Podcast Transcript

Exploring the Web3 Creator Economy: Insights from ETHDenver


Mint Season 7 Episode 24 is a pre-recorded fireside chat at ETHDenver with myself and Shannon Wells from Livepeer who interviewed me on my thoughts spanning the web3 creator economy. Our conversation covers the definition of the web3 creator economy, the tools having the biggest impact on it, and the importance of building a strong community. We also discuss the different platforms and chains I use for my podcast’s NFT giveaways, the evolution of the creator economy beyond digital art, and how web2 companies and brands are entering the crypto-enabled creator economy space. Finally, I suggest building a web3-native podcast player at the hackathon and using tools like Bello to succeed on your crypto journey.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 01:19 – Creating the Mint Podcast 
  • 02:35 – Defining the Web3 Creator Economy
  • 03:28 – Differences from Web2 Creator Economy
  • 04:47 – Tools Impacting the Web3 Creator Economy
  • 05:37 – Cross-Chain Nature of the Creator Economy
  • 06:30 – First Movers in the Web3 Creator Economy
  • 08:00 – Web2 Companies Entering the Web3 Creator Economy
  • 09:20 – Getting More Creators into Web3
  • 11:34 – Opportunities for Builders
  • 13:34 – What is Bello?
  • 14:00 – Outro

Support Season 7’s NFT Sponsors

🌿 Enter for a chance to win a Lens Profile

Lens Protocol is an open-source tech stack for building decentralized social networking services. The protocol was developed by the Aave Companies and launched on Polygon in May of 2022. Through Lens, web3 developers can build decentralized social media applications and marketplaces that leverage NFT technology to form a fully composable, user-owned social graph where the connections and interactions between people are owned by individual users and creators rather than established networks. 

Complete these steps for a chance to win a Lens Profile:

(🍄,🔍) Bello: The #1 for blockchain analytics tool for web3 creators

Bello is the no-code blockchain analytics tool that empowers web3 creators and communities with actionable insights on their collectors through a simple search.
Join private Beta:


Hello. Hello.

Shannon Wells: Hey. Hey. Nice to meet you.

Nice to meet you too.

Shannon Wells: Um, so for those of you who don’t know, Adam Levy actually hosts a podcast called The Web three Creator. Well, I think the subtitle this, the subtitle of your podcast, mint is the Web three Creator Economy.

It’s called Mint. And then I add this like additional long thing. It’s like we’re Crypto Meets Creators.

Shannon Wells: Amazing. Yeah. So when I was putting this event together, I discovered the Mint Podcast and realized that for the last year and a half, maybe longer, Adams interviewed literally everyone who is, um, directly or indirectly related to the Web three Creator economy. So I thought this would be a great chance for us to hear from you what you’re, what you’ve learned, um, over the last, um, you know, year you’ve been doing the podcast. So Adam and I also want want you to tell the audience about what, what you’re doing, um, with Bello as well. But maybe to start, why did you create the Mint podcast?

Creating the Mint Podcast 

Yeah, so my name is Adam. I host the Mint podcast, and, uh, what’s up? I get to be on re’s live streams or her content page. I’m honored. Um, so we’re almost at 400 episodes of the MIT podcast, which is kind of wild over a year and a half. And, um, I created a mid podcast because when I was working at a fund at the time, I felt like there wasn’t enough content on the creator economy and nobody would talk to me about it unless I told ’em I would have a, I have a podcast for them to be on. So it just so happened that I like hit record and selfishly try to learn this stuff myself. But then it kind of evolved to something much bigger than that. And, uh, we publish multiple times a day, three newsletters, an episode every single day, whether long form or short form.

I just did the math this week or last week. We published about like 60 pieces of content a week on the Web three Creator Economy. So it started because I’m a creator myself, I’ve been a drummer since five years old. And I got into crypto by seeing how music was helping or how crypto was helping musicians. And then I ended up going through like the fund route and I kind of got like bored of that and I wanna do something else. So I was like, all right, let’s start a podcast. So I quit the fund to start a podcast. I don’t know who does that, but that’s what I did. 

Defining the Web3 Creator Economy

Shannon Wells: Yeah, And what is the Web three Creator economy?

That’s a good question. I think, um, the way I understand the web three or crypto enabled creator economy, it’s creative entrepreneurs using crypto primitives to build, monetize, and own their audience. So right now, a bunch of us, we are web two native creators. We are in this thing called crypto Twitter. But, um, there’s a new paradigm evolving where we get to own our audience. We get to own the platforms that we publish our content on, and through that we can discover new means of monetization in ways that we couldn’t have done before. And crypto is like the primitive, the foundation to enable that new era. So a web three native creator economy is like a crypto native creator economy where creators use crypto tools, minting tokens, forming dows on chain activities to kind of build an audience, monetize an audience, and move accordingly.

Differences from Web2 Creator Economy

Shannon Wells: And what makes that different than the old creator economy or the Web two creator economy?

The biggest thing that makes it different is when we build an audience today, um, we are kind of like slaves to that audience. So when I build a following on Twitter, for example, right, that audience is native to Twitter, I can’t take that to TikTok, I can’t take that to Instagram. And uh, then I become a, a slave to sort of like this algorithm. So a crypto enabled creator economy from my perspective is using crypto primitives and building an interoperable audience. So an audience that you can take with you from platform so that you’re not bound to the rules and barriers of the platform they’re originally building, uh, an audience on. But you can use NFTs other means of tokens to kind of like take your audience with you wherever you want, so you actually become the platform, right? So wherever you go, your audience follows, and now all the platforms want you because with a simple message, you can take your community of collectors wherever you want. So I can take them across lens, I can take them across Zora, I can take ’em to sound, I can take them anywhere I want in ways that I never was able to prior. That’s like the zero to one is sort of like how I understand it.

Tools Impacting the Web3 Creator Economy

Shannon Wells: Yeah. Beautiful. Thank you. So you’ve, you’ve interviewed a lot of people, you’ve literally asked all of the questions about the Web three Creator economy. Um, what projects do you think are having the biggest impact on the Web three Creator economy today?

So a few months ago I published this blog post on mirror called the Web three Creator Stack, and I started the blog post kind of like shilling the, the tools that I use. And then at the end, selfishly was a plug for Bello and how I use data sort of to kind of navigate my collector base. So my tool stack that I use as a creator and I see other creators use is Guild xyz as a way to build a community lens protocol as a will, as a way to build like a follower base, like an interoperable follower base. Um, I use sound to collect NFTs and to support creators. Um, telegram Mirror, there’s a bunch of tools. I think it really comes down to kind of using tools that understand that you are the creator and you are the platform and that they build tools to kind of empower your collector base, right? So there’s a, there’s a variety of tools. I can, I could list a laundry list if you’d like, but I plugged a few here and there.

Cross-Chain Nature of the Creator Economy

Shannon Wells: We’re at ETH Denver. Um, is the creator economy an e thing or is it cross chain? What are you seeing outside the Ethereum ecosystem? Or do we have a strangle hold on it?

Creator economy is definitely multi chain. Um, two biggest networks are ETH and Polygon, um, biggest platforms on eth it’s like kind of hard to tell, but Polygon, you have Lens Protocol, right? Everybody can build an audience, an interoperable audience on Polygon. Um, those are the two main platforms that I use personally where every single season on the podcast I give out like free NFTs to my listeners. And these are non-transferrable. They have no speculative value and I always mint them on Ethereum and Polygon. So I’d say those are the two primary chains. Yeah.

First Movers in the Web3 Creator Economy

Shannon Wells: Cool. And who are the first moving web three native creators that you think are having a big mark today?

So how many of you guys were here for the Nifty Gateway era? That’s what I like to call it. Okay. Um, if you guys remember, there was a bunch of artists that kind of left their corporate jobs and their, they, they were, they had great platforms on Instagram and then they found NFTs as a way to, as a tool, sort of find like their creative liberation, the creative freedom. There’s a few that come to mind like fuck render, ferocious, slime Sunday, Justin blau, like these are some like the premier creators that sort of set the tone for the Web three creator economy. But now it’s evolved and if, if you guys recall from the nifty gateway area era, it was mainly just like digital art. But now we have podcast NFTs, we have Music NFTs, we have video NFTs, and there are all these like sub pocket of communities and all these like premier creators are, are, are, are kind of like kind of arising from. So for music NFTs, I’d have to say Daniel Allen, Rio Kragan, shout out to them. Um, they’re killing the game when it comes to music. NFTs, uh, video NFTs, I think there’s a bunch. I think when you look at video NFTs like the first platform that comes to mind, it’s glass and I know live Pierre is like the foundation of glass. So there’s all sorts of artists kind of like minting and, and kind of like being experimented on the video front podcast, NFTs, I have to shout out the Mint podcast. We’re dropping podcast NFTs every almost every week and trying to experi kind of experiment what that kind of looks like. Um, photography, I’m not too well adapt with the photography, uh, space, but I collect a lot of music. NFTs podcast, NFTs, occasionally digital.

Shannon Wells: Are think there’s some photographers on the lens ecosystem.

Are there any photographers in here? Come on guys. Who’s taking pictures? There we go. What’s up?

Web2 Companies Entering the Web3 Creator Economy

Shannon Wells: Um,  how are web two companies and brands entering the web three creator economy space, and if so, how are they trying to muscle their way in?

So if you guys remember, like at the height of the bull market, you saw like all these like Pepsi brands and all these like big mainstream corporate brands. They’re, they’re, they were tweeting like, uh, wame and they were, they were tweeting, uh, uh, gmi and that was like the top signal 100%. Um, but now we’re seeing in the bear market really cool brands and different forms of IP and web two and to web three. The first one that comes to mind that did a really good job in my opinion is Smurfs. Do you guys know Smurfs? You guys heard of Smurfs? Should I show hands? Is this room awake or what? <laugh>. Okay. All right. So Smurfs did a really cool entrance on, on Lens and it was a very sort of like low barrier to entry, non-threatening way to kind of enter the ecosystem. And they took their existing IP tokenized different element elements of it. I think in the, in the height of like the movie, if I’m not mistaken, that was coming out. There was some sort of creative event and they kind of brought in their old collector base or their old audience and merged it with the new audience on chain. So I thought that was pretty creative.

Getting More Creators into Web3

Shannon Wells: Cool. Um, you recently tweeted that every creator is going to be crypto native in the next few years. How do we get to that?

I wish I knew. No, um, I think, uh, everyone likes to say it’s like education. You know, like people need to get educated on what a meta mask is cuz that ends up being your entry into all these, all these primitives that we we use on a daily basis or a weekly basis. Um, I think the way more creators get into Web three is that they see more use cases and case studies of crypto native creators finding success in web three. So I think the best example that we saw recently is the height of the music creator. And, and this is thanks to platforms like Sound XYZ and Mint songs, which shut down recently, but there were key players in this movement that tried to sell out drops or tokenized music and have creators find new means of monetization through that. Um, so I think using those people as examples and kind of obscuring away all the, all the buzzwords and all the lingo will end up influencing a lot more people and forget what I think. Like that’s what happened, right? You saw someone like Daniel Allen raise 140 K in like 48 hours with 200 Twitter followers using a mirror crowdfund that’s gonna wake up people, you know, and he’s independent. He started making music in Covid was a nobody prior to that. And overnight, overnight became somebody he took six months and like seven months to actually get himself ingrained. But that sparked a lot of light bulbs for a lot of other independent music artists and then motivated them to come into the space. So I think education first and foremost, but you have to be driven by use cases, show other creators outside of Web three the monetization opportunities and do it in a way where you can show like ethical, like commemorative, you know, ways on how to monetize and build an audience cuz the industry’s filled with scams and unfortunately like that’s, that will end up going trending on TikTok. You know, like people like clicking on that, people like viewing on that, but there’s a bunch of other use cases that we need to, we need sort of like double down on. I feel like that sort of set the example for everyone else.

Opportunities for Builders

Shannon Wells: Yeah, I feel like that time to meaningful profitability is really huge. Like even six to seven months is a, is a lot shorter than two to five years, which it can take on YouTube. Cool. Um, last question. What are the biggest opportunities for builders in this space? So a lot of people here actually hacking at East Denver or looking to start their next project. What should they build to help grow the Web three creator economy?

So I’ll, I’ll give an example of something that I tried to build that didn’t work out. I think el where was it? The last hackathon? Columbia, yes. Didn’t work out, but I still want to see somebody build it and then I’ll give sort of like a general sort of like a kind of tidbit in the air. So if you’re hacking this East Denver, try to build a Web three native podcast player and through that it would be really cool if I can direct my listeners to listen to my content through that. And then they would get an N F T based off when they stop listening so that I can understand my drop-off rates and understand who my listeners are on chain. Because I built an audience on Spotify and Apple Music and on lens and tokenizing audio a across the web, pre ecosystem and web two ecosystem. But I still don’t have like, listenership based data. So that’s one example. I think that’d be super cool. And then I, I have different ideas as to how you could do it. And then I think if you wanna build for creators at East Denver, try to become a creator for a few hours and whether it’s gonna be like a, become a video creator or a podcast creator or a photographer, like try to be the creator and see what it’s like, sort of like publishing content and then try to find pinpoints of, of paints, you know, pain points through that. Um, yeah, there’s bunch of ideas if you, if you want to come chat afterwards.

What is Bello?

Shannon Wells: And your building, I think your co-founder is also here in the audience and you guys just got into a 16 z crypto startup school. Yes. Congratulations. Thank you. Just quickly tell us what you’re building with that Yes, he’s excited

Dog. Let’s go Um, alright. So Ellie and I were building Bello. Bello is a no-code tool to help creators understand who their collectors are. So I alluded to earlier that I give out a ton of free NFTs to my listeners. I feel like I’ve minted over 20,000 across, uh, six seasons to date. And, um, for the longest time I knew nothing about who my collectors were, couldn’t go to Nason and look at the trading data and I couldn’t go to Dune cuz I don’t know how to write code. So we sort of build this tool as a way to help creators understand what their data means and find interesting trends and insights through their collector base. So what can we surface? We can help you figure out a price at which price point to sell your NFTs at. We can help you determine what day and time to sell your NFTs at. We can show you what assets in common, in your collectors whole, so that you can find communities to cross promote with and so many other insights that you can use. And part of our thesis at Bello is we believe that your community of collectors will surpass your community of followers. And with that requires a new set of tools. One of them is being Bello, so Bellos away. So if you’re a creator, you have collectors, you’re dropping NFTs, come talk to Ellie and I, we’ll help you understand more about who they are so that you can succeed on your crypto journey.


Shannon Wells: Adam, thank you so much. Give him a follow Levy.eth sign up for his podcast. Nft, thank you so much.

Thank you.

Podcast Transcript

Transforming Audiences into Communities with Reka from


Mint Season 7 Episode 23 welcomes Reka.eth, the Co-founder of Throughout our session, we discuss how Guild has evolved since our last episode in November 2021 and how their tooling has broadened out to fit a larger audience beyond just DAOs.

Reka shares how Guild has grown into being the bridge from the point of discovery to becoming a core member of a community, helping guide new members into the creator’s audience. We discuss the mechanics of transforming an audience into a community, and how Guild can help cultivate that.

We also talk about Guild’s tooling and its place in the creator stack, with me sharing my mental model and Reka sharing her thoughts on how Guild stands as the connective tissue to bring people together.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 02:08 – The Story of Reaching Out to the Guests
  • 13:19 – Expanding a Web3 Native Audience to a Web2 Native Audience
  • 18:05 – Guild’s Place in a Web3 Creator’s Tooling Stack
  • 21:50 – Guild’s Use Cases Beyond Initial Expectations
  • 28:13 – Shifts in DAOs Over the Last Year and a Half
  • 33:23 – Best Execution and Governance Practices for DAOs
  • 35:22 – Guild’s Approach to Media and Content Worth Collecting
  • 44:25 – The Guest’s Creator Journey and Focus During the Bear Market
  • 47:04 – Reka’s Other Pursuits During the Bear Market
  • 49:36 – Outro

Support Season 7’s NFT Sponsors

🌿 Enter for a chance to win a Lens Profile

Lens Protocol is an open-source tech stack for building decentralized social networking services. The protocol was developed by the Aave Companies and launched on Polygon in May of 2022. Through Lens, web3 developers can build decentralized social media applications and marketplaces that leverage NFT technology to form a fully composable, user-owned social graph where the connections and interactions between people are owned by individual users and creators rather than established networks. 

Complete these steps for a chance to win a Lens Profile:

(🍄,🔍) Bello: The #1 for blockchain analytics tool for web3 creators

Bello is the no-code blockchain analytics tool that empowers web3 creators and communities with actionable insights on their collectors through a simple search.
Join private Beta:


We are back with another episode. With me today, I have one of my favorite people in web three, Reka.eth. What is up? Welcome back to the podcast.

Reka.eth: Thanks for having me, the last year and a half has been a lot of fun. I caused a lot of chaos and internet in a good way. And I’m very happy to be here and see you and talk to you. The people are not prepared for the amount of giggling that’s going to happen. 

I know.

Reka.eth: If I know correctly.

This is gonna, so this is gonna be either a chaotic, like positive disaster or just, you know it, I’m not even gonna go there. This is gonna be great. Okay, this is gonna be great. Last time we ran an episode. Okay, it was November 18, 2021. And we talked about understanding Daos tools, governance, pinpoints, and more. And at the time, you guys were called agora not guild, I feel like guild was like underneath the surface, like it was there. But in spirit, you guys were agora?

Reka.eth: Yeah, the thing with that is that at that time, we were still using the brand because agora was always the studio behind guild XYZ, it still is, we just realized, it’s not a good use of your energy and time to escalate and run two brands at the same time. And we came up with guild in September, we talked in November. So that was the point where we were like, are we guild or agora? Let’s just go with agora still. And after that, we were like, okay, guild gained some traction, we had quite a few 1000 users at that point, just like, you know, get and give, growing and then we were like, great. So, of agora doesn’t really make sense to be a brand now, everybody knows guild that uses us, so or works with us or see us on the internet. So, let’s just skip agora. So, since then, actually, I think that was like our last public appearance, using the agora name and after that it’s

The Story of Reaching Out to the Guests

And a lot has happened since then. I think now that we’ve become very close friends, between you and I, and Roz and I, and just the guild team, we get to laugh at a bunch of things that sort of like we went through in the past, leading up from November 18, 2021, to where we are today, March 27, recording this episode 2023. And I’d love for you to share the story of me reaching out to you guys. Because oftentimes people ask me, like how do you start a podcast? And like what does it take to start a podcast? Like what goes into that process? And I feel like every time we talk about, or somebody asks like how did we meet? That story always comes up. So, share it from your perspective, then I’ll share it from my perspective.

Reka.eth: Yes, you have to know the grind because Adam was not a beginner when we got on the podcast. We’ve been a year and a half ago. He was like deep in it already. So, the grind that this man is on is insanity. We, you know, we were just being founders and stuff being busy. And Adam just reached out over, I think Twitter at first and then telegram, we were entered into telegram DM. And then he kept messaging us like, Guys, I’d really love to have you on my podcast. We could talk about this, just give me a time. And then I think we ghosted him like three times because we just like, well didn’t have the bandwidth, honestly. And we also couldn’t decide like who should go on, when we should do that. Like it wasn’t honest. Like we didn’t think anything bad of that. And we didn’t even know him. We were just like great. Like we could do this sometime but we just like don’t know when. And then I kept having this like really bad feeling like we shouldn’t, like this is such a nice dude, like he’s so always reaching back again, like every few weeks. He’s like, hey, guys, I’m still open. Like let’s do this. And I think after like the fifth DM or something, we were like, okay, let’s just set a date. And then even the process of us sending images to you, to use as our like pictures on the podcast took like a month and I don’t think we even send it. That’s why we have the like OG like agora things. Also, we were kind of semi anonymous at that stage, like we weren’t as openly on Twitter and anywhere as we are now. We still weren’t really sure if we want to be there like out there. So, the grind of what goes into starting a podcast is you have to have a massive CRM, a lot of skin and just no shame reaching out to people and circling back and double texting and triple texting and quadruple texting. Because that was something that made us be like okay, so he really wants us, like even though we don’t have the time we have to go now and then we got to know him. And he’s the one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. So, just give people a chance and just fit. You know, especially someone as, like what’s a good word here? Tenacious maybe, keeps dming you, just do it, because it’s like one of my favorite things that ever happened to me. And maybe not even the podcast. Some people then later told me that they saw us on the podcast because Adams, since then, at least, and time to have grown so much, and so many people listen to the podcast, because he just keeps having awesome people week and week again, and I cannot imagine all the apps that have to be going on in the background for all those very successful people, very busy people to even take this hour with you. Like not like, you know, it’s a podcast, and it’s a great opportunity. But like the amount of people that you have, I feel like, yeah, it’s insane, the DM mechanisms there.

The DM mechanisms, that’s the secret, my mechanisms of DMing. Real talk really quick. I only bring up that story again, because many people asked me like I want to start a podcast, I want to go into the content creation game, how did you get started? And I want to highlight that story because it’s like being a podcaster it’s like nonstop DMing. And when you see something cool on your timeline, that at the time, like agora was like this mysterious thing that had a really cool brand and really cool visuals. And I still couldn’t tell it and it drove me crazy, but everybody was talking about it. So, it’s like, alright, I’m gonna figure out a way to because if I’m feeling this, probably a lot of people are as well. So, I want to be the point of like awareness. Right? That’s how I think about it. So, the DM and the tenacity, what to call it, to figure it out. It was well worth it; it was well worth it. Because through that came a really long loving friendship where we’ve, I feel like we’re very, very close. And I value that. And it started from a DMS. And that’s what I love about this entire story. And that was, like you said a year and a half ago, November 18, on my right screen I have, I’m on, I found our episodes, and I’m going through it. And the title again, was understanding Daos tools, governance, pinpoints, and more. And when I look back, I’m like, and I look back, and I see where you guys were, and I see where you guys are today. And I can’t help but wonder and think Damn, you guys have made so much progress. And it feels as if since then, the narrative around Daos has shifted and so has guild.

Reka.eth: I think so too, fully agree. You’re absolutely right. I’m all the affirmative sentences here that I know.

So, walk me through that because I want to try. Oh, wait, there’s a lag again, hold on a second. Give me a second. Go ahead and take it off. And then I’ll edit it into where you start speaking.

Reka.eth: So, should I just like go with like, how the Dao has changed and how we changed? 

Yeah, so start with, yes, guild has changed a ton and here’s how.

Reka.eth: Thanks for the prompt. So yeah, guild changed a ton. And we just realized, especially with the tooling that we’ve built, at first, it was solving something super simple. That was token gating, connecting Ethereum to discord. And then later on, as we kept working openly with hundreds of community builders in the space, including Daos, we realize we can do much more with this. And we came up with the model that we fully build out today. It’s called the guild model, very, very creatively. It’s consisting of requirements, roles and rewards, and everything else that we built before that for the token gating requirements and everything. And what we build now with mostly on the reward side fits into this. So, anything that you can think of from any permissioning or authorization requirements, like do you own my NFT? Do you follow me on Twitter? Do you support my growth? Do you, have you been a longtime supporter since 2021? How many NFT do you own since then? Are you a developer? Are you contributing to any GitHub repositories frequently? And many, many more, and then, you know, getting roles for these that match these requirements. And then at the end, you would get access or abilities in return for being yourself on the internet and participating in these activities on the internet. So, we put everything into this model. And since then, we’ve been taking more of the role. That was last year, actually, last year around this time. So, last year 2022 March, when we came out with this. And since then, we’ve just been proliferating this model and putting so, so many requirements into the requirements side, so many integrations and partnerships that people use actively to manage their memberships and roles in their communities automatically. And then this year, we were like, okay, so, we have more than 30 integrations on the requirements side, you can set up very spicy stuff for people to get access to something, what are they going to want to do with that. So, this year, we’re focusing on the reward side, and adding 30 things there. So, you can set up anything from, have you played this game at least 100 hours in Steam? if so, you can get access to the alpha release of a new map in this game, just you and a couple other people that have played over 200 hours and own these special skins. So, stuff like that, from coming from, so all the way coming from Dao and very, very web three native crypto communities, going into more broader like online community satisfaction and growth and management. It was a very straightforward pipeline for us in the past year and a half to see this happen. And it goes very well hand in hand with what we’ve been seeing as like active participants in it our space as well is that we’ve been talking about this for on other podcasts actually, for quite some time, the innovation with Daos and around Daos happen on both on a technical level and on a like human-to-human interaction level at the same time. And for some reason we wanted to do both so, so fast, and neither the tech could pick that up. But most importantly, that human to human aspect is so slow to change and make decisions and realize new patterns in. So even though I think now we have more technological advancements in this Dao to link space that could be super useful, to enable how the original Daos were dreamt up, and they could work with them. But I think we still need to work so much more on the relationship and the human aspect of it. And so, I think we need to generalize it a little more, especially with all the cool infrastructure and tooling that we have now, we can fully bring that up into a more general community experience. And not only what we named Dao strictly, you know, the fully decentralized tokenized super mega web three organizations that had no heads, I think we can so much like generalize that and open it up to different settings and communities. Because I think a lot of things that aren’t necessarily like one leader, everyone else is the audience, or a fully decentralized horizontal organization. But everything else in between can work with this technology. And I want to empower that. And I think that’s super cool. And that’s what we’ve been doing. We’ve grown a ton; we’ve learned so much and we’re just starting with the cool stuff. This has been preparation so far.

Expanding a Web3 Native Audience to a Web2 Native Audience

Many products in web three that built for web three typically have a difficult time branching out and generalizing their product to fit a larger audience. But what you guys have figured out is, we don’t have to token gate based off tokens. As token gating has sort of, kind of like mass popularized its name across web three, we can gate off other requirements that are also off chain requirements too. And that kind of like goes into what you’re saying of being able to create certain criteria from like Steam players, right, and allow them access into certain stages or experiences or as you coin rewards into that community, which I think is quite fascinating. My question for you is like how do you actually broaden out something that was actually built for a web three native audience, that’s now being broadened out to more web two native audience? While realizing that gating is like a universal theme, and you could get anything, as long as it’s digital? Am I getting that correct?

Reka.eth: Yeah, absolutely. You can, one of my friends actually, who’ve dug themselves into how guild works, like to the core of it. And they said, you can lock up anything that’s guild unless or until you have a key or wait, unless you have a key, which was so beautiful. And I don’t necessarily agree with like the key lock metaphor, and in this sense, because I feel like we’re more but it’s beautiful, and it makes you understand that so much, so much better. And generalizing, I think you have to keep in mind that even though you started building in web three, you built for people. And I think in our tool, especially, the used case was always managing roles and managing memberships in a community. So, for us the context changes of who these people want to have in their communities. So, it only changes a little bit. So, if you think about how Dao wants to manage contributors, or new people who are just being on boarded to the community, and they need to learn about it, and they need to have this like peer-to-peer experience of getting accepted, and so on, that our tool can satisfy and is good for, that we built it for. That is mega similar to how a creator who posts on Spotify, posts on different platforms, wants to get to know a new audience member or a new audience member that wants to get to know the audience and their fellow, like top fans better, as they worship the same person, like I’m so, like proper fan communities. Or if you think about how I love using notion as an example, they have done such a wonderful job of building their community around the product and doing like a full proper community lead growth over time. And it’s also the same thing, it’s how do you identify people who have contributed to their notion ecosystem who have given and made templates for other people? Who do you say has been there for a long time and how do you reward them for it? Who has done what in regard to this, like small ecosystem of the internet that they’ve created for themselves? And then how do you get them to do more of that? And how do you reward them for creating this very value led vin, vin van scenarios, it’s the same logic, it’s just you might need a wallet, you might not need a wallet. And each of these used cases requires a different set of integrations. So, all three that I mentioned, uses something else as the requirement and there’s the reward. But the goal is generally super, super similar, or at least a process of it.

So, does that mean that you guys are after creating templates or for guild community members to create templates for other people to replicate? Am I understanding that correctly?

Reka.eth: Well, I used that as an example. Oh, that’s what notions doing. That’s how they, that’s the value that the community provides for them, like that marketplace of templates is what they found, that is super like a good spot for the team, the whole ecosystem, other users and the people who create these templates, like they found a really sweet spot. We are thinking about that too, as we got this recommendation for many, many members and users that, like some guilds work really well and they just want to copy it. And it would be so fun if we could make that happen. And so, we were thinking about it. But that’s not the point where I was trying to make, I was trying to give that as an example of what notion did.

Guild’s Place in a Web3 Creator’s Tooling Stack

That make sense. Okay, so what I think of guild today, and I think about where it stands in the creator stack. Okay, I have one way of sort of imagining the mental model around your tooling. Before I give and reveal my mental model. I’m curious, where do you see guild in a tooling stack for a web three native creator today?

Reka.eth: I’m biased, very biased, obviously. But I do see us as we, in the past year and a half, we’ve grown into being this connective tissue from the point of discovery to becoming a core member of a community, where they’re all the way managing that path, and helping guiding new members into the creators, audience or community. And I love thinking about the mechanics of how we transform an audience, which is usually a one-to-many conversation into more of a community, which is many to many types of situations, I love that we can help cultivating that. And we’ve seen some quite beautiful examples of artists who venture into the NFT space, and they use us for rewarding their highest engagement and biggest supporters and identifying them from the crowd, and then rewarding them with special treats. And just focus conversations and direct access to the artists, which I think is such a big unlock compared to like when can I talk to Drake? Like you know, like that would never happen or like whoever else that I’m listening to or, you know, like that will never happen unless it’s web three, and it’s automated. So, me proving that I’ve supported you all the way automatically and then getting the proper reward for it, such as having direct channels to chat with you. And know the first, be the first to know when you drop something, even hear a sample of what you’re making. So, guild stands as the connective tissue to make that happen. And I think that’s pretty fun. We are still very unopinionated of where we stand in this. And I feel like this is the time where we should become more opinionated and identify more of how, like what do we like double down and do the best at supporting these artists and creators. I have had such a fun time, my friend and I have went on creating journey or like this creative creator journey together. And we created multiple experiments where we will use guild amongst many other tools, including Riverside, which is what we’re recording on. We use so much, tried so many of these products, and somehow always came back to the conclusion of we’re on the right track of what we’re creating, because we’re more looking for, not just like big events of activation, where you mint one NFT and that’s the like whole thing but more focusing on building the experience. And kind of this like, share the journey with other members, but also, yeah, other committee members that have to share the shared interests and experiences with you. And then having a lot of easter eggs that you find uniquely on your path. And it’s amazing, I feel like that has never been a thing. At least I haven’t seen it or experience it maybe in some like old path on the internet, I could have found something that works like this, but I haven’t yet.

