Reo Cragun: The Journey as an Independent Artist in Web3

This episode welcomes Reo Cragun, the web3-native music artist, who shares about his journey in web3 and the vision behind his biggest NFT project to date called Frameworks.
This episode welcomes Reo Cragun, the web3-native music artist, who shares about his journey in web3 and the vision behind his biggest NFT project to date called Frameworks.

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Background

Mint Season 6 episode 14 welcomes Reo Cragun, the web3-native music artist, multi-talented rapper, singer, producer, and songwriter who shares about his journey in web3 and his vision behind his biggest NFT project to date called Frameworks. We also discuss how Reo uses data to be a smarter creator, his relationship with Nipsey Hussle, the dynamics between artists and labels, and so much more.

I hope you guys enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:08 – Intro
  • 09:14 – Current State of Music in Web3
  • 11:41 – Your Connection to Music NFTs
  • 13:59 – Using Data as an Artist
  • 20:44 – The New Sound.xyz Drop
  • 25:35 – Reo’s Creative Process
  • 27:03 – Pre-Web3 Reo Versus Now
  • 30:01 – Creating Experiences for Your Collectors
  • 33:49 – Lessons Learned Along the Way That Helped Perfect this Drop
  • 34:34 – Your Relationship With Nipsey Hussle
  • 39:05 – How Artists Should be Thinking About Label Opportunities
  • 40:19 – The Value of Web3 as an Artist
  • 43:07 – How Labels are Thinking About Music NFTs
  • 45:14 – What’s the Status of Loners Dao?
  • 47:58 – Joining the Music NFT Launchpad
  • 49:44 – The Process Post Launchpad
  • 50:56 – What Do You Look For in an Artist While Collecting?
  • 55:07 – Outro

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Reo Cragun, welcome to the pod man. How’s it going? Thank you for being on.

Reo Cragun: Let’s go. No, I’m excited, man. I’m glad to be here.

Intro

I’m glad to have you part of season six. You have a cool drop coming up with sound and a bunch of other cool things that you’ve been working on in crypto. So, what better time to just highlight them than now. But before we get into all that cool shit that you’re doing, I want to start with a quick introduction. Who are you? For those who aren’t familiar with you but more specifically, how did you get your start into crypto?

Reo Cragun: Yeah. I’m an artist. First and foremost, honestly. Yeah. So, I come from Vancouver, Washington, which is this small city in the top left corner of the United States. It’s right next to Portland, Oregon. And, you know, I was going to school full time, I was on a full ride scholarship to Washington State University. And out of the blue one day, I just decided that school wasn’t for me, and I was just gonna go pursue music. So, I left to Los Angeles with like, pretty much zero money in my pocket and just like did the classic couch surfing move, and just prayed that everything would work out. And that’s really how I got my start in music for like, a year and had a song that just caught and that’s kind of what was the catalyst for my entire music career.

What was the first couch you slept on? Remember? Yeah.

Reo Cragun: It was my managers. Yeah. Okay. So, I had met my manager. And in Portland, Oregon, I was, I used to write like hooks for other artists and whatnot. So, there were these like Portland artists that I was writing some hooks for, super talented dudes. And yeah, and he was managing them at the time or consulting for them. I don’t know, which was the correct answer. He was doing that. And that’s how I ended up meeting him. And yeah, couch surfed on, on his house in Los Angeles.

Okay, so how many couches dd you actually end up surfing? I know, it might be a weird question. But it’s actually quite fascinating to kind of like, just on like, peel the hustle.

Reo Cragun: Quite a bit honestly. Like the two long term stays that I had for sure were with my brother, Jeremy Taylor. He’s like a professional basketball player. I met him super randomly. And, like, we just became really good friends super quick. And he was like, dude, I got a room for you. And yeah, so shout out to Jeremy because definitely changed my life. 

Wild. Wow. It’s a it’s like when you look back, like everything just sort of makes sense, when you sort of piece all the dots together. But in the moment when you kind of got to your managers house that first night, on the first couch that you served, right. I wonder what was going through your head at that time? Do you remember like what you were feeling? Like, just move to a new city, all this stuff?

Reo Cragun: Yeah, I was terrified. I was completely terrified. I was like, geez, did I make the right decision? You know, like, I had everything, you know, I had stability, you know, I had a car, I had a nice job. I had a full ride scholarship. And then to kind of give all of that up in the blink of an eye to going towards uncertainty. And just like uncharted territory, because like no one that I had ever known, you know, had like made a successful career off of music or anything like that. So, I was just completely in the dark. And I was terrified for sure.

So, where did that courage and that will sort of come from?

Reo Cragun: I think it came from a place of me just being unhappy and unsatisfied with like, where I was at, at that time in life. I was just, school came really easy to me. And I thought just because something came easy to me, like doesn’t mean that this is my calling. And I always felt like it wasn’t my calling and the direction that I was heading. So yeah, I wanted to be more creative. And, and that’s why I chose music.

What did you actually attempt to major in before he dropped out?

Reo Cragun: Yeah, so I was studying medicine and business. And I was, it was interesting, because my school had this program where I think like a few kids were able to go to college as soon as we turned 16. So, I had already like had two years of college under my belt by the time I turn 18. And when I was 19, then I go to Washington State on this full ride. And you know, pretty much like after three years of school, I was like I’m out of here, even though I only had one year to go.

