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Podcast Transcript

The 3rd Pillar of the Creator Economy

Background

Mint Season 7 Episode 9 welcomes Robin Schmidt, aka SuperMassive, the founder of BasedAF. Discover his unique approach to simplifying complex subjects into engaging videos, his passion for cryptocurrency, and the evolution of his creative voice. Robin shares insights on his content creation system and the differences in creative freedom from working at Harmony and The Defiant. He also dives into the third pillar of the creator economy and the concept of full-time fans. Get ready to learn what makes great content truly worth collecting.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 04:11 – The Ability to Simplify Complex Subjects into Fun Videos
  • 07:14 – Getting into Cryptocurrency
  • 18:56 – The Process of Finding a Creative Voice
  • 25:09 – Robin’s System for Creating Content
  • 30:24 – Differences in Creative Freedom Now vs. at Harmony and The Defiant
  • 36:01 – The Third Pillar of the Creator Economy
  • 45:28 – The Concept of Full-Time Fans
  • 49:06 – Defining “Great Content Worth Collecting”
  • 51:52 – Outro

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I caught you off guard right there.

Robin Schmidt: How dare you. How dare you. We go live in three seconds, I’m set man. I’m ready.

We’re live. We’re live and in action. Welcome, supe, supe supermassive. That’s what it says on your name tag.

Robin Schmidt: It is. I had a stutter when I was typing. And so, you know, that’s what happened.

I think it’s fitting. It’s the name that fits your entire energy. And ever since I’ve met you, I think like what, like two years ago or something like that. You’ve had this energy to you, and you just brought it on the introduction. And I’m super happy to have you here, a part of season seven, supe, supe, supermassive.

Robin Schmidt: Welcome to me. Yes, I’m very happy to be here. Thank you for the quote. So, my energy it’s like it’s a weird thing. Like I don’t really know where it comes from, because most of the time I’m extremely quiet. And I have my headphones on, and nobody hears from me and then like, when the cameras on me, it’s like, boom, bullshit.

I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it.

Robin Schmidt: It’s a little bit of that self-preservation. I think more than anything else. If I was gone the whole time, I wouldn’t survive. I would need so much sugar, work would be angry with me.

I feel like you’re just having sugar IV and you’re 24/7. At least that’s what feels like publicly. 

Robin Schmidt: Yeah. My diabetes is coming on. Nice. Oh, yeah. 

Do you remember how we met originally?

Robin Schmidt: I started to you. There was an event in LA, some kind of thing you were working on.

Virtual

Robin Schmidt: Virtual, yes. Who are you working for? You were working for Yes. And you reached out to me and said this. We want to do a review of the year; do you fancy doing something? And I said yes. And then I realized that I couldn’t deliver it and then I came up with something else very quickly, which we delivered for you, which was just like this fun review of the year. It was working at the time. And that was when I came up with the Andre Konya perfume ad, which is like the, probably my most favorite thing I’ve ever made in web three. And it’s weird because it’s divisive. But at the same time, like as a pure piece of kind of satire. Andre Konya as a perfume. It’s like probably the thing I’m most proud of in web three, which is bizarre really for like, yeah, so that’s how we met.

Ever since I saw that video. I’ve been in love. I gotta tell you. I feel like I was watching your content. I know. This is why I brought you here to confess my love to you and to see if you will take me in this web three metaverse.

Robin Schmidt: I take yours. I take you wholeheartedly. My ring is your ring. 

Intro

I’ll take it, just leave that as expression. Okay. No, but seriously, real talk ever since I saw that video and you created a custom for that event that ended up going on YouTube and being this really, really funny ass meme, I’ve been a big fan of your stuff. And if there’s one person that understands content creation, it’s you. All the work that you do that define, to what you’re doing now with base media. For those who don’t know you. I want to give a quick intro. Can you introduce yourself? If no one’s ever met you, how do you actually introduce yourself?

Robin Schmidt: So, I might as well be just me. I go by the name supermassive, which gives you an idea of the superhero persona that I put on when I’m in front of the camera. I guess in a sense, all I am is an entertainer. I make fun content. And I make it about subjects which inherently are not fun, like defi for instance, defi is not fun. And I guess my challenge to myself is to take concepts like technology. Concepts, which are inherently nonvisual, and turn them into things that can be consumed by people visually and given a sheen of pop culture that makes them memorable, makes them entertaining, and makes people want to come back and see more. Because these are concepts that I’m trying to absorb and understand myself. And so that’s the lens through which I view them and I’ve spent 25 years becoming the best kind of filmmaker I could. And it was only once I stepped into web three, that I was able to cast off the shackles of what other brands want me to do for commercials or what funding agencies want you to do in order to get funding and just kind of be the filmmaker I wanted to be. And so, when I put myself in front of the camera, I started presenting the videos instead of just directing them. I guess that’s when it finally became the truest most authentic version of the filmmaker that I am where and I am today.

The Ability to Simplify Complex Subjects into Fun Videos

So, looking back 25 years, are there any specific experiences that you can attribute to your creative simplicity of taking complex subjects and breaking them down into really fun, endearing videos? Anything you can look back on and kind of reflect on?

Robin Schmidt: Well, probably when you’re learning to be a videographer or filmmaker, you find ways to fund yourself and you find ways to keep doing the job because otherwise you have to do another job and it’s very difficult to make films. That’s not true. It’s actually very easy to make films though. It used to be very difficult to make films when I started. Getting your hands on the cameras, getting your hands on the equipment. So, what you did was take crappy jobs and those crappy jobs in my instance, were karaoke videos. So, if you ever karaoke bar, there’ll be a video sitting behind the lyrics of some cheesy dude, and some cheesy girl in black and white, and in slomo, which has it, I made that video and that’s how I learned, but we used to churn out about like, five or six of these a day and we challenged ourselves to shoot them for 10 pounds. That was the budget we give ourselves because we received 300 pounds for making them and it was just to like to knock out five or six a day and you know, try and shoot them as quickly and as cheaply as we could. But man, you learned so much in that process. And that was basically film school. Where that led to was then, well obviously, we can make instructional videos. So, we made instructional videos for the likes of gyms and things like that because we were doing a lot of extreme sports stuff to begin with. Skiing, snowboarding basically, that’s kind of how I got started just filming not as throwing themselves off cliffs and other cable cars. And that led to TV work, doing explainers, basically breaking down tricks and how to do them for viewers of the extreme sports channel. And we did a buttload of that, like a really a lot of different kinds of types of explainers. I guess that’s kind of where it came from, just you know taking tricks and tips and turning them into content but that was like before we even YouTube. So, I guess also the other half of it is I’m naturally curious. I went to the University of Oxford, believe it or not, my father was a professor at the University of Oxford.  So, I’m flexing my non-Ivy League as a proud bred. So, I guess it’s academically I’m fairly woke and enjoy learning new things. And crypto was always a challenge like how do you play this game because it was the right game, right? And then he began to shake when trading you get into the darker arts of growing your, quote unquote, network which is like who’s got the tip on this next shit coin that’s gonna go up. And last off and then gradually growing into actually a proper network of people, who are building staff, who are doing things. And then parlaying that into my case, a defi network, which became the basis of how I kind of got hired by the defi. So, all of that, it’s just a natural curiosity about playing games and trying to win those games and seeing how best to do that.

Getting into Cryptocurrency

And then there’s the game of defi that entails your transition into working with the defi, but how did you actually get into crypto, like what was that story that got you into the space?

Robin Schmidt: So, it’s kind of partly tragic, partly true, mostly true. Some of its fictitious. I am a storyteller after all. No, it’s I had directed a feature film before I turned 40, which is like one of those milestones. Like if you’re a filmmaker addressing a feature from, it sets you like above 99% of the rest of people who make films because it’s very, very difficult to make a feature film. And very few people actually get to do it. It’s sort of worth less these days than it used to be, but it really was when I grew up. It was the gold standard. Have you done that? You’ve made it. Except the fact is you haven’t made it. You’ve made a film, so what? You go to the Cannes Film Festival, you go to the market there, and there’s 4000 other people selling a product that is basically indistinguishable from yours in the market. And then there’s like this tiny veneer on top, where the money lies the money there, but most of the other products is garbage. It’s being sold to TV networks, and you’re part of that garbage. You’re in that garbage pile as a horrifying realization that actually, the thing that you thought was now your calling card that you’ve made, it was actually no more than a tiny, tiny, tiny bit of print in a catalogue, that would be basically turned into pulp in two weeks, and that as a horrible place to be. So, after that, I kind of went, well, what do I do now? And I realized that I would have to kind of get real, get back into the grind and making work that I didn’t want to make. And I had two kids at the time. And so, basically what happened was, I surrendered meekly to the God of commerce and said, I will now be a commercial director, and I will make commercials. That’s what it will be. And so, I just ended up making shit I hate it. And it sounds so entitled because I had budget. I had all the tools I needed. I had nice cameras and lights. I had all these other things that I had access to shoot things two or three times a month, that was paying the bills and by all accounts should have been happy made it. But every job you just like where’s me in all of this? Where’s the honesty Where’s the idea that I can take to the set and say, wow, that was a cool idea, we did it. And like it was so few and far between it, just grinds you down after a while. There’s only so many times you can go into a meeting about a coffee product and debate whether the vase next to the coffee machine should be this shade of blue or that shade of blue, because tell me? Who gives a fuck about the color of the vase? Nobody except the brand Nazis. So yeah, so that’s just kind of where I ended up. And I realized that in order to make the move back into the creative stuff that I wanted to do, I was gonna have to spend at least a year, probably two years putting every single penny I owned, into making a completely brand-new set of work. Just a completely brand new just, you know what the reflective what I actually wanted to be and wanted to do. But there was no guarantee that I would even be able to pull that off because it’s really hard to get those kinds of projects off the ground. You have to produce them yourself. You have to kind of get favors from everybody. It’s just expensive. And so, I was just thinking, like, how do I do this? What am I supposed to be doing with my life? And the question in my mind was always about money. It was like, the problem is money. I don’t have enough money. I’m smart enough to be able to figure this out. What I’ve been doing is chasing the stupid crazy thing and not using my brain properly. I can do this. No, I couldn’t. What happened was, I went down to a job in Belgium with my boss and while we were driving down, he told me about this thing that he bought, this cryptocurrency. And he told me, you know, I bought this thing, and now I could pay off my mortgage I was like, what is that? What Is a Cryptocurrency? What is this thing? I kind of knew about Bitcoin already and actually randomly bought some when I was researching some ideas about Silk Road, funnily enough back in the day I ended up buying Bitcoin, no idea where that Bitcoin is. So, while it’s somewhere I can’t access, I don’t even know how much I had. But I know I bought it off a site called pretty vicious in the UK. I don’t believe you know. No, it’s true. It’s absolutely true. It’s back in 2003. 

Okay, wow. 

Robin Schmidt: Yeah, madness. Absolute madness. I don’t know where it is. And, but then I completely forgotten about it. He told me about this thing. And I was like, I need to understand what this is. And then my brother-in-law just randomly said, you know, I might just give up my job as an architect and mine Bitcoin instead. Those two points triggered an idea. I went down the rabbit hole, and I never came back out, and I was just, that was 2017. I was just really just before the bull run really took off in 2017. Obviously, this thing is when, well, this is how you do it. This is how you solve money. I was taught a horrible lesson later in 2018, when it all came crashing down. But what I did learn during the course of that was, that this was a space like it’s thriving, that there were people here who were doing some interesting things and if I made friends with them, maybe that would lead to other things. The ICO craze was going on and there was so much to learn, so much to absorb. It was really fascinating and then off the back of that, just by random chance, a syndicate that I was a part, a major investment in harmony, had their seed rounds. So, they got access to the seed round of harmony and I was like, alright, I’m in. I mean, whatever this is, I’m in and just kind of became obsessed with this project called Harmony. Not because I thought it was going to be the greatest project in the world. I was actually a little skeptical of it to begin with, but because it was really easy to see who they were. They were this team in Silicon Valley, it was kind of fascinating how they had these Saturday barbecues. It just seemed interesting. And so, I just called them up and said, I was a seed investor. I think I could tell you a story in a really interesting way, would you be interested in that? Because what I’ve been thinking about was, crypto is powered by means, it’s powered by storytelling. But the storytellers in the space were either scam artists or just kind of meme artists. And there wasn’t anything in between it was more substantial but wasn’t scammy at that time. And so I thought maybe if I’m good at content I’m I have a place in this space. So that was it. I rang out harmony, we discussed it for about a year, weren’t able to really kick it on. They wanted to do a documentary about the project. I said yeah, we can definitely do that, but we need some budget. And then I just took a chance, bought a ticket, flew over and went to meet them. Well enough the back of their in the room, I pitched them a different idea and they bought it in the room. About three months later, we realized that the best place for me to be probably was working for harmony. So, I joined them as their creative director and that was 2019. So, that’s kind of when defi was just emerging and harmony was a layer one shading protocol. It was about high speed. It was about exciting, new blazing fast applications. EOS was still big back then and defi was starting to emerge. And there was this growing narrative around defi. Funnily enough, it was another grain narrative around a kind of exciting Korean project, that was really gaining traction that no one was really paying attention to, but everyone thought it was going to be a big deal. Especially our Korean team members. It was called Terror, believe it or not. And so, in my role with harmony, I quickly pivoted to video because I was their creative director and I was helping write communications and shipping with ideas around marketing, but I realized that the best job I could do for them was video. So, we just got the office here. We got a little camera. I started producing videos for them. And then I just realized that we would have no footprint in defi, we would miss the entire defi movement unless we did something. There was no way we hear any protocols to build on harmony at that point. It was to say, we were just about to kind of build a bridge that was the first kind of instance of the harmony, right edge. And so, I thought we may complement the best content about defi and tell the story of defi, then we might have something. So, in order to do that I needed to partner up with one of the two defi newsletters at the time, one of which was bankless and the other was The Define. So, those are your two sources for defi, and I just decided I would get really good at understanding Define, really good at explaining defi. And I called them both up or I emailed them both. Brian Sean Adams messaged me about once, he laughs about this now on Twitter. He ghosted me after that, because I was working for harmony, didn’t want anything to do with it. So, I could have ended up working back this didn’t. I ended up working with Camilla at The Define. And he always just started telling the story of what was going on, like the car launch with Wi Fi. With all these products that now just seem kind of weirdly established and not that exciting. But you forget like when defi summit happened. They were the most exciting games in town. It was just, there was this incredible energy around fair launch. We were just coming out of the PTSD of like an extended, painful bear market. And suddenly there was this rush around food tokens, like sushi and like pickles and like all this stuff and just bizarre, yams like all this stuff, so much experimentation. And ponds omics around these yield farms, everything else It was wild. So, we were telling those stories. And what I realized was, there’s a Bloomberg way to tell that story. And there’s the shit coin channel way to tell that story and then it was a different way which was, how did they feel? They were like, yeah, the really random weird way. And so, I just started doing stuff like, I would be really seriously telling you a story and then I just get hit in the face of the banana. So, like with the curve launch, because curve is curved, and bananas are curved. I thought this story is bananas. What I just tell the entire thing using bananas as a metaphor, and I had a banana was a ton of fun and I got hit in the face of the banana. Just riffing on that. And it became like a little signature thing. I just do these really weird videos and I we spent nothing on them. But the creativity was there for people to see, and it became a kind of running thing. And then when the sushi, chef Nomi rubbed on sushi and ran off with a million bucks. He just really painfully awkward messages on Twitter, how he’s not a bad guy. And then we turn that into a country and western song because Tiger king just come out at the time and there was a song; I saw a Tiger. So, I turned the story of sushi into a country in western ballets and people just went nuts for it. And they just kept doing stuff like that. And then we did a story of pickles, pickles is an amazing one. We did the whole thing in rap. So, just like I learned how to rap and then we recorded like four different rap songs, to tell the story of this stuff. And then we did one where was like this, the world’s longest most involved hack as an R&B slow jam. So, I just improvised like Drake slow down thing, because like why? Who does that? Like that was the medium expression for me. So, I was just taking a thing, that doesn’t deserve to have any creativity whatsoever, that isn’t interesting and just doing that. And I think that’s just kind of what got me on people’s radars and got me into a position where, when it came to launching my own thing, I was in a position to ask for investment in a way that they weren’t going to love right? So that’s what we ended up doing.

The Process of Finding a Creative Voice

Which we’ll get into in a sec. But during this entire story you were telling me prior to defi, you had trouble sort of finding yourself, you were asking yourself, where’s me and all this? And when you got into crypto in web three you found that me. You found your creative voice, your creative self in the content you were creating. I’m curious sort of like what was that process like for you. Because I feel like a lot of people they go through their mundane jobs, trying to find them in their work, and they can’t really discover that and you found this outlet with this level of freedom, right? Where you could explore that. What was that process like?

Robin Schmidt: Well, you’re gonna say my life has been a succession of modest successes that present as failures. So, I started this journey back in 2002 with no experience in filmmaking, but a lot of kind of creative energy. And I managed to parlay that into being good at editing and so I was always able to kind of take my ideas and express them through editing. And it’s always been, it’s always been kind of in there, but it was never schooled. And so, what I, what I’m really good is pastiche. So, it’s taking something that’s already out there and satirizing it and making a pastiche version of it. I’m really good at that. And it’s sort of a superpower, but it actually gets in the way because what it doesn’t force you to do is come up with your own idiosyncratic way of doing things. And so, I think a lot of my work, probably up to, like 2012 was that. It was a really capable pastiches of things that looked credible and was credible, wasn’t that original. And then in 2012, I met my kind of partner in crime, Simon, who was the other half of Supermassive. The Supermassive is actually two of us, and he unleashed the beast of me and the only I was able to kind of just really go after creative stuff. We launched on YouTube and went massively viral, and never did anything with it. And it was one of the greatest regrets of my life that we just weren’t able to take that viral success and run with it. Because I had two kids and I decided to prioritize my family and Simon went off and became an actor and did really well with that. But we really nailed it. Like we really probably nailed it in 2012. Imagine that we, if we kept going, we would have been Mr. Beast, before Mr. Beast. I have no idea, who knows, probably would have given up within a year. But that was the moment I realized that I knew where I was, what it wants to be. The hot pie is then convincing people who have money to back that, because what you end up doing is then shaving off the edges to sanitize it, so that they will back you rather than sticking to your guns. And that’s just because being a filmmaker is the fastest way to get poor. It really is, you just bring you broke because everything is just a struggle to make money. So, it hasn’t, wasn’t necessarily a question of me finding me. It was finding the mechanism by which I could continue to be me and would not bankrupt me. Again, solving the money problem. Because, you know, I promised my wife I wouldn’t just go chasing windmills again and crazy ambitious stuff. Because I’d been trying to get into Hollywood and trying to get a feature film off the ground. And every time it just felt like this impossible journey. And I think what I hadn’t realized was that there was a different way. And if I was open to that different way, then it would happen. I realize that it did happen. I was open to that different way but where it came from was a list, she was creatively dead, I think around about 2019. All the creative energy in me have gone, because I just been making crap. I hated it. I’m being forced to just churn out this crap I hated. And it sounds ridiculous, but I’ve been doing it for like two and a half years at that point, just making mindless coffee commercials and mindless vacuum cleaner commercials and like, it’s fine. It’s good when you’ve, when you’re like a youngster and you’re learning the craft and everything else and it’s good discipline. You learn good craft with the agencies, everything else but like creatively, it’s horrific, and it just grinds you down. So, I was completely dead and the thing that I did was I just started making the most ridiculous gifts. The most ridiculous gifts I could possibly make for, like for anyone. I call them Deluxe gifts and they were like 40 seconds long these gifts. And they had like full storylines, that exquisite visual effects and then there were the gifts that no one else would make. And just absurd things I’d lifted from different films and put different heads on and stuff. Like they still exist on telegram, so you can, let me just see if I can find it now. If you’re gonna telegram, there’s a channel called Deluxe gifts, I think.

Just created a bunch of gifts and stitch them.

Robin Schmidt: And they’re all in it. Yeah, no and I just made like a shit ton of gifts, and I would do them on the train on the way into work. And they made me happy. It really is.

Can you share your screen? Can I see this?

Robin Schmidt: Yeah, I can share my screen.

Where do we find this? Bottom, at the bottom.

Robin Schmidt: So, there you go. That’s Deluxe gifts. Yes, it’s true. 2019 like, wow, ridiculous. I mean, these gifts will be like 300 megs, like just entirely stupid and try with tons of visual motion graphics and stuff out. Yeah, just so much stupid stuff. So yeah, you can still find that and yeah, so that’s what I did. 

Okay

Robin Schmidt: So, that reignited the creativity of man and it’s kind of saved me to a degree. Staged for what I then ended up doing, which is just the same thing but just amped up and ramped up. And then more, more regularly, there’s the insane frequency with which you have to produce when you’re doing a YouTube channel. Especially when we’re you’re chasing news stories and like it’s every day you have to come up with a new story, you have to come up with a new script, you have to come up with a new piece of content. Here’s a new protocol that you have to learn in an hour and then present a video and as if you know exactly what it’s talking about. And like some of the stuff in defi, it’s pretty high-level stuff.

Robin’s System for Creating Content

So, let me ask you. Have you developed sort of like a lien process and being able to understand a topic, build a storyboard and turnout content, recorded, edited and published? Is there a certain system you’ve built for yourself?

Robin Schmidt: So, at The Defined we did have that. Yes, because it was the only way we could survive. And just to break it down, like on a Monday, I would have to come in and write the story of the weekend. Called a quick take, knock it out. That was a write that presented and then it would get given to the editor and he would edit out. On a Tuesday we’ll have a tutorial, so we’re trying to do the tutorial on the Monday as well. So, then I sit down, go through something that I thought was interesting, and then try and figure out how to do a tutorial on it. It might have been a presentation that I’d have to do. Then on the Wednesday, we would have first look, so we take something new, something interesting, break it down and try and understand why it was interesting. We turn that into spicy ones. So, we looked for something that was particularly spicy in the market, and that I would do that review while eating hot sauce. That was interesting. And then on a Thursday, we’d have a live show, so we’d have to put the guests for the live show. Who would come on in the night, we’d have to prep to interview them. We also did a show for real vision, where we take topics and break them down, with the team at real vision, whether it’s Ash Pennington or Rob Howell. And then on Friday, we do what we call the fire weekly, which was a longer film, a longer story. So, maybe I was breaking down the Cardanol ecosystem or I was taking a look at specific types of hacks that have been going on. Something like that. And with that one, we’d have we shoot like a minute and a half of a cold open, which is basically just a disconnected piece of creative content that would just lead in. And that was a chance for us to flex some creative muscles. And that was always something that we try and come up with early in the week, but it would always end up be like Thursday afternoon to have to write it. And then the scripts themselves to fire weekly script is usually about 10 pages. So that process was just write, write, write, write, write, write, you have to kill the analysis paralysis, you have to be able to sit down and start writing. And then this is the thing that I think will shock people. I never edited my scripts. 

Really, not once. 

Robin Schmidt: I gave him a long script for The Define weekly. Then there needed to be quotes and things going in. I would do that, and I’d write them asynchronously. So, I’d have like a chunk here that I wanted to write, but like anything else I didn’t rewrite it. And like the tutorials the first looks, they were literally recorded as they came out. No readers. That was it. That was our Lean process. I just got really good at reading off and off the queue, writing a script and being able to present a topic without stuttering.

Wow. Impressive.

Robin Schmidt: But that’s the lean process and the rest of it in terms of the writing is just my tone of voice and the way I do things; I think comes out quite analytically. So, I’ll start a sentence when I’m talking and I kind of go okay, this is what I want to get to. This isn’t where I’m going next. And this is how I make it round off to a conclusion. It’s just in my head now. So, that’s it, that was the lean process. And then for the rest of it, just knowing that basically, when you get stuff into the edit, you need to shorten the time between hitting the editor’s plate and the time they can publish. So that’s why we scripted everything if we need, if he wasn’t able to piece with scripts. So, you know you see YouTubers who do lots of jump cuts because they just get on, they talk. And then they cut out the bits of the boring and they just get this all the time, but I’m sentences and it’s unwatchable for me. So, I scripted it. And then the editor can look at a script and you’ve put the links to all the payroll in the scripts. And again, it’s literally pieced together from that script. And even when they start editing, you can still be piecing together new bits of payroll dropping it in. All the links are there, and they just have a blueprint for the edit and then it’s like pretty quick to put it together. So that’s how we did it.

So, fast forward a bit, Robin, you leave The Define, you start BasedAF media. Congrats.

Robin Schmidt: Thank you big time. I am now a founder.

You are now a founder. How does that feel like?

Robin Schmidt: I know it feels good. It feels like the natural point to get to. I think all of the things that I’ve been learning to do, and I’ve been working on over the last three years from Harmony, were even from the vacuum cleaning commercials to be honest. There is a reason I’ll come back to that. But it was all leading up to this point. I always wanted to have my own version of a web three property. And I’ve just been able to meet so many interesting and amazing people along the way, that it would have been a shame if I hadn’t gone this route. As hard as it is because it is hard. It’s been kind of gratifying to see how good the conversations were with the first round of investors, the people we talked to initially to get going with this, to see where we could go with that and that’s been really good. And now, all the crazy ideas I have or the crazy things that I want to do, I’m allowed to say yes to them. And I have a team around me that gets a little scared. But they say yes to them too, because they will want to try doing interesting and weird things. And then like, you know, that comes with it’s own challenges, obviously.

Differences in Creative Freedom Now vs. at Harmony and The Defiant

Is there an example of something you wanted to do while working at harmony or The Define and that you couldn’t do, that you can now do now?

Robin Schmidt: Yes. There was a very good example of that. So, I recognized that the metaverse was going to be a thing. Like a really big thing and a really juicy topic summer 2021. And coincidentally at the time, because it was during the pandemic, there was more of a focus on V tubers, and on indie mocap, most of motion capture. So, I was following a guy called Matt Webb and he was building a motion capture studio in his basement basically, but he wasn’t building it using a suit. He was building it using multiple cameras arranged around his room and at the same time we were seeing all this stuff coming out of the Mandalorian. So Unreal Engine being used in like full Hollywood productions as digital backdrops as a digital studio in a sense, and all that stuff was fascinating. Because one of the challenges I had here was that I always shoot in the same room and it’s very difficult. The moment we leave the office and go and shoot externally, we lose half a day. It’s just the nature of the beast. Even if you just step outside for a bit, you lose so much time in the process of packing up a camera, going outside, going to a location, even if it’s nearby. It just wastes a ton of time and under the schedule that we run. We can do that. So, I was always looking for ways to add more value into the studio that we had. Unreal Engine was clearly a tool that was going to be a major component in production in the future. It’s a way of transporting you to different places. It’s a way of saving money. It’s a way of you know, having a smaller environmental footprint when you’re producing and it’s photorealistic. And it’s all these incredible things. What we also saw as these PFP characters, that had these 3d assets attached as well, I was like we can connect these two things. We can tell stories about the metaverse, from within a platform that feels like the metaverse. And so, that’s what I wanted to do, and we went quite a long way in exploring how he would do that and building digital sets, trying to film in Unreal and every time we did it, we would just hit this massive wall. It’s just on the one hand on Unreal is incredible, because it allows you to bring in all of these incredible, photorealistic assets from the mega scans’ library, the mega scans library, this huge ever growing photo scan library of anything you want, really, and they keep adding new things to it, but like it could be a cocaine. It could be a rock, it could be a tree, it could be a desert. It’s all there. It’s all free. It’s part of Unreal Engine, you can use Unreal Engine for free. It’s this incredible thing. And it’s very, very easy to assemble a scene and add environmental things to it and get built up. For once you start getting into the world of having a character and having a skeleton and retargeting motion capture data onto that character and having that character function in the way that you want it to, exponentially the world gets a lot a lot harder. So, you can’t just pick it up and use it, not the way we want it to. And so, what I wanted to do was build this digital backdrop, build a motion capture studio and be able to tell stories in a Metaverse like environment with the same rapidity and the same ease as we did all the live action stuff. I have now built that studio, because that’s what I want to do. But what it’s turned out to be is it needed a significantly larger investment in order to make that happen. One has to define, wasn’t in any hurry or any needs to make. So, it was always gonna be on me to find that, so that that’s been the biggest thing. And if you’re looking for a USP for what BasedAF will be about, it’ll be there. The live action stuff, we’re really good at it, like I think I can present pretty well. I can make a good kind of funny video of me tripping over my ass or running a marathon in the metaverse and all these kind of things. And that will always be important because, you know, people still need to see real people and real things going on but the work we’re doing to hook up game engines, were three native properties, motion capture, and live streaming all together, plus some form of chat GPT powered environment modeling at the same time. There isn’t anybody else doing that right now. Certainly not in the way that we’re planning on doing it. And we’re only ever going to be able to get good at it by doing it badly every day for the next year, until the point at which we go. Now we’ve got it because that’s so difficult and it’s so idiotic to do that, that nobody will try because it’s too difficult. And there’s no way of monetizing it unless you’re doing what we’re doing. But as of course over the course of doing that, we’ll end up, I think coming up with a brand-new entertainment and a way of making shows that is completely original and completely new. And that’s what I’m excited about. It’s taking models of entertainment and using the metaverse as a canvas to explore what those can be and how they can be and that for me is really exciting. As much as I love the live action shooting beautiful videos. It’s not exactly something we can share, claim ownership of, even though in the web three spaces, mobile video production is terrible. That kind of complete kind of reimagining of how we make stories and how we make particularly live stuff, plugging in music, everything else. That’s what gets me up in the morning.

The Third Pillar of the Creator Economy

So, your vision of this new world of entertainment when an end user encounters it, what is your goal with making them feel?

Robin Schmidt: So, I want them to feel that they’re experiencing something that they’ve never experienced before and that they can be part of that. What are the, one of the key things about them I suppose is, it’s about social presence. It’s about being able to share something with somebody else. And you only have to go back to the testimonials of people who were at the fort like Travis Scott concert, and even that, even though it wasn’t actually thousands of people in the same instance of the game at the same time, it was quite kind of guarded all of that. They still felt like they were part of something very special. And that has always stuck with me, how we create that experience meaningfully and repeatedly. So, I want people to feel like they’re in a room with other people. We’re already experimenting with VR, and particularly VR chat and how to create experiences in there. But it’s that sense of togetherness. Like you’re with your mates at a rave that kind of thing, except there could be anywhere in the world and that could be a tomato or cucumber, or you know, a monkey, whatever. That is the thing but the world that you’re in is alive and responsive to you, as much as you are to each other. That should be really, really entertaining. Again I don’t really know how it’s gonna play out because I don’t but what we’ve been given is the opportunity to experiment and figure it out. 

Yes, this concept really quick and not to cut you off but you kept emphasizing that you want it to feel like people are part of something, right? And the best way to integrate that is through NFTs right? Have them collect something, have some upside and some incentive to be a part of the community, have a tool to vote on things depending on what your goal is. Right? Is that where I’m getting at or you’re envisioning and another form of integration?

Robin Schmidt: No, you’re absolutely right. We have a community with the base heads. We have a 10k collection, which we dropped beginning of January, and that represents our superfans. It’s our core audience. The reason we did it that way is, we didn’t have to because just build this thing without is energy is a really fun way of bootstrapping a community. And like you say making a community feel like they have ownership of something. What that is, I don’t think anybody really knows because we’re co creating it. We are the creators and like I think we’re amongst the best content creators in web three. And so, right, we should lead the way. And when we have products like fries Cola, which we make the commercials for, or fries primer, which we made the commercials for. These are real products that we make a really fun, nice fake ads for and these are what we call anti brands, they’re not brands, they’re anti brands. But they’re things that we’re gonna be able to give to our community to have ownership of as well. And I’ll get into more of that in a second. But the idea of having these NFTs, they’re amazing distribution mechanism as well. Because they let you know where your audience is, and they allow you to give them something very quickly and painlessly. And we were looking at things like live streaming and having live, minting during a stream and understanding the shape of your audience in terms of their wallets, which is a data point that’s never been available before. But a really interesting one. And when people look at our collection, they see the blue-chip holders index is really high, even though distribution is relatively low, and the floor price is where it’s at. They can see that the quality of the actual owner is very high relatively speaking in the space, and that’s pretty meaningful. So, you can do this similar kind of thing with your analytics on stream. And one of the things I’m really keen to explore and keen to try and build is what I call the third pillar of the creator economy. So, the creator economy is like, it this weaponized cloud machine where it’s build an audience and monetize the fuck out of that audience by doing X, X and X. And those three things are, you know, you watch a million YouTube videos that like you should be doing this, you should be doing this, you should be doing this. And it’s all about retention hacks and retention tactics and keeping your audience and treat, you know, treating the algorithm like your bitch and all this stuff. And none of that sounds like creativity to me. It all sounds like extracting the maximum revenue from each click that you possibly can. So, what are you going to do? You’re just going to engineer those clicks. I hate that shit. I honestly do. I understand it’s a game. I do. But if I watched like Mr. Beast videos, I find it impossible to enjoy them anymore because I know that I’m just like a toddler. And he’s determined to make me not look away. And it makes it really hard to enjoy them. And that’s, you know, that’s just attention to ethics and you know, building an audience taken to like the maximum level. So, this idea of monetizing your audience. I mean, it’s fair enough you’re building a business, you’re doing all these kinds of things, but it becomes it’s such a cost and it feels unwholesome. There are like these influences called Andre Jake and Graham Stefan and I was in the similar space doing defi and I you know, I used to see them talk about Bitcoin surpassing utter rubbish about this space and what it was about, and I used to call them out. But like these kinds of massive audiences, their CPM cost per million to advertise them, is massive because they you know, they’re there for influencers. So, a credit card company will pay a lot for another on their channel to reach their audience. Just like this is whole shit. I think they; Graham Stephens, probably earning like, seven, 8 million a year on AdSense and deals that he makes, she just paid it. So, my third pillar is what I call share the spoils. So, it’s like yeah, build an audience, monetize that audience. That’s the game. Okay. Well, what can we do to share those soils with our community? Like NSC is not the perfect solution to that, but they open up a dialogue with the community in a way that will start to help to make that possible. You know, there’s this concept of full time a fan that I’m really excited about, which is if someone really loves your content, and they’re willing to go to bat for you. Like, share it, spread the word, maybe contribute ideas, then that could be considered a job and if it’s a job then they get paid for it. Isn’t that weird? Like web three goes, no, that’s not weird, we can do that. And then they spit out a token and you go; I don’t want a token. I want a token. This guy again will cut off my balls if I have a token. So, what’s the option? The answer is we don’t know at this point. There is no regulatory clarity and that’s the problem. So, until we have that, we won’t know how to do a sensible token model for this. So, we had to figure out other ways of doing it. And one of the things that we looked at before we even launched was, creating a wallet that we had no control over, giving it to a Dao and all the AdSense revenue or the click base revenue that we’ve made. Because that’s what AdSense revenue is and you can call it whatever you want, but it’s that, it’s performance related pay, and it should be a bonus to everything else you’re doing. We convert that USDC, give it to this wallet, walk away. But we can’t do that. As simple as that might sound, it just ends up then being a sales pitch for a product based on the work that you do, and not the work that someone else does. And so, we have to think of ways for our community to do work and be rewarded for it. Rather than them just getting a share of what we do, because we run afoul of securities laws, which we don’t need at this point. So, you know, we’re looking different ways to do that. And obviously, there are perks that come with it. You know, we will have content that only token holders can access. We will have exclusive drops, like when we do fries, there’ll be a drop for that, physical drop as well as a digital drop, and there’ll be benefits to token holders. But one of the things we actually are doing and trying to integrate as much as possible is, having token holders be part of the show. Because we in the metaverse you want them to show up and what we want is for our base ads to be a mob, that show up on mass in areas that we designate and say right basically here, now it’s a party. So, we’re training them in how to use VR chat and turn up and be part of it with us. They when I ran an ultra-marathon in the various Metaverse last weekend, there were like six people that ran with me. I say ran but there was pushing forward on their joysticks for six hours, more 7, 8. One of them ran me the whole time. She literally couldn’t move her thumb the next day. That is wild but that’s, you know, that made it all worthwhile because we prove the point. We didn’t just put on an event; I didn’t just run in a digital game. It was the actual act of being socially present with other people while suffering my ass off. That was really meaningful. So, I think for me having the ability to bring other people in, bring community members into a game. So, we do like a Mr. Beast type game where you know, it’s the first to let go of an object. So, the last leg of an object wins 10 grand or something. We’ll be building those in the metaverse, and they’ll only be accessible for holders of the NFT. So, you know, the core audience. So, all sorts of things like that.

The Concept of Full-Time Fans

I’m curious, this concept of the full-time fan. So, first time I hear about this keyword, the full-time fan and it actually makes a lot of sense. I feel like there’s other analogies that people use in web three that kind of allude to this idea of shared ownership and aligned incentives. My question to you though is, do fans want that because it seems as if like they’re doing just fine, and showing up to the Mr. Beast small impacts without having any sort of rev share with them or maybe the slight chance to win a million dollars from Mr. Beast in the rare scenario, they have been up on his video, right? And he’s an outlier, but this concept of the full-time fan, do fans want that and why?

Robin Schmidt: I think if you offered it to them. If you said to Mr. Beast’s fans, you can be a full time fan, they would jump at it. Because most people who say they want to be a YouTuber lack the talent or the persistence or the creativity to pull that off. Let’s be honest, they can do it. You know, they can find an audience but to get to that scale, because that’s really what they want. They want to be at that scale and be that successful. I think they really struggle, so having a chance to be part of a successful creator’s life, endeavors, be part of that. I think they would. Yeah. 100%. So, it’s not my job to persuade other creators that this is a meaningful path forward. All I can do is advocate for a more holistic version of this relationship, because any creator of any size will talk about the para social relationship, which is your audience thinks they know you. They think they are close to you. They think they have a window into the secrets of your life, because you choose to share so much with them. And that relationship is very much one sided. But for the audience, they genuinely feel that way. I’ve had this thing where people come up to me, and they will be specific and like, I don’t know you, but they feel like they know you because they’ve spent so much time listening to talk about stuff. Right? And the thing they say is, you’re a bit taller than I thought you were. You be sure, she couldn’t see the guys are bankers then, remember we tall here. So yeah, so that relationship is it’s definitely, I think it’s 100% the case. But it’s very difficult to pull it off. It’s very difficult to make it worse. You have to run experiments. I didn’t come up with this by the way. It’s called Blake Robins. You can check them out on Twitter, Blake IR, he’s one of those guys. It’s just like, you know when people are just like they’ve got it. This made it, they did it. He is a principal at benchmark. He’s an investor. He’s like 23 or something, sickening, horrifying how successful he’s been, but what one of the things he did, I’ve got the wrong Blake. But yeah, he’s the guy that invested in 100 Thieves and became obsessed with eSports and just nailed it. And he started writing about this during the pandemic and because obviously everyone was writing tons of threads during the pandemic because that’s all they could do. But he was specifically talking about how NFTs might be able to empower that, like social tokens might be able to empower them. Personally, I hate social tokens as a concept. I won’t touch them, don’t want to go there. But there’s definitely a mechanism by which this might be able to play out. And so, all we’re trying to do is, work with the community that we have to try and figure that out in real time. And being as blatantly honest as we can about that, as well. 

Defining “Great Content Worth Collecting”

if there’s one community that comes to mind or one person that comes to mind that fits into the context of season sevens theme of creating content that’s worth collecting. You’re like the first person that pops up in my head, from the content that you created on The Define and all the creativity and energy that you put into actually constructing these videos. It’s mad, it’s content that’s worth collecting. When you hear that phrase, what do you think about that? Because I think we’re getting into this new primitive of web three media, with tokens enabling so much more, that we actually couldn’t have in sort of like traditional industries. So, when you think of that phrase, great content worth collecting, what comes to your mind?

Robin Schmidt: I hope that’s what we’re doing. That’s what I’ve been trying to get to, like I make compilation tapes, we used to make compilation tapes of The Define of all the funny little bits that were just kind of scattered throughout the videos. Because we’d often just insert a joke for no apparent reason and spend like three hours shooting it, when we only had an hour because we wanted them to be like memorable moments. Video is this kind of throwaway thing and like digital art has like a GIF, or an X copy GIF, somehow more artistic value and artistic merit than the short form stuff that I’ve made. And I kind of always find that a bit weird. I know whatever so what we did in the same light, so you’re likely the first person who’s ever said that to me, and it’s kind of nice to hear it. But I hope that we have, we’re able to make stuff is worth collecting. We’re certainly trying to build out a type of performance art that is 360 and is weird like, like again running the ultra-marathon, that was a piece of performance art. Obviously, it was a nine-hour livestream, and it was mad as tats, but it was you know, it was the thing. Is trying to create an image of yourself or a legend of yourself that transcends and that is worth collecting, 100%. If you told me, for instance that I could gain access to Nick Wilding reference notebook, or his sketches for drive, the film, I’d be all over that. Like I have the jacket from Drive. It’s this gold Scorpion drivers jacket quilted. I wear it without shame in public and people go; I love your jacket, where’d you get it? So, what it’s actually from this film, it’s from Drive by Nick Wilding, Raven. So, but anyway, I’m a cinephile. I love their shits. So, what I’m trying to do is become the wilding ref and who’s an obscure director. There you go.

Outro

All right. I’m excited for your journey. I’m excited to see all that base media has in store. Robin, before, I let you go, and we wrap up the interview. Where can we learn more about what you’re working at? What should we look forward to in the coming months? Show it away.

Robin Schmidt: So, we call ourselves a metaverse content monster. As a big promise, it demands, it is a lot of content. So, it’s a three-prong strategy, right? So, we’re doing live streams, long form YouTube content, and short form vertical. So those three prongs are basically what they call the triple threat and the content itself will be arranged around. Firstly, big stun ideas hooked into and connected to the metaverse, but not always necessarily set in the metaverse. But think, like Mr. Beast from like three years ago, because no one can compete with his scale right now. But I think three years ago, we can gather so big cash giveaways, big kind of crazy challenges, that kind of thing. And then my own unique brand of storytelling around that, that’s the long form. So, that’ll be a really juicy like alternative to Netflix for you. The kind of thing you should tune in using your TV’s built in YouTube app. Like sit down, watch it, enjoy it, we’re gonna blow your mind with what we came up with. Then, we’ll have these vertical videos, so we’re developing vertical formats, but we’ll also do like sidebars, which would be like for running a marathon metaverse. How do we do it? Like how do you run in VR? So, we can do a little feature on the machine itself, teach a little bit. There are concepts in the metaverse coming up all the time. We’ll do a little short form videos about that. And we’ll probably have some news as well. Probably quite soon, because there’s always stuff to talk about the metaverse, I think people are interested. So more regular short form. And then like I said formats, so one of the ones we want to do is called metaverse mansions. Is basically cribs, and we’ll just go through and rip the shit out of people’s metaverse bills, and you spent 200 grand on these bollocks. There’s anyone there, do you use it? You’re an idiot. It’ll be along those lines. And then the live streams will be, there’s definitely going to be some gaming in there because like there is some okay guy’s games that we need to live stream, to figure that out. Or like, you know, the marathon event was a nine-hour live stream, that was nuts, with lots of entertainments thrown in as well. So that’s the kind of Triple Threat, metaverse themes, which is like a niche, which is the biggest niche of all time, because it covers everything, which is why I love it so much. It’s like, you know, everyone treats it like this tiny little subcategory, but actually, it’s the big category of everything. So, from an advertising perspective or brand integration perspective, that’s exciting. So, sort of partnerships there to be had. And just like make a ton of really entertaining videos, basically.

All right. I’m excited for you. I’m rooting for you. We’re gonna have to do a check in soon sometime. 

Robin Schmidt: For sure. You’re going to treat your class of season seven with respect. 

Yes, yes, absolutely. But until then, I wish you the best. Thank you for being on season seven, and I will see you next time.

Robin Schmidt: Thank you much for having me.

Categories
Podcast Transcript

How PplPleasr Uses NFTs to Supercharge the Art of Storytelling

Background

Mint Season 7 Episode 8 welcomes PplPleasr, the talented digital artist and founder of Shibuya. She shares with us the story behind her fan club creation PleasrDAO, her involvement in Hollywood films, and her insights into the animation industry. We delve into the creative process at Shibuya, how they handle creative differences, and the exciting impact of NFTs and blockchain on the world of animation. You won’t want to miss PplPleasr’s thoughts on great storytelling and how to boost your creativity. It’s a must-listen for anyone in the creative field.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 04:51 – Fan Club Creation and Brand Use
  • 06:51 – Involvement in Hollywood Films
  • 10:26 – How Do You Define Your Work?
  • 13:15 – Shibuya Team Size and Creative Process
  • 16:54 – Navigating Creative Direction Differences
  • 20:13 – Challenges in Running an Operation Like Shibuya
  • 23:17 – Impact of NFTs and Long-Form Animation on Visual Content
  • 25:38 – Impact of Blockchain on Funding and Distributing Independent Animation
  • 28:21 – The Potential of Financial Legos and OnChain Provenance in the Film Industry
  • 30:18 – Tailoring Better Experiences for Community
  • 34:53 – Elements of Great Storytelling
  • 37:06 – Emotions Triggered by PplPleasr’s Content
  • 40:32 – Weekly Practices to Enhance Creativity
  • 42:05 – White Rabbit is Published, What’s Next for Shibuya?
  • 44:46 – Outro

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Emily aka the infamous PplPleasr, welcome to Mint. How are you doing?

Pplpleasr: Hey, I’m good. How are you?

Intro

I’m feeling great, feeling alive. Excited to be sharing the next hour with you, talking about all things PplPleasr, art, Shibuya and everything in between. I think a good place to start, Emily is for those who don’t know you, and I’m not familiar with your awesome work. Who are you? What does the world need to know about you? Let’s start there. And then we’ll take it forward.

Pplpleasr: Sure. So I am a digital artist of sorts and I have been working in visual effects and the computer graphics animation industry for over six years before I started working in crypto. And my relationship with crypto, I think began in 2017, where I bought some ICO shit coins back in the day and rode the bull run all the way up and then, you know, when the bear market hit, I sort of went back to focusing on my regular career and then I essentially became unemployed during sort of, just before the pandemic. And then, so I was like unemployed for over a year and during this time, I was looking into alternate revenue streams. And then so that’s fine. I sort of dove into crypto again and then I was introduced to defi summer. And then, so I sort of PplPleasr brand within crypto started because I was making these little animations that helps promote defi protocols. And they were usually sort of my way to digest all the like white paper information that I was reading and then we get sort of presented in like a fun understandable way for a more wide audience, I guess. And then yeah, slowly. I you know, worked with pretty much every defi brand that there was. And then in 2021 I worked with Unisoft to make the v3 announcement and then that video went viral and then I auctioned it off as an NFT and then it sold for, I think 10 Eth. And a bunch of people there to bid on it and create a PleasrDAO. So yeah, that was sort of like the moment that kind of established. I could say maybe like my magnum focus in the NFT space. And then since then, you know, I’ve been doing always sort of anything that involves the intersection of like art, crypto, Daos and NFTs. So, for example, I see that you have to two of the Fortune Magazines.