Guild’s Use Cases Beyond Initial Expectations

A lot of what you’re saying resonates with how I think of guild and my value stack. Okay. So, when I think about the concept of the theme of Season Seven of creating content worth collecting, there’s many layers to that. There’s actually the element of publishing the content, collecting it. But then there’s the after effect of building your community of collectors around that content and kind of commingling and creating experiences accordingly. And guilt has sort of become like the de facto sort of tool for a lot of crypto native creators, specifically, in the music NFT scene. What you often see, you see creators minting their music, building their collector base, and then funneling their users, from sound, from Zora, from catalog, etc., into their guild to kind of like keep that momentum alive, to keep the engagement alive to keep the emotion and the energy alive. And I think it’s such an important tool in the stack. Because right now creators build distribution and virality using web two tools. And they use value capture, the create value capture through web three tools. And I feel like guild like fits in between both. And like you said, I love that word that use, the connective tissue. So, I have a guild from my podcast NFT collectors. And I’m constantly thinking about how can I bring more people and usher people offline, right, or I guess online to like this like, sub niche pocket of my telegram community, so that I can have ways to consistently communicate to them. And I think of it as like a core tool like email, because I own the relationship between my readers and my subscribers, when I use email like Substack, or my database like HubSpot, and my CRM, right, it works as a similar way of owning my communication channels with my collectors. So, I love that element. I love the element. I’m curious, have there been any case studies or used cases, that you’ve seen people use guild that extended beyond what you thought guild would be used for?

Reka.eth: Well, it’s not in a greater sense.


Reka.eth: But we, one is really exciting, it’s fairly new. And I have never, like offered this to anyone to use guild this way. But there’s a project who is just launching, and they have created requirements in their guild and roles, so that members who collected their announcement posts and participated in the early releases of the campaign get access to a telegram group again. But the like kick is, is that nobody can, I think that there’s no like chatting going on in the chat, is just for like the alpha release. So, those who get in, get access to the product way earlier than anyone else, which I think is so cool. And this could have been done easier through our SDK and programmatically, but I love how like it’s done through a telegram group, and it’s like much more personal. But I also really liked the idea. And I’ve seen very, very beautiful successful executions of this, is the like tagging, which I think we didn’t come up with this initially. But some users started using a guild this way, is that they set very specific requirements and many, many requirements, too many roles, that are so specific to the user’s individual journey, that even if they, even if there’s like 15 different roles, because you came from Twitter, you came from my podcasts on Spotify, you came from somewhere else, or through my mirror posted article and minted the NFT there, it doesn’t matter where you come from, you get a different role. So, you’re like tagged, so the manager or the creator knows where you’ve been before, what you’ve done, what other projects you’re interested in, based on all that history, and all those holdings and assets in your wallet. And then you get to the same place with everyone else. But the person who’s managing and building this knows, has so much more context on you, and knows how to provide a better experience for you. So like, if I have a community for like dog lovers, and I’ve seen requirements that you only have interacted with like Jack Russell content, I like know to send you Tik Tok of Jack Russell, you know, like, I’m not gonna send you pug videos, because he obviously, well, you might like it, but like, I’ll go out of my way to send you Jack Russell content, you know, like that’s obviously a silly example. But that’s the point to give more tools for the people who create these groups, to make the experience so much better for those who choose to go on this journey with them. And like in our community, I can target events, we have weekly events, multiple different types. And since our requirements setting and our role system, I can fully target, is this event for someone who’s a developer and is interested in how to build with their SDK, or is this event for someone who is a fully non-technical person, and they’re building a community and they’re interested in how to use new features, and I can fully target the whole event and the operations and the announcements of it directly for them. I also know how long they’ve been in my community, and many, many specificities. And it’s extremely helpful to make sure that my building efforts and their time is the best most values as it can be.

So, just because we’re on the topic of creators for a minute, if I wanted to create a group chat of everybody that’s listened to one of my recent singles on Spotify, assuming you guys had integrated Spotify API into guild, I could technically do that. Right? Is that the depth in which I’m thinking correctly? 

Reka.eth: Yeah.

Okay. Okay. Super cool. I love it. Yes, precisely. Let’s talk about Daos for a minute, because that was the initial topic that first brought us together and made this entire familiar thing. Okay. Daos have developed tremendously the last year and a half, two years. It’s been quite a whirlwind experience. I can’t even say that word correctly, world wind experience.

Reka.eth: Whirlwind.

Shifts in DAOs Over the Last Year and a Half

November, whirlwind. November 18, 2021, agora came out as very much like Dao in front and Dao tooling. And now you guys have sort of become the rewards and access layer for both web two and web three communities. How have you seen the shift in Daos in the last year and a half to two years? Where do you stand on where we are today? 

Reka.eth:I think they’re taking themselves a little bit less seriously. And I also feel like the, like last or this bearish market, whatever we call it, that we’re in right now, which is kind of crazy and wild, have shown where the true activities and engagement actually is, which is, you know, not in the places that a lot of Daos or organizations that set up to become Daos were thinking that they’re going to have those at, so the core values are being revealed. And I think that made a lot of communities’ rethinks why they exist and their value and how they want to be set up. And I think that’s super healthy, and I love it. I’m here for it. That having said that, a lot of the things and communities that we still call Daos, I don’t think or but I’ve always feel like it’s just the naming, like if, there’s like five Daos that are truly Daos that I can name right now, maybe a little bit more, but the rest are also like very Dao edition, going towards decentralization, going towards being autonomous and definitely internet native organizations that have web three native assets involved and I love it. I actually like that it’s not as serious anymore, that it’s not every wanted Dao, and everyone has to make legislative decisions being incorporated, somewhere being super official, I like how we go towards more what we’ve learned from executing Dao so far, or being, you know, this whole process of becoming Daos. And taking that into Internet communities in general. And I think there’s going to be an uprise or second wave of Dao soon, which will be much, much healthier than what we had in the past years, because of our learnings. And because there was time to rethink why we’re doing this and how we want to achieve this. So, I can’t wait for that to happen.

What do you think is missing for that to happen?

Reka.eth: I think right now, a lot of people are touching grass at this exact month. I think like that’s what’s happening. And I think a lot of people lost trust in quite a few organizations and how they were set up. You know, a lot of shit went down last year, and many involved. Lots of financials that Daos were also conducting and I think the trust issues need a little bit more time to be resolved. So, having said that, the thing that I mentioned before, the human and the technical tool aspect, still have to come in alignment. I think we still, well, first of all need more specific tooling, and I couldn’t really say pinpoint what, but I feel like it’s been a very high barrier to participate in a Dao previously, I feel like that barrier has to be lowered still. And the human coordination aspect has so, so much work to be done there. In my experience, even the Dao that we call it Daos. Because they technically are, I’ve heard how centralized they are in terms of power and financials. And I think that’s going to be really hard to shake because that’s how a lot of organizations have been run in the past in human civilization. I know that’s not the only way and then there’s definitely improvements already, but I just feel like yeah, there’s more trust to be rekindled, and then are rekindled and then implementing the learnings from last year and probably. 

The way I understand Dao.

Reka.eth: Also, we need stuff to do, you know, like I feel like, oh, we have a lag. Sorry. I feel like there’s, we still need stuff to do. We need to figure out the goals and be much, much stronger with the values and the mission that we’re on together as a Dao and cultivate that meticulously. Because I feel like even if trust and every financial and every different system is crumbling, if the mission is strong and the core of the whole org is going to survive in either shape, any shape or form.

Best Execution and Governance Practices for DAOs

What do you think or let me scratch that. Who do you think is executing on Daos in the thesis around Daos and the governance around Daos best today? And don’t say nouns Dao because we know their creme de la creme, but beyond nouns Dao.

Reka.eth: I actually heard pretty sick conflicts coming from noun Dao, I’ve been selling them forever. But I’ve heard there’s like pretty vague conflicts going on in there. So, I don’t know about that anymore. I feel like that turns out with every organization that I know about, like I just I named them as they’re great. And then three months later, it turns out that they have pretty systemic issues. So, like I’m scared to say anyone right now. I feel like someone who’s still have, has been working for through the Dao upsurge that we have, and still now is developer Dao I’ve always, they’ve been in my heart for a long time. There’s so hard working and yeah, I just, I appreciate the work that they do. And I feel like there’s an uprise, is that a word even? Like there’s a growing number of media-oriented communities, that are going towards decentralization, like they also started from a small core of core members, but they are actively getting contributors and they are funding themselves through selling off NFTs and I feel like tokenization is coming soon to them as well. So, I’m super excited to see that happen. You know like every, as the saying goes every web three native community is a media company at some point. And so, I’m super excited and thrilled to see how media companies function as decentralized organizations.

Guild’s Approach to Media and Content Worth Collecting

Okay, I think this is a perfect segue into talking about guild as a media company, as a creator led media company, particularly, right guys you’ve been introducing new product features new insights, with a twist, kind of like portraying yourself as a creator building guild, which I love so much. And that has sparked a lot of new creative paths for you as a creator with your Chaos journey and everything in between. So, being a brand that is actually mediate brand, right, just kind of like playing on your argument. How does guild think about media? How does guild think about content creation? And how does guild thinking about content worth collecting the theme of season seven?

Reka.eth: Ooh, I love that. I have a lot of thoughts. This is my bread and butter and the thing that I think about most under the shower, and I think it all started back last year. Once upon a time when I just had this feeling of having been in the space for a while and building a brand in the space for a while. And like you said we started very mysteriously both with Agora and then also with Guild and like, that was such a strong start I think and then we slowly opened up to be more and more approachable. And I feel like I have to, I just always felt like were doing such big responsibility for these teams and they trust us so much. We have to be more approachable. We have to, I want to build a soft brand. We are actually like dark themed or like arts as you can see here is pixelated, it’s very like gay Marie and I always felt like I’m a soft girly. We need to soften this up and the best way I knew how is, by showing, by always being there for our users. And then yes, back on the ominous day, I had this thought of I saw an announcement with Starbucks and Polygon I think, and I was like, like that’s such a big brand. Like if these brands keep coming in, we’re gonna be drowning. Like they have millions of dollars to throw into marketing. We’re not gonna be nowhere. We have such amazing tooling, like collectively invest and so amazing companies coming up. And if these like loyalty gigantic web two Wales come in, we’re gonna be nowhere, like we’re not going to be heard. We’re just going to drown in the ocean of cool things to do and collect and I was like, no, no, no, that cannot happen. And my solution in my head was whichever web three native and kind of like, you know, a company that lives the web three thesis, so that in being that different than the web two companies that are arriving right now into the space. Whatever company figures out, being approachable, being a recognized known brand and creating digestible, fun, relatable content continuously, even if it’s mediocre, but it’s continuous and it’s out there, is going to be so ahead of the curve. And whenever these big giants come in, they won’t drown. And I had this vision, I think over a year ago, but it took me so long because I’m like everyone, I’ve been a creator on not web three. Well, let’s continue the water theme on that web three oceans before overseas. And so, it’s not like brand new for me. But I still have such a big like, what am I going to say? Like I need to figure out how am I going to make a video, I need to figure out what tooling I need, like editing takes so much time. I’m a founder, like how am I going to juggle being consistent with content it’s so, it’s a full-time job. And then I figured it out. I had a great accountability buddy that we continued to assure each other into the right direction. And give validation constantly whenever each other feels like oh, we don’t want to be online. I don’t want to be perceived stuff perceiving me. We just talk to each other and validate each other and that was enough and so I figured everything out. I trial error. I tried so much tooling. I did the things and then here we are in the space where I can comfortably, like before this podcast, I set all of this up, the lighting, my phone records, my mic, another light, so that I’m balancing out the big light. All of this was set up in eight minutes, and the flowers and the background and everything and because I’ve done this, it’s the practice my babes. They’re not lying to you. I’ve done this at least seven times now, this whole setup, like I have the practice, it’s gonna be seven minutes next time, catch me doing that instead of and so it really is, it’s the elbow grease. And people are very shy to put content out. And I feel, I always just feel like it’s silly because whenever you feel like people aren’t going to relate to you, you’re going to be looked down upon. It’s not true. People aren’t going to say that. There’s so many people out there, even on the small crypto Twitter that is and people are going to find and gravitate towards you who are like you and that’s enough and you’ll find each other, if you keep consistently putting out stuff, you just find each other and it works. It’s perfect. On the other hand, it’s a scarier thing to be a face of a brand, which I also am in this journey because that’s why I was like, do I go and put like my silly little videos when I’m practicing on my personal account or do, I already posted on the guild brand account with like 80,000 followers? I didn’t there, so I actually, my pseudo videos went out on my own profile, which is perfect, because why not? Whatever I’m doing is guild anyways. My whole life is just guild, I’m incorporated into the product. Putting out something on an official branded account is a little bit scarier because you’ll be judged more, and it also is saying everything about your company or the company that you’re putting out it for. So, it has to be a little bit more polished and a little bit better, have more context. And to this day, in our audience I still get a few comments that there’s, my co-founder is also handling that Twitter account and our styles is mad different and some of the people don’t understand my style at all, which I think it’s a cute thing, you know, but that’s what I’m saying. The rest do and they love it. And we’ve just been in Denver at a conference, and it’s been so wholesome to see because at Denver it was core Ethereum community, so like fully the people that we want to talk to you and talk to on a regular basis. And since I’ve been putting on my solidity videos, I’ve not only been perceived as a creator and someone who bravely like shares on the internet, but you’re recognized, you’re given opportunities, people are kinder to you. They have more point of connection to put to your face and then this faceless, semi anonymous PFP world, that’s such a priceless thing. So, as hard as this journey is and as much bravery and courage it takes, I can only recommend people start doing it and the chaos thing that Adam was talking about, or what you were talking about is, we it was more like, at first it was an experiment, so we can support each other with my friend LDF in this creator journey. But it also ended up being, us being super public about our journey and experience and creating this movement. So, others will also start posting themselves a little bit more and putting out more of themselves. And it worked really, really well. And we’ve encouraged so many people to start doing the same. So, do it. I also need water, can I grab water?

Go grab water, yeah. 

Reka.eth: Thanks, that was a wild.

The Guest’s Creator Journey and Focus During the Bear Market

Ready. 3, 2, 1. I feel like it’s always difficult and uncomfortable putting yourself out there. But I feel like long term it makes sense and it becomes super worth it. So, I commend you guys for just like embarking on the creator journey as cringy as that sounds, but I really think it is a journey and documenting your process and creating content around it and finding your voice through content. It’s like a, I want to say it’s a small w but it’s also a big W at the same time. I guess on that topic, okay. What is your creator journey look like from here on out, like what are you focusing on in this bear market? What are you going to be covering? What are you going to be documenting beyond what you’re already doing right now?

Reka.eth: I think so far, I’ve become very comfortable with posting feature updates on the guild account like this. And I’m also extremely comfortable posting silly little thoughts on my own account. I want to focus more on creating, like case study videos and this just in general like inspiring people to do cool stuff on the internet with how other people have done it and how we’ve helped other people do it. And I’m really excited to keep doing this, as I’m going to be traveling a lot this year and that’s also always a challenge, how to keep up consistency, quality and all of that, while you’re living out of a suitcase and this baby little mic is going to be coming with me everywhere, also my tiny tripod for my phone is going to come everywhere. And I think I’m going to trust natural lighting for my lighting situation. But yeah, I think I’m just going to focus more on trying to remain consistent, as I feel like I’ve reached the level of quality that I wanted with my editing, with my direction, with my everything. Oh, a new video was coming out this Wednesday. You will love it. It’s such, it’s my best direction ever. It’s like a YouTube video, like proper top tier 2016 video, you’ll love it. 

Wow. Let’s go. 

Reka.eth: It’s about creating tokens of appreciation and also using a new feature video. Because that’s the perfect combo of creating fun content and also showing your own stuff. New features and yeah, so staying consistent because that’s the hard part, at least for me.

Reka’s Other Pursuits During the Bear Market

Totally. Totally. Okay, final question I have for you is, what are you spending your time on during the bear market, beyond content creation, beyond guild, whether it’s spending your time on, like actually doing work or thinking about deeply? I’m trying to get a better sense of where your head’s at in this bear market.

Reka.eth: Well, it’s not gonna be easy to say a creative answer because I just work all the hours in the day right now. But I do think I’m, oh, I’m very into health practices that don’t take too much of your time. So, I’ve picked up sauna every few times a week, to just kind of cool off as an activity, otherwise I’m like barely doing anything aside from work. And what I’m thinking about though, which I do too much is, a lot of how we scale and distribute media better. So, in my opinion, every, I’m sorry, I’m stuck in the creator track but it’s who I am. So, I feel like every community, every creator needs two types of tooling and platform. One for permanence and just sharing it and one for distribution. And, you know, in a web two sense, somewhere where you would share it for permanence is YouTube or Spotify or well, even Instagram, and then where you get distribution is different type, which is like shorts, Tik Tok, Twitter, stuff like that. And I’m trying to think of how do we elevate it in a web three way and because I feel like with the tooling that I’m seeing people building right now, we are doing both at the same time in some cases, and I’m trying to think of how that’s going to be a better experience instead of making it worse. So, I’ve been grinding my brain cells on that one. Otherwise, I’m just living growing, finding balance in everything, like usually.


I love it. I love it. Well, look, I’m excited for you. I’m excited for your creator journey, all the content that we’ll be rolling out soon. Before I let you go, where can we find you? Where can we learn more, where can we learn more about guild specifically and all the cool things you guys are up to? Show it away.

Reka.eth: You can find me mostly on Twitter, Reka_eth and for guild, same on Twitter, guildxyz without the dot, sorry. And then we also have a YouTube channel which, where I post a lot of our content, even our community events, which are usually closed but I post the recordings of that, so that others can learn from what we teach each other there about community building, new projects and stuff like that. I also post a lot of fun guides and little videos there. It’s on YouTube guildxyz. And yeah, I want to help you make your community experiences better. So, get on guild. It’s free. Create group chats for your friends and or just like your biggest fans. I have one for everyone that’s created with me ever. I give them a pull app, and that’s an NFT and then I just created a guild for them, and they don’t talk to each other because they’re like random people, they’re sort of know each other because they’re acquaintances, so I don’t know what my goal with that was, but they’re in a group together, and it’s fun.

Soon hopefully, it won’t take another year and a half to get another episode but till then, wishing you well and thanks again.

Reka.eth: Thanks for having me. So nice to see you.

Podcast Transcript

How Royalty-Backed NFTs are Challenging the Music Industry


Mint Season 7 Episode 22 welcomes Morkeeth and Michel, the Co-Founders of Anotherblock. Throughout the session, we discuss how their platform connects traditional music ownership via streaming revenue with NFTs for buying and selling music onchain. The conversation touches on what they claim to be the benefits of royalty-backed NFTs over other forms of music NFTs, the psychology of pricing, and the grey area of whether or not these assets are an unregistered security. This conversation is not intended to be financial advice, strictly informational as it goes with every conversation on Mint.

So without further ado, I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:00 – Introduction
  • 05:25 – Why People Should Feel Entitled to Own More of the Value They Create
  • 07:48 – The Mindset of the Average Person Scrolling Through Tik Tok and Contributing to the Virality of Today’s Music
  • 10:03 – Will Collecting Tokens Become the New Form of Showcasing Fandom on a Greater Scale or is It Limited to a Few
  • 17:20 – Thesis for a Crypto-Enabled Music Industry
  • 20:05 – Royalty-Backed NFTs
  • 22:34 – Psychology of Pricing and Decision-Making Processes
  • 26:38 – Do People Mint NFTs Out of Emotion or for Investment Purposes?
  • 28:43 – Benefits for Individuals Who Take a Percentage of Royalties
  • 30:04 – Rihana’s NFT Launching Right Before the Superbowl
  • 36:13 – Securities Laws Around Associating a Royalty with a Music NFT
  • 40:06 – Common Misconceptions and Potential Backlash from Labels and Artists
  • 41:17 – The Possibility of Paying Individuals per Second or Minute Rather than the Typical Few-Month Period
  • 43:09 – Anotherblock’s Future Plans and Roadmap
  • 44:12 – Outro

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Michel, and Morkeeth, welcome to the podcast, excited to host another block on this episode, a part of season seven. How are we feeling? What’s going on?

Morkeeth: We’re good. We’re good. It’s getting late here in Stockholm. So, it’s, you know, it’s perfect way to round off the day.

What time is there now?

Michel: It’s cold, it’s getting into spring, it’s 1920.

Wow. Okay, well, I appreciate you guys being on super late. I know, we’ve been trying to make this episode a reality for a minute, but never, I guess better late than never. That’s what I wanted to say, right? I think a good place to start guys as to how I like starting all these episodes and is understanding a little about, a little bit about who I’m speaking with. Okay, so I wanna start with a couple intros from you, Morkeeth and then from you, Michel, who are you guys? Like what does the world need to know about you and more specifically, how did you get your start into web three? We can start with Morkeeth, and then work our way to Michel and maybe even include like how you guys met each other in that.

Morkeeth: Perfect. Well, sounds good. I mean, you and I, Adam, we met over at Bogota, where I started hacking together with your co-founder from Bello, Ellie, which gave us also a great shout out in your Eth Denver recap. That was cool. And you know we were sitting there; we were talking about creative economy. And that’s basically what we do, I run product here another block and came across Michel after I’ve been working in endow tooling, a little bit in defi and basically start to fall in love with this kind of like alternative acid and the creative economy. And basically, working with something that sparks joy and passion for people. I mean, money is great as well, when you talk about defy, but it hits different with like trying to change a whole generations kind of behavior of trying to reshape ownership, and especially with music.

And for you, Michel, where do you come into the picture?

Michel: So, I mean, long story short, so I’m the CEO, and the founder, one of the founders, we’re three the founders. But yeah, my background also, like grew up between Sweden and West Africa and Burkina Faso, moved back and forth between the two. And growing up, my dad set up like the first modern record label in Regina. So, I really, like grew up seeing and understanding like the difficulties and the awesomeness of music, but also like, definitely, like how difficult it is to monetize and make it, you know, a big thing that he really, like, started that industry from scratch over there. So given that experience, and seeing that, like I’d never thought it would go into music. So, you know, my background has been a lot in FinTech, my path into web three was actually quite slow. So, one of my colleagues in 2015, he went on to start doing analytics. But he was the one who like sat down with me and bought the first core into like, you know, he was doing this whole gospel thing, you know, so, I got introduced via him into the space, but then I would say, I was like interested and I read a lot about it, but I never, you know, I never collected and it is I understood the tech, I understood, you know, why it’s great. But you know, I never really, you know, interacted that much with it. But I understood definitely like what it could do and what the allure was, yeah. And then I met one of my co-founders, and we bonded about music rights in general, and like the power of music rights, and how awesome would it be to both fund like an up and coming artists and be a part of the growth but also, and more importantly, almost like, you know, at that time, you know, Bob Dylan and Neil Young, all these big stores are selling catalogs. And we were like, you know, we’re the ones who are creating the value of the catalog, because we’re listening to it all the time. Like why isn’t that a normal IPO? Why is it that you know, here, guys, you created the value, now it’s your turn to own it. Like why are those deals always bilateral? Why isn’t always one entity or, you know, big corporation buying up all of those rights, which was the same for the stock market for a long time. It wasn’t a stock market, you know, but for stocks in big companies, it was only big funds, buying them until the public could actually participate. So, that was where the idea started about one and a half years ago. And then it wasn’t until like two months after that, where we decided to double down on building it on crypto because we saw that, you know, it had very clear advantages to doing that. Like technically, you have 24/7 availability, it’s easier to track, it’s easier to do all the payouts. So really like the blockchain aspect of this changing after, you know, after the core concept was really you know, were create it. And then, you know, Stockholm has quite a small web three scene and Oscar was, you know, is one of the founding fathers of that scene, I would say. So, you know, we met quite early on and really, you know, did everything we could to bring him in.

Morkeeth: Yeah. And we tried understanding like, you know, we love web three, and try to really add those things that we loved, and to the end of the block ecosystem.

Why People Should Feel Entitled to Own More of the Value They Create

Got it. Why should people feel entitled to own more of the value that they create? Like why should that be a right of somebody interacting in the digital world? Because if you think about it, right now, when you consume content, and you consume media, the average listener doesn’t think, wow, I’m getting screwed here, I should be owning a piece of the value that I’m creating some capacity. It’s a very, it’s a new way of thinking for the consumer. And I’d say you’re very early in the adoption curve that sort of thinks this way. So, when you’re thinking about, and you made the argument that we should be capturing more of the value that we create, like that’s essentially paraphrasing what you said, why should that be a right? And would you say that a lot of people think like that today, but they just don’t have the tools to achieve that that want?

Michel: Yeah, I wouldn’t say it should be right. Definitely not, it shouldn’t be right for anyone, like it’s up to the creator in the end of the day, I’m just saying that it’s something that would be very, you know, I think it’s something that would be very welcomed, and something that people would appreciate having the opportunity to be a part of, because.

Morkeeth: We need the option to.

Michel: Yeah, it’s more on the option side of it. Like obviously, it’s going to be down to the creator at the end of the day. But like if you look at other things people invest in, like music and these kinds of assets, they also perform really well, and they are good investments. But the difference is that it’s so much clearer that you’re a part of that value creation. So, to me, it’s just like creating that possibility. And I’m sure that people will want to be a part of that, you know, because they’re a part of the value creation, they should be part of the value extraction. But it definitely shouldn’t be like, I’m creating, like I should have the right to own some of your rights, because I’m the one that’s listening. But it’s more like, you know, why isn’t this a part of the mix of things people can place their capital in and be, you know, co-owners of.

Got it.

Morkeeth: And if we’re looking at the kind of like attention economy, like if we do want to have a generation that just scrolls and not participating, and like actually activating, I think this is a great way of just activating people and making people have cautious decisions of what they actually like.

The Mindset of the Average Person Scrolling Through Tik Tok and Contributing to the Virality of Today’s Music

When you think of the average person that’s scrolling through Tik Tok, and contributing to the virality of today’s music, what do you think their mindset is, as they’re consuming this content? When it comes to the music that that’s pegged and complemented to the video content that they’re watching? What do you think their mindset is, in that given time?

Michel: I mean, in the Tik Tok part, it’s hard to say like, because maybe I’m more focused on the image material that they’re watching, and they don’t really, you know, notice the sound or, you know, maybe they do and their mindset then is, I don’t think the mindset is like I’m a part of making this a success. You know, I don’t think that that’s part of the thinking today, but, you know, 10 years from now, maybe if you see a video that you think is gonna go viral, or listen to the song that you think it’s gonna get big, like if there’s an opportunity to jump in early, because you have a great taste, or whatever you care about it, like it would be great to have that opportunity, in my opinion.

That makes sense. I’m a big believer that I should be, I would love new ways to contribute to more of the value that I create, and like be more hands on with more value and value is very arbitrary, could be listening to a song. And my way of contributing is supporting the artists by collecting their NFT, right. Or if I’m listening to a podcast, my way of supporting the network is through patronage by collecting their NFT, like it all comes back to the NFT for me, right, something that shows my level of intimacy and my level of love that’s measured on chain, I think, is a very cool way to do that. But I’ve yet, a lot of people have yet to sort of like get that that fuse clicks, you know, the way we sort of, kind of like came.

Michel: And I agree with you. And I think that like, just, you know, the NFT part of it is an important aspect of it, because it’s like some sort of, you know, almost is tangible, but you know, you can touch it, but it is the closest thing to tangible, you know, owning a piece of something, and being a part of something that you can come, so I think that you know, this revolution is needed in order for people to start thinking this way.

Morkeeth: And a good way to bring around your data instead of having Apple collect, oh, you did a great review on the podcast you level. You gave five stars. 


Morkeeth: That’s very limited to the Apple ecosystem.

Will Collecting Tokens Become the New Form of Showcasing Fandom on a Greater Scale or is It Limited to a Few

Totally, totally. Do you think that these behaviors of collecting tokens, are going to be the new form of showcasing fandom on like on a greater scale or is this niche limited to a certain few?

Michel: It completely depends on how well we bridge the limitations right now. So, I mean, if you look at it, like it’s been a focus for us all the time, like how do we make it so, so, so easy for anyone who loves music to be a part of this, but you know, it isn’t that easy today to just interact with a credit card. And to build a product where you can, you know, have your tokens, like where you can have all of the benefits of an NFT and, you know, having on the blockchain, while also leveraging all the benefits of, you know, a web two check out or, you know, that flow of things, and I think it won’t be until, you know, we can have both, where, you know, it can go really, really big, but you know, if we don’t figure out as a community how to solve that, it’s going to stay niche, in my opinion, you know. And what I mean, there’s like, okay, OBC, they’re really good custodial solutions and things like that. But then, with those things, you also lose some of the parts of you owning something directly, right. But if the ecosystem as a whole, I’m talking about the whole crypto, and if the ecosystem figures out a way in which you know, you can really come close to that feeling of like I own this piece, I own this wallet, but at the same time, it’s just as simple to check out as it is on Amazon like, but then if those two things align, then I definitely think this is a mass market thing.

The way I’m understanding the way it works today outside of web three, when you build music fandom, I’m going to use one specific example, I’m gonna use Lady Gaga as an example. It’s an example that I use oftentimes in the podcast, and I like to ask my guests about that are building web three crypto native products. Now, a lot of the premise of this question stems from sort of what’s happening in my world today, going through crypto startup school and accelerator for Bello, right? Talking to all these people who’ve done on chain IP really well, who’ve built communities. And me thinking like what if the thing that’s preventing web three from hitting 100 million users is web three itself? And what do I mean by that? When you go on a Facebook group today, and you look up, or when you go to Facebook, and you look up Lady Gaga, you’ll see thousands of Facebook groups around Lady Gaga that her fans have independently created around different attributes of Lady Gaga, the equivalent of that could be like, everybody has a gold jacket and the board a yacht club will create a discord for those gold jackets, everybody that’s met Lady Gaga will create, will join the Facebook group that says I’ve met Lady Gaga. And by the way, that is a Facebook group. And there’s 7000 people in that group. And they posted like 20 times in the last day. Okay, so they don’t have a token, but they love the music they love. They love the element of connecting with all the other Gaga fans. They love the music, they love what she stands for, they love her fashion sense. They love all these things about her. And that’s what brings them together. Not a token, right? So, and I and I present this question or this narrative, or whatever you want to call this, the speech that I’m giving right now, okay, from the sake of challenging how I think of things in web three, and what’s actually important to the end user, when it comes to connecting with their fans. Because if I feel like if you brought a token into the mix, or any sort of financial element, whether it’s on chain or off chain, into those communities, the entire vibe would be completely different. Completely different. I’m curious if you have any thoughts on that.

