Creator Royalities and NFT Marketplace Wars ft. John Crain of SuperRare

John Crain, the Co-Founder of SuperRare, on the current state of the NFT market, SuperRare's role in it, and the intersection of surfing, Web3, and crypto.

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Mint Season 7 Episode 16 welcomes John Crain, the Co-Founder of the 1-of-1 digital art marketplace, SuperRare. In this conversation, we explore the early narratives surrounding NFTs and the current state of the marketplace wars, including SuperRare’s role and their approach to creator royalties. We dive into the evolution of understanding DAOs and how they influence spending behavior on the platform, as well as unexplored subjects in NFTs and the intersection of surfing, Web3, and crypto.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 05:41 – Initial Thoughts on NFTs and Their Early Narratives
  • 12:11 – Blur’s Market Share Takeover and General Thoughts on the Current NFT Market
  • 19:43 – SuperRare’s Role in the NFT Market
  • 21:26 – Creator Royalties
  • 23:48 – Ideas for Exploring Primary NFT Sales
  • 28:02 – Evolution of Understanding DAOs, Pre and Post-SuperRare DAO
  • 31:46 – Rewarding Experiences Navigating the SuperRare DAO
  • 33:24 – Influence of DAOs on Spending Behavior and Activity on the Platform
  • 35:29 – Thoughts on Maintaining Rarity in a Time of Open Editions
  • 37:12 – Unexplored Subjects in NFTs and Digital Art
  • 39:07 – Intersection of Surfing, Web3, and Crypto
  • 40:15 – Outro

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Back with another episode with me today, I have the co-founder of SuperRare, John Crain. Welcome. Thank you for being on, how you doing? 

John Crain: Doing great, Adam. Thanks for having me.

A part of season seven, all about creating content worth collecting. And I think there’s no better person to talk about the subject than yourself. But before we get into that, okay, who are you, John, what does the world need to know about you? But more specifically, how do you get your start into crypto?

John Crain: Awesome. Yeah. Hey, everyone, John Crain, CEO, co-founder of super labs. And yeah, my start into crypto starts a little while ago, I was living in New York. It was the spring of 2013. And I started going to a bunch of different meetups and one of those meetups happened to be the New York Bitcoin meetup. And, you know, little did I know at the time, it was going to become kind of like an all-consuming interest. For you know, from the New York Bitcoin meetup, I got really interested in Ethereum. And, you know, work with consensus. And then as soon as I started reading about ERC 721, it was all I could think about.

Okay, but before crypto then like, that’s a very early, early time to get involved. I think people may say you got lucky, kind of being at the right place at the right time, did you get that a lot? 

John Crain: Oh, yeah, for sure.

Do you feel like that?

John Crain: Yeah, that was a huge part of its luck, I would say I was, I also got lucky. So, part of the longer story is I was in an econ class in 2008. I studied architecture and civil engineering in my undergrad. So, this is a required class, not something I was actually interested in at the time. And, you know, the financial world was collapsing. And we had this super nice, older teacher who came in one day, and he was very upset. And he kind of, he puts the paper down on the table, and he like, looks at the whole class. And he just says, I think we need to murder these fucking bankers. And I was just like, oh my God, this is not the class, you know, I thought we were doing supply and demand curves, and now we’re talking about murdering people. And that kind of sparked my interest in finance, generally, and, you know, led me down the path of Austrian economics and, you know, hard currencies. So, I was kind of into, you know, I was like, in the rabbit hole of Austrian economics, and then had heard about Bitcoin. But, you know, it was, always felt like it was lot easier if you go meet some people who are, you know, already into it, pick their brain. And so, there’s certainly some luck, and it was a very meandering path, you know.

So, on that path, I’m trying to connect the touch point to creators, like where do creators come into the picture for you?

