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Podcast Transcript

Content NFTs.

Background

Mint Season 6 episode 28 welcomes BlockchainBrett, the prolific NFT collector and investor at PTC Crypto. The conversation is nearly 2 hours long, highlighting why he believes content NFTs are the next wave of the creator economy.

We go through his new article “The Crypto Creator Economy” and outline key points critical to understanding the value of collecting content.

I hope you guys enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:26 – Intro
  • 04:33 – Brett’s Journey As a Collector
  • 06:48 – Artist’s First Wave of Adoption and Excitement Around NFTs 
  • 10:54 – The New Article
  • 21:55 – Where Crypto Meets the Creator Economy
  • 30:00 – Converting Web2 Viewers into Web3 Collectors
  • 32:53 – What Does Creative Freedom Mean?
  • 39:19 – Understanding Media Legos and Composable Content
  • 42:41 – What’s Worth Collecting in Your Opinion?
  • 45:38 – Content NFT Life Cycle
  • 01:15:13 – Are We Building a New Creator Economy Centered Around Collecting or Consuming?
  • 01:31:35 – How to Continue Creating Throughout the Bear Market
  • 01:39:24 – The Next Class of Creators
  • 01:42:59 – Outro



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Blockchain Brett, welcome back to the podcast. How you doing, man? Thank you for being on again.

Blockchain Brett: Thank you, Adam. I’m excited to be back. It’s been a long road since I’ve been here.

It’s been a while and we were just checking. The last episode we published was on December 2, 2021. That was episode, season three, episode 16. Nearly one whole damn year. That’s wild.

Blockchain Brett: Yeah, it’s still early.

Intro

It’s still, we’re still early. We also minted that episode as well. And funny enough, that episode ended up like being a solid piece that ushered in, quite a bit of people into the music NFT spot of where we where we are today. And that was sort of indicated by just like me tweeting out like, alright, we’re minting this episode, months and months afterwards, and people commenting like, wow, this was the episode that got me into the space. I’m collecting this, right? So, there’s a lot to talk about. And that also alludes to like the whole concept of like content NFTs that we’re going to be diving into. But I guess before we even do that Blockchain, Brett, I want to get a quick primer from you. For those who aren’t familiar with you and haven’t listened to that episode. Give a quick intro on yourself, and then we can dive in.

Blockchain Brett: Yeah, so I go by Blockchain Brett on Twitter. And I am the co-founder and Managing Partner of Palm tree crew crypto, PTC crypto for short, which is an early-stage fund, venture fund, focused on the cryptocurrency economy, what we’ll be talking about today. Yeah, so an investor and then also a founder and a collector on the founders founding side, it was in late 2016, I started at consensus and was founder of a company there, as well as company called fleek in the web three developer tools. And I’ve been collecting since early 2018, around starting around crypto super rare, representing super rare t-shirt right now for those on audio. And, you know, and all different types of NFTs and more recently, one my biggest focus has been music NFTs.

Right. So, you’ve been on both sides of the spectrum, both as a founder, also working for a company and now having your own fund. And I guess like, you obviously prefer the investor side. But do you enjoy more collecting from artists and creators versus investing? Like, what do you put a priority over? Like, what do you find the most fulfillment from?

Blockchain Brett: Well, I mean, I put the priority on the fun, for sure. But, you know, I mean, I’ve always had an amazing time collecting. Like, it’s just been an obsessive, passionate, exciting, kind of, yeah, I don’t even know if you can call it a hobby. I think it’s more than a hobby. So yeah, I mean, it’s been, ever since like the crypto art days, I’ve spent hours staring at screens and thinking about what to buy, and how to be a part of the NFT craze. So, it’s amazing.  

Brett’s Journey As a Collector

Can you walk me more through like your collective journey. So, you’re obviously repping the super rare shirt. I know you’re a pretty big an early on super rare. Take me through your journey as a collector. What does that look like?

Blockchain Brett: Yeah, so I started early on super rare, and I was like, there’s only a. I don’t know. There’s only a couple or a few collectors around then like, you know, a handful of collectors. And at that time, it was like crazy spent $50 on a piece of crypto art. So yeah, I think like I was early to be in like the $300, $400 range like spent, I think I might have been, like a first, like one of the first spending Eth on crypto art, like it was a cold DPS. And so yeah, it was just it was a lot of breaking mental barriers of like, people back then used to say, you know, digital, can digital art be valuable? Because if it’s not physical, right? People don’t ask that anymore, obviously but like back then that was the biggest question. And then I think, you know, yeah, and then it was the right click Save As, right? It’s like, oh, if anyone can see it, why is it valuable? So those were kind of the two biggest things to think about. And then I went from like crypto art to like, I want to show off my crypto art and build a gallery. So, I bought land and crypto voxels that was the first launch like, you know, virtual world, on chain virtual world. So, like built the gallery and crypto voxels art, was started collecting like collectibles, like PFP NFTs all the different kinds of categories of whatever was exciting, but like it’s kind of naturally went from one to the other, and eventually is actually crypto art that kind of led me to music NFTs because of the work I was doing with musicians, releasing crypto art and thinking how is like there should be a music specific lane. And honestly, for all forms of content, but definitely feels like music is an actual next step. That’s when I started collecting on Zora and catalog like April of last year of 2021.

Artist’s First Wave of Adoption and Excitement Around NFTs

Why do you think that visual artists and music artists sort of had that first wave of adoption and excitement around NFTs?

Blockchain Brett: We I think there was like a Gen. There’s like a Gen 1.5 music NFTs or something where like we’re a kind of it was audio, visual NFTs. And essentially, what was happening is like the big musicians caught their eyes on pretty much on the Blau sale. And looked at it and saw, oh, I can collaborate with a visual artist and release NFTs and kind of be a part of this movement. So, there was a lot of that. And I think that a lot of them were like kind of signed to labels and pretty big artists. So, the distribution wouldn’t really allow like a direct pure, like a pure music NFT, like distributing the song as an NFT directly without it basically being an art piece first. So that’s kind of when like the kind of pure music NFT to a Gen two, I would say stuff really started around just like people releasing songs and not even really needing that, maybe not even needing cover art, like cover art is pretty standard. But like maybe even just showing the wav file icon, you know.

The way I understand the transition is being first of all, like being in the clubhouse room with when the Blau sale was happening. And sort of seeing the nifty gateway era in the super rare era while I wasn’t as active collecting, as you were, I was probably more kind of skeptical as to what was happening. One because I didn’t even have the funds to sort of drop 150 bucks, 200, 500 bucks on a piece. It was also me learning from the sidelines. But I remember very early on, there was like the very clear merge between the visual art and the music that got tied to it, right? So, people weren’t just like minting and drying up static images that they would do on Photoshop and then tokenize, they would actually create these like gifs or loops, right? Through mp4 files and with that, there’d be a lot of background music. So, the way I sort of understand it is like, that transition from visual art to now we’re seeing music sort of like be like the front and center piece of attention for NFT’s kind of makes sense, because a lot of the visual artists use music to amplify and to create that end-to-end experience for the visual art. Do you see it the same way or what are your thoughts around that?

Blockchain Brett: Yeah, I mean, I think that’s like, well, I think once you had crypto art, break the open the barrier of those two major questions like can digital art be valuable? And like, why is it valuable to own if anyone can see it? All of a sudden, that model applies to all types of content, right? And like naturally, it just depends on like, what types of creators are starting to dabble and play around. And there was a bunch of collaborations between visual artists and musicians. So, I think a lot of musicians got inspired and wanted to be a part of it. And that was kind of that like, pure web three music NFT space coming out from really being pushed from the bottom up on independent musicians. And the same thing we’re seeing in kind of smaller little subcategories in other ways. I mean, a lot of people in crypto write articles, people like it’s, it’s a lot of thought leading type of people that are trying to predict the future a lot. So, articles have become a popular medium in crypto. And now you have things like tokenized articles on mirror and paragraph and you have even stuff on the video side. People that make music also make music videos, and he started using music videos, music videos can be valuable too and can be on chain, and you have things like class and you have, you know, it’s just endless, like all the different kinds of categories and kind of just how they lean into each other. And I think they kind of just naturally happen depending on how the culture forms.

The New Article

Makes sense. Makes sense. I want to transition this conversation and sort of talk about the reason why we’re here. You sort of teased this piece that we published in the mid-season six vault, that sort of covers your thesis on the crypto creator economy, and I gotta give it to you, it’s a very comprehensive piece and what you put in the vault is only a teaser. And what we’re gonna go over today, sort of like the end to end eight-page, sort of like review of what’s happening. And I read through it very diligently and I want to bring up sort of like an, I guess, like steer this conversation based off the structure of the article, because you actually laid it out very nice. And you sort of started talking about the major problems that are occurring in the crater economy today, in the traditional crater economy, and where crypto comes in. And then you talk about this thing called the NFT content lifecycle, right? And I want to sort of like take it from the top and work our way down. So, I don’t want to introduce it. What is this article that you put together, that you spent so much time working on and that you teased in the vault?

Blockchain Brett: Yeah. This article is been basically what I’ve been thinking about and working on for a couple years and trying to put it in a digestible way for people to kind of put a framework around like, what is the cryptocurrency economy? And like, how do you and what is the way to kind of think about it and try to help, you know, other investors, help founders, help, you know, collectors, try to visualize what the framework for this space can be? And, you know, how can it kind of grow? And what are the different areas to think about? You know, I’ve seen like, I’ve been thinking, I’ve been collecting for a long time, across different verticals of content. I’ve been building in this ecosystem for a while, and I’ve been talking to as many founders that are, in this area, the being like a creative economy focus, like the creative economy focus fun, and seeing it and kind of building this sort of mental model and this sort of framework of how we kind of think about, you know, all the different pillars and building a framework for it, and I think it’d be helpful because a lot of times, I ended up explaining it one on one to a lot of different people, and like, and picking out pieces of it to use to explain or to help guide. And I think like, it’s kind of about time that we like, you know, put it together, put it in one comprehensive overall article and put it out there, so that it’s not, you know, it’s just makes it a little more scalable.

Yeah. And I think I love how you started the article, basically identifying some of like, the weaknesses that are present in the traditional creator economy. From your perspective, like what are those weaknesses? What comes to mind?

Blockchain Brett: Yeah, I mean, so it’s kind of interesting. I mean, I think to give the context of like, how I like come at these points. You know, I’m really kind of like a crypto guy, like, I mean, I’ve been out of school, I just started working in crypto right away, and just been constantly thinking about NFT space and what it can do, what it can change, what features are possible. And so, I’ve kind of come from that direction. And then like, obviously, I’ve been, you know, a content lover for forever, like everyone. And I have been secondhand to a lot of things in the music industry in different entertainment histories. But this is really kind of like, you know, when you look back and see what do we have that exists today? And what is possible, like, kind of what are the shortfalls of what we have? So that’s kind of a little bit of other framework. I think, like the first thing that when you look at like the creator company today, is like how to creators monetize, is definitely one of the main pieces and you know the way it happens is like, is it’s not really value oriented to the creator first, right? So essentially, you mostly have like these subscriptions, or these advertisement-based business models, that charge the end user or advertisers certain some for, you know, basically all you can eat content or for you to basically see, you know, advertisers and get paid for clicks. And all of the money they make, ends up being basically, like accounted for as revenue and trying to look at it and figure it out. All right, what’s kind of like the least amount that we can pay out to creators and maintain our bottom line? And they call it a royalty, and it’s performance based It’s like, how are you doing on the platform? How much your content is driving that traction for them? And that’s what we kind of pay out. And we call it a royalty, and it’s very, it’s become super normal, right? Like, all these different, whatever record label deals or deals with different types of creators, are based on like, how is your royalty? A lot of is based on how’s your revenue stream gonna come fromyour royalties? So, yeah, I mean, obviously, in that situation, it’s like, the platform is getting a lot of the value, the platform is restricting the value of the content itself, right? So, like, they’re basically saying, they’re assigning a value to what everything is worth, by charging advertisers, by charging the user for what they think they should pay. And it keeps the, basically keeps the value of that content under a certain bar, which is why I think when you look at stuff like music, and you look at art, or more like music, and videos, and other types of content like that. They don’t grow nearly as fast as thing as, you know, industries with different types of business models that are direct valuing them directly, things like gaming, right. So, I think it’s been a huge limiter. And I’d say one of the other major things, is around control. Usually, when you’re releasing content as a creator, like one of the most important things that I’ve seen people coming to web three, has been like, being able to release however you want, when you want, like creative freedom, right? And I think a lot of the ways that creators are able to sustain and make money with different types of agencies, are based on like, and controlling what they’re able to release now. So, this is kind of like, you know, very creative restricting process and you know, that that’s kind of the only way to do it today. So that’s the control over your content and over your audience is a major thing. The audiences themselves are obviously tied to specific platforms as well.

I want to touch upon something really quick, because you bring up two really interesting topics. So, the inefficient business models for content, creators don’t control their content and their audiences. And when it comes to sort of identifying why is inefficient, I think creators need to have this sort of like this content dump. And they’re slaves to their content to sort of continuously push out new stuff, to make the algorithm happy. And to sort of like help them climb up the ladder of distribution and favorability, right? So, when I sort of like create content, right, on the element of not controlling it, I publish stuff through Buzz sprout, right? It’s a decentralized hosting provider that helps distribute all my stuff to Spotify, Apple music, whatever, if I don’t pay them, right, then my content will actually disappear, right? So rather, rather than posting it on chain, just tokenizing my episodes, that’s gonna live there forever, like Ethereum will never delete my stuff. Ethereum will never shadow ban me. And it’s really up for me to sort of take control of that and to find the distribution and the growth. So, I love how you identified because I faced those pain points myself.

Blockchain Brett: Yeah, your content stuck to a specific platform. 100%. Yeah, and really, it kind of goes into another major thing, which is they’re not interoperable, like these different platforms, right, like everything that you’re doing on one platform and all the kinds of UX that they’ve built around what you’re doing in there, whether you’re, you know, you’re releasing music on Spotify, and it’s being curated in there or if you’re really on Twitch, and people are subscribing or engaging with emotes, like these are all within their own guardrails. And that data is not openly available to be built on and expanded on and it’s, everyone’s kind of creating their own verticals and all these things can be amazing, shared, infrastructure for people that have just the best experience across all different types of content. So, it’s kind of this this sort of guardrail, you know, limitations to what content can do within platforms, is another big one. And this kind of last one is really an interesting thing too, it relates a lot to the business model, aspect where, you know, the way the business model is limiting. The way you monetize is all via, like, upstream value, right? Like so when you’re distributing your music or your videos like you’re getting paid your royalties per performance, right? Other forms of ways can be like, through sinks, or any different types of avenues where content goes upstream, right? And, you know, in these situations, like, as a creator, when you have like your content, the way that it can be the most valuable essentially is like, by being the most seen, like distribution, like you want it everywhere, you want everyone to see it, right? Like, what’s the most valuable piece of art today? Like the Mona Lisa, like everyone in world has seen it. And what happens in this model, where like, you have to, the only way to monetize is by like getting paid for the distribution upstream. It actually makes you like, selectively choose where to distribute, right? Like, you’re not going to put the same song on Spotify and SoundCloud, because you can’t be free to stream on SoundCloud while it’s paid to stream on Spotify. They don’t, companies don’t want that, right? But in the reality, putting it in both places, putting it in multiple places where it can reach more people is going to expand your audience and increase the potential for more people to interact with it directly in value it, right? So that kind of is this, the way that content is monetized today also limits the way it’s distributed and like the full value that that content can reach.

Where Crypto Meets the Creator Economy

Yeah, one example that comes to mind, especially for the third point, content in media platforms isn’t interoperable. There’s a specific time period when Tik Tok started becoming huge around 2018. And the top grossing top followed creators on an Instagram, didn’t really make the wave and the cut of all the new creators that formed on Tik Tok. And now you have this new generation of creators that built crazy audiences on Tik Tok. But then again, they’re dependent on that platform. And there isn’t much interoperability in the funnels for basically converting a Tik Tok follower to an Instagram follower, it’s still very shitty. So, you’re forced to sort of siphon your energy, right? And dilute your energy across all these platforms, and be a content machine. And I experienced this firsthand myself, trying to attempt to make YouTube shorts, and then Tik Toks and then Instagram reels, right. And they’re all essentially like at the core of the same type of content. But one requires this form of dimensions, and another one requires this link. And you’re sort of like scattered across the entire internet, trying to tap into all these different ways to grow an audience across these platforms. Versus and I guess this is what we’re going to talk about in crypto, it works a little bit different, right? And this is why I like the piece so much, because you identify these sorts of points, that that trigger in keep a lot of creators stuck, and kind of introduced this new light at the end of the tunnel, where crypto kind of helps elevate or attempts to elevate all these problems. And I’d love for you to sort of introduce this next section, as I also share my screen, to kind of talk about where crypto meets the creator economy at this point?

Blockchain Brett: Yeah, for sure. So, I think it makes sense to hop into kind of some these major like values that are so, I will here and then and then go into like the whole, you know, what is the framework for creative economy, how that team kind of tease that up? Yeah, I mean, the biggest thing here really is the, the world, the, you know, users today, everyone’s online, everyone loves the content, loves certain content that they’re most drawn to, love certain creators are making that content, right. And basically, user just follows or likes the content, things like that. But where things are going, is towards a world where those people are going to be collectors, your favorite content that you find and you love and you want the most value with, the best way to create a relationship to prove the meaning that you have that content and be connected to it and to own it, is by the NFTs, collecting that content. So that’s really where like, you know, the overall broad categories essentially, like content NFTs, we say crypto art, we say music NFTs, video NFTs, you even have some glimpse of podcasts of podcasts NFTs, ones that you know, I mean, our podcast was minted when I was with you on minted. There’s, you know, there’s still some earlier categories and it’s definitely it’s very early on, right? And like we’ve seen most traction with art, we’ve seen it some pretty significant start to traction on music and, and these other areas are growing as well. And that’s really the foundation of it, like the most valuable thing when it comes to the creator economy is, creators and their content, right? And that’s what power is all these platforms with powers the audiences to come to them. 

So really, if now just comes to the beginning where like the creator puts their content on chain, is the start of it. And what that enables is this new business model of collectors that are valuing the content directly, right, so when we were saying earlier, like, you don’t have the ability to like, unlock the full potential of the content, and it’s restricted within the business models of current web two, which is like subscription or advertising the paying out this back and royalty, it’s direct to your audience saying, I love what you’re making, I love what you’re creating, I love your music. This means something to me, and I want to own it, right? It comes with, it comes with a lot, a lot comes with that, right? Like there’s the obviously the value is that emotional attachment for sure, to the piece of content, to the artists. There’s a relationship component that you’re developing the artist that’s much deeper than anything you can do today, that like there’s a two-way signal, they want people to appreciate the content, you’re the one that appreciates the content, right. And there’s even beyond that, there’s really a social signal to, right? Like more people are like you, will be like you and will also find emotional connection and want that relationship with the content, with the artists. And you’re one of those people that were already doing it right. You’re a curator people, like there’s social value and signal to saying to people realize, I mean, like, I find a lot of pride, like confidence in collecting X copy in 2018. Like, that’s crazy, right now people think it’s insane. Like, back then, you know, that’s the point, right? It’s like, back then it wasn’t crazy but when you believe in something, you’re a part of it. That is your opportunity to curate. And yeah, that’s pretty much like the main foundation here. And obviously, people can continue to like add additional functionality to existing content out there, but it does, it is worth really stressing that, like just the content being on chain itself and being able to have that, being able to be collected, is a magnitude of order improvement. And it’s enough to really change the business model to like 100x improvement. And once you’re, yeah.

No, I was gonna say just like on this new zero to one model of collecting to show patronage, right, and collecting to show the creator that you were there at this given time. And I can prove that with whatever’s in my wallet, is incredibly impactful. And it’s why I’ve personally reverted as a creator, as a podcaster to give out pins to my listeners, because they act as this thing that they can prove that they were there, since day zero for them, collecting whatever it is that they’re collecting, right. So even now, like I’m in the process of giving up my season six pins and a few people on Discord, they’re like, yeah, I’ve been collecting since season two, you know, and that shows me like, like shit, like you’ve been there for the longest time. And shout out to Charlie for pinpointing that out. And like being I’ve been here since season two, I remember when you were doing them as po-ops and now, you’re issuing them as NFTs. Yeah, you know.

Blockchain Brett: And you saw it too, when we did the, like when you minted the music and the podcasts that I was on with you. How much people, how much meaning came out, that you were saying earlier, it’s like people were coming to you saying this podcast means like, I learned about music NFTs here. This is why I bought my first one. He’s mentioned Daniel Allen, when I bought Daniel Allen like, I love his music now, like it was a gateway for me. There are all sorts of reason why people find meaning in that piece of content and also in you, right, that you’re creating these series of content that that continues to come and people will wait for the next one and continue to learn more. And so, you’re a creator here, right? There’s about like, so people value that and what happened, I mean, like, it didn’t like an eve in sales. I mean, I don’t think you would just expect, right?

I was not expecting that because I don’t even get paid from Spotify or Apple Music on the streams just like musicians do, right? So, it’s monumental to me.

Blockchain Brett: It’s Yeah, it’s crazy. And I think that we kind of underestimate like how much people find meaning and are willing to like, show that and do it via essentially like online ownership content ownership. And that’s kind of the really, the beginning there. I mean, I think, you know, you’re at the end of the day, you’re on the being a pioneer in that spot. And I’m very confident they’ll continue to be more podcast.

Converting Web2 Viewers into Web3 Collectors

I agree. I agree. And I want to just double down for a minute, the section talking about like NFTs being a new economic model for content. My question to you, Brett, it’s like the same thing that we talked about in the music NFT side of things like, how can we convert more listeners into collectors? Because every collector is a listener, but not vice versa. How can we convert every single or more viewers into collectors, and to actually care about owning something? And I think part of it starts with the early adopters that sort of start that energy and that emotion to kind of prove this, like first mover advantage of saying, we were here, we’re doing this, and this is why it’s important. And that brings on more attention and more energy. But from your perspective, like how do we siphon more of the viewers and the likers and the people who share across web two, to also now collect, even if it’s something for free? Just like collect something in web three?

Blockchain Brett: Yeah, I think we can really get into that around like the, content lifecycle. Because I think in reality, the core here is the content being great and people loving it, right? And I think, once you start, like, once content is on chain, and has that that business model baked in, that it becomes how do you distribute it natively from being on chain, right? And how do you present basic preset content upstream, through its lifecycle where the future is, when you find a podcast, when you find music, it’s on an application that you know you have the opt ability to opt in and value it and be a part of the journey with the creator, right? And that makes it just alone, just knowing that, even from personal experience, is a 10x Plus Improvement, like, when I’m on Spotify, listen to music, which I still go on Spotify, I listen to music NFTs on spin app, I listen to spin app way more than I listen to Spotify these days, right, like, and the thing is, for me is now when I listened to, when I’m listening on Spotify, the new song that I’m listening to, that’s coming out, that I’m checking out, right? Needs to be so much better than it used to need to be for me, in order for me to like kind of stick around, because I know there’s no opportunity for me to really be a part of it. You know, and like when I’m over here on spin app and listening to songs, like I know, every single song, if I like it, if I get into it, I can like start to opt in to value and be on a journey with this creator and like. So, it just makes the experience so much better, I love having that opportunity. So, I think the long story short, is you need the content to be first and foremost. And then it also to be natively on top of this, you know, crypto rails NFT infrastructure, that people were able to go and take it to the next level, and understand what’s going on behind the scenes and be part of it, right?

What Does Creative Freedom Mean?

Right. Part of having a crypto empowered and crypto enabled creator economy is, being in control of your content and your community. And I think it’s actually incredibly powerful and I try to emphasize this a lot on the podcast, like one follower equals one collector, like I try to minimize that that model for me, so that I can focus more on building a collector base, even if it’s free collectors, right? It’s still sort of like building something on chain, right? And I’m curious, Brett, from your perspective, as someone who’s advocating for kind of like creators having more control over the content, what does that really mean, in the grand scheme of things and what level of responsibility comes with that?

Blockchain Brett: Yeah, I mean, I think one of the biggest pieces of feedback I’ve seen is how much artists, creators in the space love the creative freedom of being able to basically create the distribute, however they want, whenever they want, and would never which way and even be innovative on top of that. So, I think, like, that’s usually the, I think that’s usually the first realization, it’s like, oh, wait, like I can just do however I feel like doing it, like I don’t need to, like using agencies or focus on any specific distribution models or, right. So that’s kind of like a major thing. And then, you know, beyond that, it’s like, you own your relationship, right? Like, when you meet something on chain, people are collecting your NFTs, like, you know, who those collectors are, it’s immutable, it’s on chain, like you can port that anywhere. You can, you know, go and build a new site next day and make it where all the access or, you know, whatever features, the ability to mint exclusive content, or whatever it is, is on this site, and it’s to those tokens and then, you know, that’s really like, you ported your community to a different site, like just like that, right. And I think that is, the most powerful thing is like when you’re doing things you’re experimenting and trying new products, or whatever it is. There’s this kind of like way less risk, like way less platform risk, because you can just, you still have power, the power that you need, the control you need with your community to bring them around. So, you don’t, there’s, yeah, as much less risk there.

Yeah, I would also argue, and I’d love to get your perspective that, like web three has done a great job at helping creators capture value. But it still really struggles with distribution messaging, and algorithms for sort of like debt grabbing attention. And one thing that I always like I repeat on the podcast is like, the model is creators using web two for distribution and attention and web three to capture value, right. And eventually, and I know down the line, in the article you talked about went through social, like the two will converge. And not only you’re going to be building an audience using web three primitives, but you’re also going to be able to capture value simultaneously, right? Versus it being two separate things. But right now, we’re seeing a lot of people still use Twitter to create that initial funnel of distribution, to get the word out, trying to build their newsletters, right? Now we’re seeing mirror and paragraph create more web three natives sort of like newsletters from that primitive of collecting to subscribe, right? But it’s still not there yet and we can’t simply detach completely, right? Any thoughts around that?

Blockchain Brett: Yeah, I mean, I think this is where this gets, basically, I think with the business model here kind of does is like, it makes it where, you know, where you kind of monetize and where, you know, where the value cruise, which two NFTs in the day, right? So, like, essentially, similar to how, you know, the business model on like, existing web two platform is from royalties, it’s like this new model is, it’s from volume, for the most part, right, from sales, right? Your ability to issue content, and it be valued directly, and people purchasing it. And, you know, so you have the ability to continue to release more when you, as you grow your community, which is like continuing to monetize, as well as the secondary sales that the creator royalties that happened from the secondary sales of the continent, right? So, with that at the foundation, you know, it becomes way more open, where you can distribute, right? Like, all of these concepts around the distribution rights, are in order to try to grab value upstream, because you don’t monetize at the bottom of the funnel, right? It’s like, you release a song or when you release content, it’s like, how is it performing? And I want to get paid, and like you don’t distribute somewhere else, because that place doesn’t pay you and this place does pay you, right? And that’s where in this situation, it’s like, the monetization model is at the bottom of the funnel, and it captures anything upstream, right? So, it’s how far why big on distribution can I go, right? So, it’s anything by means necessary, right? Which is why you see things like already, like crypto art, and music NFTs being like freely distributed on platforms, right, like things like gallery on crypto art, spin app, future tape around music, like no creators are complaining and saying, hey, what are you doing, like distributing my music? Like, you’re not paying me for that. It’s like, no, that’s not the business model anymore. It’s like, you’re selling your content, right? And the more it’s seen, the more distributor, the more valuable it is, the greater chance of selling content. Those distribution platforms now have buy buttons, right? Because like, you go, it’s once you find the content, it’s how do you get them from discovery down to ownership, right? And that’s kind of like the new future and it’s use anything, so yeah, for sure. I mean, all forms of social media today, I mean, it’s by any means necessary, like put it out there like Twitter, Instagram, anything, right? I mean, obviously, a lot of the audience today lives on Twitter, for sure. But I think as these applications move into specific types of content, and people know what things you’re looking for, you’re looking for music, looking for videos, what is it? That’s the area where they will comment, right, and it’ll be kind of content first, ideally.

Understanding Media Legos and Composable Content

Make sense. Yeah. The other three sections, so NFT accruing sort of the contents value communities, cultural equity and creators and the composable content or media Legos, I feel like we’ve touched on the first two quite a bit. When you sort of like collect something you bind to that creator’s community, right? And yeah, you’re a part of their growth from that point on, right. And the more things that the creator does the more value that they consistently and communicate outward, saying that this is going to go straight back to the collectors right and, and sort of like the value that’s generated from there. That sort of comes from the the NFTs accruing value as the content gains value. The one thing I want to touch upon, that we didn’t really talk so much about is this element of composable content, or media Legos. I love that because I think that’s very much subliminally distribution. Very, like very, very bluntly, saying. And I think a good example of that is seeing sort of like behaviors across Tik Tok, and how people duet a video, right, and how they sort of repurpose somebody’s existing piece of content, and kind of add their own creative twist to it. And I think a good example of that is seeing what Daniel Allen was doing with his glass house remixes. And now he’s bringing other sort of like music artists into web three, and using his music as a way to kind of like navigate their compass, right? How are you sort of understanding media Legos or composable content?

Blockchain Brett: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. I mean, so I’ll give a quick shout out. I think the first person had said, like, the quote unquote, me, Legos, Jesse Walton. So definitely some inspiration there. But yeah, on the composable content, I mean, you know, it’s really like, on that side, for sure, like co creation production, big part of it, I think, like, on another level, a lot of it’s really like, everything you see within these applications is being built infrastructure wise, around, you know, how is content discovered? How is it curated? How is it this engaged with, right? Like, all these different applications have their own different kind of ways, and they build their own layers. And these are all like, very right pieces of infrastructure, that can be composable, once things are content NFTs, like once the content is on chain, and it can move and distribute freely upstream to any platforms, you can also start to use shared infrastructure protocol tools around how we can interact the content, how do you curate it? How do you engage with it, right? So, there’s all these kinds of different layers of interacting with content, that have these opportunities for new protocols and shared infrastructure to come out, that different distribution interfaces that focus on different types of content, can decide which things integrate and use and create the best experience for the end user? You know, so? Yeah, and much more like an open ecosystem. So, I think that’s kind of really like the heart and the focus. And also found towards like the remix production, co creation side of things. It enables a lot of that as well, for sure.

What’s Worth Collecting in Your Opinion?

Yeah. And I think this is also a perfect transition to sort of highlighting, kind of like the content NFT lifecycle, and I want to introduce this next section of the podcast, just sort of sharing my screen. And for those that are listening, I kind of read it off because I think from my perspective, you were the first-person sort of like, tweet something like this out and to present content NFTs as like the top of funnel sort of primitive, and all these other pieces of media kind of fall underneath it, right? So, content NFTs as a tweet continues content NFTS, crypto art, music NFTs, video NFTs, writing NFTs, podcasts NFTs, TV NFTs, film, NFTs, all content is coming on chain and will be foundationally new business model for the creator economy. So that’s your bet, everything is going to be tokenized to some extent, right? And everything is going to be worth collecting. But my question to you, I want to challenge this for a second, like, what is actually worth collecting? And what do you actually tie attribute value to versus attribute something for free? And how do you kind of like what’s the mental model around this entire new primitive?

Blockchain Brett: What it does is, it gives the ability for all content to be valuable. Doesn’t mean everything piece of content is like going to be valued, right? Like it’s similar and that’s where it comes, like right now, there’s a small amount of content so far in this ecosystem. And that’s going to continue to grow, right? And over time, that’s where things like more thing’s infrastructure become more important around discovering creation, and engagement tools to kind of help people find and decipher and figured out things that they essentially find valuable and take ownership in. And yeah, so you know, it’s going to be valuable when people find it. So, like you find it’s usually coming, I mean, I think it should come from the quality of the content. First, it could be you know, the artist, the creator behind it, something that it means to you, some reason why you like it, and that’s something you want to have relationship with. So, you know, I think like, if you had a million songs come in tomorrow, right? Like, it’d be impossible to get all of them to be worth, like to get valued because of where the market is right now, right? But yeah, I think there’s this kind of like, as more content comes, more collectors come, and more and more things continue to get valued. And it’s similar to, you know, in some ways to, like, currently, we’re like, people have to find things they like, like not everything is seen and appreciated, right. But for those things that, those things have the ability to have that now and be appreciated directly. And it’s a much better foundation for the future that.

Content NFT Life Cycle

Yeah, makes sense. And as we sort of transition to really break down the content NFT lifecycle, I’m going to bring back the initial graph that I brought up earlier, I think it’s a good visualization to understand what is the content NFT lifecycle and all the different pieces that kind of fit as a downward stream, right? And I guess just to quickly outline it, and then we can dive into each sort of segment is, you have the element of actually producing the content. And then once it’s produced, you mint and tokenize the content. And after you mint it, you distribute it. And then you have curators that sort of like help brings even more eyes to it and have their sort of taste making abilities projected on it, right, as a signal. And then you have the level of engagement that comes around it, right? I would love for you to kind of like break down every single section because there’s also like, another component, there’s a community coordination to and how that fit into the whole entire funnel of web three social, right, as you imagine. So, let’s double down on what the content NFT lifecycle is, and just take it away.

