious, like, what were those lessons that you’ve learned?
Natalia Murillo: Yes, one, that was incredible advice, like you said it, just get started. And for me, whenever you’re getting started, like what makes you laugh? Like, I would hop in these calls, and I would be dying, laughing and sometimes I’d get on the voice. And this is when I was eating on. And they would hear my voice as a girl, they would be like, are you using a voice changing app? Who is this person? Like no, there are girls who exist. But so that’s one. But second biggest learning is that people participate inside of these digital worlds with more passion and fever ins than their local democracies. And even before crypto, I was a subscriber of the NELC boys of impulsive, and all that I can do is subscribe. It almost feels like paying taxes, I’m paying a tax and all that I get for that tax is commenting and buying a piece of merch. And so, I felt like there was a ton of improvement. And even you may even call it innovation to be made in terms of our role inside of these communities, and also how we participate in them because they’re literally our states, our unions, our networks.
What is Koop?
So, by you saying that it makes me think like, how did the internet get so boring? Like the way you just sort of put it like we are paying taxes when we subscribe to these Patron pages. Okay, there’s a level of excitement to it. But what’s missing? And I guess like web three is the missing puzzle piece. But from your point of view, and I guess it’s a great transition into Koop too, right? You’re sort of on a mission to kind of like, make the future of communities more personal and collaborative, right. Like, that’s what I understand from Koop, right. And you’ve worked with a variety of projects, either intimately or independently that sort of embody those principles now. You’re talking about paying a tax, right? But web three is now this new primitive of being able to build communities that are more incentive aligned. Is Koop trying to go after that market, like what is Koop doing in the grand scheme of things and how does it prevent like that tax paying experience?
Natalia Murillo: Yeah, definitely. I think less so I think there isn’t much changes to be made in terms of that initial entry into a community. It will always be, you need buy in, right? On Instagram. That means a follow-on YouTube. It means subscribe and crypto today, it means buying, minting midseason to pass, right? So, I don’t think that’s where we see change. I think we see change in terms of participatory mechanisms, which today are one to many, right? Even inside of Twitch, I’ll even go as far as to call it spam, there are spam across the Internet today. If I’m a Twitch streamer, how can I engage in a high touch way? I can implement TTS, which means that anybody in my can chat can donate. And then a robot says out loud what that person is saying. And then you have a human who’s collecting donations and ignoring that thousands of messages and spam. And so, our step one or our first goal is creating new mechanisms for participation inside of communities.
Wow. So that was actually a really good visual description of what happens if you look at a lot of the live streamers or the Twitch streamers. They have massive discord servers where and they like mirror the chat on their screen as they’re like doing these conversations. And it’s like it’s fast, like they’re going, they’re standing, they’re typing, but also there’s a level of excitement to that. And from what I understand Koop is trying to do the exact opposite. Like you guys are focusing on a more niche type of audience a non-fungible sort of membership NFT that gets you into a community that doesn’t have that level of scale. Am I getting it right?
Natalia Murillo: Yeah, definitely. So, discord, right? Twitch, Instagram today, they have fungible membership. So, there is no sense of self inside of the community, because you exist in the perspective of the creator. So, you are one of thousands, if you looked at Mr. Beast most recent video, it was kind of funny. It’s actually funny. I actually love Mr. Beast, not hating on him, but I am a little bit here. Everyone’s got a shirt. Everyone got a shirt, and, on the third’s, the goal was to win an island, right? If you participated in these three games, the winner at the end won this island. And everyone was wearing a red shirt with the number of subscribers that they were. So, you had 250 subscriber all the way to 96.4 million subscribers. And one of the competitions was his earliest subscriber could kick out 10 people out of the 20 in round three, and they were booted off the island. But that’s the only metric of support or loyalty that a creator has today. And if you look at like innovations and social the only example is tick tock and what has tick tock done? it shifted that perspective. But it’s still one to many, except that one is you, were it’s you in the centerfold, and you have a feed and now the feed is based on your interests, not on the thousands of creators that that you followed. But as you were hinting at, what do we believe the future is? it looks like non fungible membership, where you can actually create an identity and a space and that identity is portable, across social networks. So, I know that was a lot.
But let’s break it down. No, I think that’s a good start. Yeah, so a couple of things. So, I like the gamification example that you gave, because it actually gives a good sort of visualization of what an NFT can be used for, as a way to sort of kind of like earmark your participation early on in a creator’s journey, right? So instead of using the subscriber count, as a way to sort of measure certain access and rights to sort of maybe kick someone off an island, the NFT could kind of represent that. And it can be used in an interoperable way. So, you can create those experiences not just across YouTube, but across other platforms, as well across Twitch, across web three, Twitch web three Twitter, whatever the web three platforms and becoming that I get that right, that’s number one, right?
Natalia Murillo: Yeah, definitely.
Okay, so number two is sort of thinking about, but wait a minute, these systems actually work, why do we need to change them? They work but they don’t work, I guess in the grand scheme of things, but they still work. Like when we talk about the problem space of seeing all the chats flicker on the screen. When we talk about Mr. Beast just using the subscriber count of his early subscribers as a metric is sort of gamify and experience, these things still work in the grand scheme of things, right, like creators are still using these to cultivate experiences. Why are you betting on the fact that there actually needs to be a non-fungible version of that, where we need to create smaller, tighter knit communities?
Natalia Murillo: Yeah, I think that one thing that never changes is the competition for engagement. So, the web two today, every platform, whether it’s a new platform, why they able to grow so quickly, so early. Let’s say mint creates a new social network, it’s because their distribution channels aren’t flooded yet. So early individuals, online forecaster, forecaster, just by us being early there, we have the ability to grow probably to millions of followers that we could never do on Twitter today, solely for being early. In web three, that engagement metric becomes a liquidity metric. And so, every single token, whether it’s an NFT collection, or an ERC 20 is competing for liquidity. So, you’re no longer competing for engagement that is determined by outside players, you’re competing for liquidity and an open market. And so, in order to access that liquidity, I believe that you need strong backers, you need strong LPs, you need strong participants in that network. And to do so you can no longer play the game of let’s scale to one to 10 million, and Instagram will do that for you, you need to play the game of how can you scale from one to a thousand. And those one thousand will back you and grow your cultural relevance, as well as the stability of your treasury.
Interesting. So, it still feels like the creator still needs to take the initiative to create the initial group, right?
Natalia Murillo: Yes.
What about examples where fans make groups on behalf of creators, and like, for example, more like visual example is if you go on Facebook, and you look up Lady Gaga, I use this example on the podcast, you’ll see a bunch of Lady Gaga fan pages where the fans created these communities on behalf of Lady Gaga, Lady Gaga is not in there creating communities and managing these communities, right? So, I’m trying to think, where does that come into play in the web three cents, maybe with the rarity traits, right? Maybe Or where else could it come into play?
Natalia Murillo: Yeah, I think today that actually looks like a collector Dao. And today it’s hard to fork those collector Daos, right? Like I think what will be super powerful is that core collector Dao can act as a central source of liquidity. And then there can be spin off sub-Dao which actually represent the niche interests. So you can almost think of them like Reddit threads, where the core Reddit thread is Bitcoin but then you have Bitcoin maximalism, people fighting about the merch, shitting on Ethereum and then you have other people trying to turn BTC into the next app chain, and so I think that that’s the way that I think about collector Daos today, since we’re so early is, these are the early curators, they’re willing to back their money in time and to shifting and investing in culture. And soon it’ll be segmented and fragmented once we see enough volume and interest where my collector Dao will actually be the next Taylor Swift fan base.
How Scalable is Centering Access Around Money?
Interesting. How scalable is that? The concept of using money as a way for access, like it works today, without using money like all these communities, they live and exist without the incentives, the financial incentives. And I think it’s a question that doesn’t have an answer just yet. But I’m wondering like, what your take is on that?
Natalia Murillo: Yeah. So, I think that people like people are scarred from Defi. And also, human incentives and human nature rarely changes across history, when it comes to how we handle and interact with finances. But I would make the argument that people tend to over index on how financialized these NFT communities are. I’m a part of a ton of NFT projects that I expect zero rewards and profit from because when I buy it, it’s point one Eth or point 05 Eth. And I think a lot of these communities come together, and the way that I see it is I just bought equity in a company. I’m a seed stage investor, and I bought equity. And maybe I get exposure down the line. But because it’s my money, and I don’t have the dependencies of LPs, I see it Gary Vee has this really famous line where he actually found Logan Paul on Vine. And he said, I brought Logan Paul in, and I invested in one of his projects, not because I thought that one was going to blow up because you always bet on the jockey. And I want to form this closer relationship with the jockey. And I feel the same exact way about every brand. every community, every creator that I invest in, I’m not expecting upside, I’m expecting a closer relationship, as well as an opportunity. Literally a professional one to expand my opportunity set, whether that be in crypto, the music, space, etc.
I think that’s actually a fantastic way to answer that question. Because I take my collection like thesis, I don’t if you don’t want to call it a thesis. When I collect something, I usually bet on the person, right? I usually, I collect because I love what they stand for. I love how many times they like how consistently they show up in the space. And I know at some point, they’re going to just figure it out, right? And I want to be along that journey. So, but I also think that’s like an early adopter’s mindset. I don’t think everybody thinks like that. Because also in the grand scheme of things. And maybe like a counterpoint to this is like web three is only meant for a certain subset of people. But in the grand scheme of things, majority of people live like paycheck to paycheck, like they don’t have the additional expenditure to collect things the way we do, maybe we have the privilege to, so maybe web three is like a subsection for the creator economy or for fandom that allows us to get even closer with fans like they could still listen to music, right? But then there’s like an even subset of listeners that want to be even closer to the creator. They want to be engaging in these like non fungible communities. You think I’m on the right path over here? Do you feel something similar?