John Crain: Yeah, so that’s also a bit meandering, but you know, probably, it starts with me. So, I’ve always been interested in like, kind of like art and math. So, you know, studying engineering and architecture, I ended up moving to New York and was working at an ad agency. So, I knew all these like super sick, new 3d sculptors and animators. At the same time, I knew people who were really trying to make it in the more traditional, you know, art scenes, like going to art fairs and stuff. And I think the first art fair I went to, which was like, probably around the same time as like, I learned about Bitcoin. I just remember thinking, like it’s really interesting, a lot of the art that I, you know, like to make, whether it’s like a processing sketch, or like, you know, some other kind of open frameworks you know, weirdness, is just totally not represented here at the Art Fair. And like, all the commerce is about prints, and you know, Canvas and, you know, maybe a little bit of sculpture. And in my head, I remember thinking like, I bet somebody’s gonna figure out how to sell a digital art, like is it gonna be like video game sales, like I don’t really know what that’s gonna look like, but eventually, someone will figure it out. And so then like, as soon as I saw NFTs years later, I was like, oh, my God, this could be the thing. And I hadn’t, you know, kind of seen what happened with the ICO boo, which, you know, speculation aside, I was really fascinated by the fact that it was this very simple standards-based technology that had a fairly profound impact, right? It was a small amount of code, you know, huge amount of value is created there. And I remember reading about or seeing on GitHub, like the early discussion around the standard for 721, ERC 21. And just thinking like, wow, this could be applicable to all Internet content, like all Internet content is an image with a title and a description. That’s going to be great. If this takes off, that’d be pretty crazy.

Initial Thoughts on NFTs and Their Early Narratives

When you first came across NFTs, what were your sort of original aha moments? And specifically, how has it evolved to where you are today? Like did you get it? You said, you got it on the spot, or at least kind of like rang a bell with you? And did you already see the future of like a product like super rare in existence? Or was it a lot of like trial and error or is there like denial? Like, I’m trying to understand your state of mind in that current moment?

John Crain: Yeah. So, I had seen early, like on Counterparty, there was some you know, there was like spells in Genesis and some of these early games and stuff. So, I was already a thing, I was excited about using crypto for, you know, more kind of like consumer tech type experiences. Like I was always wondering, what was really going to take off. And it was fairly, you know, like the standard came out around, you know, like, and like, I guess there was like crypto punks over summer. Then the standard discussion started happening with, like crypto kitties launching. And I was like, it was pretty early. I was like, you know, like when we first launched, we were like, SuperRare, Instagram meets Christie’s that was kind of like our, you know, elevator pitch that we would give people. And, you know, we heard a lot of like, that’s the worst I’ve ever heard. Yeah.

Why do you think you had so much hesitation to begin with? Like, because it really feels like Instagram meets Christie’s, like where we are in the current phase of crypto, like it really feels like that. Why do you think there was so much hesitation at the time?

John Crain: Just for like, the general kind of audience?

Yes. That ideal vision.

John Crain: Yeah, it was really fascinating, I think. So, for us, when we would talk to a lot of the, like VCs that we talked to, because like, we didn’t raise money until we were already like, cashflow positive. So, it’s like, you know, kind of like, late into the cycle really. But collecting is, you know, this sort of irrational behavior. And so, you have people who are hyper rational, trying to like to figure out what the market for this like completely irrational behavior is going to look like. And a lot of people were just like, crypto kitties, like volumes are going down. It was like another kind of crypto winter. And I don’t know, it was just hard. Like to me, it was obvious. I was like so excited. I was like, I was like, look at there’s like, all these different stickers. And like, obviously, we’re gonna have, you know, digital collectibles, that are just as fun as physical collectibles. Except they take up no space, they’re actually even better, you know, I can have a much larger digital art collection than physical art collection, just because I’d have to figure out how to warehouse, you know, thousands of paintings. But yeah, I think there’s something like, a lot of the people who I talked to earlier were like, why would you do this? It doesn’t make any sense. And my response was always like, why does anyone collect anything, like collecting doesn’t make sense, it’s not useful, it’s not going to help you survive. So, I think that’s.