Yeah. So, those character caricatures are like, this is like the perfect sort of resemblance of, to put words to an image. Yes.

Pplpleasr: Yeah. These are rare. Did you find them when they came? 

Yes. I went to the newsstand, and I picked them up.

Pplpleasr: Right. Yeah, so that was also 2021. And then I also you know, did other things within the NFT space like, you know, collaborations with Steve Aoki. We sold some ants on bees. And, you know, I’m trying to think of like the other stuff that I did. I also helped to crowdfund for the Ethereum of documentary. And then last year, I launched Shibuya, which is my sort of latest project, let’s say, you know, I still consider it a project but it’s basically a company now and it is a sort of platform that uses quite free technology and also, now AI where we help create tools for people or creators to easily be able to either fund their ideas or artistic tools to make you know, sort of representation of your ideas are creation of IP, even easier and faster. And the first IP that we’re working on, there is our own, which is sort of a passion project of mine. It’s called White Rabbit, and it’s an anime, short film that is similar to a Fortune magazine cover or I actually also did like about Taiwan cover last year as well. 

Oh Cool. 

Pplpleasr: All of my art is usually sort of depicting the current state of, it’s like subtle, right? It’s, you know, when you look at it, it could just be art, but you know, when you look at it, more than you understand, like the meaning behind it, and then. So that’s kind of what White Rabbit is, as well. It’s a metaphorical piece of depicting sort of everybody’s experience of going down the crypto rabbit hole. But obviously, if you’re not in the space and you don’t know how to look out for those Easter eggs and stuff, and you just watch it and it just regular, normal film to you. So yeah, that’s kind of the general theme of my art. And yeah.

Fan Club Creation and Brand Use

What does it feel like to have a bunch of cryptic girls and guys with a lot of money, create a fan club around your name, and start purchasing really cool things using your brand? What does that feel like?

Pplpleasr: It feels definitely surreal. I think I tried to explain this to somebody the other day was not in the space. Because they were like what’s PleasrDAO and I was like, well, it’s kind of like a company. But it’s not my company named after me. And it took a minute explaining that I was like, this sounds really ridiculous and sounds almost fake. Honestly. I think it’s just a testament that life is honestly so random. And you know, you can do as much as you want to sort of prepare, but you just genuinely never know what’s going to happen. Obviously, I’m just, it’s been like a nice community for me, just to actually make friends with a lot of really cool people, who are now still good friends in my life and learn a lot. And yeah, it’s funny because at the time that PleasrDAO was born, it was just guys, there was one girl and that was me. So, people often joke that it’s like the original simpDAO.

The original simp DAO. 

Pplpleasr: Now we have girls.

Amazing. So, when your parents ask, or when you try to explain to your parents what PleasrDAO is, it all the things that you’re doing in crypto on web three. How do you typically approach that conversation?

Pplpleasr: I typically don’t with my parents. Friends let’s say but with my specific parents, I think they are quite sort of up to date and open minded about a lot of things. So, they actually were around, you know, on day you’re gonna start thinking about when things are gonna happen. So, they’re pretty caught up. So, it’s not like I have to actually explain. I think even including Shibuya. They have a pretty good understanding of what it does and what it is what I’m doing. So that’s been really nice.

Involvement in Hollywood Films

Solid. And one thing you didn’t talk about your intro is your features in like Hollywood films and getting involved in like the cinematography in getting credits and these really big blockbuster films. Can you talk about that for a moment?

Pplpleasr: Sure. So, I was working in post-production, so you know, we were doing all things visual effects for big blockbuster films, such as, you know, Wonder Woman or Star Trek Beyond, Batman vs. Superman. I think the best movie I’ve ever worked on it’s called; this movie called the Emoji Movie. I’m totally joking. They literally won the Award from.

I remember that movie though.

Pplpleasr: Yeah. Do you know this YouTube channel called Honest Trailers? 

Yes. 

Pplpleasr: So, I obviously was a huge fan of that YouTube channel. And my name made it into the Honest Trailers of the Emoji Movie, because in the Honest Trailers, they were scrubbing through the credits really fast. And they were like, oh, we just want to say sorry to all the, you know, people who worked really hard on this film. Not for the mean comments we made about the movie, but for the lost years of your life, Jesus. But I consider that a special moment. You know, who cares about being on the cover of Fortune or Vogue?

That’s probably your most memorable W by far. By far, I’m curious how that sort of influenced your approach to creating digital art.

Pplpleasr: Well, I mean, I think it’s shaped it a lot. My story about that started when I was in college, when I was in my first year of college, I watched Mali for the first time, and then I sort of immediately fell in love with the movie. You know, the first half doesn’t even have dialogue, but that just goes to show sort of how powerful of a storytelling tool it was. And at the time, I thought what I wanted to do was animation because I have watched this amazing movie. And so I went online and Googled how to get a job at Pixar. And then I started learning 3d and all these tools. And then I think sort of like a few years into my career that I actually realized that all this time I don’t think it was about, ever about wanting to work on the next biggest Hollywood film or animation event. And that was more, my passion was actually around storytelling. And you know what I thought drew me in from Holly was the animation was actually you know, successful storytelling. So, it doesn’t matter if it’s live action or animated. I think I’m just, that’s just what I’m passionate about. And so, but I think the years working in that field, were absolutely necessary for me to learn the technical skills to be able to convey my thoughts, because, you know, I’m not like a film director. So, I’m not going to go out and shoot a live action film right now. I am an animator, but you know, sort of emotions and themes can be conveyed in so many different ways and my way of conveying it thus far has been animation. And I think, without technical skill, you can’t really target your ideas with precision, right? So, I think those years were super necessary for me to learn the skills and brush up on that before I started executing on my own creative ideas.

How Do You Define Your Work?

That makes that makes sense. And I guess as you execute more on your own ideas, do you think your work is more defined as familiar or something novel? How would you define it?

Pplpleasr: I think I like to juggle that line a lot. So and has to be somewhat novel but you know, novel enough that people find it interesting but and familiar enough, but not too familiar, so that people might think, you know, it’s been done before or there needs to be some level of familiarity for people to relate to it or you know, to understand it, but then it also has to have the right level of novelty. And with that, I think I usually have some pretty concrete ways of targeting that. So you know, I think a good measure is if people’s reactions to things I make, are kind of more on the what in the world that I just watched level then means that I did a good job making something somewhat novel.

Can you talk about that more in the context of White Rabbit because if you go to Shibuya website and the White Rabbit videos there, and I watched it, and it’s really beautifully done, so props to you in the team, and it feels familiar, yet novel. So, I’m trying to understand like in the context of that framing, how would you go and describe it and how would you approach the creation of that video using that framing?

Pplpleasr: Well, I think with White Rabbits specifically the familiarity comes from the sort of references and influence in art style that it uses, which, you know, we draw a lot of influence. I mean, I work with, you know, my co-founder, Matteo Kuchera. He’s an amazing artist and mainly the reason why White Rabbit looks so amazing, is you know, we draw a lot of reference from Studio Ghibli movies, and just you know, really old school 80s anime in general. I feel like modern anime has a very, very different look than that sort of any anime that came out in the 80s 90s era. And so that’s kind of the look that we target, so I feel like that’s where the familiarity comes from. But the novel part comes from the fact that, you know, it is a new age film. So, we are first of all making it about crypto or even a metaverse. And so you know, there’s a lot of like, glitching going on, but then you see sort of like these mystical creatures like a fox and you know, in these like, grassy nature backgrounds. But then there’s, you know, things that kind of kind of resemble, like a new age or like new technology, things that you know, also appear. So, it creates this very sort of paradoxical uncanny feeling when you’re watching it. And that’s something that I’m personally pretty interested in creating.

Shibuya Team Size and Creative Process

I watched it and I was really amazed with the quality. And from the music, all the background noises, the conversation, the dialogue, and I can’t help but wonder what actually goes into creating a video like that. And there’s so many moving parts. My first question is, how big is a team right now that went to contributing to the video? And the second question is like, what goes into actually creating a video like White Rabbit? How do you do that?

Pplpleasr: It’s quite similar to a traditional sort of pipeline for creating animation. We are currently I think, around about a team of 15 artists working on White Rabbit. And initially started the first chapter, like just the first minute or so, was actually literally just me and Mache, just the two of us creating that content. He literally made the music himself as well. And then after that, you know, we were able to put it on Shibuya and then we raised some capital from the sailed NFTs, should be able to then continue funding the development of the series, which is really cool. Because this is something that we didn’t have to pitch to Hollywood or wait for anybody to sort of greenlight the project, which usually takes years by the way if you were to go about it in a traditional way. So we were just kind of able to come out and be like we want to make this and we are making it and then the audience can not only participate but also interact with the series and just get a very close up and personal and invested experience of the creation of this film. And yeah, so the rest of it sort of involves Mache and I sitting down, thinking about, you know, the general, I would say rough skeleton of a story. Because it is interactive, and the audience are helping to shape specific details of the story. So, we kind of have a node graph of the main spine and then you know, it kind of like branches off into different possibilities. And then when the audience sort of decides on a path that we kind of zoom in, and then map out the details of that specific route. But if there’s a general theme, you know, it was talking about you know, themes of self-sovereignty, freedom of choice are, you know, freedom of choice, and building sort of your own types of governance and, you know, path to economic freedom, essentially. And a lot of it is also about, you know, with new types of technology, the outcome really depends on the intentions of people who use it. And so yeah, these are the general themes of the film. And after we write the story then the typical animation processes, we do a storyboard and then we you know, like hire animators were people to create the assets and then push us down the animation pipeline, that app after animation, we do FX and then waiting rendering and compositing. And then you know, score usually happens around the same time too. And for chapter two and chapter three, we were able to hire people to write the score. Chapter two was composed by super talented composer; his name is Gavin Verbeke. And Chapter Three was composed by, actually also our screenwriter, Anthony Scott burns. He’s also Canadian filmmaker, super counting, but renaissance man. So, it’s nice because I feel like with each new chapter, we can have maybe a slightly different style of composer and musician come in and add their own flavor to it, but it still has this overall theme or I guess some vibe that White Rabbit has.

Navigating Creative Direction Differences

As a collector myself, I can’t help but wonder how fun it could be to actually contribute to a project like White Rabbit and help dictate the plot and direction in which things go. And I tried to put myself in your shoes and in your partner’s shoes and try to think wow, you guys are your own creative individuals with your own ideas, with your own vision as to how you see things forming. There must be a clash between the collector’s opinion and you and your partner’s creative direction. And my question is one, like does that happen often? And how do you navigate situations like those?

Pplpleasr: I think we’ve been pretty careful about the way that we put out our content and, you know, have our community engaged. And I think something that we’ve been actually pretty lucky with so far is that the taste of the community or the collectors is actually pretty high, in my opinion. And so there’s a good balance between their tastes versus their trust in me and Mache sort of decision making. Because actually a lot of times what you’ll learn is that even those collectors or the community, they don’t actually want to be dictating everything within creation of a film. It has to be the right balance. I think most of them actually prefer to be spoon fed contents, with just a little sprinkle of their opinions. And so that’s kind of the way that we’ve been going about it with White Rabbit. And that way, you know, people feel like they are taking part and they are participating without actually draining too much of their time and resources into something that they are not professionally trained to do. Right. So, I think a good case study or example of this is, you know, sometimes things are just so obvious that, you know, had you just asked the audience first or did something that’s directly community, you would have saved a lot of money. So, let’s take, I don’t know if you’ve ever, if you remember, the Sonic the Hedgehog movie that came out a few years ago. When it first came out, I think the first trailer or something, the way that Sonic was designed was honestly horrendous. so terribly ugly, and I think, I don’t know who at what level studio actually decided to make it look like that, but you know, obviously, when the trailer came out, the audience were like, what is this design? This is terrible, we hate this. And then so, they actually literally took the audience’s opinion and then went back and redesigned Sonic Hedgehog and then when the second trailer came out, he looked completely different from the first trailer and money from the studio that made this and you know, all of this could have been avoided. Because I feel like currently in the traditional Hollywood system, movies are made in sort of like a black box within Hollywood. And then after everything is done, then they bring it out to the audience. They’re like, what do you guys think? And so, we’re kinda like challenging that form of thinking and you know, what would happen if even early on you’re able to already engage viewers and sort of see what they think? I mean, they kind of do this on a smaller scale Hollywood, they have test screenings for small audiences, but you know, what if you could do this at scale, you know, what is actually the downside of just opening up the creation process, even if just transparently and not, you know, on a governance level to the audience, I feel like it would change a lot.

Challenges in Running an Operation Like Shibuya

Part of challenging the status quo using NFTs, I feel like comes with a lot of challenges, right? It’s a very play on words over there. And I’m trying to understand from a Storyteller’s point of view, from someone with your level of background, what are the various challenges that come with running an operation, like you and your partner are running? And because I feel like it’s just not normal, like you said to traditional Hollywood, and it’s a new concept, it’s a new primitive. We’ve been talking about integrating our, integrating our collectors in our creative endeavors for the longest time, and I think you’re doing it in a very, like well-respected and cohesive manner. What are the challenges that come with doing that?

Pplpleasr: I think the first challenge always is trying to get people to understand the concept in general, I think explaining Shibuya has never been sort of and we’re working towards it being something that we can explain within 30 seconds and have people understand it immediately. Thankfully, though, I think the product itself is pretty self-explanatory. So, letting people use it as often a more clearer and faster path of understanding as opposed to, you know, sort of explaining it and worth, let’s say. But other challenges, I think there’s always going to be challenges when you’re challenging so many people, when you’re challenging anything of status quo. And there’s going to be a lot of, you know, sort of raised eyebrows and skepticism that goes with it. And so, I think, to overcome that, you just have to really believe in what you’re building, and I do believe in what we’re building. And honestly, if it’s not us, who’s building it, somebody else is going to go into and people are going to realize sort of why this is important. Especially somebody from like myself who’s coming from a creative background. You understand how many, honestly how many creative decisions, especially working in Hollywood as well. How many creative decisions literally die in the hands of producers or people are not creative people making decisions on a creative project? Or how many, you know, sort of decisions are decided by sponsorships, you know, with like a financial incentive in mind and, you know, sort of. And I think that’s why instead of getting a lot of really new and novel original IPs, nowadays, we’re just seeing Ant Man 42 or, you know, Black Panther 13. This is kind of what happens when you sort of get into the cycle of monopolized gatekeeping, Hollywood big budget sponsorship cycle. And yeah, I think, you know, it’s that can always exist and there’s always gonna be a market for it, but I also feel like caliber just more and more lacking for resources for independent creators who have good ideas and want to be able to not wait three years for somebody to greenlight their idea to be able to put it out. And that’s really what Shibuya is all about, you know, we’re starting with that to show people that it is possible and it is happening and people who watch it, genuinely enjoy it. So yeah, we’ll see where it goes.

Impact of NFTs and Long-Form Animation on Visual Content

I think it’s going and headed in the right direction. And part of the reason, Emily, I wanted to have you part of season seven is because, the theme or the tagline is all about creating content that’s worth collecting. And a big part of that is understanding storytelling. And you seem to have a great knack at storytelling. And I’m curious, my next question for you is like how do you think the use of NFTs, and long form animation will change the way we consume and interact with visual content? So, you brought one example of being able to vote on specific scenes. Are there any other examples that make it enticing for a viewer to collect a part of White Rabbit for example?

Pplpleasr: Yeah, I mean, something else that we built, which we already published between chapter two and chapter three was, for example, we did the azuki casting, so anybody who had an azuki could submit their azuki for casting and then you know, anybody who’s a participant in White Rabbit, or azuki, can use on chain governance voting to vote for their favorite contestant. And then the winning one got a cameo character in chapter three and so other things that we are actively building and experimenting with is sort of this idea of customized viewing experience. So, you know, when and sort of like an on-chain world when you connect your wallet, your everything. That’s the whole point of the blockchain is that there is providence and this sort of collection of data of everything that’s like happened. So when you’re thinking about what are the possibilities in the future when you know, just by connecting your wallet, you can see this person’s viewership history or you know, what films they participated in, and it’s super useful for case making, for example, and you know, it’s like, I only want people who like, you know, movies that are good or you know, I only want people who like a certain type of movie. This is all something that could be useful. And then I think, you know, sort of like that things that are coming are for example, using AI can now create the same animation at different visual style. And then so imagine a future where based on your sort of past history, and then you’re connecting your wallet, then you’re seeing the same animation but in a different style than another person. These are sort of all concepts that, you know, haven’t been explored before, weren’t possible in a pre-sort of on chain interactive experience.

Impact of Blockchain on Funding and Distributing Independent Animation

That makes a lot of sense. So, on the topic of, I guess, funding, and being able to provide capital to early ideas and in fund a team, you know, to help produce whatever creative endeavors they want to go on. I’m curious how you think blockchain tech will sort of impact the way we fund and distribute independent animation projects in the future. I feel like we’re at the very beginning of that question, where does that, what does that look like down the line?

Pplpleasr: I mean, I wish I had a crystal ball, and I could tell you.

Where’s your crystal ball, Emily? Bring it out.

Pplpleasr: Everybody is trying to figure out in tandem right, and it can only come with experimentation and trial and error. But the most obvious point being the efficiency of just raising capital on the blockchain versus going you know, a traditional route from signing documents to legal wires to our bank transfers, etc. And so, using that as a starting point, I think it’s, you know, similar to the maybe a kick starter model, but why I personally found the kick starter model. less interesting is because I feel like what happens is people just sort of put in contribute some money, and they get a water bottle on three years to see if something happens or not. But so, this is kind of why should be exists because I was like, what if you can actually make it more interactive? And so, people will feel sort of more invested. And, you know, just have a higher relationship with the actual media itself. And you are finding that people are doing that. And then, you know, on top of that, you can do things like token gate discussions, or, you know, I always talk about this concept of, you know, let’s say hypothetically, and an idealized fully on chain future. Let’s say you’re a Star Wars fan. And, you know, there’s currently in a web two, there’s, let’s say, discussions going on Reddit, and then there’s 4chan or other forums, but they’re all completely separate sites, right. But in the future, you have some kind of system where there’s like engagement tokens are something that exist on chain, then you can you know, sort of already just with the click of a button source all of the biggest Star Wars fans were, you know, and then as a Star Wars fan, I can go on any different website and immediately they know that I am a Star Wars fan and what I have sort of commented or contributed in the past, and I feel like these are super important. And you know, then you can extend this same idea to sites like rotten tomatoes or IMDB, and all that you’re here on imagining of what that kind of future looks like.

The Potential of Financial Legos and OnChain Provenance in the Film Industry

It’s just endless. It’s just everything’s building, everything is building on top of one another. It’s like very much to the defi setting of like a defi Legos, right or financial Legos, of every protocol application, sort of like building on top of each other and what they built prior. It feels very much like that. And we’ve never really seen that at scale just yet, let alone like I’ve never really been able to contribute to let’s say, like a movie like Avatar, after it’s been in MIT for like, seven, 7, 10 years, something like that, you know, until when the first one came out. Second one just came out. I loved it. I went to go see it. And I feel like my experience with a project that actually contributed to it, had a saying in its creative direction, and also had some sort of financial upside in it to but completely alter the way I feel about the brand and feel about the creative animation and everything in between. I’m curious to understand what that looks like down the line at scale. Like we will be going to AMC and are the early contributors having exclusive showings for the first week or two weeks you know, before the rest of the public can kind of view it. And at what scale do you need to get for franchise to be at that level of operation? You can tell I’m thinking very big picture here. 

Pplpleasr: Yeah. I mean, these are really good questions. And I hope we do get there because I actually feel like it would just make the whole sort of viewing experience that much better. I mean, imagine being. Right now, let’s say. I feel like white lotus for example, when we started getting popular from the second season, but as somebody who started watching it from the first season, I want to be able to flex on that. But currently other than just telling people you know, there was no really actual way to prove it. But obviously with on chain provenance, that all changes. And yeah, so then when you extend further, what does that actually mean? Not only flexing to your friends, but when you’re a movie distributor or something and being able to get that data provide customized experience for that specific therapy ball, as a whole other Pandora’s box that should be opened.

Tailoring Better Experiences for Community  

So, I now think about like nouns Dao. And I think about the proposals that community members sort of push to get funding for. And I think about the dynamic when a proposal is very split down the middle of yes and no. And I’m trying to think how would that affect, sort of like the experience of a viewer when they’re trying to put their creative input into a specific like side tunnel, you know, like a side branch of a series, and half of the communities for it and half of the community is against it and ends up getting passed and everybody that wasn’t for it is like bummed out. Like that could probably alter the way they enjoy the film as well. How do you company and tailor a better experience or great experience for those who are sort of like let down by the community?  And I don’t want to say let down, but I think you know where I’m going with this.

Pplpleasr: Yeah, I think this is always a tough one. There’s always going to be people who are let down and I think that’s, but that’s, it’s not a bad thing. You know, I think I should take it as constructive criticism, then you can always know where to sort of, you know, steer your ship based on feedback that is coming from the community. And I think just beyond what we’re talking about in life as a general you just have to accept. It’s always going to be people who are let down and I feel like as a creator. I think I’ve started to sort of more embrace like if I feel good about it, and that’s sort of the most. And there are times to where things are initially left out and then way later the value is discovered or things like that. So yeah, to me, at least, this is something that’s elastic and not just, you know, black and white where now and then it’s always going to be that way.

So, in crypto the stakes are high because you have financial upside sort of like the production the success of the film. I wonder if there’s a scenario where those who don’t like it and ended up not going their way, they fork the movie, and they complete their own like rendition of what that chapter could look and feel like and then you publish both versions. You show the world this was the one that wasn’t worked for. This is the one that kind of like went and everybody continued with that line. Could that be a thing?

Pplpleasr: Absolutely. And, you know, I think that’s the beauty of decentralized or, you know, the concept of a community coming together, or community created IP, right? I do think though there usually still always needs to be sort of lead creative persons, kind of guiding the community because if you leave completely up to your community to make something, it’s either just never gonna get done or it’s not nearly that.

I think a lot a, sort of what needs to happen for this big picture vision to prevail, is for more people around the world to become more crypto native and intact with crypto culture, because all these scenarios and what if so, I’m very much throwing it from the perspective of someone who’s been in this space for a long time who understands crypto culture, and typically when you don’t like something, you fork it, you know, and a lot of people are not really wired like that. But I feel like as you come into the crypto community, you start embracing those values. And that’s definitely a plausible solution that a community or sub community could kind of go and pursue on their own. 

Pplpleasr: For sure. I will say though, the one caveat is that I’m sure it’s much easier to fork a code or product as opposed to forking media. So, you know, when you look at any specific film, or you know, TV series, it’s actually really fascinating. It’s honestly kind of like, I was reading the Wikipedia page of the film, Joker. And honestly, like I find movies fascinating because every movie is kind of like a mini company that just kind of gets built on the spot and then everybody comes together and you know from different expertise and contribute all these skills, and then they kind of eventually disband and then throw it out into the world and it doesn’t belong to them anymore. And then this company, let’s say sort of dissolves. And I find that super interesting and there’s so many aspects that come into creating a piece of film that it’s so hard to make, right? That it would be extremely difficult, I think for anybody to just fork a piece of IP or film and have it be good. And that’s why you know, I think things like directors and composers are so important and ones that are talented, get so much recognition because without them, that same source material is just not the same watching experience.

Elements of Great Storytelling

I’m curious, Emily, what goes into great storytelling.

Pplpleasr: I actually with age well, I think a lot of it has to do with being a sponge from a young age. So you have to consume a lot of content of all kinds and then I think having sort of a sensitivity to understanding human psychology and why people find things interesting is important and being able to dissect, not only being able to identify that but then being able to dissect that. And then extract the elements that you need, and then put it into your own body of work as another skill set. And then beyond that, I think there’s just a certain level of intuitiveness that I think a lot of people are just either you’re born with it, or you just don’t have it. That I think is sort of has been, I think something that has guided me, and I think, sounds arrogant to say.

Can you give me an example that intuitiveness that you’re talking about?

Pplpleasr: I think it’s like when I, so for example if I’m like, let’s take the Unisaw p3 video, for example. It’s like every artist who’s worked on it, including the composer are super talented and you know, I could never do what they did, you know, at that skill level myself. But I had to be the person to sort of tell them this is the, it’s all about feelings like you just have to be a really feeling person. You have to be like, this is the feeling that people should have when you know and then sort of knowing how to then describe that or, you know, with different, let’s say with arts, music, you have to understand like, I would say okay, well towards the end we need, you know, sort of like an increasing arpeggiator instead of a decreasing one. That will, you know, be the difference of how somebody feels towards this. And then with you know, visual medium, it’s like, understanding that different colors make people feel a certain way. And that still sort of being able to be a composer all these different elements in your head and then being able to articulate that in a vocal manner to the people who have the skill set or working on it.

Emotions Triggered by PplPleasr’s Content

What emotions do you find yourself often triggering in a human and a person when they consume your content? Is there a common theme that comes to mind?

Pplpleasr: I think I mainly have two hacks. So one is, you know, when you dissect a meme, what makes a meme go viral? It’s usually something that has an element of humor, and also a icon like a WTF factor or something, which is what I was talking about when people watch it, they’re like, the fuck did I just watched. I don’t know why I can’t explain it. But that emotion is what makes people watch something and then be like, I want to send it to my friend. I don’t know maybe because they need their friends to validate. I thought this was weird. Can you also validate that it was weird or maybe you can explain to me something I didn’t understand. So those are, that’s like one hack or one path to go about it. The other hacks that I have are usually things that are psychedelic or tricky always gets people. And then things that contribute to that are sort of the synchronization of audio and visual components. Without fail, if you sing something beautifully, you know what the beat that has a visual cue. People will just automatically say cool.

There’s so much depth into really understanding what goes into that.   

Pplpleasr: And those are actually just surface levels and then when we’re talking. 

Oh, really? Okay, yeah, so wait, let me stretch really quick. Let’s go deeper really quick. Okay.

Pplpleasr: We need deeper ones. I think it comes down ties into things like psychology or understanding human emotions or why people feel a certain way. And so, because, you know, human emotions are so complex that already usually people just, you know they feel something, but they have a hard time even putting words to what they are feeling. So, if you’re already having a hard time putting words. Imagine having to create a piece of media that then regurgitates that or recreate that feeling, but this is the beauty of filmmakers, or I would say even musicians as well, right. So, I remember when I watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for the first time in my life, that movie had so much feeling behind it and emotion, especially surrounding heartbreak. And I watched that movie for the first time. I had never even experienced heartbreak before, but because that movie portrayed is so well or so beautifully. It made me curious about heartbreak but be careful what you wish for. That will be not a desirable feeling. I think fantasizing about it as one thing and then actually experiencing it. But I was just thinking that Michel Gondry, the director, he could never have created something like that without really experiencing that himself. And then so for myself, as well, you know, really experiencing and feeling those emotions of heartbreak really changed my outlook on a lot of things and made me have a newfound level of respect. And this is the deeper level that I’m talking about. And you know, so I haven’t gotten there, but my goal or my ultimate, I’d say, maybe my purpose in life is I hope that I can get to a point where these emotions that I felt are not wasted, and that I can somehow repurpose that pain that I went through in an artistic way, so that it becomes useful or relatable for somebody who’s watching it like it was for me.

Weekly Practices to Enhance Creativity

From one creative to another, I’ve been playing the drums for the longest time, and you build skill through repetition and practice. And the next question I want to ask you is like, what does your routine look like for practicing creativity? Is that even a thing? Like create, like practice, like you can practice the skill of animation and using software to create animation but is there anything beyond that that you can consistently do on a daily basis, on a weekly basis to get better at being creative?

Pplpleasr: Drugs.

Next question.

Pplpleasr: Aside, I think it’s a combination of just being really observant, because creativity, even though things can be original. It’s always sort of a re iteration or repurposing of something that already exists, and it just combines in a new sort of way. Like a different combination. And then something new was born. And so, I often feel like creativity is like that. So, without the building blocks, which is being observant of the real world, including nature, media, anything that can happen. You can’t have that creativity. So, I would say that’s the only sort of thing that you can practice is just to be really observant and present all the time of what’s actually happening in the world. And also, you know, like studying emotions, sort of really just tuning into how you feel, how the world feels, how everything is feeling, it’s all about feelings.

White Rabbit is Published, What’s Next for Shibuya?

Okay. I would love to just do an experiment myself offline of what that really entails. Maybe we can chat off like because being creative is a very hard skill, especially with AI coming out, right? And you have all these ways to write long form blog posts through just a few sentences, feeding the algorithm something right, and those who can really innovate through creativity. Really feel like have an edge, and they know how to produce really, really compelling content that in the case of Season Seven is worth collecting. Right? So, I’m going to try to practice that offline and I’ll let you know how that goes using what you said. So, throughout this entire conversation, Emily, we talked about Hollywood at large. We talked about your journey. We talked about Shibuya; we talked about White Rabbit. The next thing I want to ask you is sort of like what comes next for Shibuya. So, you published White Rabbit, right? A really, really compelling video. What’s next in the works? You said it’s the next couple chapters that you guys are working on? What can we expect?

Pplpleasr: Well, I won’t spoil too much but White Rabbit will have seven chapters total. So, you know first being to finish my rabbit. There’s going to be AI involved in the Fourth Chapter. And, you know, sort of on a meta general story theme, there’s the story will hit sort of like a climax point, that I think will almost, I want to see like break the fourth wall for you as a viewer, but I can’t say anything more than that. So yeah, that’s to White Rabbit and unfortunately, we are in general, we are in the process of onboarding, new IP. We are going to announce one very soon. I don’t know when this podcast is coming out, but.

It’s coming out Tuesday.

Pplpleasr: Okay. I mean, I can probably just say it but, so we’re launching a new IP for the first time on Shibuya other than the replicant X. Stop motion animation from Steve Aoki and Seth Green studio. And it’s really cool and then so they’re going to have a different way of interactivity with that IP. And it’s going to be kind of like Mad Libs style. So totally different from White Rabbit, and it’s a stop motion animation, different style. So that’s pretty exciting. And that’s the one IP that I can talk about, currently. But yes, we are in the process of onboarding more IPS as well. As in tandem building all of these tools, that prepare future creators to people to easier facilitate their ideas and make them reality.

Outro

Above it. I’m excited to watch Shibuya’s work as it progresses over the next year, the next couple of years. Emily, before we wrap up and I let you go, where can we find you? Where can we learn more about Shibuya and everything in between?

Pplpleasr: You can learn about Shibuya on our website. It’s called, it’s Shibuya.XYZ. And I encourage everybody to just go watch White Rabbits. And you know, especially if you’re somebody who is in the crypto space, see how many easter eggs you can spot, where if you can sort of pick up on the messages or you know, sort of subtle themes that are going on here just through the dialogue. And then for myself, you can find me on Instagram, it’s just PplPleasr, it’s spelt really weird. It’s pplpleasr on Twitter because by the time I got Twitter PplPleasr was already taken. So, I am asked on Twitter but funny person who I think was squatting the username before later, I think got tagged in a bunch of because the Unisaw NFT I donated all of it to charity and then they were getting tagged and all the charity tweets. And then so I think I remember bursting with DM, they were saying oh my god I realized that must be really good person because so I’m just gonna give you this handle for free. And then she’s so nice and all sounds but also by the time this was happening, I think everybody had already gotten used to me being a PplPleasr one on Twitter. And so now I have to redirect the PplPleasr one.

Nice. Well, I’m glad we had this discussion. Thank you for sharing your time. We’ll have to do a check in sometime soon, as these next few videos are allowed, but until then wishing you well. And I’ll see you next time. 

Pplpleasr: Thank you so much.

Categories
Podcast Transcript

Decoding the Intersection of Skating and DAOs with Gami of GnarsDAO

Background

Mint Season 7 Episode 7 explores the fascinating intersection of skateboarding culture and the world of crypto as we welcome Gami, the founder of GnarsDAO. Gami shares his personal journey of discovering crypto, and how his experiences with psychedelics have shaped his personal principles and values. He also delves into the workings of GnarsDAO, its decision-making process, and the potential for growth with more resources.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 04:27 – Similarities and Differences in Skateboarding Culture and the World Of Crypto
  • 08:20 – Being Featured On the Front Cover of a Magazine
  • 11:59 – Personal Journey of Discovering Crypto
  • 16:08 – Experiences With Psychedelic Journeys
  • 18:34 – Personal Principles and Values Developed Through Psychedelic Experiences
  • 24:31 – Initial Goals Getting into Nouns
  • 26:46 – How the World Appears Through the Lens of Nouns Glasses
  • 32:06 – One Thing That Could Be Changed About Gnars in its Current State
  • 35:00 – How Decision-Making in NounsDAO Aligns With Personal Beliefs and Values
  • 37:19 – What Nouns Does Well and Potential for Amplification With More Resources
  • 39:54 – Cultural Contribution
  • 50:25 – The Future of GnarsDAO
  • 56:38 – Expression Sessions And Creating Content Worth Collecting
  • 58:12 – Outro

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Gami, AKA Gami Nagles, welcome to the podcast season seven. Thanks for being on, man. What’s going on.

Gami: Hey, Adam, I’m doing well. Thanks for having me. I’ve been looking forward to this one for a long time.

Intro

I’m super excited to have you on, probably one of the episodes that I was looking forward to the most in the in the season, simply because of all the chaos and commotion you guys have caused around the Nouns brand across crypto Twitter. But I won’t do the reveal, I would love for you to introduce yourself. Who are you, Gami? What does the world need to know about you? We’ll start there and then we’ll work our way forward.

Gami: For sure. Yeah, I’m Gami, I’m from GnarsDao, the founder of GnarsDao and a couple of other things. For the Americans Listening. It’s Gnars like n-a-r-s, not Nas the rapper, so just an accent. But yeah, I’m a builder in the space, been in crypto since 2016, full time since 2017, and just one of the most Nouns-pilled people on the planet.

That’s for sure. I would definitely say that you’re one of the biggest proponents for Gnars that I’ve seen outside of the co-creators themselves. I think a good place to start, Gami, if you’ve really centered your entire life online around Nouns and the Nouns ecosystem. Beyond the financial incentive that comes with owning a Nouns and participating in the community, why are you so aligned with the Nouns vision, the Nouns brand and everything that’s sort of you do for the community?

Gami: Yeah, I guess there’s a bit of a technical reason that’s probably worth bringing up and it’s, in all the years that have been in crypto, which is sort of six or seven years every day, just full on barrage of information, super ADHD. Nouns was just like a welcome change of pace, slowing down community building to, you know, one NFT per day was just a really refreshing change and then as I dug deeper, it’s just got everything that I needed to do what I want to do, and the people that it’s attracted are very much aligned with the things that I’m passionate about. So philosophical and technical reasons. But yeah, I’m just very Nouns-niche.

Okay, so walk me more through your passions because you’re very vocal about skateboarding. That’s a big, big part of who you and your brand. Any other passions? I’d love for you to list them out.

Gami: Yeah, the list of passions are huge. I’m one of these people that gets really obsessed with things and then like goes super deep and you know, at the expense of everything else in my life, probably. But yeah, I grew up in like a tiny little mining town. Two thousand people, so there was literally nothing to do and then at the end of primary school, we raised a bunch of money through the council initiative that was in place and we built a skatepark and it was life changing, like in terms of having something to do, connecting with people, having something to be excited about and like content to seek out at the town library when I’d go on the internet, downloading photos off dial up and ordering magazines, in from out of town. And at the same time, I was playing high level squash as a junior. So that’s a racquet sport in a court similar to tennis, but you hit a small rubber ball against the wall. And so, sports always been a big passion of mine. And in terms of like creative endeavors, skateboarding was kind of the perfect mash up of culture, sport, and just the general vibes of sort of going against the grain and wanting to make our own rules and express ourselves in different ways. So, skateboarding has definitely become a big part of my life and it’s very fitting that by the first skateboarding now, first skateboard head anyway.

Similarities and Differences in Skateboarding Culture and the World Of Crypto

I’m curious, how do you see the intersection of skateboarding culture and the world of crypto sort of overlapping? What are the similarities and even differences?

Gami: It’s a good question. The main thing that comes to mind is like this whole middle finger up mentality towards the establishment. This is something that you see in skateboarding throughout history. And it’s because I look at skateboarders as artists, and there are people who are expressing themselves in a very pure manner, they’re moving their body, they’re using the world around them, and they’re combining those things into like this incredibly beautiful to watch and technically amazing self-expression. And I think there’s a very similar vibe in crypto, where it’s people who are sort of on the fringe, maybe they don’t fit in with the normal sort of crowd and they end up gathering in these communities of people who share their sort of ethos about the world, whether that’s like, you know, hoping for a better way of doing things or it’s just specifically more about the technical side. There are always these analogies for skateboarding that makes sense, you know, right from going out with your friends and hitting a spot and persisting until you show your friends what you can do. Or even just appreciating the technicality of skateboarding around how this special design by Rodney Moen enabled hundreds of different tricks to be invented. And that’s just one other thing where there’s a close affinity with crypto, is this basically environment that’s just perfect for experimentation and pushing the boundaries.

On a scale of one to 10, where amateurs want in tennis professional where would you say you lie on the spectrum as a skateboarder?

Gami: 0.5 I know that’s under one.

So that tells me you embrace more the culture than the actual skill set, although I feel like you may be being humble here. Because in our pre interview questions, and we were just shooting the shit. You’re very down to earth. So, I don’t know what to believe here.

Gami: Yeah, I’m not like a superstar skateboarder. I’ve been on the cover of a magazine and on the poster of a magazine, local one in Australia. That was, it was probably more to do with my cultural contributions than my skill. But I used to race downhill and skate straight and park and I basically combined all of those into my own sort of discipline on a skateboard. I combined usual flip tricks and grinds with styles, like dancing and downhill racing. And to me it’s just like the perfect way to get around a city, because like no matter what obstacles in front of you, you can find a way around it or over it. And so, I’ve sort of used my passion for skating and my ability to bring people together to build communities. So, I guess in terms of 1 to 10, for skating, technically, probably to be honest, maybe around a four, because there’s some amazing skateboarders out there. But in terms of like my cultural, you know, appreciation and relevance, maybe more like a seven or an eight, but yeah. That’s not modesty that’s pretty high. 

Being Featured On the Front Cover of a Magazine

I’ll take it. I’ll take it. What was your cultural contribution that got you in the front cover of the magazine?

Gami: Yeah. So back in, I think 2010, 2011. I’d started a Facebook group, which was you know, I haven’t had Facebook in years. But it was basically a place where I’d gathered a bunch of the kids in my community. I was living in the city by that point. So, it’s a lot bigger than 2000 people mining town, but I’ve found that there are a lot of kids who were really passionate about the content, and then about creating content from their own skateboarding endeavors. And we gather these people into a Facebook group. It grew really quickly to 5000 people and then further. And we started hosting these huge events, where we would raise money for charity. And this huge flood hit the city that I was living in, and it destroyed like a bunch of homes, and you know, it was basically all over the national news for a good couple of weeks. And as a community, we basically did this flood relief event. And we raised a bunch of money and did a lot of good for the local skaters to show that you know, they’re not riffraff and troublemakers. And in the process, Downhill was really popular at the time. So, like my kind of skating was pretty cool in the eyes of the kids, which was cool for me, because I never really fit in at like the skate park with the purely technical or pool skaters. So, we sort of had this event and a few others happen afterwards. And then a few injuries happened, where kids were doing these really high-speed slides down mountains, and they’d come off and just get absolutely wrecked. And so, I made it my mission to make wearing helmets cool. And somehow, we pulled that off. So, it was something to do with that sort of cultural impact that the producers of the magazine were interested.

I feel like it’s very analogous to your role in the Nouns community. It’s very much creating cultural impact, similar to how you made the front cover the magazine for inspiring people to wear helmets is very similar. I feel like to putting the Noggles in that in that local city. What city was it?

Gami: It was actually in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. 

Yeah, I don’t know. There’s a lot of similarities between like finding your role in a community, right? And what value you bring and how you kind of like propagate whatever it is that you’re trying to do in that community. For you, it was wearing helmets. In this example it’s proliferating the meme of the now right the Noggles, which we’ll get to in a little bit, I just I remember seeing that online and that always standing out to me, it’s like one of the coolest crypto collabs today where nobody really knew it was crypto, but there was so much crypto involved underneath the hood from a cultural perspective, yet integrating that object into that environment give it new life. We’ll get into it a minute. It’s just a teaser for everybody that’s listening. Just I don’t want to jump into it just yet. But okay, so that makes sense. You’re obsessed with skateboarding. You’re this really cool guy from Australia. You’ve been skateboarding, I think you told me offline for 25 years, right?

Gami: Yeah, 25 years skating. My body is paying for it.

Personal Journey of Discovering Crypto

Got it. You got funding. So where does crypto come in? How did you come across crypto and more specifically, what was your first interaction in the crypto world?

Gami: Yeah, the story of crypto is sort of in two parts. One that’s very personal, but I’ll touch on it a little bit and the other side was just purely professional. So, in my previous life, I was working in engineering, at a firm that specialized in distributed energy systems. So I sort of think like, you know, control systems for switching electricity and providing renewables and all this sort of cutting edge stuff back then. And basically, I’d been married and divorced, really young, you know, a long-term relationship and then it basically didn’t last a month after the wedding. And sort of went into a pretty, you know, deep bout of sort of depressive behavior. So, part of that was, you know, trying to find myself traveling, financial problems, you know, all the things that come with a life altering experience. And had some other things that it all sort of bubbled up at the same time and just, you know, started exploring my own being and my conscious mind some more, and then sort of went down the path of using psychedelic drugs. And in the process of doing that, obviously ended up on the dark web, because, as a techie, I’d already heard plenty about it. And it was at that point that Bitcoin became obvious, and then I read the white paper and I took it into my work. And this was early, but I didn’t have like an investor mindset. So, it was like 2014 or something. And just I was aware of it, but I didn’t really fully understand like the economic impact. I just thought wow, this is really cool. Like they can’t stop me from buying drugs. And, you know, I’ve met a lot of people that were introduced to crypto through that same means. And it’s just because like the Silk Road and everything that followed it were huge success in terms of product market fit. There were tens of thousands of people using this stuff. And so having that background in these like distributed control systems and that sort of engineering understanding, it clicked with me, and I guess like, as soon as it did, I just got really obsessed. Once I figured out a way that I could get involved. And that was in 2016, where I started contributing to some different projects. Just various, you know, tooling, couple of like, early coins, couple of different communities and just really trying to learn and basically did that unpaid for a couple of years. And, you know, you’d get a few shit coins here for remuneration, but to be honest most of them just went to zero. So then, that obsession just continue to grow. And it was in 2017 that I came across crypto kitties, and as someone who’s very creative, but not really like a financial person. Like I don’t still to this day, I don’t really understand most stuff in defi, but I definitely understand culture. And discovering crypto Kitties and looking back on some emails from Coinbase back when I was sending myself each to a MetaMask to play around with that. It’s like really quite a nostalgic time. So stoked that I found crypto kitties.

Experiences With Psychedelic Journeys

That is pretty nostalgic. One thing that stood out to me in what you were saying is a psychedelic journey that you went on. And then how that sort of helped you stumble upon the dark web. And then the whole crypto rabbit hole kind of kicked in from there. Quick side tangent, what’s it like going through a psychedelic journey?

Gami: There’s a couple of experiences I’ve had where I felt like I lived an entire life. And then I was transported back like when I woke up. And I’ve experimented reasonably extensively because of some friends that I had, who were experienced and then like more from the theoretical standpoint. There’s a psychiatrist and also founder of a crypto brokerage in Australia. Dr. Preash Putpanathan and he used to go to Bitcoin conferences and stuff and speak on the topic of psychedelics and I actually I remember watching him do a talk in Australia, like, I think it was in 2018, about psychedelics and Satoshi. And so he does all this research into like psilocybin use and how that can help with the number of different problems we have, you know, psychologically as humans and just, it was one of these other things where I just couldn’t ignore, like the serendipitous experience of encountering someone like that, but also the fact that he’d seen all these sort of parallels between his previous life and his new life and then brought them together. And so that’s kind of like a bit of a metaphor for my experience with psychedelics as it’s like, it’s allowed me to see different connections that I didn’t realize before. And it’s just because like, you get outside yourself for a while, and you question things in a really different way. And if it’s done in the right environment, like I’m not advocating for everyone to just like go out and do drugs, but if you have the right people around you that can help you with that kind of experience, it’s really worthwhile.

Personal Principles and Values Developed Through Psychedelic Experiences

Are there any core principles or sort of values that have developed as a result of going through these psychedelic experiences that you live by? And if so, how does that affect your time and crypto?

Gami: Yeah, that’s really interesting because like my entrepreneurial experience has been, has also been really rocky, like my life. So, like, when I was like, 18, I got a patent for this idea, and developed it through to where it could, you know, be created into some software and all that sort of stuff and iPhones weren’t out or popularized at that point. So we were looking at things like palm PDAs for this, basically this idea that I had, and through assuming things and just like making assumptions, I got recked like multiple times. Like people took advantage of, you know what I was working on, or we didn’t see eye to eye or I just sort of was completely, you know, not misled, but just like misguided at my own accord. So, that combined with like getting it fresh perspective on things has really helped me to live by this mantra of like, assume nothing. Because when you do, you’re generally wrong. And the fact is, we’re surrounded by loads of data and like, plug to your own product Bello. There’s just so much data around and it’s readily available and quite often free. And yet, in crypto, we’re in this like, you know, don’t trust verify world and yet it astounds me how much people assume you know, there’s just wild assumptions happening all around us. And I feel like to be contrarian and find opportunities like in crypto, whether it’s as a builder or an investor or whatever it is you’re doing. One of the best ways to be contrarian is to just actually look at the data because most people don’t, and they don’t, they don’t look at like data from different perspectives as well. Like an example is, people love to post like charts that show the relative search volume of different keywords on Google. But there’s way more interesting uses of that data. So, you can put in a seed keyword into like Google AdWords planner, and get hundreds of other relative keywords and paint a picture of like a market and understand like, okay, how are people thinking about this thing, as opposed to how many are thinking about this thing? And for me, that’s just been like, the best way to find contrarian opportunities. And I live by that mantra now, I will say, so very handy.

So, there’s two things I want to touch on. I want to see how that relates to your sort of entrance into NounsDAO. But even before we go into that, you brought up a good point, despite how much data there is out there, people still tend to trust versus verify. And wouldn’t you argue that that’s just human nature to trust, those are the systems that we’re used to. And are we really at fault for continuously trusting because that’s maybe what we’re akin to, you know, it’s what we know, it’s what we feel comfortable with. This whole concept of verify, you know, is relatively new. We’ve never really had that at the scale that we have right now.