Natalia Murillo: Yeah, no, I do. I think long term just as an example, marketplace fees, any protocol fees trend towards zero. I think very similarly, around this concept of token gating, right or locked access. There is no freemium model for NFTs outside of CCO myths that we’ve seen today. And the long tail of even something like Koop looks like you can hop on a Twitch stream, right? A creator can still be making content, that’s their first form of interaction with the entire internet. And then through the chat, you can be collecting and earning some part of that creator share or just relevance, very similar to streaming mechanisms today. And then that initial exposure interests will then convert you into a sale or convert you into purchasing a closer experience. And I think, rather than the lens of financialization, it’s more so increasing the quality and bar of participants throughout the levels of a creator’s life, a creator’s community, etc.
So, you’re talking like a freemium to premium model, that’s what you’re referencing?
Natalia Murillo: Exactly.
I think that’s a fantastic example because my bet also is that a lot of creators are going to trend towards the free NFT strategy and they’re going to build like, they’re going to cast a wide net of collectors and then find a way to funnel them in based off different experiences, traits, etc. And we’re actually already seeing that happen in real time. I wrote an article and mirror basically talking about like the free NFT model where it references this artist, her name is Queen George, okay. And she was preparing for a sound drop that she had, she wanted to sell out 25 editions. I think it was like point 01 or point 08, something like that. But what she did, she basically contacted on Twitter like a lot of the top music NFT collectors, DM them about her new song that she’s releasing, and said, hey, join my telegram group chat. And once you do, I’ll give you a free enough to pull up, essentially for coming in, right? And then she amassed like 50 collectors in that group. And she was kind of teasing them with like new music that was coming out, preparing for the drop. And then when the drop happened, she had 25 editions to sell out. And she sold out, right? And it worked. And she was able to use like the top funnel free model to then filter them down until like converting collectors to actually join her community. That’s one example. Are you seeing other examples in practice?
Natalia Murillo: Yeah, I think the clearest one is board ape PR club. I have an ape, OG ape, I even called OG because they think they’ll launch a ton of stuff in the future. And they’re continuously thinking about how to increase supply. They’ve increased supply, and we haven’t seen the delusionary effects of it. But I am invested today, because I want to be an owner. And I think that let’s say the floor price is at 30 today, it shouldn’t drop down less than 30 over the next few years. But I don’t think that it has the same, it’s the same type of investment as punks, where that’s going to 10x over the next 200 years. I look at it as they are a team that’s looking to create a game and a Metaverse and they want to increase access and distribution. So, they created a board ape kennel club, they created MAYC they created other side Meta, ape coin, I promise you that the next launch that they do, there’ll be three of them. There’ll be even larger supplies. And the more the supply, the more that the separate collections are diluted individually. And so, I think that that’ll open them up to in the context of that musician, right? For her or him, it was minting out that initial collection. And their goal was to raise money. But with board ape yacht club, their goal is to increase the distribution. And that means like the same concept around this pull up, it means not expecting financial upside at the beginning.
Why are NFTs The Perfect Medium For Membership-Based Communities?
Interesting. That’s actually a really good example, a completely different model. I like that. Okay, let’s transition into talking more about membership NFTs. Okay, because that’s a big component of Koop. And I think when designing Koop, you’ve taken upon yourself like specific decisions to sort of made Koop what it is today from a product point of view. And membership NFT has come into the picture because you’re sort of betting on the non-fungibleness of a community. But in the beginning of I guess, I don’t want to say like the Dao era, but let’s call it the Dao. The token base community era, a lot of communities were creating communities based off ERC 20s, fungible tokens, right. And now we’re seeing a shift from fungible tokens to non-fungible tokens on a larger scale. Why do you think we’re seeing that shift? And why do non fungible tokens play a better type of model for creating a membership-based community?
Natalia Murillo: Yeah, I think it’s very simple, content and currency are converging. And so, you slap a picture on top of a token, which both represent the same type of models, and you take a currency, and that’s all of a sudden that currency becomes content, and content and currency are converging, I’m going to bring another one, for example. Same with ape coin being able to be purchased at Gucci. So, I think even the biggest, when we think about the biggest challenges for communities or brands, or even when thinking about the US dollar, previously, they had to ask the question, you know, how do we stay stable enough? How can the US dollar be sound enough? How can we create enough trust around it? But I think long tail with crypto adoption, it won’t just be how stable is this currency? But how relevant is it? And how interesting is it? And in order for it to also be interesting, there needs to be a cultural element. And art is the first step in that direction, which is why from the beginning, everything in Koop is centered around the concept of a membership NFT.
Got it. I also remember, there was a certain point in time where, as more Dao sort of evolved, they also sort of transitioned to the NFT model, the best examples using like developer Daos, that’s like one of the more mainstream Daos that came out and issued NFTs as a form of access to the community versus an ERC 20 like we saw with FWB or forefront, etc. So, I also think for me from like, a consumer’s point of view, okay, it’s like, it makes more sense for me to collect a ticket to enter something versus like buy stock, even though it does have the sort of financial like both tokens have open markets, right? But I It feels more native to me to just purchase one thing and to get access, or just versus purchase like 75 things and get access, you know what I mean? Do you think about it the same way?
Natalia Murillo: Yeah, no, I think it’s honestly a very simple answer. I think people overcomplicate it. But I completely agree with everything that you’re saying.
How Have You Seen Creator Governance Evolve?
Alright, let’s talk about governance right now too. Okay, so a big portion of Koop obviously is focusing on the Creator economy. I’m curious how have you seen creator governance evolve over the year, two years, etc?
Natalia Murillo: Yeah, definitely. So today, governance is really boring. Very, very frankly, it’s hosted on discourse or snapshot. And that means that it’s static long form text. I think the long tail version of governance looks like Kickstarter videos, Tik Tok videos, live streaming everything around proposals is storytelling, especially in NFT communities, especially around creators and artists. So, everything that we do at Koop on governance is how do we make this more fun and engaging?
So, can you give me an example of someone that’s doing it right, would like a storytelling approach?
Natalia Murillo: Yeah, definitely. So, one example is 99 original styles. So, Logan Paul has this NFT collection, 99 Polaroids, he auctions them off every day. Very similar, if not exactly the same as Nouns Dao model, he manages the treasury outside of Koop, and individuals inside of the community are rewarded for voting on what to do with the treasury and for supporting his content. So, he posts the storytelling videos on Tik Tok would create this incredible story around every Polaroid or round every community proposal. And then the community is then incentivized to distribute and grow the relevance of his content, or of the content that one day they’ll create around the story as well.
So, Logan Paul uses Koop is that what you’re saying?
Natalia Murillo: Yes.
How did that come about? That’s pretty big. How did that come about?
Natalia Murillo: Yeah, definitely. Some of our investors, our investors in, not in investors in him but have collected some of his passes. I own one of the 99 originals and I thought it was a really cool project. So, once I was in the token holders chat in the discord, I started talking about Koop and got enough buy in from him and the community to get people behind it.
So casual, all right. What’s the next question? That’s like, that’s like the biggest creator in the world. Not like the OG creators and just like, oh, yeah, I just use the skills that I have masked, entering web three, joining all these communities and infiltrating my way through and just found one of the biggest creators to build on Koop like, alright, no big deal. Next question.
Natalia Murillo: I actually, yeah, that’s very funny my response, but it is. I’m not gonna overplay it. I’m not gonna say I did something today. But, but yeah, I actually think Logan is incredible. As a side comment. I think we’re both like very into creators and what he’s managed to do, from Pokémon to WWE to NFTs. I know, he gets a lot of shit in the NFT community for some of his past projects. But I think that more generally, when you’re a large creator, there’s a lot of attention on you. And it’s easy for us to experiment without a lot of eyes and dependencies. And really excited for 99 originals. I think it’s one of the most underrated projects in crypto right now.
What Does It Take for More Web2 Creators to Enter Web3?
I agree. I’m a fan of the project. And also, it continuously goes viral on Tik Tok and his web two fans, they love it. They love it without even knowing what a Dao is. They absolutely obsess over it. And they starting to comment like wow, Logan Paul’s actually artistic like I’m actually really enjoying this side of Logan, like I didn’t know he had this in him, and how he’s using NFTs and like Dao formats to sort of formulate that entire concept, using content kind of normalizes this entire space. And it kind of abstracts all the bullshit of all these keywords and these primitives and just lets you focus on the art, right, which I think I think is super cool and very unique to his project. And we haven’t really seen a mainstream creator like himself from web two coming into web three, do it accordingly. My next question to you, Natty is, what does it take for more web two creators to enter web three? What are we missing?
Natalia Murillo: Yeah, definitely. I think that it’s not through going after the top creators. Logan was more of an accident. He was looking for a tool, we had a tool. I think that historically, products or platforms that go after kind of like what is the traditional meta, tend to fail. And so internally, we’re looking for ways to create more bottoms up experimentation, where as an example on track is an artist that works with us and when he started his first Koop, he was thinking about using it for his entire persona. This would be how tracks Dao represent every piece of future current and past art and music, and then we decided as a team with him involved as well, you should just launch this with your first DP, or for the hound pack, which is his discord community of individuals, we kind of shows them how to produce and they learn and grow together. And so I think the more that we can take away the pressure, and even less so the financialization, but more so the responsibility that comes along with raising a large amount of money or putting a large roadmap ahead, and the more that we’ll be able to set adoption, I think a lot of people run away when they hear Dao, because they’re like, now I have to run a discord and a thousand other tools. And at Koop our goal is, if you want to just try a new experiment with voting, or you want to try a new mechanism for streaming, let’s just do it once. It’s no pressure, no stakes, and we’re going to try to make it as fun as possible. And I think that’s actually how you get more web two creators, is just creating a medium for experimentation.
The Current State of the Web3 Creator Economy
What do you think the current state of the creator economy in web three looks like today? With that sort of your mental model of getting more people in.
Natalia Murillo: The current? Could you repeat that question?
Yeah, the current state of like, what the creator economy in web three looks and feels like today?