Morkeeth: I mean, we had a look in these chords in the sub-Reddits. When we do, when we did a drop with, with Danny Boy style, producer for the weekend, we went on a hunt, to kind of look at the different sub communities. So, you know, try to, there is a difference.

Michel: There is a difference, and we were in like the weekends, you know, just their Discord server that has nothing to do with a token or web three, and it’s super, super, you have so many people have so much activity, they don’t need a token to be there at all. So, I mean, I still agree with you. And it’s like, you know, two years ago, when you met startups, you’re like, but why are you doing this on blockchain? What’s the actual benefit of this in this case? I think to us, if you look at like the big artists that we’re working with are the big producers, the big songs, then obviously, it is like, partly the financial aspect of it, like you can actually, you can actually trace the token you hold to a physical contract that says that you are a co-owner of this track, and that’s what we’re building the community around. So, I mean, that would be more difficult, not having it on chain. But I’m not saying that, you know, the fact that we have this token makes it a better fan community. You know, I think that those are two really different things. So, like, for us having it on token makes it a much easier way to say that you actually own a piece of the song for real. Like that’s what we’re serving today. And I think that, you know, for these really, really big artists, it might be difficult to have, you know, tokens be the bridge to their fans. But I do think, though, on the long tail, that, you know, tokens may play a role in just, you know, assembling those early supporters. But yeah, I mean, it’s hard to say like what it could, what it actually does that that’s completely different from a real Facebook.

Mokeeth: I mean, for us, it’s easy to distribute utility. And I mean, like you did, Adam, with your minting the NFTs. For the podcast, tracing everything, analytics becomes very much I mean, you’ve become closer with your audience at least.

100%. And I think just on this rant really quick of, I think it’s less about if tokens are needed or not, because I do see a world for tokens, it’s more about like what is the human behavior that a token fits into place organically. And when I think about like, web three’s adoption, I think let’s plug in this technology into systems in which everyday user already participate. So, for example, you buy a ticket to see a lady gaga show, the underpinning of that ticket is it NFT, the user and the attendee has no idea that’s happening, they then go create a Facebook like group around everybody that’s attended the conference, and the concert, and the only way to get into that community, is if you were at the show itself. And then forget token, forget price up price down, floor price, like forget all that stuff. You just shoot the shit and talk about Lady Gaga, you know, but exactly, to do was this verifiable thing, right? That would symbolize your access into the community.

Michel: Yeah, love that. And I mean, that also has to do with like, the simplicity in which you can access this. So, if you really bridge everything, so it is easy to buy, we are feared as we are crypto, when you buy this ticket ,like that is the initial step that needs to be bridged before all of those, you know, that example, for instance, would be a reality where it’s like just, you know, just a different technology, it makes it easier.

Thesis for a Crypto-Enabled Music Industry

So, I want to pivot more into talking about another block and just understanding, what is your thesis for a crypto enabled music industry?

Michel: So I mean, the thesis as a whole is, you know, it starts off with like, we want people to be able to co-own music, and there’s two big legs that with that stance on, right? The first leg is we want people to be able to own parts of big tracks, that have delivered and are going to deliver. It can be a new track or from an established artist, and you know, that has two values, it has the emotional value of owning a piece of something. But it also has obvious you know, financial value, because you actually own, think piece of something that’s going to generate, you know, something, and, you know, that’s the first leg. The second leg is for the up-and-coming artists and that’s something that we’re going to focus on. Not now but after a while. So, the reason why we started with the first leg is because we want to bring people in, educate them and how it works, before you know allowing up and coming artists and to have this tool that they can also use, you know, for their community. And I think it’s going to be two different value propositions for these groups, like in the second groups went up and coming artists, you know, royalties is going to be less important, it’s going to be more focused on you know, how you can actually engage with this young artist in their path of creating something bigger. While for the bigger artists, it’s more of this emotional thing of like, oh, I own a piece of this star, and I’m worth it, right? So that’s, you know, I think that that’s in the realm that we’re working, like, you know, better attachment to the songs you already love. And being a part of that, you know, that financial development, and also being a part of this up-and-coming artists, you know, those are the two ways I think that our space can actually have an impact.

What do you say to those who are thinking, forget the old system, I’m here to build a new system, the old system screwed me over. NFT serve as a great primitive to sort of, like, create this new platform for myself, for my music and everybody that loves it. So, I don’t want to integrate the royalties. I just want to create; I just want to tokenize my existing song Independent of what’s happening in the web two world.

Michel: I would say I love that, you know, we need so many products out there, so like, why not do that? That’s awesome. If that’s what you feel like, if that’s what you know, feels the best and if that’s where you’re gonna get a lot of people in, like, you know, definitely do that. And you know, for our up-and-coming artists, what we’re going to do, it’s not as sure that we will work with royalties in the same way. But for, what I would say to someone, like, you know, that has that opinion is that, you know, it’s great, you have some options that are doing that, you know, you should definitely use that. But we’re here to provide a solution for all of the people that say that, you know, these NFTs has no value, like, you know, you just gonna create on just, you know, we’re here to create something that actually bridges the real world and the NFT world, where we say that, you know, this NFT, they are not empty, they actually own, you own a piece of this in the real world. Like we’re doing something different. I think that’s also needed in the space. I don’t think it’s like a dichotomy that we need to do. 

Got it. 

Michel: Either one will win everything or the other will win everything. I think, you know, it’s different approaches. I’m a firm believer in what we’re doing. And I think that the reason why I didn’t get too involved with NFTs before, this was that I missed that aspect of it, I missed the aspect of, you know, what does it translate to the real world?

Royalty-Backed NFTs

Let’s talk about that for a second. Because I think it’s super important to create frameworks for people to understand how all these new primitives fit into place. So, what you’re sort of explaining is one framework and then there’s another framework. I want you to tap More into your framework, like when does an artist choose to go the royalty backed NFT route?

Michel: Yeah. So, I mean, for an artist’s first of all, like the artist doesn’t need to understand much about web three or anything at this stage. So, an artist today, we can say that, you know, say that the artist, in general gives away a lot, let’s take an independent artist as an example, they can give a lot of weight to a label, in order to get funding, right. So, they give 50% of the rights away to label, so that they get a little bit of funding, so that they have something to live on, while you know, they hope that the song is going to make it big. But if it does, right, the label has 50%. So, if there was an open marketplace for music rights, then you can say, You know what, instead of giving away 50%, I’m going to sell 20%, but I’m going to sell it to the people actually like this music and support this music, and it’s going to spread this music, and they end up with 80% of the right, but maybe they have the same funding in the end. That’s the type of mentality where we think that, you know, the public and the community can actually replace a big part of what the major labels have been able to do, which is, you know, one of the biggest things in the marketing, you know, marketing mix is, you know, being able to give upfront cash. And if that is, you know, if that can be represented by people who will then spread this even more aggressively than that might be a really, really good option. Right?

Psychology of Pricing and Decision-Making Processes

I love that. And from a product perspective, Morkeeth, when you think about like designing a product, thinking about like the visual psychological effects when you see a product like in a music, royalty back music NFT, right, you can’t help but wonder like, what is the optimal price? And what is the optimal format for displaying these items, for selling these items? Let’s talk about price for a second. Okay. How do you guys think about pricing these NFTs? Because I feel like the Rhianna drop is much different than another drop that you’ll do, that’s much different than another drop that you’ll do. Like how do you think about the psychology of pricing? And how do you actually get to the conclusion that alright, this is what we’re going with, this what makes most sense?

Morkeeth: Yeah, I mean, the evaluation, we have a fairly standardized way of evaluating.

Michel: Yeah, exactly. So, I mean, I can talk a little bit about how we value like the evaluation, so and then, but then it’s up to you and the product team to decide like what to, how many NFTs and how much to split it. But if you started like what to revaluing. So, we have a percentage of the song that’s going to you know, that’s going to bring X amount of capital. And you know, the NFT price is going to be that divided by the number of NFTs eventually, right? But when we look at like what we’re selling it for, we aim to have a yield that is, you know, wildly between 7% and 12%, or something per year. So, it is like when we look at like the performance, the historical performance, we work with third parties that give us a good view on the next coming years in terms of streaming. So, we have a good view on like, how much cash flow this asset to, you know, the song with generate. And then we obviously work with, you know, risk assessments and, you know, interest rates on, you know, on, you know, in five years in the future, that value is going to be less than today. So, you know, we look at like, how is the cash flow gonna be over the next 20, 30 years? What does the cash flow the future mean, in terms of value today, right? Standard discount flow, discounted cash flow methods, but when we put all of that together, we get eventually get a price, like this is what we believe this track is worth and we presented to the seller. So, we’re a platform so the seller is always going to sell it and today, we aim to negotiate with the seller as much as we can, to get as fair price as possible to our end users in the future. The idea is that the seller should be able to price it at whatever they want but we’re always going to state, you know, what our economic calculation of this track. So, that if you completely miss out on that, then it’s up to you if you sell it or not, essentially, right. But that’s it. And then we need to figure out like how many tokens to split into what the price is. And that’s difficult, because that’s psychology, basically.

Morkeeth: That’s a lot about listening to the music, but also listening to the rights holder that wants to divest. Because there’s a kind of psychology and kind of branding mechanism in having a higher price point for NFT, assets being portrayed is more exclusive or more scars. But I would say I mean, let shout out to on chain music that also helped me, we worked a lot with third parties to get this kind of almost independent analysis of the track’s performance. And you know, really fighting for our holders in this current shape to get a good deal and a good valuation.

Michel: So that’s basically it. So, when you put the things were put together, it’s like this is the value of the track financially. And today, I mean, we price the tokens at that value. So, any, if it goes up on the secondary, you know, that’s up to the market, because maybe there’s emotional aspects to own music, right. So today, we’ve seen that yeah, all drops have risen on the secondary, which is great for, you know, our early minters. But it also shows that obviously, you know, music has more value than then than the financial value, which is what we’re pricing it at initially.

Do People Mint NFTs Out of Emotion or for Investment Purposes?

So, you talked about the emotional aspect. So, that that sort of like brings me into my next question. Do people mint these NFTs out of emotion or for the investment, the royalty’s element?

Michel: It’s hard. I like what I tell people who ask because that’s such, like a lot of people ask that question. And the honest answer is that we don’t know. We obviously have, you know, in our Discord and everything, like, we can see that there are several types of users, there’s the user who just you know, loves web three and loves this type of application. There’s the user really in it to, you know, to gain royalties and invest and to flip and to make sure that they win financially. And then there are definitely the user that just love building catalog and owning pieces of music. But it’s so hard to say today, like how big these parts are. And you know, if, you know, maybe the ones who are in it for the music are just more vocal than the others. Like it’s so hard, since we’re not collecting that much data, you know, on the people who use this, we don’t yet know, like what is the focus? So, I think that, you know, as this grows, and this behavior matures, we’re going to learn as well, like where to put the emphasis on a product level?

Morkeeth: Yeah, because right now we very much focus on splitting it between the ownership and the financial. I mean, we have one of our biggest whales, working for Goldman Sachs and our superb bullish on alternative assets music. So, he’s always preaching about the financial return and, and the type of assets that are not correlated with the market, because people still listen to music when it’s a bear market. But obviously, yeah, we split it, and we’re trying to figure it out. I mean, we’re running basically experiments with every one of our jobs. 

Michel: I mean, what I could say is, I can’t see this being like a Bloomberg terminal.

You cannot see it. 

Michel: So, and what I can’t see either, is this just being like a collectible with no rights attached to it. You know, so like, I definitely think, like we need both on a good level.

Benefits for Individuals Who Take a Percentage of Royalties

Interesting, there’s so many, so many rabbit holes to sort of, I guess, go down after that. Like I want to ask you guys like, what is the, I guess, what’s in it for the people that you select to kind of like take a portion of their percentage? And then I guess it’s like, fractionizing it, right? And selling it actually at a premium, right, to people who collect the NFTs for the most part, right? Or is there a different model that you guys have in mind?

Michel: No, I mean, that that is it. So, I mean, we’re trying to sell it at a fair price. So, that means that you know, at a certain price level, it makes sense for the seller to sell it because they get capital upfront and sell capital later. But it also makes sense from an investment standpoint, you know, because it actually has a good deal. So, the definitely is a level where you can actually strike a balance and the buyers and sellers can meet and that’s what you know, we want to do at scale. So, you know, I definitely don’t see at this stage. You know, we don’t want any part to get screwed. But the other factor here, we’ll see how that develops with the marketplace wars, but obviously, like the seller gets royalties on every secondary trade. So, you know, that is an aspect that you can bring in to actually get a better deal for the initial sales, right? Which is a good factor as well.

Rihana’s NFT Launching Right Before the Superbowl

Got it. Let’s talk more about your recent drops, specifically the Rihanna drop because that was perfectly timed and light with a Super Bowl.  I love that the execution of it leading up to the event. It was really cool to see and shocked a lot of people to kind of like come out with that project at that time. So, prop props to you guys. Can you walk me through like how did that happen? How did you like manage to pull that off specifically in timing for the Superbowl and just that entire story?

Michel: Yeah, I mean, the story is quite simple. So, we work with this network of people who sit on good music rights, and I was in LA last year and I met deputy which is the producer for this track. So, he’s done a lot of great tracks. And he did pitch but our money and he has YouTube videos on how he produced it. So, he’s a real superstar producer. So, we basically told him about the concept. We’ve done a drop with one of his friends before we knew people in his network and we were you know, discussing our platform and saying, you know, this is a really good way for you to get more visibility as a producer, to tell people in the world that you know what you created this but it’s great you know, from a financial aspect you know, this is likely to be traded a lot, you’re gonna get cut back on every trade. And you know, if we find a price where you’re comfortable, and that makes sense for the buyer, like this is something we should definitely do and you know, he got hooked, and we started working on it. It was mainly my team, my music team that was working on hashing out all of the details. But yeah, then we started planning on what’s a good timing for this. Obviously, the Superbowl was coming up, and then we did the drop and we definitely like underestimated the impact that would have, we just did 300 additions, you know, three NFTs of this. So, in our you know, we’re sitting here in Stockholm, and we’re like, yeah, it’s good timing, you know, maybe we’ll sell out quicker than expected, you know, that was basically the expectation levels. But then yeah, it went completely viral, like a bit too viral in my opinion, because yeah, we got just so, so, so much attention like it ended up on CNN after a while. And I think one of the great things about that attention is that it brought a lot of eyes to our type of NFT. So, you have people from, like analyzing our, analyzing our contracts that are tied to the token, like how can you actually do this? You get people saying it’s a perfect application for you know, this added in for putting NFTs you got others criticizing, like it’s really good to start a discussion you can, you know, all of that.

Morkeeth: I mean, it started by us talking of all of our other tokens too.

Michel: Yeah. So, it was it was super good. All in all, like what I didn’t like so much is like when a media hype starts, like we were, where we really proud that it’s deputy who does the drop and he creates a song he’s selling it CROs, right, but when the media cycle goes, it goes, you know, deputy selling, which by the money by Rihanna, the next one says something and when it goes on CNN said like Rihanna sells NFTs, which you know, wasn’t at all, our press is it. So yeah, I would say that’s the only like negative factor of that.

So, when you saw a new got news at open sea halted trading on the NFT, what were your first thoughts?

My first thought was like this got too big, you know, because I think we had like, crazy amounts, like we were, at one point I think we were the most traded over the last 24 hours or something like on all projects. So, my first thought was like this is being traded way too much because the secondary price was also going through the roof, which doesn’t really make sense with our whole you know, royalties’ expectations and all of that, you know, when you buy it at that high price. So yeah, I mean, when we saw that was going viral, even on open sea, we were like okay, what is going on here? And when they halted it, we of course started thinking about what’s going on here and we didn’t really get a straight answer to why.

Mokeeth: Because it was also doing the Super Bowl, so but people were on holidays. And we have this issue, which not a lot of other NFT products have that we release new collections, like every single month. So, we have been pretty much in good contact with open sea, trying to understand like get our collections verified, not for that to be like any scam collections. out there. So, but it just got escalated and we’re still, I think a lot of NFT projects gets a little bit stuck in this kind of marketplace more.

Yeah, I think your model is very unique, in which you don’t go to the artists themselves to try to fractionalize a percentage of their shares. You go to the writers, the producers, and then you try to bring those people to kind of like bring light to music NFTs on your platform through their share, right? And the second an artist like Rihanna comes into the picture, who has so many eyeballs on her specifically right before the biggest event, entertainment event in the world kicks off, you know, and just so happens to open with that song as well, throw a lifetime performance, which is even crazier. The media starts twisting, oh, Rihanna started selling NFTs and then the narrative gets convoluted. And then I see why it would get taken down.

Morkeeth: Yeah, I mean, maybe that is why I mean, we don’t, we haven’t really gotten the answer. The narrative got twisted. We’re happy that we got a lot of attention, but we want the attention to go to Deputy because he’s the one who’s doing this, which is awesome. But I would say it is like we do work with producers and songwriters. We’ve done it quite a lot and we have more in the pipeline coming, but we also work with directly with labels. We also like our first job was directly with rehab and Laidback Luke. So, trying to mix it up artists, like for us it’s all about, like all of these people are part of creating this. So, you know, no matter who they are, if they’re the main artists or not, if it’s a good track, we want to give them a platform to share it.

Michel: And just to add, like we’re still listed on open sea and hopefully we’ll get the conversation going and try to understand this together. Because I think like we all need a regulatory clarification of what’s okay and what’s not.

Securities Laws Around Associating a Royalty with a Music NFT

Yeah, got it. That makes sense. Another question I want to ask you guys is sort of the securities element around this because everybody’s thinking about it. Right? And nobody has really provided clarity and I think you guys are the practitioners and the most ideal people we could go to, to kind of get understanding of what are the securities laws around being able to actually associate a royalty with a music NFT. What are your thoughts on that? How do you explain that to the person who asks you, like what the hell’s going on over here?

Michel: Yeah, I mean, so I would say like, we’re based in Stockholm, in Sweden, and here in Europe, it is way more care. So here, you have this framework, you know, to be considered a security you should either deal with depth, or you should have voting rights in a company, or you should be traded on a regulated exchange like NASDAQ. Right, so here you know, we’re clearly not a security but we are something you know, we are something that you know likely should be regulated and I, you know, we have a legal team, like we want to comply with regulation, but it is a gray zone. So, we don’t know, there is no framework in which we can apply to at this stage. So, there’s this mica regulation coming out in Europe, which will be enforced in one and a half years from now. So, we’re hoping that that will give us more clarity and to how we should position this, and you know, what guardrails we should have with the product to protect customer because, you know, the SCC and you know, our version of it here, like they exist to protect the end customer. So, you know, we don’t want to mess with that we want to be aligned but it’s really hard when you don’t know how at this stage, right? We could do like most of the things you do with the security but like maybe that will not be necessary because we know we’re not classified as that, because sharing royalties it’s way different. So, like at this stage we’re, it is great. So, we’re operating in, but we’re keeping an eye on like the European regulation to see how we can comply when it comes. In the States, it’s different. So, we have players like, you know, that are there, that are doing something very similar to us. And I you know, I’m guessing that you know, being based there and having more, like it’s a minority for us, that are Americans, right, but I’m guessing it’s more for them and I’m assuming that they also are trying to get answers from this is it, like how should you know this be, how should we act in this market, you know, in order to be compliant, but I’m assuming also that it’s not that easy for them to get answers. And we’re looking into this now because we know that like the SCC, especially in America, like can be more aggressive, so we’re actually looking into potentially, you know, restricting Americans.

Morkeeth: Just like blurted with their air drop. And now the trending of I’m not an American citizen, you have to check the box. It’s a weird world we’re living in 

Michel: Yeah, so I mean, we’re looking into that, we haven’t decided yet but like one way, like unless it comes out of a clearer communication from the states, like it’s not unlikely that we will, you know, restrict access for Americans because, you know, it’s a very aggressive identity like don’t want to mess with any of that. Once you’re in Europe, we have a much more clearer view on like, what will be the ramifications and like what could happen like if they say we’re security, okay, then we do this so that, you know, we’re more comfortable with that. So, I mean, we’re still seeing but I think in general, people should be happy that this, how do you say it? Entities or you know, that they exist, and they’re here to do something good. But, you know, let’s not hope that they hold innovation either.

Common Misconceptions and Potential Backlash from Labels and Artists

Right. Have you guys got any backlash from labels that you’ve tried to work with, with approaching them with this new model, artist and writers that you’ve tried to work with? What tends to be the common misconceptions?

Michel: I would say like early on when we were pitching, like a lot of people are afraid of the space in general, like how can how it can have an effect on the brand. You know, being a part of the NFT world, basically. I think that’s a big thing that we tried to work on when we have early conversations.

Morkeeth: A year ago, it was the environmental aspects Ethereum And then all of a sudden, they changed to becoming like NFTs is a scam. Those are the prejudice that we’re trying to fight.

Michel: I would say that those are the two biggest things because like, from a standpoint of like what we’re offering and the product, like a lot of people find it pretty clear and like, either they like it or they don’t, like it’s a normal sales process, but that’s the factor that I find a bit arbitrary, you know, what they think about the space essentially.

The Possibility of Paying Individuals per Second or Minute Rather than the Typical Few-Month Period

Got it. I have a couple more questions for you. The first one is, the second to last one is this concept of paying people out royalties. I wonder if there’s a world where you can pay people out per second or per minute, or per X timeframe versus the typical like few month period in which people get their paychecks from Spotify and Apple Music, the DSPS. How do you guys think about that?

Morkeeth: Yeah, because royalties are kind of structured in a very conservative and fairly old way and the model of getting paid per year or per six months. And so, we wanted really to bring in the concept. One of the first concepts when we started to contribute to Dao, me and a couple of other devs here was to get paid every second and having that, you know, making it almost trustless that you are not going to get robbed if you work for one month, and then the project is going to decide no you’re not getting paid. But if you get paid every second, you’re always getting paid for what you do. So, we wanted to bring in that concept and I think we’ve really tried to scout all over the web three the ecosystem of finding good partners. So, combine that with super fluid or the money streamers, because we met them and talked with them at Eath New York last summer and we’re like it would be super awesome if we could just remove that little trust from another block and just started paying them by the seconds. So, we can almost you know, stand, like take a step back and become just the platform, trying to facilitate this and giving them based on how it streams, looking at the data and paying it out and giving the custody to our holders.

AnotherBlock’s Future Plans and Roadmap

Got it. And the last question that I have is, what’s next for another block? What are we, what’s on the roadmap? What can we expect that’s coming out soon?

Michel: Yeah, I mean, I would, I mean, that is the big thing coming up, more big drops, more of a mixture of drops, I would say, like more experimentation in terms of genres and where they come from. It’s not just gonna be like, you know, it’s gonna be more of a variety, more of a mix, but still, like proved music. 

Morkeeth: And then obviously, like social stuff with lens.

Michel: Yeah, definitely. 

Mokeeth: Bringing in some lens integrations to get the fans connecting.

Michel: And then, you know, in the near future, like obviously, something really, really exciting for the independent creator as well.

Morkeeth: We’re looking to scale up you know, having more drops, not just having one every month and just bringing in more music, making you know, people own music, making them catalog holders you know, really getting the music that they like.


I love it. I’m keeping an eye out, excited to see what comes next out of your corner. Before I let you go, where can we find you? Where can we learn more?

Michel: I’m on the, is the most simple way and you can find your way to our Discord there and our Twitter and all of that. 

Morketh: Big mesh. 

Michel: Yeah.

Morkeeth: Morkeeth. 

Amazing. Let’s go. Thank you for being on till next time.

Michel. Thank you so much.

Morkeeth: Thank you.

Podcast Transcript

Web3 Music Artist Daniel Allan Just Raised $1,000,000 and Here’s Why


Mint Season 7 Episode 21 welcomes music collectors Cooper Turley of Coop Records and BlockchainBrett of Palm Tree Crew Ventures who are joined by web3 music artist and producer Daniel Allan to discuss Daniel’s recent one million dollar fundraising round to propel his music career. The three delve into the artist seed round, ROI when investing in artists, how Daniel plans to spend the one million dollars, the future of web3 music + much more. 

I think this model changes the game completely and provides creatives with a new means of support. The goal of this episode is to shed light on the process and what goes into raising a million dollars. Full disclosure, I did invest in the round as I’ve been support Daniels journey by documenting his early beginnings on Mint and by collecting his music NFTs. I’m excited to see how this experiment plays out and stoked to capture this milestone for you all to hear.

Time Stamps

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 05:32 – Raising a Million Dollars for Daniel’s Creative Endeavors
  • 11:10 – The Artist Seed Round
  • 16:07 – Daniel’s Impact On Crypto-Native Independent Artists
  • 20:15 – Implications for Other Creators Who May Follow the Same Path
  • 32:10 – The Artist-Market Fit
  • 33:48 – ROI Investing in Artists
  • 40:48 – Removal Process of a Web3 Record Deal
  • 47:34 – Upcoming Milestones
  • 49:27 – Outro

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We got Daniel Cooper and Brett. The Avengers of web three. Is that what you guys call yourselves? How do you guys introduce yourselves? What is this?

Cooper Turley: So, great friends out here, you know, companions, compadres.

Compadres. Companions. I like it. I like it, guys. I’m excited to have the three of you on. We got a lot to celebrate. First thing to celebrate is we have a trio, the first time a trio has been on. You guys have been on the podcast separately, but never all together. So, that’s one thing. Second thing is Daniel, congratulations, which we’ll talk about in a minute. We have a lot to celebrate on your end of the spectrum, that Cooper and Brett sort of, yeah, all three of you play a big role in it. So I think a good place to start is, quickly, who are you guys individually? Because those who don’t know you, it’s always great to get a brief. So, Cooper, start with a quick intro Brett and then Daniel, then we’ll kick it off.

Cooper Turley: Cool. Hey, guys. I’m Cooper. I’m the founder of a firm called Coop records. We’re investing in early-stage next generation music companies. I’m a big collector in the space, advocate for artists and just excited to be here with the legends that are on stage with us tonight.

Legendary. Brett, take it away.

BlockchainBrett: Hey, guys, I’m Brett and I’m a co-founder and managing partner of palm tree crew crypto, investing in the early-stage creative economy space, and a longtime collector and founder in the space as well.

Last but not least, the man himself Daniel Allan, who are you man?

Daniel Allan: Can you guys hear me? My Wi Fi like cut out. My Wi Fi cut out, so I couldn’t hear a thing.

I can’t do this, seriously.

Daniel Allan: My bad, this is.

We got to figure out a different format here.

Daniel Allan: I’m doing the best I can here. I mean, I could do a good move into another room, like 20 minutes. Right? Probably like the reset everything up. Was 100% Cooper’s fault.

Are you at Cooper’s place right now?

BlockchainBrett: Can we just start from scratch or can just like edit that.

No, no, yeah, of course, you’ll just start from your end. So let me like, so ready, three. Cool. Okay, let’s go. Daniel Allen, the one and only quick intro on yourself.

Daniel Allan: Yeah, I’m Daniel, thanks for having me. I make beats and DJ and have been dropping music NFTs for almost two years now. I think the first one was end of March of 2021. So, let’s call it like, right at the two-year mark.

Wow. Congratulations. I’m really excited to have the three of you guys on. We have a lot to talk about with a short period of time over here. So, I want to figure out how should we kick this off? Like I don’t want to pop it myself. Daniel, can you go ahead and talk about it? What are we celebrating here today?

Daniel Allan: Yeah, it’s pretty crazy to like, say it out loud, I guess publicly for the first time. I mean, right now it just feels like it’s us. But I noticed there’s gonna be like in the broader like world in a couple days when we announce it. And by the time this comes out, but with Cooper and Brett co leading the round, I raised a million dollars. And it’s the first time that I’m kind of treating an artist project as a company. And the whole point of it is for me to like to broaden the horizons of my project both on the web three side and the web two side, and just find an interesting alternative to like, the record label model that has existed for so long.

Wow, one milli, that’s a big deal. I have yet to see another artist raise a million to support their creative endeavors. And I want to start by saying congratulations, Brett, Cooper, congratulations to you guys as well. Yeah, it’s a lot to dive into. I remember seeing that first mirror crowdfunds campaign rollout and the big sort of PR moment that came behind your brand and your music career in web three. And to see how far you’ve come all the way till today, to celebrate a race. Feel like you’re treating yourself as a startup, something that I’ve been talking about on the podcast for a minute and to see you be the practitioner behind it, to see the three of you sort of put this into the world. I’m excited to see what comes out of it. Cooper, Brett, how are you guys feeling? I’d love to get first your perspective Cooper.

Cooper Turley: Yeah, I mean, it’s a longtime comment. You know, I’ve been friends with Daniel for the better half of two or three years now. And it’s really just an accumulation of all the work he’s put in today. You know, Daniel is extremely hardworking, and discipline, I think it takes a very specific type of person to be able to execute on something like this, you know, as Coop record speaking here, we’re just excited to keep supporting Daniel’s career, you know, I’ve been collecting as NFT since day one. We believe that there’s an extremely high potential for it sailing in the future. And I think at this round is really just going to unlock a lot of new avenues for him to expand his career. So, we’re just excited to support and see what happens. 

Brett, how are you feeling about the whole thing?

BlockchainBrett: Yeah, I mean, I think this point is, it’s a testament to how powerful music NFTs are. I mean, I originally met Daniel by collecting one of his one of his songs, one of his music NFTs. We’ve grown a lot closer throughout several drops and a bunch of amazing projects that he’s, you know, pioneered the space with, from, you know, one of ones to editions, to generative projects, to collabs and major EP, the biggest EP drop we’ve seen. So, I think it just makes sense that he’s continuing to push the space, the boundaries with this race. And I’m excited to see what he can do with more firepower. And we’re super stoked to support it. You know, like the leading music NFT artist in the space.

Raising a Million Dollars for Daniel’s Creative Endeavors

Daniel, when I first got into, like startups and venture capitals, seeing all these companies raise millions of dollars, it always like star struck me. And to think that an individual is able to do that right, and sort of put some type of valuation on their brand as a whole very early on in their career, is quite captivating. I’m curious, like at the very early process of kind of like putting this thought into the world, what went into that, like what goes into raising a million dollars to be able to support your creative endeavors? And I just want to deep dive into the entire process.