I like that, that makes that makes a lot of sense. John, something that I really admire about your background, and that makes your story super unique is how early you got into crypto. And something that’s fascinating for me personally, is understanding the narratives of crypto that drive the irrational market. And I feel like you’ve had exposure to a lot of different narratives. Can you recite any of them or recall, like some of the earlier narratives, and have they poised to be true today?

John Crain: Yeah, it is really interesting. There’s certainly the narrative cycles. I feel like Ethereum is a really interesting one. Like when it first came out, it was like, the world computer, which was like a, you know, kind of like a good narrative. We were talking a lot about, you know, shared databases, this world computer concept and permissionless applications. That’s a really interesting one where I don’t think it came through, but the shared world computer part you came through, you know, for example, like SuperRare open sea, like these are companies doing, like we’re complying with laws, there’s no pretense of like, you know, we’re not Bitcoin where it’s like, okay, this is you know, serious decentralization sovereign money, like this is, you know, for a gaming or anything, just like the NFTs where it’s like, it’s more like luxury entertainment. So, I think like, the permissionless applications thing is a narrative that is sort of untrue. But you know, doesn’t really matter. I still think it’s super interesting. Like a lot of these companies are doing things that are really interesting. Another narrative, I mean, one narrative that was popular at the time that we’re seeing a little bit of now, is when I first got into Bitcoin, it was Bitcoin and hotcoins and everything else was a scam. And it was not going to work. And but there were like, these applications, specific ones, like name coin, or prime coin, or there’s all these different they had, like, really unique twists. And I think we’re seeing that now again, kind of with the different layer ones were they’re all some flavor of shading. That’s, it’s similar but different to Ethereum. And, you know, they’re doing a way better job of raising venture capital. So, I imagine they’ll be around longer than, you know, primecoin or feathercoin was around. But yeah, that’s an interesting one Come back up. Yeah.

That makes sense. What would you say is like the leading narrative today, as of February 22, 2023? And there’s a reason I’m asking this, it’s going to transition to the next section, but kind of just to kick it off. Any narratives that you’re sort of embracing right now, you’re realizing as we continue through the bear market?

John Crain: I think, I mean, that NFTs really are the mass market moment, like, I think we’ve seen just, you know, even with the hype cycle in 2021 and where we are today, like, you know, board apes kind of taken over mainstream press, and like the, you know, the huge people sale, even though here we are, you know, it’s still in a bit of a bear market. But we’re seeing tons of things, you know, like seeing things happening in music, and just like all sorts of different parts of the art market and the explosion of generative art. I think we’re still seeing the acceleration of adoption through NFTs, which I think was an early, you know, kind of meme or narrative that is still playing out.

Blur’s Market Share Takeover and General Thoughts on the Current NFT Market

I think part of that, I think you’re absolutely right, part of that comes the conversation around creator royalties, that has been a heated debate for the last like, I feel like six, seven months or so. And it feels like every other month, there’s this new awakening, this new touch points that kind of shakes the entire market. And recently, we were coming across like the blur versus open sea marketplace wars, how blur has now taken, I guess, like majority market share, or at least more than open sea at this point. I’m curious if you have any sort of like, general thoughts as to what’s happening in that world?

