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.