Daniel Allan: Totally, I mean, I think that I’ve been thinking about it for a really long time. I mean, I think that I’ve been thinking about it really, since overstimulated. I think in a lot of ways this is kind of what like what overstimulated always wanted to be like at scale. And so, for me, I think that, you know, I’ve looked around me, and I’ve said this multiple times, I’ve seen so many people that have been in and out of the record label system. And for me, I’ve kind of built a career so far on like finding the alternatives that don’t necessarily rely on like what the industry system has been, because I think that, again, I think that there’s totally a time and a place for a record label. But it just didn’t, for me, it never took the boxes that were I guess, like I didn’t really have any leverage to be able to do anything on my own terms. And I think that a lot of those entry level deals kind of put you in a tricky situation. And like for me, a lot of my nonstarters have been like, okay, I want to put out music at whatever cadence I want to put out. So, that means that if I make a song, I want to be able to mint it the same day, I want to be able to try to put it up on DSPs as fast as I can, I don’t necessarily want the lag time or wait to have like a Tik Tok moment or whatever. But at the same time, like for the longest time for two years, I was using my NF T sales, primarily for the most part to pay my rent, because I had never made any money off music at all before this was happening for me, right. And so, after two years of that, and like saving some money and whatnot, putting a lot of side, I kind of got to a point where I was like, okay, I’m not necessarily relying on music NFTs as much to pay my rent, but I still really want to scale out my project. And I want to do it in a way where I’m one, able to retain way more ownership than I did, I would understand the record deal. And two, do it in a way that doesn’t take off the things that are my nonstarters, like the cadence, you know, like I said, when I was, in the search of looking for like deals, I would say in the course of the past year, like my preference has had nothing to do with money or term length or whatever. It’s just been like, if I want to put out a song today, is someone going to tell me no. Right. And so, I think for me, all those things kind of came together. And I mean, I think a lot of the people that had, that led this round, or that were involved in the round in any capacity, have been people that have supported my NFT journey, I think in the past two years. So, it’s pretty nice to kind of be like, okay, you guys have been here for, you know, the better half of two years. Now, let’s see what we can do over the next 5, 10, 15 as I build my career past, not only music NFTs, which is obviously always going to be the backbone, but like, what is my brand and web three? Like what is, how do I incorporate that into my shows? How do I incorporate that into like my music right? And so, yeah, I mean, like I said, I’m a pretty, I think I’m a pretty like entrepreneurial, I guess, musician. I guess that’s kind of like been my stamp and I kind of get it. I mean, I went to business school, even though I don’t really count it like that, I was pretty bad student. But I guess my head has always thought about it in that way. And so, just kind of, yeah, I don’t know, a lot of things came together with a group of people, this special group of people that we brought together for this. So yeah, I’m just super stoked, but honestly, just more focused than I’ve ever been. Because a million dollars might sound like a lot of money. And don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for it. But I have to use all the resources to kind of better my career, you know, so I only, in my mind only have like, if you know a few shots and goals, I’m just trying to maximize those.

With raising around like this, you can’t help but wonder what do you need a million dollars for? Like what is that million dollars is going to be spent on? How are you going to be distributing it and allocating it? What are the first few things you’re really going to be kind of like investing in to propel your career forward?

Daniel Allan: Totally, I mean, so the way that music typically works is you have like a manager, you have an agent, you have a business manager, you have a lawyer, right? And a lot of these people have other clients and don’t get me wrong, I still have like my manager, my agent and I love them. But at the same time, there are certain requirements that I need that I don’t necessarily, like I want to be kind of treated as a priority act in a lot of ways, right? Like for me, I want to be able to, I remember when I was doing a lot of the stuff on like, on bonfire, for example, and bonfire are my absolute homies. Like I think that as we started to do glass house, as we started to do projects after that, they were fortunate enough to bring a bunch of people on and but one of the things that I missed, and this isn’t bonfire in particular, this is just like working with people in particular, is I really wanted to be able to have some sort of like a focus that’s like, hey, let’s, I really want to be able to build this out with one person, I want to be able to individualize the experience. And obviously, as all these companies are scaling, you know, I would do the same thing, you know, I would be trying to diversify my client base, you’re working with as many people as possible. And for me, as an artist who’s kind of treating myself as the CEO of a company, I need to have employees that are going to help me whenever I need stuff, right. And so that goes from everything from marketing, reach, audience, like having someone that’s full time on my social media team, having someone that the full time or at least a part time developer, when I have very specific asks for projects that have been put together. Like if I’m doing a generative project, like I could ask a bunch of people who are working on so many things at once, or I could hire someone for like a three-to-six-month time horizon to help build out a website for me, to help build out the, you know, whatever contract work that I need. And so, like for me, it’s kind of, a lot of the money is really buying me flexibility and attention, you know, so that’s kind of, I think, what my goals are, is just like hiring people that are gonna kind of be on my team full time.

The Artist Seed Round

Definitely. Brett really quick, when we’re not talking mute yourself. I’ll cut this out. Because I hear like, like plates clinking. Cool. Okay, great. So, my next question is for you guys. Okay. So, 3,2, 1, Cooper, and Brett, I know you guys have been super vocal about betting on artists, supporting artists. I mean, both of you combine probably some of the biggest supporters in the music NFT space to begin with. Cooper, one thing I’m like a big fan on your end is, you often document your thoughts and how you sort of think of the world in web three as it pertains to music. And a while ago, you pushed up this concept of the artists seed round. And it seems as if it very much plays into tack with what just happened with Daniel, was this like the next iteration of what you were expecting to create? Or did this deal sort of just happen through this belief that artists should sort of find other means of capital to bootstrap themselves? Like how are you thinking about this as it pertains to the artist seed round?

Cooper Turley: No, I think this is the Genesis, you know, when I was going out and raising this fund, I was talking to my investors about a concept of investing in artists. And I think that Daniel is a perfect case study for this, you know, I think it takes a very determined individual to sit through all the nuance of raising a seed round. So, behind the scenes, you had a lot of corporate structuring, you had a lot of legal work going into it, you know, a raising through a safe, and Daniel now, you know, this stuff is not the most ideal situations for someone who just wants to sit and make beats. And so, it was definitely a very gradual process. But I think the reality of it is, if you want to bring on outside capital, there’s a lot of legal work that goes into that, that legal work takes time and effort. And it takes very specific individuals that are willing to participate in that. So conceptually, yeah, I think that investing in artists is really exciting. But mechanically, when you go and do that, you know, setting up a C Corp, setting up underlying subsidiaries, being able to raise into a vehicle through a safe, having investors that understand the vision of backing and artists. There’s a lot of moving pieces here. And so, I think, for me, and for coop records, this is our first example of an artist seed round. You know, I’m optimistic that there’s a world where there’s many more of these. But I think in the immediate short term, it does really take a lot of dedication from someone who’s very focused and willing to experiment in a new and creative way. And I think that Daniel was the perfect case study for that. And I think someone like Brett and pumped your crew crypto, were really the other backers that we needed to help make this a reality.

Yeah, Brett for you. I mean, you guys have a pretty prolific portfolio of backing creator economy-based startups in crypto. And it feels as if this is like a, like an outlier type of bet that you obviously believe in and you’ve supported Daniel since the get go from the initial mirror crowdfund to collecting NFTs, advisory, all that good stuff. But this bet particularly feels a little bit outside of the software place that you typically invest it. Right? Can you walk me through your thought process in that? 

BlockchainBrett: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, yeah, you’re right. I mean, we usually I mean, we look at the creator Economy space, the crypto creator economy space as like the different verticals of content, and all the infrastructure around that, at its core, and music is obviously a huge part of that. And that’s something we’ve been really focused on. And we’ve done like the infrastructure side of it to start. And I think we’ve kind of just done a lot of those different layers that make up the music NFT stack, from, you know, the co-creation at the, with our Peggi and the minting and curation around sound and heads for creation and, you know, kind of up the stack. And I think when you finally get to like, the top maybe the most important part of the stack, which is the artist, Daniel is definitely my number one favorite choice to be a part of, you know, from what he’s, the hard work he’s put into and what he’s been able to build in this space. I guess you could call it like the brand slash IP layer, right? And I think he’s gonna be definitely like the leader, if not one of the most forefront leaders in the music space in the cryptocurrency economy. So, it does fit in with the thesis for sure, we don’t like normally just go for, you know, creator to creator brands or brand, but it definitely fits in to the total stack. And I think really like as an individual collector, I’ve been collecting Daniel for a long time, we’ve continued to, you know, kind of keep my ownership, I think about like buying music NFTs is very similar to how I think about running the fund. And I have maintained like a significant ownership of the outstanding music and ftu that Daniels put out. But every time buy personally, it’s you know, it’s $100 at a time maybe like the one on ones, maybe it was a couple of $1,000 at a time, but it’s like small little increments. And from a fun perspective, when you have, you know, tens of millions of dollars, you have to kind of do it in bigger amounts. So, I think this opportunity where Daniels raising a more significant amount of cash at once, it gave us an opportunity to participate in a bigger way from the fund and not just from me, personally.

Daniel’s Impact On Crypto-Native Independent Artists

I’d love to get each of your perspectives on this. And we could start with Brett, then go to Cooper and go to Daniel, how do you think this changes the game for independent artists, specifically as it pertains to those that are trying to be more crypto native?

BockchainBrett: You want to start with me?

Yeah, let’s start with you.

BlockchainBrett: Yeah. How does it change? What was it how does it change the game? 


BlockchainBrett: We changed the game. Upside down, reshaping and baking it.

This interview, I’m probably just gonna come out great. But you guys are killing it.

Daniel Allan: Answer this question. My Wi Fi is hanging by a thread bro, I don’t want to fuck this up. Let’s go, c’mon.

No, no, no, this is actually important question. Daniel, you’re the first person to fucking do something like this. Like who the fuck raises a million dollars as an artist, that’s independent that started making music in COVID. Like who does that? Okay. So, when I think about changing the game, that’s what I’m talking about. Okay, so let’s try this question again, Brett, Cooper and Daniel. All right. From an artist perspective, specifically, as an independent artist in web three, this model completely changes the game. You guys are a bunch of people and that sort of bet on Daniel and his future endeavors, his musical endeavors. And he raised around a funding, like who does that? How do you think this changes the game for independent artists, specifically those that want to be more crypto native?

BlockchainBrett: Yeah, I think it’s lays down, you know, a path for more artists to follow. I think being an artist that has focused on music, like embraced music NFT space has is, music NFT an unbelievable alternative, or option or kind of new system for getting value directly from the people that appreciate you the most, like your fans, your audience. And yeah, it shows that music can be really valuable. So, you know, that’s something that Daniel is built on. And now this point like, and it’s a really strong exposure. I mean, I think buying music NFT directly the artists will probably always be the strongest exposure to the artist. And I think, you know, an artist, in our case, from the fun like this is an opportunity to write like, a kind of bigger check at once. And push and help push Daniel to the next level. But also, from the fun we’ve been buying his music NFTs directly as kind of like a side as a side to the investment directly. So, we have his music NFTs in the phone as well. 

Got it. 

BlockchainBrett: Yeah. And I think it’s like, it just goes to show that like that, like owning his music NFTs are a really strong exposure to his future. And like how he’s gonna continue to innovate and grow on that. And it really is like an opportunity to be a part of his future and like have like his upside, like I think, you know, when you look at investing in this round, like you know, sure, like you don’t have to invest in the equity of Daniel Allan in order to get the access or that be a part of his journey. Like I actually think that NFTs are the best exposure to and that’s why we also thought NFTs insights from the fun and we’re excited to support from all sides of the exposure.

Cooper, how do you think this changes the game for artists in web three?

Cooper Turley: I think it sets a new precedent. You know, you have record deals, you have distribution deals, you have publishing deals, and now you have equity seed rounds. And I think what we’re doing here with Daniel shows that there’s an alternative to everything that exists out there today. I think it’s going to take a lot of time for it to get fleshed out and be able to be recreated by a lot of artists at scale. But you know for Daniel’s specifically, he has a great group of supporters around him. There’s people have been collecting his music for last couple years, they really see the vision of what we’re building here with web three. And so, I’m optimistic that there’s going to be many more of these seed rounds in the future. But I think Daniels really pioneering what it means to support an independent artist that scale.

Implications for Other Creators Who May Follow the Same Path

Daniel, I know you’re often vocal about, like wanting to be the example for other creators in the space, you did this with your personal website, you did this with your like attributes to your different NFTs that you’ve dropped, like you’ve consistently set that tone for yourself. And when I asked you how does this change a game, I’m curious, when you think of other creators that probably want to follow your footsteps eventually. What does this mean for them?

Daniel Allan: Yeah, I mean, I think the way that Cooper put it, saying that it’s like an alternative is a good way of looking at it. I think that the way I look at it is similar. But also, I think that like flexibility is always like the key word for me. Because the reality is like, when you sign a record deal, like you have really like, you know, unless it’s a 360 deal, which are like less kind of common. And I kind of think that this is more of like a web 360 deal. It’s kind of the like the term that we’ve coined for it. Like most traditional record deals are kind of like you have one at that, which currently like as presently constructed is like blowing up a record on Tik Tok, so that you can come out with a single, single does really well, you’re no longer shelved, you’re able to, you know, put an album out and maybe tour with it. But really like that is few and far between. And a lot of ways it’s kind of up to the Tik Tok lottery. I think for me, the reality is there are very, there are a lot of different avenues in my career. Right? Like there’s the music NF Ts which have always been the backbone, and I think kind of the most important part and the primary source of revenue, right? At least in the past two years. But then there’s my masters and my publishing, I’ve been really vocal about, you know, I’ve been very vocal about the fact that I want a big record, that’s something that I care about, and I’m like, not scared to talk about. And then there’s also my touring, which, you know, I signed to CAA six months ago, I have a bunch of really exciting touring announcements that I’m, that I think the first one is going to drop like at the end of this month, right. And then it also has to do with like my future endeavors, which I mean, you know, I’m not gonna say too much, but we have like a lot of plans for things that we’re going to be rolling out in the next six months to a year. And I think that the reality here is like when, you’re a record label, you’re kind of betting on one kind of side of an artist. And I feel like a lot of this has been people betting on me as a person, just as much as it’s them betting on me as an artist and betting on me as a businessman as well. So, that’s like, I think kind of the nuance, and I think that the, I think a lot of artists are not like one dimensional, where you know, I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love making beats just as much as the next guy or girl, you know, but I think that there are just so many things that I’m interested in, so many parts of my career that I want to build out. And I think even if I don’t have the total answer, or what I want my first global headline tour to be right now, I think that the people involved in the round trust that I’ll figure it out.

Cooper Turley: Yeah, and maybe to jump in here, I think that’s what’s exciting from an investment standpoint, is you don’t have to bet on one specific output from Daniel, it’s not like we have to only optimize for as NFTs doing well, or only optimize for his masters doing well. You know, this vehicle really allows you to have exposure to all aspects of Daniel’s career. And when it comes to investing in a creator, there’s so many different things that they might want to do, you know, who knows, maybe someday Daniel wants to open a pizza shop, right. And if he wants to do that, I think there’s a real world in which investors in this round are getting exposure to Daniels pizza company. Now, it’s not something that we’re going to investors today and saying, hey, Daniel is going to open a pizza shop, come and invest in, you know, the seed round. But I think in the short term, being able to say, hey, this investment vehicle actually encompasses his NFTs, it encompasses his masters, his publishing his touring. That’s an incredibly exciting prospect. And if you go out there, and you look at what deals look like today, as Daniel alluded to on the master side, a record deals really only touching your Spotify streams, you know, publishing deals, rolling and touching if you get placement in a commercial, or you get some streams on the radio, but for this opportunity, and the investors involved in it, they can sit back and feel confident that no matter what Daniel does, they’re gonna have some exposure to that. And supporting Daniel actually means just kind of giving him cash and getting out of his way. I think that’s something that’s very different from other vehicles, where people are so much more hands on in the process. You know, I believe in Daniel’s ability to spend the million dollars how he sees that’s fit. If that means that he needs to pay for recording budget, if that means that he needs to hire a content person. I don’t think the goal of us as investors say, hey, you need to do X, Y, and Z because it’s pre mandated based on 100 record deals that have been done in the past. This is creative ground for him to really explore what that means. And I think to his point earlier, Daniel, bringing on a couple of full-time employees to be able to help him scale up his content, to be able to think about things like getting more placements, more press, more opportunities on the touring side, having street teams and more presence in college atmospheres. I think all those doors are kind of open and enabled by this. And so, to really round that out, you know, a million dollars is not a lot in the grand scheme of things for running a company. But when it comes to an independent artist having a full-scale budget to spend on what they believe is best to scale their career, in partnership with people such as Brett, myself and all the other investors participating. I think it sets him up in a really strong position to make a big headline for himself over the next couple of years.

BlockchainBrett: Yeah, and I think it’s amazing how it is 360. You know, it makes a ton of sense but you know, I I think like, from my perspective coming at this, like I think what has been happening and then at the space like and what Daniel has done in the music NFT world is what makes this possible, like we have examples to point to previously, and like the crypto art space, like imagine if, for instance, x copy were to raise a seed round in 2018, or 2019, right, like he went on to do 100 million plus, I don’t know the exact numbers, but tens of millions, 100 million plus in sales. And I think that from an investor perspective, that’s something that you know, to get exposure to. Right now, we’ve seen an artist that you had no idea was possible to grow in that way, in a digitally native world and a crypto native world. You can do it and now we think it can happen with music, you know, or not think we were very confident you can happen in music and Daniels is that person we want to bet on to make it happen. And we can get exposure to that, right. And I think you get exposure to that from the NFTs directly as well. I think and the money is also, I think a big part of those resources that’s really helpful, is to create natively in the web three space with more collaborations, working with more partners, building out more of the stuff yourself that can interact with like. The same way that other web three companies are partnering and releasing on this protocol or doing creation with this app. It’s like, it’s just to have the resources even keep track of everything on web three, all the partnership opportunities, all the collaboration opportunities, where to draw up, how to drop these, there’s like web three, manager web three aspects that I think take a lot of work. And it’s a lot for one person to take on themselves. So, I’m excited for Daniel to use the money to bring on some more help to build, even more so natively in the web three space, in addition to all the different aspects that make being a musician so much fun.

I think it’s one thing to recognize, sure, a million dollars is not a lot of money for a company. And we see people specifically in web three, raise 3 million over here, 10 million over here, a 25 million like we brush this off, like it’s no big deal to become a norm in our environment. But the reality is, it’s still very difficult to deploy a million dollars if you’ve never done something like this before. And it’s very difficult to deploy in a way where it’s efficient, and calculated, and you mitigate risk around along the way. And I feel like it opens up a whole new profile of things to consider than if you were to just take a standard record deal. Right? Like you’ve literally opened, like you are treating yourself as a startup and like respectfully said, like you, you have to think yourself, treat yourself as someone who’s generating cash flow, right? You have to think about your operations, you have to think about all these things that a traditional company would sort of like, consider when they’re raising funds and taking their data do their business in into their own hands. And it’s a, I don’t know if it’s for everyone, like I want to think that it’s like, it’s one of these models where it’s an alternative model 100%. But I don’t know if everybody can withstand the responsibility that comes with this. Do you guys have any thoughts around that?

Daniel Allan: Yeah, I mean, that’s why that’s why for me, I purposefully decided to like, still have traditional mechanisms and barriers in place, like having a manager and an agent, right? Because a lot of my life right now, you know, is going to be, yeah, like making beats and doing the things that I’m really good at. And, you know, a lot of, I remember when I was like starting off, like early in the music industry, I’m obviously still so early in my career, but I remember like, I was really looking for record deals to be able to pay my rent for a little bit of a time. And I remember like, you know, I would get these marketing budgets thrown at me, and I remember having those conversations like, hey, you know, how are we spending this? Like where’s this gonna go? And like, some of the conversations were just like, yeah, man that’s on you, you know, like whatever you want to do, whatever, you know. And so, for me, that’s why I kind of have these barriers in place where I have these people on my team still is because, you know, I, my manager, who’s been, she’s, you know, she’s been in music for a little bit and has touched like, a lot of different aspects of it. It’s kind of just like, you know, it’s kind of been a catch 22, where it’s like, oh, well, like we I have these broad ideas for what I want to do. But then the question is always like, okay, but we need money for these ideas. But then to get money for the ideas, you have to sign a record deal. And if you’re in a record deal, you can’t execute as freely on those ideas, you know, so it kind of became this very interesting like catch 22 situations. And so, my having the guardrails in place of having people who have a little bit more experienced than me, and especially like Phil and Jonathan, my agents on the touring side, who have you know, that, you know, Phil has The Chainsmokers, he’s been doing, he’s been doing this stuff for like a really long time. And he’s also like very involved in web three as well, has definitely been, you know, a place of like, hey, you know, what are we thinking about this? Should I spend this much money on a tour? Or should I spend this much money like, on ad spend, whatever it is, you know, so that’s why I’ve tried to keep it a little bit traditionally intact as well.

Cooper Turley: I would add in there that I do not think that this is for everyone. I think it takes a very specific type of artists to be able to execute as an artist and a CEO. I think Daniel’s very uniquely positioned to do so, hence why this was an exciting investment opportunity from the fund. But to Adams original point, it’s a very complicated process, you know, expecting hours to be able to run a business at the same time as making music. It’s very difficult. And so, I think that there’s an exciting headline here of saying, hey, this artist got a million dollars. But when you really unpack that, that means that Daniel is a lot more responsibility on his shoulder. I think that there’s a lot of artists who are phenomenal artists, but they’re not great business-people, and they have teams around them that handle that. But in order for something like this to be a reality, you really do need the artists to think about their brand as a business. And I don’t think that’s something that’s for everybody. But in the particular situation that it is, I’m optimistic that these models can help to inspire people to think more like CEOs of their brand and of their company, because I think it really challenges you to elevate your ceiling and think more broadly about the opportunities that exist about being an artist today. And so, yeah, I don’t think it’s for everyone. But I think that Daniel is a great person to start this out with, and I’m hoping that he can inspire many more artists to come.

BlockchainBrett: I think like you know, it’s interesting like music and NFTs enable world or like, you actually really don’t need to raise as well and I think like as the music NFT market grows, you know, as you put out content you kind of like, as you release it you’re getting the value that content deserves like back to you. And you can kind of continue to fall off that basically, you’re releasing more music continues to find you more and more and you kind of continue to use that to grow the operations and I think you can do it organically. without raising, like people can do, musicians can do that over time without having to you know, set up a C Corp, but whatever reason to say, I think that option will always be there. I think in this situation, like Daniel is a very ambitious person. He has really big goals and he wants to get there quicker, and he sees an opportunity to make it happen. And we’re excited to support that. But you know, I think it’s somewhere in between like a label and music NFTs. There’s, there’s a spectrum and you can, like you can stay over in the Music NFT and really grow a lot and have a lot of growth around that as well. Even without like raising directly.

The Artist-Market Fit

Yeah, I want to bring up another interesting topic that just came up to mind as you were speaking, Brett, like art, startups typically raise money, either premarket, pre product market fit or as they find product market fit to help accelerate the things that they’re doing, right. And I’m trying to think if Cooper and Brett from more of an investor perspective, do you guys think of artists market fit? Like is that a thing in your mind where the artists reach a certain point in the market, where they accumulate enough attention or enough revenue around what they’re doing that, now they need capital to help accelerate those initiatives? Do you guys think of it like that?

Cooper Turley: I absolutely. Think of it like that. I mean, I think that Daniel is proven himself as being a leader and went through music specifically, but the thing is, it’s actually bigger than just Daniel, you know, and I think that obviously, Daniel said an incredibly precedent for himself to be able to go and sell music NFTs and have these kinds of major projects and events. But the bet on Daniel as an artist is not only the bet on Daniel’s individual artists career, as Daniel’s individual artists career and everyone else that he can inspire in tandem, as a venture investor, you know, we really think about 100x, 1000x returns, and if Daniel were to go and sell, you know, 500k worth of music NFTs every year, that’s great, but that’s not necessarily what we’re looking for as venture investors. You know, I think the opportunity here is it’s not only about Daniel succeeding really well in his individual artists career, which I very firmly believe will happen. Is Daniel taking that playbook that he’s built for himself, replicating that and executing that against dozens of other artists to come, so that he ends up becoming this sort of center point of saying, hey, if you want to make it as an artist and independent artists, and you’re passionate about web three, here’s the model that I use, and using these resources, we can help to upscale other artists careers that actually have exposure to those income streams as well.

ROI Investing in Artists

That makes sense and you brought up the element of sort of your guy’s perspective as an investment, right? You guys are investors, you need to return your investment, your LPS depend on that. Right? So I’m trying to think like, is this investment in and I know it’s like it’s an interesting topic to talk about publicly, especially with you on the call Daniel, like we don’t want to think of you as an investment but you’re making an investment, like the funds are making an investment like very simply put, so when I try to think of like the ROI of a bet like this one an artist, right? I’m trying to think like, what does the scale the ROI sort of look like? Because for anybody listening to this conversation, you’re gonna listen, you’re gonna get the creators listening to this, and that stimulating the curiosity and you’re also going to get the investors listening to they’re like, how can we also participate in what Cooper and Brett and all the other investors on the cap table just did, right? So, share that light with me for a minute, like how do you guys think about the ROI, like is this a 100x opportunity that you see a market for, where you see creators actually becoming billion-dollar brands and web three is a large component of surfacing those individuals, like where’s your head at when it comes to this?

BlockchainBrett: Yeah, I mean, I think that from the valuation, if you think about it from a brand like IP perspective of Daniel as an artist, and the potential that he can, I think, just from my perspective, just exclusively what he has ability to do to grow in the music NFT space. I mean, we see music NFTs like we saw crypto from virtually nothing, did like 50k in volume in 2018, to 2021 to and billions, right. And like that is where I see music NFT space going, and if that’s where that will go and who are the leaders in the music NFT space? How much of that volume are they going to be able to do, potentially a significant amount really stir that volume number up? So I see, you know, this as a leading brand, a leading IP, like Daniel Allen as someone that is, like one of one of those forefront artists in this space, and has the ability to like, basically, you know, be a lot of that be a good amount of that volume, like a real amount. So, yeah, in that situation, it’s like, okay, what’s the valuation that we’re coming in at now? And like what would a valuable IP in that area look like and other definitely, from where it raised, it definitely has that 100x potential. So yeah, we’re excited about just from that angle alone and let alone I know there’s always a lot of ambitions around the sort of web two, music web three worlds, and I think those things are just going to add to it a lot and increase ways but from my perspective, we’re pretty crypto native and even just that side alone is enough for us to show I’m really stoked about the opportunity.

Cooper, what do you think?

Cooper Turley: Think there are already billion-dollar creators that are out there today. You know, on the artist side, you can use an example like Jay Z, right. Jay Z has had an extremely prominent career as an artist, his masters are worth hundreds of millions of dollars and he’s the owner of rock nation. And so if you think about that from an investment perspective, what would it look like to have exposure to Jay Z’s masters and all of roc Nation’s masters? Now you add in this new component of web three and NFTs, and you’re just adding another layer on top of that, you have all of these artists that have gone on to start fashion brands or start different clothing lines or whatever it might be. I think all those opportunities are on the table. So even just looking at something like you know the sale of catalog, you’re seeing $10, $50 $100 million catalog sales left and right all the time now, that’s all on the table, plus this net new revenue stream that Daniel is producing. So absolutely, I think that creators are a billion-dollar business opportunities. And I think with someone like Daniel that’s thinking about this from a 5, 10-year perspective, I think there’s a lot of net new playbooks that haven’t even been built or started yet and I think that’s going to lead to even more value creation that we haven’t even seen today.

I love it. It’s such a good visual indicator to sort of think about how big this could be Cooper, because when you bring up the Jay Z example, like that’s a fantastic example, to think about all the other businesses that Jay Z sort of created that are under his umbrella as a brand, and the value that accrues to each of them because of his name, and because of his network, and because of his music and everything that he’s done. So, when you put it from that perspective, this model makes a lot of sense. And quite frankly, it seems huge. Like it seems, it seems really, really big. You have something else to had?

Cooper Turley: Yeah, Daniel, I think it’d be interesting if you told the story about Roger Federer, you know, you’re a big tennis guy and I think that story you told me about him as a creator and some of the business trades that he made was pretty legendary. So, I don’t know if you’re interested in telling that story. But I think it’s an interesting backdrop here.

Daniel Allan: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that’s funny because I’m like, I’m trying to get Cooper more into tennis. Brett is already into tennis via palm tree crew and friends and whatnot. So yeah, I was given Cooper a little bit of a tennis lesson, so Roger Federer, for anyone who has not played tennis, he is the goat like technically speaking, even though Joe Kovitch will have like more slams, Federer is the like tennis playing goat and it’s not even a question, but outside of that he’s also the goat because of some of the business moves that he has, don’t shake your head like that. It’s just like, oh, we can talk about offline. But he’s also made like a lot of great business venture decisions like throughout the course of his career. So like for the longest time he was with Nike. And when it came time for him to renegotiate his Nike deal, I think that they were gonna pay him out on a contract that I think was $10 million a year, just like as like an endorsement deal. And instead of doing that there was this company it’s called on, is it called on running? I think that’s what it is. And basically, they were like, he signed like a clothing deal, I think with Uniqlo, but he was able to have like a separate clothing deal with on running and for on running. Instead of getting money up front. I think he got like 3% of the company and because he wore the shirt or no, he got, how much, yeah, he got 3% of the company and because he wore the shoes, he like basically mooned the stock of the company. And the company just, I think it’s worth $10 billion now so he made like $300 million off of that investment, of just like deciding to wear like the on running shoe. So yeah, good little analogy.

Cooper Turley: The reason the reason I want to tell that story is because A, Federer goated, that’s an incredible story, but B, when we think about investing in artists. I think a lot of the times we stop what we see on the surface, right? We stopped that buying Daniels NFT, how many streams did he get on Spotify? How many tickets did he sell on tour? What I’m personally excited about as with web three, there’s net new ownership mechanics here. If you’re producing and creating value for these networks, you can capture that value, whether it’s in the form of equity on a cap table or governance tokens. You know, the bet on Daniel is not only the bet on his individual assets, it’s actually his ability to create new business opportunities. You know, I think there’s a very real world in which Daniel has equity across a lot of these web three companies. I think that he’s capturing ownership in the form of retroactive airdrops and different things that these platforms are launching. And so, what I want to highlight here is that, again, going into the 360-exposure deal, it’s not only the music, you know, it’s Daniel’s ability to create value across many different revenue streams. And I think when you add all those different variables into the equation, the case for a billion-dollar Daniel economy is not just saying he needs to sell a billion dollars’ worth of music NFTs, there’s many different buckets that in aggregate are going to become valuable. And as investors I think that the opportunities to really make sure you have exposure to all those different instruments that are on the table. 