So, what did your parents think when you dropped out?

Reo Cragun: My mom was concerned for sure. She was just like, mainly concerned if I was eating or not. Yeah, I mean, she was super supportive the whole time. They didn’t know if it was gonna work out or whatever. But they always believed in me, for sure.

I think it’s always that assumption, when I was in college, I had a couple of friends that also dropped out. And it was always one of those things like, okay, whatever you go and attempt to doesn’t work out, you can always go back to school. Like, there’s always that option, but you only have so many opportunities that sort of kind of present themselves to you at a certain given time. And if you don’t take him, you miss him.

Reo Cragun: So true, at such a pivotal point in life too, like that 18, 19, 20. Right. You know, like, you still got a whole bunch of drive and ambition and whatnot. And yeah, I mean, yeah, it’s just so interesting.

Crazy. So, when did crypto come into the picture?

Reo Cragun: So definitely came into the picture during the pandemic.

Okay. Like many people, by the way, a lot of people kind of came into it. Yeah.

Reo Cragun: for sure. I was late to the party, I had a whole friend, I had a whole bunch of friends in it from like, 2016, 2017. That run and, and I was sitting it out, because I was like, in the middle of like, touring cycle and album cycle. So, I didn’t have like a lot of time or bandwidth to do a whole bunch of research on my own. You know, like, they were, you know, making money or whatever at that time. But that doesn’t justify me like putting my money into somewhere. I need to like know what’s going on, I need to understand how things work. And so, during the pandemic, I had a whole bunch of time to just like, do a whole bunch of research and figure out what everything was. And that’s where I like, literally just fell in love with the whole ecosystem.

So, when you jumped into web three, as people like to use the phrase, yeah, what were some of the initial resources you might have kind of like latched on in the beginning, like, did you listen to podcasts? Did you read blogs? Did you talk to friends? Did you open a Metamask right away and try to buy shit? Like, what was your, what were some of the steps you took in the beginning?

Reo Cragun: Yeah. So, the first step was, I guess the conversion from a whole bunch of my friends just being like, yo, you got to check this out. You got to check this out. And so that was the first step. The second was definitely YouTube. I watched so much YouTube, it was ridiculous. Like 1000 hours, probably in like the course of a few months. And yeah, that was mainly it. And then after that is when I really got heavily into seeing what was going on Twitter. And so, I realized that content comes super streamlined fast on Twitter for like, crypto related writings. And so that’s where I was at a lot of the time as well.

Yeah, there’s a reason why they call it crypto Twitter, like everything lives on Twitter. And if you’re not in Twitter, are you even in crypto? Right. That’s how I like to think about it. And it’s funny that you said that you came in late. Do you still think you came in late despite all the sort of like exposure, you’ve gotten the drops? You’ve had the collectors you’ve built like are you still in that that, not regretful mindset but like the belief that you came in super late?

Reo Cragun: No, I honestly, I don’t I think that it’s still extremely early personally. I think that I came in late like to, when it comes to like, even though I want like a blockchain is pretty much like that is, that’s where I feel like I was late. As far as like the knowledge. I think that the ecosystem is still early. We’re there’s still like, the beginning stages in some of these protocols and whatnot. And just like the possibilities where things can go with the technology, for sure.

Current State of Music in Web3

How would you explain the current state of where we are in music today and where music intersects with crypto?

Reo Cragun: Oh, geez, man, this is extremely still at the beginning.

Why is that?

Reo Cragun: So okay, so last year, I’d say probably around this time last year, and like September, I saw everything that was, I had been paying attention to everything that was going on and NFTs and whatnot and the PFP culture, and I was like, oh, shit, this is kind of wild. This is cool seeing everyone rallying and whatnot. And it’s like, everyone’s excited. And I was just a little confused. I was like, where does the music exists in this, because there’s like definitely a used case for it. And so, during that time, I was like seeking out people who were releasing on chain. And just like seeing people who were experimenting and from, you know, trying to connect the dots is where I initially linked with David Greenstein from sound, one of the cofounders of sound. And he told me about this idea that he was, you know, like going to launch and whatnot, and how he sees like, the future of music. And I was like, this is so sick, this is everything that I’ve been looking for, you know, and like. And so yeah. And so that was like the inception of sound. And then, for the next few months, you know, there was a few artists like in these calls, like trying to, you know, just like offer. It was like the UX experience, you know, like, yeah, and I got, like a bird’s eye view into that. Really cool opportunity. But yeah, but that, to go back to why I think it’s still early. That was like, I think sound had launched probably in November of last year. And we were like, oh, shit, I wonder where it’s going to be in six months and like to see all the growth that’s happened, right? This such amount of like, short amount of time, is just so insane, that’s why I think it’s extremely early on the music side. Like, you know, who knows, the ecosystem could be completely different a year from now. 

Your Connection to Music NFTs

I collect a bunch of music NFTs. And admittedly, when David came and approached me with sound, I was an artist, right? I have a drum set behind me. So, I’m a drummer. And I’ve never really experienced the artist to fan relationship. Right. I always just played immaturely in the concept; I saw like people do music NFTs. And when David came to me and told me about sound, I thought it was a really cool concept. But I had to like see it like visually to understand, right? Whereas you, you are like you just told me you’re like, wow, this is everything that I’ve been looking for. I’m curious, like what initially resonated because it extends beyond just minting, right? Like, these platforms they allow the artists and the fan to come closer together. Right? Is that what resonated with you or what sort of stuck with you around this whole entire ethos, ethos around music NFTs?