Blockchain Brett: Yeah, let’s do it. So, I’ll help kind of paint the picture to really like, what like, I think about like this, like, content NFTs, kind of create this framework, where there’s all these different verticals, content, from art, to music, to videos, to podcast, to writing, right. And it’s kind of it, you know, goes that way, right, as well as the way the content goes upstream, right. So, take something like a piece of music and how it’s co created in the production style, right, like in the production layer, right. So, you know, having the stems the songs and it being findable and remixable, right, like, that’s a layer, right. And then minting that song on chain is a layer, right? Like, basically instantiating it on chain and making it able to be valued, right? That content NFTs then being distributed upstream, right? So, listener apps, or video players, or all these different, depending on the vertical of content, like what you need, like what we’re used to around, things like Spotify, bringing up content, or YouTube showing videos or Netflix showing TV and film. And then, you know, as it’s being distributed are part of like the distribution funnel as well. It’s like, how is this content curated? Right, so like, traditionally, you might have creation kind of in a more centralized way, where companies create their own playlists or you have your own, you know, highlights and features and great and it’s kind of like the sort of top down or maybe you give a certain artist or a certain creator, the ability to have like a playlist or, you know, a set of curated content. And there’s an opportunity now to like essentially bring together creators to like vote as communities, to find content together, vote as communities, and help bring up and rise the content they love the most. 

So, you know, you might not necessarily be like an artist minting or you might not be someone collecting but you could be in the circle of like, communities that are finding certain types of content or even genres of content, within that type of content. And helping be like you know, when people say, oh, I was person that found that artists and brought them and then they sign a record label or it’s like, now this happens on chain, like communities can vote and actually like do it on chain and these are really like, you know, these kind of pointable, these data points that are accruing. And then beyond like, you know, once you’re kind of curated maybe that helps with distribution getting into more interfaces as well, then that content is like you know, even more upstream, it’s being engaged with right, so like a good example of something like on Twitch where like you’re reacting in the streams with emotes and getting your questions answered or on Tik Tok, were acting with hearts, live on Instagram like hearts, live during streams and right and this is like, how do you do that kind of on chain, is like You can think of like, basically value backed emotes right, like, not like a basically a level above ownership. And a level above like you created to help this artist get to that point essentially or elevate that artist. But now it’s like, you know, you’re someone that found it and you love it and you’re doing some foreign engagement, maybe you’re buying like the emote packs and you’re spending it towards and these are like NFT based emotes, that are directly giving money to the creator as you’re enjoying the content, right? It’s kind of like a lower level of engagement before you might go into like you’re looking for other, helping other artists or even going into like ownership of the content of that artist, right?

 So, like we kind of look at it, I kind of look at it from that way as we build it out. But in reality, it’s going to start coming the other way for users, users will come in, they’ll be in addition to a distribution Focus app, they’ll engage with some content, maybe they’ll get to the point where the helping curate some of the content, right? Maybe they end up buying some of the content they love, right and like, so there’s, that’s kind of, you know, the different kind of layers and ways that you like, kind of unbundle the existing creative economy and say, all right, how does this sort of work in web three, what are these layers that we need to see here that we need to build for? And people were building for these, these layers, right? And across all different verticals content, you might even be able to say, it’s like, one of the questions is, are these layers kind of content specific or are they cross content? And I think it’s a question almost for, you know, each little sort of cross section of like, you know, whether it’s creation within music or creation in videos, you know, or is it you know, music first, and then you create there, or, you know, it’s like, you can kind of look at it from any different direction when you’re thinking in those kinds of different boxes. And that’s where the content, like that’s kind of really diving into the content lifecycle pretty specifically, right? And then you also kind of have it’s like, right, in this world of like, your collectors are valuing your content. And that’s how you’re basically building your community, like your community is now like, just your token holders, right? And so now, there’s needs to be new infrastructure for how do you coordinate your community, that’s now on chain holding, and owning tokens, right. And obviously, one of those really key things that happens, the second you own something is you wanna be able to communicate. 

And so, messaging is a key part of that. Right, like, and so we look at things it’s like, on chain messaging, like, natively is very important, like decentralized messaging infrastructure, right? How do you get, how do you talk to someone directly from wallet to wallet, maybe you’re filtering your wallet based off token ownership, I don’t want people to just message me because I have my wallet. I want people to message me because maybe they have certain assets, right? Or they’re within the same communities that I’m in. That’s a key, that’s a big layer, right? And then also, as you move from there, it’s like, as a community, how does committee get more involved in the creator, in the content lifecycle, it’s, you know, around governance, it’s around, like voting on things, trying to build a treasury building, like you know, like a chest of treasury that can go and be active and basically work together to help proliferate the content and the artists, right, that’s where you’re going in, and you’re kind of crossing over the content lifecycle, and you’re helping with distribution and creation and engagement and, you know, working together along those things, also, there could be people that are, you know, like, helpful, like directly skilled in things that that creator needs, and they’re direct, and they’re already in their community, instead of going out and saying, hey, how do I find a marker? How do I find you know, some of the mash of the song or someone that edits, you know, videos? Like, you can now create this opportunity for like earning, right? 

So, like thinking about concepts like, alright, like, sure people are selling NFT today, but over time, as you want to give more people the ability that are adding value to community, to have ownership in your, you know, your career and your journey as an artist. Now, maybe you say, oh, like if you do these certain sets of things, like you can earn this NFT, Like, Blockchain Brett over here is spending all this money on it. If you do these, like, you can just earn it, right, right? It’s your way. And yeah, and then like, that’s really where it gets interesting. And like all the different levels of earning and kind of how do you scale that, those earning opportunities, right. And yeah, and the size of the community is really where you get to like the social token. So, we went from messaging governance and treasury, to earning, now to social tokens, where it’s like social tokens is a scam is like a community scaling opportunity. Basically, the way I kind of think about it is like, you start, like, you want your content to be valid. So, you start releasing content. And then more and more people, the demand, the value your content grows. So, you start to essentially release more content, or maybe more editions of that content. And at a certain point, you imagine it gets to the level where it’s like, there is more people that love my content, than I’m willing to essentially dilute the value of my content, like, I don’t want to have as many editions as many pieces of content out because, like, it feels like it’s too much for this piece of art, right? And I want to keep it to this level, right? At that point, it’s like, okay, you can basically create, like a wide exposure, and also, when you’re buying NFTs, it’s specific pieces of content, usually, right? 

So, like, how do you go and say, alright, I’ll give this kind of like, wide exposure, sort of asset, that is the lowest price denomination entrance, and can be earned more quickly, right? than the NFTs, right? And that’s kind of like, the social token layer, makes no sense. And we haven’t really seen much of this yet in scale, we’ve seen some experiments. And it makes sense, because creators are still kind of developing, it’s almost like the, you know, you get to, like audience market fit, essentially. And then you say, okay, like, now I’m ready to release this social token, it’s similar to how you have like, a uniswap with a product and your product market fit, and then saying, alright, like, here’s the uniswap token, we’re going to expand it and create incentive mechanisms and take X scale to the next level, right? So, it’s kind of like that progressive decentralization for creators, is kind of like where the social token comes in. So yeah, we’ve just dove into the whole content lifecycle, the whole community coordination aspect, and these things are constantly crossing over, right? Social tokens can be a form of engagement around content, earning could be earning like the minting NFT directly or like, or like your community, directly around governance can be involved in the creation aspect. So, like, there’s a lot of like, middling between these two constantly, right? And like, and like your community participating, and supporting the content lifecycle that your content, and they want to proliferate that content for the creator, right? And then basically, all this stuff is happening on chain, right? All these data we’re building, all the things we’re building all this, these powerful relationships, you did you curate that artist, you help them get the distribution that they deserved, right? Do you own their work since the beginning? Did you engage with content early on that, you know, like, that you love and it means something to us like all these, it’s like, there’s nothing even close to this, these levels of relationships and the depth of relationship via ownership. In the current web two social paradigm, we have likes and follows, right, and subs and like, it’s, there’s a huge disconnect, this is bridging that like, the ability to be involved, be part of the artists journey, have cultural equity, have, you know, real on chain like data to point to that you were there and what you did and how you’re part of it. Right? 

And so that all the community coordination aspects around, what did you vote on? What did you earn? You know, and then in around the content lifecycle, around what do you own? What have you, you know, curated? What have you engaged with? All that just becomes this really valuable data and all these collectors also have relationships with each other, who’s done what, the same stuff? or what have you done differently? And become this, like all this database that say, alright, how do we show that and like, show these relationships and show all the stuff that’s going on that’s so valuable? And that’s the web through social area, that’s where it all kind of comes together? And where there’s so much innovation to be had around, like, what is the most like, what is the best way to show relationships on chain? Right, like who are your mutual? It’s crazy. Like, if you look at the market today so far, like there’s like who are your mutual collectors, and what do you collect together? Right, and I think a lot of these things is like ownership becomes the centerpiece here, is like, how do you find other artists, right? Instead of us doing these different AI models and stuff like, it could be like, who are their most your highest mutual collectors? Like me, and Cooper Trooper are good friends, but I bet you on chain, we’re even better friends, like we’ve collected a lot of similar artists. We love a lot of similar artists, who are the artists that he’s collected in a large amount that I haven’t collected? Right, I’d love to know that, right? Like, that’s how I want to discover, that’s why we want to do ownership based like social, right? Yeah. 

And that’s where the opportunities really come here to say, like, people, a lot of people say the narrative has become a lot of like, what’s the utility? You need to have utility. It’s like, there’s so much utility here, is just not easy to see it yet. Because all the relationships that are going on, all the emotional connections that are being had, are not, we just need to display them, we need to show them better. We need to make people realize what’s happening and how and like, show what they’re feeling. Right. And so yeah, I’m really excited about web three social, and I think that’s where a lot of it comes together. And that’s kind of really like, you know, I know, we probably could have started by saying, you know, here’s these different categories and topics, and let’s dive into each one. But we kind of went into detail on each one, the whole way, through all of it. And yeah, I think like, you know, look, this framework, this kind of way of thinking like, it’s still early, like, you know, this is, there’s been a lot of thoughts, they kind of like develop this and help think about, and I think, you know, I’ve been saying it, and it’s been really helpful for founders, and I hope that like people can see this and say, oh, like, that makes sense. And like, this is what’s missing? And these are the pieces that need to be built. And, oh, as an artist, I should be, I should be pushing in these directions, like, yeah, well, who are the apps doing that? Like, I want my content to be going upstream like that, and using these things, and there’s so many cool apps that you have, like, if you look at the kind of just the music landscape you have, in all those categories, you have stuff like, in the cocreation, you have things like arpeggio, or like you have samples that anyone can find in common remix, right, in the minting later, you have stuff like sound, Zora, catalog, where people are going and minting music and having people come and value them and buy them, right. And the distribution layer, you have stuff like spin app, you have things like future tape, where the music has been distributed to take it to the listening experience, specifically, around the creation stuff, you have things like heads, right heads is making, is creating a community around a group that votes around content anonymized every so often, in the top, you know, the top voted on, artists essentially get accepted into these different sorts of curated platforms. Or you could look at it as the final 10 artists to get accepted as like a playlist of like, what the community chose, right? It’s centralized playlists. You know, you go on the side of it, when you go to community coordination, you see, like, around music, like how are these committees coming together talking to each other? You have things like Song camp, where it’s like a leading, like a music NFT community, right, you have things like Daniel Allen Telegram, and you have his, you know, we haven’t even really gotten into, like, how you’re gonna make your community earn? How you’re going to, you know, like, what’s the best way to do social token long term for the whole artists, right, and, you know, governance and treasury and these things, like it’s still early in these different layers. And not that many stuff has been built out, centralized messaging, we had, we see things like, you know, SMTP, and stuff like relay being built on top of it, where you have, you know, like wallet-to-wallet messaging that can be built directly into apps. 

So, like, that’s the point is like apps are coming, builders coming, shippers are coming and they’re building out, like this kind of ecosystem things. And artists are also are paving the way in these areas really, like you’re saying, like, you have, basically historical artists like Oshi that are the first to be on catalog, the first to be on sound, the first like pushing in the direction and being these things. So, it’s like, for ours, it’s like, I hope it helps to say, all right, like what are the different areas that I should be expanding on and pushing like content towards? And because these because it’s so early, that they’re not even built yet, you need to kind of know what to look for, for builders, shippers, it’s like, you know, what, like, what are the things that need to be built? There’s a lot of stuff today, you might look and you know, when music NFT platforms are doing well, it’s easy to come, for new people coming to space to say, oh, I want to build the music NFT platform, right. And it’s like, there’s other things that need to be built, that in this world of composability can be layered on top, you can be partners and work with and be close partners with these platforms that exists today, which wasn’t, isn’t really a possibility before we have to, everyone’s just has to be competing, you can build the next layer of infrastructure for music, or you can go to the next vertical of content that doesn’t exist, right. And you can start building and tying and looping an infrastructure that exists to that side of it, right. 

So, you know, it’s like, what do we build? What do artists go? How should collectors think about division of space and opportunity that we have here? And what how big this can really be and what it means to be like participating in this at this point? Is also a big part of it, right? So, it’s kind of like hopefully, it’s like, kind of a bit of inspiration and some clear thinking around like, what is this kind of look like, right, in a few years plus, right? And what are we kind of building towards? And yeah, and I think this is like a really exciting future where like, it’s just so much better like it’s so much better for the artists, the creators and for the audiences, right? Like for the artists and creators, it’s like all those benefits we talked about, having control, monetizing directly to your content, having creative freedom. Being able to take your community anywhere you need, you want to go. Yeah, like this is the world that is like 100 times better for artists than it is what exists today, right? And that’s why it makes a lot of sense for artists, market store early and a lot of these places, but it makes sense for artists to come and to be the next generation and just to be a part of it and be building with it, right? And at the same time, on the audience side, it’s like, this has been the best experience ever yet for audiences. Like, I mean, if you just take my example, personally, it’s a pretty extreme one. But like, I was collecting, for instance, Daniel Allen, Matthew Chain on catalog, in the early days, you know, eventually, like at this point, like, I can sit down and one of my closest friends, I bought his NFTs before I even met, right, like, this is like, this is a world, we live in where like the ability to grow and create relationships with people online first, are just being taken to the next level, right? Like 10 times, you can’t worry, how can you do that? What are you going to do? If you like a certain artist and you want them to see you, follow them, you’re gonna like their photo, you’re gonna comment, you’re gonna DM and hope they answer you. There’s no other way to really do it, right. 

So, like, this is like, it’s just so much better. And then, in addition, when you look at this kind of like business model that flips the distribution aspect, right, it says, hey, like, you want the constantly more wide stream, and you want it to be more distributed. And so, people can find it and come down to the content. Think about that from the artists perspective, it’s like a relief, I don’t have to think about it, chase everything all the way up, like, I have my place where monetizes and like, I’m just trying to grow that top of the funnel as much as possible. So that basically, I can monetize down towards the content, or at the end towards the content, right? Like directly at the content level. And then for the collector, the consumer side, content is even more free to consume, like everything is now distributed freely, right? Like, I can go and listen to anything I want for free, right? And then I can and then because the concept is, is that you now when you love something, you have the opportunity to engage and value it, you have the opportunity to curate things and help artists and own content value directly. And what that does, at the same time is unlocks the value of what it can be, right? Like if you zoom out and say alright, what is the size of the art market? Traditional art market versus the size of the music industry? Right, traditional art market is $80 billion a year. Music Industry is around 40, right? It’s half the size, which is like insane to think about because like, music is massive, like great. We have Spotify built on it; we have tick tock built on top of it. We have music festivals weekly, all around the world, hundreds of 1000s of people. We have so many musicians uploading music constantly. It’s crazy, right? 

So like, how does that make sense, that it’s great. And it’s kind of interesting, because our traditional art, like physical art is kind of the only type of content that already has this business model where you value art and you’re a collector of art directly, right? So, it’s kind of like, it’s really using that and taking that model. And what happens is the size of this industry can become unlocked, the value of each piece of content is more than 10 bucks a month per user, it’s people buying songs for thousands of dollars from one person. Now instead of one person spending $10 per month on all the content consumed, they might end up spending thousands of dollars just on one song that they like, right? Or one piece of art, right? So, this is like the unlock of the value potential basically brings the size of like, this is similar business model of gaining in game items. When you buy items in a game, right, fortnight skins or whatever. That’s how they’re making all this money is, they’re having people like value items directly in the game and buy them, like that’s how they make them. It’s like basically bringing that like valuing content, valuing online things directly to creators and giving it the exponential size, how gaming has grown, right? It’s like a huge unlock, right? This this business model. So, I think like, what we have here is just like a greenfield like, we’re just not green, I mean that there’s people that are building a space, and it’s more developed than most people think it is, right. But it’s early, and there’s a lot to build. It was a lot of artists to come, there’s, you know, more builders to come. There’s a lot of collectors to come, right. And these behaviors we have that seem kind of crazy. Collecting music is going to be very normal. It’s going to be very common, and it’s not about hey, how do we say, oh, yeah, music NFT is like, that’s just the first iteration but has a scale. It’s like you’re looking at something the reason why you’re excited about it, is because of what’s there and you’re saying how do we like, actually do something different to take the next level. It’s like, let’s focus on what’s working and expand on that, right? We have like, what this space is doing is amazing. And it’s just going to continue to grow and how do we make that better. Thank God spin app is coming and building out the musical NFTs. We need music NFTs to be listened to more, we need music NFT to be content. Thank you heads, we need engagement layers, there’s not really much engagement layers yet. There’s really not, there’s really not right. We need like all these things to like, kind of rebuild on this new foundation. It’s very new system and a lot of ways, right. So, it’s a really exciting future, we’re still like, really early in it. Like, I would say, like, where are we at right now, right? It’s like, we’ve, like kind of what journey have you been on, right? Like, I mentioned that I was collecting crypto in 2018. That’s kind of like, we’re like the first piece of content really started, is around art. And I was mentioning that like, the business model is already like that, for physical art. People in the beginning of crypto art, were asking questions like, can digital art be valuable, right? Right click Save As, like if anyone was valuable on it, right? We’ve gotten over that hump big time. The Crypto industry is like pretty big. It’s like a, you know, billion dollar or whatever industry at this point of market cap, right? You have people selling things for close to $100 million, right? 

So, like, the thing is there is, it kind of makes sense that came first, because you already have the physical are parallel, even with the physical are parallel people were questioning it, right? Now, you have it, we’re, like people were wrong and question it like, digital art can be valuable, NFTs make it ownable, doesn’t matter who everyone can see, it actually makes it more valuable. That’s why you have people like x copy going CCO and making it completely available for anyone to remix or whatever. Because at the end of the day, he wants to sell NFTs, right. And then what’s interesting is like the music thing, how it’s come culturally from like art in the in the kind of like collaborations that were there. But then there’s kind of this like, independent artist, independent musician, movement that started like kind of in this counterculture sub niche area, and built out into what it is now, which is still a counterculture, right. Is like the, I think the first time that we’ve had this business model of valuing content directly, applied to a type of content that wasn’t like that before, right? Music is valued via what we talked about before, like the subscription, advertising models, royalties, right. Same thing with videos, same thing with film, same thing with whatever, articles medium, all these things are like, that’s the model, right? Netflix subscription, right? Like, these are the same models for all these types of content. It’s like, whoa, this like, this makes so much sense for all types of content, why can’t music be valuable? Why can’t people value it directly? It’s the same question that people were saying like, digital art can be value is not physical. It’s like, well art it’s digital music is digital to music can be valuable, right? And people love music. We’re already starting to see it, right? Why everyone can listen to, why is it valuable to own the same thing. More people listen to it, the more valuable it actually is. There’re just only certain people that own it, right? Like, and these same principles, the same foundations are beginning to go into other areas. We have things like glass XYZ, billing video NFT. Having a market that really started, it’s still small, it’s smaller than Music NFTTs but it’s growing, right? You have things like mirror and paragraph doing article NFTs, you have people like you like that, right, doing podcasts NFTs, very niche, there’s not a podcast NFT platform yet, right. But like this, all these things, film, TV has started, there’s things like that are doing, there’s some interesting, it gets a little interesting in different types of content that are like, heavier lift, basically, like you need the money before you start kind of thing. Right, then the model becomes, and also live content is a little different today, because it’s like music, art, podcasts, etc. You’re putting it out finished, and people are listening to it when it’s edited, etc. Right. And it’s virtually the cost is virtually low. It’s a low cost to create these things, right? And that’s where it’s like, when you start to get into things like live streaming, you know, how do you, how is it natively on chain, right? So, there’s a lot of cool, there’s cool ways to do it, right? Like in mechanisms that I think we just need to figure out, same thing with film, right? Where it’s like, it’s not released yet, it takes film is even more extreme, or it takes a lot of work up beforehand before you can like earn money and costs, right? So those are like, some question marks. I mean, I have some pretty good thoughts answers around those as well. But yeah, I think like, that’s where we’re at. It’s like we’re music. It’s gonna work for all types of content and better business model for all types of content. And there’s a whole new ecosystem of things been built upstream, there’s a whole ecosystem, things be built to coordinate communities that are now on chain. And there’s gonna be a whole new layer of how people show off the relationships, showing from on chain data. That’s the cryptocurrency economy.

Are We Building a New Creator Economy Centered Around Collecting or Consuming?

So, I love the conversation about on chain data, because I think a lot of creators can tap into more of that data they do own and capture more of the value that create, capturing value extends beyond just like making a couple Eth, it’s also understanding who your collectors are, and understanding that data and being better equipped to make better decisions and be more strategic with how you do things, right? For your community. And I love your example of like a creator kind of like understanding, like, what are the overlaps between his community and other communities, and what they could sort of do together to cross collaborate into create further distribution? Whether it be for an existing drop that’s in the process of minting, preparing for a future drop, or whatever it may be, even creating content together, you know, like, one thing that I noticed is that a lot of my pin collectors, they’re also native to Zora. And for the longest time, I never really created content with Zora, and then I’ve been creating more content alongside to, like, Zora’s, executives, and those episodes outperformed other episodes. Right, and just understanding sort of, like what my collectors like, and being able to sort of take action on that has been super rewarding, you know, with this entire monologue that you gave, which I love it, it’s very, it’s very powerful. I can’t help but think, are we building a new creator economy centered around collecting or consuming?

Blockchain Brett: Both, I mean consuming and then collecting, freely consuming valuable to own, right? Like, that’s, I think, what we need to see and what’s starting to happen, like, I think, in addition to like, how, you know, I was saying, like, it’s opening up the new types of content, music is essentially a gateway, right? Music is also made clear about what these other layers are, and what we need to bring on chain, right. So now, when you look at music, you say, oh, like, how is it created? Like, how is it produced? How is it created? How is it distributed? How is it you know, curated, engaged with all those layers? Right, and now, like, we know, okay, it needs to be distributed, like these things are naturally happening, like the content is the centerfold, the creator in the content is centerfold. And then now that they’re making content that can be valued, it’s becoming how do you distribute it? The other side of it is for consumers as you’re making it easier to consume, and a better experience to consume. But also coming down the funnel to collect, I mean, I think it’s like, there’s a world where, like, people can consume everything for free and never collect anything. In this, like, there could basically be those people that they could do that. And they have a pretty like, low relationship life online. Like, you know, you want to like, it’s basically it’ll become the only way and the best way, and the only way to like, show meaning and have relationships and like that, like online, and yeah, everyone’s gonna want to do it, everyone’s going to need to do it, really. So, like, it’s kinda like, you can go listen to an artist that you’re interested in listening to, for the first time, for free, and you can always do for free, but like, you’ll always just be someone that’s just listening to it, no one knows about, or that isn’t a part of it until you like do some sort of form of engagement, or maybe you are part of the creation process, or you actually have ownership in the content. And that’s when it becomes real. But yeah, so for the consumer, it’s like, it’s a better experience, because like, you don’t have to pay, yeah, paying $10 a month. But also, you get the opportunity to honestly to spend even more and have even more meaning.

You know, I think Brett like if we looked at how platforms today work for creators, like Tik Tok like liking something on Tik Tok, and that going to your like folder, right, is very analogous to collecting something in that hitting your wallet. But the thing, the beauty behind that is like it’s not gated. So, if a creator continues to build beyond Tik Tok across Instagram, or sub stack, medium, whatever it may be, right, like you can see that entire activity and who your community is, across all these platforms, right? A lot of it, yeah, I think a lot of creators have yet to have sort of like that aha moment and realizing that, but you want to say something to that?

Blockchain Brett: Yeah, brings up a big point too. It’s like and this is definitely worth mentioning is like this also fundamentally changed the concept of exclusive content, right? Like, a lot of the reason why exclusive content has been created is because creators aren’t monetizing like how they want to. So, they have to put up gated walls and charge people and get them to see certain things. I don’t think creators really want to do exclusive content, like, it’s like extra work, right? Like, it’s like, oh, like a lot of people are already, if you’re already posting on Instagram or something, and like, you’re like, alright, how do I make money, it’s like, okay, you gotta like, come up with some behind the scenes content, it’s like, you got to add another layer, you got to work from that angle in order to have this and it’s like a lot of work. And it’s like, you’re already doing things that are distracting a bunch of eyes, people love what you’re doing, now to do another level of things just to get people to pay. And in reality, like that content that you’re putting behind the paywall could be amazing content to put out, that would make it even more popular more people appreciate your grow your audience, right. So, it’s like, this whole thing of exclusive content is kinda like, it’s a solution. But it like almost works against the creator in a lot of ways. And like, and like in this world, where like, you have, as the settlement layer, this value capture, like, at the content, the distribution becomes more free, becomes more open, like we were saying, right, and like, so now in this world, it’s like, what’s the point of exclusive content? Like why? Do we even need exclusive content anymore? Like, now it’s like, right, I mean, I think it can be preferences of the artists, preference of the creator, preferences the audience, maybe they’re like, they just love the idea of there being something special. And like, that’s only some people get to and like, you know, maybe there’s it’s tiered or something and like, they there’s something that’s like, that’s part of the relationship, that connection there. And if you want that, great, but you don’t, you shouldn’t be forced into that, right. And like, you should be able to do your thing, how you want to do it, and like, people come down your funnel and value your work, and you get what you deserve for that directly, with no cap on your own terms. Right. And yeah, so I think a lot of the stuff around, like, what we look at exclusive content today. And like if you’re like, oh, does it make sense, even in a lot of examples that we see today in the NFT space, where it’s like, oh, like, I’m gonna add value, like by adding some gated content, or, like, you know, you have to buy NFT in order to see it, right. Things like that are almost counterintuitive to like the business model of like, what we’re doing here, and NFTs and I think over time, things are just going to move towards like, caring much less about distribution rights and copyrights and caring, much less about, you know, like, added little layers of utility, like to gate things, things like that, it’s just gonna be like, just do your best work, put it out there and get what you deserve, you know, and get and grow your community and, and do your thing. 

And, like, it’s a beautiful thing, right? Because when you think about it, a lot like what this can eat, like, this type of content we haven’t even talked about, right is like, some of the most popular type of content is like, lifestyle content, right? On social media, posting photos of your life, right. And like, that is probably one of the later markets, that is probably one of the later markets that we’ll see like, people starting to buy, but it’ll get there. Like, it’ll get there. Right. And in that world, where like the way people make money is brand partnerships, right? Like your content gets like almost worse and less engaged with because of your brand partnerships, right, like influencers don’t like wanting to really post like do inorganic promotions and stuff like that and like those end up getting the worst engagement like by like half them out, usually right. And it’s not like what they love, what they do like, so it’s kind of like in this world of like your content is being valued directly. Like you get to just make the stuff that you want to make and that gets valued, you get paid, you don’t have like now all of a sudden brands and advertising and things like that, the whole dynamic changes where like you get to just make your best favorite things that, do the best that, grow your community the best and get the value back for that and it’s gonna slot those brands and advertisers cetera, in a different lane to be able to have to figure out.

I think at this point, I would put the ad slot, the sponsor ad.

Blockchain Brett: Well, I mean, look, I mean, think about, I was having this conversation with you before, I was like I was like Adam wanting to go for on-chain with your podcast, right? Like, I think like in reality like that one podcast we did generate like three grand, right? And you do what? Three Podcasts?

Yeah, yeah, it generated like close to one grand. Yeah, if it was like bull market vibes, then the Eth would be worth three.

Blockchain Brett: It was one Eth. And then Eth was at what? 20, 503 grand at that time.

It was like, no, it was like 13, 14. No, like 1000 even, something like that. It wasn’t even a full, it wasn’t a full Eth, it was like point 75 or something.

Blockchain Brett: No, it was like point 99. 

I could be mistaken. I gotta double check.

Blockchain Brett: I remember, anything like point 99. It was like an Eth was still above 2k for sure. Like even 1000 but like it was pretty quick.

Yeah, it was pretty quick. Whatever it was worth, yeah, despite whatever it’s worth, the point is.

Blockchain Brett: Yeah, it was real, right? Like, let’s say it was 2500, right? So, like that times 25 podcast is probably more than brandings, I don’t know, exposure podcast, financials on the podcast, but like the point is like, all of a sudden, like the leverage of the brands, the reason like we have to create a content, like it changes when you can just like have people love what you’re doing and buy directly and appreciate it. And then it’s like, and then like, yeah, it just like, puts the ball back in your court. Sure, you can still do advertising and stuff, you can still do all those things. And it’s the same way that like, when I’m when, you create music, it’s easy. So put your music on Spotify, like the point, it’s actually more open, it’s super copacetic. Like I can use all these things that are already out there. The thing is, is just like your, people will realize over time, it’s like the web three native tools that are that are building the lifecycle around NFTs, are just the better options and monetize better and grow your audience and show your content better. Like it’s kind of a crazy stat. Like I bet if you went and did some analytics, you know, maybe you could do it on Bello is like, what is the correspondence between the success on like web two distribution platforms of that content in comparison to the web three, right? You posting your things, like, yeah, I mean, the best example, obviously, is when you look at music NFTs and you see like, how many streams did Daniel Allen get, right? Not many. Like, it’s crazy, right? But the music is amazing and people love it. And it’s the most popular highest selling music in web three, right? Like, I think like, yeah, if you were to compare the numbers, it’s something drastic, like, almost like a million bucks NFTs versus like 10 grand or something like that. It’s something insane, right? So, like, it’s just like for him, like when that business model sorts of work and creators come up in that, what are you going to focus on? You’re going to focus on growing distribution Spotify, you’re gonna focus on growing your distribution on spin app, right? Because that’s elevating your NFT, there’s a buy button, on spin app there’s no buy button on Spotify that integrates directly, right. 

So, like, so it’s like, the correspondence is, like, already kind of low. And it’s, like, only lower as it goes, like upstream, basically. So yeah, I think like, it’d be interesting to see the actual date. I mean, like, you know, I see it every day in like, different examples, but like, you know, Twitter like, your Instagram followers or Twitter followers because your Twitter is all crypto versus your you know, your web three, which is your, you know, your content distribution on Spotify, and on YouTube video NFTs and comparison or your digital art on Instagram versus your digital crypto art sales like, yeah, like, you’re like these, like people’s is definitely focusing less on Instagram now, right? I gotta imagine. So, I think like that this is, it’s kind of, it’s creating, like new rails, new pipeline, new things to focus on. And like a lot, I think a lot of that the big thing here too, is like, people try to bridge our most popular examples and how they fit in here. Like you might say, like, well, what about a famous musician or a famous, like, you know, how does something like that come into it? 

Whatever if.

Blockchain Brett: Yeah, yeah, it’s not really one to one, right. Like, in a lot of ways this is a foundation for the next generation of creators, right? It’s really for the new people, the underdogs people just starting, right? And that’s where the counterculture comes. I mean, if you look at like music NFTs and crypto art, right, I wasn’t an aesthetic, traditional art collector or anything. Like I didn’t really know traditional art before I started collecting crypto art. So, like, it’s hard for me to compare but I’ve been listening to music forever. I know, you know, a lot of musicians, since I was a kid, I love music, right? And you know, I was on Spotify all the time, right? I think like, when you look at the difference of the culture of the sounds like the art itself and the content itself, it’s different. It’s a counterculture within, it’s a counterculture already because it’s like the underdog in the new system. It’s the new business model, the next generation of artists to independence, right? But the sounds, the content that’s coming out is also new, different, cooler. The counterculture, right? Like it’s like listen to like Daniel Allen with Rio gorgeous, right listen to like, Rio just drop the frameworks and with Daniel did with glass house, like listen to Latasha out there, like, listen to like bloody white like, the sounds, it’s like there’s nothing, you can’t go and say, oh, this is that person over here like, it’s completely new sounds, it’s completely new genres, like the content because it’s like it’s such a new generation and the creative freedom, it’s because of like the tool the way it works, you don’t have to enter the existing system and be influenced by whatever agency, the full creative control, it’s the full control over your content, it’s the ownership, it’s the upstream, like that kind of not worrying about the upstream distribution and letting it come to you and you have it, it is changing the culture of the content we create and making people be more freely. Some of my favorite tweets are things that are like, I would never have created put that to me that song out. And it’s my favorite song, I love it and like I don’t think I ever would have got to that point that make that song or do that if I didn’t, if I wasn’t focusing on music NFTs, right? It’s just like, it’s like it’s enabling an even better culture and environment to create it, which is like making the sounds and the content even better.

How to Continue Creating Throughout the Bear Market

Step out from the creators, like the consumers, us, like I find myself often digging through my friend’s wallets, trying to find music that they collected and listen to that, like I’ve discovered bloody white through, spin it away wallet, right? So, I just kind of like going through what he was collecting, because I like his taste and listened some of that stuff and be like, wow, this is a really great song. And then guess what I did right afterwards, I went and collected it, you know. And it’s sort of like, it’s changed the entire behavior of consumption. It’s changed the entire behavior of creation and I think you nailed it. And I wrote this down, new sounds, new genres, new platforms, like that’s web three. And web three is another great quote, like web three is built for the next generation of creators. Like I love that. I think it’s a great way to sort of sum up this entire conversation. And to sort of add the cherry on top of this brand-new article that you put together. Brett, before I let you go, I want to be very cognizant of like the time that we’re in, in crypto today. It’s like beyond the bear market, people are getting slashed left and right. Very unfortunately, people are losing a lot of money, trusting all these different applications, funds, platforms exchanges, how can creators keep their heads up and continue creating, especially when they’re seeing all these external events kind of like triggering their new environment?