Removal Process of a Web3 Record Deal

We talked earlier in the conversation like the different options artists have when it comes to getting capital, whether it be a record deal, doing something like this, crowdfunding, whatever it may be. And I can’t help but wonder that this model is like we’ve seen instances of this model, kind of like a crew across other creators outside of web three music. And my question for you guys is assuming this gets adopted more investors love this concept, more creators love this concept. They want to start raising equity rounds instead of taking record deals. Eventually, record deals expire to some extent, right? They have like limited terms and over a period of time either. Revenue gets accrued or whatever it may be in the deal ads, right. And the artists in the label go their separate ways. What is the equivalent of that here? Let’s say an artist doesn’t like the people on their cap table. And technically they’re kind of tied to them for good, unless they buy them out at some point, right? Like how are you guys thinking about the removal process? Because I can only imagine the questions going through people’s head as they potentially want to replicate something that you guys just did. Right. So I’m trying to get all corners of the spectrum here.

Coper Turley: There’s three pieces here and Daniel had some color one. I want to start by saying that because Daniel did an adventure around does not mean that he can’t sign a record deal. You know, I’m actually very excited for Daniel to assign a record deal in the future. And this was structured specifically to make it so that if Daniel does sign a record deal, that fits in very compatible with what was happening here. The second thing that I want to say is that the investors in this round are extremely crypto native, you know, people like Brett and myself, participants like noise Dao, Woodstock Dao, Fire Eyes Dao, these are people that are willing to take on an extreme level of risk. And so, I think their appetite for what this turns into is a lot more flexible than a traditional private equity firm or traditional venture arm of a record label. But lastly, on sort of the ownership side of things, this funding is non recoupable. And I think that that’s something that’s very different from other music investment opportunities. Typically, when you’re signing a record deal and a record label gives you a million dollars. You have to pay that record label back a million dollars before you make money. This investor I was set up to say that this investment is not recoupable. You know if Daniel doesn’t make a million dollars back, us as investors are aware of the fact that that’s the risk that we’re willing to need to take. And on the flip side of that, as far as Daniel’s ability to consolidate the cap table, in my opinion, it’s no different from a tech company going out and raising a Series A and if you don’t want people on your cap table at that next stage, you go to them and say, hey, we’re gonna raise additional shares. I want to give you an opportunity to cash out of this investment and then we’ll probably have to buy them out. But I will say that we were very, very diligent who we brought into this round and made sure that people were already invested in Daniel’s career. They’ve been collecting his NFTs for years at this point, Daniel as a personal relationship with all of them. And as far as the sort of downside protection here. This was not like it was touted to everyone who holds one day and your music NFT or even more than that, that’s residually interested in music at large. This was a very selective round with individuals who are very determined and focused on the sector at large. And so, I think that makes for a cap table that feels very flexible to Daniel’s part and allows him to be very versatile. 

I think that’s like that’s the key. Go ahead, Brett. Go ahead.

BlockchainBrett: I was just saying that and really like in this situation. I mean, Daniels still like the biggest owner by far like he’s very much so in control. And you know, he sold like, I guess minority percent of like, I mean, you know, he has like the vast majority of company by far so, so. It’s really his, it’s his to do whatever he thinks is best. But it’s not up to us, we can’t tell him what to do. We can just, all we can do is just help and help guide.

Yeah, I think when we were talking about the stress and the pressure that comes from being an artist and treating yourself as a business, comes with who you have on your cap table. And Brett and Cooper, you guys have so much experience in this investing into different rounds, whether it be leading rounds, Angel and rounds, and seeing companies either demolish, getting into arguments, hits the fan somewhere, right. And a lot of how things get handled depends on who’s on your cap table, who you’re working with and the people that come together around something today. So, I think having a very curated cap table and a group of people around you that bet on you, is pretty much a contributor to what the success of this could look like down the line, especially giving you Daniel your creative and your creative ability to do whatever the hell you want and to make your vision come to life.

Daniel Allan: Yeah, and one thing I’ll say really quick is to be honest, and a lot of ways it really is just putting a formal stamp on something that’s been going on for years. You know, like a lot of the people that I’ve, that are in this round. I mean, I would say like almost all of them or people that have already expressed their belief in me by purchasing my music NFTs and being a part of, you know, part of the way and I remember like Adam from noise Dao after this, who’s also involved in the round both from noise and as an angel. He just sent me on telegram. He’s like nice to formally be in business and you know, that’s kind of how I feel about a lot of this. You know, what I mean? These are people that I’ve informally been in business with, you know, for a couple of years now. And this is just kind of, in my mind, it’s kind of yeah, like it’s a way for me to have resources to be able to scale it out, but it’s also a way to like give them a cushion to be like, hey, you know, in the extremely unlikely event that all my music NFTs go to zero, you guys.

I love that. I love that.

Daniel Allan: Yeah, that’s kind of where I’m at.

Cooper Turley: I’ll add in there to that. It’s funny because from an investor perspective, I think that like where investors are contributing here is actually very funny to me. You know, my relationship with Daniel is basically, he makes a song and then I tell him to mint it the same day that it drops, and Daniel is one checking me to be like, we have to follow this strategy, you know, Spotify, you need six weeks, all this stuff and I’m like, fuck the strategy. I was like, we’re in a net new business here. I dropped the song on the same day and so I think it’s just funny to hear about investor expectations from the standpoint of like, treat this as a very long form project, treat this as like a two to three year blueprint. Daniel is that such a formative place in his career where he realistically could go and upload a song to sound today, with no marketing, no promo, dropped that and make the equivalent of millions and streams in 24 hours. And I think that that’s a window that’s obviously very time based on where we are in the market today. But having that leverage to think about how to scale his business is extremely powerful. And I think the benefit of his cap table today is that everyone on that cap table also believes in that formula. They believe that Daniel should go and drop music NFTs in real time. They believe that Daniel should go and actually do these things that feel net new. And I think if you were to try and construct this round of people that were at record labels or traditional music industry execs that made their money off of catalogue, I think it would set him up in a very different position. So, I think that this round uniquely positions him to be very experimental and how he built his career from now and you know, someone that’s really invested in him, you know, I’m just excited to see where he takes it because he’s shown time and time again, that he’s willing to be innovative, and I think he’s gonna keep doing it moving forward.

Upcoming Milestones

The last thing I want to sort of leave all of us with and Daniel, this one’s directed at you typically when people raise money, they set milestones into place, right? I’m curious what your milestones look like. For the next few months if you’re willing and able to talk about them.

Daniel Allan: Totally. I want to play music festivals. That’s a very big part of my career and that I’ve, as I’ve been very vocal about. I want to drop; I want to do an album at some point. I know that a lot of the stuff that I’ve been doing has been branded as, you know like a project here and there and EP here and there, not entirely sure what an album looks like, right now. I mean, I know that, I’m pretty close to being done with like my next project after criteria. I think that my milestones in terms of the numbers, I want to keep pretty close to the team or I can, you know, me and Cooper may or may not have like a little like whiteboard, that talks about some of the numbers that we want to hit. But to me I of course have like metrics and numbers, but my biggest thing right now is, honestly just seeing what I can do with the resources that is gonna go towards the goals that I’ve always had. Right. And I think that a lot of those goals just fall into all those buckets, which is how can I have a record that goes crazy without giving away fucking 85% 90% of it? How can I play on some of the bigger stages in the world right, and then start to get my name across that way? How can I build brands and IP in a way that’s like that, that let gives me more leverage to do things that I’m really excited about. And I think, you know, more importantly, as we look into the future that Cooper and Brad have both kind of pointed out a little bit is like, how do I help bring other people on, you know, and start to get exposure to some of the things that they’re working on? Like the blueprint that I’m building publicly right now. So, yeah.


Look, I’m cheering you on. I’m really excited for this, to see where this in a year from now. We’ll have to do a check in literally in a year from now and see where we are in this process Daniel, Cooper, Brett, congratulations to the three of you. This is a lot to be proud of Daniel for yourself and the journey that you’ve come across and I’m honored that I’ve been able to document certain moments of it on the podcast, that we could always look back on and reflect on so more power to you guys, before we let you go, and we wrap up. Where can we find more about the project? Each of you, specifically Daniel, hit away.

Daniel Allan: yeah, I mean, by the time this is out, we’re gonna have a whole you know, whole thread documenting everything that we’ve talked about, and you can just find that on. I’m Daniel Allan on Twitter. You should also give invest in music and follow. You know, you should follow Cooper’s newsletter you should follow Brett. Yeah, pretty straight for it.

Where can we find palm tree crew?

Cooper Turley: Yeah, I’d say for me.

Let’s try this again. One sec. One sec. Cooper, where can we find, hold on, wait, wait. Cooper, where can we learn more about coop records and everything that you’re working on.

Cooper Turley: Best place to stay up to date would be on Twitter. Personally. I’m @Coopertroopa. Coop records @cooprecordsxyz and I very recently launched the podcast and rebrand a newsletter called invest in music. So, we’re gonna go deeper on all these topics and highly recommend it and just want to say very quickly thank you to Daniel for even allowing us to take this opportunity on. It’s something that’s extremely unconventional and took a lot of conversation to even have the reality in the first place. And to Brett who’s always been a huge supporter and always been a huge advocate here. We could not have done this without him. And I think that it’s really essential that he gets recognized as a key contributor to this journey because he does so much behind the scenes that people don’t see. And I don’t think this would be possible without him.

Brett, where can we find you man?

BlockchainBrett: Not sweet. Thanks. Good. Yeah, just I mean huge congrats to Daniel. I’m super stoked to be a part of it. And you know, Cooper also is just absolutely crushing it in the weeds, high level all over the place. For me, BlockchainBrett, for the fun, palm tree crypto and then also we launched a newsletter called creator’s GMI, where we’re talking about the crypto in more detail. So, follow.

Let’s go guys. Thank you so much, until next time.

Podcast Transcript

The Future of Digital Advertising and Tokenized Media with nft now


Mint Season 7 Episode 20 welcomes Matt Medved and Sam Hysell, the Co-Founders of nftnow, an award-winning web3 media platform on a mission to empower creators and bring NFTs from niche to mainstream. In this episode, we explore their revamped vision of building a web3 media outlet centered around tokenized media, the future of digital advertising, the potential of NFTs to revolutionize the media industry, their journey since our last episode in November 2021 and so much more.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 02:23 – Update on nftnow Since November 9th, 2021
  • 05:41 – The Next Phase of nftnow
  • 12:42 – Exploring Why NFTs Enable Greater Media Depth
  • 15:18 – Thoughts on the Future of Digital Advertising
  • 26:06 – The Vision of Creating Content Worth Collecting Through Tokenized Media
  • 31:26 – Challenges in Building a Web3 Media Outlet Centered Around Tokenized Media
  • 34:30 – Operational Challenges Faced in Building nftnow’s New Division
  • 37:48 – The Future of Publishing in Web3
  • 46:08 – Plans for the Future of Tokenized Media on the Now Network
  • 49:58 – Outro

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With me today, I got two thirds of the nftnow crew, Sam and Matt, welcome back to mint. Thank you for being on again. How’s it going?

Matt Medved: Thank you for having us. It’s great to be back. It’s going so well man, like wow, what a ride like since our last conversation?

Sam: Yeah, honored to be back here, definitely has been, I think it was November of 2021. How much has changed since then, pretty much everything. So, ready to dive in.

New cycles, new nftnow, new me, new year, all the above. It was November 9, 2021, specifically, and you’re right, a lot has gone down, especially the market. The market is down, and we are in a bear market. Talking about all things nftnow and more specifically tokenized media, you guys have been pretty vocal about those two words join together for a minute now. I feel like we’re all on this boat figuring out what the next phase of media looks like in its conjunction with web three. So, I’m excited to hear what your takes are, especially as you introduce the now pass, the nftnow pass to the world. So, guys really quick, give us a quick brief on yourselves individually, 30 seconds and what nftnow is for those who don’t know, and we’ll kick it off.

Matt Medved: Sure, so I’m Matt Medved, co-founder, CEO and editor in chief of nftnow, come from 15 years in music and media, previously founded billboard dance, billboards dance electronic music brand, ran Spin Magazine as editor in chief, and ran content at modern luxury lifestyle publisher before co-founding nftnow in January 2021. And nftnow is on a mission to empower the creators of culture and to bring web three technology from niche to mainstream.

Sam: Yep, and my name is Sam Hysell. I’m also one of the co-founders and the Chief Strategy Officer of nftow, prior nftnow helped Gary Vee stand up Vayner talent, which was kind of replicating what Gary had done with his own brand for other talent before leaving to start my own agency called Knox media, that worked with a range of different leading record labels, musicians, to help them create and distribute content, grow and convert communities online. And it was actually, it was having a conversation as to how NFTs and web three could change and impact the music industry. And that sent me deep down the rabbit hole. Matt and I had crossed paths by were both working in music and saw a lot of problems, that were prevalent that industry that were being addressed by this technology. So it’s great to become, to co-found this business together and really be united around our mission of empowering the creators of culture.

Update on nftnow Since November 9th, 2021

When I think about nfttnow, I think about kick ass events, awesome editorial, creators of culture, like these are the few first few things that pop into my head, and soon to be tokenized media. And a lot has happened since the last time we were on the podcast, November 9th, 2021, to be exact. Matt, give me the rundown, what has happened since November 9th, 2021, and nftnow?

Matt Medved: Oh my god, what hasn’t happened. Well, look, we have grown as a team we have grown as executives and the space has just grown in general as well, even despite the current downturn. Super exciting. So, since we last spoke in 2021, we did our first edition of the gateway, which is our leading flagship event franchise, took over a bank building in in downtown Miami and turn to a massive audio-visual gallery. After that in calendar year 2022, we grew in every facet of the business. We also launched the NFT 100, which is our leading editorial franchise recognizing the 100 top creators and community leaders in the space. And in addition to growing the team and really starting to level up different franchises, like next up which focuses on rising artist, runway, which focuses on digital fashion. We got some exciting things coming in the works on the AI and gaming front as well. We also brought back the gateway, a web three metropolis. In December of 2022, five-day web three Arts and Culture Festival took over two city blocks, 12 buildings and brought the web three community together for a really, really special event, that was also free to the registered public. It was really important for us to make that inclusive. And now we’re starting off 2023 hitting the ground running, super strong. Getting ready to, you know, we just got gaming fresh off of the announcement of the now pass at NFT Paris and really looking forward to its launch this month.

That was like boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, one thing after the next. Sam, did Matt miss anything?

Sam: And there’s a lot we didn’t even mention it but I did keep it to the highlights, you know.

Wait, Sam those are like Matt’s highlights. How would you explain the last, since the last time we hopped on the pod?

Sam: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s been interesting. I think as the undoubtedly has been a little bit kind of gone into this bear market phase. I think we’ve definitely seen it shift towards builders and artists and creators, that are much more committed to sustainable long-term models, definitely flushed out a lot of the bad actors, some of the people that were more kind of looking for the quick cash grab. So, I think that’s created a very productive force within this space by way of really focusing on sustainable business models, sustainable companies, I mean, even seeing some of the stuff in tech you’ve been building has been great to see. So, that’s been great. On our side, it’s always kind of trying to be the signal and the noise, finding the stories worth telling, like I think we have a, we built a powerful platform and a spotlight really able to showcase that the people, the projects, the builders, that we believe are creating the positive precedents that can really unleash the potential of this technology. So, day in, day out, it’s amazing that we’re able to really empower and showcase and uplift these different people.

The Next Phase of nftnow

You guys have had quite a journey. And I mentioned a few of the keywords that come to mind when you think of nftnow and you guys are now transitioning into this new era of positioning nftnow, like this tokenized media movement, that’s like a good way to sort of frame it. How would you explain that? How would you describe this next phase of nftnow?

Matt Medved: Yeah, it’s a really good question. And Adam, I think like to really understand the next phase, you also have to understand where we’ve been and what’s broken about the current web two media model. You know, I think it’s really important to recognize that, from the very beginning, we wanted to do things differently with nftnow. So even in our early phase, if you go to right now, what you won’t find on the site are programmatic advertisements. We don’t believe that that’s a viable business model, we believe in misaligned incentives. And I’ll elaborate a little bit about that. But we also want to leave that shit in web two. And they also won’t find any pixels or cookies, we don’t track our users, we believe privacy is a fundamental human right and consent is important. And so, from the very beginning, we have had these principles, and we always knew that the last thing we wanted nftnow to be was just a traditional web two media company covering web three, that would be a huge missed opportunity. And we all coming from various facets of traditional media, myself from the legacy media world, with billboard and spin and modern luxury. Alejandro with that on the business side of media, with Elite Daily and Verizon acquisition side and Sam with Vayner talent, and Knox, you know, we’ve seen firsthand just how broken web two media is. And what do I mean by that? Like, I think like a lot of things, that these kinds of things that people say will resonate with people, like, you know, like this is getting a lot of clicks, like being paid in exposure, like needing more reach all the time, just like endless, like drive to continue to like grow top line growth. Where did that come from? Right, like it’s almost we’ve internalized it almost because it’s just been such an, like a integral part of like the media game for lack of a better word, over the past, you know, few decades. And so, but it really, it really came to the fore with the rise of like digital media and social media, when social media opened up the traffic floodgates to all of these different media sites, all of a sudden, media companies saw this opportunity, this explosion in traffic, this opportunity via programmatic advertisements to capitalize on that. The rise of ad tech and the like, you know, for those who don’t know what programmatic ads are, those are those like annoying banner ads, which is like most, many of you may have them blocked with an ad blocker. But like, you know, they’re all over, like the sites that you go to every day, everything from like New York Times to YouTube, to most media sites that are not nftnow, and the thing is, the way that works is like the more people visit your website, the more impressions the ads get, and the more that that platform gets paid. And so, all of a sudden, media companies became incentivized to increase the number of clicks pageviews eyeballs at all costs. And what it did was, it turned that, it created this, what I like to call a clickbait race to the bottom, as algorithms like rewarded more sensationalist headlines, quicker trigger fingers, and repetitive kind of like, you know, repetitive coverage. A lot of media companies became indistinguishable from each other, the quality of coverage declined, public trust in media eroded as well. And so, as people chased, you know, this algorithmic traffic and web two media companies became reliant on platforms like Facebook, to really maintain their traffic goals. And so, they found out the hard way, when in 2015, Facebook changed their algorithm. And it decimated the traffic sources of the hundreds of media companies. It led to declining revenue, it led to layoffs and like I saw this all happen during my time. And why does that happen? It’s because in web two digital media, you are the product, like people are the product, they are monetizing your eyeballs, they are selling them. And the thing is that what’s really flawed about that is that in web to media, it’s all about audience scale, rather than audience quality. It’s quantity over quality. It’s all about audience scale versus audience depth. It doesn’t matter who you are, your eyeballs are treated the same. And that’s actually like a really short-sighted way of thinking about how it, like the role of a media brand in 2023. I think what’s also really important to say is that, what because we were all kind of like boiled down to the single metric of traffic. You know, literally like the brightest minds in Silicon Valley began like building ad tech and like optimizing to capture your attention, we became this constant attention economy. And as a result, publishers actually began prioritizing their advertisers over their audiences. Finally, like this all led, as led to attacks on privacy. Platforms began tracking users all across the web, without explicit consent, in order to sell more ads, this all fed into that machine. And this reached the point where, you know, a really unsustainable point where public trust in media has eroded, where now consumers are loyal to the headline and not the brand, because media companies tend to be interchangeable. And it’s become this like, really like surface level shallow, one way street transactional relationship between audiences and media brands. And we just know that there’s a better way. If there’s one thing that we’ve seen with web three is that, you know, the web two model was all about audience and building audience. Like I said, it’s like an audience’s aware that you exist, whereas web three is predicated on the idea of community. It’s a buzzword that gets thrown around a lot, but it actually is also, like undergirds this entire space. So, community wants to see you when, in fact committee wants to win together. And actually, in web three, they actually have a stake in doing so. So, what we’re looking to do with nftnow, and the now network, for which they now pass is your access key is to pioneer a community centric media model, in which our community is empowered within this ecosystem, not only to, you know, have sovereignty around how they interact with us and consume content, but also to have a say in what gets covered and community curated content series, to have, to actually be able to share in the value that they’re creating, and earn rewards by participating, engaging, sharing, contributing to nftow. And so, there’s a lot to unpack there, there’s a lot to get into, but what we really see is that this web two media model is irrevocably broken. It is not, it is unfixable. And the only way that we are going to move forward and create the deeper relationships that we care about is by embracing and utilizing web three technology to really create communities with aligned incentives.

Exploring Why NFTs Enable Greater Media Depth

There’s a lot to unpack in that statement, the first thing that I want to touch upon is there’s nothing worse than getting to a website. And the first thing you see is your entire page, just covered with ads, like you can’t even scroll through the article. There’s like, there’s one that hits you from the top, there’s one that hits you from the bottom, and there’s like a pop up from the right and a pop up from the left. And they’re like wait, I came to read this current event and like, what do you want me to do? You know, it’s like what do I do? It’s like, a lot of also like, there’s a few like crypto native media outlets that are at fault for this too. And I don’t want to name names. But if you’re active reading the web, and the crypto news, you’ll see a bunch of them kind of like targeted with this model. So, that’s number one. There’s nothing worse than that and I completely agree with you, Matt Medved. And the next thing that you sort of said is it’s hard to create depth in web two media. And that I guess you’re arguing that web three is an opportunity to enable depth and NFTs are sort of the premise to kind of unlock that. Talk about that from it. Like why do you guys think and Sam, you as well, like why do you think NFTs are that medium to enable the depth that we just, we kind of took advantage of and we lost in web two?

Sam: Yeah, I think it’s a couple key points, I’d say for starters. And we’ve seen this across different verticals within the broader web three landscape, which is that web three and NFTs give birth to a more valid and sustainable model for the promise of 1000 true fans, you’re able to have more viable economics off of smaller communities and smaller fan bases. You see this very clearly within the kind of web three music landscape, where people are able to generate the equivalent revenue of millions of streams off of 100 collectors. So, right there, it’s kind of flipping the script. Instead of optimizing solely for reach, we really are able to have a better economic model to optimize for depth amongst a tighter knit community. I think the other component too, is that I think in a lot of ways, web three tools and NFTs are just incentive alignment machines, they create deeper levels of participation, deeper levels of loyalty, people are able to access different levels of rewards and status within communities, by way of their journey as a collector. So, I think on our side too, it’s like we kind of have said numerous times that we feel we should serve people opportunities, not ads. So, by having these mechanics where we can really reward participation, drive deeper connection, drive more value, it really starts to create a more positive flywheel that revolves around delivering value to our community, rather than trying to build as big of an audience as we can, just so we can sell ads against their, like their eyeballs.

Thoughts on the Future of Digital Advertising

There’s something to be said, though, that I think web three unlocks a new form of quote, unquote, advertising. Because the global and I’m reading this on Google right now, the global digital advertising market in 2023, is valued to be $681.39 billion, like there’s no way that’s just gonna evaporate, sort of over the next few years, I find that hard to believe. But I feel like there’s an opportunity to create more depth, as you said, Matt and Sam, as you guys argued, but also do in a way where it’s more custom and tailored to the individual that sort of surfacing content. And when you look at on chain data, you can sort of surface and deliver things that are unique to that individual, that they’ll actually may even appreciate and say thank you to. I don’t know if you guys have any thoughts around like what the future of digital advertising even looks like. Or if you guys are on the boat that it’s going to completely disappear.

Matt Medved: Oh, it definitely won’t completely disappear, it’s going to be revolutionized as well. And I think like you said, with one amazing thing about web three is that, like there’s on chain data allows a deeper level of understanding and also connection with people. And so, I think that what we’re going to see is a much smarter form of advertisement, a much more genuine and authentic form of advertisement, that could actually be channeled into the places where it will be most impactful. I mean, like when you think about it this way, like the web three media, tokenized media is all about super serving communities, it’s all about understanding that not everybody needs the same things. And we’re not under no assumptions that, for example, our community or nftnow are all going to need the same thing. So, like we have, for example, we know that we have a lot of creators in our community, artists who are quite successful also artists were or photographers or the like, or poets, you know, there’s so many different creative elements now, who are looking to get into web three and looking to succeed, you know, they’re going to be looking for different things than, for example, builders in the space people who have projects, people who are launching protocols, etc. Then you’ve also got the collectors in the space, the people who are trading or you know, moving it more from like an art side of investment and collecting. And then we’ve also got the brands who are looking to enter the space too. And all of these different segments have different creative and consumer priorities. And that’s actually a good thing. That’s actually a thing that I think will help tokenize media platforms, differentiate between these audiences and help create opportunities for each of these audiences. And these different communities, rather than painting everybody with the same broad brushstroke of web two, I think, like that’s what we see time so objectionable about web two media and programmatic advertisement, is that it makes no distinction between audiences. So, like, you know, let’s be real, a bot in Vietnam that happened to like, you know, come across your page is treated the same, as you know, the CEO of a leading NFT marketplace. And these are two very different value propositions that play. And that’s why like, if you think about it, there’s actually a ton of value, like Sam said, in sometimes smaller, more niche audiences and communities that contain really high value users, for whatever that media platform is looking for. And potentially advertisers that can go along with that. So, it’s not necessarily that like advertisement is the enemy. Advertisement is a natural part of just of, you know, human marketplaces in commerce. It’s been going on for centuries, what I think was really objectionable is the algorithmic game that specifically programmatic advertisement created, which was entirely indiscriminate, boiled everyone down to one metric traffic, and created perverse incentives for media companies to actually throw all other concerns and all other priorities to the to the wayside in order to prioritize that. And that’s why we found ourselves in the place where we are, where, you know, where people have lost trust in media because of clickbait headlines, where people are creating content simply to surface on the Google algorithm, to get the clicks to satisfy the advertisers versus actually thinking, how can this piece of content actually create value for the community at play? And I’ll even give an example. Adam, we, you know, at nftnow we’ve done some partnered content, and we hold it to an incredibly high standard. We said no to almost everyone during our first year, the first people we said yes to were Coinbase and United Masters, and we did a partner content campaign with them around the top music NFT moments of the year. Now that piece is of old time. And what was really critical there was we knew that we could, that we had so many people in the music NFT ecosystem that were coming to our site, that were coming through our funnel, and we did an incredibly credible piece of content, that we would have already wanted to cover no matter what, like we would have done, we would have wanted to do music NFT moments anyway. And we did not in any way like compromise editorial credibility around that. And it was such a great piece of content that Coinbase, United masters wanted to put their name on it. And that was a win, win for everyone. Because not only did it drive revenue for us, it drove awareness for them. And it did so in a really credible way, where it was actually really targeted towards users, that would actually care. And that would actually make an impact. And so, it’s just one example but I just want to give an example and make it clear that like, I’m not saying that all advertisement is going to go out the window, right. Like the contrary, I just think it’s going to be able to be done in a much more empathetic, smart and unchained way.

I completely agree. The way I think about ads at the podcast is, I give out free NFTs to my listeners, people collect them every single season. And then from there in turn, I know who my audience is. And I could surface them better content, and better forms of monetization that are interest aligned. An example is noticing that a lot of my community is native to Zora, bringing people from Zora onto the podcast, surfacing content that they already enjoy, and seeing an increase in downloads accordingly. Noticing that a lot of my community creates like lens derivatives or nouns derivatives, trying to bring people as sponsors from those communities onto the podcast, offering deals and services that pertain to those communities and those brands. And everybody wins because you know who these people are from a high-level perspective in their activity on chain. And you can derive really cool insights and deliver more thoughtful actions accordingly. So, I completely agree with that. One thing that you said Matt, that was super interesting is, being able to understand who reads the content because you compared a bot in Indonesia, to an executive at like prominent company in, they hold two different weights. Now what, you know what that got me thinking and I’m going to shoot the shit right now, maybe a completely new idea over here, okay. But it really, it seriously opens up a rabbit holes, like a meritocracy. The wall is the gate, is your gateway into web three. And if you could tell based off the layers of somebody’s wallet, what content they’re also reading and be able to service those insights to people. So, if you could basically curate content based off like the topmost, the top 10% of Ethereum active users and track what they’re watching and surface that to other people. There’s something interesting over there. Is that what you’re implying to with being able to value one reader from another reader? Like determining the things that they’re consuming and being able to create more interesting content around that, or how are you guys thinking about it? Or is my head just like, I have a completely different rabbit hole right now?

Matt Medved: No, no, like I think you’re bringing up some great points, I think we are headed is that is more about empowering the users themselves to make it clear, like where they stand and to make it clear what they’re interested in and to have their voices heard. And so like, that’s why one of the like key parts of the now network, our community curated content series. So, for example, you know, I love to give this example. So, this one is really close to my heart, we launched the next up franchise and nftnow to support rising artists. And so, we actually spoke to our community. We did some tweets and discord posters, like hey, like what could we be doing more of? And people were like, like you guys do a really great job of supporting established artists. But like we want to see more coverage of rising artists. And we were like, say less like, we love to support rising artists, is about empowering creators. And so, we launched next up, and it’s been really special. Like if you go to the first next up that we did in January 2022, it was like, you’ll be like, these aren’t rising artists. But they were back then, you know, it’s like Alpha Centauri kid, Drift, Diana Sinclair, like before they’d really popped and like, you know, they’re like, no misses on that. And so, it’s been really special to create that, like that franchise. But the thing is, at the end of the day, I still, like I don’t want to be a gatekeeper. Like we didn’t get into web three just to become the new gatekeepers. Like that’s not what this is about. Like that, like gatekeeping is all web two. And so even still, when we do next up, like right now, in our current form, it’s like I get together with the editorial team, we all talk about artists we think are doing great, we like you know, check metrics, we do our due diligence, our research, and then we select editorially five artists, but like it’s still us, you know, making the decision there. And what I’m excited about is being able to open that up to the community. So, what we’re going to do is we’re going to, like next up, for example, we’re going to open it up, turn it into a community curated token curated registry, a TCR, where there will be unchained voting, where community members are empowered to not only vote on them, but also put forward nominations and obviously now pass holders will be empowered in that regard, to be able to put down, to put through like the you know, to put artists forward and vote and the like and actually have a say in in series like this. And we’re going to be, like next up is just the beginning. There’s a lot of plans for that but like, so it’s less about finding more, it’s less about using on chain ways to like track people and more about giving them a direct voice in that as well, Sam, I’m not sure if there’s anything you want to add to that but feel free.