Reo Cragun: Completely. Yeah. So, for example, generally, like, traditional music has been like, artists, and then top down. So, like, for example, if I put out music on Spotify, and it streams very well, and there’s listenership all around the world. The bummer is, I don’t own any of that data. I don’t, it’s not mine, even though like, it’s my music and I put it out, I have no idea in relation, like really where these people are listening or who are my biggest supporters? Like, I can’t pick out Henry from New Jersey, you know, and, you know, send them a poster or anything as like a token of my appreciation, or, like, take somebody out to lunch, you know, but yeah, so that’s like, that was always like a problem for me. And the thesis that, you know, instead of top down, it’s like, artists center, and then spread out this way to where you can have a more direct connection with listeners, collectors, supporters, you know, of all kinds and whatnot. That was really what resonated with me. And I guess, like the future of how things could be for sure. Yeah.

Using Data as an Artist

It’s cool that you bring up the data component. And you also bring up the sort of like, the horizontal approach to kind of like growing a fan base and growing a community. Because that’s like, what web three is good at, like, there, there are no borders, and web three in crypto when you when you mint, a token on chain, and somebody collects that token, like Ethereum will never shadow ban you, right? You have all that information. And when products get kind of like created, they build around the creators, right? They build around the artists, whereas in in traditional social media or traditional platforms, it’s very much like creators building audiences on the platform, right? And you’re also very limited with the type of information and value you can kind of capture on those platforms, whereas in web three, right, you sort of own quote, unquote, your community. And that’s sort of measured by the tokens that they hold and the experiences that you can kind of cultivate with that. I’m also like, I’m also fascinated that you brought up data because I’m curious, how do you use data in like web two sense like, so you couldn’t get Henry from New Jersey, right? But how would you typically use data as an artist, either on Spotify on Instagram or whatever other platforms you sort of build an audience on?

Reo Cragun: Yeah, so one of the easiest ways to use data is like, I know that I have 30,000, you know, fans in Australia that stream my music every single month, you know. So, I know that I can go, you know, play a headline show out in Sydney, I can go play a headline show out in Melbourne, in Perth, and I can go to Los Angeles, and that data tells me pretty much like, it gives me a rough estimate of ticket sales as well, like how much we could probably do. That’s like one of the general used cases of like, the data. But, you know, that’s for, like selling tickets, you know, and like things that like generate revenue and things of that nature. It’s not like, like I said, like, personable though. It’s like, I wish I had more information because, like, there are a lot of instances where I would love to, like, you know, figure out a way to give back or else like, go, if I see a whole bunch of people live in like a community that like, listen to my music, I can go through a pizza party or something like that, do a meet and greet, and like, you know, hang out with people. So, yeah, for sure. I would like more ways of connecting with people in that fashion, rather than just going to, you know, knowing that I could go play.

Right. So, on that same thought, I’m curious if you figured out how web three changes that and how issuing NFTs and building a collector base change that, have you sort of untapped and like uncovered that secret? Any insights over there?

Reo Cragun: Because it’s so early, no. I have like an idea of like, where it can get to. But all of that needs like we need scalability for sure. In order to get to those points. And I think as it scales, for sure, I think it will be much easier. Yeah.

Okay. So, walk me through more of your drop history in crypto, because you’re a part of the first cohort of sound. I remember that vividly. I think I also collected, if I’m not mistaken. I don’t know if it was, was it at the time? I can’t remember. I think it was at the time. Because didn’t you also have, the song that you minted on sound, you then later released on traditional platforms, right? 

Reo Cragun: Right.

Or was it the other way around?

Reo Cragun: Yeah, it was my second song that I had minted it on sound. I ended up releasing traditionally.

That’s right. And I remember vividly, actually, because I referenced this example on the podcast a few times, where that sound dropped didn’t sell out fully. But the second you announced that, or no, it did sell out fully. But it had a lower secondary floor. And the second you announced that it got like hundreds of thousands of listeners, the floor automatically bumped up. And I remember I saw that tweet. Yeah, I remember I saw that tweet. And it was like a minute, posted a minute ago. And I was like, alright, I’m buying. You know, like, Yeah, this is an experiment. I bought it in the floor jumped. Right. Yeah. And I thought that was such a cool, like, interesting sort of taken seeing how web two kind of created the virality. But you’re able to capture the value in web three. Right? What walk me through that moment. Am I getting this correctly?

Reo Cragun: Yeah, you’re getting it. Yeah. Extremely correctly. Yeah, that was wild. So, I had, that was the second song that I minted on sound. We put it up, it was 50 editions at point one Eth. So, and it sold out, like instantly. So, it was like, I think, five Eth and primary value. And it did like some secondary numbers. But I just loved the song so much that I was like, yo, I’m releasing an album, I want this to be one of the singles. And then I got my homie Kid Ink on it. And we ended up putting it out. And it did really well. And so, I was like, I made that tweet. And then just like, yeah, like you said, secondary just started going crazy. And I was like, that was not my goal. Like I was just trying to be like crazy. Look at like the power of like, you know, web three pretty much. And like we kind of all did this together. And then yeah, just started going crazy, which was unexpected Definitely, like I said, not my goal.