Gami: Yeah, that’s a, it’s a really good point. And most people do have good intentions. But as we’ve seen in the space, many do not as well, you know, like, lots of people trusted SPF, and then he couldn’t really be trusted, you know. So think it’s really like, it’s less about the trust part of the equation and just more about the verify. Like I don’t think it’s a, you know, binary trust or verify, I think it’s like this spectrum of like, where does someone sit when you receive information from them like? And it’s always healthy to sit somewhere in the middle and give people the benefit of the doubt but also have healthy skepticism that you can apply and use your own unique way of looking at things and that that avoids like the groupthink and sort of like the sheep or herd mentality, where you can sort of go your own way. And I think that’s something that gets missed a lot in crypto, is like a lot of people are just copying each other. And while I’m like a huge proponent of remix culture, because like that’s literally what I do all the time. I think that re-mixing brings, like innovation and, you know, creative advancements that might be impossible otherwise, so I just think it’s yeah, somewhere in the middle. It’s real fence sitter have an answer, but it is what it is.

That makes sense. So, in that transition to NounsDAO, because I want to spend the next half of the conversation sort of talking about IP CCO, NounsDAO and everything in between when did you actually officially join NounsDAO? What was the date you remember?

Gami: Yes. The 27th of January 2022. So, in two days, there’ll be one year anniversary. All right, and it’s going very fast.

Initial Goals Getting into Nouns

Congratulations. That’s great. Okay, so you said earlier when you go into things you don’t really go into it with expectations, right. My original question as a follow up was, what was your initial goal getting into Nouns, but now I’m understanding that there was no goal it was just sort of like buying this thing. It was cool, culturally relevant, and just let’s see what happens. Was that your mentality at the time or am I getting it wrong?

Gami: Yeah, like alluding to the earlier question around, you know, gaining new perspectives through experimentation and whether that was with like, psychedelics or work. I definitely saw it as a similar opportunity, because I already had like the idea for Gnars and then I just took that whole mentality of, you know, looking for a serendipity machine, which is like, I saw the opportunity to purchase a Nouns that aligned with what I’m passionate about. And so, it was like a great opportunity to, you know, create a new identity that is focused on building a certain thing. And that was really inspiring to see 4156, having done that with his ape punk you know, before Nouns. And then, I guess, I just really saw that it was like the best example of a serendipity machine in crypto. And what I mean by that is just you sort of; you take the plunge and then you open your eyes, and you start to see things differently. And that was really obvious to me with Gnars, because of the founding team, the environment in which it was founded, the sort of re mixing of different protocols and tools that resulted in Nouns as a protocol. And then just the really obvious meme around the glasses. You know, you put them on and then you see the world differently. And so, it just feels a gut feel to be honest.

How the World Appears Through the Lens of Nouns Glasses

How do you see the world when you put on the Nouns glasses?

Gami: That’s a deep question, because we talk about this sort of stuff all the time, but I like to really just, I like to keep things in threes because I like numerology, and it’s just, like, easier for me to visualize but when I think of Nouns, and the number three, you know, Nouns are literally people, places and things. And so, I realized that the combination of people, places and things is what brings us the magic that we see in the world today. So, for example, with skateboarding, or any actions for the secret sauce to making history, as you know, a creator in the space or an athlete or however you’re contributing is to find your people, explore new places and do your thing and it’s literally just this combination where it brings out the best in people because you’re surrounding yourself with the people that, you know, you align with. And then just like travel is really important as a young person. I think it’s also important to the work you do and to experience new cultures. And then I think in terms of doing your thing, it’s just this matter of like being unapologetically yourself and being as authentic as you want to be. And I think pushing the limits as much as you can. So, I kind of meandered from the question, but it’s philosophical for me and it’s kind of hard to define, to be honest how I see the world with the Noggles, the Nouns glasses on, but it’s definitely a combination of things and it’s just very inspiring above all else.

How would you say that compares to the other Nouner’s visions?

Gami: As in, like, other Nouner’s that are participating in the space.

Right. Right, right

Gami: Yeah, I think a bit of a hot take, but there’s sort of two camps and Gnars. There’s, you know, people who are coming at it more from a financial primitive and sort of, you know, looking at it in similar ways to defi protocols. And then there’s the camp that I’m part of, which is more from the builder perspective, which is leaning into this sort of idea of serendipity being where the magic happens. And I think you see that in the way that we all interact and vote, that we have very different motivators behind the decisions that we’re making. And I just really, I really think that both important equally, because, you know, without a friction, there’s no spark. So somewhere in the middle, which is the proposals and the voting that takes place, that’s where the real innovation happens and that’s where like a lot of the greatest ideas come from. So, yeah, I hope it stays that way, too important.

Are there any proposals you you’ve regretted passing? Like voted on, yes?

Gami: Yeah, early on. I won’t name them individually, but early on, I was really lost with like, how to vote. Because some, there’s just so much information and so many different factors. And as someone who’s like, assumed, I think I would spend so much time like, putting the thought into my vote. And then I would just be like, okay, well, there’s no time left for anything else today. So, then I started to follow the herd a little bit, and I would find like, nowadays who had like less on that go. Well, you know, it looked that way, that they had less on the go, I’d pay close attention to their votes, and that would help me decide. And now it’s kind of just like a mix of having a feel for what the ecosystem is about. And you see that like with people who’ve just joined Nouns, like they find it to be quite overwhelming, because they’re like, how do I do all this voting on Prop House and NounsDAO proposals, and there’s discussions everywhere and it’s a bit crazy. But I think that everyone sort of finds their own niche within the now metaverse, per se. So, it’s, yeah, I’ve regretted maybe a quarter of the votes made and not because I thought vehemently that they’re wrong or should have been different but just because I know that I wasn’t in the right headspace to even make the right decision.

One Thing That Could Be Changed About Gnars in its Current State

With Nouns in its current state, if you could change one thing about it what would it be?

Gami: That’s a hard one. I think like the biggest problem we have is, well, I previously thought that it was capital allocation. So, I thought you know, we need to be entirely focused on getting the funds into the hands of people with niche expertise. And while I still believe that, because that’s part of why Nouns exists. I also believe very firmly that we have a problem with coordination around promotional effort. So, say we allocate funding and when we do all these projects, and people build amazing things, the attention marketplace is really fractured. So, like, any given day, there’s dozens of things happening in Nouns that use where the, you know, like, whether it’s an advancement in training AI models by the Nouns AI accrue, or it’s like some breakthrough protocol idea, or some, you know, governance experiment, or whatever, there’s just loads of cool stuff. And then even the flashy marketing stuff, you know, there’s just so many cool things. And at the moment, our attention is just like, fractured across all these different things. And if we could coordinate that attention, and just really focus it behind one thing each day, I think we’d go a lot further. And then that would also help us understand our communications much better. Because, you know, like I said before, if we’re making assumptions, and we’re not getting a good data set to make some decisions, that we’re essentially making assumptions anyway. So, there’s a few things that I’ve been working on with a couple of developers in the Gnars ecosystem and I’d love to be able to help solve those kinds of problems. So yeah, I tweeted out an idea of Nouns the other day, a lot of people mistook that as a newsletter, but it’s actually a clone of Hacker News, which is a Y Combinator incubated project and it’s kind of like a launch pad where every day people, you know, curate the top news piece and then sort of most of the attention is drawn to that top piece. So, I think we could learn from that.

How Decision-Making in NounsDAO Aligns With Personal Beliefs and Values

In what ways do you believe decentralization of power and decision-making in the NounsDAO aligns with your personal beliefs and values? 

Gami: Yeah, that’s another one that I need to think about. You know, it’s like, in terms of my personal beliefs, like I just get really frustrated with bureaucracy. And while a lot of people might look at Nouns and be like, wow, that’s bureaucratic like a bunch of like, you know, people with ease, you know, swinging the things around and making, you know, decisions and trying to dictate what happens, blah, blah, blah. But if you compare it to like how we live our real lives, I’m much more in favor of something where everyone has equal opportunity to have a voice. And so, that’s why governance experiments are really interesting to me. You know, in Australia is a great place to live but it’s government, you know, wastes a lot of money, they take incredibly long time to pass important new legislation. They have a really poor network of support for entrepreneurs and startups. It’s incredibly hard to get capital here. And there’s generally not a lot of support for entrepreneurs in general. And I guess when you look at something like Nouns, it’s just this level playing field where it is what you make it and it has so many faults, and so many things are wrong with it, but the fact that it provides this like opportunity for autonomy, and autonomy as in self directing freedom, I think is what really stands out to me. So, to me, it’s, you know, you go out and you skate, and as there’s a sense of freedom. And I think that’s the part about Nouns that aligns closely with my values.

What Nouns Does Well and Potential for Amplification With More Resources

So let me re-ask a question that I asked just earlier. In with Nouns in its current state, okay, what do you think there’s one thing that Gnars does really, really well, that if you could pour more money into it and amplify? What does that one thing?

Gami: I think Nouns is doing a really good job of creating useful tooling that other communities could benefit from. These often get talked about as public goods or if you read Jacob horns, stuff from Zora, he speaks on hybrid structures, or public infrastructure in general. And I think like, Nouns has done a really great job with things like prop house. For simple innovation of using NFTs for governance, instead of ERC 20s. When they forked compound to create our Dao executor, there’s loads of stuff like that. That’s just very thoughtful. And I think it’s thoughtful because everything’s slowed down. So even though Nouns only took a few months from idea to execution and launch. It was one of these serendipitous things where like, the thoughtfulness that went into it is something that’s pretty hard to replicate. So, I just think like, the best opportunity that Nouns has to give a, you know, positive, you know, to give back to the space is to create this opportunity, where we can show the outside world that we’re not a bunch of crypto bros. You know, like, there is a lot of thoughtful people in this space who are trying to do really good work, that could you know, progress humanity for it, and it’s very big answer. But yeah, just billionaires put their names on libraries, right, like to sway public opinions and manage their reputation. And I think like Nouns is a reputation management opportunity for crypto as a whole. That’s the short answer.

That makes sense. Hold on. Let me write something down because I cut you off because I think.

Gami: That’s okay.

Cultural Contribution

Give me a second. Okay, ready? I want to transition more into the core theme of season seven, which is creating content that’s worth collecting. And if there’s one community that has done it right, and knows how to delegate capital, to those who know how to create content with collecting it’s Nouns. What Nouns is done, or I guess its counterparts, it’s capital receivers. I don’t know what you guys call them in the community. But they’ve really amplified the Nouns meet, you are a prime example. And there’s a bunch of other content, either that was minted on Zora, that was distributed in went viral across crypto Twitter. It’s just fascinating to see the high level of production and the modification around the Nouns, the Noggles themselves, right? I want to talk about more of your cultural contribution, because it’s something that you’ve done very, very well. It’s the Embed of the Noggles, a physical pair of Noggles into real, into real skating scene. Can you talk about that? It was one of the more beautiful collaborations that I’ve seen come out of the Nouns ecosystem and something that always stuck with me. As to okay, this community is really different.

Gami: Yeah, for sure. I’ll start by saying, I had very little to do with that. I just set the environment that enabled ideas like that to flourish. But you know, and I tried to, I try to lead by example so that people are inspired, and they feel empowered. Hat’s off to the community from Brazil, who were in Gnars, there’s like 25% of our community are Brazilian. It’s crazy penetration there, which is awesome. And you know, the likes of Bob Bergquist have gotten involved. So, to have someone like Tony Hawk level famous skateboarding in our community is just insane to me. But to touch on the actual activation, one of our community members Vlad, who’s a pro skater. Made a proposal to partner up with I love 15, which is an organization in Rio that celebrates the legalization of skateboarding in Prosser 15, which is this, you know, basically is Town Square in in Rio, and it’s got like, European architecture. So there’s actually like ledges to skate and stairs and all this sort of stuff. And back in the day, it was banned outright for people to skate. Like so for many years, they were protesting as a group and there’s amazing footage out there of, you know, these huge protests were skateboarders, you know, essentially fighting for their right to express themselves. And last year was the 10-year anniversary since they successfully, you know, had the laws change. And there were 1000 skateboarders gathered into Prosser 15 and then many more spectators. And in the lead up to this celebration and this collaboration, which was essentially a collaboration with Nouns as well, because we use some of the funding, we received from them on this project. Only 6/8 by the way, and we built giant Noggles. So, a bunch of people in the community over there banded together, there was an architect who used his skills to design up these handrails, that are fixed as the arms of a pair of Nouns glasses. And you can imagine them, they’re just a giant pair of Nouns glasses on the ground. You know, maybe a bit over a foot high, and like a few feet wide and a bit longer. And in Australia, we use metric but anyway, the and the image that got around first on Twitter was basically a guy board sliding of this pair of Noggles, and it’s just this really striking photo and I shared it. It was something that came out immediately after the event. And it took off on Twitter and, you know, just I said we do a little proliferation. And people finally started to get like what Nas is about like, it’s a straight culture movement built on top of Nouns as a protocol. And I think of nouns as like this broader movement within crypto. And it’s this opportunity for us to bring two cultures together, one that is completely unrelated to crypto and other than the ethos and the philosophies that I’ve sort of talked about previously. And then, soon after that, a video came out that Narnish put together. Shout out to Goldie and 142 and their team. And basically, they took all this content that the community had filmed and put into a Google Drive. So literally terabytes of content, and edited together this brilliant short film, and it just sort of demonstrated what we did. And there’s this crowd of people pushing these giants, you know, steel Noggles into the town square and it’s filled with concrete by the way. So, the metal tubing is all filled with concrete, so it’s impossible to steal it. And permanently along with other sculptures, there’s like a giant skateboard, it’s basically skateable art in this town square and Rio, and it’s just beautiful. Gonna say I’m on Google Maps, and they update the aerial photos.

I gotta tell you, what a fun creative and unique way to take an object and place it in this environment, that has its own unique energy, which then gives it’s own unique life. Right? And seeing the Nouns glasses, and the Noggles in that setting, was such a lively experience from my perspective. And shout out to that team because they did a fantastic job editing that video and portraying sort of the excitement and the act of energy in that setting. And how that really, that really then amplified my feelings towards Nouns. Like I remember feeling a certain way, a different way about them, like wow, this is actually so cool. What a cool way to do something and to showcase a brand in a really fun fashion, that would otherwise be very mundane and very to a select few of people, you know, within across crypto Twitter and across discourse and a few like forums, you know, forums and I commend you for that. And it taught me a lot of what happens when you take an otherwise mundane object, you know, that has a lot of familiarity with a niche group of people and put it in specific environments, that has a completely new energy to it. It just elevates in a completely different way. I don’t know, I’m like going all in on this because I really felt something special when I watched that video, when it came on my timeline randomly.

Gami: I’m stoked to hear that because it’s honestly something that a number of us draw on quite often, to sort of demonstrate what Nouns is like outside of crypto, and it’s you know, like it’s something that we’re going to experiment with a hell of a lot more at Gnars, because of the success of that event. And we on boarded hundreds of people into crypto as well. Well, I wasn’t there personally, but the community did a fantastic job and that it’s sort of evolved into so many different things as well. So, like now, you may have seen that we had another proposal, that I sort of it was in hindsight is a mistake. I was experimenting, but it failed. But essentially, we want to scale out this effort, where we’re doing these activations and the sort of the reasoning behind that, is because we started off just sponsoring action sports people. And saying like use this A to like buy flights on trevalla. You can pay crypto, and book hotel and go where you want to go and like attend that contest or make that film. And it was great like we had Joe Atkinson, who’s three-time world champion in land skating. He was the first to join us and while it was so cool to see this individual go and win like the European Championships and get up on the podium with his, you know his merch on and see the Naugle’s and him spread the champagne everywhere. We would love that. But we came to realize that like it’s much more impactful to empower an individual to like to uplift their entire community. And that’s where like physical public goods come into play. So, we have experimented with refurbishing skate parks in different places and planning out these different events and opportunities to uplift different communities around the world. And it’s crazy what impact he can have with like a really small budget in a developing country. So yeah, plenty more on the way and just more and more crazy ideas every day in our community. So really stoked about that.

The Future of GnarsDAO

It’s incredibly inspiring and makes me wonder what’s next for NounsDAO? What is next? 

Gami: Well, what’s next is in progress at the moment. About a week and a half ago, with the guys from collective, so shout out Rocket Man and Hardy and your team or their teams. We put together a new platform called that’s Narly. And so that’s Nar.ly. And it’s essentially a community curation platform, where anyone with any social media account or content can actually bring their content over and have our community upload their favorites. And we do a daily drop, which is an open edition. And we’ve had a really good run in this first week and a half, just with our MVP of testing it out. And it’s sort of painting this new picture of where a realization that we had with the giant Nouns glasses was after the event and the activation, the content just kept rolling in. And it’s like this never-ending expression session. You know, it’s a term derived from surfing. That’s pretty common in skating as well. You have a contest, but then afterwards everyone just like goes in and tries to do their best tricks and, you know, quote, unquote, make history. And so, we realized like, people are still going to these classes and throwing down their best trick and posting it on social media. Like that’s a really interesting outcome. And then we thought what if we could incentivize people to do essentially that, but everywhere in the world and have this like, huge collective expression session that never ends? And fortunately, the guys from collective were building this revolution protocol, where content creators can contribute content instead of funding, to get governance rights in return. So, everything that we do online, you know, at its core is media because like we need to distribute it somehow. And that’s Narly has become this, you know, this new seedling that’s starting to grow from the ground. And we’re starting to see like some big names’ skaters start to submit content on this platform and snowboarders and skiers and motocross riders and everything. And when once the MVP stage is good, and we’re happy with how it’s working, we’ll start to do outreach and onboard as many people as we can. And it’s been so cool to see skaters and stuff that have been on the platform and just like, submitted a cool video and then like walked away with 300 bucks the next day. It’s like it’s so cool. And then community love it because it’s  engaging and it’s gives us something to do that’s positive impact. So that’s the immediate future and then we’re going to be going back to Gnars with a revised, asked from our failed proposal, which was entitled, extremely Narnish. So, we’re gonna go back with an extremely Narnish still. And the goal there is to do these activations all around the world and onboard more and more people to web three, and then Narniverse.

You brought up the keyword or phrase expression session. That’s very unique. I haven’t heard that phrase before. If you could attribute that in analogy to better understand expression session, what would it be? Like help me better decode that.

Gami: It’s like, I guess if you compare it to another sport, like say you’re watching like, basketball, right? And it’s like, at the end of the game, there’s a winner and the loser. But they also pick out an MVP, right? And it’s like, who was the player of the game essentially and you know, I was LeBron with that dunk that he did that was insane. Right. So, you that’s like, retro actively choosing a moment that made the day what it was. In action sports, they generally give everyone the opportunity to do that afterwards, because it’s very hard to land tricks consistently. So, say in skateboarding, if you look at street league skateboarding, like you’ll see people landing 20 trips in a row, and that’s just insane. Like that’s super high level pro stuff. But they generally do a rehearsed set of maneuvers. It’s like gymnastics in that way, where it’s like, well, this is my routine and I’ve been practicing it for weeks, I’m gonna nail it. But they’re not the most impressive tricks. The most impressive tricks are the ones like you tried 20 times and then when you land it, everyone goes insane. Yes, so, expression session is that realization of like, well, the game’s over. But there’s amazing stuff that could happen, so, let’s make history together. And everyone gets out there and they lay down the best trick that they can. And that’s when you see like, world firsts happen, where it’s like, you remember Tony Hawk landing the 900, Schinsky from Marin community landing the first ever kickflip down El Toro 20 stair, years ago, like 20 years ago. That is the idea of an expression session. It’s those moments that make history.

Expression Sessions And Creating Content Worth Collecting

I’m curious what you think the overlap between expression sessions and creating content worth collecting are? Any come to mind?

Gami: Yes, it’s actually like, such a perfect analogy for it because if I were to think about just any kind of content, like say it’s even just a tweet, like it’s you expressing yourself. And you’d generally sit down and put this effort into a tweet, to hope that it would go viral, right? Like you want to do something that impacts enough people. And you might have different reasons. It might just be a meme and you want to make people laugh. Or it might be a thought or a realization that you had that you think could help other people. And I think in terms of like expression session, it’s the same thing. It’s just a different medium through which you express yourself. And I think when it comes to, you know, content worth collecting, I think if there’s something that reaches you as an individual and touches you in a certain way, that that changes who you are or makes you laugh or makes you smile or makes you cry, or whatever it is, it’s like that’s a memento. You know, to me that’s worth collecting, just for the very fact that it impacted me in some small way. So yeah, expression session, it’s a big one for the for the crypto community should latch on to it.

Outro

Listen, this conversation has been really eye opening. Really cool to hear a more in-depth perspective, Gami, of your entire journey. From skateboarding, raising funds to buying that now and entering the community finding your voice very much. So, creating cultural relevance across URL and IRL experiences. I’m really glad we had this conversation. Thank you for being on. Before we wrap it up, where can we find you, Gami? Where can we learn more about NounsDAO and everything in between?

Gami: So, in terms of getting this message across properly, I’m going to use an American accent, because like I mentioned at the start, so many people misspell Gnars because of my Aussie accent. So, the best place to go to learn about Gnars is Gnars.com. And to join Gnars, you go to Gnars.wtf and I also have a link page up at Gna.rs. So that’s just Gnars, one word with the dot before the rs. And yeah, everything on Twitter is @Gami, My handle is 0xigami and that’s probably all you need to know.

Gami, you’re the man, thank you for being a part of season seven. I really look forward to the next conversation we have but till next time.

Gami: It’s been a pleasure, man. Thank you so much.

Categories
Podcast Transcript

TK’s Web3 Music Journey: From Passion to Profession

Background

Mint Season 7 episode 6 welcomes TK, the web3-native singer, songwriter, and producer who is also the Founder of Campfire. 

Throughout the hour, we chat about his passion for music and how he turned it into a successful career writing for the likes of Will Smith, Rihanna, The Weeknd and more. We also hear about his career highlights, his sold-out music NFT project called ‘Eternal Garden,’ and his unique approach to incorporating crypto into his creative work.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 02:21 – How’d You Get Into Music and How Old Were You?
  • 18:35 – Proudest Moment in TK’s Music Career
  • 20:57 – Career Highlights and Getting Fist Bumped by Will Smith
  • 24:05 – How Crypto Fits Into TK’s Career
  • 37:02 – Explanation of “Eternal Garden”
  • 41:38 – Navigating Technical Aspects of Crypto
  • 44:45 – Future Plans for Fans and Collectors
  • 48:09 – Outro

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TK, welcome to mint. My man, thank you for being on. How are you feeling?

TK: Oh, thank you for having me. I’m feeling great. It’s sunny in California right now. It’s been raining for the last like three weeks. I enjoy the rain though but, you know, it’s nice to have some sun finally.

Intro

Well, you’re killing it, you’re looking fresh on cameras. If you listen to the audio and jump over to YouTube, that sick Nicholas, awesome. I love it, you fit the part. TK, I want to jump right in. If you’re in the music NFT, then you probably know of TK. If you’re not, get into web three music and then you’ll get to know TK. Over to TK, for those who don’t know you, what does the world need to know about you? Who are you man? Let’s start with a quick intro.

TK: Yeah, my name is TK. I’m a singer songwriter and producer based in Los Angeles, California. I write music about love, war and everything in between. I try to spread the message of compassion, empathy and unity and everything that I create, and I feel like that’s my purpose on this earth. So, I’m blessed and happy to be a creative and to be creating the art that is given to me.

Love, unity, war, passion. Those are all very interesting keywords to focus on. Maybe we should focus on that. I don’t know. It’s like a very unique message. Why those keywords? Why do you align with those specifically?

TK: So, you know, growing up and I’m sure we’ll get into like my early years and a bit, but you know, I had a very diverse upbringing, and I’ve spent a lot of time with many different types of people from different walks of life and so, I feel like because of those experiences, I’m able to build relationships or friendships with so many different types of people. And I feel like if more people were able to see things from other’s perspectives, so many of the world’s problems or just humanity’s problems, in general would be solved and I think like the world would be a better place. And so, that’s something that I’ve always been passionate about. It’s just kind of my, you know, my natural, I guess, propensity to, you know, the human condition, but, you know, that’s definitely, definitely my vibe for sure.

How’d You Get Into Music and How Old Were You?

Okay. All right. I’m here for it. How’d you get into the whole music scene? How old were you when you started doing music?

TK: I mean, that is a loaded question. I would say. So, I have to just take you back, I guess.

Yeah, take me. 

TK: You know, it was first really introduced in influence you know, with music by my mom. Singing in church, I grew up in the UK. So, a lot of my early influences was early 2000s pop music. Like S Club seven, Madonna Cher, Ricky Martin, Robbie Williams. You know, the list goes on from that capacity, right? But then also, Disney movies, huge part of my, you know, musical kind of upbringing. Sister Act Two was my favorite movie of all time. I wanted to be everybody in that movie, for sure. So those were like kind of my super early days. Like 5, 6, 7 years old, you know, introduction to music and obviously I started to get into you know, Michael Jackson, more R&B stuff like brandy, Craig David. More like alternative stuff like Coldplay. So, the palette was very diverse at an early age, and then, you know, around 10 years old I moved to the US to live with my grandparents. And that’s when I got introduced to, you know, more hip hops. So, Jay Z, Eminem, Naz, it’s kind of the classic stuff. Like more kind of heavier alternative rock music. So, Green Day, Lincoln Park was my favorite band. My Chemical Romance, those kinds of things. And that really shaped kind of my early understanding of like, or early love, I guess for different genres of music. And then as I started going through school, you know, saying classical music for 12 years. You know, I was in concert band, marching band, jazz band, concert choir, gospel choir, honors choir, literally any type of, you know, musical endeavor that you could do throughout school I was a part of, and I really like owned in on my fine arts and performing arts kind of side of things. So that was important, then I was also in like you know, performing arts trips where we would dance and sing and travel the country, like playing instruments, playing every era of music from like the 1920s up until, you know, today. so that was early, early music for me and like when people say when did you start making music, like I kind of go back to that because, you know, that’s kind of what sparked everything for me, I think and I think even a lot of the musical decisions that I make today still come from all of that. You know that early learning.

One thing I think I regret, TK, is that not doing music in school for me earlier, I’m a drummer. And the only real time I got into music at school was like sophomore year or junior year in high school, playing jazz band. And I, when I got to the jazz band, after going through a year, I was like, wow, I’ve improved so much. I wish I would have done this since middle school, and I remember kids were doing the marching band. I was like, this isn’t look legit. Like, I’m like performing with different stuff, whatever. I feel like it’s not for me, but I appreciate that you did that stuff in school and also outside of school, and how much like double down on that as a little kid. But did that come from you directly or did you go around a family that sort of instilled music in you as well?

TK: Definitely came from me directly, like I come from, you know, I’m Nigerian by descent. So, I grew up in an African household. And anyone that kind of has immigrant parents, for the most part knows that. You know, they’re all about like, academics and studies and, you know, those kinds of career paths, not necessarily like creative career paths. And so, you know, I really had to muster up the motivation and will to make music, you know, kind of on my own, and it’s not that they weren’t supportive of it necessarily, but I didn’t get any like additional, like push to pursue those things. And so, doing it in school really was the only way that I felt, you know, the only outlet I had to actually like express my artistry in that way. So, yeah, I see all the drums behind you, I didn’t know that you were a drummer. That’s like, really, really dope. But yeah, man, that was definitely a huge, huge part of my development was just kind of all, you know, going through school and extracurricular activities musically. When I got to high school, that’s when I started writing more songs and producing, so I’m producing when I was like, 14. You know, I’ve raked leaves around my neighborhood right before Black Friday, and I was shoveling snow too. And there was an old lady who lived in my neighborhood, and I guess she was loaded because she would pay me way too much to shovel that show. So, I saved up all the all the money I could get from her and then ended up buying my first mini keyboard and USB microphone from Best Buy on Black Friday. And then I cracked Fruity Loops, and I thankfully already had a computer, so that was kind of my first, all right, I’m really sitting down and like making songs now right I was like literally sitting on the floor of my bedrooms like making songs and you know, we would drop, I would drop like my songs on social media, and then go to school like the next day and like mad people at school will be like, yo, I heard your song I guess fires, I was like my first introduction to market testing, I guess like putting a song out there and like actually getting a response. So, I started to kind of build up my reputation and notoriety around school as like, the musical kid you know, or someone that was like, you know, just making songs. And then that kind of started to pick up with like a lot of other artists and people at school. So, we had a really dope, little incubator of talented people, I think in my high school where we grew up. So, I ended up starting a band when I was 15, called cloud nine. And we started to just to win a talent show. But the whole school went crazy. Like everybody was like the perfect mix of worlds because we had like an amazing drummer and amazing keyboard player. You know, I’m a pretty good singer. And I had a girl singing with me at the time too. So, we won the talent show. And then basically went on to like to play every school event. We were playing like nursing homes, we were playing churches. And I ended up being in that band for eight years and we went from playing, you know, those kinds of smaller shows to playing cafes to then theaters and then like Live Nation ticketed concerts, we toured nationally, you know. We played even played a stadium show 30,000 people at one point, so it really went from.

Wild. 

Tk: Yeah, it went from like, we’re literally babies to like, you know, big dogs. 

It seems as if you’re no stranger to hard work from snowing, shoveling snow and raking people’s leaves, you know, just to get a few bucks to buy music equipment. And then later, marketing yourself across like throughout the school and just like testing your music around people, around you and your community. It’s like very entrepreneurial in that respect. It’s very.

TK: Yeah. I never really looked at it that way, I guess because like, I didn’t know what I was doing at the time. I was just like, this is something that I want to do, like I know, and I felt very kind of privileged to feel like I knew what my purpose was at a very early age. And so, I think probably just in my, like hard work is kind of just in my DNA, I guess, from being African or something. So, like, I was like, well I gotta figure out a way to do this because nobody else is gonna make it happen for me. And yeah, I have like, kind of an obsessive personality. So, like, once I set my mind to something like I have to do it right. I have to like, at least try. And so, now I can look back and say yeah, that was pretty entrepreneurial, even like, you know, building a fan base like even just like high school, right or something like that. But at the time it was just vibe. So, I was like, yeah, I just want people to know that I make music and hopefully they think it’s good. So 

Right, right. 

TK: Yeah. It worked out.

So, you went to talent show. You’re in this band for eight years. You tour stadiums filled with 30,000 people, like elderly homes, schools across your community. And then what? What happens next.

Yeah. I’m curious. Where did they grow to? Like where did go for you?

TK: Well, with the band like you know, kind of one of our peak things was like we started to do, we started performing like the Fillmore, like pretty often, right? And like the 930 Club, these are like, you know, 2000 Cat venues in our area. But like the following was still very local, but like we were doing these shows very consistently. And so, in 2014, I entered a songwriting competition through Guitar Center, and out of 30,000 applicants, I made it to the top 10. So, they flew me out to LA.

 Wait, what year was this?

TK: This was 2014.

I think I remember that competition. 

TK: Do you? 

I swear bro. Me and Guitar Center are like peanut butter and jelly number one. I grew up going to Guitar Center on Ventura and Los Angeles, in Sherman Oaks bro, religiously, religiously. And I would be fucking, I’ve been all the crevices of GC, GC studios, going to the DW workshops. And I remember that competition. Wow, I remember that. Okay, keep going.

Tk: That was only the third one. That was only the third one. So, it was early for sure. And yeah, they flew me out to LA, like they gave me all this free gear. A lot of stuff I still use today. 

Wow. 

TK: I did, like it was my first time in LA too. We did it. We all performed; it was 10 of us that performed at Hotel cafe. I didn’t win the competition, but I got like the, I got the consolation prize, you know, I’m saying, I got the consolation prize. I was like, listen, being number two out of like 30,000 people to apply. Like, I wasn’t supposed to be here, like I’m with it, you know. But after that I kind of manifested being in LA and I was like I gotta be out here. I got to you know, get out here and grind. And so, the following year, I basically got recruited by Will Smith team to write and produce for Will, for Jaden, for Willow. And basically, yeah, January 2015, I moved out to LA with 100 bucks. I was sleeping on my friend’s floors while going to their house to work on music with them. Every day, literally drive.

You didn’t care. You just didn’t care. You’re like whatever it takes.

TK: Yeah, because like you know a lot of people never leave their hometowns, first and foremost. Thankfully, I already had like the experience of traveling, you know, at an early age, so I knew that there was more out there for me. But then there are a lot of people that like, oh, LA is expensive, and I grew up in a town called Laurel Maryland. I was like listen, if I can be broken Laurel like I can be broken LA. At least I know that there’s way more opportunity for me to make money out there than here. There’s nothing happening over here. You know, so that was the grind. And yeah, I was literally driving from Orange County to Calabasas every day, finally moved to Hollywood with my homies, was moving from, was going from there to Calabasas every day, eventually got linked up with Diane Warren. So, I was writing producing with her, which led to like sessions with like huge artists like, you know, Rihanna, The weekend, Big Sean, LL Cool J. Like so many different incredible artists that she was working with and that was like my introduction to the music industry in general and that I think, you know, I really owned my craft and kind of those earlier years. But those first years of being in LA was where I was all put to the test and it was like okay, this is no longer about like you’re dope, make music. And hopefully people like it, like no, like you’re on the clock. Like you have to make something that people like, like this is really a test of your ability and all the work that you’ve put in and I would say that I fared, like fairly well throughout that entire process, but it definitely accelerated. You know, my creativity and my seriousness just about, you know, mastering my craft as well. So, in that process, I also started to see what the real music industry was like in terms of artists like getting paid from these things, too. 

Proudest Moment in TK’s Music Career

I like to backtrack because there’s a few milestones that you just shared. From getting picked up by the Smiths to being in working with the Rihanna us and these big music artists in the world. There’s a lot to unpack from all those in such a small amount of time during this interview. I want to know from that process, being in those rooms, understanding what the music industry is like, what was your proudest moment throughout the entire time?

TK: Honestly, my proudest moment it was just being there. I think, the very first day I was in the studio. I was at, you know, at Will’s house, and I’m just like working on music. And then the door opens and I’m not thinking anyone’s like here, I’m not asking any questions. And Will Smith walks in and firstly, he just walks in and just goes like this, like goes give me a pound. I swear I saw everything in slow motion because like, even outside of music, just like one of my favorite humans in general. And when that happened, I was like, okay, this isn’t, like this is real. This isn’t just some, like trip, you know what I mean, this isn’t like a little moment in time. I was like, oh, this is like a real thing. You know. And then like, he listened to the music, he was like, yo, this was like fire. And like in that moment, I was like, okay, yeah, this is definitely where I need to be. This is what I need to be doing. And so, I mean, yeah, I’m sure there have been so many very special and like special moments and like crowning achievements that I would say, but from where I came from, and for how much work that I had to put in and for the fact that like, I had to wake up every day and motivate myself to continue to be great and continue like grinding and like not just like, give up or you know, do some bullshit I guess. Just being there, like still to this day, like just in my everyday life. I’m just like, just, you know, where I’m at right now. Like I’m sure that I could be, I could imagine to be like so much further along in so many different capacities. But like completely beat the odds even in where I’m out on a day-to-day basis. And so, having those experiences just point-blank period is what I hold like dearly, more than any like actual achievement. So yeah.

Career Highlights and Getting Fist Bumped by Will Smith

Getting fist bumped by Will Smith was that moment for you? What surpassed that moment for your next?

TK: With him or just in general?

In general, in your career and in being an artist, being a producer.

TK: Yeah, so, okay. So, stories kind of overlap. So, during this time, like I’m in LA, but I’m still in the band at this time. So, you know, we’re still kind of, now Mike yo, come out to LA, it’s dope, it’s lit out here, come work. You know, they came out for a while, we were doing some shows in LA and then we ended up getting hired by Beachbody. Beachbody is, if you know Beachbody, they do like p90x. They’ve got the whole huge like workout empire going on. And they hired us to perform for their coaches’s summit, which was in Nashville, Tennessee and Nissan stadium. A crowd of 30,000 people, and it wasn’t like, oh, we’re being hired as like a cover band or something like that. It was like no, you guys are the band for the entire event. You’re basically going to give us two hours of original music, with a couple covers, you know what I mean? And sending in our riders for that and in them being like, yo, we’re gonna give you literally everything that you asked for on this rider. And then, like getting to Nashville, flown out, hotels, like everything taken care of, getting to the venue, getting put on golf carts to get out there, seeing all the instruments that I just. Like literally my dream setup that I just put on a piece of paper, like please like this is what I would love to use. Going to the rehearsals, like having a damn jumbotron, like everything, even before we actually did the performance. I was like, yo, I’m just thinking back to our first show. And like our high school cafeteria, right? And how.

Yeah, what does that feel like? 

TK: It’s insane. I mean, it’s in the moment your focus, right? Because you’re trying to like to execute, you still have a job to do, right? You still have to perform and show people which are made up, but I think just the fact that, you know, I was able to just kind of see the entire process of like, yeah, if you really work hard and like put your mind to something, you can get to the places that you want to get to, like obviously, you know, this isn’t like a sold out TK concert necessarily, right? But like there are 30,000 people in this stadium that are going to hear my original creations blasted at unreasonably high decibel. It’s like I’m completely here for this, you know, so that was like, probably, you know, the next one for me, just in terms of like my music career. And obviously at this point, I had performed it hundreds of shows, like festivals, you know, theaters like the Fillmore and like, you know, bigger venues like that. Like that was very normal and natural to me by that point. But I had never done something like that before. So that was definitely huge. And yeah, I mean, there was so many other like incredible moments in between like that as well. But that was definitely the next big milestone.

How Crypto Fits Into TK’s Career

It’s really cool. Now I’m trying to understand where crypto comes into the picture, because it sounds like you’re killing it in music, right? And in the traditional music industry as well, right? And what I think of web three music, it’s very counterculture to traditional music. And from what it seems like everything was smooth sailing for you, or was it?

TK: No, I mean, it sounds good, right? Like all those things sound great when you’re doing them, but like, I mean, I was overachieving. Like I’m like consistently overachieving right? And that probably a lot of the people that have had the experiences that I’ve had or they’re in the rooms that I’m in, you know, have achieved probably a certain level of success or have a certain background that kind of qualifies them to be in those positions. Whereas for me, I was always just, you know, just some kid like trying to figure it out, right? So even in all these sessions that I was having with like, all these bigger artists and stuff, I wasn’t getting paid for a lot of that stuff. A lot of it was, you know, coming into the studio, we’re making a whole bunch of songs. If they liked them, great. If they don’t, then thanks for trying, you know. And I was able to make some income, like I was able to like to get a really nice place in LA and stuff like that. But it definitely wasn’t anything sustainable and it wasn’t anything that I felt like was worth sacrificing my own individual artistry for working on music for other people. So, I actually really like stopped doing industry production and songwriting because I just didn’t feel like I was getting enough out of it at the time. From a performance aspect, even though we did like we were doing these big shows, it was still like there’s still the struggle of breaking through on the internet. Because like, you know, streaming services are out now. And then like social media platforms are kind of dominating. And so, there’s still so many different sides of the equation that I hadn’t fully figured out yet. And then throughout all of this, like we’re still, we’re going through band things, right? So, the band ended up kind of breaking up and dissolving. Short, funny enough, shortly after that big show that we did. So it was almost like everything I did just kind of led up to like that big climactic moment and then it was like, alright, we’re kind of all going our separate ways at this point. So, I started focusing on producing and writing for independent artists and just working on my own music. And the independent artists grind it’s tough because you know, you’re the CEO of your own company of your own business. That doesn’t pay you anything. Streaming doesn’t pay you anything and you’ve got to figure out a way to break through. And so, you know, me and like my best friends. We lived in another studio in LA for a year and a half, working on another album, working on music and just like conceptualizing everything that we wanted to do. Yeah, worked on music over the years, released music. I did pretty well, I was happy to like, I don’t know, 150,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. Just grind and trying to make it happen. And then basically, I guess when we get to crypto.

Now, I want to understand, like why is crypto the solution for you then?

TK: Yeah, no, we’re getting there right now. So now you’ve got like the full kind of.

Right.

TK: You’ve got the full, I had a background of everything right? But consider that in all of that work and everything that I’ve done right and that’s even the steel bridge version of the story. I can’t say that I’ve ever made a comfortable living, right? Or that I ever felt like okay, yeah, I’ve done enough work that will last me for the next five to 10 years, anything like that. I was still always in a way living like check to check just trying to figure it out. So, I was on tour in Australia. And in 2020, and then the pandemic happened, it cut the tour short. I was actually planning on going on tour with the free nationals later on that year as well. And yeah, COVID happened, we’re all stuck in the house. Me and my homies started like investing in crypto, we bought Dogecoin.

Let’s go.

TK: Yeah, like a lot of people were like, okay, I’m gonna work on, you know, more music. I was like, this is all I’ve been doing, I’m gonna.

I want to be a DJ for a minute.

TK: Yeah, I’m gonna go. You know what I mean? I work on some music but like I’m gonna try and get into some other things. And so.

I love that. Your curiosity is just, it’s always on the run.

TK: Absolutely, for sure. I got one life to live, you know what I mean, and I have a lot of passions. But yeah, you got to do what you can because I feel like music is a great gateway to unlocking the full potential of my mind. And I feel like there are a lot of different areas and subjects that I could be successful in. So, you know, we bought Dogecoin early, and you know, Doge started going up. And at that point, I’m like, wow, this is really sick. So, I started kind of meeting people in the crypto community. I went out to a flea market, met this guy named Gabriel, who’s, I now know is the founder of a Dao called mochi. We had a conversation; he like basically onboard me to web three. He was like, yeah, do you have a meta mask? I’m like, no, I had no clue about like wallets or anything, like I was just buying positions on Robin Hood. And so yeah, he introduced me to like platforms like Zora and things of that nature. I basically was a part of the Dao. I didn’t realize I was a part of the Dao until like much later on. I didn’t really understand the concept of Dao. But through that group, I ended up meeting people within the music NFT space. Originally, I hated NFTs because I was just seeing crypto punks and board apes.

Why did you hate NFT’s actually, why?

TK: Well, because I was like, people are spending hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars on like these squares, right? And I don’t understand what the value of these images are, right? And I don’t even like the art that much. No, no shade to those, you know, projects, but I just didn’t understand everything else that kind of came with the blockchain, that came with NFTs, that came with a culture, that came with community. And so, I was like.

So really quick, TK, why do you think then? Because this is an interesting point. And forgive me for cutting you off. Why do you think music NFTs are different. It’s just an audio file that you’re collecting, right? Or it’s just an image that you’re collecting. Can’t you apply the same logic to it?

TK: So, that’s a tough question because it really, at the end of the day, like beauty is in the eye or the ear of the beholder. And I can look at a picture of, you know, a monkey and be like, I don’t think that’s really that cool. But there’s probably, I mean, obviously there were people that were like, no, this art is incredible, and I want to associate with this, right? So, from that perspective, like it actually there isn’t a difference because it is just about the appreciation of the art itself. And, you know, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, you know, the list of course goes on and on. But as I was seeing these things, I was like, you know, I guess being a creative I know kind of how much work goes into a lot of like, different things. And I’m like, you know, I’m sure there’s so many like incredible artists that are making like, dope. One of ones are making, you know, music NFTs. Well, I didn’t actually know about music NFTs at the time, but I was like, I feel like there could be more meaningful art. But then I started to meet people that were actually releasing music NFTs and releasing one of one art pieces and I was like, oh wow, there’s like a whole another side of the NFT community that is more so focused on the art and less so on the hyper like, financialization of just like trading assets, if that makes sense. And so yeah, a friend of mine that was in the dye with me, he ended up selling for NFTs on catalogue for $235,000, for music NFTs from his EP. And I was like, okay, yeah, I was like my mind is in the right place. Like this is definitely what I want to do. When I decided I wanted to do music NFTs, I didn’t know that people were already really making it happen that way. And so, pretty much from that moment on I locked in, I just got immersed in the community. I started to see what it was doing for artists creatively and financially and offering like freedom for them in that way. Comparing it to my entire career music and how much I made from streaming services and how much I made slaving for labels and producing songs for these artists and everything. And I was like, you know, this world isn’t all the way there yet. But I see the potential for it, and I want to cultivate it and I want to utilize it in the way that’s the most healthy and beneficial for my own growth as an artist. And yeah, I think the best thing that happened for me was, I was added to the sound XYZ telegram chat, where I really got to build relationships with more artists and you know, founders and you know, I released my first music NFT March 1 of 2022. And the rest is history.

Wow. Coming up on a year anniversary.

TK: For sure. I left out a point, I left that apart. Before I did that, I was very vocal about NFTs and blockchain and I’m always kind of the person that sees the future and then I kind of share it with other people that I feel like may not be aware or have access to that information. And so, I was very vocal on my social platforms about NFTs in the blockchain. And the metaverse too and so I ended up starting a platform called Afro zero, that highlights black and indigenous people of color in the web three space. And so that’s still a developing project. But that was also where I built a lot of community, just meeting people. Really just by educating and onboarding, before I ever, like dropped anything. And so, I think, all of that work that I did, building community in that way, not even knowing that that was really the blueprint for success, is kind of what led to me having more success, on the long run when I actually started releasing my own music NFTs.

You know what that does, though. It reinforces your education, what you thought you knew about the space, and you’re constantly challenged by other people who don’t know much about it, and you’re always back at the drawing board, trying to come up with new education, new ways to onboard and new ways to communicate the gospel of crypto, right? And it’s very similar to my story TK, because when I got started in crypto in 2017, I read the Bitcoin white paper right before winter break came into my college and spent the four weeks just reading it. Just literally reading it locked in my room, reading the white paper and then going on Facebook groups on my university and asking people. Like if you want to learn about Bitcoin on a Saturday at 3pm, meet me in this room. I’m doing a lecture with a whiteboard, and I’ll be teaching you about Bitcoin. And then I just did that weekend over weekend over weekend. The first session like three people came. And the next session, like a few other people came in and it grew to this community. And then I joined my friend, and then we grew this community called Trojan blockchain society, you know. And that sort of like set the road for me because what that did is like, I came with my own sort of things that I thought and how they existed, and people would always come back to me with questions. I’d go back to the drawing board, and I just like edit and repeat and repeat, edit, repeat, communicate, teach. Okay, this is what I discovered, these are smart contracts. Alright, this is this protocol. This is a difference in an L one and L two. You need to go through this like rabbit hole, that once I was in, there was no way of getting out. And it seems as if you went through a very similar experience getting your start to where you are today.

TK: Yeah, you know, one thing that has been consistent for me and one thing that I believe in is that the best way to learn is to teach. Going back to when I first learned how to engineer using Pro Tools, there was someone that came to me and said, hey, I’ll pay you 50 bucks an hour to teach me how to engineer and I taught myself as I was teaching him, right? So, the same principle applies for everything that you just said. And even for me, like it’s crazy how at the time I only knew probably a fraction of what I know now, but just that those small bits of information were so huge, like there was so groundbreaking, I guess for me and for also other people that I was telling, that I felt like I knew everything, right? And then like you said, as they’re asking questions, I’m like, well, I actually don’t know the answer to that. Let me like do a deeper dive and the cycle just kind of keeps repeating itself. 