Natalia Murillo: Yeah, today, I think that we still haven’t solved the distribution problem. So, until we.
The virality component?
Natalia Murillo: Exactly. And I think to give one quick example, Mr. Beast, I think it was on, let’s just say it was on Joe Rogan. Mr. Beast was on Joe Rogan. And Joe asked him, why have you not created your own white labeled version of YouTube, and he said, I think YouTube will grow 10x faster than I’ll ever be able to grow outside of YouTube. So, he’s taking a bet that their network effects are greater than his. And a goal of anyone building in the creator economy should be to solve the distribution problem for creators. And I think that it’s around the corner. It’s not that we’re missing any infrastructure, it’s just we’re missing a new model to do so. So as an example, right? Andrew Tate, he did this spectacularly. He said, anyone can buy a subscription into my Discord community. Your one role in this discord community is I’m going to come on your podcast, I’m going to come on your YouTube videos, you’re going to clip that content, I’m going to teach you how to clip it. And then we’re going to grow together, we’re gonna beat the algorithm, we’re gonna push and move forward. And then everything after that initial bootstrapping of an audience was outside of his community, just the fact that Andrew Tate is saying really crazy things online that invokes an audience. But I think that the creator economy today in terms of what can crypto offer, that’s not offering in web to is that initial buy in to then grow that network without having to hack a, literally hack a distribution channel through YouTube as Andrew Tate did or as Mr. Beast is doing as well.
I feel like Andrew Tate is like the epitome of CC0. It’s like anybody can sort of use his content, like his community is literally replicating on his behalf. And they’re using him as like their memefying him, essentially. Now that he got banned across Tik Tok, YouTube, like all the main social platforms, he’s still on my feet, like I still see. Right? Because like, I don’t know, I feel like there’s like some sort of saying that sort of, like, sprouting from this case study. It’s like, many is greater than one, right? And that can be applied in many different ways. But also, from an audience point of view. Like you haven’t really seen people do that. Like maybe you see, like JRE shorts, like Joe Rogan shorts and like the community sort of like replicates that through like financialization, Instagram or whatever. But you’ve never really seen the content proliferate on that level with any other creator. Yeah, I think it’s an interesting example. Yeah, you want to you want to add something?
Natalia Murillo: Yeah, I think that will be productize. Like a creator will not have to do all of that work. And like I said, game the system, I think there will be a product that enables that type of magic, where you’ll be able to connect with those thousands of individuals with similar interests, similar goals, you’ll be able to set a clear mission, right? These are the roles and responsibilities in the case of entertain, it was hosting the podcast, clip it, post it and then from there, you’ll be able to see these like new niches implode across the internet that we would have never unsurfaced or uncovered before because of the way our algorithms are structured today and that is what’s going to make the internet more fun in my opinion. I think you’re muted.
Can you hear me now?
Natalia Murillo: Yes.
What Will Social Media Look Like in Web3?
All right, hold on. Let me write that. Okay, let me let me start over. Now that we’ve sort of talked about governance, we’ve talked about, we’re like skimming the surface on social. I want to transition talking about web three social. And I’m curious to get your point of view of what like, what does the new social media look like and where does crypto come into place?
Natalia Murillo: Yeah, definitely. I have quite few opinions here. I think that the new social looks like high touch experiences. It means no diversions of chat, it means no concepts of long form discord posts, and it means rich experiences. So today, that means streaming tomorrow, that means ARVR. And I don’t know what that looks like 100 years from now, but that’s my bet is that social does not look like Twitter. The second bet around social is kind of the idea of controlling your own algorithm and curating your niche personal spaces. And that was one of the initial reasons why I got into crypto anyway, was discord kind of did that for me in a scrappy way. I was going through all of these different communities, with all these different sentiments and portals. And today, a lot of backlashes on Twitter, and other socials comes from the idea that you have to disagree or agree with opinions. It’s very combative. And in the future, I think that you’ll be in environments with people who actually highly agree with you around certain opinions. And some may argue that that’s bad. I actually think that it can be productive as long as you have exposure and discoverability and to other types of discourse. But Twitter is already trending to that today, if you’re a Republican, rarely do you see content around Democrats. I almost think Ethereum and Solana and almost make the analogy. It’s like Democrats and Republicans fighting on Twitter. Because very different beliefs around guess the spectrum of centralization and can invoke a reaction around its audience.
Where Community Governance and Social Overlap
Where do you think community governance and social overlap? We talked about content as a way to proliferate. But where do you think it goes even beyond content?
Natalia Murillo: Community governance is the new social, I bet everything on that, I think the ability to vote right? Today voting is very, it’s very boring. As I said, you see a long form text and you vote yes, or no. Instagram pose is the next meta of that, you can long form and I can share a little message and then we get live polling at the end, I think the future of voting looks like a video stream, where you can actually be engaged throughout using some type of form of token curated registries or new mechanisms that somebody creates, but live voting, the ability to have a say whether that be today through a numeric system, or tomorrow through voice or another type of digital interaction is, in my eyes, what’s unique about crypto and what will actually be a new type of participatory mechanism to drive forward social interactions more generally?
So, with that same train of thought, where do you think data comes in like on chain data?
Natalia Murillo: Yeah, definitely. So, one, I would love to hear your thoughts about this afterwards. So, I’ll say my opinion, but I also want to hear yours because I think you’re have been speaking to a ton of people about this, you’re also building in this similar idea of realm. But today in web two social the only idea that you have the concepts of follow, which is support, you have the concepts of liking, which is determining preferences. On crypto today, you don’t necessarily have this idea around preferences. And that is going to be a new zero to one in my eyes. The only concept of preferences is voting and governance. And at Koop, we connect that to your NFT and our contingency thinking of different ways to create a unique identity algorithm around an individual rather than around a network.
So, I think that’s great. I think there’s also layers to it, too, just to build on what you’re saying. I think governance and voting is like, the bottom of the triangle, like the more funnelized, triangle, right? But I think just being able to sort of collect something just indicates what your preference is, right? And being able to buy something or being able to just, whether it’s a free collect, or a paid collect. I think that indicates sort of like, what you like on chain, from the communities that you are part of, to the events that you attend to all these sorts of things that we do on chain kind of build up our persona, right? I use data, on chain data, and I think in a very unique way, I haven’t seen other creators sort of use it. I’m hoping more creators do, which is like a lot of the reason why I wanted to do season six, is to teach creators that the reason why we’re here, there’s many reasons why we’re here, we’re here to make money, we’re here to be free, we’re here to be independent, but part of doing that is like owning our audience, right? Owning the little like, pieces that make an audience and with that is the data that comprises our audience. And in web two, as a creator, I don’t really get to see like, who my audience is, right, I don’t really get to know them, right? And the perfect example is like, if you have millions of listeners on Spotify, you don’t really know who these millions of listeners are, you don’t. When you sell tickets to a concert, you don’t really know much about who’s attending, right? But if you kind of like bring all that on chain, and you start issuing tickets, as NFTs, you’re able to sort of build like a minimum viable community, through your music by people who collect your wav files, you’re able to sort of build this audience persona profile, who are the people that love and adore you, who are actually spending dollars to come and see you and to support you. That’s how I think about it. There’s a lot of like, every single wallet possesses a bunch of things, right? And you can access that information and get to know more about those wallets in a non-intrusive way, without knowing their first name, without knowing their last name, without knowing their address, in a way that’s sort of like much better compared to how web two datacenters are sort of like doing it. Right. So, I use on chain data as a way to formulate my content strategy, I use on chain data to understand what my listeners like. And based off that I bring in the right guests to kind of like formulate the right conversations that tailors to what they’re collecting, right? I bring in sponsors based off their crypto nativeness. Right. So, I tried to use that as a way to become a smarter creator and a better creator. And I think you’re on the money though. Like I think it’s all about building like an interoperable community. And it’s a community that lives freely like the community is the social platform like we are, it’s no longer creator against platform, it’s like platforms now need us more than we need platforms kind of thing, because we have all these tools to sort of build our own platform, right? To build our own audience. So that’s a little bit of my hot take, what do you think based off of that?
Natalia Murillo: No, I’m in line with everything you said, I think the biggest kind of nugget that you said is that it’s non-intrusive, I can get all of this information without actually knowing who you are, where you live, what you do, the non, I guess, necessary pieces of information around a user or community member. So absolutely agree with everything you said. And hopefully we’re able to build out aspects or segments of that future together.
Yeah, I really hope so. And I think whoever ends up building it, it’s very net positive, because at the end of the day, like the reason why the podcast exists is to create more, I guess, like transparency around a lot of these primitives that many creators might not know of like, there’s more to being in web three than just minting a wav file and selling music NFTs, there’s more to web three than just sort of like having somebody vote yes or no on something or, like, there’s layers to and I think we don’t even know what that really means. In the grand scheme of things. We’re seeing it sort of develop in real time.
alright, let’s bring it back now. Okay. I know we only have a few more minutes. So, what can we expect from Koop in the future? And from there, I also want you to let us know like, where can we find you? Where can we keep in touch? And we’ll wrap this thing up?
Natalia Murillo: Yeah, definitely. So, kind of summarizing all this points about creators, communities. Today, Koop is a place where you can bring yourself, your community, you can build a treasury, which we see as an ecosystem and network and you can use those, that treasury to back anything from content to software and proliferate not only your cultural resonance, but also the strength and ties through a bunch of the different tools we have, which are some of which we discussed today, from governance to NFT memberships, to some of the things that we’re building in the future. We’re launching a twitch product similar to some of the concepts that we see today, creators using to engage in a live forum setting like I said, how do we make it fun? If you’re interested in creating a fun experience with free community, you could check out Koop on Twitter, @Koop XYZ and then my personal Twitter Na0XM. But thank you so much, Adam, for having me on today and really excited about the future of the mint pod and the mint ecosystem.