And what a cool example to sort of reference, when you talk about how both worlds connect, right? And seeing how artists are building communities and using crypto primitives, but also still relying on traditional means of distribution through Spotify, Apple Music, etc. Like there’s a world for both right and they actually maybe even work in tandem somehow. Right? And I think as more listeners become collectors, that bridge is going to kind of like tighten right, and it’s gonna become stronger. But right now, it’s a little bit dispersed because not every listener is a collector, but every collector is a listener.

Reo Cragun: So true. So true. Yeah, I think, you know, it just, it takes time. You know, like, in a lot of traditional fans just still don’t understand the concept of music NFTs, currently, or just digital collectibles in general. And, yeah, I think that just takes a little bit of time and a little bit of education. But yeah.

The New Sound.xyz Drop

Soon, soon, soon, TBD. on that note, because we’re already talking about drops, we’re talking about sound, you have a new drop coming out, right? Walk me through it. Because it’s, it was, also at the same time where sound analysis protocol, and ended up being one of the largest drops next to Daniel Allen that I saw kind of like come out during the bear market, too. Right. Yep. So, walk me through it, what are you doing? What’s so unique about it? And yeah, curious to learn more?

Reo Cragun: Yes, sound protocol, it’s the first project that’s going to be incorporating the use of sound protocol, which I’m super excited about. You know, from the beginning, I’m an artist who makes a whole bunch of music, and like, I just, I crank out music. And I kind of always have, and because of that, like, I like putting projects out. It’s really fun to put singles out, don’t get me wrong. But the cool thing about web three is like I have a new way to express like my creativity. And so doing a project, you can express a little bit more of like the creative side. And so, with this project, that’s exactly what we’re doing. It’s called frameworks, like we worked on the pieces for like, months. My, a friend of mine created like these 2d digital assets, and then everlasting who like I work closely with, like, turn them into 3d digital assets, which is so sick. And then we spent a lot of time on this music, and we wanted to put it out in a really meaningful way. And yeah, and I’m super excited about it. We think.

That’s wild. Yeah. Go ahead. Go ahead. 

Reo Cragun: Yeah. I’m calling it frameworks, because I think this is like the frameworks of like, how I’m going to be moving forward. This is like the building block of like, kind of the next era. And it’s the first project on sound protocol. So, it’s like, okay, cool. This is square one. This is how we are moving from here on out.

And what’s cool about this drop is that it’s five songs in one, right? And it’s, but it’s not the first time you’ve dropped five tracks at a time. I remember there was a previous release, maybe I think, was a year or so back in fill in the gaps of where I’m blanking out. But you sort of had this model where you dropped five songs, you did this entire, like PR thing around it. And this is sort of the second time you are kind of releasing with this numeric kind of like, I guess, a theme and but this time in web three.

Reo Cragun: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. No, I’m super stoked because it’s like, I wanted to do so many more songs. Just because like, man, I just get ahead of myself a lot. But five felt just correct. You know. So that’s where we landed on the five. And then there’s threes. So, like there’s 333 total additions, and.

Oh, wow.

Reo Cragun: It’s three by three by three. The reason why is because it’s like, it’s a cube. It’s like.

Okay, oh, that’s part of the whole art. Okay. Okay, cool. So, five songs, three by three by three. So how does that actually work on a like a drop mechanic, they’re all editions, obviously. But are they back-to-back to back? Are they separated across a couple of days? Because this is the first time, I’m seeing a one drop bundle a few songs, right? I’ve seen artists by the way. I’ve seen artists combined like EP and mint, a one on one on a catalog, for example, right? But this is the first time I see it in this sort of format. Help me understand a little bit better.

Reo Cragun: So, this is why sound protocol. I’m extremely excited about it. It’s making, it’s an easy way for an artist to release a long form project, in a pretty easily digestible way. So, the, really what’s happening is like, say, for this project, I have five songs, you’re not going to know which song that you mint. It’s going to be like randomized. And there’s not the same amount of editions for each song. Yeah, so there’s like, you know, rarity baked into it into which song that you get for sure.

And in what are the songs that are dropping?

Reo Cragun: Yeah, so we have a song called, actually got a pull up list, of a song called Zoom with Daniel Allen, I have toxic, which I’m super stoked about. That’s what’s bloody wide, I have a song called a combo with production out from clear eyes and Terra Lago, whose sub made the beat and then bulk which is like the squad song, with all these, that’s like Pluto, Deegan and black honey.

Reo’s Creative Process

Yeah, okay, cool. So, I feel like each song will have its own kind of like looking fields vibe, I’m curious what is your creative process sort of look like? Especially in in putting together this project?

Reo Cragun: Yeah. So, the creative process kind of varies with me, because I like to switch things up otherwise, like, if I am writing in the same manner, for like, too long, a lot of the music will start to blend and feel like I was making it and like a specific, you know, era, I guess. So, sometimes I start with, you know, making a beat. Because I’m a producer as well. Other times, like, I’ll just, like, get outside production from some of my friends, and just do the vocals and the melody. And, yeah, other times, I’ll completely make a whole song, scrap all the production and just send it off to one of the homies for them to like, build totally upon. Yeah. But yeah. And then as far as putting the music together. This was all kind of like, made during the same time. So, it all felt like, you know, like, it should all be in a home. Right? And so, yeah, so, I was super excited when we were narrowing down the songs and whatnot. And, yeah.