Explanation of “Eternal Garden”

You know, we’re at a perfect inflection point in the interview because the sun is hitting your face in a majestic way. The jewelry is lighting up and it’s the perfect transition to talk about Eternal Garden. Like the whole ethos and the whole visual imagery of Eternal Garden was very majestic, to say the least, right? I want you to talk about Eternal Garden now because I remember when Eternal Garden came out. It was one of those projects that stood out because it was incredibly ambitious. It was, how many? It was a few hundred. What was it? Seven hundred NFTs, right? At point 07 Eth, right? With different tiers of access and allow listing and you knocked it out of the park. You legit knocked it out of the park. And I remember at the time seeing that on cross crypto Twitter, seeing people in these random telegram group chats talking about it. And Henry Chatfield, he’s like you got to look at this. Like you have to look at this. And I was like, wow, like you actually killed it. And I’m looking back at your journey TK, from being homeless. Will Smith in a room pounding you, being with the Rihanna and working with those people in the world. And I see your ambition level coming into crypto and it just makes sense. Like this energy that you have, I feel like it’s very contagious into everything that you do. It’s your level of curiosity, and then comes eternal garden, right? And it’s this monumental project that you came up with, really unique designs, really unique music. Tell me about it. Why was it called Eternal Garden? What was the project about? I’d love to learn more.

TK: Yeah, so kind of overall description first, Eternal Garden is a multimedia experience that spans the worlds of web two and web three. On the web two side, it’s a consistent release of singles to streaming platforms and social media platforms. On the web three side it was music NFT collection of 700 NFTs. There were seven songs, seven visuals, seven forbidden fruits, which on sound are golden eggs, special Edition NFTs. And it was definitely, it is definitely a world that I’m continuing to build over time and it’s a universe and a story that I’m bringing my fans, my collectors and my supporters into. So, you know, it was called Eternal Garden because my first ever music NFT heaven on earth, which I dropped on sound. We ended up taking the album cover which was created by my friend Carrie. And we were creating like Metaverse worlds out of it. We were creating more art out of it, and I needed to give it a name. If you look at it, it’s me kind of like standing in the middle of this water. And there’s like a garden with like mushrooms and all these different just kind of surreal artifacts like happening throughout the whole thing. And I was like I had to come up with a name and the first thing that came on my mind was Eternal Garden. So even though it was called Heaven on Earth, where I was the Eternal Garden. And then password was my second music NFT, and the cover of password is like me kind of floating, holding this giant key and behind me is this castle. And so, the reason we even came up with Eternal Garden as a whole was because I had you know, success releasing music NFTs, and I wanted to focus more on ensuring that my web two releases were successful as well. But web two and web three have kind of two different cadences, two releases. And so, we were like, okay, how do we capture both of these things at the same time? I have all this music that I need to release. Some of it has been released before, some of it is new. And so we decided, okay, well, let’s release music in web two on a consistent basis. But then we can package all this music together as one NFT collection. And so that was kind of the formula for why we went about releasing it that way, but we still needed the concept. And so, I was like, what if I framed all of this music as the prequel to heaven on earth and the prequel to password. What if I took heaven on earth, that’s a password kind of combined. The stories that I have in my head about them and create this like larger world. And eternal garden is telling the story that leads up to those songs which are like present day. And that was where it was birthed from. I ended up writing literally a full story, where if you can collect the music NFT, you can read the whole story and you can see all the visuals. And yes, definitely, you know, a manifestation of like, my creativity and my passion for world building. So yeah.

Navigating Technical Aspects of Crypto

What was the process like of putting that product together, more so on the technical front? Because I asked you this question because you’re creative. Yet, you are also diving into the technical trenches of crypto, right. And if you’re lucky enough to be in that moment in time where you saw Eternal Garden, go live and you went on the site, you’ll see that there were, those randomness to it, right? There were tears and stages of minting or all these different mechanics that now you’re seeing more and more artists do because people like you’re setting the example for it, right? What’s it like being in the technical trench of crypto? How do you navigate that?

TK: Man, it’s tough. It’s tough because there’s things at stake, like there’s real money at stake, right? With everything that you’re doing, even when you’re experimenting. And so, it took like, bro, I have dozens of notion pages and outlines, right? And decks and graphs and excel sheets of every specific detail of like the minting process, the quantity, the number, the smart contract, the protocol, the type of NFTs right. You know, even going back to like the wish songs were going to actually be on the project. You know, what platforms, the dates, the minting phases, having a presale and a public sale. And you know, how was I going to do, I don’t know, like, get people to commit to buying Eternal Garden NFTs before it came out and everything like that. I mean, you know, it was like maybe four months of like, serious really everyday locking in on fleshing out the concept of the project. But I think that maybe the first like month or so was where a lot of the blueprinting really happened and I was like okay, I feel solid about this. Now I’m spending the rest of the time really just like ironing out the details. But thankfully there are so many other incredible people that have created awesome projects and already set a lot of parameters in place that like, it was more so just like fitting pieces of a puzzle together, to make a successful project as opposed to just like building everything from scratch. And so, you know, even from just like a technical standpoint, sound had released their sound protocol. Like maybe a month and a half before I was planning to actually drop Eternal Garden. So that was great because I was like, okay, I could do this on sound now, right? I can use a protocol in in combination with bonfire. And you know, a lot of the work that I was doing to like hosted on my own smart contract and do token gating and all those things. It was really expedited by the work that they did you know. So, it takes a lot of planning, like you can’t skip any steps, or you will fall flat on your face, but it’s doable. It’s definitely possible for sure.

Future Plans for Fans and Collectors

The final question I have for you is, what’s next for your collectors? What should they be expecting next? Because I want to know your collectors, right? So, I want to know, not that I expect anything from you. The music is enough, right? But do you have anything in the works that we should be looking forward to?

TK: You know, this was tough because I don’t know when this is going to be dropped. And my manager is like, she’s always on me about, you know, which by the way, shout out to Lottie. Shout out to Lottie, shout out, Aiden, shout out Henry. They’re all, were super helpful in making Eternal Garden successful that was, you know. Lottie and Aiden specifically my team throughout the inception process and execution process for sure. And then, you know, Henry on like the back end of things, but what’s next? So, I mean, yeah, the project sold out several 100 NFTs in seven days. We raised 38.3 Eth over that time. You know, the project was number one, on the seven day charts is number one. On the 30 day charts, I was number three. All the time in primary sales on sound. For a good while now I’m number five. And because of that, like I attribute all that to my collectors, right? So, I’m somebody that’s been very big on making sure that their patient is, their patronage is rewarded. And that they feel like they’re getting something. They’re getting worth out of being a part of my collector family, as opposed to just like flipping NFTs. And so, to answer the question, we’re rolling this thing out for, now I was looking at like at least the next year, right? Like honestly, just for anybody that’s listening to this, like we’ve got Eternal Garden merch on the way, I’m dropping some things for creatives. So, there may or may not be some, may or may not be a sample pack, you know, for Eternal Garden. I also like partnered with a bunch of different platforms to roll out live concert experiences, AR experiences, Metaverse experience. Then also like content that can live in the web two world as well. A lot of the funding that came from the project is going to PR digital marketing, content creation, which only drives up the value of the NFTs first and foremost. I’m experimenting with different protocols for NFT renting and NFT staking so you can earn you know a token that I’ll drop eventually. I also am working with lens to help my collectors get on boarded to lens. I’m using Bello, you know to check out my analytics and make sure that, you know, I can offer the best things to my collectors as I continue to make, to have releases over time. And so there’s so much to look out for like, it’s actually, it’s getting crazy now where I’m just like, wow, like, you know, we’re really building so much. And so, I’m excited for everybody to experience like the worlds that we’ve been building and all the work that we’ve been putting in, because putting it in. Because it’s super immersive, it’s super experiential. And yeah, I think it’s going to change how we look at web three in artistry. So yeah.

Outro

I’m excited for you. TK this has been great. Congrats on all your success. I’m watching from a distance. Before I let you go. Where can we find you? Where can we learn more? Where can people tune in?

TK: Yes, sir. So, you can follow me on Twitter @TK the legend. You can follow me on Instagram @TK the legend. Pretty much anywhere you want to find me, it’s at TK the legend. I’ve got music on Spotify, Apple Music, title anywhere that you can stream music for sure. If you want to check out the Eternal Garden project itself. Website is eternal-garden.xyz. It’s hosted on bonfire. You can also listen to my NFT releases on sound, just type in TK or catalog or any aggregator sites as well. But yeah, outside of that, catch me somewhere in the Metaverse I’m saying so.

Let’s go. I love it. Catch him in the Metaverse. TK, till next time. Thank you very much. 

TK: Thank you for having me. Appreciate you, man. 

Categories
Podcast Transcript

How Web3 is Changing the Landscape of Social Media Monetization

Background

Mint Season 7 episode 5 welcomes Farokh, social media entrepreneur and Founder of Rug Radio. Throughout the hour, we dive into the world of web3 social, memes, and using NFTs to build communities.

We discuss the potential of monetizing your media using crypto primitives, common themes in viral meme pages and social media accounts, and strategies for turning web2 consumers into web3 collectors. Farokh also shares his motivation, focus strategies, and tips for other creators looking to start their own NFT-based media projects.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 04:50 – Common Theme in Viral Meme Pages and Social Media Accounts
  • 08:21 – Comparing Web2 Followers and Web3 Collectors
  • 10:02 – Being a Platform Rather Than a Follower
  • 11:56 – Rug Radio
  • 26:03 – Best Practices for Media Companies and Creators Using Crypto to Monetize
  • 32:45 – The Potential for Making Money from a Select Few in Web3 as a Creator
  • 36:03 – Potential Market Cap Growth in Tokenized Content
  • 39:50 – Strategies for Turning Consumers into Collectors
  • 41:58 – Suitable Types of Content for Tokenization
  • 46:37 – Motivation and Focus Strategies for Farokh
  • 48:59 – Tips That Would’ve Been Helpful to Know Before Starting Rug Radio
  • 51:05 – Outro

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Farokh, welcome to mint season seven, baby. Let’s go. Thank you for being on.

Farokh: Yo, yo, yo season seven, lucky number.

Lucky number

Farokh: I’m more of September 7th, I like that, like it’s meant to be.

I think this was meant to be actually because numbers just line up, energies line up. And I’m glad to have you here. The whole theme for season seven is all about white three media and crypto native content creators. You might know a thing or two about that. I don’t know.

Farokh:  Maybe we’ll see. Well, I’m trying as much as I got you though.

Intro

I think I think a good place to start Farokh, for those who don’t know you, for my audience. Just give a quick teaser about yourself, rug radio and all the good stuff that you do.

Farokh: Yeah, I mean, my name is Farokh Samad. You know, 28-year-old entrepreneur. I started media decentralized web three media ecosystem called rug radio last year. Actually, yesterday year ago, was when December 22, 2021, is when our membership pass was a free to mint, free claim, it was a year ago. So, we launched rug radio and also host of the Jim Web three morning show on rug radio and founder and so we you know, we do a lot, I’m sure we’re going to talk about this right now, with my background and you know, extensively social media. I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember, I’m 28 now. So, I’ve been doing this since I was 17 but as for fun when I was a kid, like always on it, I’m really an internet kid and then you know found the love for passion for NFTs and blockchain and just dove deep in February 2021 and I never looked back. So that’s the very long story short.

What is your first memory of the internet?

Farokh: When I was, when I lived in Montreal, so we first moved to Montreal. I’m born in Paris, we moved and then before moving 98 for one year and we were first moving I was like four or five and one of those dial up computers type thing. I guess that’s one of my first memories is, but flashing, I’ve never been asked this question. Wow. So, flashing and then a little later around those, that ages, trying those big things, you have those desk and put-up thing and like the days Yeah, well, first memories would be around that. I think.

So, what? You couldn’t like use the internet and call on the phone the same time?

Farokh: Things like that, like it was, I never really understood at the time, and I still don’t but that’s around then I think, make me feel old. I’m 28, like a child.

Were you a Facebook kid though or an Instagram kid.

Farokh: Facebook, 2012 when Facebook came out is when I was like fuck. So, 2012, no early 2008, 2008 I was 12. So, this one I was 12 years old, Facebook came out, so 2006 and I remember I had to lie about my age, so Facebook still thinks I’m 91 instead of 92, 94 because I had to say I was over the age. No, I put 95 instead of 93, instead of 94 to show was like 13 or 12. Remember the AS status that was blocked. There was no DMZ was just a wall, it was something and like whatever. And so yeah, I was a Facebook kid, I started early meme pages on Facebook at 13,14 years old. I did my High School’s meme page that was called CMF memes. You know every school had their meme pages not to run it on all, out of 800 students I had 800 likes, likes were followers back then, it was called was called likes. And then 2014, November is when I saw Instagram and I was like bang, all in, like eight years straight on IG, built a huge network on there but I was Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, no Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram through 2020, clubhouse, Twitter again.

What was high school Farokh like?

Farokh: I mean I went to like this like strict French, like school here in Montreal, is like French system from like the French government. So, I was a kid that like actually had good grades, my Persian mom devastating for my mom. But you know, it’s, you know high school means just like I don’t know, it was just like very like, I was, I think I’ve been the same since ever, like from the stories I’m hearing as a kid child, as a baby. Even my mom tells me like have always been the same, so very energetic, very like always happy and shit and then but also like you know, I had like good grades ish but it was also really, like I used to talk a lot in classes to get a booted a class, like the most out of every figure. But it’s yeah, that’s high school me but I was cool dude, I was a kid trying to become class pres, like help other people out. I started the first ever strike in the history of my school since 90.

Strike?

Farokh: Yeah, they kicked out a kid for no reason, our school was very strict. And if there was unfair, like sorry group on Facebook, we went on strike for whatever, they refuse to take our math books out of the thing, then they seem really fucking, all the principles to school do you want me in the fucking office and shit. No, get down with the people you already know. You know.

Common Theme in Viral Meme Pages and Social Media Accounts

The rebel, the rebel and I feel like that character also shows on the day to day of hosting rug radio, the GM show and every everything that you’ve sort of done leading up to where you are today. Each and every platform, at least it seems like from an outsider’s perspective, every platform that you that you’ve been on, you’ve managed to build a viral audience around, whether it be around your personal brand or even reflecting on the meme pages that you started. And I feel like there’s something that you can take away from every single platform, that you’ve sort of like build an audience around, that you continuously use and create, like feedback loops with. Share with me, what are those feedback loops, those lessons learned from the meme pages. The Instagram accounts, the Tumblr pages, the Twitter pages, web three. Like what, is there any underlying theme between all those accounts? 

Farokh: That was what fascinated me day one, is that from the tip of your thumbs, you have access to millions of people for network from anywhere you want. And that’s why we show the formula, yeah, no, it’s busted up. But this is quick. 

Shout out. 

Farokh: Yeah. But it’s, but that’s always fascinated me, that no matter where you’re from, what religion you practice, what your beliefs are, whatever, like I started luxury pages on Tumblr early on. And when I was 47 years old, called Mr. Good Life, and I shared this, I was really, I had a fight. I had a passion for fine jute, like fine watches, architecture, nice cars, mama said since I was a child, I just always run after like Ferraris and stuff, and nice cars, and I was obsessed with it, collect Hot Wheels, watch f1. So, I was always obsessed with it, and find craftsmen and so, I started blog. The point being is it what struck me is that I learned throughout three years of doing this, that I will have followers, people from all over the world, that were following me and send me messages and no matter what they believed in, whether they fought between the countries, whatever they would like the same things. And so, what’s always fascinating with web two, and social media is that it can, it’s the power to recoup millions and hundreds of billions of people now, on to social networks, web three just empowers them. And then we’ll talk about it later, I’m sure but like, there’s ways to tap into that and empower people and creators and whatnot. But and these people, this network of people, so it’s a layer on top, but still like it was a common theme. We gathered around my High School’s Facebook page, we gathered around my Twitter, which was Montreal province, remember all something problems, they sit in New York, I ran Montreal province to take, like 2015 or like Middle Eastern problems, like Persian problems, like I am Persian, like, but it’s in then like the luxury pages and I started network of like 15 pages on Instagram with 15 million followers. I went from zero to 10 million followers in one and under two years on IG, around luxury, love, life hacks, nature, travel, pets, like different channels, right? And so, people were groups, it was always this like, it’s now NFTs web three. When I saw on February 18, 2021 when NFT was, it was I immediately got it because I had already been doing this for like 10, 12, 13, whatever it is. And I was like, but you’re telling me that now it’s this community on steroids because we all add to each other. And there’s actually this like feeling that you can give and receive at the same time and built to like togetherness, right? There’s like something there. So that’s what got me really early into the commute because I was like, I’m not a crypto G, I’m an internet kid. I understand communities, my expertise. I’ve been doing it 10 years already. So now there’s something can build on this layer on top of it. What the blog and then I found out that this is what the blockchain is.

Comparing Web2 Followers and Web3 Collectors

So, on that path. Okay, I like to break things down into model. And I’m trying to understand from your perspective, how you see the equivalent of a web two follower in web three, is that reminiscent of a collector in your eyes?

Farokh: In web two were publishers, and then went three were platforms. So, you were all platforms, every single network participant within the rug radio ecosystem is a platform, whether you’re a holder, whether you’re daily listener, participant, whether you’re a creator, you are platform. And that’s the beautiful thing about the space, artists that we go through art first, right? Artists are platforms, right? And so, the that’s why mindful shout out t Richard and their team, they Empowered that, they say own your platform, mint on your own smart contract, do this, you’ve seen it, like they do their own thing of ownership. It’s like the ethos, it’s like the core of our space. Now, when it comes to these followers, per se, they’re each different platforms, but also network participants. And they add to it, they’re not just, you go from publisher to platform, but you also go from consumer to participant. I don’t call our listeners on rug radio on our show, and every people with rug radio, NFTs consumers, I really call them participants because each one of them together, adds value to the show, which then add value to the Creator, then adds value to the show, then via the network, which is rug radio, which then rug radio manage to properly bring that value back to the participants and the creators of it. So, it’s just like that, but starts from the grassroots. I’ve always had a very reverse engineering type of mentality, no matter what I did, even on Instagram, and I think that’s how it works in this space also. Though, within.

Being a Platform Rather Than a Follower

So, part of being a platform, I’m trying to understand, just refine that more, because I talked about that concept a lot. Like wherever you go, your community follows, right. And there aren’t any gated silos or walled gardens anymore. But from your perspective, as someone who’s built, like the media brand that you’ve built, the number of participants that you have around the brand, what are the benefits of being a platform that you sort of couldn’t do with being a follower? Like break that down a little bit more.

Farokh: I think it’s like, in terms of a network effect. Like, as a follower, if you’re just a follower, I feel like it’s just there’s not that like tie, that’s like, there’s no special tie, there’s not a bond. So some people, like there’s some people that choose to just be follower of, but that’s not the kind of people you want, when you’re building your brand, or anything or network, try and build their community or like a project or anything, you really want the type of people that are participants, because they’re going to take actions and gonna help you, in order to build what you’re trying to do. But also, it’s going to help them back. There’s like these two ways conversion here. This is two-way street between you and the holder, like the blockchain, either the layer where people could just listen to my show, or they could decide to buy the rug radio NFT and thus becoming an active network participant. And then not only do I get something out of it as a creator, but also as the network or rug radio to get something out of it. But also, you do, because you will get value added back out of being part of this community. By value, I do not mean money, monetary, that’s secondary, right? But the primary value is all the added things that you can provide to someone who participates within your ecosystem. And you probably see it, you have people listen to your show, the participant listens, counts, shares, comments, people may be reaching out to you or helping you, your team. But there’s difference between feeling just follows you to just like, follow you.

Rug Radio

Got it. Yeah. So that brings me to my next question, recognizing this shift in structure, this shift in attention. This shift in participation, that’s what led you to start rug radio, or how did rug radio come into the picture? Because I remember you being super active on clubhouse, and like owning that stage. And then now Twitter spaces came in and own that stage, too. So, was it like the next obvious step to do this incredible brand or walk me through that?

Farokh: So, like you said, So December 2O, 2020. So, I’m almost closing in on two years of doing this every single day. There is the everyday, multiple times a day, some days. But December 2022, I found out what clubhouse was, and I was P quarantined in Montreal, Quebec, like Christmas time you do nothing else. It’s got obsessed with life social audio, because I really understood the power because I already understood the power of voice. But now you’re telling me instead of video, image, whatever people value you for what you have in here. And what you have to say, right? Now just smart things. If you’re singer, if you’re musician, creator, you’re creative, like things you know that you could share. So, I mean, there’s live social audio, power, so I decided that I will just like go all in on clubhouse and then three months I and I already built like 75,000 followers on clubhouse by February, I had the biggest like social media club called all things social media, maybe 30, 40,000 members. I had the biggest NFT Club today called NFT. I was the first person to register the word NFT on clubhouse, so like that probably has like 50, 70k. I have to go check back, I haven’t looked since but like, so I was hosting. So, it was, I was getting to this social media club but then found out what NFT was one night February 18, 2021. In this clubhouse room out of all places, which pop like thank you, it was fuck Victor mascara Tommy Kimmelman, Richard. All these legends like Cory and Greg, Mike, lady Phoenix, on one stage like and I was like, whoa, like what is this. How does it work? Blockchain, art, what NFT. What’s an NFT? Like, I was obsessed. Then, that night, from midnight to 4am. I asked all these questions, it clicked. I don’t know how to like to tell you in a more honest way. Like it just clicked. And that’s why I say it anyone who asked me, it’s just like I understood the power of community. I noticed a season music production, I’ve understood memes because I’ve been creating the memes of production for 10 years, right? I’ve been doing this meme since you know, the kid with the first like the troll phase like the OG memes were just like writing on top bottom, toss that, you didn’t used to, memes are like, also to be used right? Like you know memes like that, right, like that kind of thing. And so, I was a creator of memes in a way, a distributor of memes, I understood always community building and had built millions of tens of millions of followers on other platforms before I’ve been doing this. And so, I understood and then all I had to do is had someone knocked me in and make me understand how blockchain adapts without crypto and web three mixed this better and amplifies it, right, and understood that night. Next thing you know, next day, I pretty much shut down my business. I was doing marketing, media marketing and that was in communication strategies on social platforms for eight years, Good Life Media and like I had a whole thing going on. 50 million followers, massive network, like I shut down my clients to zero and I bought my first NFT three days after December 21st, 2021. Micah Johnson, Aku Genesis, and I never looked back. And then in June of that year, I saw Twitter spacey starting to take over, I was like, well, so I was always very good at adapting and changing. Like I’ll quit a platform if I see it’s running to the wall. I saw Tumblr die, I’m out, 2014 I went to Instagram, all in, wrote the Instagram is still killing it. Instagram is still very important big, right? We can get to that. But anyways, so Twitter, clubhouse boom, so Twitter boom, so I went to Twitter to do the spaces thing, just like on clubhouse. And then on September 19, 2021, you know, I was hosting a 10-hour Twitter space, whatever, you know, we get down and like we’re talking all things web three, social media with a conversation like this. Like we’re chilling, like 10 of us, thousand people in the audience, fucking crazy. It keeps rugging, rugging, it keeps opening the Twitter space again. I’m like, yo, I’m gonna call this rug radio. It’s like a radio show because I’m running 10 hours straight. And people listen to me, to this person, to that person, to this person to this person. I was always very good at like, you know, like motivating the stage. And then like, and then next thing you know someone in my Discord because I had started discord 12 days later, earlier for my birthday, called House of Farooq. Someone’s like yo, I gotta go to back up my $11 hour job tomorrow. I was like, fuck it. How can we create your timing through, all I’ve learned from blockchain last like since February to September, like so it’s like nine months, it’s six months, seven months. Anyway, part of my math I just said, I can’t calculate but I was like, and I was like, is there a way to create a media company is decentralized. So, we’re also a decentralized in and Daos, Daos and I was very curious about Daos and I love Daos personally, but is there a way to build a decentralized media ecosystem that we all collectively can add value to the network and we get value back from it, where people are rewarded to listening because people spend 10 hours just now with us. We were on the 10th hour, most people spend 10 hours with us, listening. How can they get something out of it, right? So, they can educate, entertain themselves and web three because I generally think this can change lives and has changed my life, has changed your life I’m sure, you want to assume but it’s changed a lot of lives around us. And so, came rug radio and we went to the drawing board and two and half months later, we launched a free membership pass and then we sold the NFT is January 11th of this year and everything you have seen in lasts almost 12 months, working rocking and rolling.

Crazy. 12 months, you’re like what the hell, that was only 12 months ago. 

Farokh: Anything I’ve reflected on, actually last night I wrote a post late about being our one year since the free membership pass mint that I minted, mint number one then everybody started minting him. And I reflected on seven, 5:35pm Eastern Standard Time, December 22 last year. And it was a free mint, 90,000 individual people got to mint rug radio membership pass for free. We managed to get one to one at first, on the very first match, back then gets like 500 bucks. I just checked I paid $30 guests for that membership pass. It was like we managed to get a low way and everything. So, it was like fair launch and it’s crazy. I do reflect on that, this week I did. And I will probably rest of the week coming. But it’s crazy.

If you could sum up those 12 months into one single word. What would it be? 

Farokh: Chaos. 

Okay, elaborate on that.

Farokh: I want to find that thread. I just, actually asked because I want to read from it, because it was, I said it really well at the time. But I wrote a thread the other day about being a founder in the space, because I was actually starting my reflection like you’re saying, and I said.

You’re like don’t do it if you can’t take it. That was like, that’s like the tone that the whole thread started with, yeah, there was so much other value in there, I want to hear.

Farokh: It was meant to be one tweet, but then I was listening to like this James Brown Christmas, I have with them, and I was high, and I was jamming low. And I was like, I feel like I need to write. I kept writing three three, it’s four tweets, seven tweets, to keep going until 16. But I said there’s something about the chaotic energy, at times it can really take you down and make you feel like no matter how hard you try; you will never be able to make it but the rest of the time you realize you are at the forefront of something that can change the world. And so chaos in a way that, this year we saw it all. We came in hot from 2020 to 2022, we were rich, we were launching, things were fucking killing it, our NFTs were worth whatever Eth was 4k And you know what I mean, though, that we were rich.

The WAG me energy. 

Farokh: By the way, I’m still a strong believer in it, right? But then February came, all this stuff, bear market, my first cycle, my first bear personally so obviously, for me personally has been the year of lessons, meaning, I’ve seen all-time highs and money that I think could have changed my life with my family, girlfriend everything to like whoa, wow, that’s what they meant by like watching an unrealized net worth evaporate in a few days and weeks. So sat while building right we lost our way to January 11 bro, so my year has literally been building this thing. January 11, when we sold 19,000 NFTs at a point 11 Eth and we kept 1000 back, so we wait. We sold 2100 Eth worth of NFTs that day. And since then, I’ve spent every single day trying to like to become better as a founder, learn the ropes and doing it properly. And also, like being very, having this like personality and public brand, facing brand and space, you’ve probably seen it, you’re part of the community, good things, bad things was like maneuvering everything this year of grill. So, this drill, I would say chaos, but also growing pains, which is good and bad. And I wrote about it too.

With that, I feel like there needs to be certain feedback loops, that you continuously kind of like you get feedback from, essentially, you know, how to improve things that you made mistakes on, where you can optimize, how you can delegate. What do your feedback loops look like? How did you put the system into place?

Farokh: There’s many, so there’s feedback loops from like, people close to you. And they can, you can. it’s all about surrounding yourself by the right people. Pretty tough, hardest part but there’s feedback loops from a community when you have a very large audience. So, it’s, I usually see like, you know, within our own community or greater holders, people around, I’m pretty good at maneuvering like social platform, like twitter, and like reading, like how people can be sentiment and whatnot, how things are getting received and done and whatnot, you know, I can see when something switches also like, oh, wait, people are catching on to this, you know, this or that. And so, and then also on the market, I have an NFT out obviously. So, like, you see it fluctuate on the price of your floor. But that’s harder, because of course, like people also control forces just by law or video controls for the watch trade on tokens, okay from tokens, like there’s all these things, but there’s many feedback loops in this space, which is amazing. That’s the beautiful thing about decentralized ecosystem, is that feedback loops can come out of, like so many different places. You just have to be good at like, understanding the signals. And like knowing and accepting when to have to change something, accepting don’t know something and understanding where to take it next. I think it’s important. Like there was a point in July 26 of this year, was our lowest point where rug radio was point 09 Eth floor, under men for the first time ever, that lasted about an hour. First time ever. The biggest punch my face you could ever give me is that there’s no personal punching you in the face. I don’t give a shit, I can get back from all the thoughts, whatever it is, because I just work hard and focus but professionally, I was like wow, like that’s not who I am, fuck. You never been like yo, fuck this, you know that I was like and so I turned that whole thing around, brought on the right people into the company and we went up 500% over this. What terrible bear market today and now you’re seeing all the good stuff happening with rug radio, but that’s comes from like, understanding feedback from the market, holders, community, broader Twitter ecosystem that they don’t like how, whether you’re acting, behaving, responding to things, working, delivering, and accepting that and being able to like to become better.

So, in that period, then what did you do more of and what did you do less of? How did you restructure?

Farokh: More bringing people that will actually help and surrounding yourself by people who actually add value like direct. Less focusing on the bullshit, the way to put it, like on like the low hanging fruit stuff, like less focusing on trading and trying to buy NFTs and this and that because no matter even if I have good intentions, people will try and make it look a certain way. It’s unfair and not true. For the most part, I generally mean that and less bickering and fighting over small things and more focusing on like, Mando sat me down pretty much one day and that’s why we never like, he like DMed me, like so what’s up, we’re best friends, we talk every day. I was on the phone with him until like five minutes coming in here. Like, I was like bro, because I called him on July 26. Because I need help, can you come help me, Keith Grossman, called him, said I need help. I hit a wall. I’m solo founder. I don’t know where to go with this right now. I have an idea, a beautiful idea, I’ve insane creativity. I know, this could become the biggest fucking thing in the space. But I need help and they came in. But Mando came and said, yo, you have the chance, the opportunity to build a billion dollar brand here, right, and something big. And he said in these terms, he said, do you want to focus on the short term, bullshit little thing? Or do you want to build something that’s literally going to be the biggest thing? And I was like that, and I knew that. But it was maybe good for someone to come and say yo, what is like, where’s the party? Keith Grossman, same thing. Where’s your party? Is the here or is it there? And it’s things like that and putting the right people in place and building the right you know, team around it. So, it takes a lot of growing bro. Like it takes a lot, it’s a lot more, that’s why I wrote the thread. People think is just hosting on Twitter and tweeting left and right. It’s managing teams, human capital, people, we have 15 people between part time and full time and rug radio right now, from five in the top of the bear. So, we’ve also grown to the like 30 creators, 30 or 40 creators, growing you know, it’s like, it’s a liquid engine now, partners, sponsors, business professionally, there’s so many ties now. It’s like, all these things behind the scenes. Like this week, for me, it was like, the longest week of the year, and I’m actually closing with you, because after this thing, I’m out. I’m gonna go, I’m gonna go get my acupuncture done. Go do you know, Shabbat and my girlfriend’s family because they’re Jewish in the Hanukkah week. Thank you. I mean, from my girlfriend. This week of my family, like, you know, it was a week of like, cause, cause, cause, work, work, work anyway. It’s just like, it’s nonstop.

Best Practices for Media Companies and Creators Using Crypto to Monetize

Part of hosting season seven all about, essentially creating content that’s worth collecting, web three media, crypto native content creators, is bringing people like you, Farokh, and reflecting on what it really means to build a web three enabled media company, and then building a network of crypto native creators. I want to pick your brain more on that subject specifically, okay. I’m curious how you’ve seen crypto affect the way we consume and create content as a whole, because we’re seeing people use NFTs, these token primitives, as a way to build, monetize and co-own their audience, right? And this is something that we were never able to do in web two. And like you said, there’s incentive alignment with bringing in the element of ownership, right? My bet is that every creator in some way, shape or form is going to be crypto native, in the next few years, right? Whether it be from the tickets that they sell to their concerts, that they have no idea what’s happening on the hood, selling digital merch and all these digital experiences around it. What are some ways that you’ve seen best practices of how media companies have enabled the use of crypto and how creators have used crypto as a way to build monetize on their audience?

Farokh: I think it’s like, we’re not yet like, creating like, I don’t think crypto has yet changed the way we consume content, or the way we participate, sorry, it didn’t change the way we consume content, the sense that we’re still using web two platforms. And like, I’m very well aware that rug radio started off with like Twitter spaces, now going out of all the different platforms throughout literally everywhere, now, it’s going to be even more now. And but that’s going to change with time, because we’re early, it’s not a bad thing, because we’re so early, right? It’s like, we have all the lenses. And the forecast is that all these different companies and brands that like you know, do the web three stuff. And so that’s going to come, we’re developing our own tech internally, and we’re doing a bunch of cool stuff, but like, so but it has changed slowly and will change over long term, what we get for participating within content or creating content or putting something out there. The added value of having a rug radio NFT, is not that you get to consume different type of content, or content is free. There’s no token gating of content within how we’re building, and I don’t, that’s not how I do it. Personally, I’m a big fan of token gated content. But that doesn’t mean doesn’t work for others. I was sitting down in Paris, have real vision, that was we had a conversation around that. And it went pretty well. For them. It’s like an add on, maybe director’s cut all these different things. I liked that but hear me out. For us the value is not, like I think content and access which should be democratized and free because how can we talk about onboarding another 100 million people into crypto and NFTs and web three, if we’re not going to like to give them a chance to with like, give them the content, we have to give them almost on a silver platter. And so, but the added value of being part of the ecosystem, well, you get you have the NFT, you get tokens yielded daily for being there. While now we launched our rewards program this week, actually last Friday. So, exactly a week ago but really push this week. Some of our shows you can get rug token for being a participant in it, for tweeting, for interacting with it, for coming in discord, not just the GM and what up like actually like interacting with being a part of and you can do different things and claim different things and reward. So that we’ll be building for the first quarter of next year. But it’s the added-on top of that, because web three doesn’t kill web two and web two is not a bad. That’s what a lot of people there’s a misconception. The way web two brands and companies and platforms were built are not incentivizing us enough as creators and participants and it’s wrong. The trillion-dollar meta valuation at some point, the $50 billion Twitter valuation, the clubhouses came because of you, me and everybody else. Someone, once they shook me, they were saying, why are you doing all this content, where everyone’s rallying around getting nothing because I don’t need to get nothing out of it. Dude, for most of my life have gotten nothing out of platforms I’ve built on top of, I’ve built a fucking business on Instagram of myself. I had to go on the side, get clients, everything. Ethereum never gave me something crazy on the platform. But we all like the added value to the network, but in this sense, in web three changes everything. Because in web two, it’s platform first creator, and then consumer and web three is just an everlasting circle, but starts with the participants because you become participant, the creator is educators most important people in the space, right? The most important creators, the educators and people out there, the entertainers, and then the network gets the value, but they don’t really, like I was saying earlier. So, I think it really changed the way, not the way it’s consumed, but the way you know, it elevates and enhances experience of it. And I love the ticket and you’re saying about the access, like the best used case for NFTs, aside from like gaming alone, people love to talk about gaming is media, it’s access, it’s ticketing, it’s rewarding, right? Like people, you do your NFTs for them, for the show, maybe people buy it, you buy, like this goes back also to helping you like. This stuff clearly comes free, you know, the road caster, all this stuff, like, you know, like, and at scale, we have a lot of creators that we’re trying to help. Like, you know, it’s definitely not free and not easy. So, I think that’s what it is, I think it’s, it allows us to layer on top of it, and we’ll see where it goes next. But it definitely gives more power to the creator. And that’s very important and every platform right now is fighting for attention from creators, what Elon is tweeting about rewarding creators better than they’ve done at YouTube before. Even though the jokes of Mr. Beast being CO Twitter and all these things, like because they understand that it’s either you adopted that or die. But the problem is with based companies in large platforms, it’s taken them too long to adapt to like, so we’re gonna see at some point, this new platform come out, and it’s gonna be it and it’s gonna work out, where like everyone can build on top of. That’s what we’ve built something’s platform agnostic, that we can tap on top of everything. That’s a beautiful part of the Ethereum blockchain Legos.

So, on that concept of media Legos, there will be a platform, what’s going to cause that platform to win? Like, what does that platform need to get right?

Farokh: I mean, content is king, but distribution is queen. I’ve been saying this for over 10 years now. And that’s why I’ve always tried to master the business of distribution. And even at rug radio, if you’ll see at some point will become much more on the distribution level, to help creators distribute the content, because they are the platforms, right? And they own their content, their IP, you don’t want to take that away from people in this space. It’s the worst thing. And so, I think the proper one is going to master distribution. And then everything I’ve been talking about, like the reward side, and like the incentive, and everything and also have all the good stuff. Like we love Twitter for a reason. Like there’s something about Twitter, it’s like the conversation. Now if they managed to add video for like the nicely, and then with, you know, I don’t know, I don’t know yet exactly what looked like, last, I’d be doing it. 

The Potential for Making Money from a Select Few in Web3 as a Creator

So, that that brings up another question because that’s you kind of alluding to, that we should be building still for distribution and virality, maybe versus building for like a select few, right? Like in crypto and web three as a creator, there’s this notion that you can make money off of select few, right? And create the content that you love if you find your pockets, your niche pockets, just do what you want to do, sell those NFTs, create content that’s worth collecting, and you can make a living, but you’re suggesting that actually it’s a build towards better distribution, right, more virality, more eyeballs? Or is it a mix of both or how do you see it?

Farokh: I don’t know yet. Like I just love how Twitter works. But as far as but there’s just something about it. It’s just like, if they managed to keep all the attention within one app, like I know, in the other side of the world, they have WeChat just like everything else, right? And it’s working pretty well. Like we don’t have that on this side of the world yet. When are we gonna get it, like the super app that has all of the elements that people looking for, like clubhouse is the best live social department, so fucking good, but I want it on Twitter, you fill me. I love Instagram, I’m an Instagram kid, you know, made me in a way, still have millions of followers on there. I want to go on there. I want to do my stories on Instagram. I love Instagram stories. I’m a big Instagram stories because I had posters almost every day, added my own photos. I’m a big like, I love photography. So, I take my own but like point being like, I wanted fleets like it was on Twitter like I just wish everything was one place. And there’s gonna be the everything up next on this side of the world. It’s for sure but WeChats been there for whatever long, like over there, like they have it already. Imagine the one that matters this with Blockchain integration web three integrations, right so it’ll take time but every five years, every few years, like your last one that came out of nowhere, which blow everyone out of their seats will be like, before I’m talking even, before like Tik Tok and Snapchat before that. It was like Vine, all these ones and then there’s gonna be that one. That’s going to be like, that’s gonna come out. I’m gonna, like dominate in a way and take so much attention. So, we’ll see. That’s why I’m sure Elon, I’m bullish on Elon on Twitter, because I have a feeling that’s the vision. Yeah. I mean, yeah, I’m one of them. But, you know, I think that’s the vision from what I’ve gathered, like a thing that’s the vision. And yeah, and then anyone can build their own little platforms and tap onto that, we’re building on platform, we’ve been working on for months already, which is like web three enabled platform that allows you to like, you know, get rewarded for consuming content, particularly with content on set platform, but in a way through the blockchain, and through our dynamic NFT, which is our membership passes, we can track better and create better for type of content you want. And also cater for poapp tokens, whatever it is, and experience for you, but also like reward system based on like, who you listen to more like, oh, I listened to Adam Levy more to Austin, on this morning show. I know that so all these metrics on chain, like I have a big vision for media, I think it’s gonna take us a few more years to get to where I’m trying to get, I think, maybe two or three years, where you’re in. So, into your two but it’s, you know, I think there’s just, you know, content on chain, all these metrics on chain curation, aggregating of content like this, I’m bullish on those types of things. That’s where my head is at for next year.

Potential Market Cap Growth in Tokenized Content

So, let’s talk about user generated content as an asset class from it. Okay. How do you think the value of tokenized content and just UGC in general compared to traditional assets like stocks or real estate? Do you think there’s a market of competition or do you think content in itself, tokenized content will reach the market caps of industries like those? Any thoughts on that?

Farokh: I’m not too sure on that part. Like I don’t know where it’s gonna go. But like I love, I’m a big UGC guy, bro. Like I studied Warby Parker when I was like, I’m a social media nerd in numbers nerd, I like deep dive, like in my spare time into that stuff behind the scenes. And I just love it like Warby Parker got like a one to $3 billion valuation to classes 56,000 pieces of user generated content. And that was their only marketing. There you go. But guess what, like they were pushing people to tweet hashtag, like Instagram and all that stuff. And so, I used to do like viral marketing and all that stuff. And it was big. It was a lot of it, it was UGC. And I will use it with like, pay out like tons of micro influencers and influencers across the world, like up to 100 million followers worth like, across the book and like have them like do content, whatnot. But the other day like UGC, like when all these companies are using these people to get through binder brands, the people got nothing. Oh, they got to repost in the Warby Parker Instagram account. It’s great, but like, and maybe some of you don’t give a shit, like don’t do anything. But for those who want and can get something, I think it’s like, incentivize like, I love the Instagram platform, Twitter, I love the idea of like NFTs on Instagram, because what if I go get, go to brunch place, and I take a bomb picture, which I do, and I post it on my feed, but it’s on chain, which is dope, what is the restaurant when they just buys it as an NFT, 5, 10 bucks, 100 bucks, whatever it is, you can use it. And then market like, it just enables so many things that people are not thinking about, which is cool and allows everyone. Now, not everything is to be a micro transaction or transactional professional, but it’s cool to have this provenance. It’s cool to have like these, you know, these you know, these data points and whatnot.

You know your comment of like Warby Parker building this billion-dollar enterprise and then having the end user kind of like create their own free marketing around it. And then the comments of like, they don’t get anything for it. My devil’s advocate mind comes in is like, did they need to get anything for it? Like the system works, right? Like they got the sunglasses that they love? Why do they need upside and CO ownership, right? 

Farokh: You’re right.

And I try to think to, Farokh, like, this whole narrative of co-ownership, are we pulling that out of our ass because we’re getting greedy, and we see the value we’re creating? And because not everybody realized and quite frankly, not everybody cares. Like people just want. So, what is the market like for people like that as a whole?

Farokh: I don’t know. I think some people will always just remain like the passive, like consumer, that just doesn’t care. Like a lot of gamers just wanna play games. I’m gonna fuck with NF T’s, like they actually hate NFTs, whatever, right? So, I was on the stage last night we get related, Jonah Soby, Bryson, everything we talked on Spaces about that, like a lot of gamers are still like, they don’t care, right? They don’t want to make money out of playing and they want to play fucking video games. Like they love that stuff is their passion. And some people just want to consume content, like listen to the show, cuz they don’t care about getting the rug token, they don’t care, right. But there’s a lot of people do. So, I think if we put our focus towards them first, without shoving web three down people’s throats and forcing them into it. That’s how it works. I mean, it’s almost like Reddit, Twitter, Instagram, like all these platforms, like Ticketmaster. Ticketmaster gave out 10 million NFTs this year. So, people don’t talk about or mentioned a lot, but people don’t know. And people are not going to know. The adoption of media and NFTs in general, on the blockchain is not going to be through like people necessarily knowing that they’re getting an NFT. You know, and I think that’s also a major part of it.

Strategies for Turning Consumers into Collectors

So, on that topic, then how do we turn more consumers into collectors because every collector is a consumer, but not the other way around? Yeah. What do you think the strategy is for that?

Farokh: By the value you managed to bring, so a lot of people listen to my show, that doesn’t mean that they are holders. But a lot of people in the last couple of weeks have noticed through market sentiment on Twitter, because like, oh, I’ve been listening to Farokh all this year, because maybe they’re reflecting on the year or whatnot. Or I’ve seen rug radio a lot every year, not just for 30 creators, so they it was international digital metal. Also now, want to be part of it. So, it’s like the added value. That’s why as a founder in the space, you need to always focus, this was very hard, you have to focus on the day to day, hour to hour minute to minute sentiment on people, you have to focus on building a company, which is, this isn’t the other currency for another hour, right. And then you have to focus on bringing value back. We talked about earlier, which again, not monetary values on the, if you get what I’m talking about, bringing genuine value back to the ERC 721 that you sold, in this community that you’re talking about. And so that’s very hard. And so, if you managed to master at least two of them, you’ve been a good place. And and the thing, that’s the added value, it’s like this, how he turned consumers to participants, is by giving them the proper value. Someone asked me the other day; I already have a rug radio NFT. What’s the added value having to because I’m contemplating it, but right now it’s little more expensive, like why would I want to. And my answer was, well, because you want, maybe you want more rug token because NFT has rug token and also, we have a PFP coming up and you get something else, that’s added value that they’re going to be able to do with it. But with regards to access one NFTs, you have 150 or 300, you saw the same I have access to what we’re building. So, it’s just like the little things very intricate, it’s tough, you have to really focus on, that’s why I said like, if you’re thinking of doing this, you know, you can’t do it can’t take it, don’t do it. Because there’s a lot. There’s a lot that you’ve maneuvering with, your 15, 25 employees, 100 employees, your 10,000 holders, millions of people on social media, like you know.

Suitable Types of Content for Tokenization

Right. So, on the subject of creating content, okay, do you think there’s types of content that are more suitable to be tokenized versus others?

Farokh: I mean, there’s ways to tokenize almost every piece of content, like your podcast, you do seasons, right? Once a season, we don’t really tokenize our content yet, we may do some stuff we’re exploring, but like, you know, we’re thinking both things.

So that’s, by the way, that’s a question right there, why haven’t you dived into tokenizing your content yet making that collectible.

Farokh: Because in a way like we already have our set of collectible assets, that brings you back to you, so I want to find a way to do it without having to dilute or confuse the ecosystem. We have the membership pass already, which is a low hanging say $20, point 01 Eth and that gives you access to the ecosystem events, with a free merge do bunch of cool stuff allow this so much and the platform comes out, it’s gonna be key to get in web three. It’s a rewatched program, you can only access a rewatched program if you have either Genesis pass or Genesis NFT, the membership has an NFT, right. And then we have the rug radio NFT, which shields token system or premier asset that people pay point 11 Eth, that’s around point four Eth right now on the floor, but like, but that one ERC token, it was more. So now if I start giving out NFTs for every single show, I almost every day, bro, like my morning show, like with OSA for Mando, is how many episodes a year, it’s like five days a week for 52 weeks. It’s 260 episodes a year. Well, maybe we’ll do weeklies, maybe we’ll do monthlies. I like pull ups and stuff. For us is gonna be once like the platform is ready. You’ll be able to work people maybe art and token and this and they will also have a token, we have the rug token, ERC 20. And then here’s another one that stood rubbed out token. So, I already have a lot going on. You get the rug token, you can get the rug token for utility or you can swap, it’s 100 of it for Dao token, which is governance and everything, we actually run rug radio as a proper Dao, like that when we put a million dollar budget towards the Dao, I had to make a proposal to the Dao in the open, explain why the money how I’ve been doing quarterly reports. Like we actually report how much we made, where we spent the weather and everything. So, it’s we already have a lot. So that’s what Farokh has to why not doing it. But in general, for people I think tokenizing content is core more about the memory, like we dropped a pull up on September 19 2021 when I came up with the idea of a radio and that’s iconic now, we broke, we actually broke, like for five hours engineers had to get back to work and like get booted back up again, it was crazy, but like everybody who has the rug radio pull up, from that day I’m fighting for you but knows that it was the moment of the conception of rug radio. So, I was more refined for this stuff, for like specific like moments, events like you know, collectibles, like you do seasons, I‘m a big fan of that, I love that. Talks about doing things like so many times and it’s really cool. Like, I’m a big fan, I think. I think everyone should do something on chain, like it’s awesome. Like I love showing my, I mean, I’m also like you are probably a big nerd so I love showing my NFTs but like, now it’s like, I’m gonna find it for you immediately. But you know, it’s just something about it like though, you know.