I’m excited too, I’m excited for you. I’m a fan of what you guys are doing at Koop, so we’ll have to do this again soon. Natty, thank you so much for being a part of the season, for making the time and yeah, we’ll talk soon.
Mint Season 6 episode 8 welcomes Tyson Battistella, CTO and Co-Founder of Zora.co the NFT marketplace protocol. Throughout the hour, we discuss how he got his start in web3, the early days at Coinbase, lessons learned along the years while building their marketplace protocol, hyperstructures, his thesis on the web3 creator economy, web3’s data problems, and so much more.
03:17 – Intro
07:55 – Getting Started in Web3
10:33 – Dropping Out of College
11:36 – Interning at Coinbase
14:53 – Quitting Coinbase to Start Zora
18:08 – What Did We Mess Up In Web2 That We Are Fixing In Web3?
21:11 – Learning Lessons Along the Way From the Initial Vision to Now
24:27 – What Are Some Marketplaces or Platforms That You Would Want to See Created?
28:13 – What Would You Pay for the Collectible Telescope Artifact or a Moment in Time?
29:03 – How Should Creators Be Using This New Open Edition Format?
31:43 – Favorite Moments from Nouns
33:30 – Building for Creators and Top Entrepreneurs
36:03 – Zora Hackathons
38:33 – Other Problems to Solve in Web3
40:01 – What is a Hyperstructure?
43:42 – What Do You Think About the Nouns Model as a Potential Mechanism for Open Hyperstructured Development?
46:23 – How Do You Capture the Value Created Through a Hyperstructure?
47:49 – Solving the Web3’s Metadata Problem
50:12 – What Does it Mean to Be a Data-Informed Creator?
52:11 – How Does Zora Use On-chain Data?
55:36 – Challenges With Building Zora
58:21 – How Can a Team Manage Magnificent Meme Game With Top Tier Tools, Software Development?
58:56 – Zora’s Mood Board
01:00:08 – Outro
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Tyson welcome to the podcast. What’s going on man? Good to have you on.
Tyson Battistella: Thanks for having me, happy to be here.
Yeah, I’m stoked to have you part of the new season. This is the third person I think I’ve had on from Zora. I had Latasha on a couple seasons back and then Erick Repple. Last season and now you, you know it’s funny. Our audiences overlap, which is super interesting. So, I noticed that when we record episodes, or whenever I have someone from Zora, it actually does exceptionally better than other episodes for whatever reason.
Tyson Battistella: So, the stats that you sent over, and I tried to figure out what the exact like overlap is of listeners to disorder users, it’s pretty crazy. I didn’t know it was that big.
Yeah. So, I give out a lot of like free NFTs to my listeners, every single season. And a lot of them really also enjoy collecting on Zora which is which is really cool. So now I was trying to figure out like, how can I use like more of these like these data points to sort of like find better guests and find better sponsor? So, we’re experimenting with you on now, you know, so we see how that goes. All right. So beyond exchanging a few words in your office in New York, I know very little about you. And I’m going into this episode, like pretty blind, which I’m actually I’m happy about, that’s a good thing. Okay. You also keep a very like low profile online. So, there’s not much for me to research or find. I came across your LinkedIn profile and it’s the funniest profile. I think I’ve come across ever.
Tyson Battistella: I’ve been doing these little covert online ops of just like completely obscuring myself as much as I possibly can.
It’s great. Okay, so before we like get into like the deep, deep questions, I think a good place to start is trying things a little bit different for this episode. Okay. I want to start with asking you about eight questions that I want you to answer quickly. Okay. And this is just going to help me better understand who you are. Okay. So, question number one, what kind of music do you listen to when you work?
Tyson Battistella: Oh, man, a little bit of everything. At this point. We have McHale from Zara who sent me like insane playlists almost weekly. So, I’ve just been getting my music directly curated by him. It’s been great.
Is there a song that comes to mind?
Tyson Battistella: I’m wanting to effect twin kick right now. Okay, he’s almost amenable at this point. But it’s been the deep working music for me lately.
All right. All right. Favorite food?
Tyson Battistella: Favorite food? I am on a taco cake right now. Which sucks moving from California to New York.
Okay. All right. Do you read books?
Tyson Battistella: I read a lot of books. Yeah, yeah.
Tyson Battistella: I think for fiction, anything by, I’m gonna say his name so badly. But Haruki Murakami, Yeah, I think that’s it. And then all sorts of nonfiction, anything like history. I’m reading one about the history of the New York subway right now. It’s pretty good actually.
Interesting. Okay. What really makes you angry?
Tyson Battistella: I feel like I don’t get angry. I was just talking about this yesterday. I like usually will just like completely withdraw and not get angry and then almost ghost people instead. Which is probably worse, but here I am.
Okay, I also noticed that you’re wearing, what is it? A US open hat? So, I guess you’re into sports?
Tyson Battistella: Yeah, I actually stole this hat. So, A bit of an imposter right now, but it’s happening this week, so I’d be going.
Okay, do you have a favorite sports team?
Tyson Battistella: I actually don’t, I think I did growing up, but it’s just been so hard to keep up, it almost feels like, yeah, it hurts me now to have to watch sports. I’m trying to catch up to everything.
Okay, okay. Are you usually early or late?
Tyson Battistella: Very late. Like this is early for me and we’re recording at two in the afternoon.
Alright, I know you’re from British Columbia originally, but is there a place you’d rather be from?
Tyson Battistella: No, honestly, I would like to move back there at some point, it is good place.
Okay. Okay. Actually, there’s two more. Okay. What would you rate 10 out of 10.
Tyson Battistella: Ooh. That’s so hard. Well, this just came up, because I’ve literally just been eating it but like the good. Like, handheld fruit. That’s just perfect.
A handheld fruit. Okay.
Tyson Battistella: Yeah, can be something you have to cut up for something you have to like to pick out, it’s just like it has to be fitting perfectly in the palm of your hand.
And last but not least your favorite meme or favorite memes.
Tyson Battistella: Honestly, the word meme is the perfect meme.
Okay, like, Alright.
Tyson Battistella: So, the way that you can meme a fight that word meme, that’s great.
All right. Okay, great. So, I think that’s a good start. That actually gives me a good idea, or at least a better idea of who you are, things I would never really find online. So, let’s kind of transition into the deeper questions. Okay, so, we said you’re from British Columbia. I’m curious, though, but growing up there. How did that sort of affect like who you are today as a CTO at Zora?
Tyson Battistella: Yeah, I don’t know. I think it’s really strange for me, because growing up, I grew up in the middle of British Columbia, like basically nowhere. And I’ve been like continuously moving to bigger and bigger cities. I think just like the change of having to like, deal with almost like the loneliness when you’re like, deep in thoughts on random, like, directions or places to be going. It’s like, kind of nice, and I actually like miss going back home, to be like quiet places to just like, separate myself from the kind of chaos that happens, especially living in New York because a very loud and energetic city. So being able to, like separate myself into quieter places is always nice.
Would you say moving so much sort of made you more introverted or extroverted over the years?
Tyson Battistella: I think I started super introverted, like coming from a really small town to go into much bigger places was kind of a shock for me. But I think it’s starting to change now. Feeling a little bit more extroverted. Now, when I go back to small towns, I feel like I’m extra, extra extroverted.
Okay, okay. So, you live in New York, right? That’s where you at, are you in Brooklyn?
Tyson Battistella: Yeah, Brooklyn.
Getting Started in Web3
Okay. I know, New York has a really big crypto scene. What is your start into web three? What did that look like?
Tyson Battistella: So, it actually started, when I was in college, just talking to a friend who is, she was about 2016 I think, a friend was kind of talking to me about this, like, hypothetical scenario of a world computer is like kind of everyone shares the same resources. And you can see what everyone is up to, and what they’re all doing, and how that like might affect like, the culture or character of how people do things online. And obviously, what he was talking about at the time was Ethereum. And it was just really compelling to me this idea that if everyone’s sharing the same system, or the same resources together, there’s all these new incentive mechanisms that can be created, where no one’s acting in like a, you know, zero sum game, it’s very positive sum, because what you do directly affects other people around you. So basically, from that conversation, I dropped everything, quit my job, dropped out of college for a little bit, moved down to San Francisco, started working at Coinbase, because that was kind of the only web three company I knew of or had heard of, at the time. And yeah, from there, just never looked back.
Did you have any skepticism sort of when you heard about like this world computer?
Tyson Battistella: Honestly, no, I was. It was seemed very dreamy, and like very, yeah, probably too good to be true. But at the same time, I was working at like a healthcare startup and kind of getting a little bit, you know, disenfranchised with how tech was working, as is. And that seemed like a new kind of utopian model of what it could maybe look like. And to not at least try to go work on. That seems like a bit of a waste. So definitely wanted to jump anyways.
So, you joined Coinbase in 2018, right?
Tyson Battistella: That’s right. Yeah.
And you started off as an intern from what I understand at Coinbase.
Tyson Battistella: Yeah. Yeah. So, I started off as an intern. It was really strange because I had been working full time as a software engineer at a different startup in Canada. But because I hadn’t had a degree or hadn’t finished my college yet, I applied as a full-time engineer, went through that whole process. And then, as we were like kind of talking about the job offer, they realized that I didn’t actually have my degree to join full time, so I decided to do the contract or the intern route. And then from that internship kind of contracted for the next few months while I kind of blitz finished my degree, so I can come back down full time again.
Dropping Out of College
Why did you feel the need to drop out of college?
Tyson Battistella: I have done this a couple of times, honestly.
Oh, really? Okay.
Tyson Battistella: I had originally gone to college to study architecture. And that was kind of the thing that I wanted to do. Through that architecture, kind of coursework, I did a computer science course and just kind of fell in love with the like, the lack of limits of kind of like non meet space infrastructure. So, if you can just build without any physical limitations that got way more interesting to me. So, then I dropped out of college, again, switched into computer science, getting back into that. I started working through computer science courses, getting a job just as a software engineer at a local tech startup in British Columbia. And then once again, dropping it almost felt like a muscle memory at that point, school was almost like a means to an end versus the experience itself. For me, so it was pretty straightforward for me to drop out from the fact that something so compelling, was right there that I could just do without school, or at least so I thought without school.