Pre-Web3 Reo Versus Now

Cool. Okay. So, you know, earlier in the conversation, you sort of talked about how you got into crypto because COVID kicked in, you could no longer tour, which a lot of your money was coming from that your income. And then it just kind of like cold turkey stopped, like out of nowhere. And then you spent all this time in web three, and now your curating projects that are crypto native, right, and you’re building a collector base, and I feel like you’re making a good, I don’t want to say good amount, like that’s up for you to decide. But you’re making money online, right? By doing the things that you love, without having to go on a world tour. But where does the tour fit in still, right? So, if you’re creating drops, specifically for like, a web three native audience, it’s still relatively small, I think it was like less than even 10,000 Music NFT collectors as a whole. Right, how do you now think about what you used to do? Right, which is touring traditional music producing, publishing, etc, to what you’re doing now? Like, where do the two sorts of mix and match?

Reo Cragun: Yeah, no, that’s a good question. It’s interesting right now, because I took time off of touring in the last year. So that way, I can build on this side of things. And then also just like, crank out a whole bunch of music, I just wanted to be extremely creative in this last year, which I’m so grateful that I did. Because like, at the end of the day, like, I love making music in my bedroom more than anything. You know, like, that’s what gives me extreme joy, and coming up with ideas and whatnot. And being in kind of my element. Touring sometimes it’s really difficult on like, my mind, and like my body and whatnot, which is just rough, but it’s like the truth, and it’s the fact of the matter. But I love touring though, don’t get me wrong, I love it. And I love being in front of like, in front of everyone and performing the songs live. So, when COVID happened, I had just got off of like, I think Harley and I were like on like a seven-month run or eight months run or something like that. So, I was on towards Flume. And we had gone all around the world and whatnot. And when I came back, I was just so confused, because the world pretty much shut down, after we got off tour, you know, it’s like, and I had other shows lined up and I was like, well, I feel weird. I don’t know what to do with my hands.

Going back to school. 

Reo Cragun: And I was like, dude, what’s going on? So, thank goodness, I found, you know, like web three and in crypto and whatnot, because, you know, I just, I found something that I became extremely passionate about and that I loved just like I love music, you know, and so it was easy to want to learn and just to soak up a whole a bunch of, right?

Creating Experiences for Your Collectors

Yeah, where do you think crypto fits in, like the touring model and the live performance model? So, when you do a show now, you have all these collectors. I guarantee you they’re global, right? From all over, I think they’re global. And now you’re going to be performing for your existing fan base, that was there prior to all these collectors. Maybe there’s an overlap. You know, as you sort of maybe plan your next tour, you have all these collectors, you have these original fans. How do you mix and match the experience to cater to those who have NFTs, those who don’t have NFTs? What are your thoughts on that?

Reo Cragun: Yeah, so I’m still piecing that together. The interesting thing is, I remember like, the first moment that I spoke publicly about, you know, like, oh, yeah, I want to experiment with music NFTs. Man. My traditional fan base was like, you’re killing it. I was like, oh, geez, I didn’t realize like, yeah, I mean, which, definitely.

You’re like, shit. I didn’t know that was the case. Now, they can’t say that. we’ve transitioned to steak.

Reo Cragun: Proof of steak now for sure. Yeah and I. So yeah, that was very interesting to see. Like, all like the pushback. So, like I said, I think it’s still just, we just still need a little bit more time and like education for certain groups, and whatnot. So, we’ll see. I don’t know how it translates, because I do have two completely separate groups of like, supporters, you know. And I’m trying to find a way to bridge the gap. I want to get a music NFT in everyone’s wallet, you know what I mean? And so that’s like, that’s definitely a main goal of mine, for sure.

I wonder how that could work on a live performance basis. And if you have like LED screens, everybody sort of scans a QR code. And they all get Airdropped an NFT of yours, right?

Reo Cragun: Like, I know, Justin like Blau. 

Yep, exactly

Reo Cragun: He’s done some really cool stuff like that, I know like, the common answer is like, you know, the ticketing system or else like the festival wristband becomes like, you know, an NFT that, you know, concert goers can keep forever, you know, have it, be a novelty item after the show’s done. Yeah, I don’t know, where it actually fits currently though, beyond that, because it’s like, like I said, you know, one day something’s going on. And then the next like, there’s so much quick evolution. So, it’s cool, like, you know, so I’m sure it will, NFTs will be all over music, you know, like in the next like year, year and a half right, in ways that I’m definitely you know, like, not capable, probably of even thinking about right now.

Yeah. I’m curious, this is going to be drop number one in your history. What drop number is this? Yeah. Fifth drop, sixth drop?

Reo Cragun: I’ve done a lot of singular drops. Right. I have a lot of releases across catalog. I have a lot of releases across sound. I was part of Daniel Allen’s glass house drop. 

That’s right. 

Reo Cragun: Yeah. And so, this is going to be, this is my biggest drop as Reo Cragun, by myself like to date, for sure. 

Lessons Learned Along the Way That Helped Perfect this Drop

So, across all the other experiences and drops you’ve had, what are some things you’ve learned along the way that you’re applying to this drop?