How do you think the bear market has changed the way we create? Oh shit, look at that. 

Farokh: That’s for rug’s wallet, so everyone can see my rugs and everything I went, September Yeah, it’s all there, start date. It’s so funny. You go to the details, if the contract address and the date and time of it like you know, things like that, like it’s so fun. But what was your question? Sorry.

No, you’re good. I’m glad I saw that. Because that’s like memorabilia right there. That’s my momentous, you know that. That’s as OG as it gets. And so, celebrating the origin.

Farokh: You know some people come up to me in events, like you, I was one of the people that was there with the poapp, imagine 5 years, given that we become very successful, what we do as a network and with everyone, imagine where we would have generally becomes one of the biggest brands in space, like you’re gonna have that, like yo, like I was fucking there, you know, like, it was there.

 And I can prove it.

Farokh: It was there on chain or like, you know, I mean, it’s like, things like that. It’s like.

These are things you can’t do with traditional media.

Farokh: You cannot go back, you can’t put the chain back, you know, you can’t go back, you can’t go back.

Motivation and Focus Strategies for Farokh

I’m curious, Farokh, how do you stay so motivated and focused on the work that you do, as a creator running the company, especially in a time where everything is low, morale is low, engagement on Twitter is low. How do you power through? What keeps you motivated?

Farokh: I mean, honestly, like, it’s been the most successful part of us, for us, like this whole bear. 

That’s what I like to hear.

Farokh: I mean, I told you like, we got the stuff rolling like sales, like we’re doing like, about 1000 Rugs moves hand per month, on average, stock transfers, and we’ve been doing a lot of volume, has been really pretty well, you know, floor price earnings of like, 500% new people, new entrants, new market participants, more shows, so I keep busy in this time, there’s nothing else to do, like I’m here. Like, I just sit down here all day, and I just, I just do it. And then I just like, how do I stay motivated? Like, I love it. Like, I don’t know what else I would be doing. So just to me, I’m like, I really love it. Like when you’re aware, like I’ve become really like, aware of what I have in my hands now. And what we collectively have in our hands with my team, with everybody that’s part of ecosystem like, we have really a beautiful bed in our hands, rug radio, and has so much potential that’s being shown already. And I generally think it’s going to be really big. So, it’s like I wake up I’m like, that’s fucking cold. Like, you know, like, you know, I’m doing my team off on Monday and stuff but I’m gonna be here hosting my show. People like you know, doing things and having fun like yeah, I do the whole Christmas stuff. I love it because like I do the holidays with family.

I still love what you do

It’s so fun. Like it’s, come on, it’s fun space. We’re lucky. We’re lucky that we’re hoping a different generation that had to go to war or this or that or like, dude, like, we’re born a dope, like, generation like this blockchain technology, the Satoshi this world, metallics of this world that people have brought this shit to us also, like the inner like, dude, like, we’re so lucky. Like, so, you know, I don’t have to wake up in morning and change to just jump out and like, and it’s not like I generally like it, but also like, had to do that, right? But 2017 was my last job ever. I was like, fuck this shit. And I dropped almost 1.1 But like, but you know, like it’s so fun. You know, it’s and so, that’s just one is going to be these days, like I’m genuinely passionate about like, what we’re building, like a lot.

Tips That Would’ve Been Helpful to Know Before Starting Rug Radio

My final question for you, Farokh is, for those who want to become crypto native content creators. They want to start media businesses that are web three enabled. share some tips, how can somebody get started. What’s like the first sort of few steps, that you wish somebody would have told you before you got started with rug radio on your entire journey?

Farokh: Honestly, it’s a lot about like, I spend a lot of time listening. That’s why I ask the questions. Usually, I’m usually on the interviewee, interviewer side, but I listened a lot. Like early on when I got started in the space, I asked a lot of questions. I still ask a lot of questions. educate, educate, educate, educate, educate, educate, gotta be curious, stay curious, stay on it. And like you know, give, give, give, give, give, give, give, give, give, like I’ve put people on I put people on every day, and people put me back on since the first day. I’ve had a lot of people put me on and helped me, I’ve helped a lot of people, it’s like you got to collaborate, cross pollinate and just focus, just like focus on your content and just elevate, elevate, elevate every day, like it’ll compound effect like, it’s like people are like, oh yeah, this week we had Joe Lubin on the show, co-founder of the next day with Tim Ferriss and the net day we had another cool interview with like, it was funny, different, was funny. And then we have the guest and that like and like we go every day, we get all these listeners, and you see rug radio, like none of this is like, necessarily just look like it was the compound effect of like, I’ve been creating content for like 10, 12, 14 years, I don’t know, at this stage. Like, you know, it’s like the added effects, it’s just gonna, in this space, like is grows faster than any other space. So you have the one in the million chance, like really grow faster than anybody else. So, you can decide to take it or not, but like there is a lot of chance and opportunity in the space a lot. Like especially for creators, like you know, like I look for new careers all the time, we give people new creators opportunities all the time, I’m always out there trying to down to help work with other creators and distribute their content and collaborate with people like you know, like come see what’s up with like, people come through like you know, it’s just like.

Outro

I love that. Yeah, look, I admire your consistency, I admire energy, you guys are killing it, rug radio. Shout out to rug radio, shout out to everything that you guys are doing. Before I let you go, where can we find you? Where can we learn more?

Farokh: Farokh, on every platform like occasionally every single platform but mostly Twitter, if you like want to see my instagram stories, I mean a pretty bomb, not gonna lie. But photos, but you know, rug.fm for anything video related that comes with discord or Discord is a very well-oiled machine, a very part of oiled machine, very proud of my team, incredible people. So, our team is super fun, super nice, you know, kind communities like positive like we’ve really nurtured that, right? They want to be part of the change, right? And so, they’re cool so rug radio on Twitter, you know, rug.FM discord.

Thank you for being a part of season seven. We’ll have to do this again soon. But till next time. 

Farokh: Let’s go.

Categories
Podcast Transcript

Unpacking the Future of Tokenized Media and NFTs for Content Creators

Background

Mint Season 7 episode 3 welcomes Lucas Campbell, head of web3 at Bankless.

In this episode, we dive into the exciting world of tokenized media and NFTs for content creators. We discuss the potential for monetization and engagement through these mechanisms, the challenges that creators face, and how Web3 can help solve them. We also explore the overlap between personal and professional experience as a Web3 user working at Bankless, and how the Bankless media strategy aligns with Defi community values. Finally, we offer tips for creators using NFTs to turn viewers into collectors and consider what to expect for the evolution of podcast NFTs in the coming years.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:36 – Intro
  • 05:32 – Biggest W in Content Creation and Token Scouting
  • 06:51 – Fire Eyes
  • 10:17 – Biggest Takeaways and Learning Lessons from Previous Project
  • 12:06 – Systems in Place That Could Have Been Done Differently in Previous Project
  • 13:39 – Bankless Media Strategy and Alignment with Defi Community Values
  • 15:09 – Overlap Between Personal and Professional Experience as a Web3 User and Working at Bankless
  • 16:17 – Explanation of Podcast NFTs
  • 17:46 – Inspiration for Launching Podcast NFTs and How They Fit into Media Strategy
  • 20:58 – Creating Content Worth Collecting
  • 22:30 – Splits for Tokenized Content
  • 24:21 – Percentage Considerations When Selling a Podcast NFT
  • 29:06 – Other Content Mechanisms to Explore
  • 30:14 – Evolution of Podcast NFTs in the Next Few Years
  • 31:26 – Impact of Tokenized Media and NFTs on Content Creation and Monetization
  • 32:52 – Tips for Creators Using NFTs to Turn Viewers into Collectors
  • 39:08 – Challenges Faced by Creators and How Web3 Can Help Solve Them
  • 41:50 – Potential for Content Remixing and Interoperable Audiences in the Web3 Creator Economy
  • 49:09 – Outro

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Lucas Campbell, welcome to mint, thank you for being on, how you doing, man? 

Lucas Campbell: Doing great. Thank you for having me today. 

Intro

I’m stoked to have you on, you are part of the brains behind the behemoth bankless. And you are creator, yourself and an excellent writer. So, what better way than to feature on the podcast, especially for season seven, all that web three media and crypto native content creators, which is very much up your alley. So, Lucas, I think a good place to start is, who the hell are you man? What does the world need to know about you? More specifically, I’d love to learn more of like your path into crypto and how that happened?

Lucas Campbell: Yeah, absolutely. So, a little bit of background, went to school at the University of Colorado Boulder, was studying economics, was always interested in money and finance, doing like some investing on the side, stocks, you know, options, all that kind of stuff. Was in and out of crypto since like high school, but it really fell down that rabbit hole towards the end of my junior year. So, like spring of 2017. And really just like was consumed by it and was heading into my senior year and was like, you know what, I can either go work at the fidelity or some BS like that, and like go do normal finance. Or I can just risk it for the biscuit and go into crypto and do this thing that I’m passionate about. So, I went and did that, first step there was joining the CU blockchain club. So, I was a senior there. And that’s actually where I met my good friend Cooper Turley, who is definitely a recurring guest on this podcast. And we ended up starting to work together during like ICO consulting, helping some token projects back in the day, and 2017, 2018. And then really found our niche when defi came around in 2019. I started doing a lot of writing, started a blog called defi rate with Kendall Seville, who actually just recently acquired the milk Road, which is really interesting to see like last week, yeah, so the combined forces there. And then we’re just doing a bunch of writing Vancouver, we’re doing defi rate. We were also running a weekly newsletter called token Tuesdays, where we were like, analyzing tokens every week. And little did I know like, during that time, Ryan, Sean Adams, who’s the founder of bankless, was actually reading a lot of our work and was super interested and kind of came to me in Twitter DMS, like yo, do you want to write an article for me, that hit and ended up writing a few more articles. And then in May or June of 2020, he offered me a full time job at bankless as employee number one, and have been working with Ryan and David to scale up that media company, over the past two and a half years now and was responsible mainly for the newsletter, and scaling that up and doing a lot of writing, all the editorial stuff over the past two and a half years and now more recently, have transitioned my role away from the newsletter and into web three media, which we’ll talk about.

Beast, what a journey, like you I got started as a student too in crypto. I helped start like the crypto club on campus. And I attribute a lot of my interest and excitement being where I am today because of what happened in university. How would you say your time at your uni sort of influenced your writing your interest, the projects that you’re working on, defi all that good stuff?

Lucas Campbell: Yeah, I think like, I was always interested in like economics and whatnot. So, I think like that aspect of crypto and like the internet and like tech side, those were definitely like my two kind of like core competencies or what I was interested in. But yeah, I think like in terms of being a student, the biggest thing that I got from there was the connections and relationships that I made. Obviously, Cooper was a big influence for me, being able to work alongside him over a few years, along with the other people that I met at the CU blockchain club. Were all great people, a lot of people still work in the space, a couple of people like consensus, gitcoin, all this, all those sorts of companies. And yeah, I think like just the relationships were super helpful to just find at a massive scale of 25,000 people, finding the core 50 people that had the same interest, in the same kind of like ambitions as you, was super helpful and powerful for me.

As a writer, I feel like you also play the role as a curator and as an analyst. And when you’re writing a defi blog, and you’re reviewing tokens, are there certain checks and balances that you mark as you’re sort of sifting through all the noise that you’ve held yourself accountable for like a certain process or system when you draft? Let’s say, like, the defi newsletter surfacing these really cool insights around tokens.

Lucas Campbell: Yeah, I think the first thing is that like, we would never write about anything that we wouldn’t be using ourselves, right, like anything that I write about, like I’m passionate about, I use on a daily basis, recently, like did a music NFT article with Cooper and like that’s been like definitely my niche these days, is like collecting music with Cooper and all these other niche collectors, that are like trying to pioneer this new web three music era. And yeah, I think like using it and being passionate about that product, or that token, or like, really deeply allows you to just like really deeply understand what that thing is and makes it more comfortable for you to write about and share with an audience. If you’re using it, and you’re confident about using it. And like putting your, I guess, money where your mouth is, in a way.

Biggest W in Content Creation and Token Scouting

What would you say your biggest W was, throughout the content creation and token scouting process?

Lucas Campbell: Like in terms of like, best token that we found or like in what sense?

The best token that you found that you ended up Kind of like seeing and reaping the most from, for example. Success story, yeah.

Lucas Campbell: Yeah, I mean, we’re super early to like all the defi stuff. So, like, we were recovering synthetics back in like 2019. It was like a dollar, not even cross a $1 yet. I think it was still like 30 cents or something. And me and Cooper did like a DCA, like dollar cost average analysis on this and like had all these models. Actually, like Cain Warwick reached out and was like, yo, this is like the best analysis that we’ve seen on SNS ever. And like that, to me, maybe it wasn’t like the biggest dub on investments. But I think it was the biggest stuff on social capital, and like, knowing that I was on the right path. But yeah, I think just being able to cover all that defi stuff is super early. And seeing all that kind of unfold in real time was just super helpful. And being responsible for writing and educating people as this stuff was coming out, was just super easy or valuable for us to capitalize on those things that we saw. So yeah, I think just being plugged in, head to the ground, or boots on the ground, was super valuable and just like eyeing the next up and coming project.

Fire Eyes

A lot of people question, how can I get my foot in the door for crypto, and they always sort of don’t know where to begin. And it sounds very much as if, because of your time at the university, you found your love for writing and sort of being like this amateur analyst. And through that, you found your way to different pockets, into crypto and across the crypto Twitter, let alone. So, after you got your foot in the door, did a really comprehensive analysis on tokens like SNX, for example. Where did it go from there? Where does fire eyes comes to the picture. I feel like they’re very much they work in tandem. 

Lucas Campbell: Yeah. So, this is a, obviously, there’s a background here of like being really interested in tokens. And we’re Fire eyes kind of came in is that mean Cooper we’re doing, like a lot of token work, a lot of token writing, all that kind of stuff on our end in the US. And then we met up with James and Callum who are New Zealand correspondents, who were also doing very similar stuff. They were actually like working with synthetics. And they were working with Eth lend, and all of these early defi projects to help them kind of scope out what their token economics look like, what their governance system looks like. And we realized that we’re kind of like doing very similar stuff, and that we could combine forces. And this is just right in the middle of COVID. So, we were just sitting on Zoom calls every day for four hours. And just like ideating, and like talking about this stuff. And yeah, we ended up leveraging one of their connections at Ave. And we’re able to help them with autonomics, which is like their Eastland to Ave transition. And that was kind of like what kick-started Fire eyes. And from there, we ended up working with a ton of other projects, balancer, rocket pool, d launch the ENS token, helped launch optimism, helped launch gitcoin super rare, a whole bunch of other projects. And yeah, it really just started snowballing after that, that first Ave engagement.

You guys are responsible for billions in wealth generation for hundreds of 1000s of users. What? Do you ever think about that?

Lucas Campbell: No, it’s definitely fun though. Because like Fire eyes is very much like a low-key organization. We don’t have Twitter, like we don’t have, like our website is literally, if you just go to Fireeyes.XYZ, it’s literally just a fire eyes logo and that’s it. There’s nothing else. And yeah, it’s been a really fun, just kind of like low key. But yet, I think impactful organization, as you said, we’ve helped design like a lot of large airdrops, governance systems been, you know, Dao stewards for a lot of these projects. And, yeah, I think it is really amazing to see the impact. And whenever we do launch these projects, and then new Airdrop comes out and seeing like the response from the community of like, holy shit, like my mom just got like $10,000 because she had an ENS name, like that stuff like is probably the best thing ever. You know, that’s the important part of web three, is like empowering these community members, empowering these people and rewarding them for using these applications super early with ownership in it and giving them that option if they want to be stewards and governance participants is always phenomenal. 

I remember exactly where I was when I got my ENS Airdrop. I was in Lisbon.

Lucas Campbell: Literally at Lisbon. You were at Lisbon Solana breakpoint. There was a Solana like club party and me and Callum and Cooper were all outside of the party on our laptops like, like doing like whatever we had to do, I forgot what we were just like making sure that all the airdrop functionalities were going smoothly. But we were literally just outside of club on our laptops and people were like, what are you guys doing? It’s like, oh, we’re helping wonkiness token right now. And it’s like, yeah, those kinds of stories are so crazy. And that’s like definitely one of the fun parts about working crypto.

Biggest Takeaways and Learning Lessons from Previous Project

Walk me through your first sort of take on tokenomics and working with a big organization and watching their token to kind of like the last project that you guys worked on. What were some of the biggest takeaways and learning lessons that you encountered, the first project that are now a no brainer in this latest project?

Lucas Campbell: Yeah, I mean, I think we definitely locked in on like some key, like governance system designs on like you need a grants committee, and you need different working groups. And like you kind of see this thread within like gitcoin, and ENs, where they have like these working groups that are focused on a core working team. And those sorts of like, designs were definitely applicable to any Dao, right. And those are kind of the things that we learned when we were launching gitcoin, which was like the first product that we launched, and obviously translated to like ENs, and all that stuff. Outside of that, I think, one thing that we’ve worked on, we definitely spend a lot of time on Airdrops, and figuring out what the proper clean flow is, and like making sure that that is dialed and that is like, you’re designing for the outcome that you want the user to be doing. So ENs had the Constitution and when you clean that Airdrop, you had to sign that constitution and be like this is what the Dao is going to be doing. You were signing off on the mission, like how funds were being allocated all sorts of stuff. And yeah, that sort of stuff translated. And we see like constitution like claims float with Airdrops all the time now. Same thing with optimism, like we had like a claim slow, and you had to fill out a quiz, in order to just like, just to check basic litmus test of like you understand what optimism is, and you understand what this is doing. And yeah, I think those two things of like governance systems and Airdrop claim slow are definitely some of the things that we learned early on and tried to apply to future projects.

Systems in Place That Could Have Been Done Differently in Previous Project

Are there any systems in place today that you wish we did differently? Like from the last project that you worked on? If it was at the Opie Airdrop?

Lucas Campbell: That was the last project publicly.

Okay, publicly. Okay, cool. So, going through the Opie drop, I actually specifically remember the quiz and the litmus test that you just kind of spoke about, got my few points of Opie token, on optimism, and really cool, fun educational experience. But did you still feel like it wasn’t where it needed to be or were you happy with that end result? And what do you sort of taking to the next project you guys work on?

Lucas Campbell: Yeah, I think one thing that we realize is that like, Airdrops are definitely, have become like this game of thought or not like gamified game a bowl like mechanism that people are just like farming, right? Like Airdrop farmers are a thing. And I think one thing that we learned is like we need to be better designers have like civil resistant and gameable airdrops in the sense that like, these tokens are going to the people that has specific outcomes that you want, whether they want to be governance stewards or protocol participants or like providing liquidity, you want to make sure that each user that you’re allocating tokens to has like, an end outcome that you want them to be doing, whether it’s just like voting on stuff or like participating in protocol, governance, any sort of stuff like that. Yeah, I think that’s something that we’re definitely taking into account moving forward and making sure that every allocation that people are getting there is like a key outcome or key action that we want them to be doing within the protocol.

Bankless Media Strategy and Alignment with Defi Community Values

So, this brings me to your time at bankless, because I feel like a lot of your Dejan yet professional lessons sort of taken away from doing big, big billion dollar-based Airdrops to now trying to lead bankless media arm and what that really means in web three, I feel like there’s gonna be a lot of overlap between what you learned from one part, to what you’re applying in the next part, right. And I feel like there’s there might even be that on a consistent basis. I want to dive into the bankless side of things and kind of like unveil more bankless’s media strategy, and how it aligns with the values and principles of the defi community. What would you say those may be?

Lucas Campbell: Yeah, I think, one thing, obviously, I think that through line here is the tokenization of everything, right? Like, we want to tokenize and use web three to create new mechanisms for our audience to engage with people. And we kind of saw that with like Airdrops and rewarding them with ownership and all that. But in the lens of like web three, there’s definitely a different mechanism of like, you want to create new ways for your audience to engage, right? Like people right now are just like listening to this podcast. But you can also get them to collect this podcast. So, what is the other action items that you can get these your audience to be doing? And how can we use web three to create new ways for them to do it? So right now, views maybe you like it, maybe you comment it, for now you can collect it and now you can own it and now you can create it. And those are the type of mechanisms that we want to be exploring and bankless. And that is definitely the direction that we’re moving towards.

Overlap Between Personal and Professional Experience as a Web3 User and Working at Bankless

So just reminiscing back on the Fire eyes experience, how would you say your personal and professional experience there as a web three user, as a Dejan, sort of relate to your work at bankless? Like what are the overlaps?

Lucas Campbell: Yeah, I think it was just, the big thing is obviously just like launching products and launching tokens and launching these on chain assets, I guess is like, there’s definitely a very similar flow that happens no matter whether it’s an NFT or an ERC. 20. That’s for billions of people or that NFT that’s for 100 people, right? There’s, these key things about launching an on-chain asset, that is really interesting and translates, I think, obviously. And another thing that I’ve learned over the past few years is like there’s always some hiccups along the way, when you’re doing these new product launches. The first one is never going to be perfect. But yeah, you learn those lessons, and you kind of learn how to iterate. So, yeah, when we were launching, like gitcoin, or superare, you know, we learned some lessons, we learned a thing or two that we applied to, you know, future airdrops and all that stuff. So yeah, I think just launching on chain assets, there’s a handful of threads that kind of go through all of them, that end up just being applicable to whatever you’re doing.

Explanation of Podcast NFTs

So, I feel like one of those overlapping threads is the introduction of podcasts NFTs, which is why another big part of why I wanted to have you and us to sort of like shoot the shit on this episode. Because I want to talk about podcasts NFTs, you guys have been doing a series of them, highlighting some of your previous and most liked slash enjoyed episodes. For those who don’t know, what podcasts NFTs are Lucas, can you please take the liberty of explaining how you define them?

Lucas Campbell: Yeah, it’s collectible content is the through line. So, you can collect something on train. Specifically, we use an NFT. More specifically, we use an NFT built on sound protocol. So, when we were going through this is that we found a lot of parallels with music and podcasts where you just have a cover image, you have some art and you have some audio, the difference is, one is three to five minutes, the other one is an hour to two hours long. And that was really the only key difference. And we saw are obviously like we were talking about this earlier, but big into the music scene or music NFT scene and big into collecting. And we just saw like this bull market kind of emerging within the music collecting area. And we wanted to see if we could apply it to podcast as well and see if we could capitalize on this. And creating content that is collectible. And creating this new way for our audience doing engage in the stuff that we create, is super important. And yeah, we can talk a little bit more about that later. But have to stop there for now.

Inspiration for Launching Podcast NFTs and How They Fit into Media Strategy

Yeah, that’s a great way to sort of sum it up. I’d love to, for you to talk more about like what initially inspired the bankless or bankless to launch podcast NFTs number one, and how do they fit into the overall media strategy of the company?

Lucas Campbell: Yeah, so the original inspiration, funny enough, was actually when we were in Lisbon for Solana, three points during that Ens launch. We were in house; it was the Fire eyes guys, so, me, Cooper, Callum, and James. And we also had a Brett, who I believe has been a guest on this podcast as well. And we were kind of like going through, like we were all getting music NFT, like Cooper and Brett were definitely farther down the rabbit hole. But this kind of like segwayed into music can be collectible, but so could content. Why would content be any different. And this kind of sparked this idea of like content should be collectible, and you should be able to engage in the content in that way. And I originally pitched this to Ryan and David literally, probably a year ago now. And they were like you’re a nut job. Like no one’s ever going to want to collect this. And it took me so long to just like continuously pitch them to that and be like, yo, no, we can do this, like this is happening. And the finally we’re just like, alright, Lucas, you can do it. We can watch some collectible content. We’ll see what happens. And yeah, it’s been really interesting just to see the level of support and engagement from the community because people love it. And yeah, there’s definitely some things that web three unlocks here, that are super important on top of engaging with your audience in new ways. But it’s also like giving upside to the audience as well, right? Like if I collect an NFT, I kind of have upside in that content, right? Where that NFT or that podcast really pops off and becomes really valuable in the future. That upside is kind of like translated into the NFT, right. So that is a new way for the community to engage in this content and something super powerful. That is definitely unique to web three.

So, you’re basically implying, this is something that I’ve tweeted before, but create content worth collecting. Like that’s like the new foundation of the song, a like is now a collect, right?

Lucas Campbell: That is such a good point. Like one thing that has been interesting about like Talking to Ryan and David about this is like, okay, right now in wet two media, we optimized for eyeballs, we want to create clickbait, right. And web three, you want to create collect bait, right? Like you want to create content that is collectible, not just viewable. So, it’s definitely a slight nuanced approach on how you’re doing content. But instead of a YouTube thumbnail, that’s going to be like we just gave a million dollars to XYZ, it’s like, yeah, like some other aspect that is just a different nuance and how you approach creating that content, which I think is super valuable, because like, if anyone is living in the web two world, like you just know, this, like, everyone’s just optimizing for eyeballs and views and ads and all this, like bullshit. I don’t know if I’m allowed to swear. Sorry, but what three just kind of enables you to kind of come in with a fresh slate and create content that your community wants to collect, and not just like the advertisers want to pay for. And I think that’s a really different and important nuance, in what three media.

Creating Content Worth Collecting

So how do you actually go by creating content that’s worth collecting?

Lucas Campbell: That is a golden question. And that’s where I leave it to Ryan and David. No, I think it’s definitely, one is creating content that people resonate with is probably the biggest thing. Like, I think one of our most collectible podcasts that we came up with, was the crypto renaissance. And this is back in May 2021. I think so about two years ago. And this is the crypto renaissance. And this was just a podcast, it wasn’t some crazy guests with, you know, millions of followers. It was some historian that just came to us as like, hey, I have a really cool idea. And this ended up being one of our favorite podcasts ever. And something that the community really resonated with, because it was an idea and a concept. Where these two technologies blockchain, the internet kind of fueled a new modern digital renaissance. And that in itself was really collectible, right? The crypto renaissance and creating this podcast that sparked this idea of what it means to live in the digital age is collectible. But a podcast that might just have like, I don’t know, like Mark Cuban talking about shilling his bags, you know, like that’s not really collectible content. So, there’s definitely some nuance. But guess what? The Mark Cuban video gets tons of views, right? Mark Cuban gets tons of views as to what to approach, whereas the crypto renaissance is definitely a web three approach and obviously unintentional, but it’s definitely the difference of content that is collectible and content that is viewable.

Splits for Tokenized Content

How do you think about splits for tokenized content? Where does that come into play? So, for example, if you were to tokenize, the episode with Mark Cuban, the dude’s a billionaire, like does he need your few peasants worth of Eth? You know, but someone that’s maybe less financially stable, that might not pay attention to that, they might be more, you know, like, more of a stickler to receive their splits and their cut of the content, let alone the production team, the graphics team, and everything around the content that gets published itself. How do you think about splits?

Lucas Campbell: I think that’s a great question. And that was definitely a big discussion for us, as we were kind of launching this, obviously bankless has like some really high-profile guests. And most of the content that we want to be tokenizing does feature those guests. And these people are millionaires, billionaires, they’re the 1%. But it does feel weird, if we just didn’t include them, right? If we just like, we’re just like, no, we’re going to take all the money. So, this is an interesting perspective of that. We give every single guest the option to receive, or they can donate their proceeds. So, I think we earmark about 10 to 20% of all proceeds from the collectible to an organization or to the guests if they want. So, the guest really has the option to take those proceeds. And fortunately, enough, every single guest that we’ve had, so far as on a collectible has donated those proceeds. So, we’re actually doing some like on chain effect of altruism, which is nice with the SPF stuff, that has been super nice for the community, just to know that like a portion of those proceeds are going to good causes chosen by the guests. It’s not just us like being like, oh, we’re just going to send it to this, the guests actually have a choice on where those proceeds are going. And if they want to take it, they can take it if they want to donate it, they can donate it. And yeah, that’s kind of where we landed with that.

Percentage Considerations When Selling a Podcast NFT 

On the note of podcasts NFTs, let’s continue down this route for a minute. Okay, because when you tokenize content and you implement a splits contract, and you do splits between all the parties involved, what do you think the percentages should be? Because the podcaster creates the content, keeps the overhead of producing the content, all the managing, the publishing everything, and the speaker kind of just shows up and depending on the speaker’s cloud, either the podcast amplifies the speaker, or the speaker amplifies the podcast, right? So how do you think about like percentages, for example? 

Lucas Campbell: Yeah, I think this is a great question, and it’s definitely tough. I have to get the right answer. Because like one thing that we were discussing when we have had this discussion internally was like, we don’t pay anyone to come on the podcast in the first place. So, like, do they really need money to come on the podcast? Like, really, the benefit for them is one, you get a platform to talk about whatever they want to talk about, and two, you know, you get a glow up on our socials, you know, we’re tagging them, we’re doing all this stuff, you know, we’re glowing them up real hard. And that’s really the main benefit of coming on the bankless podcast, is you have this platform with a large audience, and you kind of get a glow up on yourself. Now getting some money might be like an extra tip there. But it’s definitely not the reason why people are coming on the bankless podcast. So that wasn’t like a necessarily a big stress point for us. But in terms of like, the percentage split that each person should get, I think, obviously, the creator, the people that are producing the podcast should get the majority. Maybe that’s 70, 80 90%, that’s definitely up in the air for each individual creator, and how much is happening on the back end on the production side. But I think working in the guest because like you said, sometimes the guest is amplifying the podcast and that’s really valuable. And making sure that they are taken care of and set and feel like that they have some ownership in, it is really important. And even more importantly, like beyond like, like giving them some money. The first thing that we do is we Airdrop him edition number one, so that we take the guests public address, and we give them the first edition of the podcast, so the least have that ownership in the podcast. And we have like, that sort of thing. But yeah, it’s really interesting, because most of the guests that we have on the bankless podcasts aren’t financially motivated, is there’s not a financial reason why they’re there. And it’s more of like a social reason. So yeah, I think like factoring in what the guests should be getting is interesting, but I don’t think it’s a non-starter for each guest.

There’s another interesting opportunity that web three music companies have introduced, one comes to mind called our Peggy Labs, they were a guest on season four, I think of mint where, their whole product is they’re like an on chain Ableton. So, you can create different beats, loops and stems. And then instead of exporting them to an mp3 file, you mint them directly on chain., right? And the music from what I understand is not stored across IPFS or our weave, it’s like actually minted on chain. And with that introduces a new paradigm of like re mixing and splits and all these cool things that that crypto enables. Do you think something like that is required for like media? Like what like web three podcasts for example? Is there an opportunity for something like that? Any thoughts around that?

Lucas Campbell: Yeah, I guess like, it has been really interesting. Like one thing in the web three media, or music space was like, I released a song and hear the stems and all the assets for it and like go ahead and remix it. And we’ll like to write that. And like, obviously, that’s been super fun to see. I think that definitely applies less probably to podcasts and media NFTs because it’s really just the author or the creator launching their content. But honestly, to be fair, I just haven’t really thought about it. So, I don’t have like a super strong answer there. But that is interesting to think about.

Another thing that’s constantly on my mind when it comes to podcasts NFTs is price to quantity. And how frequently do you publish? Do we need to stick around drop culture? And do these big PR moments around trying to get a sell out or trying to donate a lot a lump sum to an organization? Or can we just like tokenize consistently, regardless of what quantity or price may be?

Lucas Campbell: Yeah, I think that’s up to the creator. But I think we’re definitely big proponents of just tokenize it and if it’s good, it will sell out. And if it doesn’t, no big deal. You know, this is just a new net new mechanism for us to kind of explore how we’re producing content. And I think we’re all kind of exploring what the optimal route is. I think Cooper would be the proponent here. It’s like, it doesn’t matter what happens as long as it sells out. And like you’re giving some upside to collectors, is like a big thing for Cooper and like what he’s pushing for. And I agree with that. But at the end of the day, create the content that you like, create the content that your community likes, tokenize it, if it sells out, it sells out, if it doesn’t, no big deal.

Other Content Mechanisms to Explore

Create content worth collecting. That’s the TLDR, that’s the TLDR. Okay, so let’s talk about more, I guess like potential used cases. What do you imagine being some potential used cases for podcasts? And how do you see them being more adopted by the wider industry at large, beyond just like uploading a piece and then minting it? Are there any other mechanisms that come to mind that are worth exploring?

Lucas Campbell: Yeah, I think this is something that we’re actively exploring bankless and I don’t want to give too much tea. But one thing that we want to explore is if you collect enough content, maybe you can unlock some sort of superfan pass, right? So, you’re creating an incentive for people to collect that. And if you’re an avid bankless supporter, and you want that superfan pass that will maybe give you a lifetime subscription or you know, VIP access to permissionless or whatever events we throw, that’s the sort of stuff that can like create these very synergistic relationships between, I collect content, because I love this podcast. If I collect enough of it, I can get a super fan pass. And I think that this model is probably going to be very probably applicable in the creative economy as a whole. And something that I’m super excited for us to try and pioneer in the next few months here.

Evolution of Podcast NFTs in the Next Few Years

Yeah. And I guess, more at large question, where do you see podcasts NFTs. Sorry, let me re ask that. Alright, let’s go back into it. So, I guess a bigger question at large is, where do you see podcasts NFTs evolving over the next few years? Like do you imagine that more podcasters are going to get into it. Are we miming this thing, just like we meme music NFTs on everybody’s timeline? Like what’s going to happen here? What do you think?

Lucas Campbell: I think it’s definitely, it’s a really early trend. I mean, I feel like bankless was maybe like one of the first people to do it at scale. I think you guys at mint and like rehash and a few a handfuls of other ones were like doing this on a smaller scale and just experimenting with it. And I think this trend will continue as people get more comfortable with web three, I think like, there is a progression of like, okay, people think like music isn’t collectible in the first place. So, like getting to like podcasts or collectible might be a bigger jump. But I think overall, like the trend is, this is a net new monetization model for creators and a net new engagement model for audiences. And I think those two things hand in hand will kind of propel this trend into the future.

Impact of Tokenized Media and NFTs on Content Creation and Monetization

I want to jump into more of web three and media at large, we sort of doubled down and hung it on podcast NFT specifically. But let’s zoom out for a second. Okay. I want to ask your perspective. So how do you kind of see, how do you see tokenized media and NFTs in general sort of changing the way content is either created or distributed and monetized in the future? I think monetization is actually pretty clear. For the most part, like you collect, and you receive your dough, but what about through the creation process or the distribution process? Any thoughts around that?

Lucas Campbell: Yeah, I think in the creation process, like one thing that we work on bankless in this like web two model is like guest maximalism, in the sense that you are maximizing views in order to drive value to sponsors, in order to make money, right? That is a very different model than creating content that your audience is really going to like it so much, that they’re going to collect it and pay you for that content. They’re a different model in the sense of like, I don’t care what the individual thinks about this content, as long as the numbers going up on the view count. Versus I actually do care about what these individuals collect, like about this content, because it only takes 100 people to create that like monetization model, that sustainability model for me. And I think that approach is very nuanced, we talked about it a little bit earlier. But it’s definitely small, nuanced, but I think it does drive very different outcomes on how content is being created.

Tips for Creators Using NFTs to Turn Viewers into Collectors

So, actually, the way it works today then, the model is creating content for a select few that actually value your content and are willing to give a level of patronage for it. But what we’re actually doing is creating content that’s worth collecting for people who already web three native, right? So, the problem is, I guess the opportunity isn’t in this, I guess from this point is like, every collector is a viewer, but not every viewer is a collector, right? So how do you convert more viewers into collectors. And maybe you guys are unique because your channel is all about education, opening up your Metamask wallet and getting people on board through this new revolution. But for the wider greater creator economy at large, that want to use NFTs, how can they turn more of their viewers into collectors?

Lucas Campbell: Yeah, I mean, I think like us and you guys, obviously, like we’re in a nice little like niche, where we educate people on web three and our audiences are all primarily web three native, I think how these scales out is obviously just through education. And getting people are more comfortable with different aspects of web three, whether it is taking out a loan on Ave or collecting your first piece of art, or collecting your first piece of music, or maybe it’s a podcast. But at the end of the day, it does come down to education and making the world kind of realize the value of this technology and like the importance of it, and how engaging it can be for new people. And it really just comes down to broad scale education. And that’s definitely the hard thing that I think not only podcast NFTs need, but music and art and defi and every other thing about web three needs to be handled. And that’s all through education.

I think another interesting conversation worth having is the whole argument around patronage-based music NFTs and ownership-based music NFTs, were ownership based music NFTs are tied to the web to value, that’s created through music. So, you distribute royalties based off the traditional model through Spotify, Apple Music and attribute that to the NFT that can then be flipped and traded on secondaries. And then there’s the sound.XYZ model of just like collecting to collect and then all the royalties and upside is derived strictly on chain, right? And I try to think about like, how is that comparable to tokenize media and let alone podcasts NFTs, other types of content that will be collectible down the line? Is it worth integrating the entire value chain that YouTube generates, that Instagram, Tik Tok generates and attributing that to the collectible on chain? Or are we just ditching that whole system revolting and we’re just going to be collecting content and relying on the secondaries that come through flipping? What do you think?

Lucas Campbell: Yeah, I think it’s definitely going to be, people are just gonna be collecting content. I think the other side of it is like, when you start throwing in cash flow rates is like you’re getting into securitization, right? Like, I don’t think podcast creators want to be in the area of creating securities. And that is definitely a very different market approach. Maybe there’s a platform like royal that kind of supports that and makes it a lot easier. But I think like to start creating these things that are just strictly collectibles and things that only a handful of your audience, only a handful of individuals within your audience want to collect. I think that is totally fine. And like that is kind of the direction that we want to be going. And maybe at some point in the future, the securitization and the financialization of these assets, where you’re maybe getting a portion of sponsorship revenue or whatever is possible, but I don’t think it’s something that will be directly applicable to podcast NFTs. In the short term.

Let’s do a hypothetical, assuming securities laws weren’t in place. And we could easily tag along the value chain from web two attributed to web three collectibles. What do you think will have more value down the line as a whole, considering the crater economy as a whole? Do you think those who just strictly rely on web three primitives, tokenizer content, find their collector base and royalties are made up and reap through the secondary market? Or is it attributing the royalties from YouTube, Spotify, etc., onto the collectibles and also bracing the secondaries market?

Lucas Campbell: Yeah, I think if securities laws didn’t exist, I think that financialization and securitization would have more value because like, already at base that podcast NFT, that represents some sort of value rights is already collectible, right? And then the value rights are just like a cherry on top. So, I think like hypothetically, the podcast NFT that has financial rights would probably accrue more value. But that is up in the air, I think that’s definitely interesting to think about. But that’s just my first gut take on that.

Devil’s advocate for a minute, let me pose another perspective. Okay, as someone who doesn’t have the growth that bankless has on YouTube, right? I have like a couple 1000 subscribers; I’ve made jack shit on my subscribers on YouTube. I’ve made more through podcasts NFTs. And by the way, we don’t even get paid through Spotify, just like musicians do. So, we’re actually very dependent on sponsorships, and all these alternative forms of revenue, to make a living as a content creator, or a content media company, right? So, I would argue, I’d push more, it’s so much harder to get started on YouTube than it is to find your first few collectors through DMing a few people, creating niche-based content that targets deep pocketed people, for example. So, I’ll hit you with the devil’s advocate perspective. Any thoughts on that?

Lucas Campbell: think that that is definitely. I mean, that makes sense when the numbers don’t line up, right? Like if you’re not making hundreds of thousands of dollars, or millions of dollars off YouTube ads, or whatever. And that doesn’t translate and like, of course, the content that you know, will represent $1 in financial rights, is probably not going to be that much more valuable than the content that is going to be collectible, or just strictly a collectible. I agree with you in that sense that like, if the numbers don’t line up in that sense, it’s probably just gonna be easier and worth it for you just to do like launch collectibles. But I think, overall, I’m definitely a proponent of just like, let’s just make it collectible. Let’s not like add financial rights to this. Let’s just make it straightforward. And like that market does exist, those collectors do exist, let’s capitalize on it and not trying to over engineer this stuff and over financialized these assets. And just make it good content that people want to collect and own and have the upside.

Challenges Faced by Creators and How Web3 Can Help Solve Them

Fair point. And I think this also sort of ties into my next question, which we’ve sort of, I guess, skim the surface across different answers. But I want to dive into challenges that existing creators face, that web three could potentially solve. Web three is actually a big proponent around the narrative that we’re going to do things differently and better and more transparently. And like literally f the legacy system, essentially, like you guys have content and merch and basically shows Bank of America on fire, you know, like, I imagine the same scenario for the creator economy, where you see the YouTube headquarters and Instagram headquartered on fire and people finding alternative ways to grow an audience and monetize that using crypto primitives. So, from your perspective, what do you think are some of the biggest challenges that today’s creators face? And how can web three be a proponent in solving that?

Lucas Campbell: Yeah, I think the biggest challenge right now, we talked about earlier is education and then turning those viewers into collectors, into active collectors, right? That is the biggest and hardest part. Because there’s no reason for me, unless you create really good content that I really love, for me to go to your website and pay you point 02, point 05, whatever Eth it is, that is going to be the hardest part, is turning those viewers into collectors, I think that is the biggest challenge. Fortunately, we’re in a good position, we’re in a good position where we have like these large crypto native audiences, that already have Metamask, that already have collected NFTs before. So that leap for them is not nearly as large. But for the Mr. Beast where they have, you know, millions of people that are like, in their teens and have never used Metamask and don’t really care, that’s going to be the hard part, is turning those creators or those audience members into active collectors, getting them Metamask, all that sort of stuff. That is gonna be the hardest part.

Yeah. Another thing I think you’d be like really well suited in answering is the intersection of defi and tokenize media. I’m curious if you have any thoughts on where those two worlds collide?

Lucas Campbell: That is really interesting. I think you can probably attribute that to the same as like the intersection of NFTs and defi, right? where you might have an NFT protocol that allows you to borrow and lend certain NFTs. And I think like in certain instances, you know, the crypto punks of media NFTs might have that market and might have been able to capitalize on those primitives. But outside of that, I think it is interesting, like yeah, you can also do like Tesira or like fractionalized where you can like, you know, fractionalize, these NFTs. But outside of that, I think like design space is open. And I think first we need to establish media NFTs as a primitive and a popular crypto primitive, before we start intersecting it with defi.

Potential for Content Remixing and Interoperable Audiences in the Web3 Creator Economy 

One of the things that like keep me awake during the day. And I say that as like a metaphor for something that interests me, okay, I think about a lot is content remixing. A lot of the content that gets published on Tik Tok ends up being transferred over to Instagram. And a lot of the content that gets originate on Instagram, and vice versa gets transferred to Tik Tok, there lacks the ability to kind of like give original attribution, to a piece, to an author, to a creator with this this entire platform war that’s arising. And that’s very, very prevailing. I think something that web three can solve is the interoperability of content, interoperability of collectors, which we’re already seeing, like if you collect on your bonfire site, then you can also drop on Zora and take that audiences or get those collectors to do the same thing, right. My question to you is like, where do you see the potential in the future of content re-mixing and interoperable audiences sort of taking a toll, as the web three creator economy evolves and gets more experimentative? Any thoughts on that? 

Lucas Campbell: Yeah, I think content re mixing is something that’s really interesting. I think. We already see it like sometimes on like Twitter and stuff, where people, especially like for podcasts and articles, it’s like really tough to envision what that remixing looks like, for music, obviously, you can add new sounds and all that stuff. But some, like remixes that are like, the reading ape, I think is what it’s called, we’ll take a podcast that we record and remix it, quote, unquote, into a Twitter thread. And I think that sort of stuff is really interesting. And how NFTs can play into that is really interesting, do I have a key outcome or like a key vision on how that ends up looking in the end game? I’m not really sure, but that there is definitely some room there. And I’m interested to actually hear your perspective on where you see content remixing happening in web three.

I had this conversation with a previous guest on the season, on the debate of whether or not content by default should be all CCO or just open and accessible, because the default human behavior in nature is to do something with that content if they like it, right. So instead of going after them, encourage the usage of your content, because it’s just going to bring more eyes and more discoverability to it. And if you take that a step further and start tokenizing content, and you can actually originate the source of the owner of that content, who ends up collecting a one of one, a certain edition count, then it may be even more powerful for the person who ends up collecting, because as content gets proliferated more and more and more, then more value may end up getting attributed back to that original few one or few owners, right? So. if the human, like the nature, the default nature is to get creative with other people’s content, we see this all the time on Tik Tok, on Instagram, of people like doing side by sides of react videos and whatnot, right? I don’t know, that’s like the first thing that comes to mind. Like how do we further encourage it? Like can we put a system in place where you can only release my content if you collect it, right? And what does that look like and once you collect it, and whether it’s even a free collect, like you don’t have to pay for it, just like show your ownership and show your patronage on chain, right? And then you’re granted the authority to do whatever you want with it, right? And proliferate the meme of bankless or mint or whatever the creator in question. These are very open thoughts. It’s not a defined sort of answer. But yeah, any opinion on that?

Lucas Campbell: No, I do think it’s really interesting on how because at the end of the day, like one of the things that I’ve been telling Ryan and David is like, let’s use web three to create new models for our community, to engage with the content that we create. And I think re mixing that content in some mechanism by owning that NFT is definitely on par with what we’re thinking how that’s actually going to come into fruition, is definitely something that maybe we’ll jam on offline. But I’m definitely interested in like, where we can take that because, yeah, I think this is all about creating new ways for the community to engage in the content that a creator creates. And if we can find new novel ways to do that, that make that person want to come back and listen to that podcast more and all that stuff. That is the value, right? That is the power of this technology, right?

If you look at again, just like looking as to how users use, like content machines, like Tik Tok today, they probably like something and then they like mirror it right and they remix it. And it’s very analogous to collecting a podcast NFT that just ends up going into your wallet, similar to how you like something on Tik Tok, and it ends up going into your saved folder, right? So if there were more systems in place to, I don’t know, empower content remixing that also enables attribution, because if you remix a piece of content and somebody else in your community does something with it, then they want to get attribution for that original piece of content that they remixed, you know, and then there becomes this entire flywheel everybody wants to sign on chain attribution. Anyways, I’m losing my mind here. Lucas. Point is like there’s a future here; tokenized content is exciting. Collecting content is exciting, collect content worth creating. Before I let you go, and we wrap this up, Lucas, any last final words?