Interning at Coinbase
When you joined Coinbase commerce, what was that like as an intern? And did you spend your off times building other projects? Are you just like I want to kick ass and so that they can hire me full time? Like, what was your thought process during that time?
Tyson Battistella: It was incredible. It was the first like true Silicon Valley startup that I had worked at, I think Coinbase was about 200 people at the time, which was still the biggest company I’d ever been at. But this still very small, very incredible culture team of people who were super driven with the idea of what crypto could do for civilization. So, when I started the commerce, I was living in this really, really tiny apartment in San Francisco that almost made me never want to go home. So, I just ended up basically working like dawn till dusk. Every day in that office, mainly on Coinbase things but the intern class that we had for everyone that was working there was equally as driven. So, we ended up with this kind of incredible serendipity of a group of people who all wanted to build cool things together. And that number is still very, very strong today, I think.
Do, you remember the first thing you sort of got tasked to do at Coinbase commerce as an intern?
Tyson Battistella: Yeah, my manager, Maxim, who’s incredible. And like, still, I consider him a really good mentor today. He basically made me read three books before I was allowed to touch the code at Coinbase.
Tyson Battistella: Which was a great, great experience. So basically, I had to like leading up to the first few weeks of my internship, I had to like, crush these three books. I don’t think he was actually making me read all three of them, but he highly suggests that I finished them and kind of that sparked the whole experience at Coinbase for me.
What were the three books. Do you remember?
Tyson Battistella: Yeah, it was antifragile by Taleb. It was the sovereign individual. And I want to say the third was Krypton Nomicon. I’m not sure, I’d have to check that third one.
Are those the three books? Or were those the three books that they made everybody read at Coinbase. Like it was like a cult sort of like, like a biblical type of reading, where it’s like, you have to align on these principles. And we’re all on the same page. And then we can build.
Tyson Battistella: I think, maybe unintentionally, that did end up happening, especially with Krypton Nomicon I remember like, you could walk through the office and see multiple copies on people’s desks all over the place. It was like this little signal that you had. But yeah, there’s definitely a bit of a shared reading list happening at Coinbase, I think.
Okay, so you completed the internship, join full time. You were there for about three years, right? Post internship, what did you focus on? What did you do there?
Tyson Battistella: So Coinbase commerce at the time was like a really, really small group of people, I think there was maybe six or seven of us. And we were kind of like, treated like the venture bet team of just like, let’s just see if this works. And if the product works, we can kind of expand on it. But at the time, it was like very much a struggle. I know that this has been kind of memes upon it so many times now. But the startup within the startup analogy, really applied to that Coinbase commerce team that was just like, we had a small, dedicated set of resources. And we were just trying everything we could to see what would work and what didn’t work. But the team that we had was incredible. It was like an amazing experience to be working with them.
Quitting Coinbase to Star Zora
Yeah, there’s a reason why I’m like diving so deep into like your early, early days. Reason is because I love it what you guys are doing a thorough, I’ve been using the platform, of course, right? I’ve been minting my stuff on there, minting other people’s stuff on there. And I think it’s really well built and like really well executed. And just understanding like the boot camp, boot camp that you went through at Coinbase, to where you kind of got today is me sort of just trying to understand, like, what went into that process that then later got the three of you to sort of quit and start Zora, right, and like building that diverse skill set, you know what I mean? Walk me more through that story of like, when you got to a point where like, alright, we’ve been here for a minute now, there’s a lot of opportunity out there. Let’s go do this thing. Like, is that how it went about? Like, am I thinking about this in a cinematic way or was it less sexy?
Tyson Battistella: I think, almost to an extent, it was strange, because Jacob and Dee and myself, we’d never worked directly with one another at Coinbase, we, you know, work together in a few hackathons or through random experiences, you know, happy hour, things like that. And we’d always be talking and just kind of sharing ideas. But I think all of us kind of simultaneously came to this point at Coinbase, as it grew from, like, you know, 200 to 2000 people, a lot of the like, risk and reward that we had of just like, let’s try this thing, it might not work, it might work, started to disappear with these, like more calculated bets, which I think was probably the right decision for Coinbase as it was growing. But for, you know, a lot of us who were there with this idea of like this moonshot mission, it started to like, take away from that, that draw of building new things and experimenting with ideas. So, I think, around that time, I just, I remember seeing Jacob tweeting out that moon Sun Moon kind of bat symbol on Twitter, and I just had this hunch that Jacob was about to leave Coinbase. So, I just wanted to see what he was getting up to. So, we met up for coffee, you can share this, like the master strategy on notion with me of all of these things that he wanted to do with this company called Zora that he was trying to start. And I guess it was from that point as it’s like, okay, yeah, I’m gonna leave too, it was very casual decision. I think, in retrospect, I probably should have put a bit more thought into it. But yeah, very much just, it seemed like the obvious thing to do when I just went with it.
So, do you remember what was written that notion Doc? And I’m only asking, because I’m curious how that sort of changed to where you guys are at today?
Tyson Battistella: Yeah, definitely. I think it’s funny, because I think we’ve come very much full circle on that original notion Doc, the original idea was, what happens if you put the creativity that creators have and allow them to actually collect the value that they create from their creativity? We see a lot of like, you know, extractive models in a lot of these creator ecosystems today, where it’s very much to take the feeds from creators and capitalizing on creators rather than allowing creators to actually capture that value. So, we thought, what happens if we allow creators to capture the value of their creation? And then what happens if we allow these creators to build communities around these creations? And what happens when those communities then become incentivized to help propagate those creations and expand, you know, the global network of public goods and public luxuries that exist out there?
What Did We Mess Up In Web2 That We Are Fixing In Web3?
So, this model of empowering creators to capture the value they create, that’s obviously a direct sort of like goal based off problems that have occurred in the past in the industry, that sort of prevents creators from capturing the value that they create. Can you sort of talk about that, break that down for me, because I think there’s like this, there’s this notion of like, we’re going to own web three, like we’re gonna capture this value, but like, what are we really missing here? Like, what did we mess up on web two, that we’re now making up for it and web three that you kind of see from your point of view?
Tyson Battistella: Yeah, I think there’s a few different ones. But the way that Zora started to the original solution that’s Zora proposed, we have this problem that we kind of called the easy problem, where a lot of creators like Kanye West, kind of can create these limited set of runs that have huge cultural impact, Yeezy sneakers being one of them, but they say, Okay, let’s release 200 sneakers, all at $200. Once they get sold out, that’s it. The problem with that is Kanye or creators, like Kanye would only ever see that original $200 that they had sold. If those sneakers then were resold on secondary marketplaces at much higher prices, which they have been forever. They don’t get to see any of those cultural impacts and the value of that cultural impact being captured. So, the original idea was, what if creators could actually spin up a marketplace that allows for live prices of these physical goods, and therefore be able to actually capture the increase or decrease of those prices over time? That was kind of the original idea. And I think we’ve been seeing this kind of expansion of that idea of just like, what happens when creators have all the tools they would need to take their work and have all of the value be captured or collected by their community and stay within their community versus have these no extractive fee models where a whole lot the value of these creations is getting drained out to third parties that aren’t actually participating in that creation process.
So, what is it about web three that actually enables that?
Tyson Battistella: I think a lot of it is the innate transparency and the exposure to serendipity you get from that transparency. So, what I mean by that is, when you bring a lot of these economic models and actions by communities and creators on-Chain, you end up with this kind of network of data that everyone can see and act upon. And when you allow people to act upon that kind of permission, this way, you kind of allow this exposure to serendipity to increase where people can see these ideas working, expand on them, and continue to iterate on these like evolutions of how creation can be kind of valued through society and a little bit more of a direct way. So, when you see, you know, all of these ideas being experimented with and actually being able to see what the outcomes of these experiments are, you were able to expand and iterate and continue to evolve these new ideas further and further.
Learning Lessons Along the Way From the Initial Vision to Now
Yeah, I remember in, I think it was a fortune that released like the initial article on Zora, sort of talking about the easy problem, highlighting Ric and I remember in the very beginnings Zora was very much focused on like physical merchandise, or at least to an extent, and it’s 2022 now, and your marketplace has evolved tremendously from the API to different products that you guys’ sort of offer. And while you still focus on physical goods, right, with the nouns vision dropped, which I ended up collecting, there’s also a focus on like the Digital Goods, right? Can you talk about sort of like the learning lessons that you sort of discovered, along the way from the initial vision of what you sort of offered to what you guys offer now?
Tyson Battistella: Yeah, I mean, I guess the end result is basically that we realized creation is creation, any medium that it kind of is created through doesn’t really matter. The physical durations that we were helping sell were incredible. They were all like, very beautiful artifacts of work from all of these creators have been working with and they were very successful selling them. I think what we started to realize, as a very small team who had primarily only worked in crypto, running like a full physical logistics business is very difficult and requires a lot of, it’s not easy in that experience. But like, we’ve been talking about, you know, NFTs in the promise of purely digital media for a long time. And it seemed like a very natural step for us to just focus purely on digital creation and see where that gets us. And I think the thing to keep in mind with digital creation is there is no nothing stopping the digital creation from transcending into a physical 3d creation, that translation process is very simple to do. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be us directly creating that, it’d be an extension of what we already built.
So, do you think all media will be tokenized in the future?
Tyson Battistella: I think it will, I think all media will have some level of provenance stored on-Chain, whether or not that’s the media itself, directly stored on-Chain, or a reference to that media kind of remains to be seen. But it makes sense for there to be provenance completely visible for everyone to see.