Reo Cragun: That’s a good question. I think we’re scaling it. It’s way more in depth. Sound protocol, being, like a main part of this drop as well. And just like continuing to experimentation, like I said, like, the main goal was to like, release a long form project in a meaningful way and like a really cool way. And I think we’re, you know, we’re gonna do a great job at delivering that. Yeah, for sure. And then also, what’s different is generally in like a sound drop. There’s only one golden egg. So, in this there’s five separates.

Your Relationship With Nipsey Hussle

Got it, Oh, wow, five, five golden eggs. Kind of like crammed within 333 editions. It’s gonna be a war zone my guys. That’s crazy. That’s wild. So, I want to jump into Twitter for Second, and I think yesterday we tweeted, hosting you tomorrow on mint, what should we talk about? And one gentleman that goes by the name of Cooper, listed a couple things, okay. He wants us to talk about Nipsey. He’s proud to pay culture, how to treat label opportunities, and early Hip Hop stories. And what I learned behind the scenes, is that you actually had a relationship with Nipsey Hussle. And he kind of like, mentored you to an extent as well, right? Can you talk about that?

Reo Cragun: Yeah. So really, what it was, is Nipsey was one of the first like, artists of like that caliber, like, just like larger artists to believe in my music. Back when I you know, barely had any music out. And when I was getting no looks, and just like, head down, grinding, you know, what I mean? And, yeah, my manager had introduced me to him, and yeah, he just really schooled me and told me about, you know, the power of, of ownership in the music business and why he went the independent route and how that could be beneficial. And, yeah, and so, that’s how I met Nick. It was just crazy, man.

Crazy. Can you can you talk about also behind the scenes, we were telling me how he started selling hip hop beats, right. And tapes, essentially for a certain price.

Reo Cragun: Yeah. So, he was a, made a whole bunch of mixtapes, right. So, he came up with this concept of proud to pay, which is, which was pretty much like, you know, like music NFTs and web three, four, it existed, it was like the ethos of it, where you should look after your core fans and offer exclusive experiences and, and whatnot. So, he started out with dropping a project at $100 each, which initially was like, brand new, you know, it was like a, it was insane concept. And he sold out all of the copies of the mixtape. And then a couple years later went on to release mailbox money. And I believe he sold that at $1,000 per unit. Yeah, for sure.

Crazy. How is your relationship sort of, yeah, kind of like paved your career as an artist? What were some of the biggest things you kind of took away from him? You can either apply to and like music traditionally, or even in like dropping music NFTs.

Reo Cragun: I mean, I went independent, because, you know, the early conversations that I was having with Nick and whatnot. So originally, I was signed to Capitol Records. So, I’m sorry, Virgin. It’s in the Capitol building. And that’s where I put out my first album. It did really well. And I put out another project, but I was losing creative control. I can just feel it, you know, like, it was more suggestions of you should make music like this. You should hire this person to do a video. You should, you know, start. Here’s a stylist for this. And it was like, yo, why is it like, this isn’t me. And so, I opted to leave. And so, we ended up getting out of it pretty smoothly. And it was pretty solid experience of getting out because I’ve heard some horror stories of like artists that have deals. And yeah, we ended up running an independent and again, just like moving to Los Angeles, and I was terrified. That was another defining moment where I was terrified as an artist. I was like, geez, can I do it without the label? You know what I mean? And thank goodness, yeah, I ended up completely doing so much better. Yeah.

How Artists Should be Thinking About Label Opportunities

How do you think artists should be treating label opportunities today?

Reo Cragun: I’m not against labels. No, I’m not like a contrary to popular belief. I think what needs to happen is, I would love to see more artist friendly deals. That’s what I would love. Because, you know, my first deal was not artist friendly. I mean, I can openly say that my first deal was an 80/20 split. I actually even got, I think I only had 16 points on the royalty, so it was 80416 

Crazy. 

Reo Cragun: Yeah, and I didn’t know the masters. Yeah, so pretty much I don’t see anything off of that project, even though went on to do like, really good numbers. But that’s kind of like how new artists like are. Those are the deals that you know you can get offered. I think that there needs to be a new take on, you know, partnerships. Because that’s what they should be. It should be partnerships. It shouldn’t be like, here’s this loan where you know, like, you get pretty much nothing in return. Yeah, for sure.

The Value of Web3 as an Artist

Yeah. Okay, that makes sense. So, in the context of crypto, in the context of music NFTs, what role do you think labels play? Where do they come in? Because you can now raise money. If you build an audience independently across social media, that is your distribution platform, right? You can be scrappy enough as well to kind of even get like your own organic press, if you’re doing something. Right? Now, candidly, many people don’t do things right. And they don’t kind of like break through the noise. But if you kind of experiment and you’re open minded enough, you can actually make noise in crypto. I’m curious, like, what sort of value do you think they provide now as, as you are kind of like, even more becoming a web three native music artist?

Reo Cragun: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I think that, you know, ears are still everything, you know, like, every artist still wants their music to be heard by a lot of people. And for good reason you know, like, this is how we scale things. This is how you, you acquire new fans, how people have good experiences and whatnot. And, yeah, so I think that, you know, distribution is still very much needed for artists, because it’s one thing for you to be successful in music NFTs, like as far as, like volume or whatever. But, you know, you still want that to translate to like, a greater audience as well. Because that way everyone’s happy. You know, like, if you have, if your songs do a lot better theoretically, the, you know, the music NFTs should have music, more value and vice versa. Yeah, for sure.

That makes sense. That makes sense.