Lucas Campbell: Yeah, I think one thing is that collecting is only one verb, right? I think that there’s more verbs that web three unlocks, more action items, whether it is collected as one, curate is another, earn, right? I think one of the big things in what three media that hasn’t been explored yet is the curation of that content, what has been the less content that you’ve created over the past few years. And one issue that we’ve seen is that like, there’s a recency bias in the sense that, our most recent metallic podcast is always going to be the most viewed podcast. But that doesn’t mean that was the best podcast, right? Because our audience is always growing, and vitalik a big name. So, everyone that sees vitalik on the podcast is always going to click it. And since our audience is growing, that’s just going to naturally be the most viewed podcast, that is not necessarily the best podcasts that we’ve created. And we only can do that from an editorial closed source perspective. But creating mechanisms for the community to engage in that content and be like, this is the best piece of content that you guys have ever created. I don’t care if it got one view, this is the best piece of content that is ever created. And I will put some sort of weight behind it, signaling that I think is really valuable and something that is completely unexplored. So hot TCR summer, I think is coming, and how that plays into web three social is going to be really interesting over the next year or two.

Wait, what’s TCR? What does that stand for?

Lucas Campbell: Token curated registry? This is a 2017, 2016 primitives, yeah, we’re bringing the TCRs back. Okay. This has been something that has been just like floating around the crypto ecosystem for years and years. And it’s so funny because like, this stuff has happened so many times, like when Vitalik published the white papers, like there was like defi stable coins NFT like all this stuff was like already circulating TCRs, it just takes time for these primitives to come into fruition and realize like, oh, this is actually, this is important now, defi is important now, because why? Because we have a billion, $10 billion of stable coins that are dollar equivalents that we can use for lending activities, right? And like having all these primitives in place, where now that, all right, we have like, web three social primitives that are coming into place? How are we going to curate those primitives and it’s not going to just be through a Reddit like a vote. It’s going to be like I have a token of some sort. I have a content collectible that gives me voting rights at curation rights, or I have some sort of ERC 20 token, that gives me curation rights. And I can now signal to it. There’s a whole design space there that I think is completely untapped that I’m really excited to explore.

Outro

Let’s go That’s some good end of episode Alpha. Lucas, appreciate you being on a part of season seven. Before I let you go, where can we find you? Where can we find your work? Show it away and we’ll wrap it up.

Lucas Campbell: Yeah, absolutely. You can find me on Twitter 0x underscore Lucas, fairly active on Twitter and yeah, if you want to reach out, feel free around.

Let’s go. Thank you so much. We’ll have to do this again soon. But till then, appreciate you for being on.

Lucas Campbell: Awesome. Adam, thank you so much.

Categories
Podcast Transcript

Exploring Spinamp: The Future of Music Streaming and Mobile Collection

Background

Mint Season 7 episode 3 welcomes Aidan Musnitzky, the creator of Spinamp, a platform for aggregating and consuming music in Web3. We explore the different types of content on the platform, the music consumption layers in both Web2 and Web3, and the innovations in the music NFT space. We also discuss his challenges in building Spinamp, the potential for monetization on his platform, and strategies for turning listeners into collectors.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:18 – Intro
  • 05:29 – The Vision for Spinamp
  • 07:48 – Types of Content to be Aggregated On Spinamp
  • 11:05 – Music Consumption Layers in Web2 and Web3
  • 13:52 – Exciting Innovations in Web3
  • 15:14 – Factors Limiting Other Forms of Content From Taking Off
  • 28:48 – The Mechanics of Spinamp
  • 32:10 – Multiplayer Abilities for Consuming Content Collectively
  • 33:44 – Unseen Possibilities in Web3 Consumption
  • 36:38 – Challenges Faced While Building Spinamp
  • 40:51 – Recommendation Algorithms for Consumption and Collection
  • 45:45 – Why Should Spinamp be Allowed to Aggregate My Music for Free?
  • 49:35 – Potential for Monetization On Spinamp
  • 52:35 – Strategies for Turning Listeners into Collectors
  • 55:21 – Outro

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Aidan, welcome to mint season seven. Thank you for being on. How are you doing?

Aidan Musnitzky: Hey Adam, I’m doing good, super excited and good to be here and looking forward to discussing a bunch of interesting stuff related to season seven and where you’re getting curious about and want to share about.

Intro

I think spin up fits exactly where my curiosity lies, which is hence why you’re part of the lineup, part of the season as a whole. The whole entire theme is creating content worth collecting. And spin up plays an important role in that entire layer, the consumption layer, as I’ve been talking about on the podcast for a minute now, I feel like since February, when I did my season four and music NFTs, one of the biggest discussions was like, okay, what is the consumption layer for all the music that we’re collecting? And lo and behold, spin amp, and a few others are building that right. So, Aidan, before we jump into spin amp in this entire topic, I want to start with you, as a founder, as an entrepreneur building in web three, what’s your story? How did you get into crypto, let alone why the founder path in general?

Aidan Musnitzky: Yes, so sure. So, my background is originally more on the technical side, doing math, computer science distributed systems, I spent a few years working in like traditional web two distributed systems, and then consulted and freelancer for like many years, across different technologies, different entities, different stacks. And I think, you know, that going to crypto originally must have been like six or seven years ago, at the time, I was gonna like fed up and bored of kind of the traditional work that I’ve been doing in web two and in like, traditional full stack kind of software engineering and product work. And so, I decided to, like take some time off, explore new technologies and areas. And even back then, like, I always wanted to make the time to dig into Ethereum, and Bitcoin more, eventually got around to it and started digging in, ended up getting a whole bunch of cool people in the space coming a lot, a lot of cool parts in the space. And so slowly shifted to spending my attention and time on projects related to Ethereum. And that was, again, like six years ago. Since then, I think it’s growing to consume most of the work that I do. And, you know, the first few years, I continued along that like consultant Freelancer path that I was doing. But in more recent years as interesting, I like wanting to transition into working more on my own projects, my own ideas and things that I find exciting. The opportunity to do that, from like a founder perspective, I think brings a lot more potential for like performance and for like, creative control and influence on like, the way you’re spending your time. And so, I think that’s been a collection of the factors that have led me to where I am now.

Got it. So where does spin amp come into the picture?

Aidan Musnitzky: Yeah, so spin amp started, probably about seven, eight months ago, before spin amp we, myself and my team had been working on another music NFT related projects, which was a way for us to like our toes into the water for the space. And it was a fun project to be working on. But it was, wasn’t something that I founded myself. It was like a party we were helping out a friend with and it at the time, we didn’t really manage to find the right like market products, so this project was called noise. It’s a music NFT marketplace focused on African music, and it’s still live, it’s still got a lot of cool content and music on there. But the artists in the community there’s like quite disconnected from web three, that to some extent, even disconnected from like Twitter, and the internet and all these like social systems that web three revolves around. And so, the idea of like collecting music was a lot harder to form a connection with for the community of the musicians and the concept that we were using to create music, NFTs, as opposed to the stuff that we’ve seen start to take off in the last year or two. And I think part of that, you know, influence it’s been in the sense of wanting to build something that actually brings the like listener and fan experience into collecting and the act of consuming content closer to that of collecting, as well as at the time. You know, I was working on that project from a technical perspective, I wasn’t really that familiar with the artists themselves. And I found like, I’m helping build this thing that I don’t even know like that much about the artists and the music. And I wasn’t listening very much to the music that much. And so, for me, I wanted an app that I can actually start using, to stop paying attention to the listening to these artists. And so spin amp was born out of like that personal need that I had at the time, and so we launched it, you know, with three or four platforms initially, sound, catalog, noise and one other to solve that problem of like being able to just easily listen to the music in your day to day life. And over the last six months, we’ve like grown and evolved into essentially becoming this core consumption layer for web three music and music NFTs, a place to like discover music, place to discover new artists and their drops. And recently, we just released a feature that allows you to actually collect directly and spin amp and bring that like, collection and consumption experience close and close together and make it like as seamless as we can.

The Vision for Spinamp

Let me take the backseat for a moment from someone who doesn’t understand the space. Okay. Are you just building another streaming service? Like a deconstructed streaming service or what’s the vision here?

Aidan Musnitzky: Yeah, so I think like a key component of the vision is this idea that like, collecting music NFTs is a different kind of experience to just streaming or listening to music. There’s, you know, we can dig into all the different reasons why people collect and like what’s worth collecting or not. But the core of it is that like, it’s quite a different experience. And there’s a lot of different reasons why people would do that, as opposed to just pure streaming. And so, part of this thesis is that, additionally, as part of this collecting experience, consuming content, and engaging with the music, listen to the music and enjoying it, is going to amplify your collecting experience. And in some ways, even lead your collecting experience, like we released spin amp collect a week ago, and like one of the key aspects of that is, we really want to be able to continue to be like a listener focus app, music focused, putting the content of the music first, but also driven under the thesis that content will encourage and entice people into collecting. And that like collecting can follow listening. And I like it a little bit of a different experience to you know, both say, on Spotify, where it’s great for streaming music and for experiencing it, but it doesn’t have that same like direct access connection into the collection process. And it’s that engagement directly with the artist and their content and their story. When they open sea, it’s good for you know, collecting stuff, but it’s not grounded in that like consumptive experience and the actual, like enjoyment of the content. And so, you know, if you look at the user base of people collecting and trading on open sea, a lot of the time it can be quite disconnected from the content. And we feel like in order to create like the most ideal experience, finding a way to have consumption and collecting really go hand in hand and like the symbolic experience together, where they both encourage and support each other, through the users, actions and experiences is this how we imagine like the ideal user music NFT experience to look.

Types of Content to be Aggregated On Spinamp

From an outsider’s perspective, the biggest differentiator that I see is, Spotify is missing commerce, like that’s what it really kind of comes down to. And with spin amp, not only do you guys aggregate all the music, or a lot of the music on chain in a very nice, intuitive manner. But now recently, as of last week, you can now collect that music as well and put offers on that music. So, if you enjoy a song, and you feel some type of emotional connection to it, or you believe in in the artists or whatever your reason may being, you can actually execute a purchase with that, collect with that, and tap into that artists community, right. And it starts with the music. But where does it go from there? What other forms of content do you imagine aggregating and putting a focus on?

Aidan Musnitzky: Yeah, so I mean, I think spin amp always falls with music being the focus. And that will continue to be so. But, you know, once, there’s easier ways in which we can add other forms of content to the app. So, like the easiest way there is, of course, podcasts, it’s also audio content, we’ve seen Spotify do it, they may be separated into a separate section. So, it’s easier for people to navigate how they want to do either. Maybe they lead people into discovering new podcasts as part of their listening experience. But it’s a fairly straightforward thing to think of how that could fit into the context of the spin amp than listening app, it’s still quite a different experience. And so, when we think about like, content worth collecting, and like why would people collect podcasts versus collecting music and all these, like different user types and people with different intentions, certainly the case that there’s a lot of overlap, but there’s also a lot of separation. And so, I think, you know, the finding the place for that to fit into the experiences is something we will want to experiment with. But I imagine there’s still a place for that. I think the other one that’s easier to imagine fitting in is like music videos, where again, it’s still, you know, within the same domain, it’s potentially even the same artist from the same kind of producers of content. And so, especially if you’re collecting as a way of engaging with not just like that particular track, but the whole artists, artwork and their story and narrative around it. Their music videos are most likely going to be a big part of that as well. And similarly listening to that and watching music videos can kind of fairly seamlessly fit into the experience of spin amp. And so, I think that’s kind of the areas that we’re imagining potentially evolving to. And there’s like medium term, I’d say longer term, like all our tech infrastructure and such as like both in a way we could support other kinds of content, whether that’s like other kinds of audio visual content, written content, interactive content, but it’s not really something we’re thinking too much about at this point in time, I think in order, like we are trying to stay focused on music, and potentially other audio content, as the primary drivers of what’s been at before. And, you know, if we start to extend it to other content types, I think they will still be grounded in the idea of like music listening out, you know, maybe an artist has wants to push their lyrics on the page or is doing, you know, a blog and speaking about their music, and it still fits into the context of showing the artist profile. But I would say it’s still something that’s much more longer term than where we are today.

Music Consumption Layers in Web2 and Web3

How do you envision the consumption layer in web two differing than that of web three, we kind of identified the biggest one collecting. But is there anything else that the Spotify is and the Apple Music of, music of the world are missing, that you could probably potentially fix through web three?

Aidan Musnitzky: Yeah, I mean, I think another aspect of web three, that stands out, maybe like the two biggest one that stands out to me is, one is the social aspect of web three, and two is the composability aspect of web three. So, to dig into each of them, the social aspect, well, a lot of web three is about like finance, it’s about NFTs. It’s about these, like financial objects, that people are engaging with, trading contrary to each other. And they finance and money itself is a social technology, like money was invented and evolved, because of the ways in which it allows people to socially coordinate with each other. And that aspect of the like social activity is something that’s been missing from major music, streaming platforms, whether it’s Apple Music, Spotify, we have seen a lot of cool experiments with that in, you know, web two, whether it’s like SoundCloud, or Last FM or some of the other, more weirder social music experience. But the fact that they haven’t really seemed to have taken off in the context of like, the bigger streaming app when it is interesting. And it feels like an area that is still ripe for experimentation. And especially in the context of web three, where the collection itself is completely entwined with the social landscape, it’s, I think, a hopefully will provide a fertile ground for voting out social experiences, where maybe they haven’t fit easily into a platform like Spotify, due to the way in which people experience that. The second one that I mentioned is composability. Is this idea that in web three, so much of what people release is public, whether it’s an open-source emulator, or smart contracts on chain, or stored on the blockchain, the data and applications are public, and anyone can integrate with them and build stuff on top of them. And so, like even spin amp today is both on that, in a sense that spin app aggregates content that’s already on chain, that other platforms have been working with. And we feel like that aspect of web three also just opens up a fertile ground for experimentation, both within our team, also within other teams in the ecosystem, and with the tools and open source systems that we released and infrastructure that we released, the ability to experiment through composability feels like it’s something that could lead to a lot of innovation that we haven’t been able to see with these, like more closed API’s in the web two streaming world.

Exciting Innovations in Web3

Any innovations that you’re incredibly excited about more and more specifically, that we haven’t maybe seen kind of like prevail publicly and in different used cases yet?

Aidan Musnitzky: Everything I’d say like the social aspects to NFTs are ones we’ve seen, like scattered experiences around, whether it’s like NFT holders banding together to set up a snapshot or discord group, or telegram. Whether it’s like even like lens is an example where we’ve got a fairly cohesive social platform. But it’s still very, like generic interfaces that have been built for it, that are not tailored to particular social experiences. I think seeing how these building blocks that are now in place, get built on top of and start to evolve could be exciting in terms of how we unlock like, you know, one of the core propositions that we’ve seen in like traditional profile picture styles and if NFTs is how, and things like nouns style is how they’ve managed to grow like a social community around them. And a community that’s both socially engaged but also like, takes action together makes proposals together votes and things together, spends money together. And so, you know, seeing how those products and experiences can mature over the coming year, I think will be super exciting.

Factors Limiting Other Forms of Content From Taking Off

Yeah. Something that I think about often is trying to understand what types of content will succeed in the traditional web three format, content in web three is underpinned by capital. So, when I think about, like, what other forms of content are next, to take off PFPs and different variations of profile pictures, right, to photography to digital art, AR, VR, even digital property, like land, film fashion? What do you think is restricting other forms of content from taking off?

Aidan Musnitzky: Yeah, I think to dig into that it’s probably worth digging into, like your term content worth collecting. And so like, what is it? What does it mean for something to be worth collecting? And I think like, that really comes down to like, what value do people get from collecting it and why do they collect it? And I think we’ve seen at least in the context of music, NFTs has many different reasons, there’s like, the kind of patron style user whose they’d really love artist, they want to support them, they want to give them the money so they can keep producing the outcome, keep producing the content. There’s like the speculator, the speculators there, to you know, potentially bison resellers later, making profits, there’s the like, everyday fan, maybe they’re buying the NFT because the NFT gives them some perks, or some like private chat with the artist, and they can make some for the artists, you get, like the community aspect of it, where maybe the fans are buying the NFTs not necessarily to connect and have a relationship with the artist directly, but have a relationship with other fans in the same community as the artist and like that subculture. And you get all the aspects of social signaling that you see in like the high art world and like the entertainment industry, where, you know, people are buying NFTs as part of like social signaling. And those are like, very different used cases, there’s definitely a blurred overlap across all of them. But they are all the kinds of things that bring value to NFTs and like, you know, make them worth collecting, and so that the content was collecting, how does that tie directly into content? I think it’s like, it’s harder to ascribe those things to the medium of the content, whether it’s like video or audio, or interactive media. The things that we mentioned, though, that I mentioned in the last topic around, like what makes something worth collecting are somewhat like independent of the media. And a lot of them are related to like the context around the media. And so, you know, I don’t know if that answers your question. But I think those are like some interesting nuances to use as a starting point for how to think about answering that question. But yeah, nothing to your like response to that, like perspective.

I think it’s like such a redundant answer. But I think education and onboarding is restricting other forms of content from taking off. There’s a specific subgroup of collectors that appreciate and enjoy collecting a specific type of content, music being one of them, or digital art being one of them. We’re seeing other forms of content arise, but there, they haven’t picked up as much traction just yet, video NFTs, photography NFTs. We see fashion starting to take off more and more and more, I’ve been covering fashion since like 2019, I feel like and the same people are still pushing the needle, but you’re seeing new creatives enter the space with new concepts and whatnot. But it still seems as if music and digital art still have captured, like the largest, the largest market so far, right. And when I think about the types of creators that exist in the world today, and the biggest platforms that support specific types of creators, for example, like short form content, all the creators on Tik Tok, that create content for a living, and try to tap into the algorithms to build followers, right, in a viral setting. Like, that’s a whole new market to tap into short form content that’s worth collecting, right? I think the most kind of like prevailing example is looking at memes, memes that get virality and get a lot of views and a lot of attention have become one with culture, right? The memes of culture, those are probably worth collecting as well. But there aren’t markets for that, like the markets aren’t yet completely ascribed to just yet, right? So, I’m trying to think about like, it comes down to education, onboarding, maybe it comes down to more like successful case studies, right? I’d argue that seeing Daniel Allen kind of like take off in the music space, has motivated a lot of other musicians to enter the space, seeing what he did in 48 hours right, opened up the minds and creativity for many labels, many independent artists and everything in between. So, kind of getting more of these case studies out there have, like a successful short form content creator and a successful podcaster and a successful videographer and a successful cook, right like a chef that wants to create a cookbook and wants to sell eBooks via NFTs. Right? I think it’s documenting that through education and then providing the right pipelines for onboarding that could stimulate.

Aidan Musnitzky: No, totally, if you look at like, the way that goes often happens, it comes from people replicating things that they’ve seen work elsewhere, whether it’s, you know, the different models, we saw with profile picture NFTs and art NFTs, mapping over to music NFTs. And people experimenting with similar models around one on ones, versus multi print editions to people replicating the successes of people, other artists that are doing similar things to them. I think, you know, sometimes that replication works, and like a model that’s proven to work in one context, or in one form of media does map over to another. But other times, we need to find like tweaks on the structure of the release in the NFT, that’s maybe more suited to the kind of content being released. And I think that the like, I still feel like the place to be looking, in order to find the evolutions to how releases should look like for new forms of content. And for new mediums. We should be looking at those like underlying value propositions and like reasons why people collect and like why people get value out of collecting to help us find, like what needs to evolve, as we kind of spread to new mediums and new kinds of contents and new relationships between collectors in their NFT base.

I also often think about like, who was the original content creator in crypto, and it was the journalists, the writers, right, the ones who would document the space and share thoughts across subreddits or whatever those forums were at the time. And if you look about, if you look at the market for like writing NFTs, for example, they’re not as hot as music, right? Even though I feel like I read more online than I do listen, I don’t know what we would really entail for me to collect a writing NFT, let alone pay for it. I see the fun of collecting a free writing NFT to show you where there, like Dennis says this premiere, he’s like, if you didn’t read something, or if you didn’t collect something, did you even read it? He says a variation of that I’m paraphrasing. And it makes me think like showing your support and showing your patronage by collecting something, even if it’s free, right? That’s, that’s content worth collecting, but as a content worth paying for. So, when I think about the original creator, I think about the writer, I then think about the artists, I think about all the artists that use music to sell their digital art and how that introduced music into the picture. And yeah, I don’t know, I also have like this internal debate of like what’s worth kind of giving up for free, and then what’s worth charging for. And there’s this big, I guess, stigma in NF T’s around drop culture, right? Like, you have to have like this big PR moment, you have to do your threads, you have to do all this, like PR marketing and prep in order to sell out like a big campaign for the most part, right? And I’m trying to think like, is that a new form of publishing, and I guess preparation for a different type of content, right? Like, whereas in Tik Tok, you just publish something, and then you let the algorithms do their thing. Versus in web three right now, it’s very much like you hustling, and being the, your solopreneur, you know, trying to sell something out. 

Aidan Musnitzky: Yeah, I would love to see. 

You can see my thoughts are just like all over the place.

Aidan Musnitzky: Yeah, I mean, I would love to see like that idea of kind of longer-term growth in collecting happening, as opposed to, you know, or being there at the point of the drop. And especially like, it depends on the kind of content itself, because some content is best consumed, like, longer term, like I think, I remember reading a quote by Vitalik a few weeks ago, or months ago, maybe it was years ago now. But it’s a good point around specifically writing, and like blog posts, and long form content. Often, if you look at the majority of content that people consume, it’s like more recent, it’s more like music, it’s more about like recent activity, but if you look at the highest quality content, that’s the most impactful, it’s often content that’s, you know, had months or years to kind of simmer and to get curated into, like sustain itself and things like long form books that people written, or just like, articles that people keep coming back to a year or two later, that are like the most impactful and like that feels incompatible with the ways in which we’re currently releasing NFTs today. And so that’s the like, previous conversation we were having around like, okay, how do these models of NFTs need to evolve and change in order to facilitate the ways, like different kinds of content and to be more aligned with the ways in which like that content is actually consumed? Feels like important and like you know, in the context of music and FTEs, even with music we see, there’s a difference between say, you know, pop music that charts and is popular for a few weeks, and gets a ton of plays, but then fades away, as opposed to like albums that artists spend like six months putting their time into and then releasing. And that becomes like this piece of work that embodies them for like a long term and for like the rest of their discography. And so similar and that’s something I think I’ve been also like a little bit torn on in the sense that like most of the content on spin amp today is individual tracks, and individual releases that maybe gets the most attention only at that point of release, but don’t have that same kind of longer term retention, that you would get from like an album on Spotify, or, you know, a book or novel or an article that is on the Atlantic that people were referenced 10 years ago.

Makes sense. I want to bring up another example, and just have a quick dialogue on it. While he may be controversial in the current times, but Logan Paul, in my opinion, killed it with 99 originals. Are you familiar with that project?

Aidan Musnitzky: I’ve seen it like here and there. And to be honest, I haven’t gotten into exactly what it’s doing, and like how it works, but slight glimpses.

So, it was the first project that I saw that resonated and got respect both from the web two audience and from the web three audience. And it took a noun Dao approach to kind of like selling or auctioning content. And he basically took 99 Polaroids, across 99 different experiences, and really perfected the elements of storytelling around these pieces, and sold each JPEG, essentially each Polaroid. Some had additional perks, others didn’t have additional perks, but sold each one for tons and tons and tons of money, grossed I think, few $100,000, if not a mil I could be mistaken. Don’t mark my word on the number. But I remember it was a massive success. And I remember at the time when he was producing that content and publishing on Tik Tok, and Instagram, whenever, he got such supportive comments from his traditional fans, because he’s like, wow, Logan is actually like an artiste. Like he really gets the creative journey and he’s an incredible storyteller. And then a web three, you had that wow factor of it just being Logan Paul, but also the storytelling element of content that was worth collecting, you know, and it had the significance and this historical significance to it, that wow, he went on this entire journey, documented his entire step, his entire process, step by step, and was able to auction every single one of those moments, for God knows how much in Eth, right? So, when I think about like content worth collecting, and I wrote this on Friday, it’s like content worth collecting requires a deep understanding of your audience, and what motivates them, right? It’s that ability to connect with people on a deeper level, to understand their needs or desires, and to create that content that speaks to them in a way that is meaningful and authentic. Like that’s what I think about, right. And that may trigger someone to either just press the collect button, and whether it’s a paid collect or free collect, but it’s content worth collecting, you know, a little bit of a tangent. 

Aidan Musnitzky: I think that’s a good example. And like, even you mentioned the noun’s model as being like a potential source of information from them. And it’s an interesting one, because we’ve seen that like longer term, kind of rollout of nouns, and you know, they seem to still sustainably continue to get sales week by week and month by one. And so, it’s a great experiment to prove, like longer term models of releases, whether it’s in the context of a Dao, in the context of NFT, are ones that I could potentially work. And so that also, I’d love to see, like, as already said, like nouns bought a few weeks ago, I’d be curious to see how that could be applied to content that is best consumed on like a longer form basis, whether it’s, you know, those mechanisms or further composed experiments on top of those mechanisms that are tailored to different types of content.

The Mechanics of Spinamp

I want to jump born into spin amp and understand the mechanics of spin amp. Okay? If I read correctly, when you create a playlist on spin amp, you actually mint that playlist, if I’m not mistaken, is that correct?

Aidan Musnitzky: That’s not correct, today, sorry. That is an idea we’ve been toying with around missing playlists on chain. But at the moment, playlists are off chain, they are decentralized. They’re stored on like a decentralized infrastructure indexer but it’s still off chain. And they’re not NFTs. I think that, you know, there, we’ve had a bunch of conversations around building like, protocols on chain for curating content. And there are already some protocols on chain for curating content and putting spin amp n a place, something would be a form of that. But I think because we’re still at the stage of experimenting with, like the underlying NFTs. It’s unclear whether it’s like the right design for curating stuff on chain. And the other aspect of it is like, the experience that we wanted to create with spin amp is one where, you can easily go and curate your collection, create playlists, add stuff to favorites, change stuff around and, you know, modify and share your collection without having to do transaction, without having to pay anything. And so, in order to have like the UX to facilitate that, we didn’t want to meet to go on changes yet. But yeah, that is something like, I think on chain curation is certainly like an open question and like to see how the current and upcoming experiments play out with that will be super exciting.

It always feels like Aidan, that every interaction should be some form of collect. And let me explain to you what I mean by that. So, when I like a video on Tik Tok, and that ends up in my saved folder, right, that I can then review, it’s very analogous to collecting something and then it ending up in my wallet, right? Or when I save a song on Spotify, and then it getting curated to my master playlist, right? It’s very analogous, again, to collecting something and getting into your wallet. So, I feel like as an end user, when you create a playlist for yourself personally, to consume whatever content or music you want, I wonder if those interactions make sense to be minted a free mint, right? So that you, you understand more of the user’s preferences. And I don’t know, maybe even the artists can use that information in a creative way to understand who is top listeners, his top collectors are, his top engagers? You know what I mean?

Aidan Musnitzky: No, I totally agree. I think every interaction is really like something like a collect. And even if you look at spin amp today, like the stuff that you’ve favorited, and add to playlist, we put into a library, and it’s almost like it’s kind of like your collection, we use the term library, but it’s similar term. I think that’s a separate question to, like where should that collect load? Should it be an NFT? Should it be on chain? Should it be off chain? Who should get to see it? Should the other fans get to see it? Should the artist get to see it? There’s all like, individual separate questions that I think you need to ask separately to, whether it’s like a collecting, whether that engagement is something like collecting? And I don’t know if the answer to all of those questions is that it should just be in an NFT on chain. But I definitely think from like the user experience perspective, and from the person that’s going and making these interactions from that perspective, like that is certainly part of the collective experience. And every interaction you make is like a way of you engaging in collecting their content.

Multiplayer Abilities for Consuming Content Collectively

Got it. What about the multiplayer experience, do you imagine what, do you envision any form of multiplayer abilities with consuming content collectively, amongst a group of collectors? Is that even a thing worth exploring? Maybe I’m throwing shit at the fan here. But a new idea that popped up right now?

Aidan Musnitzky: No, no, we’ve actually been thinking about that a lot, like so like party Dao released a product a few weeks ago, around like party birds and party collecting. And they did a few things before and they’re really some music NFTs, like a few months ago, that people form little parties to collect. It definitely feels like there’s a lot of like untapped fun in those kinds of experiences. Whether it’s through the stuff we’ve already seen around, like practicing NFT that’s been collected, or whether it’s through, like micro-Daos, and like spontaneous Daos that are formed for the purposes of collecting and curating even spin amp playlists, we wanted to, you know, we’ve been thinking about adding support for like a Gnosis saved out, to be able to kind of do spin on playlists and share them. And so, I think, as soon as, as part of like, the social evolution of like music NFT collecting, you know, allowing groups to exist and take social actions together, whatever those actions may be, is definitely like a kind of thing I’d love to see happen. And, you know, maybe our team will release something along those lines in time. But I think there’s a ton of potential around that area in the space in general.

Unseen Possibilities in Web3 Consumption

Yeah, you know, I look at I look at spin Amp, in it’s current form, and I look at you as a founder. And something that I think about as a podcaster is like, what are the links between the founders DNA and how they’re wired to what they’re building? And I want to understand considering where spin amp is today, the product that you have both iOS and the web app, what excites you that you haven’t yet executed on for spin amp? Like, what are we not seeing in the mind of Aidan, that has yet to be kind of prevailed in the world of web three consumption, right, that you’d either want to tag along into spin amp’s product flow, or new ideas that you’re thinking about new philosophies? Where does that lie?

Aidan Musnitzky: Yeah, I think, you know, I think the social aspect is definitely one aspect there, in the sense of, you know, further differentiating what we’re doing from traditional streaming apps, and like really homing in on what web three brings. That’s different, I think, looking to see what kind of interesting social features we can build is a part of that and specifically, I think, ideas around what we can do on chain, that is like involves you stretching the models for how people are collecting, whether. And like the, you know, fractionalization example is like a already existing example of that. But I think there’s a wide design space for how we can build new kind of structures for people to engage with NFTs, engage with collecting and engage with each other on chain, it’s time to experiment with and explore some of those, I think would, would be like, you know, something that I find exciting and like technically challenging, and there’s a lot of like a bit of potential to, I think, you know, one thing we’ve been thinking about adventures, trading NFTs, being able to swap them with each other, like trading card game style. And then you know, how that fits with the content at hand and music and like what that means for, if we think about how much NFT marketplaces work, especially to say, like open sea, and the majority of them today. They, there’s often a disconnect between the participants that are trading with each other in the marketplace and finding ways to kind of grow that connection and help like trading be an act of like an actual engagement with another collector. Is I’d say that’s like a collection of some of the things we’re thinking about it. There’s some other ones that I think there’s still, you know, like bubbling and like getting refined. But yeah, those are some that have certainly on our mind as a team and excite me in their potential.

Challenges Faced While Building Spinamp

So, in this response that you just gave me, you talked about enjoying the technical challenges that came with building spin amp? Can you walk me through more of what challenges you faced while producing the initial version of the product? And I also want to know, how did you land on that sort of design style for spin amp? It’s very, it’s very edgy, it’s very different than what you typically get from a traditional media player that you, that maybe we use on a daily basis.

Aidan Musnitzky: Yeah, so maybe I’ll go through design sites for us, I think one of the things and the name is spin amp, which rhymes with Winamp. There was music player app decades ago, which I suppose is still exists today. But it’s no longer as popular called Winamp. And like it had this like old school retro style, I think that was a part of the design inspiration. There’s, like I don’t know if you’re familiar with like poolside, they launched, initially as just like a little music radio app, and they had like, you know, square, kind of retro style design. And like, we had a bit of inspiration from there. And I think in general, like the design comes from, I think, when we initially bought spin amp release, it’s like templates of like, how to build a like template, like mobile app thing. And like that had like a very generic hackery technical style design, where it was straightforward, like squares and lines. And I think that, you know, a lot of it was like intentional in the sense of like, okay, we kind of like to stand on it to kind of get inspired from it and these different sources, but a lot of wills incidental in the sense that we just wanted to like, build stuff, and work on improving and involving the aesthetic and time. And I think that’s true today, where, you know, we’ll certainly continue to evolve the aesthetic and design. And you’ve probably seen a bunch of that with like themes, which are not like, you know, that craziness, mostly like colors and skins and things. But evolving the design in kind of other ways to suit different artists and different users over time, I think is something that’s naturally going to happen. Back to your technical questions, like what have been some of the interesting challenges, I think one thing was spin amp, that we really like stuck to is, ensuring that like, all the infrastructure we build, can continue to be aligned with the web three quarter. And so, what does that mean? That means that our infrastructure, either lives on chain, or if it lives off chain, it can be open source, and it can be run by anyone. And it can be running like a peer-to-peer network. And so, you know, if you look at IPFS, as an example of that, which you know, most people in the NFT scene are aware of, IPFS is it’s not on chain. It’s an off chain, peer to peer network where people share content, and the content automatically gets distributed to a decentralized group of nodes. And you’ve got like two, I’d say like extreme sides. IPFS is an example where it’s just pure content. There’s no real like computation or logic. And so, you don’t really need complex kind of consensus algorithms and so, you don’t need a blockchain. And then you’ve got the other extreme where, it’s like a layer one blockchain, where there’s a double spend problem. It’s like a financial ledger, and you need a consensus, and you need that, within that consensus you need everyone in the world to agree on that consensus and to agree on an order of transactions. And so now spin amp live somewhere in the middle where we still need consensus, you know, take the example of an artist going and updating their name or updating their profile picture. That’s data that can change, there is some computation there, and that they need to be able to, like update their profile picture to a new one. Another example would be like, say, we want to show a summary of like how many drops as this is done, six drops. So, you need to add up all their drops. And there’s like a little addition computation that happens there. And so, we’re, we still kind of require computational require consensus there but we don’t want to be a blockchain. We don’t want to have a full like BFT consensus algorithm. But on the other hand, we don’t want to be like done kind of storage layer or a centralized system. And so we the one of the goals that we’ve kind of stuck to, in our design for architecture is, how can we find consensus for these kinds of simpler computations without requiring a blockchain or without requiring like traditional web three systems, because as soon as you introduce a blockchain, you’ve got a lot of other complications that come to mind, whether it’s like scaling, or like token related considerations, whatever it is, and so the meter we use to do this is, on the technical side, it’s called a CRDT. And it’s essentially an algorithm that says, if everyone runs this algorithm, everyone’s gonna get to the same answer. If we take like addition of example, if you see six drops, I see six drops, we know we just, you know, add them up, and we both get to the number six, it’s like a very simple formula, just add up all the drops and then get the total. And so, you don’t, so to me, and you to agree on, like how many drops as an artist need, we both need just need to know how to add in the same way. And we also need to see, we actually have to have seen the drops, to know, but we don’t need to like run this complex back and forth consensus to determine, hey, do you agree about this or do you disagree about this? It’s, you know, we have a single source of truth of like, if we’ve seen a drop, then we know it’s true and we know what to add. And so, it’s like a different style of consensus that doesn’t require blockchain. But that does impose constraints on how we bought our index and how we bought our architecture. And it’s been an interesting challenge that’s like guided a lot of the technical implementation of what we do.

Got it. That makes a lot of sense.  

Recommendation Algorithms for Consumption and Collection

On the topic of product, okay, I want to pick your brain on recommendation algorithms when you use Spotify and Apple Music. Not only do they recommend you playlists, but as you consume, and you listen to new songs, they recommend you individual songs to kind of like enjoy as well. Right? So, the biggest differentiator in terms of behavior is, you don’t just consume in web through you also collect, how do you think about recommendation algorithms from the sense of consumption and also, collection? Where does that come into the picture?

Aidan Musnitzky: Yeah, I know, that’s a great question. And I think like, the answer ties into like our previous topic around, why do people collect and what value do people get out of collecting? And, again, you’ve got these different users that are trying to get different things. If you’re thinking about like a speculator, in order to give them a recommendation, the only thing you can recommend to them, that’s going to satisfy them is something that makes them more profits. And to give that kind of recommendation is also a very risky one, because the claim that’s only going to be profitable or not, is a claim that you know, only, it’s again, something that you have to predict that you can’t necessarily be sure about. If you look at say someone that’s looking to support auto set as a patron, then there’s, the things that they would want to see is maybe like someone that’s up and coming, someone that’s got like a rag to riches story, someone that maybe they resonate with, and then they’re actually liked the content. And the recommendation there, I think happens along different set of dimensions. If you look at like a fan that wants to find a community and like connect with a subculture, then maybe they’re interested in like who the other collectors are, what are their interests? What are the music NFTs do they collect? What kind of activities do they have a shared discord? Do they have a telegram? Do they have like a social scene? And so, because we’ve got these like different dimensions of why people collect, I think the kind of like, automated algorithmic single makes one size fits all recommendation algorithm that you see, and like Apple and Spotify and these platforms is not really ideal, at least for spin amp, where it is today where it’s kind of covering, like a murky mess of all of these kinds of NFT used cases. And so, it means we have to be quite careful about collecting and I think anything that we do, sorry about recommendation. And I think like anything we do, at least around recommendation will have to tie into stuff that’s either like, directly personalized to the user based on their interests and their desires and what they want to be recommended, or directly coming from, like ground truth, like on chain data around like, hey, this is exactly what happened on chain, and we can relate like this on chain data to one of those designs, that you may have around while you’re collecting.

Why Should Spinamp be Allowed to Aggregate My Music for Free?

Got it. I want to sort of like end the conversation with approaching you and asking for your, I guess, your open dialogue on some of the music aggregator debate that happened about a couple of weeks ago. So, Aidan, when an artist comes to you, and they’re like, why should spin amp be allowed to aggregate my music for free? And then give that to their fans or to the platform’s listeners, and I make nothing off the listenership, right? I don’t get that sort of like revenue that I would traditionally get, let alone why should you even be allowed to take my music or aggregate my music? How do you respond to that? What are your thoughts around this entire debate?

Aidan Musnitzky: Yeah, yeah, no, great question. I think there’s a few aspects to this debate, I’d say like, the one kind of key point for me is I think, like, what’s happening with music NFTs is very much an experiment today. And we’re experimenting essentially, with all the new ways of valuing music, new ways of economic models emerging around music. And so, in order for those to succeed, we like we need to be able to experiment. And so, we do need content to experiment with. And so, this whole experiment of like web three music couldn’t really exist, without, you know, at least some artists making the music available. The second aspect of it is the kind of ethos of web three, you know, I think, certainly a lot of honestly, you know, signed contracts with specific platforms, like sound, catalog, and so on to kind of share the content there. But if their content is locked on those platforms, and it kind of doesn’t really form part of this web three experiment, if it can actually be something that’s like more accessed and composed. And so, we’re not really like doing the experiment justice, unless we do it properly. And we risk, you know, just putting the same kind of web two style, centralized systems in that way, and I think on a more practical level, you know, that I think the purpose of experiment is to get artists more funding and get them more money. And so, the like more practical answer is that, really, by having their content open, by allowing agreements to aggregate and share their contents, actually, they’re going to get more money than if they don’t do that. And like, that’s obviously like a claim that we might think, it’s a claim that will be approved, I can say today for spin amp, like that’s already true. And, you know, the content that people have collected to spin amp, has already got artist more money than they would have in traditional platforms. We’re literally relatively and so I think like the bigger part of that is that the whole thesis around collecting is that, like people are going to collect and give money to artists. More likely, in a stronger way, if there’s actually experienced the content, and they’ve gotten access to the content first. And their experience consuming the content has actually led to them wanting to collect and find artists. And so, the like last piece of this is, especially for spin amp, one in which we believe that having access to the content and allowing people to consume and listen to it, will actually essentially lead to more collecting and more money going to artists. And so, it’s actually in the oddest, best interest, for listeners to be actually consuming that content as part of a cohesive collection experience, instead of just going into like a kind of financial marketplace, to like to buy their content, which is kind of disconnected from the relationship that they’re building with their fans. And that like closer relationship through their content, actually, you know, we hope will lead to actually more like financial successful artists than otherwise.

Potential for Monetization On Spinamp

I do see a world where being able to accrue revenue through secondaries, with traffic driven because of spin amp to those applications or to those NFTs will ultimately lead hopefully at scale to a more, I guess, beneficial model for a lot of music artists, at least independent ones. But I also see a world where there couldn’t be a challenge of music adequate graders getting attacked by traditional legal reforms and whatever that may look like to kind of like recognize the traditional manner, and then apply that and tack that on to sort of, yeah, this new school manner of engagement and consumption. What other ways of monetization do you imagine spin amp enabling in the future?

Aidan Musnitzky: Yeah, so I think that one kind of guideline, and, you know, motivation that we have is like spin amp is there to support the space and support awesomeness space. And so, when it comes to monetization, I think any monetization that spin amp has, will tie directly to us succeeding at bringing artists more money themselves. And so like, that’s, you know, the thing that we released last week being able to collect on spin, and we’re not currently monetizing that. But it is, of course, like financial flow that’s happening through our app. And the nice thing about it is, you know, let’s say hypothetically, in the future, it succeeds. And it takes off, and it scales. That is a feature that directly translates into artists getting more funding. And so, if it happens to be a monetization model that’s been pursued in the future, it is directly aligned with artists getting more funds himself. And so, it has that aspect of like, how success is dependent on and can only exist if we succeed at making artist successful. And, you know, when we think about other kinds of monetization models that we may explore, they all will have that kind of quality, where it’s never the case that you know, spin amp is taking advantage of content from artists and making money off their backs. It’s where it’s always the case that actually, we’re amplifying the potential revenue that artists can make. And, you know, of course, there’s always the risk, as you say, that traditional streaming platforms. And that’s like having open access to content compromises that but you know, that’s not the case today, we already have, like data that shows that it’s succeeding as we scale. And I think we have a like kind of responsibility to stay beholden to that. And to say that like, as long as we scale and grow our product, any monetization skills in a way that artists scale with us, and that essentially, we help amplify them. Rather than then, like, providing just like something for us to kind of build out and on top of.

Strategies for Turning Listeners into Collectors

I want to ask you one final question. It’s a question that I asked frequently, throughout season four, that I actually think you’re the perfect person to ask, considering the problem that you’re trying to solve. Okay. Every collector is a listener, but not every listener is a collector. How do we turn more listeners into collectors? What do you think?

Aidan Musnitzky: Yeah. So, I mean, I think that question is like one of the core motivations behind why we will spin amp, we wanted to build something that was for listeners, that was for fans, and builds it with their experiences and flows in mind first, and so being a listening app, on your phone, being well off first. And being something, that people can integrate into everyday experiences, I think is step one, where we actually get people to like, engage with the content. And these web three systems in a much more like, low impact way, when you go and install spin amp, just search on the App Store, or find on the website and install it. Immediately, you can start using it, you can listen to music, you can see the content. If you start to like tap around and explore. But more you’ll maybe see, oh, there’s some, what’s this like feed going on? What’s this NFT? Why this time, why there’s numbers here. And so even if you’ve never heard of web three and NFTs really like, we like to think that this is like a way that you can start to get a small introduction to that, I think. And then I think that’s like the starting point. I think the next is like how do we start to build features that entice and encourage people to collect and entice and encourage people to, you know, set up their wallet and so on, and, you know, actually fun things and buy things. I think there’s a UX questions that are out, okay, how do we just make better UX and so on? How do we make that purchase UX? I think that’s something that everyone in web three has to deal with. And there’s certainly like some solutions to that, that we could evolve towards. But the harder question is, how do we get existing listeners to see the same value in collecting music NFTs that the collectors do? And I think that comes down to, again, those core underlying values of like, why do people collect and how can we make those more transparent and clearer to like the everyday person? When they’re, you know, browsing spin amp and coming across an artist and they, like what can they see that actually makes them realize, hey, actually, I could support this person and like, make a difference to them. And, or what can we show them that they can see like, oh, hey, there’s this like interesting subculture and community, again, I want to be a part of this and like, I’d like FOMO. And I want to join this. And I think creating those kinds of feelings in people through their usage of the app, that encourage them and entice them into collecting, is the direction that we’re going to need to explore in order to make that happen.

Outro

Aidan, Godspeed, I’m rooting for you and the spin amp team, excited for what you guys are working on. Before I let you go, where can we find you? Where can we learn more?

Aidan Musnitzky: Yeah, it’s been great. Thanks for having me and lots of fun conversations. I think the best way to find us is on Twitter, where @Spin_amp, or our website, www.spinamp.XYZ. And from there, you can see our Twitter, you can see links to our iOS app, Android app and our web app and check them out. You know, the thing that we care about most is people actually using our products. So, check out the app, listen to things. See if you find value in consuming web three content. And hopefully you become a spin amp user and start to engage with all the awesome content and artists that we’ve aggregated.

Amazing, Aidan, thank you so much, till next time. 

Aidan Musnitzky: Likewise.

Categories
Podcast Transcript

Web3’s Impact on Content Creation and the Future of Tokenized Media

Background

Mint Season 7 episode 2 welcomes Roberto Nickson, the Founder of Metav3rse – Instagram’s largest crypto and metaverse-focused page. Throughout the hour, we discuss the world of Web3 media and the potential for decentralized technologies to revolutionize the industry. We’ll be discussing Roberto’s previous experience contributing to his current success, the role of media in Web3, crypto, and NFTs, and the future developments in the metaverse. We’ll also be delving into the controversial Twitter update and how it has caused a shift in Web2 and Web3 creator roles and responsibilities. Roberto touches upon the culture of Web3 and how it empowers creators, as well as sharing his bullish outlook on tokenized content and collecting. We’ll also be discussing the impact of crypto on intellectual property, the challenges facing traditional media, and finally the change in web-based metrics in the Web3 world. 

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:16 – Intro
  • 05:15 – Previous Experience Contributing to Today’s Success
  • 06:23 – The Role of Media in Web3
  • 09:41 – Future Developments in Metav3rse
  • 12:45 – Thoughts on the Controversial Twitter Update
  • 15:29 – The Shift in Web2 and Web3 Creator Roles and Responsibilities
  • 17:41 – Explanation of Web3 Culture
  • 19:18 – How Web3 Empowers Creators
  • 20:58 – Bullish on Collecting Tokenized Content
  • 22:34 – Collecting Podcast NFTs
  • 29:03 – Web3 and Intellectual Property
  • 30:52 – Potential Impact of Crypto on Intellectual Property
  • 39:13 – Platforms Hosting Content and Financialization of Content
  • 41:29 – Challenges Facing Traditional Media
  • 43:07 – Change in Web-Based Metrics in Web3
  • 45:23 – The Trillion Dollar Question
  • 46:42 – Outro

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Roberto Nickson, welcome to mint. Thank you for being on, how are we doing?

Roberto Nickson: Dude, I’m doing well. It’s an honor to be on your podcast. I’m really, really excited man. Doing well, little under the weather, I guess, you know, it’s just, it is the season.