So, does that make like anything digital sort of worth collecting, then? Like, you know, like what’s worth collecting? What’s not worth collecting? And who are we to decide even? But I guess it’s an interesting conversation app.
Tyson Battistella: I think what we start to see that gets really interesting, and we’re starting to see it with this creator tool we put out, this idea of like a timed open edition. And what that basically means is like, there’s no limit on the number of NFTs you can mint in this time period. But you have to mint within that time period to be a collector of this item. And what that kind of has sparked is this new form of provenance, where it’s like you marking like I was here for this moment in time, I saw this get minted. And that’s a very special moment, versus like being one of 10,000 people that were able to collect this over time. It’s like I was here at this moment in time, and I’ve marked my spot. And that form of provenance is not new, that we haven’t really been able to see in part collecting it all before. So, all of the actions that you do on-Chain kind of form this character, or this identity of your portfolio where you’re, you know, online identity entirely. That gets very interesting.
What Are Some Marketplaces or Platforms That You Would Want to See Created?
So, on that same thought, okay, there’s also a lot of marketplaces sort of built on top of Zora, right? Which is like the bread and butter of what Zora does, a lot of the marketplaces that I sort of love and adore and collect on and love supporting and also featuring artists on the podcast, sort of like built on Zora. So, on this premise of being able to collect everything, what are some marketplaces or platforms that you have yet to see sort of be created in web three that you actually want to see? Kind of like, I guess, the birth?
Tyson Battistella: That’s a really, really good question. I think we’ve yet to see, there’s been this like common theme of like realizing the potential of CC zero and completely open-source media and works. But along the same veins of like, the value of the provenance of these NFTs, what we haven’t really seen yet is a group or community that’s focused on the actual archiving of already existing public domain items. So, things like the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope, for example, that are actually like, archiving these works into, you know, the web three domain or into the completely decentralized domain, such that they kind of will always exist there. But something that I think would be really, really exciting to see just how far can you extend the archival process of the intranet? Or what has been created on the intranet?
Interesting. How would one go by doing that?
Tyson Battistella: I imagine the noun Dao style mechanism might actually be very beneficial there. Where the, you know, the main mission or the reason of existence for this style would be to archive anything that is, you know, potentially archivable. And you kind of create this curated museum or gallery of historical digital works.
Okay. Interesting. I’ve yet to see what that would even look like. I’m trying to imagine like okay, you bring up the nouns Dao, like, okay, I get the action of like, what that would look like as an end user, right? Or maybe as a community. But in the grand scheme of things, like if you were to start something like that, what would be the first few things that you would index? So, space artifacts, Okay, what else comes to mind?
Tyson Battistella: I think the like, there are, like, particular sets of images or moments in time on the internet, where you kind of feel this gravitational pull, especially in places like Twitter or Facebook. Yeah, exactly. There’s that algorithmic pull towards certain means or certain moments on the internet. And I think recognizing those patterns and seeing, you know, if there’s enough signal on a certain topic or a certain subject, there is a reason I think to archive that and mark that moment in time, that we get to see.
What Would You Pay for the Collectible Telescope Artifact or a Moment in Time?
What would you pay for a space artifact like collectible of like the telescope artifact or a moment in time, will the prices range?
Tyson Battistella: I think what becomes kind of exciting there is the idea of like, rather than there being only one of those artifacts to exist, you use that model we talked about earlier, like an open edition where it’s okay. Anyone who was at this moment in time can now mark their place and say, hey, I was here, I participated in this moment. So rather than have like, you know, one large price you say, maybe sell them each for $1. And just like pay $1, to see that you were there. But just like, I think some of that gets very, very exciting. We’ve been seeing it on our tool as well, we’ve had just in the last few months, like a quarter million of these open mission type mints, or you say have a day or a few hours to actually meet this piece, just to mark your moments in time.
How Should Creators Be Using This New Open Edition Format?
So how should creators be using like this new open edition format? I remember back in the early days, about a year and a half, two years ago, when NFTs had like their moment, the nifty gateway era, there was a lot of discussions around diluting your value or the elements of scarcity, right? You also seen this today with like music NFTs like how many editions should you release, right? What’s considered rare? How do you do in a way where you don’t dilute your value on-Chain as a creator, right? How do you think about that, that sort of like mental model at Zora?
Tyson Battistella: Yeah, I guess a way to look at it is maybe instead of looking at it as each individual piece having its own partition value. The collection as a whole has one large unit of value. So rather than one NFT being worth one Eth, you can say this collection of 1000 NFTs is worth 1000 Eth. And what’s important there is rather than looking at these individual collectors as individuals, you treat the entire collection as a community. So, if you were able to turn the collection of music conditions into a community that can share these experiences together, and actually work together as a unit with this shared value of, you know, valuing this this individual item, you might be able to actually activate a little bit more engagement or energy around the project that you’re doing.
Interesting. What are some examples that come to mind that have done this well?
Tyson Battistella: I think I keep using nouns Daos as an example. Because it’s so interesting to me lately, but there are groups of, I imagine very soon, we’ll start to see, you know, these additional type NFT is being treated almost as like a flag of the country, where everyone who’s a part of this group is now you know, within this community or within this organization, you could imagine like board apes or crypto punks for example, when everyone you know, sets their profile picture as a board ape, or as a crypto punk, you are operating under the flag of the crypto punk or board ape project. If, instead of Yugoslavs being, you know, the sole decider of kind of where that project can go, despite you actually having the individual rights to the NFT, built the project as a whole is still kind of controlled and run by Yugoslavs. If all of that event our project was operated by the holders of that project, I think you’ll start to see a lot more interesting spin offs start to appear. And that’s where things like we’ve seen NASDAQ get really interesting, where we’ve seen, you know, a luxury fashion brand pop up. Right now, it’s being sent to space, there is like a cooking show with noun. There’re all sorts of just random serendipitous moments that start to happen when you have this community, you control the entire mission of the project versus individuals that have created the spark for it.
Favorite Moments from Nouns
What have you seen, like your favorite moments, throughout, like the evolution of nouns community, and that you sort of like learned yourself as a contributor and as a builder?
Tyson Battistella: I think one of the things that’s been most interesting to me, noun’s vision, especially, but all of the like physical manifestations of the noun’s meme get very, very interesting, where you as a creator, or artists can come to this community say, hey, I really liked the flag or the brand, or the meme behind what this community is doing. Here’s my interpretation of how you could extend it. And if you look at noun’s Dao, is was like, the sole purpose of extending the meme of the noun’s classes, by attracting all these creators into that meme, you’re able to expand in all sorts of really interesting and unique ways that we haven’t really seen since companies like Red Bull, who have not one of the strongest marketing teams that exist.
Do you imagine implementing those like those style those tactics to sort of like growing Zora? And if so, like, how would you plan on applying them?
Tyson Battistella: Yeah, I mean, I think that mechanism could work very well for something like Zora. Where we built this like core infrastructure, right? The core protocol we built is meant to be built on by everyone in whatever extension they can find. We, like there’s really nothing too different about how Zora protocol works from how the underlying nouns protocol works. What we don’t have is Zora that, like, you know, I would imagine we could see in the future is, is that community activation of being like you are actually a member of the noun’s Dao or The Zora Dao. And in like, in being that member having a direct input into the brand or creations that come out of Zora.
Building for Creators and Top Entrepreneurs
Got it. Got it. Okay, a little shift from nouns. I want to come back to it towards the end, because we have some questions on Twitter. And I want to hit you with, as it pertains to nouns and Zora. Okay. But I want to also talk about Zora topia, I think in terms of like in the scope of building a brand and web three, in a world where things are so threatening, and keywords are so scary and like just getting involved as a creator as very, like overwhelming, to be honest, just having an open conversation about like, it’s hard to get involved. It’s hard to overcome a lot of those barriers, but Zora topia has kind of like, proven to be a really cool outlet to meet like-minded people, at least from the one that I joined, right? Shout out to Natasha. It’s a great event. You guys really curate it in a really, really fascinating way. And I think it’s also allowed you guys to establish yourselves, to have this like cultural presence in web three, that’s sort of different from the rest. Can you talk more about that and more specifically, like what is it like building for like the cool cultural user base, but also like the top entrepreneurs and builders in the space? Like how do you think about that as a builder?
Tyson Battistella: Yeah, I think I mean, first of all, like this entire project all of Zora topia is very much the brainchild of Latasha, like all credit goes to her for what has come out of that it’s been incredible. I think the core thing that’s really exciting there is just like, web three inherently is a very complex and scary place to be, just like when people first started using the internet like, it is dark and kind and creepy, and there’s all sorts of weird individuals there. But if you start to open up that space of, you know, here are actual used cases, and here are things that we are starting to see that get very exciting, and make that accessible to way more people, you kind of engage a much wider audience of people that can bring much more interesting things to the space. If you limit the type of individual can enter the space, you end up with the same things being created over and over and over again, the original versions of the Ethereum were all like super higher, like hyper financialized products, because it was very easy for financialized people to get an idea of what to do. Now, with the Zora topia, if we start to like, explain what creative types can do, and what’s possible to be created with Ethereum, we’re able to bring creative archetypes into Ethereum and that have creative ideas be brought into the space. I think, in general, the more types of people you can attract to a new technology or new solution. The more exciting and more different approaches to building things kind of arise on the internet.
I think with that also comes the hackathons that you guys put together, digitally, alongside Eth, global and also your own hackathons. And I was told you also spearhead that right? And sort of like producing them and bringing them to life, maybe not like actually producing them. But a lot of like the challenges Zora, the developers that come through, obviously much of a value add for Zora, can you talk more about the Zora hackathons that you guys put together? And what that means in the grand scheme of things?