John Crain: Yeah, it’s super fascinating. I was actually just emailing back and forth with a couple of our investors just, you know, we’re in a, like a very different market, then blur and open sea is, but I still think, you know, it’s this interesting world of, like network effects are different with web three, which is something like we’ve always kind of thought about with SupeRare, like the assets of the content, don’t live inside of the one application, like they can be spread across. And so, with YouTube, you have this, you know, there’s a stickiness and the fact that like, your data is all there, right? It’s like your username on YouTube may be different from your one on other platforms. And if you wanted to port your entire library to Vimeo, or any whatever, like, some decentralized version of it is, that’s a whole bunch of work for you to go do. Whereas your whole collection simultaneously on open sea, it’s on blur, it’s on the next one that comes along. And so, the network effects have really changed. And I think we’re still figuring out what that actually means. Like no one knows really what’s going to happen. But I do think it’s interesting, especially for open sea and blur, right? I think there’s a, there’s like more tooling around like the speculative component, which, you know, is like, you know, common in all markets. And I think that’s really important for their core audience, right? Like if you’re a speculator, the fees matter quite a lot. And you’re like, definitely happy to say like, well, screw those royalties, you know, I’m focused on maximizing returns, whereas for, you know, art and art collectors and artists. Sure, if you buy a piece of art, you know, like I think everyone would be lying if they said there wasn’t some part of their brain that’s like, you know, it’s like, yes, I liked the art but also maybe it’ll go up in value, like that would be cool too. But you also have a personal connection. You know, it’s quite common for people to buy art and you know, start DMing with each other and become friends and, you know, then you’re excited to go pay an artist’s royalty, because you’re a supporter, you know, like you can do both. It’s like, you can make money reselling art, and you’re, you know, giving some back to the person who created the value to begin with. So, I think we’ll see the blur open sea wars continue to heat up, and there’s probably going to be new entrants into that space as well. But I think, you know, platforms that are like the SuperRare that have always been very kind of like, pro artists and like pro, is like a whole ecosystem are less effective, because kind of like the core customers and users are happy to support things like royalties. 

Right, yeah, I love your perspective. I think they’re gonna, it’s gonna heat up 100%. And it’s crazy to see sort of like the vampire attacking. 

Do you have a token savage? I was like, this is crazy.

Talk about that. Share that because I don’t think I’m caught up to speed on that element.

John Crain: So, they are, so I don’t know if this was yesterday, or like maybe was the day before but yeah, blur came out and said their next Airdrop, for people who are only listing on blur, is going to be way better than if you’re also listed across platform still. So that was just I think that’s like, we’ve seen you that kind of like explosive market share, I think the loyalty Airdrop promise has a lot to do with it, which I saw some tweets, and I was just like, oh, wow, this is really fascinating. Popcorn.

Do you think this is going to force open sea to launch a token? Or at least whether it’s an ERC 20 and NFT. But do something where the communities more incentivized to participate on their marketplace? Or how else would they win? 

John Crain: Yeah. I think they’re gonna have to do, they’re certainly going to have to do something. Yeah, there have been many discord channels where people are speculating, you know, when opens the token. I’m honestly, I’m not sure if they’re gonna launch a token there. You know, I think they’ve, you, they enjoyed their dominant position for quite a while, and I think blurs like the first person to really come along, and, you know, challenge them in that, you know, secondary market category. And you, they’re gonna have to start either like, at least like shipping faster, you know, like they bought gem. I don’t know, is that six months ago, like a year ago, but maybe, you know, we see more of the technology merging, like and kind of see some faster iterations on the user experience. But I’m sure they’re probably having a meeting about this right now. I wouldn’t be surprised because it’s happening so fast. I think that’s pretty exciting. Is that, yeah, it’s all happening in real time.

When I had Devin on season three of mint, and now we’re on season seven, okay, a while ago, the concept of an open sea token was still like hot in the market. Like I forgot what marketplace was, like threatening them. And they felt, they sort of failed to do it. So, like you’re right blurs like the first sort of like shot, they kind of like threatened their comfort at being number one. But I remember when I asked Devin about a token, he’s like, I’m paraphrasing, you’re gonna have to go listen to the episode, for those who are listening. Listen to episode to what he actually said for Batum. But as a paraphrase is like it’s too early. Like we I don’t know, I don’t know what would happen like five years from now, when a token is in place, and what the current state of open sea will look like. A lot of these defi protocols that issued tokens, it’s questionable the positions that they’re in right now. So, his perspective was like, it’s too early, sort of. And again, I’m paraphrasing, but it’s too early to sort of like issue a token into the market just yet. I wonder if that tone has changed.