Blockchain Brett: Yeah, I mean, it’s more correlated now, than right now than it will ever be again going forward, it just gets less and less correlated, like the prices of, you know, whatever, FTT and soul and, you know, the collateral damage to other tokens and all this, like, you know, even the, you know, the effect that has on people’s liquidity to buy NFTs, like it’s more tied together now than ever. It all came from one place. In 2017, there’s only ICOs, right, like, we’re expanding into more and more categories, it becomes more and more separate over time. But I mean, I love to see is like, I mean, go like, it’s crazy, like if you’re on sound, right now, if you’re on glass right now. It looks like all-time highs. Like it is, it’s unaffected. Like, I mean, Daniel Allen’s floor just got sweat like 13 sounds like a bloodbath, right? Like or the other day, right? Like you have like, real Craig and does last minute, one hour notice drop, sells out in less than a minute, right? Like things that are doing well, content that’s doing well, communities that are growing around these creators in his content. Like, they don’t care about anything else, like people just want. I mean, you could probably price USTC and just get people to hold UCC and they’ll just, like it doesn’t need to be Eth, right? Like, it could just be like this is like, its own, like content is his own vertical the assets. Obviously, things are cross correlated and affected like, no doubt like but it’s crazy that when you come in, you see the culture that’s going around what’s cultivating and like, where things are at, like, there’s more jobs than ever on sound, more jobs than ever on music NFTs right now, there’s more jobs than ever in video NFTs, articles, all types of content, they’re selling better than ever, the floor prices are higher than ever. It’s like if you only looked at that and didn’t look anywhere else, you wouldn’t even know we’re in a bear market. Right.

It’s very, very simply put, like, just share a quick graph like this is taken from the sound collectors group chat, and telegram. And David just posted this right, like October 24, 34 drops October, the week of October, the week of October 24, 34 drops the week of October 31, 42 drops the week of November 7, 46 drops.

Blockchain Brett: We can remember 7th, worst weeks of crypto, like one of the worst weeks of crypto ever, all time high, music NFTs was minted on sound and sold.

And sold. Yeah. Like wild.

Blockchain Brett: It’s wild. Yeah. Right. And it’s like.

Building, just keep creating, just keep swimming.

Blockchain Brett: It’s growing, it’s growing. It’s growing, trust what we, trust what we’re building, expand on it, you know, like, what’s going on, what’s being built now isn’t wrong. It’s great. It’s right. It’s like, it’s not, don’t come and say, huh, what can I say is wrong about what exists in NFTs and then like, go and fix it and raise the money and come and look at what’s right. Love it, appreciate it, and look what it needs. Build for the next layer, build for the next piece of content, build for the next layer on top of NFT, everything’s gonna work, everything can work together, like more interoperate be composable more than ever, right? So yeah, I mean, it’s a really, really bright future. Like I think when you fast forward, all the way out, like, who knows how long this takes, I think quicker than most people would predict. Because I’ll tell you why I think that, crypto art went from $0 to like, a billion dollars, like three years in market cap, right? No one expect that. And that period of time when it was like at zero bucks, and it was there was no volume and it was like just super rare, right? Like, there was no concept of NFTs really, even people weren’t even buying it now. Like, it’s like a snowball effect, I think it’s it starts to happen quicker and quicker and quicker, as you expand from one piece of content to the next. Right. So, like now we’re at music, right? Or we’re at multiple times, but like you look at where we’re at, with music, we went from like, you know, a million to like 20 like pretty quickly, less than a year, something like that, right? So, like, and that, that 0to 20 or that 1 to 20 in crypto art took two years, two and a half years, right? 

So, like it just like it snowballs, it gets better, it happens quicker, people get more comfortable. The perception of the biggest questions, some of the biggest questions I’ve already been answered. But can digital things be valuable? Can things that are seen by everyone, the only owned by a few be valuable to those few, right? Like these questions, these psycho psychological barriers have been broken. And like it’s just a snowball effect to other types of content and it’s gonna. So yeah, basically the fast forward all the way out, like you look at like a disruption to all verticals of content and applications on those contents that we see so far. All the way from, like, whatever the sum of art, right? To the Spotify for music, to the YouTube videos, to the Netflix for TV and film to like, everything is all that is up for grabs, like in this new like foundationally NFT based business model, new layers of apps, all the way up to the web three social, Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok, like, kind of the NFT based. So, I think look like how long it’s gonna take, it’s gonna take some time, obviously, but like, I think it’ll happen quicker than we feel like it’s gonna happen. It’s gonna go quick, like, I don’t know, by the time music and NFTs is of the size of where crypto art is now. You know, things come in cycles a little bit as well, crypto, I mean, the correlation with speculation and stuff, but I don’t think we’re more than a couple a few years out from like, some crazy math, like some really big size music NFT market and a lot of proof of other forms of content markets also having serious sizes. I mean, like you can also say like I skipped over articles, medium, right? Near to medium, right? Like all these companies have parallels to like things we’re seeing now.

The Next Class of Creators

So, writers, digital and visual artists, musicians, what are the next class of creators, like video creators, you’d argue?

Blockchain Brett: I think videos as started, like, videos started. I think articles started writers like, in a smaller way, but I think that’ll just, I think, culturally, a lot of people in this ecosystem are trying to think ahead and share those thoughts. So, like, that’s natural, there’s a lot of video creators as well. I think podcasts, I’ve already, like are gonna come like, there’s been a few examples like, it’s a matter of time until like, that continues to compound and grow a little bit and more people are starting to do it. I think film and TV has started at a pretty decent amount, like there was some early crowd funds on mirror like some TV shows and some documentaries. That’s kind of a glimpse, I think, you know, there’s some other cool things too, that are kind of like story-based infrastructure, like community infrastructure for writers, like writer room, you know, down production for writer rooms, like thinking about how to, like, take the IP and a movie and like big NFTs around it. I don’t necessarily think that that’s like, in there, like, you know, their end state. I think that’s very early still, but like, yeah, TV and film, this is gonna, is for sure coming. I think, at some point, we’ll get to like lifestyle content, like social media lifestyle content even. Yeah, I mean, like, there’s big fans for you know, just Instagram influencer, quote, unquote, right? Like, there’s some real audiences, there’s some real fans and audiences out there that appreciate it and love what they do and their suggestions and like, whatever. So, I think it’ll get, like that might be until like, maybe one of the later categories, just like, I don’t know, I guess Instagram did just add, like, minting and stuff. So maybe we’ll get some people minting there. But yeah, I just think in reality, you need, like a bit of a healthy market on both sides, need some demand, you need people like ready, excited to buy, be a part of it. And by the way, how do you like to go from one market to the next, I think it’s smart the way some of these companies are doing it, like pricing it lower and making it easier for insurance to appreciate that it can be valuable, right? Like, you know, I mean, at this point, when it comes to like video NFTs and article NFTs, like I don’t know what the average prices of those, you know, I probably am not going to justify actually getting it. But it’s like something like $10 to $50 in that range versus music NFTs probably 200 plus, right? Like, like 100 plus, right? Like, so, it’s kinda like these new industries, like look, the demand isn’t as big yet. You need more content, content is king, you need to get more people creating content, and you need people to come appreciate the content, and start building it. Obviously, if you go faster and content, then people appreciating it, then there’s a supply and demand aspect here. You know, there’s a market. So yeah, somebody be careful about but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. Like there’s going to be some mismatches and some there’ll be more creators, or not enough creators and more collectors or not enough collectors. But it’s just the amount of content, the amount of creators and collectors over time just gonna grow, right? And it’ll just, yeah.

Outro

But I think this is the longest episode I’ve had. So, thumbs to you, my guy. This has been fantastic. Before I let you go, where can we find you? Where can we find and learn more about PTC and all the cool things you’re doing?

Blockchain Brett: I’m on Twitter, Blockchain Brett. You know, palm tree crew, crypto, PTC crypto for short. You can find us on Twitter too, palm tree crypto is the handle. Yeah, follow us there. Yeah, that’s really it, I’m certainly up there. Like, also go to our site, PTC crypto dot XYZ, has more information about the fun, companies we’ve invested in, a little bit about our thesis, this article that I released and this podcast will be on that page. And yeah, and you can get in contact with me there. I think I have my email and, you know, some other info in there.

You always know it’s a legit episode when sort of like the sun sets, right? In the middle of the episode, and it goes from light to dark and the only thing that’s keeping you up, is the lights in the office. So, I appreciate you being on the pod for so long. I’m really glad we did this round two. I can’t wait for round three. But until next time. Yeah, man, we’ll see you soon.

Blockchain Brett: Thank you so much for having me on, Adam. I love mint podcasts. My favorite.

Categories
Podcast Transcript

Using POAPs to Sell Out a Music NFT Drop

Background

Mint Season 6 episode 27 welcomes web3-native music artist Annika Rose to share how she sold out her Sound.xyz drop using a POAP-only pre-sale and how you can do the same. We also cover her transition into web3, her journey as a music artist, and so much more.

I hope you guys enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:14 – Intro
  • 08:45 – Being Picked Up By Simon Cowell
  • 13:35 – Getting Started in Crypto
  • 21:20 – Building the Confidence to Join Web3
  • 27:08 – Converting a Web2 Audience to Web3 Supporters
  • 31:49 – The Future of Annika Rose in Web3
  • 34:13 – Key Differences Between Web2 Music and Web3 Music
  • 44:19 – The Creative Process of “Bruises”
  • 49:58 – Outro



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Welcome to the podcast. What’s going on? Thank you for being on.

Annika Rose: Thank you for having me. I’m very excited to do this. It’s gotten postponed a couple times, but we made it. We’re good. And I’m very.

Intro

Non the less. Yes, we are here. Now. It’s all good. I think as a podcaster, part of my job is to be postponed on or to postpone others because scheduling is a nightmare. But indeed, we’re here. It’s all that matters, I think a great place to start. Annika, who are you? What does the world need to know about you? Then we can start there and then we can work our way forward. All right.

Annika Rose: I mean, that’s a pretty loaded question. But I am a singer, songwriter, musician. I’m 20 years old. I feel like I’ve lived about 15 lives being in the entertainment music industry. I am just recently active in the web three space as of like, eight months ago, so I’m moving through all of that uncharted territory. And yeah, that’s about it, putting out music, doing a whole new body of work and utilizing web three in the process. And yeah, that’s me. 

So that was a very like humble sort of like introduction. I would love for you to touch upon because you’re also pretty big on Tik Tok, you have a ton of listeners on Spotify and across web two. And I think also your transition into web three was very unique, which Nevada collective and I we’ve been chatting back and forth preparing for this one. But I’d love for you to talk about sort of like your entry into music, your gig with Simon Cowell, all that good stuff that happened and how you got to where you are today.

Annika Rose: Yeah, well again, loaded questions.

You can even do it in the one thing about me song, if you want to redo that to.

Annika Rose: unfortunately, I don’t have my fake karaoke mic on me or else maybe I could bless you with my God, awful rapping skills, but I think we’ll save that for another time. Yeah, so it’s just been a long ride. I’ve started a YouTube channel when I was seven, started posting covers here and there in my bathtub like one does, with my mom filming me. And I joined a band when I was 10. And that was a pretty steep transition because I went from like singing Katy Perry covers to playing like exclusively Zeppelin and Radiohead, which was definitely sick. Don’t get me wrong, it expanded my musical and listening horizons, which I’m very grateful for. But yeah, I joined that band, played shows all around LA for like two and a half years. And then that band did a cover of the pretender by the Foo Fighters and we like recreated the DVD. I was literally like, 12 years old. It’s hilarious. And we were scouted by an A&R, who was working for Sony Music in the UK at the time and she was super young. She was like my age, which I’m 20. So, she was she was about 20 at the time. And she was basically the A&R responsible for putting together like an all-girl rock band, that one of the guys from one direction was wanting to start in as like a branch of psycho music with Simon. 

And so, yeah, so the bass player in that initial band, and I were the only females in the group. And so, showcase was eventually put together through a lot of communication between this A&R and my mom, because I was obviously a child and so yeah, we coordinated the showcase. The whole team from the UK flew out to LA, we did the whole shebang. They ended up not wanting to sign the two guys for obvious reasons. So, I left that band, the bass player left that band and we scouted for a drummer and guitarist, and eventually, we were just thrown into the fire. Like, I think a lot of people are quite unfamiliar with the whole blind dating that happens in the session world, when you are like a pop musician. And so, I was completely exposed to what’s on the other side of the curtain and it was a wild ride, that I wouldn’t trade for anything but I’m so happy is over. And so yeah, for two and a half years, we just wrote and recorded probably up to like three hundreds 317 songs, didn’t really get to play shows, which was crazy because we were all musicians, you’re wanting to get out there and actually, you know, play for people. And that just wasn’t happening. 

And one morning we got a call and we were dropped and before that, there was a whole other thing that happened where my mom ended up falling in love with that A&R who put the girl band together. She also happened to be in love with my mother. My parents got divorced, my dad moved out, he moved to Africa part time and Switzerland part time. She moved in, quit the record company a few months before we were signed, moved into my apartment, helped pack up. My dad’s boxes started managing me six months after, and now I live with all of them. So that’s what happened there. And then, as if that wasn’t enough. Yeah, the ban was dropped. So, I was like, sick because I dropped out of my freshman year of high school to like, do this full time. So, all my friends were like, 35. And I was like, 13, 14, 15, like, hey, what am I going to, I don’t have anyone to like, go see a movie with, this is awkward. And I stopped talking to everyone in the girl band, like literally the day we were dropped. Because there were a few very contentious relationships or like, just yeah, the relationships were quite contentious and not healthy and I was completely ostracized once, you know, Alice and my mom were together for whatever reasons people could come up with. And so, the band was done my friendships internally with the members were done. I wasn’t in school, I was floating, I had this new woman living in my house, who was apparently now my stepmother, but only a few years older than me, and also managing me. And then I signed a production deal. And three months into that I was like, why the fuck that I signed this production deal. I don’t want to be doing this, excuse me, sorry, if I’m not allowed to curse on here. 

You’re good. 

Annika Rose: And tried to get out of that deal. Once I got out, I started writing for other artists. Because everyone was like hone in on the skill you’re so young, you should like write for other people and see if you could like develop that craft and I was like, cool. And then I did that and realize that it’s really difficult to work with artists who don’t have stories of their own to tell, that you can’t really be there to nurture because it’s you creating it for them and I just didn’t like that, it felt like it took away the release that comes with making art and so I was like, I’m not doing this anymore. And at this point, I’m like 16, that I met the head of tap records. I signed another record deal, did that, put up my first body of work when I was 17 with top, then was supposed to upstream to capital and go on tour with like Dua Lipa and do this whole thing. And then the pandemic hit, left that record company, never upstream and never went on tour was independent, started putting out music independently, and like shooting DIY music videos in my downstairs bathroom, with my manager, or step mom, manager. So, for me, and then I met the Nevada crew, like a year ago, maybe a little bit over, like maybe like 18 months now. And I signed to them. And now I just put out my first song and like, over a couple years with them doing the web three thing. And in a nutshell, that’s my life for the last 7 years, 8, 9, 10 years. Yeah, I need to like after that to soothe my vocal cords.

Girl, you need a massage

Annika Rose: And all the self-care I can get.

Being Picked Up By Simon Cowell

What a fantastic story number one, what an incredible journey, probably taught you so much, gave you so much strength, and gave you so many layers, to sort of tackle anything that comes in your way. And what a blessing to go through that so early on, right? And sort of be through this journey that you are at today. And I think that makes your story so much more unique. It makes your music that much more unique. It makes your character that much more unique. And I commend you, that’s really a crazy journey to go on. What was it like sort of being that somewhat childhood star, right? The attempt of like, going through that journey at such a young age, being picked up by Simon Cowell? Like walk me through your mindset, if you remember it at the time.

Annika Rose: I mean, it was the most exhilarating thing in the world. You like you have your everything you’ve ever like written down in your dream journal as a child manifesting right in front of you. And it’s really, it did feel like a dream for a long time. I mean, I wasn’t in school. And I was teaching myself, I was doing online school and you know, you grow up watching Simon Cowell like criticize people on the internet and on TV and then you meet him and he’s like the nicest guy ever. And you’re like, what? Like, wait, what? And so, to be a part of that sort of ecosystem so early on, it felt like it was, it couldn’t have been better. And to have the support of my parents at the time and to be doing it with like the bass player, from my previous band, who was like my best friend. It just felt, it felt so good. And it felt so exciting to be learning and developing the skill that I for so long, was doing on my own, but like in a more sort of, like real life sense and working with people who were the writers behind some of my favorite music that I was listening to, and just being exposed to that and learning, you know, how those things come to be. It was amazing. And it was so fun, rehearsals of your four teenage girls like hanging out with like, One Direction and rehearsing four days a week and like drawing with Sharpie on the wall at your rehearsal studio like and ordering pizza after like, it doesn’t really get much better than that. But it was a lot of work. Don’t get me wrong, and there were aspects of it that were quite unsettling. I’ve always feel like I’ve been pretty drawn to writing and being a writer, my mom is songwriter and my dad designed recording studios for a long time and was always playing guitar in the house. And so that influence was in my life very early on. 

And I I always felt like I had this skill, that I was just waiting to be able to, like, give the world in a sort of more substantial way. Because at that time, like, you’re 13, like, what are you going to write about, I was waiting for those real-life experiences to be able to really have something to say and stories to tell. And my goodness, when all of the family stuff started happening that, like in retrospect, I can understand just how much I needed that for my craft. And like dealing with that and having to experience such profound changes so early on, to really kickstart my motivation to write and like actually use it as like a cathartic measure to be able to tell stories and get things out and make sense, of all of the complicated internal things I was dealing with. Like, it was crucial, honestly, in my development, I think as a person and as a songwriter. And it was crazy, because like I said, it was like Disneyland every day, with a lot of hard work. And then it was like the rug was just swept from under my feet with a phone call. I lost my friendships, felt like I lost my family, felt like I lost whatever, like closeness I had to my mother because I had so many questions about her identity and who she was. And I lost the friendships and the sort of like productive structure of my days, being in the studio and having that like hyper engaged sort of relationship to music. And so, it all turned around very, very, very quickly. But when it was good, it was really good. And when it wasn’t, it really wasn’t.

Wow, one thing that’s really cool about your story, Anika, is you went through all that, didn’t publish music for what you said two years, right? And then came into crypto, came into web three, releasing all that energy, all that emotion and choosing that platform as a way to kind of like rebirth, right. 

Annika Rose: Yeah. 

Getting Started in Crypto

And I was somewhat just like scoping or Tik Tok. Just watching through your videos. And what I think you did that’s really well executed is, when you’ve been documenting your process. So, despite not releasing music, you’ve still been documenting your journey across Tik Tok and Instagram. And I caught the snippet of you actually going to NFT NYC back in June, right and showing the world that you’re doing your homework, that you’re out there. And one thing that I talked publicly about the podcast is like, before you decide to drop anything, do your homework, go attend a conference, go meet people, go shake hands, find a way how to give something. And you sort of just like you checked all those boxes off, like even your first drop. And I’d love for you to talk about it, was a free NFT drop. It wasn’t a paid drop, right? Can you can you talk about that, like talk to me. So two years fast forwarding, you come into web three, why web three, number one, how did you make your way into it? Just share with me that entire Journey.

Annika Rose: Yeah. I mean, to be completely honest with you, I was highly skeptical because I sort of conformed to like the mass adoption of this, like misconstrued narrative around crypto and NFTs and it makes sense. Like, I don’t fault myself for that, there is like a huge stigma around NFTs and all of this, like very specific implications that like the mass general public have adopted. And I didn’t do enough research on my own to actually develop my own opinion. And back it with real evidence and research. And so, when I started working with Navak, I remember so distinctly, going to a coffee shop on the west side with Alex, who’s one of the cofounders of Navak and incredible creative and producer and just person in general. And he was like, someone had brought it up to me at a lunch like, are you familiar with web three? And I was like, web what? What do you mean? What is that? She’s like, oh, like, we got to talk about this. And I was like, all right. 

And so, I called Alex and I was like, I want to meet with you, I want you to bring a laptop, I’m bringing a notebook, give it to me, like, what do I need to know? What do I need to learn? And don’t tell me what in it for me? Tell me, like, start from like, square one. I want to know, like, what crypto is, I want to know how Bitcoin is mined. I want to know, like, why the mass general public have adopted this narrative like, okay, there’s environmental implications, tell me why, tell me how, and tell me what you guys are doing to not feed that. Like, I want to know, all of the foundational aspects, give me the podcast to listen to, I was listening to guests on your podcast in the very beginning, like, tell me what I need to learn. So, I can find my place in this authentically. And he did just that and I have like, I have notebook pages in my notebook of just notes and notes and notes and notes. And, and yeah, a lot of the very early months of me, sort of like trying to circulate in the space was just, it was me doing my homework, it was me listening to podcasts and listening on spaces, and understanding what communities actually meant, what they have to offer, what it means to be involved in, what it means to create your own and having a purpose behind doing so.

And like I’m on over prepare, I’m a planner. And I really don’t like speaking on things that I don’t know about. And so, it was really important for me to gather as much information as I could. So, I just have like a baseline understanding and I could develop and grow from there. And part of that was going to NFT week in New York. And like really being there, being present in there. And starting this like big, sort of like, I would call it a community building exercise for myself. So that down the line, when I was ready to do a drop or to like identify myself as a figure in the space, that it would be, it would have a substance, it would have a purpose, it would have a meaning. And so, it all kind of did start with NFT week, NYC. I did like a few performances. It was so scary. I remember like hiring, like getting with my guitarist, he’s like, what are we doing? And I was like, I don’t know, I was like, but we’re gonna do it. And I flew out there and I just like had a slam packed schedule of just like going to different conferences, going into different rooms and meetings and talking to people and excuse me, and then playing shows and like connecting with people and showing people that like I have something potentially valuable to offer in this space. 

And so, like I played the, the FND, did a panel at Noye house with sound. And Omar, who’s the other co-founder of my label, spoke on the panel with David and I performed and I’m super close with Naomi, who like founded FND and did a couple other performances, just around the city that week, and then just talk to people. And I actually handed out like little, like scannable almost business cards, that lead people to my Discord and to claim my po op, which now you know, I can talk more about what that’s going to mean, what that means now, and the sort of things the value that it has at this moment and the value that it will continue to have in what I’m building. But that was sort of where it started, was just getting off these POAPs and I didn’t really, really understand what that was doing at that time. But I’ve learned so much since then. 

And then, you know, I did my first drop on October 7 with sound, which was my first like audio NFT drop. And that was really fun because we made it, we made the presale only accessible to those POAP holders as like a reward. And it was like, okay, let’s see what communities here let’s see what I have built, let’s see if it’s actually working, if people are invested. And because I’ve spent a lot of time really giving out these POAPs and gifting people and getting people to involve themselves in the community. And so, it was sort of a test, I guess. And it sold out in presale to the POAP holders, which was amazing and so rewarding. And then like three days later, I did my first Genesis NFT Airdrop, which was 250 Genesis NFTs, that were only available to po op, holders, collector, master token holders, which was like a whole other collaboration I did with the human collective. And Navak founding member. Navak founding members.

Building the Confidence to Join Web3

Wild, at what point did you actually feel comfortable and confident to pursue this space? And to come in there with like a blast, you know, like, put your foot in the door be like, my name is Annika rose and this is what I’m doing. While you were also sort of like being very low key and very, you know, under the covers, just studying till you felt confident, you know, to make that first like, how long did that take and what did you have to do to sort of get there, right? We talked about the conferences, we talked about the podcast, is anything else that you sort of did beyond that?

Annika Rose: I called Sammy, who works at my label, and Alex, every single day. If I like, I didn’t understand, I swear to God, I would listen to spaces and I would hear like, bearish versus bullish. And I’d be like, I’d write things down, what the fuck does that mean? Call Sammy, like, explain this to me, what does it mean? How does it work? Just questions, questions, questions, questions, and still every single day, I’m asking more questions, because I am very, very much a student. And although my confidence is evolving, it’s still not, I’m still not like, yeah, I’m and I mean, I’m partially I’m like, yeah, I’m in this, but I’m like, I’m never gonna claim to know what the hell is actually going on. I just like gather little bits and pieces. And it’s like this puzzle piece that just somehow gets bigger and bigger, the more I fill it in. But I like that it keeps me engaged. It keeps me curious. And so that’s, I think that goes for sort of anything I apply, that sort of same rule to anything in my life, is just like if I don’t understand something, but I want to just keep asking questions.

Right. One thing’s for sure is that, web three rewards the hard workers, the storytellers and the innovators, right? And I think you’re very much close at that intersection, right? I love your approach of starting first with a free NFT giving out POAPs. And then understanding who that community is right and really nurturing them before trying to take quote, unquote, even though, it’s not taking, it’s collecting, it’s being a part of something. But like, if you think of like what two contexts like giving before you take, right, and I love that, and you really you really nailed that. And what was super unique and I haven’t highlighted this in my Sunday newsletter, is like you only allow the people to mint, if they’ve collected your pops. And one thing you didn’t say very humbly, like you did in the beginning was that NFT sold out in less than a minute. Like, instantly, like, I couldn’t even get my hands on it, to be quite frank, I was really pissed, I still gotta get on secondary. But I love that. And that was the first time I’ve seen anybody do something like that. And I really, I was like, wow, that really stood out to me. That’s a really unique strategy of how to build community. It’s like you give, you build your top-level funnel of free collectors. And then you try to incentivize through a different type of drop. And you did that perfectly and it was really cool to see.

Annika Rose: Thank you. Yeah, I mean, I appreciate you saying that. I felt like, you know, coming into this community was like, the word in itself was just being tossed around so much. And I really wanted to see if it held any truth because for me like, it is crucial to build that relationship with people and even before immersing myself in web three. It’s like I have and tactics and tools and ways of connection through stuff I was creating, just on my website, like I remember, like I had a couple songs I put out independently during the pandemic, one was called, fuck you and another one was called hypocrite. And we made little portals and tabs on my website for people to like, tell their story, like come on my website, and let’s talk like, what makes you genuinely feel like a hypocrite? Like what advice do you, we have vent boxes like for people to go anonymously and talk to people and say, you know, I’ll give this really amazing advice to my closest friend, who’s like struggling through this relationship or this family dynamic thing, or whatever it might be. But it seems that when I find myself, in a precarious situation, I’m not able to apply that same sort of knowledge to myself, and I don’t advise myself in the ways that I do for other people. And it really hurts because of XY and Z. Does anybody here in that box have any other advice, and it was like, it was all community building exercise. And that’s, and so when I heard that word being, you know, so heavily talked about, in web three, I was like, alright, well, let’s see, like, let’s see what other people are doing. And, and let’s see how I can really, like emphasize on that word, through whatever sort of like innovative things I can come up with, that can exist in this space. And so that’s sort of what it’s all about, for me. And it’s working, which is great. And, you know, I get to talk to those people every day in my Discord, and on Twitter DMs, and it’s such a valuable relationship, these are the people that are enabling you to be able to continue to do what you love to do. And so, you really have to, you have to appreciate that and you have to feed that.

Converting a Web2 Audience to Web3 Supporters

I agree with you 1,000,000%. Can we touch upon how you did that exactly? Like how did you onboard your supporters and your fans to create the community that you’re building today? You talked about the POAPs, sort of like handing out these business cards, but did you just capture like the conference crowd or were you able to sort of also bring in your listeners on Spotify, Tik Tok and whatnot?

Annika Rose: Great question. Yeah, so the sort of, like, handling of the POAPs. It was like, I did have that like, sort of tangible experience, where I could give things away like that. In the very beginning, and then it became more about like, you know, I’m rewarding people for showing up for me, and not just showing up at a show at NFT week, NYC that you were gonna go to whether or not I was performing or not, but more like I host a weekly Twitter space, are you showing up in my Twitter space? Because I can see the names that are in there, if you are, you bet your ass I want to DM you after and give you a po op, because thank you, I need that support. And if you follow me on Twitter, and you engage with a few of my tweets, I’m going to DM you and I’m going to say here’s a po op, thank you so much for engaging with me. If you join my Discord, and I can see your name consistently popping up. Thank you so much. You’re starting conversations, you’re engaging, here’s a po op. So, stuff like that, it’s just taking very consistent notice of the names and faces because it’s on such a small scale right now. It’s not really hard to do that and I appreciate it. And that’s the only way it’s gonna scale, right? 

So, I stay pretty on top of that. And if I’m speaking on somebody else’s Twitter space, I’ll be like, hey, if you stayed for the whole hour, you’re still here at the end, like cap it off. I’m like, DM me for a po op, I really appreciate you taking an hour out of your day, to like sit here and listen to me ramble on about God knows what. Thank you so much. And then there’s other things that I’ve done where you know, I did this, this sort of community blend with warp zone holders, Genesis holders, and what was the third? Yeah, warp, Genesis and then, like, I forgot the third, but it was basically three communities that I had bought into in the very beginning of me starting to purchase NFTs and actively participate in other communities. And they’re all pretty music centric communities, which is why I felt you know, aligned with them enough to you know, sort of be a part of them. And I really liked what they were doing and I love what he was doing with Angel baby. I love the narrative that they push it and the creativity behind it and the dedication and hard work that’s so apparent. And so, for me this like collector’s mashup token was a way to merge those communities. 

First of all, just to bring different music communities together, because I do think it’s fairly easy to, to find yourself getting sort of locked into the communities that you are already a part of, and maybe not branch out as much as you can. And so, I thought it would be a fun way to like cross pollinate music communities, and through that, have people pre saved my song, have people join my Discord, and then claim this collector’s membership token. And if you were a part of those communities, if you own a party bear, my first NFT I bought was a party bear. And he’s purple, he wears a lei and a party hat. I said, if you own a party bear with one of those three assets, or a warp sound, Naomi, number 005, because that was the first warp NFT that I bought, or your huge Genesis holder, sign up, you basically can sign up, you can claim this collector’s mashup token. And with that token, you’re going to reap all of these rewards in my community later on. Plus, now you’re entered into a competition for a huge Genesis NFT, that I will Airdrop to you if you win. So, it’s an exchange system and I feel like I brought in some really awesome community members through that. And now that token is pretty valuable for the virtual experience that I’m launching in January. And I think it’s just about being creative, like coming up with new ways to incentivize people to want to partake in what you’re doing. And, and keep them involved in it. You know, and so there’s different ways and I’m gonna keep trying to come up with more. But yeah, that’s sort of where I’m at right now.

The Future of Annika Rose in Web3

Speaking like a pro, the level of confidence, it’s fantastic. It’s so cool to see. And you’re only, I guess, on your second NFT drop, but your first pay drop? What is the future of Annika rose look like in web three?

Annika Rose: Another great question. Yeah. So, a lot, I’m going to be doing a lot. But right now, I have another NFT drop in November, sort of few weeks, in honestly, less than a few weeks. So that’s coming, it’s going to be 50 editions, not 25 and it’s going to be with sound. And the song is, so I love it somewhat, like I’m so, I’ve been waiting for this one to drop for so long. So that’s the next thing. And obviously more details to come on that, when it gets closer. But yeah, so I’m doing that. And I’m also launching a virtual experience in January, that is basically given like a more contextualized long form experience with the music. And people who have my tokens pump holders, smash token holders and audio NFT holders, are going to be able to access some pretty amazing things in that virtual world that you can unlock. And that’s all going to be around the narrative and the lyrical content within the songs that I’m dropping. And so, it will translate into real life utility as well, when I start playing shows and touring and doing all of that. But there’s going to be a lot of very, very fun perks that come for those holders. And so, we’re building that out right now. It’s insane or working with these animators and they’re building on real Engine and it’s crazy, like I just like working on like the mockups of like this character and these little rooms within this experience. It’s unreal. And that’s like, that’s what I’m saying. It’s like it’s unlocked all of these sorts of things for me creatively that I wouldn’t be able to do in a traditional form. And so, you know, it’s exciting for holders, but it’s equally as exciting for me to.

Key Differences Between Web2 Music and Web3 Music

Talk about that for a minute because I agree with you, web three enables a stronger connection between the creative and the fan or the audience or the collector in this case. And when trying to understand the difference between web two music and web three music and I guess specifically from the artists a fan, sort of like connection. How do you sort of see that evolving? And what’s the real innovation here you think?

Annika Rose: I mean, obviously like the utility like to be able, because everything is so traceable and transparent like for me, hopefully as I evolve and scale as an artist, like there’s a way for me to know who’s here from day one. And there’s a way for me to reward those people and not because I feel like I have to, but because I wouldn’t be able to scale without them. And so being able to give them experiences, just for helping me get to wherever I’m going, is so valuable. And, you know, you can’t do that on Spotify, you can’t like click on X amount of monthly listeners and see who’s been there, since you put out your first single, and then actually talk to them and communicate with them, and give them reason to stick around and be invested emotionally, or financially, whatever it is. And so, I think, like, there’s so much value in simply just that, but also like gamifying my songs, and making it fun for people to like, actually be sort of inside the song versus just listening to it. You know, through like an actual sort of like tangible experience, where you can touch your computer, you can enter these things. And then, like, that’s something that I wish I could do for some of my favorite artists. So, to be able to build that super early on, feels really inspiring.

It’s so interesting that you highlighted, like the level of transparency, the level of access, right? And very much alludes to sort of like the data that happens in crypto and how you’re able to really pinpoint like, who the token holder is? At what date they came in? What song they came in? And be able to cultivate a token gated experience.

Annika Rose: Claps for Bello. Let’s go. 

Yeah. Which I wanted to talk about because we were working with the Navak. And I was talking to Alex and Samuel on the incredible team. And we put our heads together, like alright, Annika is killing it already. Like she’s going to these conferences. She’s building a top-level funnel of free collectors, she’s being able to import her fans from web two into web three, her audience is vibing with it, we want to go on sound, we want to do this smash release, how do we, one price it, number one? And how do we find the right communities to sort of tap into, tithe or cross promote? And what I think is incredible and I’d love for you to talk about it as well, is like we were able to use like Bello as a vehicle to help figure out prices. And we were able to use Bello as a vehicle to figure out what communities to tap into. I’d love for you to talk about that.