Intro

It is the season. I got sick twice. I got sick twice in four weeks. So, I respect you being here, and I appreciate you being here. And I want to kick off this episode, kind of just learning more about who you are Roberto, you run from what I see publicly, very successful Instagram page, let alone a media company in web three, the most followed and most active Instagram page covering the metaverse and crypto and all that good stuff. So that’s what I know about you publicly. But tell me what I don’t know about you. Who are you? What does the world need to know about you? We’ll start there and we’ll work our way.

Roberto Nickson: Yeah, no, I would say that, you know, professionally, I’m a lifelong sort of nerd. You know, I’m a designer, I’m a gamer. I’ve always loved building communities on the internet. And so, when I found web three, I was like, wow, this is sort of, you know, this is sort of the intersection of everything that I’m interested in and everything that I love, you know, which was the bridging of community, financial systems, etc. And so, you know, I won’t go like too, too deep, but what I’ll talk about Metaverse if you want, my bad dude, this can be edited, right?

Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. You’re good. You’re good. You’re good. I’m writing this down. You speak at your own pace. Feel comfortable. I’ll take care of the rest. Yeah.

Roberto Nickson: All good man. But yeah, Metaverse, I got into crypto in around 2016. And that was just as a, I would say as a buyer of Ethereum, that’s what first pulled me in, you know it wasn’t Bitcoin, it wasn’t anything else. It was it was Ethereum, and then in 2017, I started buying crypto Kitties and I thought that was a lot of fun. And then what happened with that is that, my wallet was compromised, you know, which is almost like a rite of passage in this game. Everybody at one point gets got, but that really discouraged me, and I you know, I went into that camp of people that was like, man, this is all a scam, this is all just Grifters, you know, I don’t like that space. I left and I came back with MBA Top Shot, which is how it got me into like, web three we know and love it today. What I noticed was that you know, the same Grifters, the same scams, the same bad actors were still around and even more prevalent. And so that’s when I started Metaverse as a way to, you know, kind of talk about the opportunities in the space, but also, you know, mentioned the perils and what to look out for as well. And I think that really resonated with people.

So that sort of inspired the birth of that page and let alone the entire Metaverse brand. And when you sort of kick that off, like what was your ethos when you wanted to create that specific content? Because I noticed that Metaverse creates all sorts of content very much specific to the metaverse, but you also branch out of web three, right? So, when you sort of set off to build a brand into content strategy, and everything in between, what was your guiding light? Like what was your initial focus?

Roberto Nickson: Yeah, and so I think it’s important to always adapt. And so that’s what I’ve been sort of doing, but just to go back in time. This was August 2021, when I started it, and the content was all about education, I would say like 80% of the content was education. It wasn’t so much like analysis; it wasn’t really news. It wasn’t happening. It was like educating people on how to make an NFT, how to create a Meta mask, how to create other wallets, best practices, and security in web three and etc. And then I started including a lot more of the news and what’s happening and early on, what would do really well is like these big sales, right? So, I’ll talk about a big crypto punk sale or a million-dollar board ape sale, and that seemed to get a lot of people interested and that’s what was working, so I talked about that. Funnily enough, it was a very, you know, entrepreneurship, luck is always part of the equation. And when Facebook changed their name to meta, Metaverse, Instagram page was trending at the top. So, when you start typing in meta, that was the first one that would show up. And so, I remember seeing growth of like, I mean, it was like three, four or 500,000 followers came in, just off that change alone and we rolled that sort of like algorithmic wave. And what was really cool about that, I mean, it was sort of funny, I was getting like hate DMS, people thinking we were meta and so, we’d get DMS like Zuckerberg, I hate you, you know, blah, blah, blah and I’m like, hey, this is, we’re not affiliated, right. But funny enough that you know that luck is always part of the equation, we were able to ride that algorithmic wave. Today with Metaverse, I have sort of expanded outwards a little bit, where it’s not just web three. It’s not just Metaverse NFTs, I’m also talking about general tech. I like to position it as sort of the intersection of tech culture and finance. So, if anything falls into one of those three buckets, especially when they’re all like merged together, then I like to cover that. And really that’s just for engagement, right? If I’m going to talk about like some random NFT right now, nobody cares is going to be crickets. What’s the point, so yeah.

Previous Experience Contributing to Today’s Success 

So, when you got started with Metaverse, I’m curious if there was any previous experience that contributed to today’s success. Was this your first take at a media company? Or were you doing this for a while prior?

Roberto Nickson: No, I mean, I’ve been building communities online for a long, long time. And not just Instagram, but elsewhere. I mean, you know, gaming communities, what have you, but specific to Instagram, I’ve always had sort of this inherent understanding of content that resonates with a wider audience, especially on Instagram, because I’m like a visual sort of person. And so, I had built over 15 pages that totaled, you know, 10, 15 million followers, I forget the exact number. And over the last like, six, seven years, I built them. You know, a lot of them I had some sold, there was one called Paradise that I sold, another one called room porn, that was all about interior design. And then they rebranded the shelter after I sold that one. And, you know, there was countless others. And so that’s just something that I’ve been doing sort of on the side, almost as a hobby for a long, long time. And so, it just is very natural to me, since I’ve been doing it now for the better a decade.

The Role of Media in Web3

Got it makes a lot of sense. You know, a lot of this conversation that I want to have with you, Roberto is where media intersects with web three. And the reason why I want to have discussion. Well, number one, that’s what season sevens theme is, by default. And number two, you’re also a creator yourself. So, running this entire page. And actually, I’ve noticed that you and your team, and I don’t know how big the team is, is very talented with kind of covering the breaking news and being first added, right? And whatever happens in pop culture, it seems pop culture and technology. You guys seem to be at the trigger finger with that news. And I’m curious, what do you see sort of like the role in media, as it intersects with web three, crypto and NFTs?  What are your thoughts around that?

Roberto Nickson: That’s a great, great question. So just with Metaverse really quick, the team is one, you know, funny enough, everybody thinks for like a big team. 

It’s just you?

Roberto Nickson: Yeah, and I’m out here 12 hours a day. You know, all man, like the amount of work that goes into this is pretty wild. You know, I’ll eventually have to hire out, but you know, because one of the main focuses right now is mp3. And we can talk about that later. But it’s a digital collectibles project that I co-founded with my sister and that we have like a fairly large team for around 12 of us. But yeah, Metaverse just me, man. And maybe that’s why I’m, I’ve gotten so sick. You know, it’s like, I’m always like waking up in the middle of the night making sure, I have like a chat where people are always like feeding me news and stories. And I’m able to, like repurpose those in bite size really kind of like snackable and viral clips, or, or content posts. But, you know, media, I feel like every company in the world is trending towards becoming their own media company as well. I think it’s really important, right. And so whether you’re a personal brand, whether you’re a small business, a large business, an individual, sole proprietor, whatever it is, it’s like, I think you sort of have to become, in essence, a content creator, let’s call it or, you know, we could also use the term media brand, in order to really, you know, I’m not gonna say survive, but in order to really flourish in today’s age, I think media is always definitely part of the equation. And so, I think that’s really important. And it’s been helpful as well, for all my other ventures, you know.

Makes a lot of sense. I’m impressed that it’s only you. So, you do all the editing, all the graphics design, all the publishing, all the copy.

Roberto Nickson: Yeah, every pixel, every word, everything on Instagram, Twitter, I’m active now on Diamond app. And yeah, I mean, obviously, you know, this will be expanded. The reason that I’ve kept it, you know, played it so tight to the chest is because I want to really, really keep the authenticity and genuineness of the page. You know, as soon as it becomes somewhat of a company, you know, then some bureaucratic elements can start creeping in. And I think the voice is compromised a little bit, if that makes sense. And since the beginning, it’s been so authentic, it’s been so genuine. And it’s always been, it’s been consistent. And so, I started hiring out and getting other editors or, you know, journalists, publishers, whatever it is. I’m not sure I’m ready for that yet.

Future Developments in Metav3rse

Okay, impressive. Really, really impressive. I thought it was like a whole editorial team behind you know, major props to you, major compliment. So, back on the bake back on the on the path of where web three intersects with media, okay. I’m a big believer in sort of and this belief has developed over I feel like the last year, where there’s this phrase called not your keys, not your content. And as you build audiences on all these platforms, you actually rent these audiences, right? And they’re not interoperable, but we’re seeing a wave of like web three social sort of arise, and a collector equals a follower. And you can take that following and those collectors with you, everywhere you go. Is this a model that you’re bullish on? Do you see sort of like a different wave kind of popping up in the near future? Considering what you’ve built so far with metaverse, I feel like there’s a lot in tandem.

Roberto Nickson: It’s a great, great question. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, you know, and when I look at the decentralized social media landscape right now, I see so many benefits. One is you’re able to own your content. You know, you’re able to own your social graph and the relationship with the audience, which I think is of utmost importance. Right now, we see with Twitter, like people are trying to, like build their audience elsewhere. And they’re trying to take their Twitter followers over the Macedon, whatever it is, but like, there’s so many challenges to that. If you’re building on a decentralized protocol, your audience goes with you, you know, wherever you’re going, because you own that social graph. And so, I’m looking at social and I’m like, there’s so much that’s broken with it, you know, you’re resistant to censorship, you’re resistant, or you’re vulnerable to censorship, rather, you’re vulnerable to, you know, get a deep platformed if you don’t agree with, you know, the zeitgeist at the moment. And yeah, just see so many benefits, to decentralized social landscape, I just don’t feel like anybody’s really, really cracked product market fit yet. And I’m hopeful because there’s so many brilliant entrepreneurs like playing in this space, I’m hopeful that it’ll happen in the next 5 or 10 years. Because the benefits just like far outweigh the, you know, the cons, right?

As an active user though, as a creator, what do you think is missing? What are these platforms not getting right just yet?

Roberto Nickson: Well, there’s a lot, like one is, probably the worst thing is like, you’re at their behest, right? Like you don’t own anything at any time. You can be suspended, you can be taken off, you can be, you know, shadow banned, you can be de-boosted. I mean, there’s like a million different things, right. And so like, sometimes that can be frustrating, because, you know, say me where I’m like, working 10 hours a day, like creating content for primarily for Instagram, right, and like, I don’t really own the relationship with the audience. You know, I could try to siphon them out to like, email, or whatever. So, it’s more of like an ownership thing. But that’s the biggest, I would say succinctly, I would say the lack of ownership is the biggest problem with social today.

Thoughts on the Controversial Twitter Update

You know, I look at to the recent update from Elon Musk and the new Twitter policy. That he came out with that basically says like we’re starting to limit other platforms capturing our attention. So, no more link tree or link in bio sort of alternatives. No more linking out to Facebook and Instagram. Then you think about it, like, what makes one platform powerful is being able to integrate with other platforms. And that may be controversial statement. But if you look at like the early days of Tik, Tok, like Tik Tok recognize that the creators have other platforms like YouTube and Instagram. So instead of trying to hide that, they amplified it. And they actually dedicated a specific section on their interface to linking out to their Instagram, or to their YouTube, right, and you see the Instagram icon or the YouTube icon. And it feels very counterintuitive to kind of like, restrict users from supporting their other channels and their other accounts, and their other identities online. And I feel like it builds an even stronger case for what web three can be and what web three sort of building towards, right? How do you feel about this new update? Are you for it? Are you against it? Are you, I don’t know, I think it’s very controversial. And it stirred up a lot of noise online.

Roberto Nickson: I thought it was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen. Like literally when it came out, I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was like parody or something, right. And granted, it seemed like the rest of the internet sort of agreed. And it was very short lived. I think six to eight hours later they rescinded it, deleted all of those tweets. And yeah, I mean, it’s like, okay, even if Elon point was, hey, listen, like this is our platform. You know, and if people are like promoting other platforms, so somebody like made this sort of analogy to me, it’s like, you know, hey, you don’t go to, like you won’t see McDonald’s advertisements in a Wendy’s or something like that, right? And so, I kind of get it, but at the same time, it was like, Okay, why just these specific platforms? Why not twitch? Why not YouTube? Why not Tik Tok? Like, why limited to these specific platforms? And so, yeah, man, I mean, I’ve been kind of vocal about this, but it seems like we’ve traded a small sort of largely anonymous group of product managers at Twitter who were like, who are moderating content based on their own ideologies and biases. For this, you know, megalomaniac billionaire, who is now like making rules up as he goes, depending on how he feels. And so, I think there’s like this small group of enemies that Elon is like battling against. And a lot of this, a lot of the policies that he’s implementing is like, is based on that. To me, it’s just, it’s been entertaining. But I can’t say I’ve been a fan of how Elon has handled things.

The Shift in Web2 and Web3 Creator Roles and Responsibilities

Do you think there is a new shift happening where the web two creator’s role and responsibilities is different than that of the web three creator? How do you see those two worlds?

Roberto Nickson: Say that again?

So, I’ll re ask the question, I’ll edit it out. So let me just put it down, hold on 15:45

Roberto Nickson: Okay, good.

What’s the question, I want to ask you basically, like the role between the web two creator and the web three creator, and like, what are the differences? So let me figure out how I can ask that, hold on. With the rise, okay, so with the rise of web three, okay, we’re seeing this new class of creator’s sort of emerge, crypto native creators, creators who are using crypto to build, monetize and own their audience. It feels very different yet similar to a web two creator. How do you view the differences between a web two native creator and a web three native creator?

Roberto Nickson: Yeah, no, that’s a great question. I mean, it’s been sort of interesting to watch, because there’s been a lot of, you know, so called web two creators that come into the web three space. And it’s just like, the things that work in the traditional web two social media environments have not necessarily translated a web three and vice versa. You know, we see a lot of big web three creators who are active in discord and Twitter, and then they try to go on another platform, and they’re not really able to accrue audiences. So, there’s definitely different things that work for each sort of paradigm. But mostly, I would say that, you know, listen, like creating content is always the same, right? It’s visual, it’s audio. And it’s just about, you know, enriching people’s lives in some way, whether it’s like entertainment, information, education, etc. And I think the main disconnect between web two and web three is culture, and just having an understanding of culture, right. And so that’s the main thing you really like, it’s easy to tell if somebody’s not like a web three native sort of person, or D Gen, or whatever, just by talking with them for a couple minutes, because they just, there is a completely different culture that has emerged in web three and it’s hard to kind of articulate that. But if you’re native to the space, it’s just something, like it’s easy to tell.

Explanation of Web3 Culture

Instagram has its own culture, its own internet culture, Reddit has its own internet culture. Tik Tok definitely has it’s own internet culture and vocabulary. How would you explain web three’s culture? Like if you had to, for someone who didn’t understand, how would you? How would you take a stab at it?

Roberto Nickson: Funny enough, I feel like it’s gone through many iterations already. Like at the beginning, when the culture was like, alright, there’s this new paradigm, we’re all excited about this, you know, the advent of this technology and the opportunities behind it. And like we’re all in this together sort of right. Unfortunately, when the bear market hit, it felt like we went from like, wag me to war, right now everybody’s like intimidated or threatened by other people. Because there’s, I mean, you know, there’s a small liquidity pool, that shrinking every day that everybody seems to be like competing for, right? So, I can understand, like, you know, this contentious sort of environment that has been developed. But more than anything that, I think the web three ethos is like, is just the desire to move away from this big web two, or let’s call it like these big tech firms, right? Because when you think about it, social media is owned by four or five billionaires, like literally the entirety of social media is owned by four or five billionaires. And so, I think when web three came about, the main thing is that it was like the restoring power to the users, restoring power to the people. And when I think about web three culture, that’s always sort of like the baseline, the underpinning of it is like, hey, we’re in control now. Not these bureaucratic or, you know, like these big tech giants.

How Web3 Empowers Creators

How do you think web three restores that power to creators?

Roberto Nickson: Yeah, I mean, the first thing is ownership, right? I always come back to this idea that like web three really means ownership. That’s what it means. And so, if you own, again we talked about if you truly own your content, if you truly own your social graph, if you’re directly monetizing from the value that you put out there. Loat my train of thought.

Can I ask that again. You want me to ask that again. 

Roberto Nickson: Yeah. 

Let’s do that again. How does web three restore power back to the Creator?

Roberto Nickson: Yeah, so I think web three restores power back to the creator, you know, always come back to this idea of ownership, right? With the advent of the blockchain now we’re actually able to own, you know, our content, our relationships with the audience, etc. It’s no longer owned by, you know, these big tech firms. So, as an example, if I put out a educational video, you know, and I tokenize it, nobody actually owns that piece of content, but me, you know, there’s no, it’s purely decentralized. There’re no gatekeepers, unlike if I put out a piece of content on Instagram. It’s truly, really just owned by Instagram, and it lives by Instagram, and it’s out there you know, at their behest, they can do whatever they want with that piece of content, without, you know, alerting me.

I’ll cut that out as well. My mute button wasn’t working. Jesus Christ.

Roberto Nickson: Y’all good man. I feel like, thanks for bearing with me. 

Bullish on Collecting Tokenized Content

No, bro, thanks for granting me, this is part of the podcast back and forth breaks, all good, hold on a second. All right, next question, ready? So, does that mean you’re bullish on tokenized content, and people collecting content? Either paying for it, collecting it for free, do you see that world evolving over time?

Roberto Nickson: You know, I don’t know. I don’t necessarily think so. And the reason why is because I’ve always just had this theory that like, all good content should be free, right? Or not necessarily. I mean, you know, like, Netflix is great content and it’s not free. I guess what I’m saying is like, a lot of good educational content, I think should be free, right? I’ve always been a big believer of like, you know, open sourcing things. And like that’s what I think is the magic of the internet that, you know, no longer, not to go on a tangent, but like no longer do you need to go to a college to learn a particular subject matter. It’s like it’s all available to you on the internet through great content creators. And so, it depends on what kind of content you’re creating. Again, if it’s like longer form, entertainment content, or even short form entertainment content, I definitely do think there is going to be like a decentralized Netflix, you know, eventually. And so, depends on what kind of content you’re talking about. But I definitely do think there’s a world in where in, you know, web three tokenize content.

Collecting Podcast NFTs

Let’s talk about podcasts. Do you think it’s worth collecting a podcast episode? Like, do you think, the way I think about, Roberto, is like the same way, it’s very analogous to how people when they scroll on Tik Tok, and they like a video, and it ends up in their liked folders, right? It’s very analogous to collecting something in it landing in your wallet, right? It’s like a very, it’s a very similar behavior. And I guess the real question is, like what content should be free? What content should be paid? And then imagine like to actually favorite something or to like something, you’d have to pay like a$1, right? And then with that, that would maybe represent something about you online across that networking question, right? And honestly, as I say that a lot, it doesn’t sound too convincing. But in the world of web three, when you collect stuff, there is signal around that, there is a level of curation, there’s a level of value of being a collector of something, right? So, I’m just trying to make sense of it and in terms of what does that look like for collecting content, I believe that’s going to be a next phase  in a year and the next two years, and we’re gonna see more content creators in web three tokenize their hours and hours of edit editorial work, that they put into a four and a half minute clip, that ends up racking in millions of views on YouTube, you know, maybe that’s worth collecting. I don’t know, what do you think?

Roberto Nickson: I think 100% and I absolutely love it, like as an example, you should probably tokenize your entire podcast, and there’s a couple of ways to do it, right? It’s like, okay, every episode could be a one of one token, or maybe like an open edition, whatever it is, but there’s a few benefits to that, one is just like the pure collectability of it. And I feel like a lot of people forget this part of like web three, is like a people love to collect, people love to express their allegiance to a particular creative product brand, whatever it is, and so like, your fans will probably just love to collect just to have it in their wallet. Again, it’s like communicating their affinity to you, you know, communicating their religious allegiance to you, like all the value knowledge etc, that you brought to them. But beyond that, why I think what you’re kind of like suggesting is really, really going to take off, is because people are now able to quote unquote, participate in Europe side, right? And so like, okay, I feel like you’re the next Joe Rogan. So, I’m gonna buy a lot of your tokens because those will, you know, presumably accrue in value as your career progresses, right. And so, like I think it’s so much fun. I think it’s so much fun and can tokenize content for those two reasons, especially will do really, really well.

The element of open and transparent networks and secondary markets is gonna enable that growth. And that whole sort of behavior that we haven’t seen with traditional content since 2008, when Instagram came out, right? And I think the ability to tokenize your content and have the secondary market of being able to flip content, right? And for viewers in audiences, or aka collectors, as we like to call them in web three, to have upside, like you said, as a content creator grows, as an individual grows, as their craft progresses over time. Like, I wonder if I was smart enough and aware enough to tokenize season one, as season one was happening of the podcast, right? And I did that consistently over seasons, I continuously think about like what would those be worth? Or like how would how would the culture value though those collectibles, those digital collectibles? I’m not sure but one thing that I want to, I do want to experiment with bores is tokenizing podcast episodes, I’ve done those in the past, and the community has tended to like it, they find this affinity and this level of alignment with it, as they tell me that this episode got me into music NFTs and that’s why I collected it. And they have this certain, this connection with that piece of content. So, I’ll actually why not make it collectible? But then Roberto, I struggle with understanding like what is the balance between tokenizing every episode and diluting the quantity of your work, right? Not necessarily the quality, but the quantity of your work, and finding the balance between issuing 25 additions, 50 additions, 100 additions, you know, whatever it may be, you know, how do you think about that balance? What do you think it should be?

Roberto Nickson: That’s a great question, because ultimately, like scarcity and supplies key, right, and the onus sort of is on the individual creator to figure out what that balance is. Because you’re right, if you flood the market, if you diluted, also doesn’t become as desirable. desirability ultimately is key, right, just basic supply and demand. And so, I think it’s up to the discretion of the creator. But I also think there’s like a really interesting, man, there’s a lot of opportunities to get creative with this, right. So, when I’m thinking about podcast NFTs, you know, maybe there’s like different tiers, you know, maybe the base tier gets you access on your website to additional content, right, maybe like, on this one, there’s a blooper reel, you know, and you could like to put out the blooper reel only to the people that own that NFT. But more than that was something that I’ve been thinking about is like, you have sponsors, you know, I’m sure for this podcast, it’s like, what if, if you own five tokens, or 10 tokens, or whatever it is, you get a one-minute spot in this podcast, if you own 20, you get a two-minute spot, if you want a minute. So, I think there’s a lot of room also to get creative with it, to generate a lot more demand for these tokens as well.

Well, that’s how, that’s mint monetization, like strategy, like I sell sponsorship NFTs right? And God and brands collect my NFTs, and with that the utility is getting access to the network, right? I’ve done that since season one, because I believe that you can’t token gate a wire transfer, right. And it’s not really a belief, it’s just fact, like you can’t get a wire transfer. But if they, if you have the brand, collect your collectible, then they essentially buy into your community. And that’s represented on chain and then everybody else that collects the season six or season seven NFTs at the end of the, at the end of the season for participating listening, the brand sort of aligns with that army of listeners, you know, and then down the line as I figure out what the network looks like, right? And I can intertwine all these touch points, these digital touch points, intertwine not only like existing sponsors, but previous sponsors, you know, because they have this nontransferable NFT in their wallet that has no secondary value, only it’s primary value, and see where it goes.

Roberto Nickson: I love it. I think that’s brilliant. And again, like that’s what really excites me, it’s like, there’s so much room to get really, really creative with it. So that’s awesome, man, like, kudos to you for pioneering that model.

Web3 and Intellectual Property

I appreciate it. I also want to talk to you about intellectual property. I’m curious how you see web three influencing and I guess revolutionizing, quote, unquote, the world of intellectual property. We’ve seen models like CCO take into effect where anybody can can promote it, copy it, whatever it may be. But when it comes to create a content, the creator might not like the use and the reuse of their content in any shape or form because of the risk that’s enabled with, I guess, the detriment of a bad actor using the content for example, right. But also having the pride and level of, I guess, yeah, the pride and ownership of producing something and not allowing anyone to just remix it or reuse it, right? How do you see those two worlds collide?

Roberto Nickson: Yeah, it’s interesting. I’ve been giving it a lot of thought and I’m just wondering how it will work. I think there’s still a lot of standards and protocols that need to be developed in order and they need to be baked in at the platform level for this to really work, right? Because no matter what, you know, and we’ve tried it with in music, for example, or film what’s called like, DRM protection, it’s like, no matter what, it’s still a digital file that’s easily you can reproduce it, right? You can replicate it. So, it’s impossible, you know, really to prevent the use of one of your items, but through blockchain technology, like given that cryptographic signature to verify that that’s the original one, at least, like, it’ll be easier to identify versus, like, you know, somebody steals a stock photo from a website is very, very difficult, because there’s no, you know, there’s no piece of code that’s able to vote. So, like, in that sense, it might work. But otherwise, I’m just not as you know, I feel like it’s sort of impossible, you know, to be able to prevent the replication of a digital file.

Potential Impact of Crypto on Intellectual Property

You see, that actually happen, often between the Tik Tok and Instagram war, where you see a lot of tick tock content on Instagram, a lot of Instagram content on Tik Tok, and there’s no real way to moderate it and control it, right. So, if anything, giving the user and removing those barriers and recognizing that’s the default natural user behavior, of wanting to treat content as interoperable, right, and just creating systems and putting systems in place to actually maybe amplify that that remix ability actually falls into my next question, like, what do you see the future of content remixing look like, we see very short glimpses of it between the war, between two platforms. But we also see examples of people kind of like what’s the word on Tik Tok, always blank on it, but like, you react to a video, and it’s like side by side between your profile and the video you’re reacting to it, but people, like you also see what like people like layering musicians onto a melody of a dog singing, and they had the piano, and they had the drums. And then they had the vocals, and they have this entire band, from this smallest clip that was just a dog just hit like a seat, you know? And like they created this entire thing from it. Like, what do you imagine that looking like in web three? And how does crypto kind of maybe enable that or maybe even inspire that further, if it even does?

Roberto Nickson: That’s a good question. You know, the first thing I gotta say is like, that’s the magic of the internet, right? Like that open Internet. I always like, I love how collaborative the Internet is, it’s a lot of fun. Kind of what we were talking about with Twitter too. It’s like, it’s a shame when people try to like, you know, create like this walled garden and keep their creators inside and not let them like. So, how does web three work in this? I’m not sure, man, that’s a great question. I haven’t really, really thought about this, like, you know.

Maybe attribution, maybe in the form of attribution, because you can get very granular with the person who initially publishes that content in the wallet, right, that’s associated with that content, being able to timestamp at the time of when it was published, and all the tributaries that came with it. So doing like a splits contract, like that’s what I, that’s the first thing that comes to mind. So, you know what I mean?

Roberto Nickson: Here’s the thing, like everybody would have to agree to do it on chain, though, at that point, yes. Because if it’s still a piece of content, okay, that piece of content has been tokenized. But I could still screen record it, or screen grab it, and then do my thing on top. So, like, it’s, I get it, and I feel like the ideology behind it is strong, and like I just don’t know that it’ll ever take off. Because again, like these are still like digital formats that can be easily reproduced. And so, for that to work, like everybody would have to agree to do it, if that makes sense. 

And then that gets me thinking then Roberto, that all content should then be CCO. Like by default, it should be open, it should be borderless, and should be remixable to whatever shape and form people want. Because that actually makes a lot of sense. Like I’m having a realization here. Like the default human behavior is to do reacts, is to remix content, like even from meta versus perspective, like covering the news is a form of re mixing, right? Like you take a graphic or video and you reshare that onto your platform, and you had your graphic and your headlines that are catchy enough to generate clicks and attention and attribution, right? That’s very much a form of re-mixing within itself. So, it makes me think like, when creators come into web three, maybe the CCO model should apply to their content, adding layers of attribution. So, who is the editor? Who are the creators? So, if it’s like the hype house, there should be multiple wall addresses that’s attributed to that piece of content, publishing that on chain, and just seeing what happens if it’s quality enough to go viral. And what’s that effect in the context of web three. We haven’t seen that really come to fruition just yet. Mainly because platforms haven’t really existed to enable that type of behavior. And it goes back to we are early, right? Like it all goes back to that. Any thoughts around that? 

Roberto Nickson: Yeah, I mean, I guess in an ideal world, like, again, just having a truly open Internet, where everything CCO, but there’s some like, I’m not necessarily a huge proponent of CCO and the reason why I think like brands or individual creators should have some sort of control over their content meaning, like with mp3 is an example, like we’ve given the IP to our holders. However, there are still certain things they’re not able to do. They’re not able, you know, like they can’t produce hateful content. They can’t, you see what I mean. Because otherwise it’s a detriment to the brand as a whole, if that sort of, like, takes off. And so like, I, as a content creator myself, like I’m always creating like short form content, whatever me saying something like, you know, what if somebody edited that, to make it seem like I said, something super nasty, like I love Hitler, you know, like Kanye, or so some shit. Like, I should still have some sort of control where I’m like, hey, this is not okay. You know, you’re sort of slandering my name. And so, like CCO, I think works for some things, but not everything, necessarily, if that makes sense.

Yeah. I also think, where if somebody does remix your content in a very negative way, and includes hateful speech and racism, and whatever it maybe, you have the autonomy to control whether or not you want to reshare that, right, and whether or not you want to support that. And maybe in the early stages of where we are today with like open IP, and whatever it may be. The average listener or viewer doesn’t understand what CCO is. And they might just think that that’s attributed to the creator by default, right? But in a world where people understand the value of contributing to on chain content, and they see the value of open IP and whatnot, maybe there may be a different perspective. But I think we’re so far away from that. I like to give hypotheticals, as you can tell.

Roberto Nickson: We’re still very far away. But I’m hoping that we’re getting closer because like right now web three, you know, we think about web three, it’s really just a bunch of people talking about what web three could become on web two. You know, like sometimes I laugh about this, like, what do you mean, web three, we’re all using web two platforms, you’re using Twitter, Discord, we’re using Riverside to talk about, it’s like, it’s not, there is no web three really yet, you know what I mean? Like that has like become really, really prevalent. And I would hope in the next five years that we move to truly on chain platforms, whether it’s social platforms, entertainment platforms, streaming platforms, whatever it is, like it would be great to start moving critical mass, like in a major, like mainstream way to like these on chain tokenized platforms, because at the moment, it’s really just web two dreaming about web three, there is no like, you know what I mean, like to me, there’s no web three that is like taking, even like NFT’s man, like what are we, you know, we’re actually hold a token that just links out to a URL, hosting a JPEG, that actually is just loosely speculating on the ability of that, of set brand to drive attention. But even then, like we’re not, like people think like, okay, I buy doodles as an example. I don’t have any ownership into doodles. You know what I mean, again, that’s just a token, speculate, loosely speculating on there, like the entire space right now. And it’s beautiful, because it’s like, a group of tinkerers and enthusiast dreaming about what’s possible, but it’s like, I think we’re at web 2.5. You know, so like web three, hopefully is around the corner.

There’s two things I want to bring up, I want to talk about the platform’s but I also want to go back on if content should be CCO, and maybe the unlock, the key to remixing content and web three is whether or not you collect it. So, if you collect the content, then you have the authority to remix it. And whether it’s a free collect, or a paid collect. It shows that, that you show some type of signal, which can also boost the creator’s reach. So, if you collect something, then it gets distributed to a new class of users that could collect it, just like the Tik Tok out, you know what I mean? Like, I’m just like, I’m thinking out loud here. But what if that unlock the key to be able to legally remix content in web three, was if you were to collect it, and then you unlock the keys to remix it. I don’t know. Yeah. So that’s, I mean, any thoughts on that?

Roberto Nickson: It’s a great thought, I just think it has to be at the platform level, right? Because if you know, no matter what I can still take a crypto punk and like remix content around or even. So, it has to, there has to be a platform that would emerge, that would be very lucrative for creator to be on. That would again, like police all of this at the platform level. Otherwise, I just don’t see like a way of doing that.

Platforms Hosting Content and Financialization of Content

And that brings me to my second point, like the platforms that actually host content, whether it be music NFT, minting platforms, video platforms, social networks. It’s actually all based around the financialization of the content. And I don’t know if that works to our benefit, or to our detriment. But when you go on glass, for example, you don’t see the view count. You see how many people collected, when you go on sound, you don’t see like the number of subscribers, you see how much revenue they generated, right? So, these are new metrics to value creators. And it’s a different sort of model for the end user to understand what value indicates because if I go on YouTube, and I see Mr. Beast 100 plus million subscribers, like that may be sways the same sentiment of seeing Daniel Allen and close to half a million in revenue, you know, across all platforms, you know what I mean? Do you think about it the same way or any thoughts around that?

Roberto Nickson: You know, I talked with Natrelle Nagi. He’s the creator of the diso blockchain, okay. And on diso, there’s this app called Diamond app, that I referred to a little bit earlier. And they found that, you know, like, if you can like a post, whatever, but you can also diamond it. And by diamonding it, depending on the tier, you’re actually just giving money directly via microtransactions to the greater. And they’ve found that yes, of course, there are some like odd things about quantifying the value of a creator or a piece of content via money, right. But like they found that it actually increases the quality of content. And the example that he uses, you know, like we, like a car crash is really like, you can’t keep your eyes off it, you know, but you’re not necessarily going to tip somebody who produces car crash videos, right. And so he’s found like that the content that’s getting tipped is actually enriching your life, versus like this mindless kind of content that like just, you know, degrades our life on Tik Tok, or whatever. And so just to go back to your original question, I actually think there’s definitely something to it, where having, like being able to, whether it be microtransactions, or collecting NFT, social tokens, whatever it is, like being able to directly, you know, give money to these creators, for the content, for the value that they’re putting out there, I actually think will result in much better content.

Challenges Facing Traditional Media

Well, you have me in a whole another rabbit hole here, Roberto, trying to think how do I get out of this rabbit hole, I want to talk to you about, I want to talk to you about the media industry as a whole. Okay. Media has major challenges, essentially traditional media, right? And first of all, I wonder if you could just like list a few that come to mind, that maybe you are also allied with, like what are some of like the traditional or major challenges traditional media faces today? Just out of curiosity, how do you see that?

Roberto Nickson: I think the biggest challenge that traditional media faces is I mean, it’s twofold. It’s one is like, you need to generate clicks, right? Ultimately, a media is a business. These aren’t, you know, nonprofit sort of altruistic ventures or endeavors. These are businesses and so, you need to generate clicks. And generally, what happens is, this is why we see so much fear, I call it like fear porn, or like tragedy porn, where somebody shoots up a school, and it’s like, this is all they talk about, because it generates so much clicks. And so that’s the biggest challenge with media, it’s like, we often see sort of like these mindless viral worthy stories that everybody’s talking about, instead of like, true quality, substantive stories, just because it generates clicks. And again, the other problem is, again, because it’s a for profit venture. Usually media, or the sentiment that they’re propagating is up to the highest bidder, right. And so, these are the two biggest problems that, again, I don’t have like the answers for them. I think it’s just very, it’s like, just human nature. But you know, these are for profit endeavors. And so, they’re often compromised, like their integrity can be compromised for, you know, for the almighty dollar.

Change in Web-Based Metrics in Web3

So, in the primitive of clicks, attention, bounce rates, all these web-based metrics that we use to measure performance, right? How does web three, change that? How does web three challenge that? The first thing that comes to mind is, we’re no longer maybe building for quantity, we’re building for quality. So, the same value maybe that a million people can produce on Spotify, a 100 people can generate through music NFTs by collecting an artist’s work, right? That’s like the first thing that comes to mind, just based, just re mixing what you just said, Okay. Anything else comes to mind in terms of the traditional problem that media faces, okay, that traditional media faces and how web three sort of takes that on itself, right, and attempts to solve that. Anything else come to mind?

Roberto Nickson: I think it goes back to what we were saying where it’s like direct monetization of the content will really work. Look, there’s two names that come to mind. One is Zack XVT. You’re probably familiar with him, right? The on-chain Sleuth and another one is coffee Zilla on YouTube. Both of these guys they produce incredible, incredible work. And it’s like Zack XVT donation only that’s how he makes his money. So, there’s no you know, like he can’t be compromised, his journalistic integrity cannot be compromised. And he does really well for himself. Because it’s the user, just the people who are financing him, right, same as coffee Zilla. And so, to me, it’s like in this web three world where we have these platforms, where via tokens, or via microtransactions people are being rewarded for the content that they put out. Some of these journalists are going to produce phenomenal work that is detached from the ideology or the agenda that their superiors are trying to push out. Just because they’re not work for the people. That makes sense.

Yeah, that doesn’t make sense. That does make sense. Who was the other guy you said, coffee?

Roberto Nickson: Coffee Zilla, dude is best YouTuber in the game right now. He’s like Zack SPT where he keeps like all these scammers honest, you know and he like calls out scams and like his work on Sam Bateman fried has been phenomenal. I think he’s like the biggest crypto YouTuber in the world right now.

Really? Yeah. Wow. I never heard of them. All right. 

Roberto Nickson: You probably seen his stuff though, you’ve probably seen his stuff.

The Trillion Dollar Question

Okay. Probably, probably like these micro clips trending, trending on Twitter. Probably. Okay, cool. I want to hear from your perspective, Roberto, what am I missing? What don’t you think we’re covering in this discussion, that’s prevalent to where web three intersects media, where web three intersects with content creators, I’d love to hear from you, like any thoughts that are just lingering in your head, that I haven’t had the opportunity to ask yet.

Roberto Nickson: You know, it’s, the one thing that I keep thinking about is how difficult it’s going to be, because it’s truly an uphill battle for all, because like web three with the ownership structure. And with everything else that we talked about, and all of it’s upside and all of its potential, it’s still going to be difficult to break the network effect of big tech, right? It’s still, even if you create the most incredible decentralized social platform, that unlocks so many benefits for a creator, it’s like how do you get people off of Instagram? You know, how do you not only onboard creators, but also retain them? And you know, like it’s such a, it’s truly a trillion-dollar question, right? Because he’s the social media must have like a market capitalization of like $1 $2 trillion, when you put them, all combined. So, it truly is a trillion-dollar question, but it’s an uphill battle that’s going to be, you know, nearly impossible to break but I’m hopeful. Again, there’s a lot of savvy entrepreneurs building here. But yeah, that’s what I would say is like, we love to sort of, you know, fantasize about the future, that decentralized technologies unlock. But I think the main question we have to start asking ourselves and really start talking about is like, strategies, the how, the how we’re going to break the network effects of big tech.

How are we going to do it? What do you think is the optimal way? If you’re given the responsibility to figure it out. How would you?

Roberto Nickson: That’s a great question. Again, it’s literally a trillion-dollar question, right? I actually posed that question and not around knowledge. And he was like listen, just little by little. What the blockchain does unlock is like, again, like really creative ways to finance analyze systems, right? And so, here’s what it is ultimately, like social media is a status game. Social media is an economic game. How can you make decentralized social platforms or like web three social platforms, or otherwise? How can you make it more lucrative, in terms of yield, in terms of money, in terms of status, in terms of eyeballs, for creators? How do we get there, man, you know again, if I had the answer to that question, I’d be in a yacht somewhere.

Outro

We’ll see. All right, maybe one day we’ll get to that yacht. But before we do that, Roberto, I want to thank you for being on. Appreciate you taking the time, considering how you’re feeling under the weather you are. You killed it. Epic episode. Before I let you go

Roberto Nickson: 2.7 is my temperature right now.

Oh, my God. I thought you’re about to hit me with one or 2.7 Kiss FM. 

Roberto Nickson: I know, right.

But I’m here for that too. Where can we find you, Roberto? Where can we learn more about Metaverse. Show it away and we’ll wrap it up. 

Roberto Nickson: You can find me on almost all socials RB Nickson and then Metaverse is the first e is the three on Instagram and then it’s on Twitter. It’s V metaverse because there’s I think, you know, it’s like a squatter on the whatever. And yeah, and that’s you know, those are, Twitter’s like my primarily, so RB Nickson on Twitter, it’s where you can find me.

Amazing. Roberto, feel better. Thank you for being on. We’ll have to do this again soon. And then yeah, till next time.

Roberto Nickson: Anytime man.

Categories
Podcast Transcript

Exploring the Future of Media in Web3 with Zack Guzman of Coinage

Background

Mint Season 7 episode 1 welcomes Zack Guzman, Co-founder of Coinage Media, the first community-owned show answering crypto’s biggest questions. In this discussion, we take a deep dive into the world of Web3 media and explore the potential of decentralized technologies to revolutionize the industry.

From the co-ownership model of the Coinage Network to the use of smart contracts in handling IP and ownership, we cover a range of topics and offer insights into how traditional media companies are adapting to the Web3 landscape.

We also discuss the role of gatekeepers and intermediaries, the importance of involving audiences and collectors in your community, and the potential for composability and content interoperability in the Web3 world. Tune in to learn more about the exciting future of media in the decentralized world.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:19 – Intro
  • 02:11 – Web3 Consumer vs. Web2 Consumer
  • 07:10 – Coinage Network’s Co-Ownership Model
  • 10:58 – Balance Between Creating Incredible Content and Not Getting Lost in NFT Hype
  • 13:26 – Will Traditional Media Companies Adapt to the Web3 Landscape?
  • 16:39 – Is the New Model for Web3 Media Predicated On Virality and Distribution Still?
  • 20:27 – How Will Smart Contracts Impact IP and Ownership in Web3?
  • 24:09 – Involving Audiences and Collectors in Your Community
  • 28:26 – How Will Web3 Affect Traditional Media Gatekeepers and Intermediaries
  • 36:00 – SBF and FTX Scandal
  • 39:41 – Tackling the Consolidation of Media Ownership
  • 50:09 – Content Composability Interoperability in Web3
  • 53:30 – Future of Coinage Network
  • 55:45 – Outro

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Mr. Zack Guzman, welcome to the podcast. What’s up, man? Thank you for being on.

Zack Guzman: Yo, Adam stoked to be here. Thank you for having me on. It’s good to chat. 

You are one upping me. And I love it. You have such a legit background behind you, the coinage logos just popping out to the left. It looks so slick and subtle clean. 

Zack Guzman: It’s a little.

Intro

Very, very subtle. Yes, yes. I’m really excited to have you on a part of season seven, talking all things web three media and crypto native content creators. You are a crypto native content creator; coinage is a web three native media company. So, there’s a lot for us to go over. Zack, I think a good place to start, for those who don’t know you and those who don’t know, coinage, give us a quick introduction of who you are. And more specifically, how you got your start into crypto.

Zack Guzman: Yeah. So first off, thanks for having me on, super stoked to talk about what we’re trying to pioneer, as you said, web three native crypto company and web three native show. Basically, the reason why I quit mainstream media to do all this, is because I saw a lot of problems in the web to mainstream media model, essentially. And I saw it firsthand as an anchor at Yahoo Finance, as a reporter at CNBC covering these things. And I’ve been covering for crypto or covering crypto for a while and saw the space in the way that it evolved and saw NFTs come around. And suddenly it switched from just covering crypto to getting extremely jealous of all the builders in web three and seeing how creators were utilizing that technology to tap into the communities, the audiences that they were attracting, and realize specifically with coinage, that there is a better way to cover crypto. By leveraging you know, audiences and people who are interested in the space, monitoring the space, researching the space, there’s a lot of ways for me as a journalist, as a creator kind of, you know, behind the camera, to create relationships with the people who are also consuming the content we were putting out to make a better show. And so that is essentially what we’re trying to do at coinage is, you know, live up to web three ideals. And answer kind of the question, it’s very much an experiment, right, as is everything and web three. But to answer the question, what can happen when you tear down that wall between a creator and their audience?

Web3 Consumer vs. Web2 Consumer

So, walk me through that more. How do you think about a web three consumer/audience member? And how does that compare to a web two consumer slash audience member, listener, watcher, etc?

Zack Guzman: Yeah, so, for us, the idea is kind of, you know, we all watch shows, we all love certain shows, you know, I’m a Game of Thrones guy. And, you know, in the pandemic, I was a squid game guy. And I feel like you know, as media consumers, we can see shows that are good and are going to take off, right? We recommend them to our friends, you might be the first in your friend group to see something, you’re the trendsetter. You’re like, yeah, you gotta check this stuff out on Netflix, this one’s good, you gonna want to follow this and you’re not really rewarded for that, right? Like you could be the trendsetter and the one that’s moving good content into more eyeballs. But there is no incentive really, outside of maybe impressing your friends and being the one who recommended a good show. But with web three, and kind of what happens once you create that incentive structure, it’s kind of what we’re trying to explore with coinage and what happens when the audience can actually make the show better. And so, the idea is, you know, betting on a show that you think could be made better by coming together to create, you know, better guest interviews, better stories, what happens when we all work together around that. And we can talk more about kind of the cooperative model we landed on. But to me, that’s kind of like what web three is all about, right? There is not just as we’ve discussed before, as everyone in crypto has kind of realized, this read write permission system from like social media, but now read write own with NFTs, and how you kind of leverage the network effects of a show. It’s not just a one-way relationship anymore, that kind of, you know, web two media has always depended on, that you grow an audience, you sell ads against them. That’s how you make money. But actually, you have people weigh in on the narrative, figured out how you can work together with your audience to create a better show. And it’s kind of a new win, win, win model that we’re trying to figure out.

One of the most, I guess, iconic things that came on my radar through coinage was the dough Quan interview. And it was so timely, Zack, it was so timely, it was his redemption interview to an extent. After the whole collapse of Luna, then coinage came in, it was like, alright, we’re gonna put him on the map. And you gave him a very difficult sort of interview. And your entire concept, or at least coinage is concept of integrating and involving the audience member into that process. I’m curious if you can give us a tangible example of what that really looks like. And maybe you could even reference that Dough Quan interview that you guys put out there.

Zack Guzman: Yeah. So, you know, one of the things that, you know, the model is kind of all built around is identifying who your audience is, right? As creators, I think that’s kind of what social media was all about, right? Anyone can kind of set up a profile, put something out there and start to see, you know, where their following is coming from, who’s interested in this type of content. And for us, I mean, Dough Quan was one of those things that was kind of you know, there have been a lot of big stories in 2022 for crypto, but that was kind of the dominant that started all the other dominants to fall in the rest of the year. And there were a lot of questions, right? And there were a lot of, you know, emotions going through all that, a lot of people lost a lot of money, I lost a lot of money in tariffs downfall. And part of it was because, you know, I had seen some of the problems with that project, I had interviewed Dough Quan and I was at Yahoo a few times and we had discussed kind of where that project could go. And that’s very much kind of at the core of this, right, it was, it was a project I was interested in, as a project I had explored. And I also knew the problems that might be there. It was just kind of why we had lined up the interview first, right, a lot of people were trying to get that interview. And it was a relationship that I had built kind of with him around it, to leverage when everyone wanted to secure that interview. And that’s kind of where the network effects of, again, web three with coinage, if we have a bunch of people in the audience who own the show, they have an invent, an incentive, to help us book better guests. And to get interviews like that, if they have their own networks. And we have a lot of web three founders as coinage, as NFT holders. And so that’s kind of like the concept, right? Is that sure, a journalist can have their relationships or whatever. But if you have, you know, a network of CO owners, suddenly you have the show itself literally has a network effect that can lead to better interviews. And so yeah, no, thank you for saying that because it did put us on the map. I think, you know, a lot of people hadn’t heard of coinage because we hadn’t put anything out yet. We were really just kind of exploring this. And that was the first interview, we dropped, and it got covered by Bloomberg, got picked up by the Wall Street Journal, a lot of people covered it, and it put coinage on the map. But it was really just, you know, opening the door to what the show can do and showed people what we could do, you know with the studio, we have here, the platform we have, and we’re trying to build, if you build it with us, you know, this is just one story we can tell but think about everything else. And so, the rest of the season we’ve built on that foundation. You know, we’ve had similar hard questions, you know, from the community, people in our Discord, saying like, you should ask the founder of Solana about this, you know, or you should talk to you, if you’re a builder about that. And we basically create these questions with the input from our community to make these interviews better, to find better stories. And so, you know, the Dough Quan, one was first one, and we’ve been doing it all season long, pretty much sense.