I’m sure it’s changed and it’s part of the super Dao launched August 2021. And the conversation was very much, you know, the network effects are different, like we talked about, like the, you know, there’s no stickiness with data. In a world where everything lives everywhere, and switching costs are almost zero. You need another way to engage the community. Like there’s just, yeah, so I wonder I’m very curious. I wonder if they think it’s still too early. But it might be you know, it’s like, who knows is, everyone who comes after the blur open sea war has the advantage of at least seeing how it all played out? Right, you know, everyone’s learning as we go along.

SuperRare’s Role in the NFT Market

What do you see SuperRare’s role in all this?

John Crain: Yeah, so we, I mean, when we launched, we, you know, we’ve been focused on art since day one, right? Like we say the super mission is to reinvent the economics of human creativity, right? Like we’re building tools and want to push things forward that support artists, you know, support the arts. And, you know, we do have, you know, like, there’s a secondary market on SupeRare. But you know, it’s really not the focus, it’s more thinking about how can we support the ecosystem, right, like we launched, artists royalties were part of SuperRare since day one. You know, having things like collector royalties is also something that, you know, we’ve experimented with to see how that, you know, how can you align incentives between producers and consumers of art? In a way that’s, you know, so like, you know, one plus one is three here. And so like, we’re building tools, and trying to build, you know, a sustainable art market, right. And that’s, like, similar to spaces, right? It’s like, yeah, we saw the need, where it’s peer to peer is beautiful, but at the same time, there’s a reason that gallerist, and curators exist, right, it’s a full-time job to go properly market, you know, an artists, most recent releases or drops, right, there’s a lot of work that goes into that. And so like, building tools that supports this transition of the art market into the digital space.

Creator Royalties

Part of creating sustainable art market, as you sort of alluded to, I guess, involves creator royalties, right? What do you see the role of creator royalties sort of playing as the NFT ecosystem grows, and you have more threats of marketplaces, kind of like, you know, competing with each other? Like, why is it creator in the middle of all of this? You know, we just want to create, you know, we want to find our audience, why are you guys putting us at all this? And it makes sense, it’s basic economics, right? It’s all going to zero. Like it was inevitable, in my opinion, but in the work, in the art of building a sustainable art market, where do creator royalties fit in all this?

John Crain: Yeah, it’s a really good question. And you’re one that’s, you know, we’ll I think we’ll only know the answer in 10 years from now. But I think, I mean, it’s been super interesting, since the very beginning, you know, we always felt like, the beauty of like NFTs should be really simple, like enforcing the greater royalty, at the NFT level of it makes sense, it makes more sense at the marketplace level. And I think as the market matures, there’ll be better tooling to see, you know, what type of collector is this person who’s trying to buy this piece of art? So, like, you know, I think it’s not impossible to imagine a world where, oh, have you, you know, purchased art, you know, from a creator. And then also kind of like, and they’ve stated that, you know, they want to have royalties for this art, but then you go sell it on Blur. Well, if in their next drop, like, that’s all on chain, so you’re like, oh, this is the type of collector that I don’t want to work with. But I see creators having more leverage, because the markets transparent, and that’s, like kind of like traditional contemporary art world. There’s like minimum hold times for pieces of art. And there’s kind of notorious, you know, flippers, who people, you know, either do or do not want to work with. So, I think reputation plays a huge role. And, you know, the beauty of all this is, a lot of these transactions are happening on chain. So, you can build a fairly good reputational profile just with that information.