Annika Rose: Yeah, I mean, it’s incredible. I didn’t even know that technology like that existed. But I was looking at all of the analytics in front of it. I was like, this is incredible. What you guys and honestly, like, you should talk about it, talk about what you guys do and like, and how sort of crucial and beneficial that is to somebody like me, to be able to create these experiences and reward the right people, for the right things. Because you guys were a huge part of being able to have bruises come out the way that it did. And figuring out the best strategy for us to be able to do that productively. And so honest, like, you go off, can you tell us about it? 

All right. All right, you know, the way I see it, Annika, is like, the reason why we built Bello in the beginning is, to basically empower this type of used case, as a creator and web three, you’re starting to build all these collectors, right? And these will end up being your most important asset as you build your audience, as you build when produce more music, as you create more initiatives on chain. And one thing that’s interesting is that, as like a web to creator, you build these fans and one, they’re not portable. So, like if you build an audience on Tik Tok, you can’t really bring that to Instagram, and even more so you really know very minimal about who’s viewing your videos, what they’re doing, right? And then you can’t really use that data to empower you, like the big platforms have that, like Tik Tok have that, they can find the right advertisers, but you don’t have that. And the whole sort of like, idea was like, if we can empower us little guys with that data, imagine what we can do. Right? So, to hear you say how integral Bello was throughout this process, makes my heart very warm. Because it’s like, it’s such like a win. It’s such a W because we were able to help a creator like yourself, figure out, one, how to price the NFTs, how to sort of like build that initial community and figure out how to sort of navigate this entire, I guess journey and play a small part in that because you did you did all the heavy lifting you in Navak. So really cool to hear you say that.

Annika Rose: Yeah, of course. I mean, it’s true. It was so crucial to having this come out the way that it did. But I kind of wanted to ask you like, where did that idea sort of stem from and like how did you develop it and build it from the ground up?

Great question. So, like yourself, I’m a creator, right? I’m a podcaster. Like yourself, I build audiences using NFTs. You use free NFTs, I use free NFT.  And for the longest time, I knew nothing about my collectors. And I felt like if I knew more about who they were on chain, right, I could probably create better content for them. And I could find better ways to monetize and create more interesting opportunities, that align with the things that they’re doing. Right. So, it very much stemmed from a problem that I had. And from a problem that I sort of encountered and other creators encountered, when we work together to prepare for their campaigns. And, you know, it’s interesting Annika as like a music artist, you have all these listeners on Spotify, and you may be able to get sort of like geographic data around where they’re listening, but you’re very limited with the type of information you can get. But in crypto, when you build a listenership, and you build an audience, you have so much information that you can tap into, that you can use to create better music, you may realize by the way, that you may overlap with another artists on sound, and you guys have never created music before. But your collectors have a liking in common, it may be worth to create music together just for web three, right and see where it goes in web two, you know, you may realize when you want to do brand deals, you may want to find what communities your collectors are tapping into right now, because they may serve as excellent brand collaborations in the future, right, and you sort of like as a direct line of communication to these brands. So, you become way more empowered, when you can capture more of the value that you create. And that’s very much through the data that’s generated on chain.

Annika Rose: Absolutely. And I also, I think that, you know, so much of putting out music and putting out bodies of work, is a big guessing game, and a big question mark, because you can sort of like gather through, if your song skills big enough, so that you know that people are on a mass scale really connecting to it. You sort of ask yourself, why this versus the six songs that came before? And why this over perhaps the next six that are coming out? Like what about this is actually resonating with people? And how can I maybe like capitalize on that in the future, to ensure that I’m consistently giving a product that people are going to receive well? And I feel like that sort of like goes hand in hand with what you were just explaining about, the sort of thesis for Bello, and why you built it, it allows for me to have a deeper insight into that. So, I can sort of have a pretty good jumping off point, when diving into the next sort of creative venture.

Yeah, I completely agree with you, I love how you see that and you see the power of that. And I think you align with that too. Just from like this last 45 minutes of hearing your story and hearing that you started off as a YouTube creator, right. And you started posting like YouTube based content. And that sort of set your path as an artist, to open the first few doors for you and inspire a lot of your journey as where you are today. I’d also argue, Anika, like a lot of your hustle as an as a as a early artist, right? Being really, really young. I’m sure you learn so many things going through the thick and thin of it, that you’re now applying to sort of understanding what’s happening over here. Like, it’s no easy feat to be a YouTube creator and to start at that foundation. And I think that same mindset coming into web three, really rewards you, in my opinion, I think it will continue to reward you, as long as you and other creators, for example, stay consistent with it, and continuously to sort of like trying to drive value as opposed to take, you know what I mean?

Annika Rose: 100%. I mean, that’s why I wouldn’t trade any of those, you know, quote unquote, bad experiences for anything, because I think I can come into a lot of my decision making now from a much stronger and more confident standpoint. And so, it’s invaluable, you know, it sucks to have gone through whatever sort of tumultuous ride anybody and everybody has to go through at certain points in their life. But I really do believe that there are some pretty profound and significant takeaways from those experiences that will serve you later on down the line. And I feel that way now, for sure.

The Creative Process of “Bruises”

I also want to highlight bruises because that was a song that dropped and it’s one, a really fantastic song. It’s doing great in web two, it’s getting a lot of views across Tik Tok listeners, etc. I would love to learn more about like your creative process of, one, producing bruises, right writing bruises, the backstory of it and like sort of like the whole nine yards around bruises.

Annika Rose: Yeah. Thank you for listening to the song. It’s so funny like it feels, it’s so strange to like, have a song come out, that you feel like was almost written in an hour, or done in a day, and then it takes a year for it to like land in the ears of anybody except your, like, close inner circle. And so that’s kind of exactly what happened with bruises I was, it was October last year. And I was going through like a pretty rough ride with a close friend of mine, who was just engaging in a lot of pretty like, self-damaging behavior. And it was really hard to feel like you’ve done everything in your power to help that person heal, or at least encourage healing and something that I talked about and something that I’ve learned throughout dealing with that and writing the song is like, you know, someone’s metaphorical or quote, unquote, bruises. And never inevitably sort of somehow morphed into your own because it’s impossible to be void of the some of the pain that the people around you are going through, when you care about them and when you love them. Because you worry and you take on some of that weight. And so, it was just really hard and it was weighing on me so much in my day to day. 

And I remember I was going into the studio with this guy, Paul, and it was, he’s now one of my closest collaborators, but that was with my first session with him. And I write 99.9% of my songs on piano at home by myself. And if I feel like they need some, you know, shaping around the edges, and then a little bit of like TLC, I’ll bring them into a room with like a couple of very, very trusted people to help get them across the finish line. But it’s usually just me, myself and I for that session, this this situation with my friend was weighing on me so deeply and it was a little bit nerve wracking to sort of go with empty hands into that room and be like, I don’t have anything that I’ve written, that I want to bring in to make better, I just have something that is so prevalent for me right now, that I need to write it. And it’s hard to come in with something that carries so much weight to a person you don’t know, really. And to have that trust, that they’re going to help morph it into something that still feels like it carries all the substance. And that was sort of day one of like a very beautiful relationship with the school operator, who now I write a lot of stuff with. But it was just about that, it was, we wrote that song in literally an hour on the floor of Alex’s studio in Santa Monica. And it was like raining outside, I remember and it was just felt. It’s one of those things like, sometimes it takes a year to write one verse and other times, like you block out, you can’t even remember writing the song. 

And that’s what happened. And then it sorts of had many lives in the last year sonically. You know, it took like stripping it, just completely back down to the chords, rewriting the chords and recording it on just piano and then bringing in live musicians and having a drummer track drums and guitars try eight different guitar parts to see what feels right. And then listening to the other music that was being written in that time and noticing like there’s an add sort of synth thing that’s happening consistently. And how can we take these new chords and add these at since to make it consistent with everything else and it took a year for that to actually, you know, be done and finalized. So that was the process for that and it looks different for every song. But it was a waiting game and I had to be very patient and I had to have a lot of trust and the people around me who were dressing it up in many things before it was like ready to go to the party. You know what I mean?

Two years and you come out with a bang like bruises and decide to release it in web three. I think it’s great. I’m really excited for your journey here. I’m really excited to see what you do down the line, Annika seriously. I really enjoyed this conversation too. I’m excited for the November drop, right? Share that detail one more time. When is it? When can we expect it?

Annika Rose: In a couple of weeks. Yeah, mid-November. I will obviously, closer to it happening. We’ll announce the actual release date but it’ll be out. It’ll be an exclusive drop before DSPs in early to mid-November. So definitely be on the lookout for that.

Outro

Fantastic. Annika, best of luck, I’ll definitely be standing by and watching. Thank you for your time. Thank you for being here. We’re gonna have to do this again soon. But before I let you go, where can we find you? Where can we learn more? Where can we listen? Show it away

Annika Rose: Everywhere. It’s just Annika rose sings or Annika rose music on every platform and that’s Annika with two ns and a k.

Fantastic. Thank you till next time.

Annika Rose: Till next time. Thank you so much.

Categories
Podcast Transcript

Building the Intelligence Layer for Web3 at Bello

Background

Mint Season 6 episode 26 welcomes Bello’s Co-Founder and CTO, Ellie Farrisi. Ellie and I have been working on Bello for the last 6 months and we’re excited to debut our genesis episode explaining the role of data in the web3 creator economy and our grandiose vision for Bello.

I hope you guys enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:30 – Intro
  • 05:30 – The Story Behind Bello
  • 19:48 – What We Have Been Up to Since August 5th
  • 23:53 – The Day-to-Day Building Bello
  • 26:44 – The Macro Problem We’re Solving With Bello
  • 30:08 – Why Should Bello Exist in the World?
  • 46:38 – Thoughts On Privacy in Web3
  • 50:59 – What’s Next For Bello?
  • 52:54 – Outro



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Ellie Farrisi, on the podcast, live in action. What’s going on? Thank you for making the time.

Ellie Farrisi: Of course, hello there. How’s it going? 

Hello there. This is a very special episode. Very near and dear to our hearts. I guess this is like the official sort of introductory episode to Bello. And what Bello is and why we’ve teamed up to build Bello.

Ellie Farrisi: I’m excited. Let’s do it.

Intro

I’m excited too. So, I think a good place to start Ellie is, who are you? What does the world need to know about you and how did you get your start into web three? And I think we can start with your intro and then introduce Bello; I think that’s a good place.

Ellie Farrisi: Yeah, would love to. Yeah, so about me, I am a full stack engineer. I’ve been coding since I was in high school, took my first programming class, then ended up going to school for that, I studied at Temple University in Philadelphia. So, I’m from the East Coast originally. During my time at Temple, I had the opportunity to intern and then work part time at Lockheed Martin. So doing sort of way opposite of web three stuff, way more on the government contract, work very bureaucratic and slow paced, but learned a ton got to work on some pretty important projects. At that time, though, I decided I was going to take my next role, which was working at Comcast headquarters in Philadelphia, where I went to school. And so, at Comcast, I learned a ton of different things, front end, back end, CICD, DevOps, all that sort of stuff. Really, you know, great opportunity there, getting to work for big enterprise and see sort of all this how those systems work. And during school, I kind of always been really passionate about like education and teaching and diversifying computer science, as you, we all know, computer science is not a very diverse field in terms of gender equality, or at least it’s getting better, but has a long way to go, in my opinion. And so, I was trying to do my part to help expand that. And so, I actually was had the opportunity to start a student Oregon School, to teach computer science and so, to local high schools and do workshops, and those sorts of things. 

So, organize a group of about 30, 35 students to go to different high schools, lead, mentorship programs, all that sort of stuff, which was a really amazing opportunity and experience to be able to, like, oversee so many different amazing, talented individuals. I guess that’s kind of also when I got my intro into crypto a little bit, was in like 2017 2018. I remember everyone’s talking about like this thing called Bitcoin, in my math building. And I was like, kind of curious about it, but didn’t pay too much attention. But then I had the opportunity to do a semester long project on emerging technology. And I actually chose blockchain and looked at it more from like the enterprise side, looking at distributed ledger in general, looking at peer to peer networking. I spent this semester really focusing in on that, but I decided to go more of the traditional route post college. And so, I actually took a position with Comcast, NBC Universal, I was one of 15 people selected to join this rotation program, where we got to travel to different cities, work on different projects. And so, my first rotation was actually an at NBC, in Los Angeles doing cloud engineering. So basically, building out the back end, AWS microservice architecture for all of peacock and their content delivery that they had. So super, super fun, learned a ton there as well doing, you know, taking big data sets, transcoding them, updating metadata, all that sort of stuff to deliver to the client. But that’s kind of when I really fell into my love for web three. 

So, I talked a lot about my engineering side of myself, but I think the other side of me is my passion for music, and sort of my involvement in music and how that’s kind of formulated to where I think Bello, why it’s such a passion of mine now. But in college, I also was around a lot of musicians and surrounded by a lot of people in the music industry. And so started doing some music management, sort of running a little local venue, doing all sorts of odd jobs. And then moving out to LA. I had a music collective, where I had a podcast and also was like interviewing different people in the industry, very web two stuff, though. And interviewed, actually, Jeremy Stern, the founder of catalog, who told me all about music NFTS, and I was just like, oh, my God, this is incredible, I see the vision immediately. Like, it made sense from the engineering side, from the music side, I just, it clicked, right. So, I started learning more as much as possible. I started learning solidity on the side, started doing some Eth global hackathons, tried everything in my power to bring like crypto into NBC, which is a little too early for them at the time, but I did get the opportunity to pitch a patent to universal theme park for this, like in park gamification of digital assets through like a Pokémon go as experience and they actually notified me as a few months ago that that patent is in the process of getting developed, everything so.

It’s been a fun, was fun to be able to have that opportunity to do that. But I kind of realized that my heart was in web three and I wanted to jump full time, so I left I VC and that was like in 2021, I believe in full time to join web three, working for a company called lunar crush, which does, which obviously, you know, Adam, you’ve had Joe on the podcast and obviously, will allude to it. That’s how we got the opportunity to meet each other as well. But yeah, so I worked there for about a year or so, a little over a year, doing full stack, front and back end. All sorts of odd jobs, everything, wore many hats there. And it was amazing opportunity and now I’m here working with you, my guy, Adam Levy.

The Story Behind Bello

Right. So, I’ll try to keep up with that. Because you have a lot of experience underneath your belt. And one thing, when we initially met ally, that I loved about your background is that, you’re very much a creator at heart, like you very much are. And I think it served as a great sort of advantage, when we were thinking and putting our heads together to basically build out Bello and solve problems for creators, especially in web three. It works in your favor, or at least that’s what they say, when you are the user and you understand the pin points. And I love that. And like you said, Joe has been on the podcast, big fans of lunar crush, Joe is I guess, like one of my indirect mentors as well, right? And sort of when I left my job working at a fund, help sort of navigate my way through the thick and thin. So yeah, a lot of connections. And the reason why I wanted to do this episode specifically and why I put you on the lineup, and part of it was one, we introduced Bello to the world on August 5, right? And then on August 8, we announced the new lineup of the season. And the entire season was focused around like web three social and demystifying data for, yeah, demystifying data for web two creators. And I wanted to have you on, so that we can sort of share the backstory of Bello, and talk about why we’ve been spending so much time talking to users and why we’ve been spending a lot of time building Bello, and how Bello came to existence. What do you think?

Ellie Farrisi: Yeah, I think for me, like the earliest conversations, I sort of remember was after Eth Denver, that was kind of I think that was the first time we officially met. And I remember getting lunch and everything. And then you had this music NFT event, right? At Eth Denver, and you had Queen George perform there. And I remember during the show it which she killed it, it was incredible. I was dancing the whole time. It was amazing. But I remember during that show, there was like a QR code, that you had all over the different the venue or the tables and all this sort of stuff and people could scan to get an NFT. And I remember, like, that was such a unique experience. Like I’d never been to an event where you know, you connected on chain and off chain directly while being in person. And I think it was after that, that we had been just doing calls like catching up with what we each other were working on. And that’s when you had brought up this idea of like, well, there’s no way that that her as a creator, who had people attending our events, like, she knows nothing about those people, right? And she has no way to identify like, what are these wallet addresses like people, real people attended this event. But all she sees out of these like numbers essentially. 

So, I think that was for me, though, the earliest time that I remember us discussing this. And it’s kind of was just a back-and-forth conversation. And I think you especially can probably share more about like, and most people who’ve listened to mint, probably have or if they haven’t, should collect Adam’s season participation pins, because I think that’s a really revolutionary idea to be able to like track your listeners and your engagement season to season. And so, I think the same way that Queen George had this sort of issue of like, okay, I’ve given away these free things to people just to like, show that they’re involved with me, right? You did that with your community season preseason to season. And you also were faced with the same issue of like, well, I just have all these addresses. They’re just a bunch of like numbers and letters put together and there’s no clear way to really understand it. And I yeah, I believe that was like back in the springtime sometime and we were chatting about it. And yeah, it was definitely a problem that was very interesting for me to think about from the technology side.

So, that episode, so we did that February 2022. And I remember that specifically because that was the initial idea for Bello because we, like you said we were putting this event for Queen George and we connected the offline with the online and vice versa. And it kind of hit me because we minted like 200 plus free tickets. And those tickets were minted by Ethereum like oh geez and like passionate ecosystem and community members. And then they were going to come watch her in person. And it was like a weird sort of like, mix between tying together wallet addresses from online and then creating an experience for them offline person. And Queen Georgia, we were talking and I asked was like how much do you actually know about your listeners on Spotify? And she’s like, I know very little, I have like geographic data, so I can sort of see, like, if there’s a lot of listeners in New York and Kansas in LA, I know where to tour, right. But beyond that, it gets very weird, I was like, wow, interesting. Now you have all these collectors, 200 plus that collected your NFT, then came and watch you perform in person, you have all this interesting information that lies on chain, if you aggregate that data, you could probably learn something new about the people that come and watch, perform, and create better experiences for them, right and eventually find better ways to monetize in aligned ways. And then I sort of like sort of thing, I was like, wait, I have the same problem too, like you said, like, I give out all these pins. And it kind of hit me, I felt like if I knew more about who my collectors were, I could probably create better content for them, and find better ways to monetize them. So that sort of led to the entire sort of spiral spot on. And if you listen to that episode, Ellie, you’ll hear me talk because I published that episode, like late February after Eth Denver finished, you hear me talk about this problem, like you know nothing about your listeners, you know nothing about your collectors, who’s building this, right. And nobody was building it and I guess that’s sort of like the introduction, like, let’s go try to build this. So where do we go next?

Ellie Farrisi: Yeah. So, after that, you know, we continue conversations back and forth. And at the time, I was, you know, still full time working at lunar crash and pretty busy with just, you know, passion projects and stuff on the side. And so, said, Adam, why don’t we take this idea? Why don’t we go to Eth Amsterdam, work on it for a weekend, do a hackathon project and see what we can make out of it. And of course, you know, us both being travelers and people enjoy that we packed up, went to Europe, it was just the two of us with this idea. And you know, if anyone listening has ever done a hackathon like you can hack by yourself, you can hack with another person, or you can have up to five people, at least for Eth global and most of their events. So, we found two, three other engineers, and sat there for a weekend and basically recruited them around this vision. And I think I don’t know, I just remember that the energy of being there, and just staying up for like, hours, like, I don’t think we, I don’t think I left that chair for like, I don’t know, 12 hours straight, just sitting there coding and working with one or other engineer that was helping us at the time. And just like really banging out sort of the vision for this. And I think one of the things that I remember the most to is that, like during a hackathon, you obviously have a condensed amount of time. And when building a project, I feel like a lot of people, you have a million ideas, right? Like, it’s like, well, here’s this thing, well, we could do this thing, we could do this thing, or this thing. But I think one of the beauties of a hackathon is just trying to be like, what is like the most condensed version, concise version of this idea and how can you execute that? And I remember, Adam, you really like keeping everyone like, aligned with the vision and saying, like, No, this is the problem we’re solving, let’s run towards that. And so, we did, we kept building and I think within I don’t know, it was like 36 hours total, I forget the total amount but we, I think I got like two hours of sleep. Let me present the next day at like 8am to the judges and ended up being one of the finalists at the Eth global event in Amsterdam there. So was an amazing opportunity. The first time I ever spoke in front of like, I think it was like thousand something people there.

Something like that. I remember I was like sleep deprived. And like my heart was beating because I drink too much caffeine, too much coffee, and I was trying to like just like, control my heart rate by laying on a beanbag, before we went up. And it was it was the first time I participated in an in-person hackathon, I did a few of them during COVID. And yeah, I guess like online, like effed up and whatnot. But I remember after we did our first sort of pitch at like, 8am, to the initial court judges are like that was cool. Everybody has a good night, like 8:30 in the morning, have a good night. 

Ellie Farrisi: I remember almost going back to take a nap.

Literally, literally. And then I get this email, you guys are finalists, and I sent it in our group chat and everybody started freaking out. We went and we did it. And it was one of the most memorable experiences for me, I still have that T-shirt from that hackathon. 

Elli Farris: Oh, yeah.

I learned so much and we made a really great experience from it. And I think there was 165 projects that submitted, 12 or 13 were selected as finalists, and we were one of the 13. So, what happened next?

Ellie Farrisi: Yeah, I think from there, it kind of just like, formulated in, at least my mind, and I’m sure yours a little bit as well just like, oh, this was a real problem, like and I remember getting hit up by like tons of people who saw the presentation, or people who came up to afterwards like talking about like, how could they access? How can they work with it? And it was yeah, just solidifying that, like this is a need for the communities that we’re all involved in, this is a need for web three and was just also so exciting to work on and kind of being like hands in all pieces of it as an engineer, like I was just so you know, in thrall to keep building and yeah, I think from there it was, the three of us from the hackathon, you myself and Juan, who had kept working on it. And it was something we realized that like, okay, we want to get this to people as soon as possible, we want to get feedback on this as soon as possible. So, it was a next, you know, I don’t even, I guess like two months or so, we just were heads down building. And I remember, our goal was like before NFT NYC to have like, a beta version available, that we can start taking in waitlist and just getting something out the door. And I just remember, like, every night staying up really late, working on it nonstop, and all those sorts of things just to like, start being able to talk about this at NFT NYC. And I do remember that was the first time for me that I actually got to show, I think it was Alec King. I sat down, we got to like look together at his dashboard. And I remember was the first time I like I didn’t spend so much time just like coding and you know, whatever room I was, always night and I think that’s one thing as an engineer, you kind of forget that who you’re building for sometimes. Or it’s like, you’re just doing all this code or you see two lines of code that you forget to like, oh, yeah, there are people that actually benefit from this. So, I remember sitting down and like actually being able to show the dashboard and being like, wow, like, see the reaction, see the impact that the information that we were able to derive had on an individual creator’s life. So that to me was really impactful.

Yeah, I also recall when we did the presentation, too, we used Snoop Dogg from sound dot XYZ as like the premiere example. And when we played it, and we went on stage, we started playing like Snoop Dogg’s track from sound dot XYZ, to sort of like warm up the stage. And building that entire MVP on what ether scan APIs, just to sort of show the proof of concept. And then getting all these DMS, from Twitter, getting really great replies on the post and my Instagram story, kind of realizing wait, there is something over here, let’s keep picking at it and let’s see where we can take it. And then like you said, yeah, and NFT NYC came around, we did a very soft, like a very soft, soft launch. And we basically ran around, NFT NYC with QR codes on our phones, sneaking into these parties, trying to register for last minute, to them for last minute and just getting people to sign up and anybody that would listen to us, we just share what we were up to a Bello. And I remember that’s how we sort of built up our initial like beta test list, Prior to launching the product, you know, the private beta version of the product, August 5. 

So, I’m Ellie, I’m trying to think back and it’s all blurry to me because from NFT, NYC, which I think was like in June, July to August 5, I’m trying to figure out like what went down during that month. Oh, you know what it was? At NFT NYC, we met this group called door hacks. And Dora hacks gave us our first grant, essentially, to bootstrap Bello because we weren’t in like the fundraising phase. And we just needed a little bit of dough, to keep up some infrastructure costs and to sort of like pay some outstanding fees that we had for maintaining the product. And Dora hacks was a first group that saw our vision, and we met at that coffee shop. And Steve was like, we love it, we want to give you guys a grant, no strings attached. And then that really kind of, like propelled us to the next phase to kind of prepare us for beta launch, private beta. 

Ellie Farrisi: Yeah, I think it was and going that route for us was super beneficial. Because, you know, we were at a position where we were kind of, at least at the time, I was doing a part time and you’re you know, you’re still part time doing it with mentors, etc. But we weren’t on a stage where we were like, okay, let’s like quit everything and run and do this right this second. But we wanted to prove that this thing was real and this thing, like had users that needed it needed to use it or wanted to use it etc. And I think my experience now having like been able to create something and launch something out into the world, without having to go seek out funds from like fundraising, doing all this sort of stuff initially. It does allow you to have like validity to yourself, validity for the user base, validity as co-founders to be able to say like, okay, this is something that we build pure the X amount of people have used and have benefited from it right. And I think that’s something that, yeah, again, grateful to have that a little bit of funding that we got from grants early on. And we had a few other grants that we also received, that helped us sort of get to that stage. So definitely super beneficial.

What We Have Been Up to Since August 5th

Yeah, shout out to polygon and shout out to lens protocol, who also gave us grants. And yeah, sort of like using that fuel to keep the fire alive. And what have we been up to the last few months? So, it’s November 4 today, we did a private beta of private beta launch sort of bello. What have we been up to since August 5th?

Ellie Farrisi: I mean, I think you can take that part a little bit and talk about the I don’t even know how many people you’ve sat one on one with, talked, looked up their contract addresses. Ask them about what they’re working on, their pin points as creators and done like tons of these one-on-one interviews and like direct beta questionnaires, I guess with all these people. What was, I guess what for you, what was the biggest, like, takeaway feedback or thing that you saw, either repeated or just pin points that you saw from creators?

Yeah, so I don’t want to reveal too much, because a lot of is alpha for what’s to come at Bello. But I feel like I’ve at this point, I’ve talked to hundreds of creators, and whether it’s just me, sort of like pre queering their collections. And because I see that they have a drop coming up, and pre queering their existing collectors and sending them screenshots of their, in their Twitter, DMS be like, yo, I see you have a drop coming up, check out this data that’s really, really interesting on your existing collectors, have you thought about reaching out to this community, maybe doing a Twitter space, because you guys have collectors in common. And like doing that repetitively for a bunch of creators, you know, or sort of like centering the new season of mints, the mint podcast around on chain data and web three social and driving traffic from there to having people sign up to Bello, right? And kind of like getting their feedback like that, like I feel like it was like, not an automated process, it felt like very one on one, and then getting on calls, like 30 to 45 minute calls with all these users and pre queering their dashboards and walking them through the insights and showing them the power of what it means to build an audience in web three, right and the value that, not only do you get to create, but you get to keep and now unlock and get insights into, was very rewarding and seeing sort of like the aha moments on people’s faces, as I went through their dashboards. For me, it was a very tiring to be frank, like very tiring, but also very rewarding. As you can imagine, I do enjoy talking to people, hence the podcasts. So, kind of like sitting in the back seat and playing the podcasters role, you know, asking questions to users, but in a non-biased way to see how they feel about a specific, like early stage, private beta MVP, was an invigorating experience, to be honest. It’s also like my first time, this is my second startup that I’ve attempted. The first one failed in crypto, this is the second, this is sort of like the first one that I’ve been able to bring a product to market, right, and couldn’t have done it without your help and sort of like seeing what we built and seeing the naked bare bones version of it. But seeing how it’s validating some of people’s problems, right? And validating a lot of our initial hypotheses, right? Has been really cool to see.

Ellie Farrisi: Yeah, and I think from my standpoint, you know, I’ve gotten to do a few of them. But I think just taking all the feedback, and you’ve, you’re great about note taking and all that sort of stuff. And just being able to say like here are, you know, 100 people’s opinions, whether it’s new features that they’re interested in, or ways that they use the product themselves, like being then the engineering side and actually saying like, okay, here’s how we prioritize our group together. Because sometimes it’s like, people want this thing and this thing, but it’s actually can all be accomplished by like, one greater goal, I guess, so to speak. So that was really, I think, impactful for us for building Bello, and deciding, like, what’s our roadmap look like? What are we actually focusing on? And I think for any person building a product, the most important thing is getting that direct, like feedback loop with the people that are actually engaging with it or using it, because those are the people you’re building with. And whether it’s, you know, only 10 people to start or 100 people to start or 100,000 people, you’re gonna want to, like those are the people you’re working to please, right? And so, if you can please those 100,000 people, who’s to say you can’t please 100 million people, right? And I think that was really yeah, really beneficial to have all that and still have that right now, that when I, like I have, you know, 20 things I can go and work on because I know that these are going to be beneficial things and keep building in that direction.

The Day-to-Day Building Bello

Yeah, the process for I guess, for us as a duo was sort of like talking to all these users, getting their feedback, creating a complex Google spreadsheet of all these things that people requested, and all the tweaks and interesting things that they’ve sort of discovered that we didn’t even think of, and then you and I huddling together and be like, alright, this is what people want. Let’s create a roadmap around the requested features, and sort of like push it out one by one. And I’m curious from your perspective Ellie, like what’s it like building a product like Bello? Like, I feel like I contributed to an extent to a lot of like the UX UI initially, but you’ve definitely taken that over at this point. And I’d love to hear more of your perspective, like what is the day to day look like and how is that building Bello? Right, like walk me through that.

Ellie Farrisi: I think it’s honestly been probably the most fun I’ve ever had working on a project. And that, I guess, kind of stems from the fact that, what I talked about a little bit early on, was just like my music side of me and that I had the engineering side, but I also like teaching and I think as an individual, I thrive when I feel like I’m multifaceted. do it and I can actually have my hands in different places. And so, now being the sole technical side of Bello, my hands are everywhere. Like, you know, if there’s no part of Velo that doesn’t come through something that I’ve typed out or created, and I think that’s a really rewarding feeling for one. And I think it’s been interesting to be able to play everything from like, you know, you’ve done a ton of like, the sigma designs and all that stuff, but now getting to even go in there and play with myself and do some of the graphic things, and then take that directly and translate it into the front end, and then build out the features in the backend that we need. And right now, we’re working on a huge infrastructure revamp. It’s been challenging for sure, like there’s, I’m learning stuff new every single day. But I have never been more excited to learn these things. And I think my experience in the past has kind of led me up to having all of these different skill sets in these different areas, to be able to like, maximize the output here. 

So, my day-to-day changes almost every day, I have a to do list and I organize it by like front end, back end infra and then like business. And so of course, like we’re doing a ton for the actual development of the BD side of Bello. And so, there’s work that happens there. And all these different little features, it’s usually for me, either taking it by a feature level and saying, okay, like, we want to add this new feature that someone else just talked about, in one of the beta interviews, and it’s like mapping out like, okay, where all the pieces go to actually complete that. And I think it’s from my side, also done doing tons of different research talking to other intelligent people in the industry, to sort of get feedback and make sure we’re building this and building it in the right way. And so, it’s been, for me a very rewarding experience.

The Macro Problem We’re Solving With Bello

Yep, I want to talk about sort of like, what’s happening on a macro level, that kind of like justifies and motivates us to build a product and a service like Bello? And I’d love to get your take. But also, I want to hit it off with like a few sorts of like data points, even fresh this week. It’s again, Friday, November 4, earlier this week, Instagram announced that they’re basically building out an NFT marketplace, and that it’s essentially live for a select few creators that they’ve curated, right? Reddit recently, I think, like two weeks ago, introduced 3 million new crypto wallets on Polygon. Twitter is teasing in feed NFTs, right for people to collect, despite them already integrating the PFP, the hexagon PFP, right? Web three social is having a moment, applications like lens protocol, right, are getting tons of users, tons of engagement. Other social applications are seeing interesting growth, different sub communities forming across the internet, realizing that web three users have different needs and wants, and maybe a new social experience is suited for them, right? There’s a lot of sorts of, like big, big picture, macro data points that I’m kind of like, hooked on to as, wow, this is like that, like the light is right there, right? Like we need to follow the light we need to pursue that. Because if we do it right, there’s an opportunity over here, to help a lot of creators understand who their collectors are, and basically help them sort of like tap into the complex data, that is otherwise being generated on chain and help them make sense of it.

Ellie Farrisi: Yeah, no, absolutely. I think Instagram, we were chatting about it just before this, but I think it’s definitely an interesting push that’s happened and curious to see how it plays out. I think it’s definitely and it’s not, you know, most people who are native to web three, don’t think of Instagram and I don’t think those are going to be the people that are running to go join and buy NFTs there, right? I think what it does, in my opinion, is kind of open up the doorway to a lot of less native people to maybe onboard them, right? And that’s actually funny, I even had, like, I’m sure, Adam, you get hit up all the time, people who are not that you’ve known from your past life of non-crypto, who hit you up, and they’re like, hey, this thing about this NFT and always asking questions, like what do I buy? But whatever. But I had a friend of mine, hit me up, who I, someone I when I went to high school with and hit me up about their Coachella NFT and they’re like, hey, I went to Coachella, I have this NFT but like what do I do with it? Like, where do I have it? And it was just like, to me, it was like, really cool to get that that message because they know me, I’m like a crypto person, whatever. But Coachella doing that was just such an on ramp to somebody who wouldn’t meet me probably never have even thought to have an NFT before or felt that they were capable of like going through the steps to get one, to now have one and maybe do something next with that. And so, in that sense, you know, I’m personally an advocate for the expansion of education and expansion of like, diversifying and giving people a level playing field for understanding things and I think again, that’s kind of why Bello super, I’m super passionate about what we’re building there. But yeah, I think to me, it’s a beneficial thing to have. I’m curious to see sort of how it plays out. I think it’s all positive in my opinion though.