Tyson Battistella: Yeah, I mean, very similar to Zora topia, it’s the idea of like, if we show people what’s possible to be built, and allow them to start building on top of it, we get all sorts of exciting ideas that we can start to help build on as well. So, in the same way that Zora topia introduced a lot of musicians and a lot of creators into the powers into web three. The idea with the hackathons is like introduce GarageBand packers, like I was like everyone else is or is into, like, what’s possible with these, like very simple tools that we provide, at the end of the day Zora’s protocol is pretty simple. It is like tools to buy and sell NFTs tools to create NFTs, tools for your communities like those are very simple atomic units that can be used by anyone, how hackers or how developers are able to use those is entirely up to them. And that leads us to all sorts of crazy and insane ideas that we get to see through these hackathons that always excites us and gets us kind of set up for what we can be building next.
What are some of the more exciting projects that have come out of out of these hackathons and have any sort of continued and continuing to build till today?
Tyson Battistella: I think my favorite one that comes to mind right now is a sports vision. I don’t know if you’ve seen the sport’s Dao.
No, I haven’t.
Tyson Battistella: Effectively it takes music NFTs and turns them into STEM players online that you can actually like, remix and mix and match with, they get really, really exciting. And it’s a really, really cool site. I can send you a link to that.
Yeah, send me a link afterwards. Yeah, that’s really interesting.
Tyson Battistella: Okay, so we’ve been seeing all sorts of cool ones like that.
Okay, anything else that comes to mind?
Tyson Battistella: I mean, obviously, catalog like music NFT marketplace, was one of the original hackathons we did was catalog being spun up out of that.
No way. Yeah.
Tyson Battistella: I think just seeing the number of companies that have started from Zora hackathon and actually gotten to raise around and become a real team and a real company has been really, really exciting to see.
Other Problems to Solve in Web3
What are some of the more like exciting projects or problems for you right now in web three to solve like, okay, you’re focused on the creator economy at Zora. But you seem like a very intellectual person, you spend a lot of time, a lot of your time thinking about the space. And one of the biggest issues like challenges of being a founder is like staying focused, right? Because there’s always new things to work on and problems to solve. Do you encounter that yourself? And if so, like, what problems would you think you would also be working on if it wasn’t for Zora?
Tyson Battistella: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think the nature of like, what we’re trying to build with, like the concept of Hyperstructures is that it’s a lot more akin to building hardware than it is software. And what I mean by that is, if we ship something, it is vital that, once it’s on the production line that being shipped, we can go ahead and change it anymore, because people are now actively building on top of it. And we just have no way of updating. So, there’s this everlasting tension between doing what we think is right in the moment than doing what we think will last as public infrastructure that can be extended and built upon, it gets very difficult. And that’s kind of like biggest one of the biggest challenges of building things, with Zora it’s just that act of making sure that it’s as open as possible for creation, but also immediately useful for people at the moment we release it.
So, this concept of Hyperstructures, is it a meme or is it actually is it like, it’s a legit thing?
Tyson Battistella: It’s absolutely both. All good Things tend to be memes anyways.
What is a Hyperstructure?
Right? What is a Hyperstructure? Can we start with that?
Tyson Battistella: So Hyperstructure is basically a, you can kind of imagine as infrastructure for the internet. And what I mean by that is, it is a tool that is completely open, it is free, and it is valuable. So, when it’s open, that means that anyone is able to build whatever they want on top of it, they can use the tool, however they see fit. It’s free, meaning there is no cost to maintain it, where, you know, public infrastructure in the real world has maintenance costs, and has upkeep costs, because this is deployed on Ethereum. And community on upgradeable, once it’s deployed, it’s there forever, and will work forever, for as long as Ethereum exists. And then finally, it’s valuable, meaning that despite it having no maintenance costs, and usually not taking a fee, at the transaction level, or any sort of extractive fee, there is a way to capture value from the Hyperstructure. And the way that that can be done is kind of this like threat of a fee, where it’s like, there may be no fee for the infrastructure as it exists today. But there’s always the optionality of turning on a fee later. And we see that with like a protocol like uniswap, for example, have this kind of built in, where there is a fee built into uniswap, that’s just never been turned on. And it’s actually, you know, the incentive of the holders of uni token, or the participants of the uni Dao to make sure that he does not get turned on. Because you want that infrastructure, that core infrastructure of the Internet to stay free. But the value of having control of that fee becomes very valuable.
How do you monetize? Yeah, go ahead, continue.
Tyson Battistella: I was just gonna say, you could imagine that, like, if you had the key, to charge everyone in, I don’t know, everyone in New York to use the subway, like, if you had the key to be able to set the fee for the New York subway, that’s a very valuable key to have. So, what you can do is kind of incentivize the writers of the New York subway, to have a ownership share in that key to keep that fee as low as possible. So, you would have this kind of tension between speculators who would want to increase the fee to make more revenue, and users who would want to keep that fee as low as possible, kind of continually wanting ownership in that key. And the same thing works for things like uni, where you have speculators who want to earn a fee on uni. And you have users of uni, who want to make sure that these days as low as possible, and that tension is where that value starts to arise.
So how do you monetize a Hyperstructure? So, in the case of uniswap, there’s different ways to monetize but I guess, in the Zora protocol esque format, okay. How does that look like at scale? Like, what does that look like at scale? And how do you monetize something like that?
Tyson Battistella: I would argue you do not need to directly monetize a Hyperstructure. Okay. And what I mean by that is, in the same way that I mentioned, the ownership of the fees, which for that Hyperstructure is very valuable, you might choose to monetize by selling ownership rights in the entity that holds that V switch. So, you could have, for example, a Hyperstructure deployed, that I don’t know does something, anything, literally anything, you could then create a, I don’t know, noun style Dao, for example, that every day means one more person into the ownership group of that V switch. And the monetization or the, you know, the way that that value kind of kind of compounds into the current holders of that is by allowing one more member to buy into this group every single day. You’re continually compounding treachery on top of the tool.
What Do You Think About the Nouns Model as a Potential Mechanism for Open Hyperstructured Development?
So that was one of the questions from the audience, like, what do you think about the nouns model as a potential mechanism for open Hyperstructured development? I think you can guess where that came from, too.
Tyson Battistella: But that was definitely a Jacob tweet. Yeah, of course, that would be very, very in line with Jacobs, recent thinking. Yeah, I think the idea there basically is like, the nouns Dao mechanism is extremely interesting as of late, just because it’s one of the first kind of Dao constructs that aren’t predicated on having fees being earned from a political where, you know, a lot of other Daos that exist in most other Daos, I’d say, the value of ownership of those Daos because there’s fees happening on the protocol where it directly relies on some form of extractive fee model, to bring value directly to that Dao. The nouns model, if it worked with a Hyperstructure would mean you’re not actually extracting fees, you’re just selling the right to turn on a fee in the future over time. And that gets very interesting and is a small nuance, but it’s an important one, because you’re not buying into this Dao, with the expectation that you’re getting an extractive fee which actually puts you against a user of the protocol. You’re buying into the ownership of the Dao to be a participant in the expansion of this protocol, where you want more and more users of this protocol to exist, because you want that tension to continue to exist of that thread.
So why should creators care about this? Like, why should the creators give an F about Hyperstructures?
Tyson Battistella: So, from a creator level, I think one of the most important things about Hyperstructure is that it is infrastructure that you can build on top of, and know that it will work, the way it’s worked forever with no changes. A lot of COVID on Ethereum is completely upgradeable. And that means that you could choose to build on top of it. But at any moment, the owner of that code could change it, it could completely alter how it works without telling you about it or without asking for your permission. A Hyperstructure is effectively like being given a hammer or a piece of hardware and allowing you to use it however you want for as long as you want. Because we have no permission, we have no way of changing it from underneath you.
Interesting. So, I feel like it’s gonna be one of those things where it’s just obscured underneath the surface, like you’ll never even know you’re using, you’ll never know it’s there, but it’s there. And it’s the reason why you’re here is because it’s there.
Tyson Battistella: Exactly. Just like I mentioned, like infrastructure for the internet, you probably won’t think you’re using it, but it’s very important that it does exist, you know, stays there.
How Do You Capture the Value Created Through a Hyperstructure?
So there has to be a way to capture value somehow, like, you’re not just going to build to build, right, okay, like, sure there’s an element of that, right. But you still need to find a way to capture value, right? Capturing the value that you create; how do you capture the value created through a Hyperstructure? What does that look like?
Tyson Battistella: So as a creator or as Zora?
I guess, as Zora and as a creator. Yeah.
Tyson Battistella: So as a creator, I’d say, you can quite safely just use the Hyperstructure and build whatever fee mechanism on top of that, that you would like if you wanted to capture value. Like, for example, one of the Hyperstructures we’ve built with our code has a way to sell NFTs. So, you would just use that tool, the sales module that we built into our protocol to sell NFT and indirectly capture value from the NFTs that you’re selling.
Tyson Battistella: The side for Zora perspective on like how Zora captures value from that is pretty straightforward as well, we can sell NFTs as well, we can use our tools, building our own models or building our own ideas that we think it’d be interesting, we’re very, very much into dogfooding our own products.
Tyson Battistella: It is very easy for us just to use the infrastructure that we’ve built, to be like to capture our own values, and have one of the like, one of the best content marketing or like artists, groups that we could possibly have come together on the Internet in Zora and allowing us to use our own tools is very important for us. Yeah.
Solving the Web3’s Metadata Problem
I want to shift the conversation to talk more about data, on-Chain data. And as I say that I see you smiling too. So, I’m assuming you like this topic. So, I know web three has a metadata problem. Can you quickly break it down? And then how you could like how you would propose essentially, to solve it?
Tyson Battistella: I guess. So, I’ll say one of the reasons that I like on-Chain data, when it comes to the metadata problem is very much in the same way that I like Hyperstructure, Hyperstructure is valuable, because you know that it’s going to work forever, for as long as there even exists. So, to build a Hyperstructure, if you bring data on-Chain, and ensure that that data cannot be changed, you’re doing the same thing. You’re ensuring to every future user or every future interactor, have that media or have that data that is not going to change, it will exist there forever, that there’s really no way to censor or to remove that kind of media.