Ideas for Exploring Primary NFT Sales

Definitely, something that I’m realizing is, as creators become the point of friction next to exchange fees, but creator’s fees kind of become a point of friction, or I know SuperRares likes to call them as royalties, we don’t like to call them fees. But it’s essentially like you’re left with two sort of components in the artists journey, you have the ability to own the primary sales. And then the thing that comes after the sale is like the relationship, right, and the element of community building. And I feel like now that secondaries have sort of been slaughtered with all the marketplace wars, there is more opportunity to create innovation between those other two categories. And I feel like we’ve only skimmed the surface with what a primary sale could really look and feel like. Do you have any ideas as to how we could kind of further explore primary sale beyond just join the drop? Like does that bring in a world of non-transferable NFTs and builds a case for those types, for that token standard? Like you know where I’m going with this? Do you have any thoughts around this general area?

John Crain: I think there’s a lot of interesting stuff that we’ll see happening. Again, because there is so much information happening on chain, like one pattern that I love is bitter editions. I don’t know if you’ve seen any of this, it’s, you know. I think it was really, photographers really pioneered it on SuperRare is the first time I saw it. But, you know, for a one of one, the artists, you know, announces that like after the auction is over, anyone who bid also gets an addition, just Airdrop to them for participating in the auction itself. And so that, you know, that gamify is a little bit you it makes the, you know, if you’re paying gas fees to participate in an on-chain auction, you know, it makes it a little easier to kind of stomach that. And, yeah, I mean with non-transferable NFTs as well. Right. I think there’s still, we’re still figuring out what to do with these building blocks. And I think there’s a lot of experimentation that can be done there.

How do you think this entire war affects curators and tastemakers?

John Crain: Yeah, this is also a very good question. I mean, I think ultimately, like if we like to zoom forward, you know, 10 years, you know, there’s, I think there’ll be like trillions of NFTs, right? There’s going to be so much stuff out there and the tastemaker is going to play an increasingly valuable role. You know, like we’ve put a lot of time and energy into like really trying to pioneer and build models that are equitable in that space, you know, I think like, creative royalties, obviously, this is great for artists in secondary transactions. But the tastemaker is also an important kind of actor. And you’re part of this ecosystem that I don’t think is, you know, like properly compensated yet. So, I think that’s an area where there’s still work to be done to properly incentivize and reward individuals like that. You know, we’ve actually been, yeah, I’m just going to drop a little teaser here. But you know, we’ve been experimenting with a model that, you know, allows, you know, curators, and tastemakers to also participate in upside, in a way we think is kind of similarly important to artists royalties. So, you know, I can’t get too into it. You just keep an eye on the SupeRare forum, but we’re going to be posting some new models, that explore kind of like new token economic systems, to really reward these people who are doing a lot of important work, right, like the discovery layer. You know, the tastemakers are really helping artists and collectors. Right? They’re almost there like this kind of like matchmaking role. And so, yeah, I’m pretty excited. So yeah, just keep an eye out for that.

Evolution of Understanding DAOs, Pre and Post-SuperRare DAO

Wait, now you have my interest fee, John, what’s going on here? What’s going on here? Okay. All right, I want to, let’s talk about the SupeRare Dao for a moment, because Daos were very much a hot thing in the last bull market. When I had Chase Chapman who’s like the Dao queen in her respective community, sort of kind of like, pick her brain about what is the current state of Daos. We both agreed that they’re not as hot as they used to be. And I think it was sorry, put out a report that there’s, I could be butchering the number. But if I remember correctly, it’s like there’s about like 400 Daos or 800 Daos and 400 tools, that are like venture backed or 800 tools. It’s one of the numbers. You know, and it’s like the amount of Daos don’t equate to the number of tools, like it was completely overhyped, or we’re just like at the early cusp of what it could be. And super aerobic component of the super platform is a SuperRare Dao, rewarding curators with kind of like having a community element of bringing new artists onto the platform, which I love. I love that. I think it’s a very cool way to kind of like utilize a token and to incentivize the community properly. I would love to hear your perspective John, how have your understandings of Daos sort of evolved? Pre-SuperRare Dao and post-SuperRare Dao?