Sam: Yeah, I mean, I think some, there’s ways in which we can create contextual experiences for different users. So, I think we’re not necessarily approaching this from a one size fits all capacity either, like we’ve done a lot of research, kind of paid attention to who are the members of our community, actually kind of developing the now pass and the now network. Did a series of different customer development research interviews, where we spoke with a very broad range of different people in the space and really started to see problem sets and challenges now between this emerge across what we’ve kind of defined as four core segments of our community, being creators, collectors, brands and builders. So, I think for each of them, the goals and pains and challenges of each segment are different. So, it’s similar to what Matt was alluding to. It’s how we go about creating opportunities, creating value for those people will also differ as well. So, there’s a lot of interesting and exciting mechanics as to how we want to deliver value, reward participation amongst our community. And that’s a couple different examples.

The Vision of Creating Content Worth Collecting Through Tokenized Media

Yeah, the theme of season seven, which you guys are a part of now is create content worth collecting and tokenize media falls in line with that tagline. What do you guys think of that tagline of creating content that’s worth collecting and trying to understand how that fits into the overall vision of tokenized media? Where do you see the two-playing tack? Like Sam, any anything come to mind with that?

Sam: Yeah, try some stuff and sure Matt will dive in as well. I think it’s twofold but it’s content worth collecting. Because I think on one side, it’s just that the value and think about how people would have these cover stories of iconic magazines throughout the years, right, where there’s just these iconic moments in times where people want to collect. So, I think that’s one side of the equation where there’s just such a deep level of emotional resonance, that drives this desire to have a deeper level of ownership and collectability. I think the other side too, is very much the, it’s not necessarily the content on its own, although that’s a big piece. But it’s also what you’re able to get as a result of having this collectible, and of being able to access other opportunities or access other rewards by way of actually collecting it. Whereas the collectability of the content is really just a kind of a validation that this person is down for the cause, that they do want to participate, that they do want to be able to reap some of the other rewards that we’ll be providing to people within the now network. But love to hear your take too, Matt.

Matt Medved: Yeah, no, I think that nailed it. It’s like, you know, I remember so you know, I come from legacy media, I remember, you know, the collectability around magazine covers, and obviously, we saw that as a proven model with everything that time did into the space with like that legacy that history, but we can take it a lot further than that. Like I remember, you know, at billboard, we released a box set around the BTS covers, right? Like the cards sold out immediately. This is very web two, you know, this dealer literally physical magazines, but sold out immediately, seven figures in revenue immediately. That’s the power of fandom. But imagine this, those BTS covers, you know, they’re cool, I’m sure the fans hung them on the walls and like love them. But imagine that they got them backstage at the show. Imagine that they got them entered into a raffle for the next, for sign CDs at the next, although not the next CDs. But you know what I mean, like sign merchandise at the next release exactly. Like there’s also ways that these tokens, this tokenized media and its equivalents can actually serve as opportunities to reward most loyal fans. So, like, even if you think about a podcast or podcast, we’re on right now, you know, that this gets tokenized maybe in the future, someone who owns this, who’s a fan of us and is a fan of what we’re doing and is like you know what? I’m here for nftnow, I’m here for Adam, I’m here for mint. Maybe they get entered into an allow list for upcoming dropping NFT now or something that mint is doing. And so, like what’s amazing is that, you know, by tokenizing media and allowing people who are in the moment, who feel the resonance, who also understand, you know what? I may not know exactly what Matt, Sam and Alejandra are doing with nftnow but I really believe in the vision and I understand and I want to take this journey with them or like I really believe what Adam is doing with mint, I’ve been following him for seven seasons and I think like I just see their trajectory. They’re able to share in that ride, they’re able to become go from just being fans to also being on some sense shareholders and that’s the power of tokenized media, is giving people an ownership in storytelling, giving them ownership in, you know, taking, like having a say and also a share in the future trajectory of their favorite media brands. And I think like what’s also really critical and really interesting to think about is like, do you think about the trajectory of like, like technology has always driven media forward, from literally like the Gutenberg Printing Press right? To like that enabled print media to web one, you know, and the first like digital media websites to, you know going into the, you know, the social media era, and then the mobile era, remember like, remember when everyone’s websites were designed for desktop, and then they were like, oh, shit, like now everyone’s on mobile, they had to adapt from mobile too Tokenize media is the next phase, it’s the next phase. And the sooner that publishers understand this, the more of a head start they’re gonna be able to get here. And that’s really critical. Because if you look back historically, it was the publications that were early to embrace digital, and the ones that were early to embrace mobile, who thrived on those platforms, and maintain their relevance till today. You know, I know this very, very well, because I started my career at billboard, billboards been around since the 1890s. But billboard notably was very early to embrace digital at a time that it wasn’t that popular. And that’s one of the reasons why billboard has the huge digital footprint that it has, and maintains its relevance till today, it’s like this is just the next natural phase of technological progression driving media forward. But what’s really critical is this time, it actually, like it has an opportunity to actually create and change the models and create more fairer models that literally benefit everyone and allow communities to take ownership in a way that just previously wasn’t possible.

Challenges in Building a Web3 Media Outlet Centered Around Tokenized Media

I love that. I think it’s very spot on. I think what you guys are building towards is very interesting and the ability to tokenize content and to create experiences around that and to align incentives with your readers and your listeners and everyone in between is definitely the way forward. I’m curious if you guys have experienced or it can imagine any challenges that come with building a web three native media outlet and focusing around tokenized media as a core primitive of what you’re doing. Any challenges sort of like that you faced already or that you think have yet to come?

Matt Medved: One thing I’ll speak to, I’m sure Sam has too is like old habits die hard, right? Like we’ve been, we have this web two media model like pretty much like pounded into our heads from, for the past, you know, two decades, right? It’s all about like getting the most eyeballs, getting the most followers, getting the most audience, like it’s all about that top line growth. And it’s hard to break both as an individual and as an organization, those habits and those, like it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s easy to fall back on that, right. But what you actually realize is that, that is what led us to where we are, this clickbait race to the bottom, this era of like indiscriminate media companies and lack of pervasive lack of trust, right. And so, like what we need to remember is that there is a better way now, however, like it’s not only cutting edge, like we are the ones cutting the edge, like you know, we actually went out, we’re like yo like, you know, like who’s, building tokenized media like that and just wasn’t being done in the way that that we saw fit. And we’re like, you know what, this is the, it’s the pioneers you know, it’s the pioneers you know, path which is you gotta go create what you know, is going to drive the space forward. And so, you know, I think that breaking old habits is really key. I think also helping legacy players understand what’s happening, and why they need to be a part of this revolution. I mean, we saw this with digital, you know, I think about all the print dinosaurs that took so long to embrace digital, many of them never recovered. Many of them, many of them were lost along the way, you know, and so, there’s a similar thing here, especially because the learning curve is arguably even more difficult. You know, I always say I went through the crypto learning curve in 2013 with Bitcoin, I still had to go through the NFT learning curve in 2020. And, you know, that was still challenging. There are a lot of people going through both concurrently. And that’s really difficult with the current UX and usability and the like. And so I think it there’s both internal challenges around like ensuring that like you level up your mindset and unlearn the things that have become so ingrained that it’s like so natural after so many years in media, and then also figuring out how to credibly advocate for what you know is the future to a market that you also need to meet where they are.

Operational Challenges Faced in Building nftnow’s New Division

That makes sense. So, from your perspective, from like an operational perspective, what are some of the challenges that you think you’ll face or that you’ve already faced was trying to build out this new and improved arm of nftnow?

Sam: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s a couple of things. I mean, there’s two points, one’s a little more operational. One’s just more broad macro perspective. On the operational side, I think some scaling community, right, like we’re speaking around the notion of a thousand true fans and super serving our core audience. I think that is the most important thing for us, for the now network is having an incredible experience for the people that are participating, giving them opportunities to elevate within their career, access to various rewards by way of different participation, exclusive access to different events. I think over time is striking that balance as the scaling community, without having a kind of adverse effect towards the value that you’re providing to every single community member. I think the other component, and this is on the more macro side when it just comes to challenges, and I think this is a challenge but also an opportunity is, Matt kind of spoke to the fact that trust in media at a macro level is kind of waning. I think we’ve also concurrently just seen the rise of this creator economy and just seeing all these different creators, who have really started to eat into that kind of pie of attention. So, we’re just generally seeing this big rise of creators, I think, even with nftnow, I’m not sure if you’ve seen K money has come in and replaced Matt as our CEO. K money is the Director of Social Video and nftnow. So, I think on our side to the extent that we’re, not that we’re finding really innovative ways to partner with creators, in the same way we want to bring power to our community, to contribute to things like next up and involve our community and the curation that we’re doing. We’re also bringing that same spirit of innovation towards how can we better involve and participate with different creators within the broader landscape as well. So, it’s not just like us speaking to our audience, but our community of creators, of participants, are all able to collectively participate and be rewarded for their participation within their own success.

Matt Medved: Yeah, it’s about getting out of this mentality that like media is a one-way street, right? Like if you look at these two legacies beat the brand or just literally just like, because there’s so incentivized to drive people to their website at all costs, to get their eyeballs to monetize and then discard for these programmatic ads. They are not like that’s the only conversation they’re having, is a one-way street to your eyeballs, and it’s not sustainable. It’s not empathetic. It’s not credible. It’s not authentic. And like what’s really important is like Sam said, understanding that tokenized media is a two-way street. It’s actually more than a two-way street because you’re creating an ecosystem, where people can connect and create value together in a community centric model, and do it all within this framework. You know, it’s really like it’s, it’s almost like a salve to like the, to the web two mediums like long standing wounds.

The Future of Publishing in Web3

What do you think publishing looks like in the context of tokenized media?

Matt Medved: Yeah, great question. Look, I think at a certain level, like all media will live on chain in some form. That doesn’t mean that all media will be, you know, traded, you know, in terms of like having speculative value or are having like, you know, collectible value or the like, but I think that the blockchain is absolutely incredibly powerful in terms of documenting in an immutable way. You know, what is it the discourse and the conversations that we’re having, like think about how many websites have been lost and all of their content, gone. Because the website went out of business because of a broken flawed business model. And you know, the servers, they couldn’t afford to keep the servers and it’s a real thing, people worry about, it’s like, what’s going to happen to the archives of these publications. And so, I think we’re gonna see a scenario in which all media, all published media will live on chained in some form. That doesn’t mean that all of it will be collectible, but I do think that there will be the archival element of that, then I think what you’re also going to see is really critical collectible media, around really major moments, around really major releases, around like things that people have that emotional resonance with, about like I was there, or I believe, or I want to be a part of this, you know, those forces. Because at the end of the day, human behavior and human psychology doesn’t change, just the technology finds new ways to empower enable and cater to it, right? And so, all of those things that we are feeling, you know, like when we see for example, if you see your favorite musician on the cover of a publication, you’re like, damn, I love that like, I want to be a part of that. Whether that’s in a traditional model that was like, you know what, I’m gonna buy that magazine, I will put it on my wall, right. In this context, it will be like, you know what, I’m gonna mint that and I’m gonna hold that, you know, like those moments are going to become largely on chain and that’s going to be a really powerful thing. As we think about harnessing that and this is going to go beyond just articles, this is going to be editorial, this is going to be socialist, is going to be audio, this is going to be video. This is going to be like a holistic and an all-encompassing ecosystem for tokenized media. We’re obviously in the early innings. And one thing I think that’s really critical as we think about the now pass, and we think about the now network, the now network is really the foundation for all of the initiatives that we have underway to build the future of tokenized media. So, we’re not going to go from, you know, from that, like it’s not gonna happen overnight. Right. It’s gonna be built over time. And I think that that’s really critical. Just like we’ve seen the adoption of this technology, take time within these market cycles of awareness and the light between the bulls and the bears, like, you know, we’re it’s gonna be a long haul for the future of tokenized media, but I also think things are going to move quicker than people think, you know, we’ve already seen for example, just the flood of big brands into web three, we’ve seen things that would have been unimaginable. You know, two years but unimaginable when we last spoke, November 2021. Like if you had told me some of these things will be happening. You know, like I would have been like, nah dude, that’s like five years out, you know what I mean? And so, it happens, it’s like slowly but then like all at once, and so we clearly see where the puck is going. We recognize that this is the next evolution of the Internet and it’s the next evolution of storytelling. And ownership is the critical component to that. Never bet against that. Never bet against the power of storytelling and never bet against technology.

As you’re speaking another thought comes to mind and you try to think of the phases and stages of tokenized media, where we’re at the inner cusp of trying to understand what tokenized media even means. And this next thing that I’m going to try to like to illustrate is something that I thought that I’m formulating as we speak. Okay, so the way Matt looks at it, the way nftnow looks at it, a couple other people look at it, it’s basically taking pieces of content, tokenizing that content, either doing a membership pass around your community to try to get them into the ecosystem from like a top-level funnel, curate experiences through that accordingly. So, it’s either publishing content and minting content and tokenizing content that’s then collected, either issuing a membership pass that then gets into this community of more tokenized content. I think that’s phase one. I think phase two is if we go back to what we were talking about earlier, and we say that the creator and the creator is either the writer, the graphic designer, whatever branch it extends from, actually ends up being the platform, then media companies will probably act as aggregators, because if I’m the platform, then when I publish content, I can mint that piece as an NFT. And if nftnow is sort of situated in the right proper structure, you can then aggregate that creator’s content and surface it through editorial, right? So instead of actually publishing content from a traditional website, you guys will act as aggregators, empowering writers to submit their articles, and then surfacing that content through nftnow for the reader, so you guys would focus on distribution, driving traffic, right and getting eyeballs on content, while at the same time recruiting these really talented writers, reporters, and you Matt, acting as head of editorial, surfacing that content to the surface because what that will actually do, it will create equitable playground, right? 

Mat Medved: That’s right. 

And if the creator is not necessarily like publishing on WordPress, that’s via nftnow’s database, right? It’s actually publishing content on chain that on chain content then gets surfaced across these news aggregators. Like that’s like the next step that I see, like a really like extreme farfetched tokenize media company, publishes content as NFTs and then we have the right proper things in place to actually read and consume that tokenized media, but I don’t think we’re there yet.

Matt Medved: Yeah, look, I don’t think it’s that farfetched. You know, I think that, like I think that, you know, we have a long way to go in terms of the evolution of tokenized media, but I think that that’s right. And I think that in many ways, we will see that model and we also like, you know, in a sense, it speaks to what we are really thinking through in stages, which is progressive decentralization. Right? Like you think about that model where you have a decentralized network of contributors, who you know, are all kind of are like feeding into that but really have their own autonomy, have their own, you know, have their own, their own IP, their own licensing, their own everything, but being able to kind of like aggregate that through, it’s like it’s a descendant of more decentralized model. And so, we’re thinking through just progressive decentralization for nftow, like what did those first steps look like? A lot of that is these more, like this content, you know, the community curated content series. Sam could speak a bit to lists like creator network as well, that you know, we’re kind of like outlining broad brushstrokes for and you know, I think that at the end of the day is really about incentivizing participation and increasing the, you know, the town, the town square, so that it’s not just, you know, it’s not just the big centralized media publications that have, like they have access to the narrative but really being able to bring many more voices to the fault. Sam, do you wanna speak maybe to the creator side at the high level?

Sam: Yeah, good to speak to the high level as far as when I can and can’t share. I do think but no, I fully aligned. I think what you said is brilliant, I think aligns with a lot of the ways that we’re thinking, which is that when you think about the different kind of stakeholders involved in this broader landscape of like, media attention, a lot of it is creators, and I think media publications that will win are the ones that are able to create the best models, to partner with different creators. So, I think the incentivization mechanics don’t solely rely on between like media publisher, in house staff, and audience and community, but a big subset of that community is actual creators. So, going back to the notion that kind of for us web three, and a lot of this NFT tooling is really incentive alignment machines. We definitely are spending a lot of time thinking and working to ensure that we can have quick alignment and incentive alignment with creators in our community.

Plans for the Future of Tokenized Media on the Now Network

That makes a lot of sense. I want to understand how you guys are thinking about sort of the future of tokenized media as it pertains to the now pass and the now network. Like where’s your head at and where you want to take this beast?

Matt Medved: Yeah, so look, the now pass, just to make it clear. The now pass is like your access pass to the now network. And we think about like, everything that, like that it’s all for that we’re offering, it’s all through the now network. You know, I think it’s really critical to understand that this is all very much a first step. You know, this is, we’re not gonna figure this out overnight. We’re being really intentional and like taking our time to create something sustainable. This is as I said, the foundation for all of our initiatives and building the future of tokenized media. And so, experimentation is a critical part of being a pioneer. And so, you know, our commitment is long term. And if I were to say to you that like yo, we got everything figured out the next five years, boom, boom, that would be disingenuous, because it would also be really, it would also be really short sighted because things change so fast. The people who succeed in web three and beyond are people who are nimble and able to understand that the technologies are changing every day, you’re able to embrace that, hey, what made sense there before this protocol was created, may not make sense after that. But I can tell you that we have a very clear North star in terms of how we envision this process, really being able to super serve our community with exclusive content and access, being able to increase retention. I think that’s a really critical part. So much of traditional media is focused on engagement and the short term like spikes and the like we’re looking at retention. How do we keep people coming back? How do we reach our most valuable users, the most valuable community members and super served them and reward them for participating, creating deeper, more authentic connections and a greater sense of loyalty? And then also, as I said, decentralizing that content creation and curation. And so, you know, there’s a lot, we have, there’s so much that, like we can’t speak to right now. But we have our incredible CTO and creative director, Aaron Baker, who by the way also designed the now pass artwork, which is fucking amazing, by the way, like I gotta say, like I love it. It’s like fully generative, original generative artwork that he created, based on this idea of this concept of being the signal in the noise. And that’s kind of what been one of our mantras as we build the nftow over the past two years, is about like create, being this big building credibility and trust and being that trusted signal in the noise because let’s be real during the Bull Run, there was a lot of noise and there’s still a lot of noise, you know, but it’s like, alright, what matters? Why does it matter? Make sure it’s the good actors who get covered and all that, make sure it’s a real-life innovators and the like, and so like build, so that that signal to noise concept was really critical for us. And so Aaron, created this incredible generative artwork based on that concept, which like, has all these nuances and it’s got like, you know, rarity trades, exclusive attributes, things like that, which will all you know, they’ll all have significance so he can’t, you know, can’t speak to everything yet, but like, you know, it’s really, really special. And he is also the one building out the product offerings of the now. He’s the, you know, he’s one of those like crazy multithread, seasoned coder, he’s an artist, he’s everything, you know. And what’s crazy is so like, what he has, he has some incredible like dynamics and mechanics in the works, that he can’t speak to yet but really being able to build, like build this like specialized suite of products, so that if you own an now pass and you access the now network, you can then kind of choose your own adventure, with like different offerings that really speak to you and what you, like what success in web three and beyond means to you, Sam, anything you want to add there.

Sam: Nailed it. 


I love it. Your energy, both of your energy. Yeah, shout out Aaron, both of your energies are quite infectious. I’m excited to see where you guys take your vision of tokenized media, the now network and the success of the now pass. Guys before we wrap up, where can we learn more? Where can we stay in touch show it away?

Matt Medved: Yeah, well 100%. So look to learn more about the now pass specifically, go to You can also follow the now pass like dedicated Twitter at @thenowpass on Twitter. To learn more about the now network and everything that the now pass on locks. If you go to right now, you will see pinned to the top there is an op ed, authored by myself and Alejandro called web two media is broken, the future of media is tokenized, which really maps out our vision for why web two media is broken and why tokenized media is the future and also speak to those first steps for the now network. And so, I think that’s going to be really critical. My camera just cut out.

Yeah, it looks like it did. Okay to pick up where he left off. By the way, wait, I might want to get him to say that again because he was like middle of it, and I want to make sure I get the video.

Matt Medved: Do you want me to access, I can’t change, I have another webcam.

Sam: Is your back is turning on the camera display Matt, is the camera dead?

Cameras that run on batteries webcams, really.

Sam: We are using, we have like DSLR rigs.

Oh, got it. It’s all good guys. No, not a problem. I can always ask the question again, Sam, you can take it over.

Matt Medved: Let me try turning it off and on again.

Let’s take it from the beginning. Okay, let’s take it from the beginning. 

Matt Medved: I think I could take it from because I did the pass stuff. I could just take it from the nftnow side.

Sam: That’s to learn more about the now network. Okay, perfect. Cool. 

Matt Medved: So, look, to learn more about the now network and everything we’re building for the future of tokenized media, go to You’ll see an op ed pinned to the top there, authored by myself and Alejandro on web two media is broken, the future of media is tokenized, where we talk about why web two media is broken and why the future of media is tokenized and what will be offered for the now network in its first step. And then you can always follow along with nftnow at on Twitter at nftnow.

I love it. Sam any last words?

Sam: Grateful for everything that you’re building, grateful for you having us on the show today. Grateful for everybody that’s tuned in and listening and ultimately just very grateful that we have an opportunity to uplift and showcase and empower the different creators of culture and different people that are really at the forefront of this kind of technological movement. So it’s not us, it’s our community.

I love it. You guys are killing it, excited to see what happens. And we’ll have to do this again soon. But until then, appreciate you guys for being on.

Matt Medved: Thank you, Adam.

Sam: Cheers, Adam. Keep up the great work, man.

Podcast Transcript

Design, Distribution, and Tokenized Media: Insights from Jacob of Zora


Mint Season 7 Episode 19 welcomes Jacob Horne, Co-Founder of Zora, a platform that enables users to create, discover and collect with ease, all in one place. We discuss his transition from building stable coin projects to spearheading the crypto-native creator economy, as well as his interest in design and experimentation at Zora. We also delve into onchain distribution and virality, the potential of NFTs, and the Nouns ecosystem. Finally, we explore Jacob’s creative process and the things he wished he knew when he started building Zora.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 02:13 – From Stable Coin Projects to Crypto Creator Economy
  • 07:58 – Jacob’s Interest in Design
  • 14:26 – Insights from Experiment with Zora
  • 18:27 – Understanding “Creating Content Worth Collecting”
  • 23:40 – Best Examples of On-Chain Distribution and Virality, and What’s Missing for TikTok-Level Distribution
  • 28:26 – What Web2 Creators Are Missing to Enter Web3
  • 32:25 – NFTs as the End-All Be-All Solution
  • 34:43 – Ordinal NFTs on Bitcoin and Zora’s Direction
  • 41:54 – Rationalizing the Nouns Ecosystem
  • 48:51 – Relatable Human-Based Values in the Nouns Community 
  • 51:46 – Unfunded Ideas for the Nouns Ecosystem
  • 54:46 – Half-Baked Ideas Being Tinkered with
  • 01:02:12 – Creative and Thought Process for Rallying Team Around Statements
  • 01:05:57 – Strongly Held Ideas that Differ from Others
  • 01:07:35 – Lessons Learned Building Zora
  • 01:10:23 – Outro

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Jacob horn Welcome to mint season seven, all about creating content worth collecting. How’re you doing? Thanks for being on.

Jacob Horne: I’m doing pretty well. How are you doing? You’re good?

I’m doing great, feeling good. Fired up, just came back from Eth. Denver. I didn’t see you there. Did you see things rolling on crypto Twitter.

Jacob Horne: One of my co-founders Tyson was there. And one of our protocol engineers were there. They said it was amazing. So, my fam was very high.

Did they give you any sort of, I guess, like topics of discussion that were trending at Eth Denver, any narratives?

Jacob Horne: No, I haven’t got the full debrief yet. I’ve got lots of photos of this, like hardware workshop that like Ian was running. And then yeah, I think Tyson was enjoying the high-altitude conversations and the high altitude physically. So, it seemed pretty good. Yeah.

Okay, sick. Well, look, I’m super stoked genuinely to have you on, big fan of Zora. For whatever reason, our audience overlaps with people who collect on Zora and the people who collect mint podcasts. And I’ve noticed that anytime I create content around Zora, or I have somebody from Zora, they love it, and the download count is actually significantly higher, funnily enough, so I’m excited to see how this episode performs. I think Jacob, a good place to start is, for those who don’t know you, and don’t know crypto, how do you actually introduce yourself to someone?

Jacob Horne: I say that my name is Jacob and I work in crypto. Pretty simple. Yeah, I guess one of the cofounders of Zora, have been working on Zora for coming up on three years now. Before Zora, I worked at Coinbase, I was there for about three and a half years, I had a pretty wild journey. There I started as like a design intern, and then ended up kind of spearheading the stable coin and USDC efforts internally within Coinbase and that was a wild experience. Before Coinbase, I was building a bunch of wacky Ethereum projects that I was tweeting about in college, which is how I actually ended up at Coinbase, funnily enough. And then yeah, that’s the like, 32nd Introduction to about 10 years of being in crypto. There’s a lot of depth to it. But yeah, that’s the extremely high-level thing. 

From Stable Coin Projects to Crypto Creator Economy

Wait, how do you go from like building stable coin projects and Ethereum wacky projects to then, like spearheading or partly spearheading the crypto native creator economy?

Jacob Horne: That’s a good question. I guess follow a little bit. And just like, yeah, I guess like maybe how I got into crypto was, I honestly can’t remember if it was my dad that got me into crypto or like a professor that was teaching computer science. But basically, like Bitcoin was amazing to me. But what was even more amazing is that you could just create a currency out of the box. And the immediate spark that went off in my head was like wait, you’re telling me you could create a cryptocurrency for like, any idea or like project but that’s wild. So, I started playing around with it from that perspective. And that was these things called Colored Coins at the time, which was kind of like built on Counterparty.

Is that like another shit coin?

Jacob Horne: No, no, no, it was literally like, how do you start to build crypto currencies on top of Bitcoin? So like, very, very rudimentary like, I guess, simultaneously NFTs and non, like fungible tokens. But it’s built on Bitcoin so literally impossible to build, which is how like, I kind of got immediately rabbit holed into Ethereum. And when that came out, I was like, oh, wait, this is literally 1000 times easy to build on top of a public blockchain. So, my, a kind of, like, I guess, perpetual side project while I was in college was like, how do you use cryptocurrencies to capture the value of like creative projects? And just kind of like exploring, like, tokenizing anything around that? And yeah, I was like, tweeting about it a lot at the time. I kind of had the head of design at Coinbase reached out and then Fred Ostrom, the co-founder of being like, hey, this is cool. There’s no many people talking about Ethereum out of Sydney, like, this is interesting, like, let’s catch up. And I guess that led to them being like, you should come to Coinbase and do a three-month internship. And I was like, cool. I’ll do a three-month internship, learn everything I need to know about startups, go back to Australia and keep doing my like project. That three months turned into like three and a half years. It was pretty wild journey. And yeah, I guess I started in design, which was interesting enough, because I was, you know, I was coming from a computer science degree. But I guess within Coinbase, yeah, I was like a very strong advocate for pushing for the most like on chain or like out there versions of what Coinbase could do, and had a few shots at that, which was like Coinbase should move into decentralized exchanges. We should think about like, the core business and how that gets disrupted. And that was kind of like part of Coinbase’s like 0x ray light era and then started to pay attention to Uniswap and bootstrapping a lot of liquidity for you like on that. And then yeah, I guess stablecoins was something that kind of found a good alignment with Coinbase long term. So yeah, it was like myself and two engineers got locked into a room for three months and helped build that into Coinbase. Alongside like, Balaji flew out to Boston to deal with, all that good stuff. And yeah, that was kind of like a big hero project.

And you got so many scars, I’m just like, I’m like wait, don’t, like stop, like, let’s cover that. But wait, I don’t want to stop you. I’m like you have so many layers. That’s actually wild.

Jacob Horne: Yeah, and I guess like, layer into that protocol on Ethereum, which is starting to like flourish. So, like Uniswap was mind blowing to me, because I was like, wait, this is a team of like 10 people, who I think are going to structurally out compete a like 1200-person company. And I get the entire power of Coinbase with like a single function called this is like totally mind blowing. And it happened to be well timed with like the years Sox project, which I was like, oh, now we’re starting to talk a little bit because it’s like, we’re getting into creative projects, like this is fashion that happens to be using crypto. So, my like, side projects that I did to like remix that was like, well, if you have an entirely trustless market on chain, you should be able to create a trustless brand on top of it. So, I like spent the weekend creating like Aragon Dao called St. Fame, I made sure that that Dao was like the trustless owner and creator of the St. fame shot, which would be released the same way as Sox. And that it was all trustless, there were like Dao members, all this kind of stuff. And then you know, that was kind of the early spark to Zora and actually directly led to Zora in a lot of ways. Because yeah, no one cared about the Dao funnily enough, but there was a lot of excitement around the creative token side. And that was kind of The Spark. And I was like I can’t stop thinking about this. This feels like the jumping off point.

When I had your co-founder Tyson on the podcast, he was talking about how the initial idea for Zora came about what you guys were all start at Coinbase. So that entire story, all those layers, that was while you were still working at Coinbase. 

Jacob Horne: That was still, yeah. And doing things like through the first defi hackathon, had like Robert last year and the compound team come in. We did like Coinbase compound article, like all sorts of crazy projects coming along at the same time. And then yeah, I met my other co-founder Dee while we were doing like one of the first, like the first MBA partnership for Coinbase, like flew out to Chicago for the NBA All Star Weekend, talking to them about crypto, all this kind of stuff. Like it was a really wild time and a lot happening. It felt like a decade long career and like three and a half years. It’s kind of an awesome era for Coinbase. But yeah, it was all happening all at once, which was cool.

Jacob’s Interest in Design

I want to talk to you about also the wacky Ethereum and projects that you’re building. But I also want to go a step further and explore your design site because Zora has a very unique brand. And when I had Tyson on, I was asking, like, what did the mood board for Zora look like? And he was like, o h, it was actually like community curated. Like we just threw a figma link and a bunch of people threw ideas over there. And we kind of got to where we are today, where at least initial starters are but it seems as if you have a creative side to you. And I’m trying to understand like where does that start? Where does that stem from? Like where you like the coloring book kid? And you’re just like, always heads down with crayons, is that your persona or where does your interest in design come from?