Got it? Okay. So, with that being said, how would you sort of propose we solve, like, how do we create a standard where everybody follows and that everybody’s aligned with? And of course, I guess, like, the most obvious answer is like, if you all build on Zora, then we all sort of went to an extent. But in the grand scheme of things like one, I want to be, I want to be optimistic, let’s say that’s gonna happen. Okay. How do we solve that problem that in the grand scheme of things for all marketplaces to align on the same data standards, and for it to scale accordingly?
Tyson Battistella: I mean, it’s almost like a paradox. I think, I don’t know if you follow XKCD, though?
No, I don’t know.
Tyson Battistella: So, this XKCD is this incredible, like set of comics, basically. But there’s one panel that always sticks out where it’s like we’ve solved, we’ve created a protocol to solve all the problems of these other protocols. And then like five years later, it’s like, oh, we created another protocol to solve all those other protocols. And I think like, I imagine that will continue to happen with you know, archival and media, like these ideas of how we can archive media and archive data online. There is likely always going to be iterations and evolutions such that we can’t have the single feel and all of these protocols look alike, but we can kind of work together to have, you know, one for the immediate term and one for the near term, it’s just likely that that protocol or that that method will continue to evolve over time, as you know, new forms of media start to the rise.
What Does it Mean to Be a Data-Informed Creator?
Got it. So as a creative entrepreneur, for those who are creating content, those are tokenizing, their art, their craft, okay. I think one of the biggest benefits of being a web three native creator is, one you get to build an ecosystem, I think, the most exciting and the most innovative ecosystem that has sort of like evolved in our time, in our lifetime. But two, what’s even more interesting, you are kind of like you’re building a new medium for you, as a creator, to understand who your audience is. And to sort of build a community online that can never be shadow banned, right, the blockchain can never shadow ban you. And I think a lot of what web two creators transitioning into web three, they need to understand that, they need to understand that concept where it when you build an audience on-Chain, there’s all this data that you sort of can tap into, that you can sort of become a better creator, a smarter creator, right? I’m curious from your point of view, like what does it mean to be like a data informed creator, right? It’s just like, I feel like a lot of creators aren’t there yet, to an extent, but it’s like one of these like, it’s like the gold in the blockchain that will allow a lot more creators to be better creators, smarter creators, you know what I mean? What do you think about that?
Tyson Battistella: Yeah, I think, I don’t think it’s the fault of the creator that we haven’t seen that utilize yet. I think a big reason for that is the act of actually getting that data and being able to find patterns and find different methodologies is very hard right now. We know the data exists, and it is all there. But the act of actually extracting that data is very difficult. And like, I think that’d be something would be incredible for people to do, and people do on you know, things like doing dashboards and things like that tried to like, all these different scenarios. But reality, like the data is there, it’s just not accessible yet. So as that data becomes more and more accessible with different dashboards or different extraction methods, I think we’ll start to see all sorts of really cool evolutions form, as people can see, you know, what’s worked, what hasn’t worked, especially with different types of collectors for different types of communities. It’ll get interesting.
How Does Zora Use On-chain Data?
How do you guys use data at Zora, as a platform founder to better understand the people minting on your site, to better understand who your users are, to better understand your community? How do you guys use on-Chain data to better inform yourselves?
Tyson Battistella: Yeah, I think we actually almost only use on-Chain data. Other than a few minor analytical things. We don’t track anything about our websites or how people are using them right now. We’re very explicitly just tracking what’s working on-Chain. And that’s important for us, because really, that’s what matters is what actual transactions are happening with our protocol or with protocols around us that we think are interesting. So, we have, you know, this incredible index here that we’ve been using to kind of track and predict what’s happening, that we finally started to open up through this API we’ve released, that allows us to make these predictions and like, understand what’s happening around Ethereum right now. So, we largely use it just to track the status of the on-chain transactions that are happening, which we think are kind of the most important metrics for any crypto company.
Yeah, makes a lot of sense. All right. as we sort of wrap up, I want to ask you a couple more questions. Okay. So, what do you wish you knew more about?
Tyson Battistella: In general?
Yeah, in general, because you seem you seem like a very informed person, okay. You seem like you like you know your shit, like, you know what you’re doing in crypto. But you also, I also feel like, I get the impression from you that you spend a lot of time thinking about the space. And I’m curious, like, what do you wish you knew more about?
Tyson Battistella: I think if I were to go back, five, how long have I been in crypto for? A long time though. Okay, let’s say 10 years ago. I really wish I knew more about the fundamentals of cryptography, and decentralized networks, such that we could see the evolutions of things like how proof of stake is working, how ZK starks and ZK snarks are working all of these, like new core fundamentals underneath these blockchains that actually allow them to work. I really wish I understood more about that and had more of a grasp on that, which I’m working towards. But you know, it’s just, it’s not there yet. And the reason I think that’s really exciting is because in the same way that we see, you know, new collection or NFT mechanisms for different communities, I really want to see new protocol mechanisms built on different chains that can’t be done on how Ethereum works today, for example. I think that’s something that I I really wish I knew more about.
As you sort of like, jumped down that rabbit hole, anything sorts of come to mind that sort of fits in in that line of thinking.
Tyson Battistella: Yeah, I think like, for example, there’s this new technology called Stark that allows for a effectively like a hidden blockchain, where you can have these transactions that are done all at once but not immediately visible. And what that would allow for from a political standpoint is all sorts of new interesting mechanisms that we can’t have with Ethereum yet. In the same way that Ethereum is extremely valuable because everything is so transparent. It’s probable that there’s equally valuable things from completely nontransparent data. And I really want to see like, what the inverse of Zora could look like. If you take the fact that everything was not transparent and put on-Chain what can be created through that as well.
Challenges With Building Zora
Okay, okay. All right. Another question. I’m going through the Twitter replies, let’s see, we already got the nouns one, there’s another one that comes through. Alright, what was the biggest challenge when building the Zora protocol?
Tyson Battistella: I think the hardest thing that we’ve always had to deal with is the fact that, like I said earlier, this is very much shipping hardware. We can’t change what we built. And we always have this tension. And these like, really, really intense debates about what needs to be in the core version of what we’re trying to build, it’s really easy for us to try to build things that feel like they would make a lot of sense in the way we’re seeing, you know, the environment of crypto right now. But the reality is, we often have to peel that back with the understanding that we need to be building for the very, very long term with this core infrastructure that we’re building. So, it’s important that what we build is meant to be built on and not perfectly curated for one used case. I think that’s the biggest challenge that we’re really consistently facing. It’s like what is good enough to be the core pure version of what we’re trying to build.
Can you elaborate, you keep saying hardware is that because once you put something out, like there’s no going back? Is that what you represent as hardware?
Tyson Battistella: If you ship, I have these air pods right here. It’s like, when these air pods get shipped out, Apple has no way to update the hardware, or like the circuit board that exists here. So, if I ever have a better idea of how this should be built, I can change that for my users. Speaking from Apple, right, so for us at Zora, it’s like when we released this protocol, and developers start to use it. We can’t just say, okay, here’s v2, everyone’s not using it, we need to create a v2 and make it compel enough that the developer would want to switch their work onto that v2, because the understanding of these Hyperstructures is that they will exist forever. And there’s really no need to switch unless there is something absolutely more compelling on version two or version three. So, it comes to that like n plus one version that gets much more difficult for us, where all of the future iterations have to be extra compelling.
How do you incentivize teams to switch once they’ve already built their entire stack on an older version?
Tyson Battistella: Like I said, I think it has to be extremely compelling, that we created and like, in all fairness, there’s really no need. Like, there’s no reason to. If a version one of a product that we put out is working for everyone. They should continue to use it. It’s never going to change, we can’t do anything about it, they should continue to use it and that’s kind of the whole point. But for you know, future users or people that haven’t started building on Zora yet, then you know, maybe it makes sense to use the version two to the version three is what we put out.
How Can a Team Manage Magnificent Meme Game With Top Tier Tools, Software Development?
Alright, last question. This one comes from Richard. How can a team manage magnificent meme game with top tier tools, software development?
Tyson Battistella: I think I really love the fact that we’ve kind of organically had this perfect duo of like, somewhat put together at our Zora and then absolutely chaotic energy. That’s our engineering. And that duo in that tandem seems to work really, really well together. But Gemin Max running this or engineering, Twitter, it’s just, they’re just killing it.
Zora’s Mood Board
All right, amazing. Well, now that you answered that, another question sparked up, alright, this is the last question. Okay. Zora is brand is very unique. From a design point of view. I know you’re the CTO. But if you have some insight, what was the, what did the mood board look like when sort of designing Zora?
Tyson Battistella: It’s actually funny. You mentioned that because the original mood board for Zora was completely built by a community. So, we actually just tweeted a tweet stream and a figma link and just allowed anyone to dump anything they wanted into our figma board. That was the original mood board for what Zora brand was going to be. We were just running a tweet stream and dumping cool images into figma, until we kind of reached the Zora mood board. Yeah.
Does that give you guys a lot of traction, kickstarting Zora?
Tyson Battistella: I think so. Yeah. I mean, we wanted to build in the open from the very beginning and rather than, you know, build a product from the very beginning, we needed the brand to go with their product. So, we were building the brand completely in the open from the beginning. And that led to all sorts of really cool engagement and all sorts of incredible creators and users of Zora from the beginning.
Tyson, this was great. Thanks for being on, before I let you go, where can we find you? Where can we find Zora? Show it away.
Tyson Battistella: For sure. I mean, as we talked about, I think at the beginning, I’m quite covert online, but I think I’m still pretty active on Twitter at TBT STL. More covert this basically. And then obviously, yeah, Zora is a very pro Twitter place. So, we are always on Twitter.
Amazing. Thank you so much for being a part of the season. Thanks for being on. We’ll have to do this again soon.
Tyson Battistella: For sure. Thank you for having me.