John Crain: Yeah, let’s see. I mean, there’s certainly, there’s a ton of work involved, you know, so it’s not like, you have the Daos, the magical solution, and all of a sudden, the hive mind is gonna go, you know, solve all your problems. But I think, I mean, one thing that has really held true like, before the SuperRare Dao existed, you know, we felt like there was lots of opportunity to make participation, you know, more engaging, right, you know, like, I don’t know, if you’re, how many Daos you’re a part of, or if you’re a part of any, you know, you’re getting like discord DMs Like, Oh, can you go vote on this thing? And you be like, oh, we need more people here to hit forum, whatever it is. And so, for us, you know, when we were like talking with the community, and early on thinking about what the Dao could look like, you know, we have this tool for the space race, which is, you know, essentially a governance tool that’s custom built just for our Dao. So, you know, there’s even one more Dao tool that probably wasn’t even in report. It’s like application specific, right, this is really just for SupeRare. And the voter turnout for the space race is incredibly high. Like we see, I think it was almost like 30% of the circulating token supply participating in a couple of these votes, which is if you think about compared to like defi numbers, that’s huge. And it’s because, you know, it’s not just about your treasury management, or, you know, think there’s important things, but they’re also, you know, logistics is kind of boring. So that’s not necessarily what people care about. But so, you know, we launched with the space race, I think the hypothesis was correct, that if you have, you know, more engaging governance decisions, you’ll get higher turnout, it’s still, there’s still a lot of work to do there. I think, you know, like we want to continue to experiment with how the community can get involved. But if you do more than just like, you know, create a snapshot group and like, have your Dao vote on where to move, you know, tokens around, you can actually get high turnout, which, you know, is one of the most challenging parts of running a Dao.

Rewarding Experiences Navigating the SuperRare DAO

That makes a lot of sense. What have been the most sort of rewarding experiences navigating through the SupeRare Dao?

John Crain: I think this spontaneous conversation that happens with you know, public forums like you we have a bi weekly town hall and just, I don’t like connecting with you, like, you know, we do people do like customer interviews or like product research, but having this open townhall forum has been really interesting to hear from people just about, you know, what do they care about or, you know, what are they concerned about? That they really think that you know, the Dao should donate to a specific charity or something or just like, you know, there’s a level of engagement that’s more open, like your ideas of like a more open conversation, like we also have like a meta governance and chill session. That’s just, there’s a lot of and it could be our audit, like specific to our audience, but there are like a lot of creative individuals who think pretty deeply about these things. And since launching the Dao and kind of, you know, trying to be more you know, or just like having these forums like the town hall, and the bad governance and chill. Those have been additive and like a nonlinear way, just because you’re soliciting feedback in a way that’s kind of unstructured and allows for this spontaneous element to be there.

Influence of DAOs on Spending Behavior and Activity on the Platform

I’m curious if you saw the spending power of collectors increased since the launch of the rare token, like now that people feel more incentivized and aligned with the community, and they have a tool that gives them a voice. I’m curious how that’s influenced or affected their spending behavior? Or I guess just a general activity on the platform. If you have any interesting insights or metrics to share that’d be amazing.

John Crain: Yeah, I mean, we did time in sort of like in the Dao you know, the downward trend. So I think the bear market or yeah, the bear market was against us a little bit. But I do think you’re kind of like I mentioned with like, blur open sea the network effects. The returning numbers for artists and collectors, who received rare, and the Airdrop is huge. So, even if they’re not active, community governance, you know, participation. They still feel, you know, like they have like a greater sense of community ownership. Right. But I think that just the fact that you can, I mean, one of the things I think that’s really interesting about tokens is like, it’s a new tool for brands to like, you can literally be in somebody’s wallet, right? Like if you like, it’s this very interesting way to engage the community and customers. That’s hard to do kind of like a you know, more traditional additional sense. Yeah. So, I think as far as retention goes, it’s like an incredible tool and it is very powerful for community building. There obviously, but like I said, you know, like there’s also a lot of work that goes into that. So yeah, you’re gonna have to, if you’re doing it just for the sake of doing it, that’s probably not going to work well, like you do need to build like infrastructure and kind of like habits around actually giving you the Dao some TLC.