Reo Cragun: I think labels can play a role in all of this. I just, I feel like, I feel like new forms of probably, partnerships can be formed throughout all of this now. Because, you know, like you said, artists are making a little bit more money, they have a new revenue stream. And, you know, a lot of people don’t necessarily need the labels funds. So maybe there can be like these types of deals where an artist doesn’t need an advance and can, you know, retain a lot more ownership, while still having the distribution services of the labels.

Have we seen anybody execute, that the right way yet, like any artists comes to mind?

Reo Cragun: That’s a good question. I know, certain deals, or certain artists have like really favorable deals like for example. I mean, I’m sure that Drake’s deal, like they’re not taking 80%.

Sure. I guess, I’m talking more in the context of like us in crypto, for example, right?

Reo Cragun: I don’t think that exists yet now. 

How Labels are Thinking About Music NFTs

Okay. Interesting. Because we’re seeing more labels, kind of a start these web three music labels, right, like the crypto native music labels. And none of them have really like made serious noise just yet. They just got the attention because it shows this, this legacy brand is now entering crypto and sort of validates maybe everything that we’ve been kind of like, paying for right, so maybe they’re gonna buy our bags, who knows? Right? But we have yet to see, like a big label do it, right? Publicly, yeah. And maybe it’s intention, maybe it’s just like part of their R&D fund. Maybe they’re just experimentating. Wow, just as much as we are, you know, do you have any insight on that as to how labels feel about these NFTs? How they feel about crypto native music artists? What are your thoughts, any insights?

Reo Cragun: Yeah, I mean, I know everyone’s excited about it. I think that really, I think that they’re trying to figure out like, correct and solid entry points, you know what I mean? Because I think like, a lot of the consensus in like, the music NFT like, ecosystem is kind of just like, no one’s really fucking with the labels type stuff. You know, it’s like, there’s so many horror stories, you know, like, me having 16 points royalties, you know, like, I know that a whole bunch of other artists in the space have had disgusting, you know, relationships with the label system and whatnot, and it’s just unfortunate, but, so, I think that, you know, probably they’re just like trying to figure out a solid entry point because they have to start being the good guy, right? More favorable artists deal honestly is like how that, I think how everything comes full circle. Yes, like probably a new take on like what it means to be in the music business, you know, yeah.

What’s the Status of LNRZ DAO?

 I think, you bring a really cool perspective into the space because you’re not just an artist, you dropped out of college like you’re very much an entrepreneur yourself right, in many respects, whether it extends on the music front, right? Whether it extends to you couch surfing and just continuously doubling down on yourself or even starting a project and web three, or I don’t know if it’s like necessarily a web native project but this like creative incubator that you have called loaners Dao, right? Yep. So, I guess it is, I guess it is a web three if it has the Dao at the end. Talk me more through that. Because I remember when the mirror campaign came out, and you’re doing a crowd fund for loner’s Dao. What’s the status of loner’s Dao? Like, what have you been doing with that? Because I know you’re also in the in the music NFT incubator. A Cooper started right. So, is there collaboration? I have so many questions. I’ll let you kick it off. Yeah.

Reo Cragun: Yeah. No, there’s no collaboration right now. A lot of my focus has been geared towards, especially in the last like six months, has been geared towards onboarding more talent into the space. And just like educating people on, you know, the music NFT side of things. I think, you know, as the space continues to grow, the space will just continue to get better. There will be more creative drops, there will be you know, like, a lot of music, probably really good music that interests, the space and whatnot. And it’s just gonna push things forward. And so that’s been my whole, you know, thought process for like, quite some time now. And yeah, I’m on the board of Cooper’s Launchpad, which I’m super stoked about. I think there’s so much talent in this first group of artists. It’s just so insane. We just had a space the other day, where everyone was talking about their experience. And I was just like, dang, man, like, this is really cool. I feel like I’m part of something like, great. And loner Dao, you know, is a creative incubator. Also, like we on boarded. I think like half of the talent on loner’s Dao web to three, which was really cool. And then a couple of the artists were already in this space. 

Got it. 

Reo Cragun: And really, what we’ve been doing is, we’ve been working on a long form project, and then we’ve been working on a generative project for loner’s Dao.

Got it. When can we expect to see some public stuff from this projects that you’re working on?

Reo Cragun: Yeah, pretty soon, within the next couple of months, for sure. 

Okay, maybe we’ll have to run another episode around that time.

Reo Cragun: Yeah, we would have to run another for sure. Yeah.

Joining the Music NFT Launchpad

Talk to me more through the music NFT Launchpad. You’re on the curation board. From what I’ve seen from Cooper, when he was on, I think, a couple, a few episodes back. Every single person on the board had sort of one pick to bet on, right? And then artists to bring up on board. What did the curriculum sort of look like? And what sort of value did these artists get once they joined the launchpad?

Reo Cragun: Yeah, it was, a lot of the curriculum was, it was broad, right? Because it was great curriculum. By the way, Cooper crushed it, Cooper kind of like did all of this and spearheaded it. He’s just an animal, honestly. Yeah. So, it was kind of broad because, you know, like, it’s, I think the concept was, how do you educate somewhat so like, it was like, okay, here’s how you download the meta mask, was like the early classes, let’s get everyone’s ENS domains. And then like, how to be in like the discord and telegrams and like on Twitter, how to go about creating in drafting up ideas for music NFT launch. other creators in the space. It was like, it was really cool. So, it started out broad and then it got a little bit more focused and whatnot, which was really cool. Yeah. 