Why Should Bello Exist in the World?

Yeah. When you think about the purpose and the underlying why, like the reason why something like Bello should exist in the world, right? How do you rationalize it? How do you make sense of it? I have my own sort of like, take, but I’d love to hear yours.

Ellie Farrisi: Yeah, no, I think that’s a really good question. I think there’s a few things for me personally, like I guess, I was just talking about briefly. Historically, my life like being an engineer, being a female engineer, there’s a lack of diversity there. Joining, being a female crypto engineer, there’s even a far greater lack of diversity. And I think just in general, for me, a passion has always been, spreading education to underrepresented groups. And so in college, being able to teach computer science to different local high school students, and all these sorts of things, or do workshops for middle school girls, to teach coding, was always really rewarding. And, and my sense, taking that to the music industry, it was, working with these artists, like when I started doing management was just because like I saw where I could help them, like, I thought that they were creatives and I wanted them to be able to go out and make music and do the things that they were good at. And I was like, well, I can take care of all this other stuff. Like I can organize, I can make calls, I can schedule like bookings, etc. So let me do that. And I think then even taking that now with like, the past year, I’ve done so much like music, web three consulting for artists, and something that I now get the opportunity to do, is take the love for that I have for music, the love that I have for technology, and like, and that love for education and break it down to like really simple terms, right? Like, if I can explain what Bitcoin is to my mom, like, you know, I think that that’s an amazing thing. 

And I want to be able to do that for every artist, or every individual that I talked to, like, how can I break this down to the most simple way humanly possible. And I think a lot of times what you find with creators, is that they’re not super technical. And this is generally and I’m not saying for everybody, but like, there are individuals that may look at like a chart of metrics, or all these different things and get kind of like scared or uncertain of what it means and not data mindset at people. And so, I think a passion for me is being able to take something that is super complicated, and break it down as simple as possible. And so, when building bello that’s like always kind of at the forefront of my mind is like, how can we make something that’s no code, it’s simple to use, simple and easy to understand, and give people like direct like, even frankly, English language of how they can interpret and use this information. And so, I think for me that that’s definitely like, a big why of what we’re doing. And I think, on the other side, is more, a little bit more macro, on the sense of like, what is data and what is people’s rights to data. And I think that as individuals, we all have a right to our own data and we all have right to access information. And by utilizing blockchain, this information is out there. And it’s no longer siloed by the individual platforms that you decide to put your content on. 

So, for instance, like if you’re, if you’re active on Spotify, or Instagram, or Tik Tok, or any of these mega tech giants right now, they own your data. And they house their data, that your data and they decide when in which scenarios they show it to you, right? And so. what we believe, I think both of you and I aligned on that is that, this is your information that you should have the public and all the access to. And so, we’re building tooling that gives you all of this information and all the diverse ways that you would see it beneficial for you to build. But yeah, that’s kind of where I see it. Adam, what about yourself? Where do you sort of align with like, why is this a problem? What are you aiming to solve?

Yeah, the way I kind of understand it is, as a creator myself, who makes a living by being a creator, right? In our case, like a crypto native, web three native creator. I’ve sort of tasted the sugar of what it’s like to build an audience and to monetize in web three. And my bet, not only from me doing it myself, but also talking to a lot of other people, that to some extent, at some point, every creator is going to be crypto native, right? Crypto enabled, whether they know it, or whether they don’t, right? And the reason why they’re going to do that, is because I think there’s, the reason why I think that’s gonna happen, excuse me, is because I think the underlying tech of being able to build an audience on chain, is super valuable, this this zero to one primitive of follower, equaling a collector. That’s sort of how I see it, is so much more powerful in web three, than it is in web two, right? And the reason being is because, if you remember 2018, Tik Tok started having it’s moment, where Kylie Jenner has now about like almost 400 million followers on Instagram. She tried to pivoting to Tik Tok, I think she has a little bit over 20 million followers. So, this concept of basically being able to bring your community and your fan base from one platform to another is very limited. But in web three, you have this element of interoperability. So, the innovation here is that instead of being the product of the platform, not being able to take your audience and be interoperable with your time and your efforts, right? 

In web three, you could do that, you could do that very simply because you are the platform, we creators, we are the platform, and these projects, applications, these protocols, they’re building around us, they want us to bring our collectors to their platforms, right? So that’s sort of like the innovation here. And that’s sort of what I realized myself going through this experience, minting NFTs for free, just so I can build some type of collector base, right? I think that’s sort of like the innovation here, right? And typically, when you build an audience on a platform on like an Instagram, Snapchat, that data is siloed. It’s gated, right? And the problem is, is like, Google doesn’t have the same data that Snapchat does, or Instagram, and respectfully, it’s made them sort of like the powerhouse that they are today. But in web three, works a little bit differently, because creators build audiences interoperability, they mint NFTs on chain, that content is tokenized. And not one person owns it, right? It’s not like the product of a platform. It’s the product of the creator, right? That’s sort of how I see it. And with that, there’s a lot of data to understand and to unlock. So, when you think about like, what is that intelligence layer? What does that analytics look like for the creator economy? I want people to think about Bello. I want Bello to help people understand who their community of collectors are, and how they can take action around that information to become better creators, help them grow their audience and make more money, because that’s all creators want. They just want to build an audience and monetize doing the things that they love, right? And I think in web three, there’s no better place to do that. And a tool like Bello becoming increasingly more important, as we sort of like, go down this crypto enabled world.

Ellie Farrisi: Yeah, I think that that’s, you touched on a lot of really great points there. And I think it’s especially like prevalent to look at like, what do the top creators in web two do to be successful, right? And so oftentimes, like, if you’re a big YouTuber, or you’re a big like, top chart streamer on Spotify, all these different things like, you are most likely your team, is not just like making decisions Willy Nilly, frankly. And like sometimes there’s a gut feeling. And I think that’s, that is part of being a creator, is being able to tap into that creative outlet and just try things but in my opinion, as an engineer, and the experience that I’ve been able to do working with creators, like data is important, like whether the some of the things you were talking about briefly earlier with like, tour booking, or shows, all that sort of stuff. It is obviously like, super easy demographic data to get. But when you can start looking at behaviors and start mapping those to sort of like, what is the general profile of your audience look like? You can make better decisions around that and that does exist in web two. And there’s a lot of tooling that has sort of these tapping into some of your social media or your Spotify or streaming data, all these different things. But I think in web three, you need that. And you have actually better data in web three, because it is public. And we, I think, as at Bello, and I think in general, the beauty of web three is that, it’s less about like, hey, this is this wallet address, and I’m gonna go wallet watch them, right? We’re looking at like, what is the profile of your collectors look like? What is the general behavior of them look like? Because that is the way that you can tap into to make better content. Right. A great example of this is, is an interview I think we did with like a music festival, web three music festival, right. And they are, you know, having people come and attend. So, do you want to talk about it a little?

No, go ahead. No, I’m getting excited. Because this is one of my favorite stories. Yeah.

Ellie Farrisi: Yeah, so I think it’s a great example because it shows on all spectrums. But you have people that come attend, and you have people perform, like that’s basically a music festival, right? And how do you actually set that up? You usually have to have funding in some degree. So, if you’re a music festival, and you’re coming in and you’re just trying to decide okay, like number one who was playing at this music festival, well, if your web three native and you’ve bought purchase tickets, that were NFTs, you now have all of these different addresses and you can plug them into Bello or you know see based on chain information, what other communities are these people a part of? What other NFTs are they purchasing? And especially if they’re music web three people, now you can see that here the top of their, like actual artists that they collect and those are more likely not going to be the people that you want to invite to come perform at your festival and the fans are gonna be excited about that, like people who purchase etc. And then you have the flip side of that is like I said earlier like, you have fun this thing, you can look at these different projects, whether it’s a big PFP project, or it’s a like L two chain or these different protocols or different things. And you can say, hey, like, it seems like our communities overlap here, like a lot of people that purchase my ticket as a music NFT festival, also are active on your protocol, well, maybe you should actually come and be a sponsor for us. And we can drive even more traffic, because while it was only maybe like 15, or 20% of people that overlap, like there’s a good chance you could get or tap into that other, like, 80% of people, right. So, I think that that’s a really prime example of how this data can like be actively used to make a more productive output.

So that’s in a, it’s a real-world setting, let’s talk about digitally too. So as a content creator, right, just talking about that one feature and Bello, like the assets in common, right? The relationship queries, one thing that I learned is that, there’s a lot of overlap between my collector’s slash listeners, and let’s say Zora’s protocol. Right. And I noticed this distinctly because a lot of them were collecting different elements from Zora, and they were just like active on the protocol itself, based off what was in their wallet. And at that time, when I discovered that, I never really created content with Zora prior. I think I only had like, Latasha on, but we talked about web three social, right, we talked about web three music. And then, fast forward a few months, as I built a bigger audience and a bigger collector base. I then brought Erik Ripple on and then I then brought Tyson Battistella on, the head of data and the CTO respectively. And those episodes got 40 to 50% more downloads and a typical podcast episode, right? It was really cool, because seeing that on chain data gave me a glimpse into what my community liked. And I was able to take an action to deliver and create better things for them, based off that, you know. Similarly, I saw large overlap between like Ave holders, and people who are also a multi chain on Matic, holding Matic token, right? And lens protocol came in as a sponsor for season six. And it was great because it was a very fruitful collaboration, we were able to drive a lot of new users to their protocol, and to their various applications and it was just like a win, win, right? I made money, they got new users, and then that that kind of like, that relationship extend even more now, right? And we’re doing a bunch of different things. So that’s like on content. Let’s talk about music, right? Music is really cool because as a music, music web three native music artists, you can plug in your collector base into Bello and see what other music artists or collectors are collecting. You never know, there may be overlap between, let’s say, Daniel Allen and Grady, for example. And I know they’ve done music together, but for assuming they haven’t, right, and they see an overlap between their collectors, it may make sense for them to do a song together. A web three exclusive song, doesn’t maybe have to be distributed across Spotify, the DSPS. But if your collectors like you guys, create some content together, create some songs together, if that makes sense. And make more revenue, right and build and grow, cross collaborate and cross, I want to say cross contaminate, but cross collaborate your collectors. So, there’s all these like interesting things that you can do just by having very simple access to what’s happening on chain. 

Ellie Farrisi: Yeah, I love that. I’m curious, from your standpoint, you talked about, you know, you going to minting season six and making your lineup and being able to use data to solve that problem. How has building Bello been for you as an individual, who’s solving a problem for themselves, right? Like, you’re creating this to solve your own needs and it also extends to other people’s needs. How’s that experience been for you?

It’s really challenging, because one thing that you consistently hear and that I read online, and from people that I look up to, right, like other entrepreneurs and whatnot, there’s like a stigma or like, there’s a saying of, don’t necessarily build for yourself, like, don’t get too lost in the sauce and stay hooked onto your assumptions, right, go validate them, right. But then there’s the other balance of, if you’re the person that’s having the problems, go solve them, right. And maybe other people are facing the same problem. So, I’m constantly trying to figure out the balance between both, right, and I don’t want to assume too much and implement and spend time building out too many assumptions, without validating them, but also taking into consideration as I am the user that I’m building for. And I need to recognize that and a recent trend, not a recent trend, but something that you see across like creator economy based crypto projects, right, they typically end up hiring a creator, as their community manager, so that the team of developers and the CEO can be as close knit to the pulse as possible for the user that they’re building for. And also, that community member brings a breadth of other creators because they get the culture, they get the conversations, they get the lingo, they understand what creators need, and they can tap in through that user. We see this across the Zuora, we see this across borne fire, we see this across Showtime, all great strategies, right. And also lens protocol, there’s a bunch of others. So, I think like, our advantage too, is like I am the creator, right, you’re very much a creator yourself, I’m actively trying to build an audience, I’m actively trying to make money in this space as a creator, using my creative love. And it’s like finding the balance between the two. But it’s worked, I feel like it’s worked more in my benefit than my detriment. And it’s helped us get a lot of great conversations and a lot of progress on our private beta.

Ellie Farrisi: Yeah, and I think it’s especially relevant, that like the origin started from like, using it with Queen George, you’ve seen it with yourself. And then like us taking that, you know, pretty rudimentary beta, and just like talking to people nonstop, and getting the validation from them, and then also iterating on it and keep building on it. But I think you as a creator, probably more than most people sit at it, like sit at it advantage for building a product like this, in the sense that you’re like, you have your own opinion as like the creator that you are like, you’re a podcaster, right, and you make content for people and whether it’s written or audio, etc. But you’re also like, actively talking to every type of creator all the time and every people in this industry all the time, and you see the pin points of their ecosystems and the different types of artists or musicians or big PFP projects or protocols or platforms list goes on, right? Like you’ve been able to sort of tap into all of that, and focus back into like, okay, how does it feel as an individual, but also, how does this look on like the grand scheme of things in web three?

Thoughts On Privacy in Web3

100%. And I hope to leverage that as we continue to sort of grow Bello. I think I also want to touch upon the element of privacy, because it’s something that I very much care about, and it’s something that our community cares about, right. And one of the sorts of the biggest criticisms that we get when we talk about Bello was like, oh, don’t you feel like could this be too intrusive, right? And I think, number one, the way we built Bello, is so that it doesn’t track every single thing, right? If anything, it provides, like aggregate analysis into a certain wallet selection. But I want to sort of touch upon like, what does privacy really mean? And what’s the history of privacy when it comes to the digital world. And as sort of being products of platforms and web two, and then coming into web three, and having the choice and the ability to opt in whether or not you want to Doc’s yourself, right, you can still create an anonymous address, you can still create a proton email, and live this anonymous digital life that you want to live, without attaching an ENs and DOCing yourself and posting the NFTs that you collect on Twitter, right? How do you feel about the element of privacy when it comes to web three? What comes to mind for you?

Ellie Farrisi: Yeah, I think you started touching on a lot. And we kind of brought it up a little bit earlier. But yeah, we have the opportunity now with web three, to define our role as an individual, right. And so previously, where you go on social media, you start plugging in your email, you start doing these different things, like people can start to identify you publicly. And in web two, I think it’s almost like required to have some sort of like public identities, that people can hold accountable. And I don’t think accountability is necessarily a bad thing. But I think we also have a right to be able to decide what information is put out there to the world. Like, I don’t want to give people my address, although I’m nomadic, and I don’t have an address, but I don’t want to give people my phone number, I guess that’s a better example, like just any random person, because that’s private information, I don’t have any reason that I need to share with anybody, right. And so, I think with web three, you’re now providing people to have this either pseudo anonymous, or totally anonymous profile. And if they so choose to, they have the opportunity to put into that as much as they want, right. And so, in terms of like the pseudonymity, like you can have a creator or an individual collector, who someone who just involved and just be a wallet address, and be maybe completely anonymous, and they don’t have any sort of ties to anything and they just act integrate with like defi protocols and do the stuff on their own. And then you can have the layer, where maybe you purchase a ENS name, and maybe that ENS name is like, monkey rocks. 12456, right. And you can go and live as monkey rocks, do something over there, right and you can interact all these things. And maybe that’s your identity now, as you have a monkey avatar, you do something with.

Are you speaking your alter ego here? What’s going on?

Ellie Farrisi: May have been like my first email something equivalent to that, along the line.

Monkeyrocks119@gmail.com

Ellie Farrisi: I think it was Yahoo at the time. 

Okay.

Ellie Farrisi: But you could essentially build that identity out and interact with that and that could be who you are, right? And there are plenty of people we all probably can identify that fall into that role. And I think the beauty of that is that, you can still map a behavior and a sort of, like correlation between that activity of that pseudo anonymous Individual, to your collection as a creator. And I think that’s where it’s, it is a beautiful thing to be able to say like, okay, we’re not focusing in and trying to find who this individual is, largely, we want to show you what is like the aggregate behavior of individuals in the movement in this space. Because that allows you to unlock a lot of different information about what steps to do next, right? And where you can actually take your community because, like we said, earlier, creators and like people building want two things, they either want to grow their community, or they want to make money, and how can we actually use behavioral analysis and the intelligence layer to give them actionable insights and information that they can do on it?

What’s Next For Bello?

Yep. 100%. Ellie, I want to talk about sort of what’s next for Bello. And without revealing too much, and I know when we were talking behind, before we started recording, we’re like, what do we say about what’s next for Bello but how do we also keep it very, very, very exclusive? I think our whole thing is like, we want to, under promise over deliver, right? Like that’s the goal. I think I can say that, we have a bunch of stuff sort of rolled lined up, in our roadmap, that we’re going to be announcing soon. We’ve been very relatively quiet on Twitter intentionally, because we’ve been doing a lot of behind the scenes sort of prep, talking to users, revamping the product and bringing it making it ready for for public launch very soon. But I guess anything you want to add, that I didn’t really mention to what’s next? 

Ellie Farrisi: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s a few things, a lot is taking in, again, all that feedback from the individual people who are going to be the ones benefiting from Bello, whether it’s a small-time creator, a big brand, a platform, etcetera, all these different kinds of tiers of what we still classify as creators in web three, and building a roadmap that fits their needs. And so, we have a bunch of different metrics and features we’re planning to be rolling out, as well as, you know, a big push on our actual internal infrastructure side. So, in the near future, we’ll also be expanding our team, to bring in more engineers and to push product faster and do all these different things. So, I think for us, it’s going to be when we launch publicly, having a very unique experience for the individuals who join and sort of their own personalized feel to it. And being able to actually take that and and scale it out to as many people as possible.

Outro

Let’s frickin go, Ellie, this was great. I’m glad we did this. It’s been on the calendar for a minute now. But before I let you go, because I do this for every episode. Where can we find you specifically? Where can we learn more about what you’re doing? And show it away?

Ellie Farrisi: I’m sitting in my room making bello PFP alternatives. I spent so much time on Canva, I don’t know if anyone, if you listen to it, please go check out Bello sites on Twitter. Our little mascot I guess, is this little mushroom called, we call it belly, when I need like a break from coding, I go on Canva and I make like alternative, maybe we’ll post one out later today or something like that. But aside from that you can find me on Twitter @Ellie Farrisi, DM me on there if you have any questions, we also have our telegram group, I think you can get to from our website Bello.lol and you can join in definitely, like if you’re interested in learning more about what we’re doing, definitely sign up for our waitlist, hop in our telegram and we’d love to have you chat about data and everything that we’re building. So, looking forward to talking to more you guys soon.

Yeah, flexor’s hearings really quick. For those that are not watching, you have really cool mushroom hearings on and Ellie, this was great, till next time.

Ellie Farrisi: Thank you, Adam.

Categories
Podcast Transcript

How To Build Your Web3 Community Using Free NFTs

Background

Mint Season 6 episode 25 was a little different as I was on the other side of the microphone for this one. I went on The Unstoppable Podcast hosted by Josh Gordon where we talked about my early days getting started in crypto, tips for community building via NFTs, the value behind issuing free NFTs, my creator playbook, and so much more.

I hope you guys enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 02:22 – Intro
  • 05:34 – Three Tips For Creators Getting Started in Web3
  • 09:15 – Free NFTs
  • 12:38 – Creators Serving as a Good Example in Web3 Today
  • 17:20 – Adams Stack and How it All Works Together
  • 21:19 – Deciding Whats Gated and What Is Not
  • 24:14 – Collecting Wallet Addresses
  • 27:54 – Selling Sponsorship NFTs
  • 31:31 – Lessons Learned Creating Podcast NFTs
  • 36:46 – What Should Your First NFT Be?
  • 38:37 – Platforms to Help Creators Get Started with NFTs
  • 41:24 – What is Bello?
  • 44:40 – Three Ways That On-Chain Data Can Help Inform a Creator Strategy
  • 49:59 – What’s the Best Way to Get My First 1000 True Fans As a Web3 Writer?
  • 52:03 – A Creator That Inspired Adam
  • 53:33 – Craziest Thing We’ll Be Doing In the Metaverse 5 Years Down the Road
  • 55:46 – Outro



Support Season 6’s NFT Sponsors

🌿 Lens Protocol

Lens Protocol is a composable and decentralized social graph, ready for you to build on so you can focus on creating a great experience, not scaling your users. 
Learn more by visiting: https://lens.xyz/



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

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


GMGM, welcome to the unstoppable podcast. My name is Josh Gordon. I’m your host today, man. I’m excited for this conversation. We’re joined by Adam Levy, founder of Bello and host of minutes. It’s a podcast all around the creator economy. So, Adam, how you doing today?

Adam Levy: Dude, I’m feeling good. Thank you for having me on. I think this is my second debut on somebody else’s podcast. So, it’s still very weird for me to be on the other side of the microphone. Nonetheless, I’m super excited to be here. Thank you for having me.

You’re welcome. Yeah, I think it’s cool to get other podcast host perspectives, especially yours because I view you as so much more than a host, I really view you as a web three creator. And personally, I think as someone who’s experimenting with content creation and thinking about ways to implement, like web three and NFTs into what I do, I think there’s a lot to learn from you. So, I’m approaching this conversation is really like what can Josh learn from another creator in the web three space. And I’m really hoping that anyone listening to this pod, if like, if you’re a creator, you’re having some of the same questions that I have. So, a lot to unpack today.

Adam Levy: Let’s do it. I’m ready. Let’s dive in. 

Intro

Okay, so to start off, just give everyone a little brief background of you. And you know, how you got into crypto and hosting mint in the first place, and then eventually, you know, founding Bello, though, I know that’s a big journey. But if you can give me the quick and dirty synopsis that would help set the stage.

Adam Levy: Yeah. Okay, so I got into crypto 2017. What initially caught my attention was seeing Bitcoin at 20k. And I was like, how is something that’s publicly accessible, like publicly trading at such a high price, but what sort of kept me in the door was seeing what you could do beyond just day trading. So, I came across a few companies that were helping musicians at the time, sort of like redistributing royalty payments, and I thought that was really cool. Because I’m a drummer, you can tell by the drum set behind me, and I was like, alright, there’s more than just day trading. So, I was like, that was enough. This was around the time where I kind of got into college as well. So, I transferred to USC, winter break came about, we had about four weeks off, and I just took that entire four weeks, just read the Bitcoin white paper and try to consume as much content as I could around the subject, only to later write in Facebook groups on campus. Like if you want to learn about peer-to-peer payments on like a Saturday at 3pm, meet me in this room, I’m doing a whiteboard session. And we’re going to dive in and like surprisingly enough, like three people came and did it again the following weekend, like five people came and yeah, around that time also, my friend had kicked off like the crypto club on campus, but he was leaving, so I took it over. 

And yeah, we had about a community of like, I think like 300, 350 students or something like that. And then we would do like white paper round tables. We did recruit events for Coin base, we did a hackathon. We did all these types of things, and got my first internship around that time working for a VC fund, called Draper going home. They’re based in LA, and then even like, worked in Europe for a little bit with an IOT and blockchain startup in Vienna and did all sorts of stuff. But I guess like my most like extensive sort of professional work in this space was working at the fund. When I came back from Europe, I joined Tim’s fund full time, it was really cool because I was the only full-time employee over there between three partners and I did everything from like running this weekly event called blockchain and booze, which kind of kicked off my podcasting start to fundraising, to doing deal memos to all sorts of stuff. So yeah, I mean, I guess I can also get into how bello sort of came into the picture as well or you would like me to stop there.

You know what, let’s pause there and introduce Bello, I think as we get closer to that section of the pod, but I think it’s interesting how writing really was your, writing and this in this club. I mean, you talked about getting the club to 350 members and the big saying and crypto creator economy is like your 1000 true fans and you started getting 300 people into didn’t just something you were talking about. And that experience probably translates to a lot of the things you’re doing now as a as a content creator, I imagine.

Adam Levy: Yeah, very, very true. So, the newsletter was like a big piece of like getting information out. So, all the students were sort of subscribed to the newsletter, and I had a few friends that we were just like managing the weekly sort of cadence of the of the organization. What’s funny is that we weren’t like an official student org. And we couldn’t get money from USC, for whatever reason, but we still operated like, we didn’t give a shit. Like, we’re just like, we’re gonna make something happen. Yeah.

Three Tips For Creators Getting Started in Web3

Okay, cool. Well, good background. So, let’s start diving in to the creator economy even more. And you know, with the mint pod, you’re getting to talk to artists, entrepreneurs, creators of all types, like, whether you’re not just a musician, right? Whether you’re a writer, a photographer, or doing art, there’s all types of creation you can do online today. So, I’d like to start off with getting insight onto what you’ve learned, you know, as a host, talking to all these fantastic guests. So, if there’s three tips that we’re giving to people who want to build web three community or get into the creator economy themselves through NFTs, you know, what kind of tips can we give to these people starting out? And if we can list three, that’d be phenomenal.

Adam Levy: Yeah. Okay. So, I think the first one is, don’t be afraid to experiment, because there are no rules here. Nobody sort of remembers your failures, unless it’s like an incredibly huge rug pull, or I don’t know, defi hack of some sort. So, like, if you’re just like a small-time creator, just due to the space coming into crypto, join as many communities as you can, right and just like try to experiment yourself, try to issue some NFTs, free NFTs, fail, get rejected and like just keep like tampering and tinkering with what’s possible. I think that’s number one, don’t be afraid to experiment. Number two, this is something that Daniel Allen taught me, who is like a really, really well known successful, like web three native musician and producer in the space. He had a successful campaign that did incredibly well. And you know, he did it with like, 200 Twitter followers. And he’s like, you know, people may seem like I did something that was an overnight success. But I really did my homework and put six months into sort of climbing across different discord channels, going to different events, doing one on ones with people, before I had a drop. So, the second point is before trying to attempt something yourself, that’s like really big and grandiose that you expect some type of sizable outcome, really do your diligence and homework and meet other people in the community that might end up just collecting from you down the line. And the third tip is, I like seeing people who consistently show up, that could be either from like, consistently showing up with your time or consistently showing up with your money. So, either continuously collecting other things from other creators, right and building like social capital, or kind of like being involved in different communities with your time and using like governance power, right to kind of contribute on chain. Don’t be afraid to experiment, do your homework, and be consistent. I think those are the top three things. Yeah.

I like that a lot. And I feel like tip number two on that community building, kind of comment and showing up is that still, so you still think that’s a valuable thing to do? Even as we’re moving a little bit away from, I feel like these discord groups, I mean, discord a year ago, everyone was saying, you gotta be there, you gotta be paying attention to all these discord channels. Everyone kind of got discord burned out. So, but you’re still feeling maybe it’s not even discord only, maybe as Twitter and other platforms where conversations are happening.

Adam Levy: If it’s not discord, then it’s Twitter. If it’s not Twitter, then it’s farcaster. If it’s not farcaster, then it’s Leinster, right and general lens protocol, if it’s not those platforms, and it’s Telegram, right? Just try to be on the pulse and find a way to get involved. I think a good place to start is sort of listening to things like your stuff, right? And just listening to these individuals. That and not necessarily me, but other people that you’ve had on, right? Other content on there. Right, that sort of give guidance as to like how to related content or like educational pieces as to how to take those first steps. And through the dialog, you’ll find out like different tidbits as to where you should be spending your time. I just listed a bunch as well, right? That extends beyond discord. Yeah.

Free NFTs

Sure. So, another tip, maybe a bonus one, is I wanted to really ask you and I was wondering if you would bring it up in your top three as free NFTs, because it’s something I’ve seen you do really well, that I’m really interested in. And so maybe this isn’t the one of the first three tips you know, a creator gets to, let’s say, you know, they’re here, they’ve experiment it, they’re community building, they’re showing up, they’re putting some of their money where their mouth is, right? How do you then think about free NFTs as an entryway into the web three creator economy or community building?

Adam Levy: I think free NFTs are like the ultimate sort of either Trojan horse or gateway for creators who don’t really understand mechanism, design, pricing, all these additional things that are required to sort of know to know, to kind of like issue a successful page drop. And the reason why I think free NFTs are so beneficial and why I’ve sort of led my content strategy and my community building strategy around it, is because it’s so effortless, right? It’s so it’s so much more powerful to be able to give something before you take something, right. And I’m a big believer on that, whether it’s like through giving my content out for free, right, giving it free NFT. And would that free NFT, you get additional free content, and just find a way to continuously provide value, before asking for something in return, I think goes a long way. So, there’s a great example that I like to reference, her name is Queen George. She’s also a web three native music artist, she’s been in the space for I think, almost two years now, maybe a year and a half a little over that, whatever, doesn’t matter. I remember in the hype cycle of the bear market, we tried to do a pay drop, where we got inspired by Justin Blau, iconic drop and all the other campaigns he sort of consulted shortly after and tried to replicate a site based off that and do a live concert, essentially for people to attend online during COVID. And the access way to kind of get the private link to view the live stream concert was by purchasing an NFT. And there are five different tiers. And to be frank, they were relatively expensive, her audience kind of got really confused. They were messaging and replying on Instagram, like what the hell is an NFT, I just want to watch her perform. 

So, we stripped it, the drop completely flopped. A few months later, I guess like six months later, we revisited it with free NFTs, on sounds dot XYZ. So, she had a campaign going on. And she still had to build some type of collector base online. And the way I sort of guided her was like try just like DMing a bunch of people on Twitter, right and sending them your music and inviting them into a telegram group chat. And then through that you would incentivize and reward them by entering the group chat using a free NFT, right? I think she got about like 50 people in that group chat, in preparation for her pay drop down the line, right. So, as you sort of funneled people in, she used the free NFT as like a top-level funnel. She got people into the group chat and telegram. She sent different teasers and different like tidbits to sort of like prepare her collectors, maybe soon to be paid collectors as to what they should expect by listening to the music, different cuts, etc. And then the sound drop came and it’s sold out and did well. Now candidly, it was 25 NFTs I collected two. But the other two, right? Were from people who kind of like came across with that funnel, and had experienced her and her energy across her sort of like diligence phase, that I mentioned in tip number two. So, I love free NFTs as like a top level, non-threatening funnel to get people in the door and then provide additional layers of utility beyond that. Yeah.

Creators Serving as a Good Example in Web3 Today

Interesting. So, anyone who’s done, like traditional marketing, on social media, you know, everything really is broken down into these funnels. And I think there can be sometimes even a negative connotation around thinking about like funneling audience members in web two, because all about clicks and views. But this is something that’s more about giving, you know, letting people collect from you, get a taste of ownership in a really low risk way. Are there other creators outside of that one example that we might want to look towards, as doing things, not just with free NFTs, but someone who’s doing a good job with web three community building or just showing how the creator economy can be used you know, as someone who’s experimenting today?

Adam Levy: there’s a bunch of creators. Yeah. Okay. So, I already spoke about Daniel Allen. I’ll talk about Black Dave. I’m doing a session with him on the podcast, I think tomorrow, I think he was the first person to do a free drop on sound dot XYZ. And he just like consistently puts out like tweet threads and like mirror posts, on his thoughts on the space. And that sort of cultivates like mindedness across other people on the web, who just so happened to also be collectors as well, right? So, while it’s not maybe necessarily like a discord play, because there’s way more to community beyond just the token gated discord, right, it’s more of like a consistent content play and using NFTs as a way to capture value. So, you’re using web to tweets, blog posts, etc., to kind of like create virality and spread the word right and to kind of create messages and using web three to capture value accordingly, either through free NFTs that then have secondary value, and you kind of gain the royalties on that or through, yeah, even paid NFTs where you kind of get like both primary and secondary value. Yeah. So that’s Black Dave. Another one that I want to shout out is like, he’s not like a traditional creator, but he’s been really inspirational across my journey as a creator. So, friend, Cooper Turley, he doesn’t mince stuff himself. But he’s very much like a consultant or an advisor to many other projects and creators, who end up doing exceptionally well in the space. So, I guess you can say he’s very like in front of the scenes, but also plays a really big role behind the scenes.

Yeah, Cooper was my first podcast interview I’ve ever done. So, shout out to Cooper

Adam Levy: Yeah. Yeah, there’s also a Diana Chan, she’s doing the, I’m blanking out but she was like the first one. 

Rehash.

Adam Levy: Yeah, rehash. Yeah, rehash podcast, she was the first one to sort of introduce, I guess like a Dao type of concept around curation, right? And kind of like finding guests from like a community point of view. So, I thought that was really cool. I bought into the mirror campaign on that. There’s so many like, there’s so many people, we could dedicate an entire episode just to shouting out people.

Yeah. Honestly, that would be an interesting podcast episode doing like, just 10 creator spotlights. Also, gotta give a shout out to Diana Chen. On the podcast, she really started the unstoppable podcast and took it from zero to one and did like, 100 episodes. Yeah, I took over when Diana moved on to, do some other web three stuff. So big shout out to Diana.

Adam Levy: I didn’t know that. Okay, cool. Yeah.

I also gotta say, rewinding a little bit, you know, just to a couple minutes ago, you were, something that stood out to me was you said, you use web two, for getting messaging out, you know, some virality and web three for capturing value. And really great distinction between how to think through both because as a creator, we need both right now, right? It’s not just one or the other.

Adam Levy: Absolutely. So, the way I think about it is like web three has yet to perfect, like wall-to-wall messaging, right? Or like content platforms that sort of maybe like more crypto native at the foundation. So, I still use sub stack, right? I write blogs on mirror, that’s maybe like the more web three type of formal content creation platform that I use. I also post on farcaster and lens, etcetera. Yeah, web two has done a really good job at sort of, yeah, creating like virality and distribution algorithms, that allow creators to be creators in the first place, what they’ve sucked at, is sort of helping them monetize without sort of being like, I guess greedy with how much they take as well, right, their take rate. So that’s why I like to use that analogy, where you use web two to sort of build your audience, right? You use web two native platforms, because Discord is also like a web two native platform. Now, you could just like create bots and integrate more web three kind of composability within the chat application. But yeah, I still need sub stack and Buzz sprout in Spotify to get my audio sort of distributed and to build an audience. But I can use crypto, NFTs, Dao primitives as a way to capture that value, and create interesting experiences accordingly.