Thoughts on Maintaining Rarity in a Time of Open Editions

I love that. I want to go into some community questions or at least one specifically, that came from Cyber Shakti, I’m butchering the name. Cyber Shakti. Okay. Cyber Shakti wants to know your thoughts on how to maintain rarity in a time open editions.

John Crain: Great question. We’ve, I mean, so we’ve actually, this is kind of like the second wave of open edition. So, for folks who are around in 2021, the nifty gateway open editions were also super-hot for a little bit. And so, you know, we had a lot of this conversation. And I think if you have a long-term perspective, then it’s a little easier, right? Like to mint to you know, to continue to mint one of ones and just think about, like, you know, because each artist is also doing community building, right, like every collector who buys a piece of art, you know, has a direct connection with that artist and so there’s a lot of hype again around open editions. I think they can be an interesting tool for things like, you know, these bitter additions, like I talked about, but at the same time, I think it’s a different category. You know, like we’ll see what the market, probably over the next 10 years what the market tells us. But I think if you have a more long-term view, you know, it’s just show up, create things that you love, and you know, connect with your fans and supporters. And you’re going to do very well.

Unexplored Subjects in NFTs and Digital Art

Beyond one of one’s digital art NFTs, are there any subjects that you use sort of in a lot of time thinking about, that you haven’t publicly talked about yet?

John Crain: Just in NFTs in general?

Whether it be NFTs business, entrepreneurship life, like something that, like how you live, I’m curious, I just want to know, I want to get to know you, John behind the rarity.

John Crain: Yeah, let’s see. Well, what I mean, I was an avid surfer. So, I spent a lot of time thinking about you know what, what the swells doing and which board I should bring to the beach. And one thing I’ve had that slide like part of how I got drawn into this is just like, the impact that art has on you as an individual and like, you know, kind of like I feel like mental health almost like a buzzword but it’s like the impact that like your environment art can have on your just like your well-being or like whatever we want to say, like I think that’s super interesting. Like for me, creating my own art has always been a meditative, like the best way to get out of my head is probably either surfing or making some art. And it helps to have art in your environment, that kind of like gets you to you know, whatever that headspace is for you. So, that’s just something I was, I think, is interesting. And it’s interesting to in the relation to NFTs because there’s so much financialization of art happening there. Which you know, I think is great, it has downsides as well as like all technologies do, but yeah, those are.

Intersection of Surfing, Web3, and Crypto

Okay. So, this might be a far-fetched question as well. You might think I’m crazy for asking. But have you ever thought about where the world of surfing intersects with web three and crypto?

John Crain: not deeply, no. Although I have always thought that like, you know, there would be an opportunity to, you know, sponsors, like we could get like a web three sponsorship for the like, you know, somebody on the press or good team, actually. So, I tried to launch a proof of work token and like this did this project did not go very far past like, ideation stage, like, you know, hanging out with a couple people, writing a bit of code. But it was like a proof of work token that would give money to kind of like oriented nonprofits as part of like the mining algorithm. So, I think we’ve seen the, I mean, obviously web three intersects kind of like charity and donation a lot but I think that’s so sure it’s really interesting, you know, maybe kind of like awareness and sustainability being part of it.


Listen, I learned a lot throughout this conversation. I had a great time with you, John, thank you for being on. Before I let you go, where can we find you? Where can we learn more? Show it away.

John Crain: All right. Yeah. I mean, Twitter is probably easiest. Twitter and Instagram @SupeRareJohn. DMs are open on both. So, hit me up.

Thank you for being on, we’ll have to do this again soon. But until then, wishing you well.

John Crain: Awesome Adam. Yeah, I appreciate it, super fun conversation.

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