Jacob Horne: That’s a really good question. I guess I kind of was but also wasn’t the crayon kid and then I love the crayons, but like, couldn’t necessarily draw that well. Shout out to figma obviously made. But I guess I’ve always had a really deep obsession with like the concept of brands and memes. And I feel, like Zora actually started as more of a meme and a brand has been a did this particular instance of an idea. Like for the first kind of like three months Zora was just the moon Sun Moon emoji, me tweeting very kind of like esoteric and extremely high-level statements. And then just like my favorite images that I was finding from like, Tumblr arena, or what I curated from the internet. And yeah, so I guess, and I have very strong opinions about Brandon and like, I guess the design side. So, it’s something that probably to a lot of the people in the Zora team are probably annoyed that it’s the case. But I I’m still like reasonably involved on like, very involved in the brand side and the design site, and I guess it’s just like it’s just something that’s a passion of mine, and I happen to have strong opinions about it. So, when those things overlap, that means I spend a lot of time on it.

So, when you’re building those wacky Ethereum projects, like what were the first few ones that you spend time doing?

Jacob Horne: The main one was called Horizon, which in a lot of ways is kind of what Zora is today, which is how do you have a creative idea or project, bring that on chain, create ownership in it? So the language I was using at the time was like, create crypto equity in a film. And we’re going to create a token around a film. It doesn’t exist yet, but we know we all want to make it. So, how do we create ownership in it that’s native to the internet without having to create a company? Because keep in mind, I’m in Australia, and it’s like, how am I going to create an Australian company is going to have global impact, like solving a very real problem where it’s like, I could collaborate with anyone around the world, using crypto better than I could use in the traditional system in Australia. And everything was really just like, honestly, remixes around the horizon concept, which is like, at what level do you create ownership? And is the community level? An artifact levels, they’re like a script, or like project level? So, the final idea and just kind of traversing up and down that stack, using, the ESC 20 tokens weren’t even really a thing, there was just like, you create a comment on what the form was. But yeah, that was the main thing and just kind of playing around with those ideas. And keep in mind, this is probably like a six- or seven-month window. So, it really isn’t that much time. And this is like 20, end of 2015 through mid-2016.

Do you think your parents still know or have any clue about what you do? Like do they get it?

Jacob Horne: My dad certainly does. Because he’s a brilliant engineer in his own right. So, I think he’s like one of the few people that can kind of go really deep and esoteric on it, and typically goes further than I can. And then my mom does too, she owns some NFTs, and she gets it and loves entertaining the ideas around it. Yeah, it’s more so like, like mother and father in law, maybe not so much or immediate family around me, they’re like, selling shoes. Like I really don’t get it. They, yeah, they liked the imagery. It’s like the old school.

Jacob, I feel like you just came back from maternity leave. And I feel like prior to maternity leave, you started the open edition strand, you basically kicked off the jack butcher’s project, and you just left. You’re like, alright, we’ll come back in a month from now and we’ll see what happens. Is that what went down? From an outsider’s perspective, that looks like exactly what happened?

Jacob Horne: Yeah, well, I mean, maybe you could say that open editions as a form have been around for quite sure.

But time, the time to open editions, is like you guys have been, because that was like the whole concept, right? It was like a very low mint; it was time to open edition. And it was something that you guys have been publicly talking about for a minute. But I feel like you’re like, alright, I’m just gonna throw this project out there. I’m gonna work with Jack Butchers and I’m just gonna disappear for a month, and we’ll see what happens.

Jacob Horne: Yeah, that’s funny. I can give my perspective. It’s like, our first-time open addition was New Year’s Day 2022 was the Zob. And it was like, well, this is like an iconic part of our brand. Let’s just make it free and it’s fun. And then that kind of blew our minds, because it was like, wait, there’s not 36,000 people that are in this. And this was like a crazy experience, and this feels interesting. So, all of last year, we were really going deep on our create tool, which is like, okay, how do we make it as easy as possible for people to do this themselves? And I guess like most things, you know, you launch it, you kind of Tinker away at it, you like invest a lot of time and energy into it. And it’s just kind of like this, and then suddenly, you know, people catch on, and then hockey sticks up into the right, and you’re like, oh, I guess that was always obvious, when in fact it was like, okay, there was a lot of months where we’re just working. And there were like spikes but didn’t really take off, to the extent that you could see it taking off. I would say rainbows orbs happened in December. And that was like a step function increase in the scale of ownership. Like that was like 136,000 people. And then yet with Jack Butcher and checks, Jack just picked up the tool and ran with it, we didn’t really do anything. I just saw him tweet it out. It was like 16,000 additions at $8. And then, you know, it’s kind of insane journey over the next month, where it’s like, holy shit, he’s pushing the limits of our tool in really interesting ways that we’ve now been building around and got some cool releases coming, so everyone can do similar things.

Insights from Experiment with Zora

Share more about that, like what were the interesting insights that arose from that experiment that you’re now tinkering without Zora.

Jacob Horne: The metadata updates, it’s basically like, jet and that’s another way of saying the image changed. So, like we make it really easy in our tool where if you create an addition, you can just like press a button and change the image or the video or the music that’s being displayed on your NFT. And that was mostly just because, you know, maybe you make a mistake, you want to edit it or update it and refine it. But Jack started to push that to the limit conceptually, which was like wait, I kind of have created this like $50 million billboard, which is a direct channel to people who hold this NFT in their wallet, view it on Zora, view on an open sea, view it everywhere. And it’s kind of like this big TV, that he has like control over and a direct channel to his audience with. When he’s updated it, I think like close to 15 times with some, like really cool remixes, and overlaps and collabs, and all that kind of stuff. So that is something we’ve been, we’ve double clicked on. And they’ve got some protocol, new protocol features that are coming around it, which is like, let’s assume that people do start to use NFTs is more of this kind of like channel, what kind of new protocol features can you build around that to create a longer lasting experience and ownership within each update and all that kind of stuff? So yeah, I won’t go too much into it. But like that’s the one area that’s been like, really fascinating to see. And I think Jack’s been a trailblazer and kind of like normalizing and making open edition seem like really attractive to a lot of creators in the space. And, you know, like maybe this is actually the internet native form of ownership for content. And just seems like the way they feed you, like, capture the ownership and value and attention that happened to be there at the time, and then create a really interesting kind of market and value system around a piece of content after the fact. 

So, let’s dive into that thought really quick, because I first want to talk to you about what do you think, sort of changed from the first era of open editions and the nifty gateway era to now what I call like, I don’t know, at the time was more digital art. But now you’re seeing video, you’re seeing photography, you’re seeing music, you’re seeing a bunch of other forms of content, sort of getting tokenized and the either timed or unlimited time, I guess, yeah, time to open additional format, like what do you think are the differences between those two eras? And how do you think they’ve sort of complemented each other?

Jacob Horne: Well, the biggest difference is that the, it wasn’t easy for everyone to just create an open edition, you’d have to work with nifty, you have to get accepted into their pipeline, get a date on their calendar. And you know, it wasn’t readily available to someone who didn’t know how to write smart contracts actually create an open edition. So, I think the tooling and accessibility is like a huge factor. And I think that has a bunch of downstream implications and there’s like kind of the main change. And then yeah, two, I would say, yeah, there’s been a general, I think shift. And it’s like, of course, we’re going to put, you know, capital A art on chain and this is an amazing medium for it. But now it’s like, what does it look like to actually put all of the content that we would usually post on YouTube, or Instagram or Spotify? It’s like, well, I’m putting him on these like web two platforms, why don’t I put it on Ethereum? And I get like, a lot of new benefits that crypto offers, as well as a lot of the, yeah, like mainly, like the value capture side and then a bunch of other longer-term things like provenance, and its platform agnostic and all these features. So, I think, yeah, I guess to kind of summarize, the two big shifts would be like, it’s actually really easy to do it cost like $3.02 minutes, like great addition. And then two, I think like both creators and collectors are realizing that it’s just as exciting to collect content as it is like, capital A art, you know what I mean? So, two big shifts.

Understanding “Creating Content Worth Collecting”

So, the whole theme for season seven is creating content that’s worth collecting. I’m curious, how do you understand that statement?

Jacob Horne: It’s a big statement, how I understand it is an interesting question. I guess the things that come to mind is that like, I think it makes, I think Ethereum and public blockchains are a 10x improvement on content ownership, ownership for the internet. And it’s a 10x for creators, it’s like a zero to one moment, like if you’re a up and coming YouTuber, it’s very hard for you to make any money from YouTube. You’re not gonna get like Mr. V style creator payments or even anything for a really long time. But if you can make 10 to $100 from your creators like very early crypto, like allows for that, and then builds in, you know, all of the crypto superpowers, which there might be long term upside if this thing is actually a viral thing in the future, or like really important and notable. So yeah, that’s the first thought that and then, yeah, I guess maybe we could double click on anything within that. But to make content worth collecting is kind of like part of this broader shift to where it’s like, if you’re gonna zoom out 30,000 feet or like 100,000 feet, the entire internet is like ads based. And that has just, you know, obviously decade’s worth of downstream effects on how we interact with the internet, how we value things on the internet, what types of things gets incentivized to create on the internet? So, what does it look like to shift to like the collectible style model? Which is, you know, if your value capture as a creator is now based on a different value system, which might be different to going viral, it’s actually about coming collectible. Do we see an incentive system that leads to higher quality content, or content that’s not meant to like to hijack your attention, but it’s actually to have some other type of long form resonance of long-term resonance or like impact. That can lead to better a better internet long term. Obviously, it’s a really idealistic and optimistic view. But I think that.

I’ll take it. So, you talked about like the rate in which creators post content on Tik Tok, you have to post like five times a day, you know, just to even get any recognition from the algorithm or so they say, right? But what you’re, what you’re sort of like explaining is that it shouldn’t be that way, or it could be that way. But there’s a different form of consumption.

Jacob Horne: All the above, it’s like, so yeah, let’s say you’re a creator, and you want to distribute your podcast. And you want to do it in a way that your community can have access to, it has the ability to expand its audience over time. And then ideally, you can make a living off it or a really great living off it. So, I think if you look at and if you assess each platform, let’s put like YouTube, Tik Tok, Spotify and Ethereum as a platform and your options there, with Ethereum being the odd one out. So, if you put yours on any of those three traditional platforms, it’s like it’s being monetized either via subscriptions or advertising. So, for the end user, a lot of times their experience is hijacked by having to pay that price for a subscription or pay an attention via advertising, so that’s not great. And then two, there’s a lot of algorithms in between you and that end user or that community member that wants to enjoy your content. So, if we kind of like talk about Ethereum now, it’s like if you put it on chain, one, there is now a way for your communities like find that directly, have it uninhibited by a paywall or an advertising role. I feel like that’s a really big little detail that like, goes a really long way, like universally free and accessible content that’s ad free and subscription free is something that’s unlocked by the NFT value system. And that, you get that from Ethereum. And now if your community really loves that content, and they want to collect it, they have a way to, you know, pay you as Adam, whatever the price is to collect that as an NFT. Keep it in their wallet, it’s kind of like an unchained save or an on-chain whack. And now you’ve earned value that you wouldn’t have otherwise earned on those three platforms. And then they’re really new thing is like fast forward five years, let’s say it’s like a really important or like historic podcast, that thing that was worth $8 might be now worth 500 or 800 or like 80, whatever it might be. It could be worth more than it was at the time of minting, collective value capture story for both the creator and both of the community, which is like really you. And one thing I like to say is like, creators are already creating that content is NFTs, those NFTs just entirely hidden and owned by Facebook and Google, and they sell at ad exchange, instead of being sold on like Zora or open sea, the backend. So, it’s like, you’re already minting NFTs every day, you just don’t really know it, because they’re keeping it hidden from you and monetizing it. Basically, behind the back of their, like massive platform. So, it’s like why should they own it when you can? And this is the system to do it.

Best Examples of On-Chain Distribution and Virality, and What’s Missing for TikTok-Level Distribution

Well, part of why they should own it. And you can create an argument is to have really good distribution and discoverability and building virality, right, which web three very much likes, there’s different applications and protocol, like lens protocol trying to tackle it by trying to merge the web, web two distribution and web three value capture under one roof. But we’re building towards that, right. What do you think is number one, like the best example of on chain distribution and virality. And two, what’s missing for us to kind of get the Tik Tok level by rally distribution, that a lot of creators actually put a lot of like emphasize on that’s important to them.

Jacob Horne: Yep, that’s a really great question. Well, I guess the empirically the best examples of this so far, probably been crypto punks, and they seem like they are both things that exist on chain that went viral outside of the realms of crypto to some extent. And then I think had like value capture that resembled that. Within the content space, maybe checks is actually one of the first examples of this where, you know, that was a meme that or an artwork that or a piece of content that Jack would have posted on Instagram or Twitter as he had for, you know, years, but he happened to mint it first and then posted second. And then we got to see the dynamics of, well, if it actually exists as an NFT first before it goes viral, you had, you’re able to capture all of that value back into the NFT, as you did. So maybe that’s the first inkling. And then I guess your second question like, how do we actually build this distribution natively on chain over time? This is something we’ve been thinking about a lot. I think our experience is kind of resembling this thinking, which is, you actually need to create a really good viewing and enjoyable experience for NFTs, which is like, hey, instead of making NFTs always like show up in this marketplace format, where you’re buying and selling them like trading cards, what does it look like to actually find the most enjoyable content that exists on a Ethereum? And then present it in a way where someone can actually watch it, listen to it, view it as easily and as nicely as they could on a traditional social media platform. It just happens to be built on this like, extremely powerful crypto stack under the hood, which comes with all these other benefits.

So, in Zora’s case, it’s the infinite scroll that you guys recently implemented on the homepage, right?

Jacob Horne: Yeah, that’s the first version. And I think we’re now building out is like, how do we get better search and discovery that is not market focus, is more content focused and creative focused? And then how do you start to like, instead of searching like profiles, and like a marketplace contacts profiles and like, wait, show me what they’ve created. And who else is collected this and like, there is this amazing and rich social graph that exists on a Etereum already even though it’s nascent, how to actually just start revealing in that way, instead of just always packaging up as like sold by for, well, sold by for, which is important, but it’s not like the core thing that, it’s not. I don’t think that’s going to be the difference between content living on chain and constantly on social media. Like it’s a, obviously it’s a crucial and huge unlock. But I think we need to start building experiences that make it easy to experience the content on a Ethereum first instead of on, yeah, instead of second, I guess.

I feel like the most obvious next step from a collector and a creator’s perspective is when I come to Zora, I connect my wallet, you guys detect what’s in my wallet and present me a curated feed. That’s like the infinite scroll accordingly. I don’t know if you guys do that right now. It’s just like what you guys’ curate.

Jacob Horne: Right now, the first version was just most recent. But yeah, I think as of, my team might kill me, but I think it’s March 13th. It’s gonna be a fast algorithm that’s trying to do exactly what you’re describing. And I think like a novel thing we’re doing is, we’re actually gonna be minting and open sourcing that algorithm from day one, to try and like one is just like, I think that’s like a very crypto way to do it. And then to actually opens up some really cool things where it’s like, well, what if you bring your own NFT with an algorithm in it, and we can just look at it and start to have a much more dynamic and open market for that kind of personalization.

When you say mint the algorithm, do you mean just like a text file that you tokenize?

Jacob Horne: Literally like a text file, and then it’s like, everyone wants to see what like how this is being ranked, like here it is, like, we’re not going to try to hide it or like, whatever people might try and game it, and then that’s fine, we’ll have a new iteration. But yeah, it’s literally just like here is the algorithm that is a basically a Json file, that gives us a bunch of like factors and weights. And this is how we’re going to look at Ethereum and interpret it.

What Web2 Creators Are Missing to Enter Web3

On the topic of on chain data, the thing that’s most exciting for me is understanding who my community of collectors are, and then creating content and ways to engage with them, and ways to monetize using that information. Because right now, I’m the platform in web three, I build a community of collectors, I can take them to Zora, to sound, to lens, and the list goes on and on and on. And with that comes a plethora of insights of understanding who these people are. So, I feel like more creators have yet to have that aha moment, specifically web two native creators and seeing what the potential of web three holds beyond monetization. Now that that data is transparent, there’s a layer of like consuming that data and creating unique experiences for your audience around that data. And it seems as if Zora is trying to tap into that approach, as well for curating really cool things for collectors. I’m curious, like what are web two native creators missing? Like one, what are they missing from that aha moment that’s gonna allow them to enter web three? For me, I feel like it’s the data. And it’s the elements of monetization. But even with the monetization, I feel like they don’t care. Like they can’t build viral audiences and become the Hollywood superstars that they want to be, using their creative endeavors that they can do now on other social platforms.

Jacob Horne: Yeah, there’s actually a high-level thing. If you imagine a Venn diagram of content that’s viral and content that’s actually collectible. There aren’t many creators in web two that actually fit in the middle of that Venn diagram. Like we’re top creators of web two are the top creators because they’ve learned how to cater to that value system, where it’s like the most viral creators in web two might not be creating the most collectible content or say in other ways, like there’s a lot of Instagram posts or Tik Tok that even though they have millions of views, I don’t know if they would have a large collected base, because maybe they’re really not that important. Or they’re not going to resonate on the level at which I actually want to collect them. I’m happy to watch it but I’m not happy to collect it.

But you’re assuming that’s a paid collect not a free collect.

Jacob Horne: Yeah, I guess I’d assume it’s paid. It’s a paid collect because yeah.

Liking something on Tik Tok is very analogous and ending up in your favorites folder is very analogous to collecting something and it being added to your wallet.

Jacob Horne: Well, yeah, there’s another nuance there where it’s like, likes on Tik Tok private, they’re not public, so that’s part of the story too. But I think generally speaking, what holds up web two creators is, I think there’s a misconception that by putting on Ethereum, you’re not allowed to put it on other platforms, which obviously isn’t the case. I think like what we say is like minted first and then distribute it as far and wide as you possibly can on every platform that you care about, because you will still get value capture on those traditional systems. But more importantly, you should get most of that back into the NFT. So, I think that’s a common misconception. The second is, I think there’s still like a bit of a hangover from the like, pre proof of steak, you know, greenhouse gas kind of wave that happened with like, one of ones and the only kind of crypto hot mania that happens. So, I think that’s like a, that’s still a somewhat of a huddle. Thought is, I just think, a lot of people just don’t like the aesthetics of crypto art as it is and they associate like, well, if I’m seeing all of this stuff, it doesn’t necessarily resonate with me. I’m going to put on Eth and no one’s gonna care, which isn’t necessarily the case. And yeah, I think they the biggest ones, and then four is they just don’t know they can actually do that. And if, a lot of people know what NFTs are, a lot of people’s first reaction to NFT’s is like, oh, that kind of wacko, like nerdy. I don’t care about that. But yeah, and then it’s like, yeah, why should I care? I just don’t think there’s many good examples of people earning the value they probably should be from their content using that system, but obviously that’s changing and will become more known over time as the podcasts like yours and more examples like Jack Butcher, or Latasha or whoever from the space. So yeah, there’s, it’ll happen, it’s like one of those gradually then suddenly things.

NFTs as the End-All Be-All Solution

I feel like creators are still missing like their killer feature, killer product. That’s very much so with web three crypto native. Yeah, do you, but do you think like NFTs are the end all be all solution and it’s just a matter of time of innovating around those token primitives? Or do you think there’s something in the near future that doesn’t really like to capture the needs and wants of creators entirely just yet, that has yet to be created in web three?

Jacob Horne: It’s more likely than not that there is room for innovation at the protocol level, and maybe even at the token standard level. I think, yeah, we could look up five years from now and it’s like 721, 755. Like that’s some OG stuff that you know, kind of these all relics. Like, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the case. Although I’d say like, they are pretty good. And that, yeah, there’s a lot of room at the platform. I think like it’s really a lot of platform innovation that’s required, I feel like without, if we’re moving generally speaking away from like, a collectables dominant market to a content dominant market. I think a lot of the UX and platforms that were existed in the prior kind of like growth cycle, like likely irrelevant moving forward. So, I think like, it could be the case that the whole marketplace era was actually like the kind of v1 skeuomorphic approach and it’s a good bridge and put one foot in front the other, there really now it’s about like, well, what types of new discovery and like consumption experiences can we start to build around this content, now that it’s NFT native instead of social media platform native? I think like, maybe some data in favor of that is just like, by making creating an addition take like two minutes and like, feel kind of similar to like posting a tweet or uploading a video to YouTube. We’ve seen a lot more creators do it and like go back and do it and so it’s, I think it’s helped move the needle on the creative side a little bit. But I think now it’s like, we’ve always wanted to improve on the creator side of them. And similarly, on the collector side, it’s like, how do we help them enjoy and collect that content in a way that feels native to crypto and an easy? So yeah.

Ordinal NFTs on Bitcoin and Zora’s Direction

That’s interesting. I want to talk to you about Bitcoin NFTs. Okay, okay. The giggle you’re like, oh, here we go. Any thoughts on ordinals NFTs that are minted on Bitcoin. Any insights, is Zora moving in that direction at all?

Jacob Horne: We had a project called I think they sold like 200 Eth worth of NFTs on Ethereum, that had a unique way of bridging ordinals and Eth NFTs together. It’s kind of like a big throwback for me, because it’s like there were red pep A were like one of the most significant projects on Bitcoin, like pre Ethereum and they were essentially Bitcoin NFTs in like 2013 through 2015. So, it’s like, okay, like what’s new here? And then, yeah, I honestly haven’t thought about it that much. It’s like one of those things where it’s like, maybe it’s a blind spot, but the fact that there is not the ability to create smart contracts on Ethereum, on Bitcoin, just seems to me just like fundamentally limits the interesting use of what you can do with NFTs on Bitcoin. Like I saw like a Google sheet was being used as a marketplace, like it’s already topped out of what you can do, this was like, my spicy takes like this is some great Bitcoin smart contracts.

So, rumor has it, part of Eth Denver, like one of the narratives that I was hearing is like Bitcoin NFTs are the next thing and like that’s one of the points of subject people were talking about, and rumor has it that stacks may be revealing something at the end of the month. That may be a version of smart contracts on Bitcoin, and I wonder what that’s going to enable.

Jacob Horne: Yeah, I wonder.

We’ll leave it at that. You’re like, you’re like you’re not so skeptical. You know, you’re not so like, you’re not so, it’s not so promising. But yeah.

Jacob Horne: It’s like holdings in Cryptos. Like they come and go. I’m very happy to be wrong, but I’ll kind of, it’s like a look at it. If it’s, if it’s still here in six months is probably a big deal. Yeah.

Okay, what about music NFTs? Do you think they found product market fit?

Jacob Horne: Well, probably not yet. I think music NFTs are always this insane. It’s like how has it not worked yet? is always the thing for me. Because it’s like wait, music has had the most tumultuous history on the internet since day one. And I think NFTs are literally like the triple kick flip tomorrow, like triple kickflip solve all the issues of music on the internet yet it’s struggle. I think it’s like early, I think like sound and catalog have done an amazing job of pushing it forward. But for whatever reason, collectors haven’t got their head around like I can’t see it. Like maybe, yeah, I guess.

Why is that? Why not?

Jacob Horne: I love music NFTs. Because it’s like, well, great like music has always wanted to be free on the internet. But artists and the musicians should absolutely be getting value capture from what they’re creating. And it’s like NFTs do both of those things at once. It’s free for the entire internet to consume. But it unlocks value capture for the musicians because collectors are willing to buy and collect their work and train them and you know, all the value cash that goes back to the musicians as a result of that. I think yeah, I don’t know, I’ve been collecting music NFTs for a while. I’ve always loved them. I think when I’ve spoken to collectors about it, they’re just like, but I can’t see it. And then I think there’s always these downstream things where it’s like, I can’t easily share music as easily as I can on Twitter. I can’t save it to my phone or as like easily as I can as an image to like my camera roll. Like I think there’s some just like little UX around the edges that like can add up a lot. But I think it’s inevitable, I think like will look up on sound and catalog will be looked at as like very ahead of that time and probably on the money for using the NFT for music. It just seems to be taking longer than I would have expected.

I know a lot of the early music NFT trends started on Zora, like same thing with podcast. It seems like a lot of the early forms of media before they have their semi breakout moments, kind of appear on Zora first. Why do you think that is?

Jacob Horne: It’s because we have a very flexible platform. We have essentially unbounded file size limit. So, it’s and then we just let you manage multiple file types. I think a lot of tools in the, that are out in the space of like very true to one media type, typically images. I think for us we, basically since our first version of the NFT tool, it was like we want you to be able to do text files, basically any file, like text files PDFs, websites, videos, music, like we just want to be able to account for all file types because it kind of makes sense that NFTs will eventually find their way into supporting any file type. So that means it’s like yeah, we usually see the first instances of a file type show up on Zora because it’s like hey, just uploaded and press go. I think it was like I remember RAC was maybe created the sixth ever NFT on Zora and that was like a song called the legend of Zora, that’s like this like awesome, like 32nd track but yeah, we.

How much is that worth? What’s the floor on that?

Jacob Horne: It was a one on one and I remember I collected it in. That was at a time where it was like maybe bidding in ERC. 20s is cool. So, I bid in like RAC token and yeah that obviously you’ve seen Ethos way since then. 

Why is that? I remember I remember creator coins had a moment, like two years ago. They were hot, like the RAC coin, the Alex coin. These like personal branded tokens and being able to buy into a creator’s community using their ERC 20. Why, do you think that slowly sort of died down?

Jacob Horne: I think NFTs were better form for it. It’s like, like it’s cool to be able to buy it. Like one, the link between the ERC 20 and the creator is like tenuous, it’s like, what am I actually buying here? Versus with the NFT it’s like, oh, I own this song, or I own this like image, or I own this video. It’s like it’s very explicit and it doesn’t require any trust to kind of like create a value system now. So, I think like ERC 20s were just like an early attempt at bringing the crypto value system across into that creative context. And I think it’s an experiment that didn’t play out because NFTs were the better form for it. So yeah, just kind of put it in that bucket of like, good early attempt at the experiment, but directionally correct but in practice was wrong.

Rationalizing the Nouns Ecosystem

Part of highlighting specific value system brings me into the conversation of nouns. And what are your favorite communities on the internet and also very much home to Zara, like very native to Zora? You guys’ kind of like purchased a significant because noun NFTs from noun ecosystem. And I remembered when had Tyson on, he was like, alright, we can’t talk about this publicly yet. But this is what we’re doing, what we’re planning and we’re shooting the shit around different nouns related ideas and features and whatnot. And yeah, it’s come a long way. And I want to highlight really quick, a tweet that you push on the internet on Twitter, February 24, 2023, I can see a million different ways that nouns can augment and disrupt the protocol in crypto space. But I get much more excited by its potential as a creative universe and as a collective internet scale our project. So, anybody that’s not native to crypto, let alone nouns will be super confused what you’re talking about. So, let’s dive into that tweet but let’s first start about what is nouns? What is this ecosystem? How do you rationalize the noun ecosystem? And then we’ll take it from there.

Jacob Horne: I think, yeah, that’s a. So, put simply, nouns is a, it’s a Dao, it’s an NFT project. It’s ab organizational form factor. They’re like my three high level things which is super broad, doesn’t really tell you much. I think, yeah, shit, all right, well, nouns to me. It caught my attention originally, just because I had really interesting people and it was actually a fork of the Zora Auction House. And combined like the Zora Auction House with the compounds gov brava, and then NFTs, and just combined the like the ability to govern a treasury and NFT and a perpetual option into this like one machine. And I remember looking at it and I actually felt kind of jealous because it’s like, holy shit, I think this just stuck the landing on like, what I’ve always wanted to see and try and do in crypto, since, you know, starting which is like, well, I think this might be the way to create ownership and something really big and broad. And it’s basically like this is a mechanism that allows anyone around the internet to collaborate around the shared idea, and then allocate capital towards that. So, the way that nouns work is that there’s one NFT sold every day, the Eth from that NFT goes into a treasury and that Treasury is governed by the NFTs. So, one NFT, one vote. So, if I can use crypto punks, like a working analogy here to kind of help illustrate that. Crypto punks, actually two basically because they actually sold like a Eth. They sold their apes for like point one Eth, that Eth all went to UGA and then UGA was kind of entrusted with the ownership of the IP and the ease to forward that ecosystem as far and wide as they possibly can. And they did a really good job of that, by the way. And that was kind of like the structural foundation of the 10k PFP era, which had some problems, which was like the devs do something mean, is kind of the perfect encapsulation of what goes wrong with that model, which is you have, you know, thousands of people who hold an NFT, that actually have no power to work together to push forward that project. They have to point to that trusted very small team, to release and utilize that IP, like the odd and the brand, and then spends that Eth to forward it. So, you as an individual member, it’s kind of like this tragedy of the commons in a way where it’s like, I don’t necessarily have the individual incentive to spend the thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars to put in mural and so on to like, create a fashion brand, or do any creative project. And in fact, in most cases, you’re restricted because the IP is owned by the team. So, nouns is kind of, I think, best thought of as like a kind of crypto punks 2.0 or a solution to that 10k PFP problem, which is instead of devs do something, it’s Dao do something. And it’s like, oh shit, I’m part of that Dao and I have every right and ability to push forward this project by putting forward proposals to the Dao for them to vote on. And by the way, all of the IP is completely public domain. So, you don’t even need to get approval from the project to use the art and use the branding and anything associated with it. So yeah, I guess that’s the structural difference now yes, there’s a million ways. There’re so many dimensions to it. Like there’s the fact that brand is public domain, is the fact that its value capture system is like I think entirely derived from its meme. That puts it in a really interesting position to do types of projects. I don’t think any traditional company or even Dao prior to this point has been able to find sustainably. And that three to one net result of that is like this might be the crypto native version of like Disney Studios. And I’m like and this ties into like the content world in a way because it’s like wait, nouns a sudden realize that part of its flywheel is to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions of dollars to incredible animation studios, to just produce amazing films, and then release them as collectible NFTs on the other end, and now they’ve figured out this like sustainable economic loop to produce amazing film. Like that’s kind of insane and that’s just one dimension of it. So how it relates to Zora is, I guess, one, I think we like to take the most powerful primitives that we see in the space or think of ourselves and like make it as easy as possible for people to run with. So, that led to nouns builder, it’s like we want to see more nouns style Dao out the space. How do we remove the barrier to entry to knowing how to deploy a relatively complex set of smart contracts to do that? And then two, I guess, is a long-term speculative bet where it’s like if this kind of crypto deep Disney dynamic plays out and it becomes a, you know, it does become an internet scale art project that’s producing amazing films and art and media and projects that finds a way, find its ways into NFTs. We want to support that, become a member of that organization and provide the infrastructure on the other side to actually do that. So, it’s like Zora can be kind of like a lot of the plumbing and infrastructure that helps nouns mint these things in NFTs in what we think is the best way possible. And where instead of aligns with Dao because we put a decent amount of money into the organizations will align ourselves with it. So yeah, that’s a lot but that’s like a high level of Zora nouns and kind of works and why I think it’s interesting.