Adams Stack and How it All Works Together

Love it. Okay, so let’s take all that and now focus on you. And I want to dive more into, you know, if you would, if you had just shouted out, Adam, as you know, web three creators doing something good, like, let’s talk about why the things you’re doing are working, maybe even not working, if you have any insights on that. But your, I want to get to know your web three creator playbook that you’re using for Mint and you just touched on some of them. I mean, I heard sub stack, farcaster. I mean, you talked about discord. When I was thinking through this, what I see from you is, podcast leading into free NFTs, leading into newsletter, and also leading into limited edition NFTs, that aren’t free. So those are some of the things I’m seeing online, but yet, you share with me your stack and like how it all works together?

Adam Levy: Yeah. Okay. I’ve never publicly talked about my stack and a whole kind of like comprehensive discussion. So, I got to think about how I sort of funnel this. Okay, so one of the things that I try to focus on as a crypto native creator, okay, is I need to find a way to kind of like create a direct line of communication to my listeners, and find a way to also, right, that’s like the web two component and find a way to sort of capture value and share value from like a web three component, right? So, my content stack very much works on sub stack. So, I think I’m now almost at 30,000 subscribers on sub stack, okay, very much like Spotify, right? Apple podcasts and kind of using Buzz sprout to be my distributor, and hosting platform for all my audio content. I also use YouTube but I don’t focus too much time on that. I just try to focus on like audio and writing. So those are like the ways that kind of propagate messages. And I trust the sub stack algorithms and get Spotify and podcasting algorithms to sort of distribute my content accordingly. And then I try to find ways to funnel in into try to reward users through free NFTs, on my website. So, if you go to Adam levy.io/NFT, every single season of the podcast, I give a free NFT, okay. And I can sort of do this by kind of seeing how people are engaging with my content across sub stack, right, and how they’re sort of listening to my stuff across Spotify, how they’re engaging with my newsletter, whatever it may be. And I integrate this free NFT element because it’s a cool way to sort of like capture engagement and reward the user for being a participant in a specific season along the way, right? 

Why is that incentive? Why is it like important? Why do users care? Because they get to sort of collect this what I call an NFT pin, a listener pin, okay? And they get to kind of like benchmark their participation on chain as a mid-season five or mid-season six listener. And then me on the other end, I can sort of like build my arsenal of content and distribution to reward these people accordingly, right? So, one thing that I give to my Pin Holders is I give it a selection of additional content that’s gated strictly for Pin Holders. So, one thing that I did for season five, which was last season, I created an updated database of the top 400 Music NFT collectors with their Twitter, their wallet address, and their net worth, essentially on the platforms that they collect on. Because around that time, I was also doing music NFT related content, and had a lot of creators listening, and they wanted to learn how they can sort of spin up their first music NFT campaign. So, I gave them a database of those who sort of collect music NFTs, right? And by the way, this is all public information, right? It’s just like, somebody has to be crazy enough to take the time to do it. Okay. So, another thing that I do, is like more exclusive content. So, I create like specific articles and blog posts, let’s say on mirror, and I gate them using bonfire, based off that they can use their pin to access like something that I received, like the free NFT or the, what was it called? The Art of free NFTs, basically breaking down, like why free NFTs are like the Trojan horse. And what you could do is essentially as a creator to benefit as well. I tried to capture, like email addresses as a creator, right, and also wallet addresses as a creator, because that allows me to create better content and better experiences for my listeners. Yeah.

Deciding Whats Gated and What Is Not

So, I’m going to ask a question about the email addresses versus wallet in one second. But before that, coming back to the token gating, is there any metrics you’re using or decisions on what you should be gaining versus not gaining? Or is that just hey, this is a cool idea that I think, really is valuable, like the database. And so that’s what I’m going to gate versus other things are open and free to anyone, like how do you decide what’s gated and what’s not?

Adam Levy: I decide what’s good and what’s not based off what I think is gonna have the most amount of value. So, my audio, my video content, my newsletters that I publish three times a week, like that’s free to access, because I think that’s like, the standard, like, that’s what people should expect and that’s what I should deliver. Because if I under deliver, then I’m not sort of like producing at the realm of what a creator should be sort of producing. Now I could be completely psycho and be overthinking it, right? The reason why I sort of gate the database, or the additional articles, etc., is because, yeah, I want people to feel like there’s some value in getting the pins, right, so you get access to this database, you get access to these additional articles, that’s sort of like my mental model and lessons learned, across 20 episodes of recording. And bringing up the practitioner also kind of like applies his lessons, right that he learns across the podcast, you get to access that as long as you take the effort and time to claim an NFT and spend some gas to claim the NFT, right. And I feel like to that extent, because I spent so much more time creating that myself, in organizing that myself, that it should be rewarded accordingly to those who sort of take the additional steps themselves, to access that content. So, audio newsletter, etc., for free, additional sort of like content that takes me longer to curate is what’s gated, but still for free, right? It’s still free to access, it’s just gated.

Totally. When you put out these free NFTs, do you have the plan of the content that’s going to be gated already or is some of that just happening kind of naturally as you go?

Adam Levy: Typically, it’s like a week before I do it, or two weeks before I do it, because I’m able to really just like sit down for a minute and really reflect on all these conversations. Look through all the blog posts that I even published on my own website, to the conversations that I have in the past, see what got the most engagement on Twitter, right? And what got the most amount of downloads and sort of double down on those. Because if the metrics are telling me that those are the ones that did perform the best, like those should be the ones that I sort of, yeah, double down on. I think another interesting thing is like what I’ve been experimenting with, that extends beyond the newsletter, is now posting on Leinster, because I’ve realized that content creators do really well in Leinster in terms of how their content gets distributed. So, I remember posting I did this one like commemorative post basically celebrating a year in writing, 52 newsletters were published. Also publish it on Leinster, it got over like 1000 people collecting it, a bunch of likes, a bunch of comments. Now some of the comments were questionable, of course, but there was some like legit engagement that then translated into more newsletter subscribers. That’s something I’ve been posting on and posting more on as well. Yeah.

Collecting Wallet Addresses

Hey, that sounds like an example of tip number one of experimenting, you know, leading to growing your community now. Very, very cool and insightful there. And I want to just say, you know, you you said, you’re trying to be a practitioner of some of these lessons you’ve learned and that’s definitely something I’m, that’s in my next step too. So very, very timely comment. So, I did want to ask about wallet addresses. I’m jumping a little bit ahead to a community question that I sourced from Twitter, that was directly aligned to this. I want to ask it now just while you bring it up versus waiting to the end of the pod, but they want to know, do you think collecting crypto wallets will become more important than email addresses for solo creators? Why, how and then you know I added on top of that, what do you even do with the wallet addresses once you collect them?

Adam Levy: So right now, I mentioned earlier that like wallet swap messaging still sucks, like, people’s attention is still on web two platforms, there has yet to be like a chat application, that’s purely wallet to wallet base, there’s a bunch of projects that raised a shit ton of money around that, to sort of execute on that idea and create the ultimate platform, but it’s not there yet. A lot of the reasons is because it just takes a lot for the user to go to another platform, on top of the all the other like chat applications that we have, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, DMS, Twitter, DMS, Telegram, Discord, etc. Like, we’re over bombarded. Now we’re gonna have another chat application. I’m a big fan of it, but I think has yet to be executed. So, the reason why I collect email addresses, is so that I can have again, back to the web to analogy, like I have to build like distribution strategies as a way to communicate my messages, right? And web two has just perfected that. And the reason why I capture wallet addresses, is so that I can provide additional value to those who kind of proved who’s listening. Another reason why I capture wallet addresses, is because there’s also a lot of information in wallet addresses, that allows me as a creator to be a smarter creator. One of the things that web two creators have done really well like Mr. Beast, for example, he’s very public about this, I think he talked about this on the Joe Rogan podcast, where he like, over analyzes the performance of like a thumbnail. And if he doesn’t see specific metrics around how things are performing, he kind of scrapes ideas and videos, even if they’re already produced, right? So, he uses like YouTube’s data, YouTube’s analytics to kind of become a better creator and a better-informed creator so that he can create better content for his users. 

Similarly, in web three, that element is still incredibly important. But we don’t have that for creators, right? Right now, it’s just like primary value, secondary value, total value locked, all these like financialized base metrics, that’s sort of, what your creator may think kind of guides the community’s health, but there’s so much more that happens on chain, than just like primary sell secondary sell, price go up price go down kind of thing, right. So, I also try to use those addresses as a way to kind of like an aggregate analysis, as to who my listeners are, who are my collectors may provide better content, and better sponsors and better information for them, for example, okay. And this kind of ties into Bello, which we can talk about later but Bello essentially like an analytics tool. And I noticed through this analytics tool that I built, me and my me and my co-founder built is, a lot of my collectors also collect on Zora marketplace. And prior to knowing that, I never really knew that I should maybe be creating content with Zora, right, so I brought up to date, I think, like two executives on the podcast, and those episodes are outperforming any other episode or any other interview that I’ve had in the past, and I was able to kind of curate that content by looking at what’s happening on chain. There’s a bunch more examples that pertain to sponsorships and selling NFTs, etc. But that’s sort of like my mental model. Yeah, does that answer the question, I hope?

Selling Sponsorship NFTs

Yeah, no, totally, totally does. And you hit on a couple points that I wanted to bring up next. So good segue to and honestly, you just mentioned monetization and sponsors and I had some thoughts around that. Because I see that you, A, you do podcast sponsorships, and you do it through selling NFTs and so that was unique to me. And I’m curious, you know, do brands or companies like buying the NFTs to showcase their sponsorship, because I feel like a lot of times in traditional sponsoring, when I’m listening to a podcast, I’m gonna hear, you know, brought to you by, you know, X sponsor, that’s something the brand doesn’t really get to hold and to say, hey, we’re supporting this creator over here. And it’s very, they’re very separated, you know. So, I’m curious if you found any more positive buy in by selling sponsorship packages in the form of NFTs?

Adam Levy: Yeah. When somebody collects a sponsor, a lot of like, the excitement around that comes from the PR moment that happens with it, right? So being able to say somebody collected my NFT, or it’s sold out or did this, it’s great distribution. It’s a great PR event, online that gets attention, right? Since episode one. I was very lucky to have two particular parties that sort of bet on me early, when I had no viewership. It’s coin vies and po up, proof of attendance protocol. Daniel and Patricio, they’re incredible people, when I sort of announced that I’m going live with this podcast, they were the first people to sort of give me sponsors, give me sponsorship money, and collect my sponsorship NFTs because at the time, I guess there was a gap. Well, not a guess, I saw there was a gap to sort of like create crater related content in web three. So, the way I do it is that, I give out these like nontransferable NFTs, the soul bound NFTs for people who like keywords, and essentially, it’s my way to earmark participation in a specific season. So, I’m on season six now, I mean, six seasons have passed and every single season, somebody has sort of sponsored either somebody or I think it was Max five, I think season three had maximum five, five NFTs that were collected, or season four, I can’t remember. 

Why do I do an NFT not just like a wire transfer, right? Because I can do things with that NFT from like a token gated access point of view, that I can’t do with a wire transfer, right? I can’t wire like token gate, a wire transfer, right. But if I have some participation on chain, and you can prove that through the transaction and the NFT, that they hold in their wallet, as I develop mint, as I developed my creatorship, I can create cool experiences, not only for listeners, not only for speakers, which also get NFTs, but also sponsors, right? And we can do this whole, like on chain token-based Emilia, that I can’t really do through traditional payments. So, it acts as like a token for activation, essentially, for additional experiences. Yeah.

I got the coin vise episode flag to listen, the one you just did, to listen to on my weekly rotation. Okay, so you just mentioned something I didn’t realize, the speakers are getting NFT’s as well. So how you distributing those?

Adam Levy: So, sponsors get different NF T’s than speakers. Well, sponsors and listeners get the same type of like NFT, speakers get a different NFT, speakers get po ops, because it’s just super easy to distribute. And many times, they just like doc’s themselves online, so I can just kind of Airdrop to them without their permission, right? Or without them knowing without the hassle of having them claim it. And then yeah, sponsors get more of like NFTs that they can mint on my site. Same thing with listeners. And I just tried to do everything on chain, like try to do every element on chain. Now I’m introducing also like content on chain. So, I’m starting to tokenize my episodes and sort of create, like podcasts NFTs that we can talk about later.

Lessons Learned Creating Podcast NFTs

Yeah, I mean, that was my next question is, like I see you selling podcast episodes as NFTs and I’m curious what success and lessons learned you’ve gotten there and even you know, just the decision of how do you turn which episodes into NFTs or like the whole catalog versus single one. But yeah, let’s just start high level with lessons learned and success.

Adam Levy: Okay, so lessons learned for free NFTs. Okay.

Or free NFTs. I was really thinking podcasts NFTs.

Adam Levy: Oh, podcasts NFTs. Okay. So, do you want to talk about the sponsorship ones or do you want to talk about me tokenizing episode? Or both?

I mean, both. I think you did kind of break down the sponsorship of if there’s anything else that’s not, that you didn’t cover, then feel free?

Adam Levy: No, I think we covered it all for sponsorship. So, it’s okay. So, podcast NFTs, tokenizing on audio file. Okay. Well, the web three community is getting more familiar with collecting wav files through music NFTs, right. For the longest time, I’ve always been like trying to think about like, what are other ways podcasters can sort of monetize their content. Because podcasters don’t get treated the same way as music artists do on streaming platforms, like Josh, you and I, we don’t get paid per stream. Like we don’t see that, to some extent, maybe like a top 5% podcasters or top 1%, see that revenue. But there’s a huge, like long tail of creators that don’t see that. Whereas music artists, regardless if they’re like, top 1%, or top 99%, right, like, at some point, at over a certain amount of time, they’ll get their revenue per stream. If it’s set up correctly, their distribution channels, whatever may be, but we don’t see that. So NFTs can be poised as a new way to sort of capture that value by, yeah, I guess incentivizing the user to collect something, if they really enjoy the episode. Like that’s how I see it, it’s another form of patronage. So, there’s no real royalties for me to attach to this podcast NFT, because I don’t get anything from web two streaming platforms. What I could do in the future, which I’m not too sure on, like the legal landscape is like, sort of maybe do like an income sharing agreement with the sponsors who pay me right, which I don’t want to promise any of that, because it’s very, very weird and very unclear. 

So, I’m staying away from that. The whole takeaway is like, I tried to experiment more with like, tokenizing episodes, okay, and I don’t tokenize every single episode, I figure out the ones that I think are going to be performing best, or the ones who have performed best in the past. So, the first one that I did was a one of one, it was with Erik Ripple, head of data at Zora. And that goes back to me realizing through on chain data, seeing that we have an overlap in our collectors, and kind of seeing how that episode outperformed all the other episodes. So, I was like, whatever, I’m gonna make this my first podcast NFT, it was a one on one. I priced it at zero, it was an open bid structure for 24 hours. And I think like eight people bid and Jacob, who’s the co-founder of Zora, ended up claiming it for like point 22 Eth, okay, the second one that I did, I was like alright, let’s mess around with the conditions. So, the next one that I did was an episode of blockchain Brett, ended up being my most listened to episode for season three. And a lot of people, when I posted that they’re like, wow, this is such an iconic episode, like this is super cool. This episode made me buy my first music NFT, like those were what they were commenting and that ended up being in translating into transactions, right and collections. So, I kind of saw that wait, there’s value in podcasting, podcasting is just another art form. This is something that people would collect. And the price for that by the way, if we’re ready just going on this, I got from Bello, right? 

So, I was able to see, kind of like what my collectors were purchasing right now, at the different price points that they were purchasing at and use that as a way to kind of price my NFTs because I didn’t know what to price it at. So, like, alright, I’m just gonna go with that. And the last one was with Cooper’s episode, he did like a debut on the mint podcast, kind of like revealing his new $10 million fund. And we said that this is gonna be the next episode we tokenize and also did really well. There’s no real like, I guess like magic to how I do it. I just kind of see like, what’s the best content? What are people enjoying? And use that because assuming that if it’s performing well in web two, that it might perform well and web three? Yeah. Do you think that before monetizing, right, given the condition of the market right now, it’s a better idea to experiment with free before you go to monetizing work, or, I mean, is that really case by case dependent, and it’s hard to even put like a rule of thumb on it.

Yeah. Do you think that before monetizing, right, given the condition of the market right now, it’s a better idea to experiment with free before you go to monetizing work, or, I mean, is that really case by case dependent, and it’s hard to even put like a rule of thumb on it.

Adam levy: I think you can still monetize work, you just have to be like, super self-aware as to how you can monetize, I still see people trying to do like multiple editions, like drop multiple editions at a really high price point and you just can’t do that right now. Like point 05 is the new point one, right? Like point one was like the premier price for like, music NFTs in the bull market. Now, it’s like point 05 and we’re also seeing like point 02, right? So, you just have to be very, like cognizant and self-aware. The NFTs that I sold for the podcast, they were, there was like price at like point 02, point 03, and for 25 to 33 editions, like super low. But it’s enough to sort of build some type of like, patronage model on chain and like some type of like paid collector base, just to kind of like get things going, right? I still think people are collecting it. Honestly, my opinion doesn’t matter. Like, look what’s happening on chain, like people are still buying NFTs, maybe at lower volumes. But yeah, money’s still being spent, Eth is still being deployed.

What Should Your First NFT Be?

Yeah. So, if the monetization is really, you broke that down really well, then what about your first NFT? I mean, first, have been, something that got a lot of hype during the bull run, like, you know, X artists first edition, or this was the first NFT ever, you know that that was a narrative we had for a long time. So how should we be thinking about what your first NFT is? Or is that placing too much importance on it, and we should really just run to experiment as fast as we can.

Adam Levy: I think that’s up to the Creator, because everybody has a different emotional attachment to their art. Some people take days, months, even years to even push something out. And some people just like, I’m just gonna produce a song and release it the next day and minted as an NFT, right? It really, it’s really dependent on the creator. But one thing that I learned from the podcasts that I applied to myself is, I think it was in season four, I interviewed Verta, who was one of like, the music NFT, like, I guess, like icons in the space, really said that, yeah, really set the tone for a lot of other people and a lot of other artists entering. And when she came on the podcast, she basically talked about how, when I did my first drop, I wasn’t sure what to price it at. So, I’d let the market decide. Similarly, I did that with my first one of one, I didn’t know what to price it at but I did a 24-hour open market bid, right? I set the minimum, the minimum price was like point 0000001 Eth, so basically free. I was like I’ll just tweet about it and see what people think and let them decide and that’s what I did. I think if you’re like a nobody creator like me, like you can mess around but if you’re like Kim Kardashian, or you ar all these other, like bigger creators and celebrities that are entering the space, there’s a level of expectation that they have in their brand, that they need to sell out, in addition to make millions. And I think that’s why like a lot of them aren’t sort of experimenting publicly, at least in the space and maybe investors and other projects but not do their own drops.

Platforms to Help Creators Get Started with NFTs

Makes sense. Totally makes sense. Last question I have for you on kind of the monetization and the minting, before we do get into a little bit more Bello talk is, are there any platforms or minting mechanisms that you can throw out that would be really helpful. I mean, you’ve kind of mentioned some, as we’ve talked through this, but really specifically, what’s my minting stack as a creator who is not sure where to start?

Adam Levy: So back to the beginning of the conversation, we talked about experimentation, something that I’ve been experimenting more with like full transparency. They’re also a sponsor for season six of the podcast, but I think it’s been such like a win, win type of collaboration, that it’s allowed me to grow my creatorship as well, so I’ve been posting on lens protocol, specifically on Leinster and lens tube, I haven’t seen too much engagement on lens two but seeing like a lot of like engagement on Leinster, which is like a web three native Twitter and I, this goes back to me telling you like the content distribution, how things kind of get circulated is done really well, I don’t know what goes into it but I’m getting like great engagement and maybe questionable engagement too. But I it’s converting to like newsletter subscribers, so I’m continuously doubling down on that. So, but that that kind of comes into form when you are kind of like tweeting or like doing like blog posts for example, you can like publish long form copy on there, in terms of like minting because you can also mint that piece by the way to like, if I mint like when you publish on Lens, you mint to your piece right? So, people can collect it. So that’s on that. 

Okay, so we’ve got Leinster.

Adam Levy: Leinster Okay, next thing is Zora, has a really good like interface and really simple interface for minting any type of NFT, I think they’re also very, like culturally relevant and a lot of the early, early trends, like for example like music NFTs, right? Like that got kicked off on Zora, before you had catalog and sound and all these other curation-based platforms. So, Zora is really great. That’s where I met my podcasts NFTs. What else? I think mirror like, although we have yet to see like, like writing NFTs really take off I like it. Like did you really read something if you didn’t collect it? Like that’s what like covers in my mind now. So being able to collect and support a writer is super cool. So, if you want to write like mints, like or like publish like really interesting like well-designed blog posts, right? Go on mirror. Yeah, there’s like there’s too many like free NFTs are like I love po ops, po ops are great for free NFTs depending on how you use them. They will sort of like, I don’t want to say banned your account but like restrict you from minting NFTs, if they see you abusing the system. But if you do it in a very like thoughtful way, right? They’ll support it. 

And then using coin vise.

Adam Levy: I am using coin vise, like a lot of the creators that I work with when it comes to minting their social tokens for example, or like their membership NFTs, I send them to coin vise right? I haven’t done like a membership NFT myself, but it’s a great tool for that type of used case.

What is Bello?

Okay, great breakdown. No, thanks for that. Okay, so Bello, let’s dive into that and give it the rundown. So, you mentioned it, I mean, a couple of times, as you’re talking through your journey on the importance of blockchain analytics, and how for you as a creator that gives you insight into your community, who they wanted to hear from, how you could price point your collections and whatnot. So, what is Bello? Why is it helpful for web three creators?

Adam Levy: So, I’m super excited to talk about this. And I think a great way to sort of like understand Bello is, diving into what happens in web two as a creator. So, before I jump into web three, as a creator, let’s talk about web two. So, in web two, creators are the platform, right? If you remember when Tik Tok came out, okay, a lot of the Instagram artists tried to move and migrate onto that platform, but they didn’t see as much success and they lost a lot of their virality, right, a lot of their audience. And now Tik Tok creators are like the new hot thing and it shouldn’t be like that. And it’s also part of the reason like what lens protocol solves with that, essentially, on web two, as being the product of the platform, you sort of like you license and give your data out for free. And there’s only so much access, you can have that to that information. Whereas in web three, when you build audiences through tokens, right, and whether you bootstrap a community and liquidity through a token drop, right, or you give out free NFTs to create a top-level funnel of collectors, to later monetize, whatever may be the binding element is the token on chain, that can be used to sort of build really meaningful communities and with that comes a lot of meaningful data. Whereas the web, the creator, you get to own, you get to control, it’s yours, right? Ethereum will never shadow banned you, it will never do that. 

As a creator, you are the platform and everywhere you go, you take your, sort of build experiences around creators, that allow them to kind of bring their community to them. So, on that thought creators need to have access to the type of value that they create, and the value that they capture. And right now, there’s no real way to access information on chain on an aggregate level, the individuals that kind of collect your NFTs, there’s only so much you can find out through existing analytic tools, right? So as a creator myself, as someone who’s given a lot of NFTs, who’s doing paid NFTs, I kind of experienced this problem, because I had a theory, I was like, wait, if I knew more about who my collectors were on chain, and the type of activity that they have, I can then create better content for them, I can then find better sponsors and make money and make more money as a creator. I can maybe even find ways to price my NFTs by seeing what type of activity and so much more, so that sort of like we’re bello came in, and I hit up my friend Ellie, she’s a very, very talented developer, we got connected through another friend. And I was like, Ellie, we have this problem, I’m having this problem. Let’s try to solve this problem, because I’ve been talking about it on the podcast for months now. And nobody has seemed to solve it. We went to Eth Amsterdam, we built an MVP, and about 48 hours, we presented the MVP. We won; we were one of the people who won the hackathon. And we’ve been working on it since and the sole intention of bello to help creators learn more about who their collectors are, who their audiences, so that they in turn can become better creators, better content machines, better individuals and kind of pursue their creative spirit that web three allowing them to sort of like, kind of like be, yeah, liberated essentially. So, that’s Bello.

Three Ways That On-Chain Data Can Help Inform a Creator Strategy

That was a heck of a pitch for a product or a web three application. You nailed that one. I love it, very cool that you found this problem that you had and then went out to solve it. It’s like that’s the piece of creator advice that I see so much online is like you’re right for one person because there’s thousands of that person out there, who want to hear that problem and solution. And for you, it’s like you built for your problem and knowing that other people are facing the same thing. So then if there’s three ways that on chain data can help inform a creator strategy, are you able to provide three? I’ve got guesses, but I’d love to hear from you.

Adam Levy: So, when you’re trying to do activations with brands, because brand collaborations tend to be like a really big source of revenue for creators, you want to know as much as you can about your audience, so that you can provide these statistics and these metrics to these brands, to form the right partnerships and activations. So, you can use like Spotify data, you can use Google Analytics to kind of tell whether they’re male or female, what percentage, where they’re coming from, and kind of curate campaign accordingly. But on chain, now I can kind of tell like, what their net worth is, right? How experienced they are in the space, based off their activity. So, kind of seeing their net worth, right and their level of experience, based off their wallet age, is a great indicator that I can then take two brands and be like, yo, these are the demographics and statistics pegged with what’s happening in web two. So, I have what’s happening on chain and web three, and their characteristics on web two, it builds her more compelling narrative when going to brands. So that’s number one. Okay. Number two is sort of seeing like what other communities and audiences are they a part of. So, I noticed back to that example that a majority percent of my collectors also collects on Zora marketplace. And this was identified by the Zora that they collect, different NFTs that they’ve minted on the marketplace, etc. And based off that, I was able to make this action by inviting somebody on the podcast, and seeing a noticeable like increase in downloads accordingly. 

Another thing that I noticed is also like potential sponsorships, right, because that’s my form of revenue as a podcaster as a creator. So, I noticed that a lot of my creators are like multi chain on hold Matic. And they’re also Ave native, so engaged in the collaboration with lens protocol and the conversions on those campaigns have been like through the roof. They’ve been really, really well really successful. Another third example, okay, and number three, is pricing, okay? A lot of creators don’t know how to price their NFTs, right? They’re good at creating, that’s what they do as creators, but how do you approach pricing? So this was the problem that I had as a podcaster, which I wanted to figure out what should I price my podcast and FTEs at, so by being able to see in an aggregate way, in a non-intrusive, in a non-soldered sort of like revealing way, seeing what my collectors were purchasing, and let’s say the last 60 days, I can see all their primary and secondary purchases, categorized into specific buckets and be able to tell like, okay, I realized that out of my, whatever, 600 collectors for a specific season, right, they purchased about 1000 or so NFTs and last 60 days, and majority of them were purchased for less than point 05 Eth. So, if I want to find the right price, I should experiment with less than point 05 Eth. That should be my price range. So yeah.

Really great practical examples of how like on chain data can help inform creators and I just found myself thinking about the traditional music artist, and you know, on Spotify, it gives you information on the top 10 cities, that your audiences in and this is almost a way of looking at, instead of where people live. It’s like where do people spend their time on the internet? By looking at what NFTs they’ve collected and getting insight into the communities and discussions they’re participating in. So you’re able to figure out where they are physically in the, you know, in the metaverse to an extent, how valuable would it be as an artist, if one of the ways they make money is through merch and but you have no idea how much money artists of a similar size to you are making off merch, what types of merch they’re really selling, you know, where people are buying it from and now adding this NFTs, thing about NF T’s as a revenue stream, gives you just so much more insight into how to operate as a creator yourself. So that excites me, I think that we’re ways, away from seeing just a lot of people adopting this and fans really adopting like, you know, NFT revenue stream type of products, but I see that vision and I think we’ll get there because it’s just better for a creator than the options they have today.

Adam Levy: I think just on the on the music front, because it’s so interesting. And music artists are so hot in crypto right now, when you do this, like on chain analysis, you might even find out that a lot of your collectors overlap with another music artist, right? And you guys have never done music together. And if you just collaborate on a song, and if it makes sense, of course, genre wise, etc. You guys produce a song together, mint it, that could be additional revenue for you as a music artist, right? You don’t necessarily have to release it in web two, right? Like that can be a completely different audience that you release for, it could be like a web three exclusive type of song. There’re so many things that you can kind of find out as a creator, using this on chain data, in a non-intrusive like a non-kind of like, penetrating way for example.

What’s the Best Way to Get My First 1000 True Fans As a Web3 Writer?

Yeah, totally. All right, so appreciate the description of bello. I’d now like to transition into one more community question before hitting you with my one two, web three. I did ask a community question earlier, my second one is from me. So, this is a question from Josh as a creator to Adam. Now I’m thinking about starting a web three newsletter myself, and I’ve got a lot of ideas. And maybe some of it, we talked about off record. But what is the way for me, like I put a subscribe link in my Twitter bio, and I really haven’t promoted it too hard yet, it was just to kind of test an idea and I got 100 subscribers. And so, which is which is fantastic because considering I haven’t put out any writing yet, but my question for you is like, what’s the best way to get my first 1000 true fans, as a web three writer, if I’m starting from scratch, like I have a web three native audience on Twitter, but I’m trying to figure out how to take that next step. Is there one action that you think would be recommended to start getting to that, you know, 1000 true fans of real, you know, community members who are interested in the work that I’m putting out?

Adam Levy: it just falls down into two words. Okay. Free NFTs I think that’s what it comes down to. Because the free NFT collectors are not going to all be your 1000 true fans, like they won’t fall into that category. But you can continuously create like token gated initiatives around those free NFT collectors, that then maybe inspires paid collectors through that, right. And I think if you spent like six months doing that, four months, three months, whatever, however much time you put online, I think you could see some like really cool and fun results. I think also with that, the more you talk about like your purpose when building that true like that free, free NFT funnel, the more you’ll attract like-minded people who appreciate that purpose, that why and will want to just kind of like claim that free thing to show like they were there as a creator, as a collector in your creative journey for sure.

A Creator That Inspired Adam

Love it, love the answer. I think that is advice that is not just applicable to me, but also other people who are trying to figure out what that first step is. So, thanks for that. All right, one, two, web three, three rapid fire questions to end the pod. First one, and it’s gonna be, this is gonna be a hard one for you, particularly, because of all the people you talk to, but who’s an influential three creator entrepreneur collector, that has inspired or educated you? You got to pick one.

Adam Levy: Got to pick one. I would have to say, Queen George, she’s the one, because if it wasn’t for her, and all the flexibility, then like all the openness that she was kind of like, yeah, I guess like open to with my crazy ideas in the beginning, I would have never like had someone to sort of be like a test dummy with, right, and teach me about all these things and be the practitioner that I want it to be and sort of apply what I was sort of like preaching on the podcast, so I’d have to say Queen Georgia.

Great. Second question, favorite NFT

Adam Levy: My favorite NFT is my little noun. Like by far, I think also because it got me two new speakers on the podcast. So, it was a bidding war. Okay. It was between Andy from to Sarah, Eric from who’s like the CEO and founder of art blocks, and Eric Ripple, who is the head of data at Zora, just like those that entire like on chain, like auction or whatever, created a really cool, cool relationships, etc. Yeah, so my little note.

Craziest Thing We’ll Be Doing In the Metaverse 5 Years Down the Road

That’s awesome. I was on Twitter, the night that little nouns went live, and you know, saw it and then I watched like little noun 5,6, 7 get minted, and I bid on, I don’t remember was like number 10, or something like that, and got into a little bit of a bidding war, and I pushed my price. Because I really liked it. I didn’t, I didn’t win and I was I was second. I did not pick one up after that. Because I liked that one, I saw so much. So, I pop on little noun every now and then I’m like, let me see what’s minting right now. All right. All right. Last question in five years, what’s the craziest thing you think we’ll be doing in the metaverse? Or maybe I’ll extend this to the creator economy that people just aren’t thinking about yet.

Adam Levy: I think in five years, okay. Something that people are going to be doing in a web three shit. I don’t know. I have no idea.

2023, you know, like something that’s on the cusp on the horizon.

Adam Levy: We’re in 2022. Right, Josh. All right.

Kind of dependent on how you feel about life. Yeah, we’re in 2022, still.

Adam Levy: I think five years from now. Okay. We may be falling trap more to like dystopian world and we’re already seeing like instances of that. And I want to be an optimist when I say this, but I think the meme always wins to some extent. People kind of like preferring their online identity. Yeah, right versus their in-person identity will actually like we’ll see that like, consistently, we’re seeing very small instances of that right now, even people that have had in the podcast like they doc’s themselves in person, but they’ll never post a picture of themselves online, right? Of their true face and they’ll always sort of like overlap that with like their mask, right like their PFP or whatever, I think we’re gonna see a lot more of that. I also don’t think that’s like such like a type of answer that people may be expecting because it’s five years from now like, what, what can we really know? But what’s for sure is that crypto is going to be here to stay. More creators are going to be crypto native; they’re going to be using social tokens NFTs, Dao primitives, as a way to build monetize their audience, and I’m going to be here for it. So that’s a solid answer, despite me not knowing.