And what is the, oh, yeah, go ahead. Go ahead. 

Reo Cragun: Yeah, and then everyone’s like been drafting up like, their initial thoughts on like, what they are planning on doing for their first drop and whatnot, which has been cool

The Process Post Launchpad

Okay. So now when these artists drop, are you guys playing like a major role in sort of finding them the right PR, finding them the right kind of like letting other collectors know like, what happens post Launchpad when they are ready to drop? What sort of, I guess like coaching or consulting or whatever they get do they get from you guys?

Reo Cragun:  Yeah, so a lot of it, the one on one with Coop, for sure. And then, you know, like, I’ve talked directly to probably like four of the artists in the launchpad. Well, I’ve talked directly to a lot of them, but on a consistent basis have probably talked to four of the artists. And so yeah, I mean, for sure, yeah, I mean, I’m a music collector myself, I have close to like 100, music NFTs, from other creators in the space. And just like friends and stuff like that, so yeah, I’m gonna be pressing the men button for sure on a lot of these artists, and then yeah, of course, introducing them to other collectors in the space and just putting them on people’s radar. Because there’s a lot of talent in this in this group. It’s just mind blowing.

What Do You Look For in an Artist While Collecting?

Cool. So, you’ve collected about 100 music and excuse yourself? What do you look for as a collector when you sort of spend your Eth on an artist?

Reo Cragun: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, it’s interesting. I like, people who are like, hard working in this space, and who are pretty vocal. I also like good music as well. So, like, I’m looking kind of like for all those criteria. And people, you know, who are showing up for sure. That’s like, that’s my main.

How do you advise people to consistently show up? That’s something that I also advise artists and creators that want to come into crypto, you just consistently show up? How do you define consistently showing up? Like, what does that look like on an action base level?

Reo Cragun: Yeah, I mean, that’s a good question. I think really being active on Twitter, being active on certain telegrams, you know, joining certain Daos to, you know, be part of community calls and get more education, things of that nature, and then constantly releasing music NFTs as well, not like taking three months off before you’re doing your next drop and whatnot. Yeah, for sure. And then, you know, especially people who are like boundary pushing, trying to do things outside of what their peers are doing, is always a really cool thing for sure.

Yeah. That makes sense. I guess, before we wrap up Reo, anything you think that I’m missing? Because I find your background really cool. I find, you obviously have a lot of experience, you’ve toured also, from what I understand with Billy Eilish, Flume, Lil Yachty, like all these really big heads. And you’re obviously making now a name for yourself in crypto too, what am I missing here? What do you think?

Reo Cragun: Man, I mean, nothing really, I do just want to say that I’m just like, really excited for the future. And I think that, you know, we’re just really on the surface of this, I think that it turns into an animal, just like gets legs. And I think that it’s really going to impact music as a whole. And the way that people think about, you know, releasing music, for sure, I know that my personal releases have gotten extremely creative, since like, you know, I started making music NFTs. And it’s become way more artistic. You know, I feel like the music has, you know, I’ve always worked extremely hard on the music, and I always want it to be like, top notch. But it’s really cool that I don’t just make cover art anymore. You know what I mean? Like, it’s like, you spend all this time on the music all this time, you know, sometimes a year on the music, and then on the artistic side, like you spend like a week on it, and then over, you know what I mean? It’s like, now it’s like, okay, cool. Like, I can also spend, you know, some blood sweat and tears and a little love on the digital side of the art and whatnot, which is really cool. Because I feel like, you know, you can make the music into an experience now. Yeah. And, you know, some people are even using it as you know, like content for their live shows. Yeah.

Do you do you ever imagine playing concert just for your collectors? Like a room of like, 300 people? 

Reao Cragun: For sure. Yeah, for sure. Definitely. Yeah, I think that would be really cool. I think it would be amazing, honestly. Like, you got to think to like, this stuff existed before just in a different medium. You know, it’s like Jay Cole playing shows for his fans only for $1 because you got $1 and a dream. You know? Like that’s like really similar thing and it’s like, yeah, I would love to do that. You know what I mean? Throw free show for collectors. That will be so sick.

Alright, so I’m gonna keep collecting then. 

Reo: Cragun: Let’s go. 

Outro

Before I let you go. Where can we find you? Where can we stay in touch? Show it away.

Reo Cragun: Yeah, of course. You can find me on Twitter, Instagram, anywhere. My handle is the same. It’s at Reo Cragun. And on sound XYZ and catalog, I guess.

Amazing. So, Tuesday, this is when this episode’s gonna come out as well, on Tuesday. That’s when the drop is. I’m excited to be listening to the drop in the five tracks that you have called framework, with all these different artists collabs and honestly, your biggest project to date. So best of luck. I’m stoked for you. And yeah, we’ll have to do this again soon.

Reo Cragun: Thanks, man. Yeah, let’s definitely, let’s happen.

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BlockchainBrett highlights his new article “the crypto creator economy”, why he believes content NFTs are the next wave, and understanding the value of collecting content.
Podcast Transcript

Content NFTs.

BlockchainBrett highlights his new article “The Crypto Creator Economy”, why he believes content NFTs are the next wave, and understanding the value of collecting content.