Relatable Human-Based Values in the Nouns Community 

What do you think are the more like human based values that nouns encompasses, that more people can relate to outside of crypto?

Jacob Horne: It’s fun and that might be it. It’s like, well, I guess I was gonna say Dogecoin is another, that’s a crypto example where it’s like Doge was interesting because it’s an entirely memes-based currency. And it kind of found its stride once the Dogecoin subreddit kicked off and it was like let’s just spent Doge to help the Jamaican bobsled team compete in the Olympics because that’s like fun and entertainment. And that works because it makes the meme more recognizable. It’s kind of hilarious, entertaining, which meant the value of the token went up, which means it could fund more things, but obviously the Dogecoin cards didn’t have like, nouns is basically like an almost as structural solve to Dogecoin as well. It’s pretty in simple terms. What nouns means is if you have an idea that you think will just be widely received as a good thing for the world, nouns is probably more likely to fund that. The not because it has an economic model that allows it to benefit from that. So, it’s like there are a lot of projects that are funded by the noun ecosystem, which is like let’s help kind of like malnourished communities in Africa, like where they need to get their resources that you know how they can clean up and get some good food, all that kind of stuff. And nouns is willing to fund that because it thinks it’s good for the world. And the more that nouns is associated with good things, the more notable the brands, which means the more valuable the NFT, which means the more good things it can do. So that sounds like the kind of, I guess, really literal and charitable side. And then there’s a spectrum of like, you know, from that all the way to like Red Bull style stuff, where it’s like what’s just the most outlandish and crazy moments that we can create there, capture a lot of attention and capture a lot of imagination that nouns can find to be associated with because again, the more notable it is, the more money it gets, the more things it can do. So, nouns is kind of this, I guess, like new form of organization that has a value capture model, that continues to thrive, so long as it’s doing things that are broadly accepted is good for people because if it’s good then it’s good brands, which means gets more money and then that’s good, which sounds like I guess simple and kind of strange. But yeah, that’s what’s happening.

Are there any moments that you have yet to see be created that you you’d love for someone to kind of spearhead? Any creative ideas?

Jacob Horne: Yeah, I’m so close this shot straight in my face.

I’m going to take this part out.

Jacob Horne: First, blue skies in New York.

Unfunded Ideas for the Nouns Ecosystem

So, let me ask that from the beginning. Are there any projects that you have yet to see be created that kind of fit into your creative moment capture idea that you just sort of talked about Like anything you wish, the nouns would sort of produce or members of the nouns ecosystem would fund it that have yet to be funded?

Jacob Horne: And there’s a lot of things. Yeah.

What’s the most compelling thing that’s on your mind?

Jacob Horne: That’s a good question. The most compelling thing that it can probably do in the short term is just fund, I think like film and TV is actually something that it’s just like, I think nouns is well placed, is within its own of what’s like, I think possible in the next one to two years. It’ll actually like find traction and the pitch to like any traditional or any creatives really is like hey, you basically have complete creative control over the work that you want to create. All you have to do is use the nouns creative universe, like the characters, which are really expansive characters, and I think you can even push the limit in the form, like it, it doesn’t have to be pixel form. There’s kind of creatives that already pushed it into, you know, cartoons, but I think you can even just take visual cues and go into live action, when it’s maybe it’s like 3% nounish aesthetic, but if there’s a story that you want to tell and package up, and you have like a good sense of what it would cost and how long it would take, I think like the Dao would genuinely entertain that. And it might be easy to get funded by noun and is like selling to Netflix or a universal or something like that. I think a little more out there is, I guess this is within the crypto world. Like I think nouns is in a unique position to fund the creation of new public protocols, because it doesn’t have a economic model that relies on fees. I think it could create public and free protocols. That can solve a lot of like problems we’re seeing and maybe the NFT space and stuff like that. Again, for like developers, it’s a similar story. You have like complete control over what you build. It just has to have nouns branding on it. And then in the real world, I think like yeah, I think it’s like, playgrounds feel like an interesting one. Like, can nouns just like generally speaking, improve the quality of playgrounds, and just like put 50k to 100k towards a bunch of playgrounds around.


Jacob Horne: Yeah. I think it can be as weird as 

Get them while they’re young.

Jacob Horne: Yeah. You can do a lot of things. That’s part of the point, is like it’s literally as expensive as we can think, is really doesn’t have that much of a constraint mandate, which is part of why it’s interesting.

Half-Baked Ideas Being Tinkered with

Let’s transition out of nouns for a minute okay. I want to talk about, I wanna talk more about you actually. A while ago, I think it was like a year or so ago, you released this hyper structure article, kind of like explaining what a hyper structure is, future of hyper structures, were Zora fits into that thesis and whatnot. Are there any half-baked ideas that you’re tinkering with right now, that you have yet to publish?

Jacob Horne: Yes, I basically have, yes, there’s a few. There’s a lot.

Let’s talk about them.

Jacob Horne: I’m trying to sort through ones that we’re not building as to.

Like what keeps you up at night? I know you’re one of those people that just constantly thinks about the space and thinks about it very creatively and critically. What’s been on your mind that’s been sort of bogging you down recently, in a positive way, of course?

Jacob Horne: I think the thing I mentioned earlier around the metadata updates. When I wrote the hyper structures essay, that was actually I had COVID, I was basically a fever dream. I had like three big ideas that came from that, which was like the hyper structures essay and then two other ones. One of them was this basically channels concept that I mentioned to you earlier, which is like when we released his Zobs. We have 36,000 wallets, and collectors that help resolve that because we built it in an immutable way, if there was no way to update and communicate to people. So, the big thing was like wait, how? All we have is Twitter to communicate with the study’s 6000 holders. And that’s very lossy for a bunch of reasons. Like I wish we could just talk through the Zob and start to build a network on chain and these more like dynamic and living NFTs that allows us to basically communicate through the NFT. So, I think with time driven additions and metadata updates, were like two out of three steps at the protocol level. So, I think unlocking what I think could be like a really compelling form factor for creators to basically build a channel on chain. So yeah, so I guess the part of that that keeps you up at night is like, I think that NFTs need to be way more dynamic than we view them. And I was kind of a purist, and when we were building Zora too, it was just like it has to be immutable. These NFTs like a onetime thing. It’s just the same image or the same media that you’re looking at. But I think more recently, it’s like no, I think these NFTs, and much more living things and we should be treating them much more like websites or like on chain fees than we should static images that don’t change forever. So, I think that’s been like a long running thought.

Why is that? Why should we treat them more like TVs and websites and static images?

Jacob Horne: Partly because we can and it’s like and then partly because there’s just a ridiculous amount of, I feel like underutilized distribution. Like with time to additions we’re seeing NFTs with thousands of holders hold these things. And then all they can do it do, is like look at it once, but it’s like I feel like the distance of being able to like punch through that and allow you to say like start to communicate directly through those NFTs, with your community feels like way more compelling solution than having to go through Twitter all the time, or any other platform, like you literally have a direct line to every one of your collectors, that just happens to be blocked by the fact that these things are mostly immutable. So, it’s just like that, that just feels like a, that to me is like I think that might be the next like, year of rapid experimentation for us, which is like what does it look like to treat these energies more as living objects? That create a trade longer and more like constant relationships, through versus always having to release a new NFT all the time? Yes, that’s like a big running thread. And then the third, which I guess overlaps with nouns, which is how do you actually just create pure ownership and memes and organized around a meme? And I think like, I think nouns like solve that problem. It’s just gonna take a long time for us to realize that they solved that problem with the mechanism. But I think about that a lot with the Zob and like Zora, because it’s like with Zora was created, you know, there weren’t any compelling Dao models. I tried with Aragon; we’d seen a couple of ERC 20 Daos. They weren’t particularly exciting, or productive or seemed like good to me. So, I think it’s like, what does it meaningfully look like the Zora as an organization to go on chain has always been a big question. Like, I don’t want to, I don’t want to launch a token. I want to launch an org that can like work in this function. I think there’s a really big difference between those two things. And I think nouns a good first shot at it, but I think that there’s even room to experiment and like push the limits of that model as well. So that’s something I think about a lot because I think I’d rather Zora be on chain and off chain just for a whole bunch of reasons.

Regarding the first one, being able to update NFTs and create dynamic experiences, treating websites as or trading NFTs as websites and these dynamic things that live on the internet. I feel like that’s challenging, especially in today’s market because creators are really in between the marketplace force and creator royalties being stripped. Like we need to see more innovation on primary sales and then being able to capture more of that initial drop and really innovating on the secondary sell. If you if you predicate your entire experience on the first on like that primary sale and try to tie on experiences around a dynamic as an NFT. You kind of lose the monetization factor that comes with the secondary sale like I don’t know, maybe I’m thinking about this too. rigidly and I haven’t experienced all possible, I guess, like avenues of what this could be.

Jacob Horne: Yeah, maybe we should have done this podcast a month from now. And we’ve launched it. The pod, so it’s like yes, I think cannibalizes the secondary, but I think unlocks way more value capturing the primary. So, it’s like yeah, instead of having to try and monetize the volatility of your NFT, which is kind of wack generally speaking anyway, because it’s like if you’ve misaligned incentives between the creator and the community, it’s like what does it mean to actually skew to a perpetual primary market and then create moments within it to build scarcity? I would rather just show this and maybe we do. Maybe we bookmark this part of the podcast, and we pick it live but yeah, I think it’s way more simple than it sounds. And then the net result is that yeah, I think creators can actually have a true on chain network with that community that they can broadcast that work out to, and then allows for that communities to collect within each of the moments that they’re basically changing. So yeah, if you really yeah, that’s the, that’s what.

It’s like super vague, but also like.

Jacob Horne: I always get in trouble for this. I share a lot of ideas too. I’m gonna keep it vague and let us build it and then I can just, we can come back to it maybe in the future.

Creative and Thought Process for Rallying Team Around Statements

I consider you like an original thought leader in the space, like you really have your thoughts that people rally behind. I’m curious, what is your creative process look like and your thought process of coming to statements that you end up kind of like rallying your entire team around, to build towards? Like how do you develop original thoughts in web three? And thanks for critically the way you do, I’m trying to think, I feel like it’s such a unique skill set and so difficult to come behind. Like I even have a hard time asking that question. You know, like because it’s a weird question to ask. I feel like you have your own thoughts, you have your own way of looking at the world. And through that you come to your unique ideas as a team, right and push the spectrum forward.

Jacob Horne: Well, I’ll take it as a very nice compliment first of all, but I guess part of my process is, I try and use everything and push it to the limit. So, it’s like I just love using something the second that comes out, and then sitting there. I love to try and predict everyone’s roadmap basically. It’s like if I was in someone else’s shoes as a builder, like what would I build? What do I dislike about what they’ve built? What do I really like about what they’ve built? And if I was in the driver’s seat for the next six months, what would I do? And like when I look at any tool in the space or any protocol or anything like that, I’ll basically use it and then put myself in those shoes just because I love thinking about that because it’s such an interesting state of mind to be in. It’s like, you know, if you’re in Hayden’s shoes a year as well, what was your next six months look like? If you’re in Devon’s shoes at open see, like what would you do for the next six months? Likewise, Blair and I think you can maybe. So, I think that’s part of just like, that’s what I do every day, I’m on the internet. I’m just like, I’ll use something, and I’ll try and think about like, okay, where’s the edges and what would I do for the next six months given this point?

That might be as simple as that. And I look at a shitload of images, I love arena. I used to love Tumblr, as an array mixing and combining concepts and artworks and I don’t know there’s really, I feel like there’s a really interesting, I found that one of the most fruitful things for me is just to take images that resonate for no other reason than they resonate, and then combine them with concepts in the written statements. And then just like magic happens from like, I’ve got to figma like probably like 260 pages, why each page is just like doing that for any given thing. And the language, I really obsess about the language and the words around it, like hyper structures is maybe like a really good example of that, which is, I was just, that essay came from me being really frustrated having to explain my view of protocols for like months on end, and I was like, fuck it, who’s gonna write, I want to send a link and I wanted to give the same diatribe every time but it needed a new words like capture it. It has to be a word that kind of like hits and resonates and strikes a chord and I feel like you know yeah, quick we’re starting to do that now without like, enjoy a CRM is something we’re gonna probably say every day for the next like six months. Because it’s like, it’s really simple, but I think it hits our ideas in what we’re trying to do. Yeah, I mean, find people who can shadows and shadows ideas and bounce around and critique them, whatever.

This sparked a new random, like quick question. You spend so much time in figma. Do you have a preferred font weight and kind of like, I guess typography?

Jacob Horne: Arial Narrow, minus 6% spacing, and then whatever size is needed.

Strongly Held Ideas that Differ from Others

I love that. Back on the road. Are there any thoughts or ideas that you feel very strongly about but a lot of people disagree with? 

Jacob Horne: Yeah, a few, I think most protocols. I just want to tell for a while, is like I think like Uniswap style protocols will be free forever. And if not that instance, some competing instance, I think like the nature of how protocols operate and run I think they’ll likely net to near free and that there’s value captured at the edges either by people who are participating in the protocols, like LPS or platforms built on top of it. And that I think most ERC 20 tokens are dead long term. I just have a very strong belief that the ERC 20 token model in almost all circumstances for a Dao just is like net worse than maybe an NFT form. It’s because of the downstream value system. I think content makes sense on chain that feels like really obvious, but a lot of people would probably still disagree with that. Sure. I think I have.

I get hit around that

Jacob Horne: Still. Yeah, I have a strong opinion that maybe one of ones were like really superb, really skeuomorphic and it was a good era. And I think there’ll be ones that survive but maximizing broad ownership is actually the thing to really optimize for if you can, even at the expense of short term if, there’s a lot, those are ones that came to mind.

Lessons Learned Building Zora

My final question for you because I know we’re way over at this point, but this has been so, so, so good. I’m stimulated like completely stimulated. The last question I have for you, Jacob is, knowing what you know now after buildings Zora to date. What are some things you wish you knew when you got started?

Jacob Horne: If I was to go back in time and give advice to myself, it’s like, do the obvious, I think I very feel like almost all absorb who have recently. I would optimize on the interesting instead of the obvious just because I found it interesting and novel. And I think the net result of that is that you’ll likely always be early, but maybe too early. I have a greater appreciation, the way I kind of ,the aha moment for me as I was like going through all of my favorite companies of all time, was like the Netflix DVD really spoke to me, is like a sign of pragmatism, which is they had a really big and grand. Netflix had a really big and grand vision for the future and could see how the Internet and streaming would like change film and TV and how it was distributed. But they had the pragmatism to like to start with Netflix DVDs and just like using, literally make DVDs to people like physically distributing them. And that got them started and that was right for the moment in time and help them get towards that larger vision. So, I think I have a much greater appreciation for what’s short term viable. And instead of like always choosing the long term interesting. So, that’s probably the biggest change I’ve had and then I guess this is an obvious one but like things always take. I feel like if it if someone says something’s gonna take five years, it’s probably going to take one. If someone says gonna take one to two years, it’s probably gonna take 10 and there’s like really no, it’s like timing is just really hard.

If you say we’re expecting adoption, the next five to 10 years, you know, they’re saying.

Jacob Horne: I’m like, yeah, for like, for a lot of things, it might be way quicker. Yeah, it’s like the shorter the prediction, the longer it’s going to take. The longer the prediction, the shorter it’s gonna take. Yeah, that’s a very, you probably have 50 at 50% hit rate on that. Heuristic but yeah, I guess. Things always take longer than you think. But you can do more in a short period of time that you think to. So, that’s probably the net outcome of that.


That’s a great place to wrap up. Jacob, this was incredible. Thank you for your time, part of season seven. I’m glad we got to do this, and we’ll be minting this episode as an NFT, we got sick animation in the works as well that you saw earlier. But before I let you go, where can we find you Jacob? Where can we learn more? Show it away.

Jacob Horne: Follows Zora, it’s go to, we can show you the most enjoyable things around Ethereum. And then I’m on Twitter JS_ Horne and yeah, rapid fire tweets. I guess. 

Amazing. Till next time. 

Jacob Horne: Thanks.

Podcast Transcript

Eth Denver 2023: Day 1 Recap


Mint Season 7 Episode 17 welcomes my Co-Founder at Bello, Ellie Farrisi. This edition is a bit shorter than our previous ones, but that’s because we’re tapping into the live energy of ETH Denver 2023.

In this episode, we delve into the market narratives surrounding the event and discuss some of the highlights, such as Bello’s newest feature that showcases Revenue dashboards. We also cover this week’s hackathon and other exciting events taking place at ETH Denver 2023.

This is the perfect way to catch up on everything that transpired on the last few days of the conference, and we hope you enjoy this brief update.

Time Stamps

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 01:21 – First Impressions of Eth Denver
  • 05:24 – How Would You Explain Hacker Energy?

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What’s up guys, another episode at the mint podcast. With me today, I have Ellie Farrisi, my co-founder at Bello. Ellie what’s up?

Ellie Farrisi: Hey guys, how’s everyone doing?

I’m feeling good, Ellie. Excited to be in this corner of a room, in this co working spot in Denver, Colorado.

Ellie Farrisi: Yeah, glow Café, co working vibe. We’re here in Denver. We just had a few days of build week and now hopping into the official Eth Denver conference which starts today.

Starts today. You’ve been hacking over the last few days now. 

Ellie Farrisi: Yeah, a mixture of finding time to work on a hackathon project and working on a new Bello feature shipping and so I’ve mostly just has done coding. I think you and I, was it Tuesday we sat from like 9am to 6pm. Like I didn’t even move, my back was like hurting after a minute. But just shipping stuff, getting things done.

So, we have been heads down the last few days, as Ellie mentioned rolling out a new feature Bello revenue dashboard, helping creators understand their gross revenue, how fast they sold out their drops and who their top supporters by each spend are. So, we’ve been heads down the first few days of build week. So rather than building the hackathon, and we’ve been hacking out a new feature. Bello started at a hackathon, so I feel like it’s very.

Ellie Farrisi: A lot of the hacker, hacker vibes all the way.

First Impressions of Eth Denver

All the way. Ellie, I wanted to do this episode at Eth Denver because in the background you’ll probably hear noise, we’re at this coffee shop sitting in a glass room. And there’s a bunch of people around us working and in this echoey room, kind of documenting the last few days. Yeah, and also sort of what to expect in the next few weeks, feel like. So, number one, first impressions of Eth Denver, what are your thoughts?

Ellie Farrisi: So, this is my, I guess third or technically second in persons. I was at Eth Denver a year ago, which honestly was probably one of the biggest career, just life transformative experiences I had. It was my first like dev focus hackathon. And I think that that ethos of Eth Denver really bleeds in every year after a year. Yeah, it’s just really, I found that Eth Denver is a place that’s really dedicated to builders and to creative minds and people trying to solve the problem for the right why. And so, I’m super excited to be back here a year later. This is also the place that my dear friend, Adam Levy and I met each other for the first time a year ago. 

Pretty wild. 

Ellie Farrisi: Kind of crazy. Yeah.

Like the idea for Bello also started like a year ago at Eth Denver. Eth Denver is like home, home to Bello and to us and I wouldn’t want it any other way. 

Ellie Farrisi: Yeah, had the Queen George event last year.

Yes. Queen Georgia event, where we sold tickets as NFTs, pulled up a conference or a concert at your mom’s house which is a cool venue I know and I started saying that because in my mind I was like, wow, what did I do? But it’s really sick venue, really, really cool to say the least. And we started this concert. And I think it was like season four, season four, one in the middle of the episode. This was three seasons ago. And if you scroll down your Spotify feed or YouTube playlist, you’ll see the episode with Queen George and I sort of like talking about this moment and what we learned from setting up this IRL, URL concert. But even more importantly, Ellie, I want your reflection on the week so far. Because we just came from a CSS dinner, lunch actually, with a bunch of the other people that are in a16z Crypto startup school cohort, which we announced what? Like last week or 10 weeks ago, a couple weeks ago. So, as a primer really quick, Bello got accepted into a16z is web three accelerator. We’ve been working on Bello for a few months now. We went live August 5 with the private beta. And we kind of got like a blessing to be in this accelerator with a bunch of other really cool companies, twenty-five other companies to be exact. And in Denver, there was this like little meetup, where we got to meet a bunch of these people. I feel like there’s like half the cohort.

Ellie Farrisi: Yeah, it’s really, really inspiring to see. I don’t know I mean; I think that’s Eth Denver crypto in person energy, just this builder mentality and to be so close hearing everyone else’s projects, the different various stages that each of us were at. Yes, it was a really special day. I think on top of that, the start of the week. I’ve been here since Friday. So, I’ve been here for a few days now. Just going to the early stages of the hackathon part and seeing, you know sitting next to all the devs, talking to other people about the projects they’re building, you know, some people I feel like approached the hackathon of like, how many sponsor bounties can I submit? Like, you know, how big of a bag can I walk away with, and some people come in with, like not submitting to anything and they’re just like, I have this idea. I want to go for it. And you know, they’re both great ways to hack. Adam and I think in Amsterdam definitely went the route of like, we didn’t submit to anything. We just were like, let’s build this cool idea. In Bogota for me, our team submitted to like, every second.

This took, like 15.

Ellie Farrisi: It was crazy, me and my friends from another block, shout out to them.

How Would You Explain Hacker Energy?

Shout out to them. Yeah. How would you explain hacker energy?

Ellie Farrisi: It’s kind of like this burst of momentum like, I don’t know. I mean, you have this problem is in front of you. You have to really quickly and in a concise way, figure out the problem, figure out a solution and not deviate from the MVP of that solution. That’s actually probably one of the hardest things about building a hackathon project is like, you can get really distracted and really like derailed of like, oh, there’s a million different things. What if this feature, we could do this thing, etc. And the reality is you have X amount of time to accomplish it. You can’t do everything. So, how do you figure out what becomes the thing that you actually pitch and demo to everyone? So yeah, it’s really always really interesting to see. And of course, there’s iterations and I think it was actually one of the really amazing statistics that we learned today at the lunch for CSS. The Crypto startup school is I believe around 70% of the crypto startup school came from hackathon projects.

That’s wild.

Ellie Farrisi: Which is so amazing in my opinion, like that’s beautiful. I don’t know. To know that people like came together, they had a vision for idea. They were able to like really quickly ship out a very minimal MVP, I think is huge because I feel like with a lot of companies who don’t start that way, you get really bottlenecked of like, we have to figure out, we have to plan, we have to do all this stuff and it takes a lot more time and slows you down versus just like shipping something that’s broken and barely works and just like get it out there to the world. So, I think that hacker mentality really, really persevered in this way.

For me joining hackathons is sort of being a student. I’m not technical. I feel like I bring other things to the team. So, being around hackers, number one, and then also participating has taught me a lot about the building process. And I feel like I learned figma only eight months or something like that. 

Ellie Farrisi: Yeah, Adam kills it.

 Because it’s been a journey. So, being in this energy is invigorating and very infectious. And I’m excited to see what, number one, people push out in the hackathon because I always go to like the submission pages. And I try to see like what’s trending because you can get a sense of like the pulse of the market and what’s hot based on what people are building in hackathons, based on the projects that they’re submitting. So, I tweeted this a couple of days ago, kind of recache, like rehashing the sort of narratives that I hear at Eth Denver, and I’m hearing a lot of people talk about crypto mobile. I’m hearing a lot of people talk about wallets. I’m hearing a lot of people talk about web three social. And I’m curious what the hackathon submissions look like and if they fall in par with these various themes that people are talking about. Have you heard something similar?

Ellie Farrisi: Yeah, definitely a lot of those key undertones, talking a lot of the different protocols. ZK is huge. There’s a ton of people scroll ZK, saying building in that sort of zero knowledge proof, like hidden identity way so, I’m excited to see a lot of those projects. I think there might just be, I don’t know if it’s a lot of people building this one or what exactly, but I heard that the presentations are actually split across two days. So, Saturday and Sunday I think most people are presenting. Yeah, it’s definitely always really inspiring to see what people come up with 

I’m excited about what we just shipped, the revenue dashboards. And they came about when Reo Cragun was a web three and a music artists hit us up. He’s like I have all these drops, I have over 20 drops. So, we hit at loners Dao. And loner Dao is in crypto native music collective where they curate a lot of really cool web three native artists and drop music with them. Obviously, I wish I could see all the revenue across loners Dao. And I know intentionally when we were building out the initial versions of Bello, we strayed away from revenue because we wanted to surface other metrics that kind of like showcase Bello’s product in a very unique way. But I felt like now, it was the perfect time to release it because not only Reo but we were also getting people underneath the scenes, asking us like okay, this is great. I can see my ads income; I can understand what price to sell my NFTs at, I can see what time of day I should drop it. But I also want to see the revenue accrued across all those drops. So, I felt like it was like an optimal moment to bring that dashboard into place.

Ellie Farrisi: Absolutely. Yeah. I think having the insight into, like one quick place to look at, like you know, you could even go to open sea and you can see the total volume, which really just calculates secondary sales and having Bello be a place where you can see your primary sales, understand like I minted an NFT on sound or I minted NFT on decent or wherever it was, I had 25 editions, 100 editions ,500 additions, how long did it take for people to actually opt in and buy those? That’s a huge metric that I think really shows like dedication to a community. Because I believe we were talking about Annika rose earlier today and how we’ve worked a lot with Nevada collective and helping support her and her first, you know she is Bello data leading up to her first drop on sound XYZ. And so I think, you know, taking all the data she’s able to use and then now seeing like how quickly she was able to sell out her drop on sound, really shows growth that helps people like plan the next things, understand the engagement, all of that sort of stuff.

There’s this stigma of tweeting out, like yo my drop sold out in one hour, you know where my drops hold out a few seconds. Now, as you continue to drop more things, you can measure, engage the rate of excitement around your project, right? And how quickly that thing sold out. So that you can go back to the drawing table, reflect on that. And see, okay, if it sold out in an hour, what did we do for it to enable for it to be sold at an hour and maybe we can get it down to 30 seconds, you know, 5 minutes, 30 minutes, whatever the metric may be. So, being conscious of those areas of data is something that we were super excited about rolling out this dashboard.

Ellie Farrisi: Yeah, especially when you think about this ability to aggregate across multiple collections and say you, as one artist or creator have dropped 10, 15 different NFT collections. And you go through, and you click through each of them, you see it’s like oh it took a day, it took you know 12 hours, took this and then you see one that took like three weeks or something like that. Like that’s a really strong indicator for you, like something to look at and be like okay, well this like totally skewed my average and now my average is more like you know, a few days it took to sell out, when really like it was just as one drop that took a little bit longer. And how can you dive further into that one, or one that took really short and sort of like, recreate or move or pivot away from certain ideas and it actually gives you data behind the actions that you’re creating and sort of the next steps that you’re choose to do.

Another reason why I think like the why now, falls into place with release in this dashboard is because there’s a lot of heat around secondary sales and the entire like open sea versus blur marketplace for wars and secondary sales and royalties for creators are getting slashed. So, my bet and I think our bet is that there’s gonna be a lot more of innovation around the primary sales. So, having more metrics around that is super important to understand, as you experiment with more ideas, concepts around selling out a drop.

Ellie Farrisi: I’m curious Adam for you, like you’re a big advocate on this idea of like free mints and growing your collector base and doing all this stuff. Based on this stuff that’s now happening with potentially slash and create a royalties on secondary markets. Where do you see the future of primary markets? Like do you see them being something that, we keep having the free mints, but people charge more, maybe for if they do their second drop or like how are you seeing it?

I think we may see a rise in non-transferable tokens.

Ellie Farrisi: Okay.

And tokens that don’t have really secondary volume and tokens that aren’t, like by default are not able to be traded. I predicated an entire mint community of free NFTs, the seasonal pins, they’re free to mint, they’re nontransferable. So, I know also a16z invested right now, I think it was in the YGG co-founder, like I think was like a few million dollars to experiment on the forefront of social, not social tokens of sold on tokens. Excuses me, thank you. So, I’m excited to see where they go. I think we’ve only scratched the surface of what a primary sale is. I think there’s more to be explored especially when, once again, the platforms are in control of our revenue. And for whatever reason, we are in the middle of the chaos. So, we can bypass that by experimenting more primary sales. And the second thing is, experimenting more on what happens after the sale, or relationships that you make with your collectors. And what comes through that. That’s something that the marketplaces can take over because in web three, the creator is the platform. Wherever we go, our community of collectors follow. So, I’m excited to see where that thesis pans out and other people experimenting on that. 

Ellie Farrisi: Totally.

I have intel from different projects that they’re going to be doing that already. So, I feel like it’s already going to spark a lot of innovation, a lot of interesting curiosities around the primary sales so we’ll see what happens. 

Ellie Farrisi: Yeah, I think that idea of like, still don’t know, I’m very excited about I think the idea of like paid sold out and is really interesting, like how can I prove that, like once I’m like, one time I’m supported for this thing, and it’s not for this potential growth of secondaries. It’s like I’m opting into something. And I know, we’ve had a ton of ideas as being in Eth Denver, and honestly, just as a side note, I think the Eth Denver ideation that comes out of here is like super inspiring, and I feel like we have just continuously been thinking about new product ideas, new innovations for Bello. And, you know, I love that. So, I think this one was a perfect one that we’ve thought about and there are definitely tons of iterations and things we want to even expand upon here. So, where do you see this going next?

You know, I want to think like, I know what’s going to happen in the future, but we’re all just learning as we go. And I think Eth Denver is primal hub for understanding where these next points and directions will sort of take us. So, I’m excited to see how the week unfolds. I’m excited to see where projects get created. I’m excited to meet all these companies and creators are out here. So, I think it’s also a perfect place to sort of wrap this up too, because it leaves people wanting more. So, we’re gonna have to do a check in at some point afterwards, to see what was the.

Ellie Farrisi: Let’s see if Ellie manages the time to submit our hackathon projects. Say very clearly, like the food theme themes.

Ellie, this was great. We’ll do this again soon. 

Ellie Farrisi: Yeah.

Until then. See you around.

Ellie Farrisi: Awesome. Cheers.