Outro

It’s a great answer and I actually really liked that you touched on identity, right before we ended the pod, just because it’s so close to what we’re doing, I’m unstoppable. Thinking about how, as a creator, you know, I talk about NFT domains a lot, as an identity builder, your identity on the internet and how we’re going to attach on chain data, off chain data to it. But like if you start with your NFT domain as identity, and then you think about all the actions you take on chain, whether you’re minting free NFT domains, minting work of yours, for, you know, actual Eth, or something like that on any of these protocols you mentioned, that’s building your identity, and you want your name associated with that, and not just your wallet address. So, great one to end the pod with. So, thanks so much. This has been a fantastic episode; I learned a ton. And I’m going to be listening back and thinking about how I can apply some of these principles to I want to do 100%. And I think I’m gonna have to even commemorate that by scooping up one of your podcasts NFTs. So, let us know where we can find, connect with you after listening to the pod.

Adam Levy: Yeah, so if you go to Adam levy.io, you can find my website and then there’s a bunch of fun navigation stuff at the top, from the podcast, to the blog, to the newsletter, etc. I’m Levychain everywhere, on Twitter, Instagram, I think the newsletters even like leveychain.substack.com. One thing I’d also say is like DM me, I want to hear about what you’re working on, like the latest crowdfund you’re trying to complete, any new creative ideas you’re working on, and how crypto is sort of like playing a role in that. So, my DMs are always open. I may be long to reply, but I’m there, I promise. But, yeah, thank you for having me, Josh. This was great. I had a really good time. You taught me a lot too and I hope to do this again soon.

Awesome. Well, thanks for listening to the Unstoppable Podcast, coming out with a new episode every single week. Please, like, subscribe, goes a long way to helping us build our crypto audience, with that, a catching the metaverse, see you on Twitter. Peace out.

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Podcast Transcript

The Intersection of Social Justice and Web3 with Heno.


Background

Mint Season 6 episode 24 welcomes Heno. the web3-native music artist who joined Mint to share the latest on his upcoming EP “In The Meantime” which acts as a vehicle to his next album, “I’m Tired Of Being Hypersurveilled”. Throughout the hour we breakdown his intentions behind the project and the overarching restorative justice initiative.

I hope you guys enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 01:33 – Intro
  • 07:06 – Navigating Through Web3
  • 14:03 – Where Music NFTs Meet Social Impact Initiatives
  • 26:45 – Why Web3 Is the Perfect Platform to Target Social Justice
  • 34:12 – What Kind of Help is Heno. Looking For?
  • 38:43 – Outro



Support Season 6’s NFT Sponsors

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Lens Protocol is a composable and decentralized social graph, ready for you to build on so you can focus on creating a great experience, not scaling your users. 
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(🍄,🔍) Bello: The #1 for blockchain analytics tool for web3 creators

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


Heno welcome to the podcast. Thank you for being on. How are you doing?

Heno: I’m doing great man. Just glad to be here. Watching the podcast and aware of what you’ve been doing in this space. So glad we can come together for a very important conversation, you know.

Intro

Likewise, I’m feeling good. I’m a collector of yours. You’ve been on my radar for a minute now. I feel like I’ve collected two of your things at this point. And then we also met, like the crypto events. Yeah. So longtime come in, well overdue, but we’re here now. I think a good place to start Heno is, who are you? What does the world need to know about you and how did you get your start into crypto?

Heno: All right. Okay, for those who don’t know me, my name is Heno. I’m a first-generation Ethiopian Asian artist, producer, overall creative. And I’m from Takoma Park, Maryland. I got into web three about a year and a half ago, I would say like last April. And it was, shout out to Tara moves, the visual artists that I really worked with a lot. And she was very adamant about me getting into web three and utilizing NFTs and stuff because of my intentionality and my storytelling, which I come from traditional music to, done a lot of like touring shows, performances or like, collaborations, just stuff like that. And yes, so she was just like, you know, it kind of opened me into like, understanding, I guess what I’ve noticed in traditional music, which was like conversations are more around like marketing and like what’s the single more than like stories, so when I started to join Twitter spaces and clubhouse and just got a hearing the conversations around music, people really did care about like intentionality and storytelling in a way that I aligned with and kind of saw space for me to tell my truths and really connect off of that. And from there, kind of just spending the first six months just learning. I didn’t want to rush through the process of that, because I think that it honestly does you good to take your time in web three to like understand things. 

So, I was just showing up, showing up in Twitter spaces, showing up here in conversations. And people would say things like smart contract, or, you know, just and I would watch videos. So, I would just take my time watching a few videos a day for like six months and eventually felt comfortable enough to you know, I was reaching out to people I would like listen to drop, people’s drop parties and hear their stories and then just, you know, reach out and say, hey, like, what you’re doing is great, keep it up. Like I don’t need anything for you. I’m not shilling my project, I just wanted to, like organically just reach out and show love. And over months of doing that I kind of started to build that community with people I kept seeing, because you see the same people over and over at certain points the more, you’re really in it and I went to my first IRL experience in in Atlanta, shout out to Black NFT art and Gomba Dima, they really, they had brought me on to minting my Genesis NFT which was like an animation by Don J. And they paired me with for a record I put out. And yeah, from there, I kind of just met a lot of people in the space that I had been seeing. But more importantly, I was at an IRL experience that I saw a lot of people who looked like me and I didn’t realize how important that was to like really connect with people in the space, that shared similar perspectives and stories. 

And that was very powerful for me and shout out to NFT now because they were really like adamant seeing me perform and just showing my work and speaking about it. They had invited me to NFT NYC and we’re just like you need to come check this out like and I did and from there I kind of just started going to all the events, you know that got you know the art basil the south by south west, all the NFT LA’s, it’s just even helping organize and be a part of NFT Oakland. And that was crazy, just kind of learning what we’ve learned and being able to bring web three and empower artists, communities that are close ties to and it just was like a whirlwind of stuff and being able to just sell out on all of the NFTs I’ve been dropping on like Zora or, you know, collaborations with Mick Jenkins, or like Toro, or being a part of the Snoop Dogg drop at sound, doing stuff on catalog. 

You’ve been everywhere.

Heno: It’s kind of crazy. So fast forward a year and a half later, you know I’ve always been community oriented to, even outside of web three. Before web three, I’ve done a lot of volunteering with different organizations, whether that’s for the LAUSD, helping with public schools, whether that’s people’s program in Oakland, Little Sisters of the Poor in Washington, DC. And even at foundations in Ethiopia, helping build and fundraise for knowledge centers. Paying it forward is always like been a thing for me. So being in web three, and being able to use storytelling and use this intentionality and use these tools to then uplift and help other communities that I have, like ties to has been like, now what I feel not only is like, a great opportunity to do but also feel like it’s a responsibility to do because I’ve learned so much here and it’s like, okay, well, we can actually apply and use these tools in a way we couldn’t in traditional music. So that’s kind of just where what leads us here today. And kind of just what fueled some of this social impact stuff I’m on in web three. And yeah, that’s a very long-winded intro.

Navigating Through Web3

That’s a perfect Intro because it really highlights, it highlights sort of like your overall journey being in so many different pockets, in so many different communities. And there’s a reason why you’ve had the success that you’ve had. Well, and your story is very unique. Your background is very unique. And you’ve been able to navigate like the social capital element of finding your community, in a world that’s new, that’s fresh, that’s confusing to many. And one thing that I tried to highlight on the podcast is, I want to like pick your brain on some tips, because there’s a lot of artists that are trying to navigate the space and you seem to have figured it out for the most part. How do you sort of go by navigating an environment that you’re unfamiliar with, right, such as web three?

Heno: Yeah, I compare it to like, everything is a learning process, right? Everything that you initially try is going to make you uncomfortable, like when you rode your bike for the first time, you were a little scared, but once you got it, you got it. And I think that having that kind of mindset when approaching something like this, because I self admittedly say that web three is intimidating, and it’s a lot of things to do. It’s a lot of, it’s an ever-changing area. So, like every day are new tools. And you know, so it’s like, I think just one being kind to yourself in the process of like, navigating, because I think that some people would just see, especially during bull markets, just see big sales, and it’s just like, oh, I gotta just people think it’s like a gold mine rush. And it’s like, you got to really take your time, the same way you build a house, you got to really build your foundation and take time building that before you build the next level, you can’t have the sight of the whole house and you got to take your time just or else the house could fall. So, like and I think people can really tell with people who are being authentic and being genuine versus like people just in it trying to view it as a cash grab. So, I would just say one thing is, definitely just take your time learning because in the long run, you do yourself more good rather than just kind of rushing in and being reckless is Dming a lot of people and just spamming like that’s too much. I think also like, taking time to like, look and find communities that you personally align with.

For me, I took time to just kind of navigate this space. And obviously I’m making music NFTs so I was looking at music, and people making music, also found a lot of like, you know, artists that have a similar perspective as me, so I started to connect with artists that would talk about the things that I like, or just even find visual art or just things that I just personally liked. Because, you know, you can just show some love and not need to like ask for anything or and one thing I will say is also, as a new person when you go into Twitter’s spaces, if someone’s having a drop party, you know, everything is about time in place, you know, so I think that I’ve seen people who misstep when they joined Twitter spaces, and then they try to show their project when it’s somebody else’s dropped party like, just, you know, you can show up and support somebody without needing something from them. And then people will then eventually ask what you do just because you’re showing up. And the last thing I’ll say is just show up I think, there isn’t any like way to go about it, you know, like, you are kind of just hit the ground running when you’re in it. And like, it clicks for some more than others but once you kind of find your like communities or find things that interest you, just explore that. And I think that, like I said, like, the more time you take, really trying to identify and know yourself to know what you need, and what you like, and what you’re trying to get into, then the easier it is for people to kind of formulate around that.

I also just have had like, the benefit of, you know, people saw that I was trying in the space, and then people who saw that were like down to help. Because I think when you ask for advice, you get help and when you ask for help, you get advice. So as somebody that didn’t ask for help, I just kind of said, hey, because I’m doing the work. I’m doing the work of learning; I’m doing the work of showing up. And if I have a simple question that doesn’t take long for you to kind of you know, I had people like Andre O’Shea or shout out to like Black Dave, shout out to stones the organic, shout out to Latasha, these were people that like that early on, saw what I was doing, and, you know, they were down to, like, help me because I was helping myself and I was I was genuine about it. So, it’s all about showing that and I think people who want to see you do, are going to be those people to help also support you. But it takes that intention, it takes that time, it takes that showing up, so people know that you’re serious. And I think those are things that I would start with people like, you know, like start there. And I think from there, you kind of find your way in it organically.

Yeah, makes sense. Makes sense. I think at some point you’re gonna have to write out a playbook to because how many NFTs have you sold today, music NFTs?

Heno: At least like 150 or 160 at this point.

What was your first one?

Heno: My first one, shout out to Don J, we did a on foundation, it was a 15 or 32nd animation that he did of portals timed to a song, I sink to a song I did, called Parallel timelines. Oh, wow. I’m just realizing, this is mad unrelated, but like the remix of that song featuring Mickey Jenkins dropped a year ago, yesterday or today, I think crazy like the day we’re recording this. Yeah, that’s because, that also was, that was because he also like we also connected and then, you know, we ended up dropping the remix and then we did NFTs with that remix as well. So, like that was on Zora, I think and then I think we did like 200 or something like that.

Where Music NFTs Meet Social Impact Initiatives

And I know like your background, how you grew up was very unique. And I think you’ve sort of paid that forward, in terms of people understanding what you’re about, the music that you create, the image that you’ve sort of like put upon yourself when you’re communicating the things that you care about. And one of the biggest things and it’s sort of like why I wanted to do this conversation is sort of like, where do music NFTs meet social impact initiatives? Right. And it’s super important. I know and it’s a very sensitive topic to you as well, which I actually want to understand better because I’m not you. I didn’t grow up in a way that you grew up in. And I’m trying to understand, like, why you feel so aligned, number one, with this initiative, right, that you’re pushing towards and sort of like the context behind that?

Heno: Yeah, yeah, man. I’m from Takoma Park, Maryland. So, it’s an environment, at the time I was growing up, because you know, gentrification is a thing. That a lot of people that were there like, you know, aren’t anymore. But growing up, it was a very active environment, that’s on the borderline of DC and Maryland. So, I was I had to unfortunately grow up very fast I feel. So I normalized a lot of what I was seeing, whether that was heavy police interventions, whether it was like just street shit. This is a lot of like, it was very fast paced. So, I had a weird duality growing up where I’m from the projects, I was in park Reggie in on Maple Avenue. And two add to buildings, next door was the elementary school I went to, where I was a straight A student. So going from the projects, like our being in the projects, but then like, being one of the only black people, if not the only, like in a academic space, was just this weird duality like people would. So, it was very hard to kind of like, I was overexposed to just kind of seeing both sides of the like, this world as a young kid. And I think that, also just having to be a responsible person at a young age, just because I was just picked up on how things were moving and what I was seeing, and whether that’s experienced is like being assumed a drug dealer at six years old, and being handcuffed in first, in elementary school to a table, whether that’s having police break into my house multiple times, one of which I’ve had guns pointed as a child, whether that’s seeing my brothers or seeing my family be harassed by law enforcement, like it’s something like the, it’s crazy is that I said, like the build my elementary school was two buildings to the right, the police station was right next to the elementary school, this is all in the same street. So it was just like a lot of it was just very, like it was a very, like, active, you know, so kind of having to be smart about how you move and things was just something again, as a kid I’ve been accustomed to, and unfortunately, you see, you know, a lot of people like go down the roads of like, you know, being arrested, going to jail, getting killed, overdosing, like, just all of that was going on around me growing up, and I had to add a navigate a lot of that. 

And music was that thing for me that like as a first generation, you know, American, my parents saw music as a hobby, not as like something to ever do, because they wanted me to be a doctor. That was like the roadmap for me. So I was, you know, doing pre-med at Howard University, I was working at a hospital as a CNA and retirement homes, working with multiple patients a day and meanwhile doing music, and they were seeing that music was a thing, but like, it was the thing that kept me safe, it would be like go to, either get in this car and ride with the older homies or stay home and make beats. And like it would be every time I picked music, I’d find myself in a situation, where oh, man, you avoided getting pulled over and like all this shit happened, or you avoided like fights going on or you invited like, oh, someone died or like, you know, like, it just it was things like that happening. So almost like, and you kind of get numb to it after a while because of how normal it was. So, like it was traveling and music was the thing that allowed me to travel, that having conversations with people and getting into different spaces and realizing wow, like a lot of this shit that I’ve seen is not normal in other places. 

So, and now, you know, as an older person reflecting and kind of looking back, I saw that Maryland was, at the time of my growing up one of the highest and one of the highest incarceration rates for young black men from like 18 to 25. And that kind of just validated a lot of what I was going through even to this day, I go home and I still get harassed by law enforcement because I look a certain way. And you know, that it really made things difficult growing up, let alone when we moved to a new neighborhood, thinking that things will get better, it wasn’t it was just as bad. So, it was kind of just like, if I don’t do something about this, like, or at least change up how I’m moving around it all. Like it’s not going to be good for just me. So, I made a conscious decision to kind of just pivot from a lot of things because I think that, you know, I recognized early that like, you can’t make everybody happy and sometimes like there was a cultural like, you know, misunderstanding, like my parents didn’t realize how real it was getting around like our neighborhood, like didn’t realize that around like, stick up kids like robbing houses or like I was around a lot of shit like that. Like they just didn’t understand and I kind of just was like, I gotta do me. I’ve been like kind of on my own and like at least mine as an independent as I was like 17, 18 and I didn’t want to be a burden to my family. So, I kind of took it upon myself to always be smart about how I move and again, like, I see, like, you hear the saying be the change you want to see, right. 

And, again, a lot of these experiences are just so normal to me that like, it was when I eventually moved to California, I realized it was even, you know, the grass ain’t greener sometimes, like so like just a lot of the hardships of being an independent artist on your own, like I was homeless out here. I was like, sleeping at parks sometimes, or just like, fucking like couch surfing trying to figure it out. But music was this thing that always just kept me safe and kept me in a place where I can heal from like a lot of what I’ve been dealt with and what I’ve seen and what I’ve witnessed and yeah, basically, that’s part of like, I guess some of the inspiration behind why I want to pay for it. I have a lot of friends right now we’re incarcerated; I got homies who are dead off of this shit. Like, I got people who, who are in situations where, even when you come back home from jail, you go back to jail, because you don’t have opportunities, because you’re a felon or because you have limited resources just coming out. 

And like, I think that in California, for instance, there are laws that prevent discrimination if you have a felony, or if you have a misdemeanor, but in other places, especially in Maryland, they don’t give a damn about that. It’s just like, nope, did you think you could get a job, you know, so it just kind of like leads to people getting back into what they initially did, they get them in jail, and then they go back, and then it’s for a lengthier sentence, because it’s a violation of sorts, and then they have to pay more money for a lawyer to then try to fight that. But then usually they don’t even have the money to do that. So, then they’re like, trying to then do what they did, that got him in trouble to pay for a lawyer, to get them out of the thing that they’re initially in trouble with. And it’s a cycle that is been, something I’ve seen so, so, so much. And it’s something that like, if we don’t do anything about like recidivism, and we don’t treat certain cases, like they are like, not all criminal charges, like some of these are like petty misdemeanors or like having possession of like weed or something or having like, there’s little things that like, aren’t like nonviolent, like, people who can’t afford even bail, to come home, from like, these things end up sitting, waiting for their child for like a year, I have homies who have been sitting in jail for like a year waiting just to get a trial. So, then it’s like that, that eventually gets, you know, taken off of your ultimately lengthier sentence. 

But ultimately, it’s just like, if someone doesn’t have a couple $1,000 to come home, they’re stuck. And some people are like, you know, you’re Sol, and it’s like, we’re continuously, even in 2022 still seeing these like, really outdated structures of like how we’re treating and how we’re looking at nonviolent crimes sometimes, sometimes people just need therapy, sometimes people just need like real resources to like do better and come back home and be productive members of society. But if we don’t even give them a chance, or like, it’s a fucked-up game, it really is. And, like, as someone that also puts money on books of people who are incarcerated right now, I can tell you, it’s not cheap, to be in jail. So, it’s like, so like, I say that to say this, this hits home in a way that like, I’m speaking for a lot of people who are literally like who can’t speak like this, like there are people who are like, during COVID You know, how crazy jail was for people who are during COVID. Like if you had COVID, you are putting isolation in Maryland, they put you in ISO like that’s where people who get in trouble. Like, you’re being scolded, because you caught something that you couldn’t control. Like, it blows my mind, like even the ability to like, just to try to see somebody, it takes certain facilities, it’s such a hassle. It’s such a, it just pains me because again, I know a lot of people who right now, like I have homies who are doing 15 years off of the decision they made in 15 seconds, when you make decisions off of your emotions, and some of that isn’t like rooted in, something that’s rooted in trauma, something that’s rooted in like, the way someone’s grown up, like doesn’t make them a terrible person. It just means like, it’s unfortunate and like, there are ways to help treat nonviolent crimes for like help and like make people like, I don’t know, productive members of society. 

That’s just generally like, what inspired me to like, do this type of work well before web three, and like telling these stories is because I feel like a responsibility at this point, to speak on my truths and the things I’ve been accustomed to, like I just dropped a record Jansport freestyle, where I’m talking about the police running into my house on Black Friday a few years ago, and they didn’t even have a warrant. They didn’t have anything, they just ran in my house while I was half drunk and half asleep, and my mom is banging on my door, panicking that they’ve swept my first floor, I had to wake up the next morning and just see wreckage, had to see like my couches turned and see like, papers and just clap, it was just a mess. And then just for them to say we had the wrong house, oh, like, sorry, filed a complaint if you feel away and that’s it. That’s all that happens. And it’s just like, you know, you don’t want to file a report, because they’ll come look at your house, they’ll be like, they’re the guys that reported us. Like, it was very, very uncomfortable growing up and living in Maryland, because it was a lot of this like, sometimes by affiliation and just because I look a certain way, it prevented me from even doing little things like shopping at certain places, or I’m driving and I get pulled over because I drive a Lexus and I guess I don’t look like a Lexus. And I get asked if I have dead bodies in my car, I get asked if I have, like you wouldn’t believe the questions I get like, even as my most recent trip back home, like a month ago, I still get pulled over and like all these things. And you know, I say that to say like, this is a very real thing for me where it comes from. So, being that change that I want to see, it stems from being in web three, seeing all this abundance and seeing all these ways that we have these tools that empower us as creatives, yes. But we also have an ability to, again, like make revenue off of our music in a way that we haven’t introduced in our music. But then also we can use that to help things that we, part of my friends gives a fuck about and I give a buck about this. 

So, let’s talk about that for a second. Because I want to understand, like, why is web three

Heno: I said a lot of shit right now. 

Why Web3 Is the Perfect Platform to Target Social Justice

No, no, everything you said is all really relevant. Because these issues are very near and dear to you, right? You obviously feel a certain alignment with it, because you’ve experienced it yourself through family, friends, etc. I’m trying to understand why is web three, the perfect platform to target social justice from your perspective?

Heno: I think that like traditional music doesn’t care about this stuff in a certain way, they care about it if it’s commercially successful, but in terms of telling these stories and trying to drive conversation, that’s not something that’s more or less, like, it’s cool to do. But it’s not something that I think carries the same weight that web three does, where people do care about this intentionality, do care about people putting in work and do care about ultimately community. And I think that if I’m building a community of people that I want to, that align with things that I align with, then I want I want that to reflect and be something that again, is bigger than myself, I think all this shit is, I have no ego in this shit because I come from, like not having much at all, I come from very humble beginnings. So, like, being in a space where there’s, again, so much of all of this ease and all this stuff going on. It’s like I don’t need all of this, you know, like, it’s like, what can we do to really drive something more impactful than ourselves? And that was a question I had to ask myself. And it was an intention that I kind of wanted to bring into web three. But it takes a lot of time again to like really build towards something like this. So just being a good student in this game, soaking up what I’ve learned and wanting to now pivot in a more like, I guess, in more of this way, where I’m like, cool, like, let’s start to really push this social impact stuff, I think my entire career to this point, if listen to anything I’ve put out, ties all this in. 

So, like this is very authentic and very in line with everything that I’ve done in my life to this point. So, it just made sense to kind of like and I think that again, people like yourself, people who hear this and hear like, what I’m speaking on that resonate, or just even just see that I’m very serious about it and want to get behind what I’m doing. Like, it’s not like I’m trying to be a role model or like anything, It’s not like a so holier than thou. It’s like not like, I’m in the trenches trying to do this work, because I want to see more of it. And if I can’t complain and say, we need to, we need more social impact in web three, if I’m not doing like, I can’t, you know what I mean? It’s like, I can’t say like, I need to see more of this. And then it’s like, if I’m not doing it, then I just kind of want to lead by that example. Like if I’m talking then I need to do it. And that’s, I’ve been doing it but now it’s like here’s a new way to do it. And like here’s a new way to do it in a way that that feels good. It feels good to like, you know, wake up and think how I can like try to help people beyond myself because it’s not about me, this like all these calls, all these things I’m trying to do is bigger than myself. So, I think that’s why I think it works in web three because It’s easier for people to come into this with no ego and just hear stories and hear conversation and like, it’s like cool, like, what do we do with these conversations? Like, let’s have some action behind these conversations and we just now have tools to do this stuff.

NFTs are the perfect tool for storytelling. Yeah, I think Heno, you really nailed, like you really nailed the head, like NFTs are a tool. It’s how you use them to sort of build community build purpose, and bring people together. And you talked about sort of like organizing projects, and you have a huge project coming up, right? With it with a music release schedule, featuring five songs, three parts short film.

Heno: Four.

Four part short.

Heno: No, no, four songs, three-part short films.

Okay, four songs. Alright, I see one that’s also in the meantime EP, that’s going to be released on DSPs, right? So maybe that’s just a DSP only hit. So, four songs, that you’re going to be releasing through a web three format. And then you have a three-part short film, donating 50% of all the revenue that’s generated through Eth, to some organizations that you align with, that I’d love to hear your perspective. And I see the bill project, I see the Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform. I see Baltimore action legal team to sort of help with like the back end of stuff, right? And I guess the whole entire thing is sort of like I’m tired of being hyper surveilled, right?

Heno: Yeah. That’s what we’re building towards. 

Did I nail that? 

Heno: Yeah, I would say so. It’s, yeah, four records, there’s an EP that I’m putting out called, in the meantime, it’ll be put out on DSPs in January. And that’s a nine-side project. Four of those songs are going to be minted in this upcoming collection, with Andre O’Shea doing 3d animations that are paired with the four songs. And then we will also be doing a three part short film coinciding the musical experience, where the rare objects which are the 3d animations that are being made, will actually be in the short film, like we will have objects that people are collect as part of this collection, that then they get to see in real in a film and something that I think is cool to kind of, you know, be a cool use case, on the creative side of just, I have a thing, an NFT that I can see in application, another type of idea. And I just thought that that was really cool to incorporate in the story and add themes to things that people will see later. But the ultimate roadmap is all this is going towards my forthcoming album called I’m tired of being hyper surveilled, it’s going to come out late 2023. And yeah, like I said, like, given like what we’ve been speaking on, it’s just, it’s all tied to kind of just surveillance, how its real implications on marginalized communities. As well as just what it comes with any innovation attack has pros and cons. So, it’s more just a statement project, just saying like, it’s not a solution to it, it’s just speaking my reality of that and giving perspective as to why I feel this way. And there will also be some very cool stuff that we do on the social impact side with that album, as well as just some cool like VR stuff, I can’t get into all the way but it’s gonna be a really cool experience. So that’s the roadmap between now and I guess next year, I decided to just. I think surveillance is just a very heavy topic. So instead of just kind of leading with that album, I this EP, this short film, this collection, all these things, I just want to kind of be the thing that I’m speaking of like spoon feeding you, like this bigger idea, that then when we get to the album, you’ll be like, you’re really kind of, I want there to be like a vehicle like of sorts, that people can kind of be along this journey, be in the car while we drive and get to that point. So this is just the early part of the of the roadmap.

There’s a lot come in, that’s a lot, it’s big project. It’s a big project.

Heno: I can’t say who’s on it. 

What Kind of Help is Heno. Looking For?

A three-part film, like, what have you seen that be sort of curated, your ability to sort of like mix different means and mediums of communication, and art is sort of like the most fascinating thing to me, because it’s not just music, it’s also film, right? It’s like there’s an audio-visual element to it right and like, you sort of showed me stuff on behind the scenes and I was just like, wow, this is legit, like this is really exciting. And I’ll be collecting this, like you have my support. I love betting on the jockey. So, I’ve been betting on you for a minute now, across your other stuff. And I’m excited to see this vision of yours and this purpose of yours come to life. And I commend you for using your platform, of all things you could be preaching, of all things you could be doing, you’re deciding to focus on this, right. And I think that says a lot about you. I’m curious, for others that want to get involved, because I’m sure after hearing this episode, or I hope, I’m not sure, I hope other people may feel aligned the same way you feel aligned, with his vision, how could somebody else join the fight? How can somebody else be a part of what you’re doing? What kind of help Are you looking for?

Heno: Man, I think I’m the type of person, asking for help is always like, a lot for me to do.

What feedback or advice can we get? 

Heno: I think it’s one of those things of like, that’s a funny point, I see the callback, just from a standpoint of like, if people feel aligned with this, I would hope that people would, maybe check out the tele site that we built out, where like, we have all the information of like, just our intentions, what the goals are, the organizations we want to support. Luckily, the bill project does take Eth, they take Cryptos. So, like just those, the ability to just do that all on chain is great. And the other two organizations that you said, the Baltimore action legal team and the Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform, don’t at the moment take crypto, but we would help them either make wallets, that’s the goal, or, you know, just for future things that they should be doing, or just give them USD from, you know, just converting and that I think supporting this collection would be really great, because like I said, 50% of, not only the primaries 50% of the entire collection, I made a wallet specifically with this initiative in mind, that all the splits will go to this. And, you know, everything will be on record of like, where funds are going with full transparency. And, again, this is a cause and this is something that personally aligns to me, in a way that this isn’t the only type of thing that I’m going to be doing. And, you know, I plan on also just for the coming 2023 year, I plan on donating about 5% of my, all of my web three primary revenue, to the same initiative, just wanting to again, be somebody that like, is not only talking to talk, but is very much in the trenches doing the work. 

And I think that like, that comes from just again, personal alignment, but also a feeling that I need to take, be more responsible with what I’m doing in this space. And not to say I haven’t been but it’s like, you know, I want to step into this a bit more. And I want to be like, I guess, I don’t think I’m pioneering in any way, I think there are people that might be doing this type of stuff, too. But I do feel like at least in the purposes that I’m doing it in with recidivism and bail assistance, like those things, I feel like I’m pioneering and I want to continue to just push for it. And I’d hope that anyone that feels that way, can just reach out to me, because I’m super down for conversations, that are around paying it forward. And being another good use case of like how we can take this technology, take the creations and the art that we love to make, and just have some good element to it, beyond ourselves. So yeah, all the music will be on sound XYZ too. And, yeah, we’ve built out a tele page, so shout out to both of them and shout out to you, Levy for like just being like such a solid person to bounce ideas off of and even just with bello and using the analytics to help, you know, kind of figure out how we want to maneuver with this collection has been pretty helpful and say, you know, same with plug, anyone that you know, I got to tap in with this man, he’s really on.

Outro

I appreciate you, bro, I appreciate you. So, I want to sort of sum this up, because on November 1, you have your upcoming audio-visual collection in collaboration with Andre Oshea, right? Oshea, excuse me. And that’s sort of like for the forthcoming EP titled, in the meantime, yes, this small, this part this EP, in the meantime is part of the larger album called, I’m tired of being hyper surveilled. And then 50% of the sales generated from in the meantime will be placed in a wallet, dedicated to supporting these organizations, combating a lot of these issues that we talked about throughout the last few minutes. And then yeah, I guess I want to sort of like wrap this up, because I’m also citing your mirror article that you published, which if you haven’t read it yet, I’ll link it in the episode show notes. But I want to sort of read this last part in the closing remarks because it’s really gave me the chills, right? You’re like closing remarks in full transparency. I never really saw myself living this long. Stepping into web three and finding my way in music has presented me with an opportunity to do something meaningful and beyond myself or any ego. Paying it forward is a big part of everything that I do and to be in the space amongst all this new. You found abundance, I see a responsibility to be, or to also be a good steward and with set abundance, I’m not perfect, nor do I aspire to be a role model or person that acts holier than thou, I’m a real ass person that sees real issues in my community, and wants to be a part of some real change. And I think if there’s this element of wanting to be a part of change, there’s no better platform than web three, this whole energy of wanting to do something innovative, of doing something bigger than ourselves, of being part of this aligned purpose of decentralization, right, and building audiences that we own, being creators that that we own the data, we’re the platforms, we have the control, we have the power, it’s very much works in tandem, with everything that a lot of us already stand for and there’s similarities and themes within it all. So, I’m super excited, Heno, I’m really excited that you chose mint to also share the story. And I guess before we wrap up, any last words, anything to say?

Heno: Man, you really just hit the nail on the head with that you know, just bringing up the closing remarks. And, you know, I’ve spoken to that in this interview for sure. But closing remarks are just, I think I just want people to realize that like, when it comes to this space, I think, I don’t, I see this as an opportunity, like I said, to just do something bigger than myself. And I think that, man, I have a lot of things that could be like closing remarks, but like you just ended up perfectly with just like, I’m a real ass person that’s trying to make some real change that I’ve just personally I’ve aligned too. But I had hoped that like anyone that feels that way about anything that they want to speak on, might be inspired to do the same, you know, there are many, you know, issues like I’ve seen Daos that are doing like climate control stuff. I’ve seen, you know, like there, it’s like, our climate change, I’m sorry. And like, they’re just different causes that people want to get behind and support. And that doesn’t have to be everybody. It’s just something that I personally have aligned to and I don’t force it on anybody either. As long as it’s authentic to you, and you feel like you want to do something and step up, kind of be the change you want to see, I didn’t see enough of what I’m doing, so I wanted to do it. And you know, I think that’s what web three kind of allows us to do, is like we want we have opportunities that do things, it could be for a different cause, it could be for whatever, but just also experiment, like I just love experimenting in this bear market. I think that like this bear market has really allowed us to see who’s really about this web three shit and like, not just here for the bull market. 

So, like being in the trenches, doing no work as we’ve been, with Eth this low, it’s like, you can tell that these causes and these things that people are building are real. And I want people to know that about me, like I’m here for the long haul. And I’m really like investing in like this roadmap that we’re building. So just appreciate everybody for you know, any support that they feel obligated or not obligated, feel obliged or feel like compelled to want to do and my DMs are open. So, feel free to tap in, if you feel aligned in any way. And yeah, just thanks, you know, my last thing is, thank you, Adam Levy, like you are just like a very, very, you’re just as nice as you are in person, as you are on Zoom calls, as you are on calls and just all the things and I appreciate you just seeing what I’m trying to do. And I feel seen and just being able to share my story. So, I think that I’ll leave it at that.

I appreciate you, bro, energy reciprocated as energy sort of like received, right? And you’ve gifted me with joy and sort of using my platform to give you a platform and I’m excited for what you’re doing. And we’ll have to do this again soon. 

Heno: Oh, absolutely. 

So, guys, go check him out on Twitter, go check out the product or the project, excuse me, I’ll include some links and till next time.

Heno: Stay blessed. Stay hydrated and watch out for bears.

Yes, stay hydrated. Watch out for bears. I love that.

Categories
Podcast Transcript

A Deep Dive into the Mind of Web3’s Consumer Savant

Background

Mint Season 6 episode 23 welcomes Gaby Goldberg, the self-proclaimed shit poster and investor at TCG Crypto.

I hope you guys enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:09 – Intro
  • 02:44 – Web2 Users vs. Web3 Users
  • 07:36 – Challenges Creating a Network Effect Using Tokens
  • 10:13 – Web3 Consumer
  • 17:56 – Curation in Web3
  • 24:19 – Digital Identity
  • 27:02 – Will Decentralized Identity Ever Be Centralized?
  • 47:39 – How to Build Product Defensibility When Data Is Open to All
  • 51:15 – Outro

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Gaby, welcome to mint, how are you doing? Thank you for being on.