Coinage Network’s Co-Ownership Model

Makes a lot of sense. One thing that’s unique to coinage as model is your co ownership model, you have this Co-op, as you like to call it, that allows for, I guess, the legal framework for involving one who loves coinage, who wants to be a part of this community in the future of what you guys think media looks like, to essentially have a part in it, have a say in it. Can you explain what this Co-op is, let alone this Co ownership model of the coinage network and the role of the Dao in governing the coinage ecosystem? What does that look like?

Zack Guzman: Yeah, I mean, when I was exploring this, right, when everything started to click for me when I was still at Yahoo, and I was, you know, trying to figure out how you would build some of the stuff. You know, there are a lot of web three experiments that I give a lot of credit to, right? You know, mad realities is one that I saw, when they were like okay, what can we build with NFT holders, if we have kind of a community weighing in. For them, it was a dating show, you know, I wanted to stay a little bit closer to my role as a crypto journalist. So, we’re starting with the crypto kind of Last Week Tonight Show. But the input there is basically letting the audience weigh in on what’s important to explain for a mainstream audience, or what’s important to explore. And I can have my opinions, you know, and anyone else can have their opinions. But the idea of creating a cooperative around that, is that you basically get a chance to have these conflicting opinions be voted on. So, like the cooperative model is one that is legally recognized by the US. And I think, you know, there are a lot of NFT projects, obviously, there’s a very early space, regulators still haven’t wrapped their heads around it. It’s unclear exactly how you fit some of these like Dao communities into a legal framework that is recognized in the US. And I think any creator, and I’ve listened to a lot on your podcast, kind of discuss what the right ways to go are, and everyone can have their own opinions. My co-founder, and I kind of just landed on this working, just because cooperatives and were registered in Colorado are recognized. There are a lot of Daos who have registered in Colorado, some others in Wyoming, who are trying to, you know, make this happen in a legal way. And the cooperative model is pretty interesting, because you know, it’s already existed. Rei is a good example, you go there, you shop at REI, you buy a tent, you get a patronage dividend, because you’ve, you know, made that business better, you’ve done something as a member of that cooperative. And so, you can get a dividend and that’s legal, and it’s totally fair. And so, you know, that framework works pretty well for Daos, right? And, you know, we talked to lawyers, we spent a lot of time and money trying to make sure that everything was, you know, as legal as possible, in terms of fitting a new technology into an old framework, and it just seems like a natural fit. And so, to answer your question around how it all works, is essentially the tickets the NFTs that we sell, which right now, you and anyone else who’s minted a subscribe to NFT to watch our contents already whitelisted. So, when we have that drop, later this week, if you get acquainted drop media, you can mint first. Because we want this, again to be built and Co-owned by the people who enjoy the content. But the idea there is that everyone can weigh in on what they think is important enough to highlight, important enough for us to you know, dedicate our resources towards investigating and telling the story is about. And then at the end of the year, or whenever the cycle is for active and, you know, community members in the cooperative, there is that pathway towards patronage dividends, again, kind of redistributing, whenever the company or cooperative, I should say, whatever the cooperative is able to do to share that with the community. Which I think is again, the missing piece in a lot of these NFT communities is alright, yeah, I found something I want to buy into, I found something I want to support, but what is in it for me outside of just flipping a profile picture or something. Like what is the pathway to unlock some of that value? And I think that this is one that’s already been established and as legal.

Balance Between Creating Incredible Content and Not Getting Lost in NFT Hype

I think it’s super important to as a journalist, as a creator, as a musician, to always focus on the content itself. And let the NFT be the tool that allows you to maybe proliferate, and I guess, expand the contents possibilities. How do you find the balance between creating incredible content and not getting too lost in the NFT sauce? Like what is that balance for you guys that coinage?

Zack Guzman: I think that’s a really good question. I think that that’s like the hardest part really, honestly, right? Because you can see some flashy things being done in the NFT space. And there are super creative people in this space. Another reason why I wanted to quit and focus more of my time on web three stuff, because it’s attracted some of the most creative builders in the space. But I think that you know, it’s all about what you want to get out of it, right? And so, for us, it’s like we want to have the ability for people who want to come into this community, right, not just be super rich people who are accredited investors, right? There’s a pathway for that, if you want to do like a reg CF filing and crowdfund from investors and register with the SCC, there’s a way to do that and there’s a way to kind of, you know, pursue that path. But there are a lot of restrictions. And you know, for a lot of people in crypto, that’s not exactly the best way to go, right? And so, that’s what’s cool about NFTs is that you can put something out there, and you can find that audience and you can find people who want to support it. And as a creator, that’s half the battle, right, you know, finding the way to chase an idea that you love. And honestly, a Crypto Show, like we’re doing here at coinage is something that I’ve been trying to do at mainstream outlets for years and I always got laughed out of the room. And so, you know, this idea of saying, I believe in this idea, as a creator, I think this should exist, I’m going to put this idea out there and the ability to co-own it using NFTs, you find that network, and then again, on the back ends, you need to navigate a legally compliant way to actually bring them in into this cooperative. And so that’s kind of what we’ve landed on is, again, kind of having that fungibility, if people don’t want to join the cooperative, they don’t have to, if they want to buy the NFT, and kind of weigh in, on what the show covers, they can. And so, it really kind of leaves it up to the audience, which I think is the important part. But it’s all these elements that have existed, you know, right in the web three space, Kickstarter, the idea of Patreon, like token gating content, exclusive content. And then the last piece, just legitimate coownership via cooperative, I think is what separates coinage and kind of gets to that last level in aligning incentives.

Will Traditional Media Companies Adapt to the Web3 Landscape?

You know, you shared a very common sentiment that somebody, a user, a creator, a founder went through goes through. I tried doing it in my traditional context, they laughed at me, they denied me. So, I went and spun off and did it myself the way I sort of envisioned it. As a web three creator, there’s a lot of entrepreneurships that gets tied into the entire experience of trying to do something different, intertwine NFTs as a tool throughout that process. And from your experience working at traditional media, they laughed at you, they rejected you, despite how rich of an opportunity you saw, right.? My question to you is, do you think traditional media companies at some point will adapt the web three landscape? Or is there an opportunity for decentralized organizations to sort of dominate this new space?

Zack Guzman: I think it’s really tough. I mean, I think, you know, entrenched media organizations, you know, it’s tough to change that model once you’re in it, which is why I actually wanted to quit and kind of start this, is because I see it as something that’s extremely needed in today’s age of media, right? When we talk about trust in media and the old model, right and as a journalist in that model, those are the rules of the game and a lot of people kind of attack mainstream media for right or wrong, like the model is set up to sensationalize things, right, you get paid versus clicks. And so, like more clicks equals more money is the general model, their subscription models that came up after that to try and alleviate some of that incentive structure. But really, at the end of the day, you’re still kind of defending what is true and what is not true. Which again, I think is one of the benefits of structuring things like this. Where you have a bunch of different opinions and a community voting on, A, what you should cover, but then, B, like how you tell that narrative, right? What is true. And specifically in crypto, it’s an area where there’s a lot of biases and a lot of shields and a lot of people trying to pump their own projects or bags. And the way that we thought about counteracting that is just, bringing in a bunch of different opinions. So, there’s people in our community who love Solana, there’s people in the community who love Ethereum, there’s all kinds of different opinions and it’s like, alright, try and figure that out. But to answer your question, I think that comes from the old model, like the reason why none of my ideas, most of them didn’t get greenlit at traditional media companies is because, unless it fits that narrative of will this generate revenue for us, in the model of more clicks equals more money. It’s tough to kind of, I guess, challenge the status growing in terms of any content that would be created. And there’s a lot of, you know, agendas, and a lot of media outlets as well. So, I mean, challenging those becomes problematic. But I think wider, like bigger picture, Adam, which is why I think you know, your podcasts I’ve enjoyed listening to some of the creators Come on and is one that kind of was interesting, too, is that I think the future of media is all creator led and all focused on the creators themselves. And so, the idea of some of these traditional media outlets maintaining some of their power in web three and beyond, I think wanes anyways, because it’s more focused on what a creator is doing. And when you can leverage the network effect of a creator, plus their audience all building and working together on something, I think that unleashes a power that a lot of mainstream media outlets just won’t be able to compete with, to be honest.

Is the New Model for Web3 Media Predicated On Virality and Distribution Still?

Do you think the new model for web three media is predicated on virality and distribution still? Or are we shifting our focus to doubling down on a select few that derive a lot of the value that keep the lights on at the media company? Like are we selling, like when you go to the New York Times, and you have like let’s say, like a gated page, you have to subscribe for $5, right to get into that. And web three, that may look like buying the network NFT And then you just connect your wallet, and you can have unlimited access to however many pages, right? Like the entire model is shifting in terms of access, monetization. Is it our job to build a new model towards the distribution virality, PPC, all these like web two primitives that have kind of given media it’s foundation? Or are we trying to reinvent the model for what distribution, monetization and access sort of look like? You know what I mean? Like, are we are we building for as many eyeballs or are we building for a select few that enjoy content and are willing to pay for it? How do you think about that?

Zack Guzman: I think both avenues can exist, you can definitely do both. I think you can make money both ways too, right? I just, I do think it is fascinating, especially me coming from you know, CNBC is targeted towards a bit of an older audience, a lot of people have cut the cord, I’ve never paid for cable. We’ve seen that media revolution playing out for the last you know, how many years. Younger generations just don’t consume media in the same way. To your question on like distribution and that’s a big question that we’re still kind of trying to figure out, right? Like, we can create the IP and the content and do a really good job producing content that connects with a certain audience. And we can carry that audience, the built-in audience wherever we go with our NFTs. And so, you know, we could find a distribution partner that picks up the show, and that’d be great for everyone included. All of our NFT holders would benefit from that, which would be great. But I do think yeah, I mean, like, you can even look at Mr. Beast, right? Like the most popular YouTuber out there. It’s like, what is he doing? Well, he’s creating a consumer business and it might IPO it could pursue a public listing, it’s kind of interesting to think about that, if that’s better, or when he will want it to create something where he could co-own with his audience and his subscribers, like that is kind of a different path you could go to monetize. And I think it’s an interesting question, because you know, that’s what we’ve done, is we have the free subscriber NFT that lets you watch our content, which is no different than a New York Times subscription. I don’t think any older media company, no web two media company, whatever cap the amount of logins they would give out to people. But in a web three system, you totally could do that. And then let those NFT is freely trade on the market and find out exactly how much and a New York Times subscription is worth, based on what the market thinks, right? There are some drawbacks to that, in the case of you know, you’d be limiting access to information and quality journalism to the highest payers. And you know, you would probably be creating some, maybe some other tricky questions around access to information, which is why ours are free for the first season. But I mean, like there are different models like that that could be pursued. I just find it fascinating that you know, if cables dying, and the younger generation is consuming media on different platforms, it is hard when you have a bunch of viewers sitting on one centralized viewing platform like a YouTube, what the future looks like in terms of distribution, right? For quality products, you know, like, I think movies. You know, a lot of people were always concerned or confused by what would happen to movies as streaming took off, but like there are certain avenues, certain mediums that content works better on and what it looks like in the future. I think it’s gonna be super fascinating to watch decentralized platform or however that looks might take on a YouTube, is going to be like the next wave. And I don’t think you know; we’ve seen enough traction on anything yet. But I think that that could be kind of the next wave to really make things decentralized, not just on the content formation side, but also in the distribution and watch side. But I don’t know what that looks like. I mean, I don’t know where it goes.

How Will Smart Contracts Impact IP and Ownership in Web3?

I guess we’re all figuring out in real time. And I gotta tell you, nothing beats movie popcorn and a big screen. Occasionally, I’ll still take that every now and then over just chilling in bed and watching Netflix. And I’m even in the mood to go see a movie this week and I can’t get that same experience. So, I think there’s a market for it all. I think there’s interesting trends happening that people are experimenting with other frontier, that are changing the way we do things, obviously. And you touched upon one of them is IP, intellectual property. I’d love for you to double down on that more. How do you see the use of smart contracts or just decentralized technologies in general, changing the way we handle IP and ownership in web three? What does that look like?

Zack Guzman: I think everyone’s been trying to figure that out. I mean, it was pretty fascinating to watch kind of the evolution, right? With UGA and all the other projects that kind of came under that umbrella, right? In terms of what do people own when they buy the NFT, what exactly do they own. And the way that we’ve structured it, obviously, it’s a ticket into a cooperative. So, you know, what you would own is the ability to join a cooperative and there’s value certainly in that. But as far as like IP is concerned, all of that would live within the cooperative. So, it’s coinage as a thing, as a show, is basically in that umbrella. And so that essentially becomes what an NFT, purchaser NFT holder would unlock, is the ability to join a cooperative that owns all of what we’ve done. So, you mentioned the Dough Quan interview, that’s, you know coinage IP, that’s something that we put out. And, you know, there’s a lot of value that could stem from that, in terms of a story taking off, in terms of, you know anything that we produce, really. And so that’s, you know, I guess different than just a profile picture in terms of what exactly you own, and even that, you know, is still being defined by the creators themselves in what they’re selling, via their NFTs. I think the pressure to though is inevitable in terms of moving it farther and farther along, right? At the very beginning, no one had to promise anything around IP, because it was a buying spree, and anyone would buy anything. And it’s like, yeah, I’ll pay for whatever, because I can flip it and sell it to someone else. I mean, like, as the space has come down, right, I think people are starting to identify real value in what an NFT could be. And you know whether that’s a song and future royalties on revenue there, whether it’s IP around a TV show and what could happen, if Netflix comes and says, hey, we really liked what you’re doing, we want to put you on our streaming platform, here’s some money, that is a different thing as well. And so, there’s real value to be discussed in kind of what you’re promising with all these things. And again, I think that’s kind of where we landed is look, we appreciate kind of how much better this show could be made, if we had an audience that was converted into co-owners, and this is kind of our pathway to it, I think the same thing kind of exists. You know, I mentioned the Annika rose thing, it’s because it happened in music first, which is really interesting and aligning incentives of people with their favorite musicians to kind of co-own their tracks, once they’re put out and earn a royalty each time it’s played, which I think is fascinating. I think the reason why it existed in music first is because it’s a lot safer around legality of a completed and finished work. And it took us a while to really figure out how this would work for TV. But I think what we’ve landed on is scalable and can be replicated. And so, our idea here is to have coinage be the first proof of concept, but work with creators to kind of help scale, whether it’s TV or movie, things in video that can be done kind of the same way, that we’ve seen with a lot of artists in music, a lot of musicians. So that’s kind of the pathway forward. But I think you know, it’s so early man, like it’s wild. I mean, you do these podcasts all the time. It’s like things change week to week in terms of models and things like that. So, it’s like build it and then figure it out as you go situation.

Involving Audiences and Collectors in Your Community

One  the models that I’ve seen carry on, I think like year over year, is the concept of involving your holders or your audience now into the day to day or into the month to month of your operation, giving them a voice cosmetic level governance to what that sort of looks like as the network, the Dao, the community as a whole grows, but I still struggle with integrating collectors and I think there’s a layer to it. And I’m curious to get your perspective, Zack, because as someone who runs, I guess like a small media company, what feels like a side hustle many times. There’s a level of me always thinking like to what extent should I involve my pin collectors and my podcast NFT collectors, and how do I do that by retaining control and I guess curation over my methods? Because there’s a reason why people tune into my stuff. They enjoy my content; they enjoy the guests that I curate. If I start opening that up to other people to make decisions based off that, that maybe will take away from the fun as me, as a creator kind of like hosting the entire operation, right? And creating the content and it might dilute the sort of the speed in which I can execute, right? How do you think about that? Do you struggle with that pain or is that just me? What are your thoughts around that?

Zack Guzman: No, I think that’s definitely real. And it’s definitely a risk anytime you are kind of taking a little bit of creative control out of the hands of the creator by themselves. But I was just chatting with someone who kind of runs a newsletter, right? Built around news and it’s, he had kind of the same experience where and I’m sure you have, where it’s like people will watch your stuff or listen, and maybe you get hit up with questions or comments. And you’re like, oh, I had no idea that that person, you know, someone who could have like a really deep understanding of one niche. In his case, it was like rural farmers in North Dakota, like read his newsletter, and was like, oh, this is very interesting. For this reason, you should ask about this, this, but he’d already done the interview. And so, it’s like, how could that have made that interview better is like a thing, not necessarily take away from any, like creative control and how you present maybe what you get in an interview or something like that. But just additional information, additional context that makes something better. So yeah, I would agree, I mean, like it’s a danger anytime you give that up. Specifically, for us at coinage, you know, I am the host of the show, we ask our community a lot of questions in terms of, hey, we have this person coming on, what do we think about questions that might be good to ask. And season one was obviously kind of built around, what I thought were big questions to answer in 2022. Season two is going to be all kinds of different stuff, in terms of what does our community really want us to pursue here. What projects do we want to dig into? What do they think? And if you think about the ability there, right, I guess it’s pretty show specific. And it would come down to like what the creator really wants to do and certainly this model doesn’t fit everything. I don’t know if it would fit breaking news very well. But I do think that like a Last Week Tonight meets crypto, like, again, we have an audience and most of our NFT holders are like web three founders, the co-founder of Netflix is actually one of our NFT holders. So, like he’s surprisingly deep in web three as well and intrigued by what we’re trying to do. But it’s like, okay, if we have a community of people who understand crypto, and again, I’m not an expert, I’m brave enough to admit I’m not. But I know some things about certain niches in crypto. And if we can piece together a network of co-owners who are all experts in their own kind of many fields, then we can produce a show that gets things right, we can produce a show that maybe flags things ahead of other outlets, right, we can produce a show that’s better on the whole that way, while still maintaining I think our voice right, and still maintaining kind of my fingerprints on the thing. And I don’t think that that ever goes away, especially if you’ve attracted an audience that enjoyed what you did when it was just you. Kind of what we did in season one, right? And most of this is coming from people who saw our content and wanted to get involved and now, as been put out to the public, mint, a lot of people who have come to us because they saw our content online. So, it’s kind of stepwise. You know, I think a lot of these decisions we made along the way, to make sure that we maintained some of that brand vision and image of the show. And I think that’ll carry over now as we grow our stable of co-owners.

How Will Web3 Affect Traditional Media Gatekeepers and Intermediaries

I love it. I’m curious to hear your perspective on how you think web three tech will affect the role of gatekeepers and intermediaries in the traditional media industry.

Zack Guzman: Hmm, that’s a good question too. I think gate, so I think about it less as gatekeepers as more so as like the power that comes from, maybe people in traditional media, right? And I think that there are a lot of gatekeepers, part of the reason why I think, you know, I see web three revolutionizing all kinds of sectors. For me, as someone who’s in media, it was the first thing that like clicked for me in terms of, if crypto is all about decentralizing power, like media is business, a sector, all built on relationships, right? And there are a lot of gatekeepers in media. And that’s generally you know, if you believe in the ethos of crypto saying decentralizing that power is net better, and not doing so, can lead to some negative outcomes. A few examples might come to mind in the media space, right, examples of, you know, Harvey Weinstein of anytime that people have a bunch of power, and they hold it over people in the space, that are dependent on that power, bad things can happen. You know, there are other examples to point to as well, in news media, certainly, as well. And I don’t know, I see that, and I don’t want to make you know, judgments writ large here. But I do think that, you know, even in the stories that we’ve covered, even crypto projects themselves, if a creator, if a founder, someone running these organizations has unchecked power, hubris can lead to some bad outcomes, and we’ve seen that. Both with Dogecoin as you mentioned and all so now, with SBF, and a bunch of other projects that aren’t even in crypto. And so, for us, you know, we have that in terms of me as a creator of checks, balances, if you want to call it that, like I could be voted off as host of the show. 

That’s interesting, Our community owners.

Jack Guzman: Do they think I’ve done something to violate the brand, they can call a vote, right? Cooperatives exist for this reason, like a vote of no confidence saying, look, this guy has violated our trust. You know, and I think that’s interesting, if you think about that, and power and gatekeeping in the old media model versus, you know, this model, it would be look, you know, sometimes a media organization has a lot of incentive to sweep things under the rug, right? That’s all I’ll say, we’ve seen it before.

We have.

Jack Guzman: But like, if you distribute that power out of the hands of gatekeepers, out of people trying to protect that brand image, to a community that cones are with you, there’s a lot of checks on power there, then I think generally, as a believer of crypto some of those ethos, I generally think and I authentically think that that is good. So again, I don’t think I’m gonna mess up, but at least that that check on power, so to speak, is there. And so, I think that that’s like, specifically one of the things that intrigued me about the way that we set this up, in the in the backdrop of media today. But you know, that’s just one piece of it, I guess.

You know, it’s interesting. Last week, we saw a news story surface, and I’m bringing it up in the sort of in the context of just commentary, right, just for us to have a discussion over it. The block, I guess, there was new surface of them taking money from SBF and then the CEO, after he acquired the company from, I guess other the other parties that had started it. Took a bunch of money from SBF, a bunch of loans that were then spent on all these sorts of things. And there was a lot of, I guess, from what the community says biased media and biased coverage around what was happening. And when you talk about examples of sweeping things underneath the rug, and then getting sort of pilled by bad actors to incentivize you to do that. I wonder what role, if the organization was set up as a co-op, or as a Dao, how that could have changed. And if they did things from a community first perspective, from an operation model, from a monetization model, having more of a say, and more transparency into how the media was covered, and distributed and published and edited, and all these sorts of steps that come into producing a piece, what that would look like, do you have any thoughts around that?

Zack Guzman: Yeah, I think, you know, transparency is probably number one, right. And we’ve gone through some of these decisions at coinage and you know, the production company, trust us media, as well. And we’ve learned transparency is generally the best way to lean into that. And so, you know, I don’t want to throw stones at the block so much as you know, I would observe but sometimes, you know, a lot of the issues stem from transparency and decisions people make to not be as transparent as they could be. But specifically, to kind of, I guess, you know, the question of bias, and influence that some, like very powerful people could have on media, right, and Jeff Bezos buying the Washington post examples there, like rich people can do those things. But specifically for our model, like, the reason why we wanted to create a co-op community on show is that, you know, essentially, anyone who buys their ticket in, would have kind of the same control or power as the next guy. Which is different than like, a model that’s set up where the company, you know, is owned by Jeff Bezos. So, it’s kind of like, yeah, I would answer the question that the transparency bit of it all, is important first. And, you know, we’ve been transparent about kind of our stories and what we’ve had to do. But I think that the model exists specifically for that issue, is that you don’t want to have someone with more outsized influence or power funding these things in a way that is different. But yeah, I think that that’s very much at the core of exactly why distribution and co-ownership in the cooperative model, you know, where NFT holders can weigh in on this stuff matters. But it is an interesting question, as far as how that looks. Because, you know, that was a lot of money that was funded over there. And, you know, we’re a much smaller organization. And so, it’s easy for me to say, this model is way better now, right. But, you know, funding is an interesting thing as far as keeping these things alive. And so those are decisions that each founder has to make, when it comes to those things. But I just think, again, the model of transparency, your model built on transparency and co-ownership, kind of enable some of that stuff. There are problems too, there are downsides, right, like in terms of weighing in on some of the stuff in the discord that like, I don’t know, we’re gonna have to figure out in terms of token gating and make sure that like maybe some of the stuff that we covered doesn’t go come out in a way, that’s like not ready. But again, I think all these things are things that like a traditional media model would never get to do, right? We built like, a fake, my fake shitty New York City apartments in the metaverse and now the cooperative kind of co-owned those things, and those are things that like I wouldn’t be able to do at a traditional media company. 

So, we co-own your apartments. So, does that mean we can stay in it as well or how does that work?

Zack Guzman: Yeah, we have like a whole mockup of the studio sitting on our decentraland plot, next to my shitty amalgamation of New York City apartments and it’s owned by coinage. And so like, if that flips, you know, if the community wants to flip that thing, that’s a choice we all make together. And we part ways with my shitty New York City, Metaverse apartments in decentraland. But like, you know, it’s a fun experiment is mostly what I’m trying to get at is that, you know, there are certain things that are wild and crazy that like, I think only a show like this, or a community like this would be able to tackle or at least experiment with, and we’ll see what happens. But it’s just a very different model, you know.

SBF and FTX Scandal

It is. Zack, how about that entire phase, that entire week where the entire SBF was getting just the whole sabbatical is just like getting unfolded. And all these really, really premier legit, quote, unquote, media companies are fluffing up the entire situation, and not really covering it to the full extent. And Elon Musk continuously weighed in and the community, the crypto community at least, they were, everyone was shitting on all these media outlets, from Forbes to all these big headlines that they were writing about SBF, and just like the lack of truth, the lack of clarity as to what really happened and listening to the community, and completely having their own agenda as to what they were trying to portray about SBF and what he had done. What do you think about that?

Zack Guzman: Yeah, I mean, we learned we learned some of these lessons when we put out our Dough Quan episode, right, that like in these collapses, when a lot of people have lost a lot of money, there’s a lot of anger in the air. And almost no matter how you cover a story like that, no one will appreciate kind of what you’re trying to do there, right? Because honestly, sometimes it’s like they, you can ask the perfect question, but unless you kind of hold their feet to the fire, you’re not going to get the perfect answer. And even then, you might not get the perfect answer. You know, that’s kind of how journalism works is you know, you try and report on these things as best you can. And I think the backdrop of all the anger there, almost made it a lose situation for a lot of people conducting some of these things, of course, piece to piece, sometimes they look a little bit softer than others. But we learned that and kind of you know, when we put the Dough Quan episode out and like made the transparent disclosure that trusts media, that the production company that coinage has a relationship with and kind of that we disclose transparently. People connected the dots and said, oh, well, Dough Quan must have been inputting kind of all kinds of questions and making your interview a softball fan. It’s like no, if you go back and watch it, certainly not, that wasn’t the case at all. And also, you know, Dough Quan has no position between Trust us media and coinage, like he’s not in the community. So again, as a community on show, it’s very different that way. And people will run into those things all the time. Again, it’s not new, right? Jeff Bezos owning Washington post they report on him, you kind of assume that there are those relationships between ownership of a media network and the reporting that goes on if there’s a firewall between them, right, and that none of that leaks over. And you can assume that, and you can believe it, or I suppose you can have verifiable on chain co-ownership, where you’ve got something different, where the model is not completely owned by somebody, but instead by the community, where we field questions and ask them when we covered SPS collapse as well and what that looked like in FTX. I think our reporting was pretty fair in that episode, and the way that we presented the facts. In the bigger, you know, scope of things around what does it mean for crypto, rather than just kind of getting into specifically the fraud there. But I mean, I’ve seen that backlash firsthand, right? And, again, it’s impossible to please everybody. I think that that’s one of the hardest things in journalism and in media in general, it’s impossible to please everybody. So, who are you really trying to please and as us, you know, I think, again, as the model is concerned, we’re a community on show trying to answer the questions that everyone in the community has. I, as someone who lost a shit ton of money in Lunar, wanted to ask Dough Quan these questions because I lost money. These are the questions that the community has, so answered them. And I think as long as you’re following that model, and who are you trying to impress, who do you have to like to live up to at the end of the day, as a community and show we’re going to find all these questions that people in our community have, we’re going to ask them, and we’re going to go straight to the source to figure them out. And I think that that model, I think, is defendable in a way that you know, again, the other traditional media models, you assume that that bias doesn’t seep into things, but you know, yeah, see which one I think works better as the experiment goes on.

Tackling the Consolidation of Media Ownership

I think on this concept and on this topic of just like, outlining the issues of traditional media, and the reporting around SBF collapse and FTX’s collapse, is a good example of bias. And a good example of who knows what’s really happening underneath the hood between these relationships. I’m curious to get your perspective on how web three could solve the other prevailing challenges that media faces today. So, the rise of fake news and misinformation, how social media and just like these large media platforms, and now even soon to be web three social, disrupt traditional media business models, from viewers’ attention, clicks, etc. The consolidation of media ownership, reducing diversity of voices and perspectives in the media landscape, ad blocking technology, which affects revenue and advertising. There’s a bunch, there’s a bunch. And I think each of them could be their own long form discussion. But of all those challenges, are there any that you really align with? And I have like, I have a laundry list of things written down, so I can run through them. But I’m curious, I think you get the point as to where I’m going with this question like, number one, which do you align with, in which is coinage trying to tackle? And two, how are you guys tackling them using crypto, using technology like web three blockchains, etc.?

Zack Guzman: Yeah, I mean, I think there are a laundry list of issues facing media. And I’d be curious to know which one you think is the worst on that list. Because, you know, for me, as someone who’s kind of had to deal with the old system around sensationalizing things, you know, clickbait is a thing that has existed in digital media for years. And, you know, I guess, the model creates, you know, sensationalized pieces to cater to one audience and the other audience. And I think we’ve seen that play out specifically in politics, right? And what you’re left with is an extremely divided society. And you’re left with, as you said, distrust in media in a way that you can’t tell what’s real. And you have two separate kinds of ideologies, and the country falls apart as we saw, that’s not good. But that’s kind of the incentive structure built by the old model is create sensationalized news. It goes big on social media; it blows up and you land on a place of just trusting media and not knowing what fact or fiction is. I’m not saying that crypto news is as important as some of those things. But at the end of the day, truth is worth defending, whether it’s about crypto or whether it’s about politics, whatever it is, right? Truth matters and I think that this kind of model sets that up in a way where, you know, again, it’s early, so I’m not going to act and sit here like I’ve figured everything out. But I will say that at least at the core of it all, if you read our white paper, if you go to coinage on media, we wrote a white paper specifically around the idea of community owned news, and community owned media outlets like this. And what happens when you kind of check those biases against each other. And the incentive model there is less around sensationalizing everything, because you’ve got a community who’s now bought in and supported kind of the creation of the content. And then they have a vested interest in sharing that content that is put out. So, it’s not just sensationalized stuff that’s getting shared. If the model works, right, our community members would be sharing the content that we think is good. And it would go just as far as maybe some of that sensationalized hate content, that is meant to go viral on social media, because they have a vested interest in it doing well, because they’re co-owners, and they will be rewarded. If it spreads far, then then maybe some of that stuff. So again, it’s kind of like building it around that. I think advertising in general is kind of a terrible model for media as well, I think we’ve seen that, like, I don’t know about you, but I don’t have cable, because I don’t watch commercials, I don’t want to just put something on and just go through that, it’s kind of a bad model. So, like, what are the ways to monetize good content? And that’s something that like I was excited by, because there’s a lot of crypto influencers, actually, who would basically run a validator themselves, and have people stick with them. And they would have a revenue split with kind of, you know, some of that would go to the creator and some of it would go to the people running the validator. And I think, you know, for coinage itself, that’s certainly something we could do. We could white label our audiences, hey, stick with us and we could run that. And there can be valid or validated revenues as well. So, there’s a lot of different like ways to monetize audiences, right. And I think the web two model is certainly again, grow up very big, sell ads against it. But that’s not entirely a great experience for anyone consuming that content. I think in web three, it creates a different, you know, not only a different model and incentive structure, but also other ways to monetize that really haven’t been tapped into yet. And that’s what I’m excited about because I’ve been seeing that just start in crypto. And in web three, with kind of these early iterations, you see that like, you know, some of the things maybe in a less regulatory friendly way, but it’s happening non the less and I think that that’s only going to continue the farther and farther we go along in this crypto three experiment, for creators to find out ways to monetize their stuff.

How do you feel about collecting content?

Zack Guzman: As far as, yeah, you and I discussed this before, right? You mean like NFT is built around like content collectibles? 

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, like tokenizing an episode and collecting that episode, whether it be a one of one in addition count, but giving the end user if they enjoy it, they enjoy consuming it the ability to collect it.

Zack Guzman: Yeah, I mean, when you and I chatted about that it was pretty eye opening, because I hadn’t considered that before, as far as like, you know, I guess I don’t know exactly what the old world equivalent would be like, you know, movie poster prints or something like that around the thing. But there’s clearly value in that stuff, right. And if someone’s willing to pay for it, extracting that value seems like a normal and good thing to do if you’re trying to monetize, right? I think, you know, we have leaned maybe a little bit outside of that, in terms of using NFTs as a ticket into a cooperative, doesn’t mean that we can’t also do what some other podcasts and crypto shows are doing around putting out digital collectibles around that content. I think that’s kind of similar to kind of what we’re trying to do with the metaverse episode in terms of building something that is co-owned, right, you can experiment with it, you can digitally interact with it when you’re in decentraland. So that’s kind of a cool experience but you also co-own thing with us. So that’s certainly one way I guess, in terms of content that is talked about in that episode about the metaverse. That’s kind of cool. And breaking that wall down. But yeah, I think there’s a lot to be considered around digital collectibles and the content itself. I guess it’s no different than songs at that point, if you really wanted to create like kind of a royalty built around that. The thing that I struggle with though, is what the upside is around, maybe trading some of those things, selling some of those things. And I guess, you know, the digital scarcity is there. But I think when we chatted, it sounded like you were very excited by that. And it’s early for me to kind of explore what we might do with it.

I’m excited about it, because it’s just another experiment that’s worth experimenting with and trying and testing and seeing what would happen. I do believe there’s value in the stuff that we create, in the content that we create. And I think over time, as audiences scale, you find your true believers and your consistent viewers and watchers that enjoy that content. And they get paired up with a bunch of others across other media networks that may also enjoy that content at a similar level. And the ability to collect it and prove your ownership and prove your participation in that creator’s career, in the networks and networks growth, whatever it may be, whatever it means to the end user, right? Having the ability to create markets, digital markets around content that you otherwise would just double click and heart and save to your favorites folder, right? It’s very analogous to doing that, right? Like when you’re scrolling through Tik Tok, and you click like, and you favorite something, and then you could go to your favorites folder and view all the content that you liked. It’s very analogous to collecting something and it landing in your wallet, right? Like it’s a very similar process, except one, could have more value and unlock more value than the other. The Tik Tok models gated by Tik Tok, that value we get extracted, that entire value gets extracted from us, we become products of the platform and the marketplace is the ad network, that Tik Tok gets to monetize on top of our attention, right. Whereas if we, for example, were to tokenize more of our content. And by the way, it’s not perfect yet, I need to practice more about what I preach. But having this discussion is opening up my eyes more to this concept. But having the ability to collect something, even if it’s for free, right, forget the model, let the audience, let the network, let the community decide what it’s worth. If it’s worth nothing, it’s worth nothing. But I think there’s a level also of data that you can unlock by understanding the granularity of who collected what, what other things are collecting, and how you could create experiences around that. You can’t do that in web two.

Zack Guzman: Yeah, after we chatted, I crunched the numbers and was looking at what we might be able to do if we dropped some of those things around our season one content as well. So, I’m not ruling that one out at all, especially, you know, when we looked at the data that, you were actually able to pull from bello and looked at some of that stuff around like, okay, who are in our collective set, when we think about who owns what in our free NFT there. What are we learned from that? And so yeah, I think there is a lot of value to extract once you do things like that. It just creates, I guess, again, this goes back to like something that would never be greenlit and like a traditional media company, because they’d be like, well, what’s the ROI for us? And it wouldn’t make any sense to them, in the old model it wouldn’t make any sense. Which is why like having like the greenlight to experiment in this space, I think, will be extremely interesting for anyone who wants to weigh in on what coinage does, because, you know, that’s, it clicked for me. I don’t know if you were in constitution Dao at all, but like, I just saw what’s possible when like a group of people all around the world, throw their like support and energy behind something. And in that case is very simple. It’s just by the constitution and this like, let’s create a Dao with a megaphone to cover crypto news in a different way. Like, will then appeal to everybody, no, will appeal to some people who have enjoyed our content thus far, like yeah, and so like let’s see what we could do, as a Dao with a megaphone to kind of change the game. And I do think it is extremely exciting to kind of again, as a creator, build something, see who it attracts, and then build on that creative energy to do something together. And that, to me is like the whole story of web three.

Content Composability Interoperability in Web3

Yeah. Another thing that web two media did really well, platforms like Tik Tok, for example, is the composability of content, the ability to remix content and make your own take from it. The best example of this is seeing like a song or a video take off and start trending and everybody kind of like, what’s the word that Tik Tok, I forgot what their term is, but essentially, creating your version of that and layering your response on top of that content. And I think NFTs have the potential to do something very similar, if not greater. I’m curious, from your perspective, what do you see the world of composability, in content interoperability looking and feeling like in web three?

Zack Guzman: Yeah, I mean, I think that that’s also there have been some pretty exciting NFT projects that I’ve done, that I think as well, I’m thinking about splats, or whatever that one was, or it’s like, okay, we will create, yeah, the ability to interact with your existing NFT via RS, which is pretty creative. Good work from Andrew on that one. But I think, you know, in the way that we look at it, it’s like, coinage is a living, breathing, like Dao community on show. So, it’s like you can weigh in and influence the way the show chooses what to put it’s energy into. What stories we should cover and influencing things that way, becomes a collaborative experience. In terms of, you know, getting to impact the show, I think we all know, Game of Thrones ending was pretty trash. I don’t know if I’d be able to write a better one. But I think that I would want to at least have my input there, right? It might make me feel better about hey, at least I tried. And so like to kind of answer your question on that is like, we want to open the door for people to be able to bet on their creators or to say, I can influence this and make it better, right. And I think that that, to me, is one of the exciting things that we’re trying to open here at coinage is, look, I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know everything about everything, but we want to like put this out there. And if you think we can do something better, or let’s say you watched Dough Quan you didn’t like what we did, then you can change it in season two, you can call on this with us and have your creative voice kind of heard as well. And so again, I think it’s like opening all kinds of doors in terms of where the value is, in being early on something, and actually growing with that project, collaborating with that project, but then also influencing it, right? And owning the upside around that, is an extremely powerful thing that hasn’t really been unlocked. Yes, there’s Kickstarter, yes, there’s Patreon. But what about actually co-owning it in terms of, you know, that stage beyond just greenlighting it or putting in resources to make it happen. What about scaling with it, growing with it, as you recommend it to everybody else. And I think that that is an exciting piece of this little experiment here. And it’s a little bit different when it comes to creating a TV show that way, so I don’t know, I’m excited to see it. And I’m excited to have people like you, hopefully, who have watched anything, know that they’re already whitelisted to co-own it with us, when we have our drop at the lowest prices ever going to be just point 1 Eth. And then after that, we’ll see what happens. But you know, I think it’s been exciting to just kind of again, as someone who’s been on the outside, watching everyone have the fun, mint these things and kind of create web three native projects, like finally to be in this space and learning from a lot more creative people than me. You know, like when we chat and then seeing kind of like, oh, you could do all of this, on top of everything else, to put it out there. And she you know, to your point, see what the value is. It’s just an extremely experimental space. And I think it’s exciting to kind of get to play a small, small part in it.

Future of Coinage Network

On that drop, on the note of the drop. Okay. I’m curious how funds that are raised from the sale, the network NFTs be used. And what do you imagine the long-term sustainability of the coinage series, let alone the coinage network looking and feeling like?

Zack Guzman: Yeah, so I mean, the way that it always works as far as cooperatives are concerned is, you know, you pay to be a part of them, you pay to enter. And so, you know, for our NFTs, they’re basically tickets into that cooperative. So, all the money and all the funds from the flow, from the mint goes into the cooperative. What the community wants to do with those funds, as far as you know, producing the show, we’ll figure out as we go along. But that’s kind of the way that it’s set up, right? Is that, again, it’s kind of back to the Kickstarter model of like, alright, what happens if you’re able to piece together people who want to support the content and see it there? As we’ve been doing, as you know, like, the episodes have been coming out, first two people who minted our subscriber NFTs, which are free, so they get first access and minting those lets you kind of chat in our Discord. And then from there, now we’re doing these caucus and network tier NFTs that allow you to co-own with us. And so that will be your ticket into the coop, not just waiting on stuff, but actually again, grow with it as it scales. And again, that opens the door for us to any distribution deal or anything that comes through, like that opens the door for us to, again, reward active members in the cooperative via patronage dividends. That model has existed in cooperatives since they’ve been around legally compliant. So that’s kind of the key piece that I feel like has been missing from like a lot of these NFT projects, a lot of Dao is unlocking that kind of legal flow of participation. And that has existed in the cooperative model. So that’s kind of the structure of it all. And for anyone who hasn’t watched our content, if they haven’t yet, no big deal, like they can still join in the public mints, which will be coming January 2, coinage.media. So, I mean, like, we’re trying to, again, give a little bit of priority to people who have interacted with their content thus far in season one, who have watched our stuff, who have liked our stuff, people who are active in building what we’re trying to build. And then after that, the public sale, you know, per usual with a lot of NFT projects, just seeing who’s out there, maybe late to the game, who wants to also play a role, you know.

Outro

Sack amazing. I’m really excited for the future of coinage media. I’m excited for you and your journey as a creator in web three. Before I let you go, where can we learn more about the job details? Where can we learn more about you, coinage media and all the cool things that you guys are up to?

Zack Guzman: Well, thank you very much. First of all, for having me on. This has been a chat that I was looking forward to for a long time, because I’ve learned from you, a lot actually. And I appreciate your support, in terms of just you know, not only watching our content with our NFT, but also just the research that you’ve been able to help us with, in terms of figuring out how we can work with other projects and kind of what’s going on in web three, as I learned. So, first of all, thank you. But second of all, you know, you can follow our project @ coinage_media on Twitter. But also, coinage.media, which is where we’re gonna be dropping these things. Again, there’s still time for anyone who’s watching this interview, to join the premium list and mint at that low price. But then the public drop still January 2, kicking off a new year, man, season two. So, everyone who wants to join can weigh in on what we do in season two, where this experiment heads. And we’ll be you know, super, super happy and just thankful for everyone who’s already supported again, co-founder of Netflix, I don’t think he supports a lot of web three projects, but cool to have him in the camp, and all the other people who have minted thus far, but big shout out to them for making this possible. And thanks again to you for having me on. I appreciate it and hope I can come back with more of season two as we roll it out.

think as the future of web three media and projects like yours and others kind of like define the space of what’s possible and set the standard for media companies using crypto primitives. We’re going to have to do a catch up very soon and see what’s new. So, until then, Zack, thank you so much. And we’ll talk soon.

Categories
Press Release

Introducing Mint Season 7: Create Content Worth Collecting

Los Angeles, CA — January 5, 2023 — Mint, the popular podcast series hosted by creator and entrepreneur Adam Levy, is excited to announce the release of Season 7. This season’s core theme is “Creating Content Worth Collecting,” and features 20 conversations with innovators at the forefront of web3. Over the next three months, listeners will hear from a variety of creators, collectors, and founders as they discuss their strategies for producing collectible content.

Levy said, “As a creator, I’ve always been fascinated by the question of what makes certain content truly valuable and shareable. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what motivates people to collect and how to create content that speaks to them on a deeper level. That’s why I decided to dedicate 20 episodes of my podcast to the theme of creating content worth collecting.”

He continued, “This topic is timely and relevant to Mint’s audience, and I’m excited to bring in a diverse group of guests to share their insights and experiences. I hope that by exploring this topic in-depth, we can help our listeners understand more about what makes content valuable and how to create content that resonates with their audience to the extent where they want to collect it.”

The Season will explore various forms of tokenized media like music NFTs, podcast NFTs, writing NFTs, film NFTs, video NFTs, and crypto art, and answer questions like: 

  1. What does it take to create content worth collecting?
  2. What are the links between viral distribution and onchain monetization via collection?
  3. How can content creators use tokenized media and NFTs to increase value and strengthen relationships with their audience?
  4. How will DeFi and tokenized media intersect and develop in the future?
  5. What are the main challenges for crypto-native content creators and tokenized media projects and how will they be addressed?
  6. How will decentralization change content creation and consumption in the web3 world?
  7. Will traditional media adapt to or be replaced by decentralized organizations in the web3 landscape?
  8. What challenges and opportunities will the web3 media industry face as it grows and how can they be addressed?
  9. How will the user experience of web3 media differ from traditional web media and how will this affect content consumption?

Season 7 Lineup

  • Farokh | Founder of Rug Radio.
  • Robin Schmidt | Founder of BasedAF.
  • Zack Guzman | Host of Coinage Media.
  • Alice Ma | Co-Founder of Mad Realties.
  • Jacob Horne | Co-Founder of Zora Protocol.
  • Chase Chapman | Host of the OthersidePod.
  • Diana Chen | Host of Rehash Podcast.
  • Aidan Musnitzky | Founder of Spinamp.
  • Christina Beltramini | Head of Growth at The AaveCompanies (Lens Protocol).
  • 0xLucas | Head of Web3 at Bankless.
  • Gami | Founder of Gnars DAO.
  • Peter Saputo | Music NFT Artist.
  • Roberto Nickson | Founder of Metav3rse.
  • Pplpleasr | Legendary, crypto-native digital artist.
  • TK the Legend | Music NFT Artist.
  • BlockchainBrett | Partner at Palm Tree Crew.
  • John Crain | Founder of SuperRare.
  • Sam Sends | Co-Founder of Glass Protocol.
  • RŌHKI | Web3-native music collective.
  • Colin Armstrong | Founder of Paragraph.

Season 7 wouldn’t be here without its two sponsors Lens Protocol and Bello, which collected the podcast’s soulbound NFTs, unlocking promotional perks throughout the season.

Mint Podcast, which has a monthly audience of over 50,000 web3 creators and collectors, is available on all video and audio streaming platforms, as well as new social apps built on Lens Protocol, such as Lenstube and Lenster.

To receive all 20 episodes of Season 7 for free, RSVP by visiting https://adamlevy.io/mint-season-7

About Mint

Reaching over 50,000 web3 creators and collectors per month, Mint Podcast, hosted by Adam Levy, is a leading audio and video series exploring the web3 creator economy.

Learn more by visiting https://adamlevy.io/mint-season-7.

About Lens Protocol

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. 

Stay up to date with Lens Protocol by following @LensProtocol on Lens 🌿

About Bello

Bello is the no-code blockchain analytics tool that empowers creators with actionable insights about their collectors in one simple search. Unlike other analytics platforms that benefit SQL-experienced users or professional NFT traders, Bello is a haven for non-technical users in a world where blockchain data is hard to fetch and understand. With no-code insights at the foundation of Bello’s pursuit, we help creators learn more about their collectors in a friendly and intuitive manner.
Learn more about your collectors today by visiting https://www.bello.lol/join.