Gaby Goldberg: Thank you so much for having me, very excited to be here. As we both know, it’s been a long time coming. 

Intro

It’s been a long time coming but we’re here now. And when I posted on Twitter and other platforms, people have a bunch of questions to ask you. So, we’ll have to get into that as well. But I think a good place to start first and foremost is, who are you, Gabby? What does the world need to know about you, we can start there, and then we’ll move forward.

Gaby Goldberg: Sure. So, my name is Gaby Goldberg. I’m an investor at TCG crypto. So maybe we can get into it in a little bit. But we are a crypto consumer fund, really focusing on figuring out what scale looks like in web three, and really focusing on investing in passion, whether that’s passion found in gaming, or in music, or in AR or in new markets that have yet to be really discovered and brought to market but really finding areas where people are spending a lot of time and a lot of their energy and oftentimes a lot of money in these really passionate areas and figuring out how crypto either unlocks or supercharges that behavior. And so, we’ve invested in companies like rabbit hole and Archive and Hume and a suite of others that we’re really excited to be partnered with. And I spend a lot of my time now thinking, both personally and obviously professionally as well about digital identity, internet culture, and kind of these pockets of the Internet where I think passion is emerging.

Are we happy with the current state of consumer in web three?

Gaby Goldberg: It’s a good question. You know, no one ever asks me how I feel about it. So, thank you for asking. Listen, I mean, we have a long way to go. And I think also just totally, candidly, the more time I spend in this space, the more I realized that there is so much I don’t know, and so much that we need to do, kind of as an ecosystem to create better consumer products and experiences to support these either new or emerging behaviors. There are definitely some certain areas that are early, but I’m really excited about. So, one of them is kind of online credentialing and how we figure out what a sense of identity and reputation looks like online, across both web two and web three. A big place where I’m interested in spending time and investing in is, sort of new interfaces for these consumer experiences. So hopefully, we’ll talk about wallets in a little bit. But I think kind of like wallets as an interface for interacting with web three, is largely kind of under explored and really excited about areas like that. So, I’m happy about it, because I’m happy to be here. And I learned so much every day, but we definitely have a long way to go.

Web2 Users vs. Web3 Users

What would you say are some of the unique behaviors that web three users have that differ from web two users, for example?

Gaby Goldberg: Interesting question. So I have sort of like a framework for consumer that actually, I think, in a lot of ways, stretches across web two, and web three. And it’s basically this four questions sequence. So why do people come? Why do people stay? Why do people share? And why do people pay? And I’ll kind of break them down and explain some of these unique kind of web three specific areas and answers to these questions. So why do people come? Is actually probably the most important one of what kind of you know creates this divide between web two and web three, a big reason why people come and try out web three products is because of a financial incentive to try them out. Maybe there’s a hope of an airdrop, or there’s another kind of like active token incentive, to go use a product and spend time there versus on a competing ecosystem or platform. And so, a good example, the blur Airdrop, even yesterday, the amount of activity you even are just seeing on ether scan, and other block explorers of dormant wallets, that now have become active because of this financial opportunity, in a lot of ways, is pure speculation. So, it brings a lot of these people to these platforms. So, it kind of leads us to the second question of why do people say? And I think this is actually really the important thing. And so, when I think about investing in web three consumer platforms, they can come for a token, maybe there’s you know, that financial speculation that kind of piques their interest, and they want to see what’s there. Obviously, it’s kind of just like human nature to want to have that incentive to go try out a product. But if they’re staying because of that financial incentive, or if they’re staying in the hopes that that token goes up and gives them some sort of financial return, it’s largely unsustainable. I think Stefan is a good example there, they did an amazing job of acquiring a lot of users. In a lot of ways, people who had never interacted with crypto before downloaded the Stefan app and set up a crypto wallet for the first time, to be able to earn this token. And that’s fine like as a means of, you know, clever acquisition hacks, I think it was super were smart. But in terms of sustainability of why are they staying there, if they’re only staying there because of the token, then at some point, like the music stops, right. And so, it’s kind of a helpful framework that I use to kind of think about these behaviors. And so, the financialization of all of these applications is not something to be overlooked, right? It’s one of like the most special parts about crypto, but I think sometimes you can kind of fall down that rabbit hole, and, you know, like, lose the forest for the trees.

So, why do people come? Why do people stay? There are two more sections, right?

Gaby Goldberg: Why do people share and why do people pay? So why do people share? especially for consumer products? You know, where’s your distribution coming from, right? I actually had like a little screenshot essay on Twitter a couple days ago about basically being good at social apps, kind of an extension of Eugene Waze status as a service. And I was talking about specifically web three applications that I think are really interesting from a creator perspective, when you see this flywheel getting created of take doing analytics, for example, people who call themselves dune wizards create these on chain dashboards of what’s going on in crypto. And it’s largely limited to just that platform, right? You go on to dune to see what’s going on. But the amount that those dashboards get shared cross platform, and people flex the fact that they’re doing wizard, it adds this brand equity across platform for dune and it makes dune better as a platform, when these creators can kind of rise and influence from dune. And so, you see that on other platforms as well. In this screenshot essay, I was also talking about block explorers, and how I think something similar could emerge there of you see, you know, the Nansen interns and Zach expertise of the world who are this quote, unquote, on chain sleuths. And they share these screencaps, either from Nansen, or from ether scan or some other block explorer about cool things they’re finding on chain, and it brings brand equity back to that platform. So why do people share is kind of where’s that distribution coming from? I think those are two good examples. And then the last one, obviously, is why do people pay? This is a super interesting one. In the case of web three native business models, and maybe we can get into it now or later. But the whole conversation around creator royalties, is a really, really good example of this question. Why do people pay? Not totally being answered and yeah, I think it’s a helpful framework, because the questions are actually quite simple. And if you don’t have simple answers to them, it’s like probably worth exploring.

Challenges Creating a Network Effect Using Tokens

The biggest challenge that I come with your first question, why do people come is, when you try to build a network effect based off tokens, then you misinterpret what product market fit sort of looks like because people, a whole sleuth, like you said, people sort of come in to grab the token wallets wake up from the dead. And they claim, maybe they don’t, maybe they hang out. But it’s hard to really figure out who the user is that really enjoys your product. And why they’re actually enjoying a product, right? I feel like it’s a common problem that a lot of web three projects fall for, right? When they issue a token, how do you come around that? How do you solve that problem?

Gaby Goldberg: Yeah, I actually, for consumer products, the only place where I’ve seen tokens, prop seemed to really work. And it’s hard, we’re still so early. And so, over a long enough time horizon, it’s hard to know how these things will change. But generally, for products that you can basically, you know, zero to one requires the token, but then from one to N, the switching costs are very high, and users are unlikely to turn, then a token might make sense. If obviously, there’s a real business model underlying it, and there’s kind of like a sink for the token itself. So, for example, a web three Uber that requires active work, zero to one as an acquisition hack with a token, but then one to N, you still need drivers who might turn to other platforms, that feels really tough to defend. So candidly, that’s where I’ve found kind of the most conviction in tokens in that kind of business model for acquisition. But I totally agree with what you’re saying, I think in a lot of ways, companies in crypto are essentially IPO and too soon by launching a token. And now you’re basically at the mercy of the public markets. And once sort of consumer perception of the product has changed, it’s really hard to go back. And it’s why I like seeing products that deliberately tried to stay small and focus on engaged users and don’t care about the numbers, forecaster is a good example, I know we’re both big fans. I saw even a post from Dan, was either today or last night, saying that Farcaster growing too fast. And they have to cap the waitlist to keep it smaller because you run the risk of having like an eternal September incident where too many new people come in too Farcaster and essentially overthrow kind of like the anchored culture or norms of the existing network and you risk ruining all the quality that you’ve built so far. And so, I think that’s a mature and smart way of approaching it.

Web3 Consumer

How’d you get your interest in web three consumer? I feel like everybody’s sort of investing in infra. And just a bunch of like infrastructure plays. And there are only a few people that sort of stand out across crypto Twitter and whatnot that enjoy consumer, I feel like I’m one of them. I really enjoy like the end user experience. And I guess maybe that may even tie back to your background like prior to crypto. Is there any sort of connection within that?

Gaby Goldberg: Yeah, I can definitely talk about background. And I also want to pull an you know, reverse card and incur the same for you. Yeah. But first, I think it’s an interesting sort of thought experiment to explore what is infrastructure and what is an application. This is completely taken from David Phelps, who have been really lucky to kind of work with and learn from over the past year or two. But I think it was either in a tweet or just in a conversation with him, I’ll try and find it after. But he basically was saying that everything is infrastructure for something else, it’s a little bit silly. So, kind of just like, humor me for a second. But take planes, for example, the invention of the airplane was infrastructure for the airport, which was infrastructure for travel agents, which was infrastructure for DTC luggage companies, which was infrastructure for so many people flying, that now you have DSA precheck, which is infrastructure for clear and like it goes and goes and goes. But basically, saying that, like apps beget infrastructure, which beget apps and like the cycle continues. And so, in a lot of ways, there’s also a great post that is shared very widely across web three called the myth of the infrastructure cycle from USB, and it’s a little bit similar. 

So, I try not to separate them so much. And I think a lot of ways, you know, consumer behaviors that are emerging can beget interesting, you know, I guess you could call them pieces of infrastructure. So, for example, people acting as on chain sleuths shows that there’s a real market opportunity for like better block explorers. And honestly, I’ve talked about that a lot over the last month, so I’ll shut up about it on this podcast. But that’s a good example. So that’s the first thing I’ll say of just like, what is infrastructure. But certainly, I spend a lot of my time thinking about real consumer experiences and looking at interesting consumer behaviors online. So, the story starts, when I was born, going way back, I actually grew up selectively mute, which is kind of crazy. But for a number of years, I grew up not saying anything. And it’s also you know, partly because of my age coincided with me spending a lot of time on the internet in the early days. And so, I grew up playing a ton of Minecraft and a ton of RuneScape. I had a viral Tumblr blog when I was a teenager, please, nobody go try and find it. But spent a lot of time basically crafting a sense of a digital identity, and particularly having a lot of online friends. 

And these networks were really, really important to me. And then as I grew up, and I went to school, I became really interested in how this was shifting, and especially seeing everybody else around me, either having had similar experiences as a kid or starting to have really similar experiences now. And I think now there’s a statistic where it’s like 60%, or 65% of Gen Z believe that their online identity is more important than their identity in real life. And you hear that at first, and you’re like, that’s crazy. But then you think about it and it’s like, okay, I got all of my jobs, from people that I met online. So many of my friends I met online, actually, I’m going on a weekend trip this weekend, with three amazing girls who are all met online, which is insane. And we’ve been friends for three years, things like that. And so basically this question of like, what is a digital identity? What is a real-life identity? When do they start to become the same thing? It’s very interesting for me. And then I guess the other thing around kind of like, digital identity, like the shift that I think is really interesting is basically this very high-level thesis of when the first wave of social apps really came around. So like Myspace or early days of Facebook, for example. They were all about how do we take our real-life friends or our real-life experiences and bring them online? 

So, for example, Facebook was taking your college friends and bringing them online, and even in the early days of Instagram, right, like how do we take photos that we take in real life and put them online and so obviously, no surprise for those used cases, those platforms worked really, really well. And we spent a ton of time online, so much so that we started to have these digital native experiences. And so, I guess you’ll kind of see where I’m going with this, it stretches across web two and web three. But as an example, we don’t just take pictures anymore, we take screenshots, and we put a ton of screenshots on Instagram are screenshots on Tik Tok. And now screenshots are kind of like the photos of our digital life. Or we don’t just buy physical art, we buy digital art, there’s a huge market for people who love to buy digital art and flex what they have in these online galleries. The sense of these, like internet, native domain names and senses of identity are really important to us. And so, I guess at a high level, across crypto, or not, just thinking about consumer products in our lives online, I’m really interested in the products that help us better share and understand what digital experiences look like.

So, I think you also asked me like, why do I care about consumer? Like, where does my interest come from? Simply because I don’t know how to code. And all my interactions come from being an end user, right? And using all these different products across web three, has really opened my eyes to kind of like tasting the sugar un web two and realizing what are we missing in web three from an end user experience, specifically so mint is all about the creator economy, right? Documenting the creator economy in web three, a lot of creators that try to transition from web two into web three, they try to bring their audiences with them, their followers across Tik Tok, Snapchat, YouTube, whatever, and try to bring them into web three. One of the things that I consistently see fail over and over and over again, is the funnel of bringing in a user from web two into web three, like how do you migrate an audience member a fan, to then get them to collect an NFT, right? And like, there’s so much in between that that’s involved that the process is completely broken. So, I faced this myself, right, trying to bring more of my listeners from Spotify into web three, or my subscribers from YouTube into web three, and the creators that I see, they also struggle with that, right? So, I think a lot of my interest comes from just merely being an end user, and being a super user in crypto and trying so many different things, realizing where the inconsistencies are, and yeah, I guess like falling, like having a knack for it, for my opinion. I feel like you approach it from like the investment perspective, but also from the end user’s perspective, I guess I approach it from like, okay, I create content, I try to build audiences, right? What tools can I use in web three to sort of allow me to empower that and scale that, scale that operation. That’s sort of how I think about it.

Gaby Goldberg: Well, I like that you called it a tool of like, it’s not you know, web three is like a means to something else, that’s more important, right? And it’s not even like, it’s this sort of like pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, where we need to onboard people so they combine NFT. It’s like, no, like you have this NFT, what can you do with it? What does it give you access to? Like, how does it make your communities more engaged, or more retentive? And I think the fact that you have to think about it as a tool is really important.

Curation in Web3

So, within your thesis of I guess web three social and your love for consumer, where do you think curation plays a role in all this?

Gaby Goldberg: Yeah, so I wrote about curation. Actually, before I was working full time in web three. And I basically said that there’s a ton of noise online, there’s so much new information being created every day, and that the real opportunities in the future are going to be and people who understand how to sort signal from noise and can basically have that trickle-down effect of curating, and then curators who will curate that. And then you keep curating all the way down. And you as a user, or as kind of like a yeah, as a user of the internet, you’re gonna want to put your trust in these curators, to tell you what’s worth spending your time and attention on. And actually, there were a bunch of people who are friends of mine now, but we’re in web three and read this and they were like, yeah, but you’re missing the point. This is crypto. And so, it’s been cool kind of seeing how that thesis has changed for me and how I’ve learned over time. I think actually, in my ideal world, I don’t know if this will ever happen. But my kind of like ideal end state for curation is, maybe every asset or every piece of content on the internet is traceable, and has provenance, like an NFT. And you can track the quote unquote, mileage of a piece of content on the web. 

So, a good example is, actually have a fair number of friends who work in crypto, but kind of got into the space because they were running these really big Instagram accounts, like the at girl account, or you know, like just girly things or whatever. But like these sort of meme accounts that got really, really big. And essentially, a lot of these accounts don’t create any net new information. All they do is they take screenshots of you know, at the time Tumblr, or tweets, and they you know, or existing memes and they basically curate them onto these pages. They have these really engaged audiences. And then they make their money in the DMs by negotiating sponsorships. And it’s crazy that so much value is created from these pages that don’t actually create any unique content of their own. And they still exist today, I follow a ton of them. But how interesting would it be if all of those pieces of content were traceable back to the original place that they existed online, and perhaps there were streamed payments back to the original creators of that content. There’s actually an interesting curation protocol that I’ve been seeing emerge online, but I really don’t know too much about it. 

So, I guess this is my alpha on the podcast, but it’s the entropy Twitter account, it’s like entropy with three ns or something like that. And there’s a bunch of really interesting assets or like pieces of media or pieces of content being curated. And you can see individuals are curating them through this protocol. But what’s really interesting is this account entropy has been able to build up such a powerful and large following in a short amount of time, by being someone who can separate that signal from noise. And it’s a really, really high value part of the stack to exist in on the internet. So generally, like this idea of internet native brands, created by way of curation is very interesting. On Instagram, some of the ones that I think are interesting are hidden New York or New Bodega or furniture archive. And the people behind this account, like they don’t make money by having their own personality on the account, but it’s just the things that they’ve curated and their taste and it’s particularly interesting, I write about this in one of my pieces, but basically the impression to entertain like a Tik Toker who’s like dancing, no hate to that at all. It’s like also a very interesting conversation. But the impression to entertain like someone like that on Tik Tok, versus the ability to convert someone to making a purchase, are largely kind of misunderstood as being the same thing, and they’re very different. And the latter, you know, the ability to convert someone to make a purchase, you see happen a lot with these anonymous curatorial identities online. Specifically in web three, some of the interesting ones are collector Daos. 

So, for example, TCG crypto, we hold a seat and Flamingo Dao, which pulls capital together to basically curate NFTs across the web. Or we also invested recently in a company called archive, which aims to be the first decentralized physical museum curating this one of one physical asset and wrapping them in a smart contract. And essentially, with both of these examples, Flamingo archive, where you can think of pleaser, or fingerprints, or you know, all of these other kinds of collector Dao examples, you can think of it sort of as this analogy, you go to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa. But you also go to see the Mona Lisa, because it’s in the Louvre. And by way of collecting valuable pieces of art and culture, the Louvre has created this sense of brand equity, that now the assets that continue to curate will appreciate in value by way of being underneath that umbrella and that brand, and you’re starting to see similar things happen with these internet native brands, like Flamingo, like archive, like hidden New York or New bodega, right, the screenshots that they take and put on these curatorial accounts, helped drive trends forward. And so that sense of curation is super interesting to me.

Never thought about it like that. That’s really interesting. New perspective taught me something new. Where do you think curation plays a role, sort of like in a cross platform setting? So, whether it be multi chain, for example.

Gaby Goldberg: yeah, multi chain I haven’t even thought about. Although there are interesting examples, like, I believe it’s called quixotic, which is helping to basically aggregate collections in like a multi chain perspective. Ideally, it’s something like this idea of having pieces of content minted as NFTs and you can track them cross platform, I was thinking more in the sense of tracking them, you know, from Tumblr, to Twitter, to Instagram and seeing the flow of media as it goes through the hands of different people. I’m not sure if I’ve seen a real example of it working yet. Although the entropy example is a good one.

Digital Identity

When you think about digital identity, what is like the picture-perfect scenario five years from now? Like, what does a digital identity really look and feel like? What are the actions end users are taking with their digital identity? What does that environment look and feel like?

Gaby Goldberg: Yeah, so I guess kind of starting, you know, totally from the beginning. When we think about the internet today, it really was created without a native identity layer for people and so you see, kind of like the coping mechanism for this digital identity was really relegated to websites and applications, right? I have an identity on Instagram and I have an identity on Facebook and I have an identity, you know, on SMTP with email, and this kind of siloed approach may have been appropriate for the early days of the internet, because obviously, how could we have imagined where we’ve ended up now. But now with billions of people online every single day, there’s real drawbacks to having this siloed approach to identity, that’s not owned by the user themselves. And so, you see, you know, we still use usernames and passwords for just about everything, even though they’re obviously an insecure model, right? If your Twitter gets hacked, you’ve basically lost a major sense of your identity. And even still, even if you don’t get hacked, you are renting your identity essentially, from companies and centralized entities. And so, my identity in a lot of ways kind of like belongs to Facebook, when I connect my Facebook, to all these different applications. And so, when we think about digital identity in the context of web three, it’s really this premise that each user on the internet will have a unique identifier, right? Gaby, doubt youth is a good example. And you can natively link it to any piece of software and it’s stored on a blockchain. So, it has that sense of provenance. Now, it becomes sort of like opt in, right? Instead of, you know, like, I can decide where I take my identity and where I plug it into. And kind of the experiences that I choose to have on the internet, and the identity is kind of shared across all of these platforms, if I choose.

That makes sense. So, who will end up owning sort of the, I want to say like the web of all these identity pieces from your off-chain identity, to your on-chain identity. Is that like, is that an infrastructure play? Is that a single company play? Is that a decentralized play? It obviously, hopefully, we’ll all live on chain, right? In a very decentralized manner, right? But what does that look like from an application level?

Gaby Goldberg: Yeah, yeah. So, I’ll need to pause, think about how I really want to answer this.

Will Decentralized Identity Ever Be Centralized?

And I think we’re already seeing like pieces of this thesis sort of unfold, you brought up Ens is a great example. That’s one single piece. And then you have other companies and projects, building out other pieces of the puzzle, right? And we as users, we find out what we latch on to, and we sort of piece them together, by default, by opt in, right? Like we connect our Ens username to our Twitter handle, because that appropriate doesn’t exist fit in with culture, right? We find friends like that, right? Do you think it’s going to play out like that big picture or is there going to be some type of like centralized entity that’s able to sort of like, take control this entire, I guess, thesis around decentralized identity? What do you think?

Gaby Goldberg: Yeah, so I guess the first thing I’ll say is, when I say all of this, I don’t think that companies like Facebook or Twitter or our existing senses of kind of like siloed, centralized identity are going to go away. And perhaps I shouldn’t say this on the podcast, but I’m not a decentralization maximalist, I think there are a lot of products that will continue to exist. But when we think about a decentralized identity, I like to think about it from beginning with the wallet, right? So, my view is that in five years, the wallet really is going to be one of the most important pieces of consumer data for individuals, but also for businesses, right? If I’m a business, and I can have the users who or the consumers who are super engaged in whatever I do, whether it’s a community or a brand, or something else, connect their wallet, now I get to know who they are, I get to know their spending habits, I get to know what other communities and brands they’re aligned with and figure out what cross promotion might be highly effective. And also, if they have that sense of identity, they’re right within Ens, ideally, then I can talk to them, right? And tell them, you know, with you know, by connecting your wallet, here are the experiences and access points that you have that previously were unavailable to you. And here are the interesting collaborations that we can create to make experiences for you as a user of our product better. And so, starting from the wallet, I think makes sense in that sense. And then ideally, also connecting your off-chain information there as well. So, you know, open sea, you connect your wallet, but they also for a lot of us, they have our email as well. And that’s the way that right now open sea can talk to us. And so perhaps in the future, like a real native web three communication layer, will bring more things on chain. But for now, I think a hybrid makes a lot of sense. 

I think ultimately, the way I see it is that, it’s going to be a bunch of independent products in companies, that try to piece all that data together. And the way they do it is going to be through various problems that the user needs solving. So, for example, right? There’s this company, or this product called link three, okay. They are a community and they’re able to sort of link wallet addresses now to discord handles, to Twitter handles, to all these sorts of like really important data points that creators and communities need, but they do it through an opt-in way, right when it when a member wants to join a Twitter space, they can RSVP via link three, and they self-opt in and fill out all that data themselves, right? And then link three provides that data to the community hosts, right? So, when I sort of think about, like what the interconnected data layer looks like, I really think it’s from a product perspective of different products being built, that sort of intertwine that information together, right? It’s like, for example, something that I do on the podcast is that I give out free NFTs to my listeners, I’ve been able to build a substantial database of wallet addresses linked to Ethereum addresses, right? Wallet addresses linked to email addresses, right? In a way that’s very organic and opt in because I create content via my newsletter. And then I reward people for reading and listening and clicking and sharing my content with an NFT down the line, right. And it’s all sort of an opt in, I think the interesting perspective is, trying to make sense of all that data for whoever’s capturing it, number one, right? Whether it be the creator who’s building an audience on chain, where now they have interoperable fans, right, that they can take cross platform with them, and sort of what that data means for them. Because I think there’s also a level of responsibility, and a level of, I guess, like, I guess, responsibility is the right word, of understanding what that data really means, right? And how you can use it to your benefit, to create better experiences. Activations, monetize better as an individual, as a creator, as a brand, as an enterprise, whatever it may be. Are you thinking about it the same way or what are your thoughts?

Gaby Goldberg: Yes, and I love what you said about giving the free NFTs to your listeners, NFTs is a business model, I think largely is continuing to be developed, I think the smartest approach that I have seen, is not using NFTs as like the primary way of accruing revenue to a business. But instead of figuring out how to strengthen the relationship between basically the business or the individual, or the brand, or the community, and your audience, and so even we have a portfolio company, medallion, which is doing this with musicians and essentially creating super fan clubs on chain. But the idea is, the NFT is not the end goal, right? The NFT is not the driver of revenue for the musician, but instead they want to figure out who their biggest fans are. What if you minted a free NFT that acted as an access pass into this community. And then once you’re there, what are the things that you can do with these wallets, and it becomes really, really interesting, the level of engagement that you start to see with these communities and with these fan clubs, in gaming, I also think it’s a really interesting and underexplored model, we’re investors in a company called branch, which launched a game called castaways, which is one of a couple games really pioneering this, quote, unquote free to own model, where you can have these free NFTs that are, you know, in game playable assets. But now when you have ownership of these assets, and you create these digital worlds and these micro economies within them. Now the sense of building something of value, and building something that is meaningful within the game becomes so much more real, because you add real world liquidity to the game. And so, you’re seeing people go into castaways, and they have these islands that were minted for free. And they go to the islands and they build these incredible little worlds on them, right? And maybe they’re catching all of the fish, and now they have a monopoly on fish. Or maybe they’ve got the biggest house on that island and now other people want to be a part of that tribe. And so now you’re seeing the secondary market for these islands become amazing, where it’s not a typical land sale where you want to buy the most expensive Island. Maybe you buy the worst one, right, and you build it up into something of meaning. Now that economy becomes something really, really interesting and valuable. But it all starts with that free NFT right, it shouldn’t be paid to play.

Another great example is a G money’s a bit one, is all free to mint thousand editions and it did hundreds of thousands of dollars of secondary sales, and was able to sort of sustain the project until where it is right now, another good example is this creator or music artists name sound of fractures, he literally just had a drop yesterday on sound dot XYZ was able to sort of like mint out, for free of course, but mint out 500 editions of his new song, using NFTs as a tool for distribution, right? So, the more people that sort of got their hands on the song, the more people listened to it, right? So, it’s not about like the 25 sort of collectors that you typically see from music artists. But what’s really cool is that, now he has hundreds of addresses that he can now sort of like tap into and build like a top like leverage this top-level funnel of free collectors and find ways to monetize them down the line, right? And I love that approach so much because it’s so much easier to give first than to take and by giving, you’re now able to give with purpose and get all this information on chain, on an aggregate level and be able to create really cool experiences based off what’s in their wallet, for example, right and based off what they like, I tried to do this with the podcast too. I noticed that a lot of my collectors across the season 2, 3, 4, 5 and season 6, they collect on different platforms. They like buying different NFTs. And I’ve been starting to create content around the things that they’re collecting because I’ve noticed that that’s what they like. So, I might as well sort of like create content around that. And it’s helped me a lot as a creator to, I’ve seen like upticks in episode downloads, I’ve been able to find new sponsorship opportunities through that. So, I don’t know, I love this whole concept of like, wallet information, wallet data. I think still, it’s incredibly under explored. But I think in the next bull market, it’s gonna be one of those big narratives that people are going to be latching onto, excuse me, and using to their benefit.

Gaby Goldberg: 100%. There are so many places I want to take this; I think this kind of like free to mint opportunity as a collector acquisition hack is so important. The whole thing is just an acquisition game, right? How do you get the wallets? And then once you have them, that’s not the end goal but what do you do with them? Okay, there are a few points that you brought up that I think are so interesting. So, I’m trying to decide which order I want to talk about on. I think the first one I want to touch on is, the whole creative royalties’ debate, and it’s very topical. But the fact that, you know, a lot of like, the most exciting projects right now are minting initially as spree mint is, I think, an interesting place to start. So generally, on the creator royalty’s argument, obviously, to bring folks up to speed, a bunch of the major marketplaces, magic Eden probably being the most notable one, kind of moved towards optional creator royalties. So, royalties that stream out to the original creator of an NFT, are not actually enforceable on chain, it’s at a marketplace level. And so now when you see the rise of other marketplaces, like pseudo swap, for example, that don’t enforce those royalties at all, people have been a little bit surprised that nobody actually wants to support these graders. And instead, they’re going so that they can have a cheaper transaction on a marketplace, like pseudo swap. 

And so, it’s very hard to enforce these things now, what’s the moat of a marketplace like magic Eden, when you have this extra transaction fee, and so that’s why they’ve added the optional, you know, the option to have royalties or not, for buyers and sellers. So, for me, I think the problem is twofold. The first one is, companies believing that they could use secondary sales and the royalties from those secondary sales, as a primary means of generating revenue, right, obviously, can be one line on the balance sheet. But as a primary means of generating revenue, I think it’s a problem. Because when you have a lot of liquidity, and you have a lot of secondary sales, and you’re calling yourself a community, what you actually have is churn, you have people leaving the community every time a sale is made. And particularly by taking a royalty on that you’re implicitly kind of agreeing, and you’re okay with the fact that your community is churning. So, I think that to begin as an issue. And number two, these companies call themselves communities, and they are lying to themselves by believing that communities can be sustainable and successful by making their primary means of revenue on liquidity and a constant churn of members. 

And so, I don’t believe it was the right way to launch a real community to begin with. And if you’re a company, you have to be okay with having a ton of churn in your business and your user base, to be able to make money. And so eventually, like, who becomes the buyer when the last buyer sells, right? So, I think that is the main issue, I think my view on what will end up happening, and I’m curious to hear your thoughts. But generally, my prediction is that this major kind of aggregated marketplaces, who are similar to like the Craigslist, or eBay of NFT, marketplaces, so like magic Eden, and open sea, etc., will not be able to enforce royalties on chain, because people will just move to other marketplaces. However, I think generally, as a trend, you’re seeing brands and companies and communities in web two, and sorry, in web three, but also in web two, want to own more of their relationship with their audience. So, for example, you’re seeing the rise of all of this kind of verticalized secondary marketplaces powered by companies like reservoir or hyperspace, or first may or all of these interesting companies that allow brands to launch their own secondary marketplace embedded on their site. I think we’re going to see that continue to happen, where brands and companies want to own the relationship with their audience. 

And perhaps then, if you know, you’re selling things directly on your site, and you hope that kind of like secondary sales continue to take place on your site, then you can say okay, you have to buy them on our site, and if you do, and we see that it was minted or sold or you know, when on secondary from our site, then then you have access to all of these perks and, you know, benefits that you have from being a part of the company or the community, for the NFT as kind have a tool. And sure, you can sell it anywhere else and not pay royalties, but you won’t have that same level of access. So actually, DigAdz, before they went fully zero royalties did something similar and I thought that that was clever. And so of course, it’s not enforceable on chain. But brands and communities and companies are still going to have that level of control over, you know, what you actually get, depending on how the transaction went through. But I’m curious, your thoughts.

I think creators are gonna end up flocking to the network or the platform that’s able to enforce royalties, if you remember, or something that I paid attention to really early on, during like the nifty gateway era of NFT, right? That initial heat wave of artists, corporate artists, Instagram artists flocking from web two into web three, using NFTs as a tool to tokenize their art make living, right. All this really cool things that NFT sort of became known and loved for from creators, is now being taken away from them, right? It’s like it’s a weird sort of, it’s a weird thing for those who came in during that era. For those who come in after this debate, right? I think it’s just going to be one of those things that they’re just going to have to expect and go with, right. But there hasn’t been another industry or another sort of like technology or another sector that’s been able to implement this level of transparency and this level of automation, that same way smart contracts have been able to, and that has really much so favored the creator. And I think creators really like that. I mean, who wouldn’t like that as a creator, right? I’m in favor of creator royalties, I think they’re great. I think they’re really, really great by design. And I think it’s needed, I think it’s really cool to be able to figure out and use the tool in different ways to sort of create monetization, whether it be through the primary sale, or the secondary sale and I don’t think it should be stripped away. So again, I alluded to earlier, I’m not technical, I don’t know how to code. So, I don’t really understand how the technicality sort of looks and feels like, if there is a way to make it enforceable, I’m not sure. But I think if there’s a platform that gets created in the future that prioritizes royalties, maybe to some extent, I think the creators will sort of flock to that, in my opinion. I don’t know. 

Gaby Goldberg: Yeah. I actually had a tweet last week, I just put it in the chat, it’s sort of similar. I basically said, or I’ll just read it aloud. I see a world where a new artist focused NFT marketplace is spun up featuring top artists and up and coming projects, and only buyers allowed on the site, are those who have opted into paying royalties on competing marketplaces. Oh, I love the share screen. Yeah, so you can see it here. Who knows? I mean, I think it’s an interesting idea. I think particularly it would work with one of one artist. I don’t know if like 10k projects. First of all, I’m just curious to see the longevity of 10k projects, in general. But I don’t know if creator royalties are as enforceable for projects like that. But I think particularly for one of one artist or NFT photographers, or things like that, where there’s really that intimate relationship with the creator and the buyer, I do think they’re going to be enforceable in that kind of sense.

I also think it’s kind of messed up to not enforce them, because we’re still playing and building in a world with constraints, right. And if we want to tap into mass adoption, we need to rely on mobile, as being one of those driving factors. And if we’re building around Apple’s guidelines of their 30% take rate, right? It’s really hard to issue NFTs on primaries at that level. And that’s why you have really creative people thinking of like free, as a perfect model for building an MVC, right? A minimum viable community, right? And sort of like bootstrapping liquidity from secondary sales. So, I’m not sure I’m and that’s why I’m like, also excited for technologies like the Solana phone, right, because while it may not end up being like the end all be all type of phone, I think it stands a chance, depending on how well it’s executed, to sort of like enable a new sort of adoption curve. And when we’re talking about web three social, web three consumer, excuse me, it’s like building all these new sorts of products and platforms and protocols, that tailor the needs and wants and desires of the web three native user, right? And that web three native needs, wants and desires are completely different than those of the web two users, right? So, it actually makes sense to spin up all these sorts of like new products to cater towards them. So, whether or not Apple ends up acquiring a product like Solana, if ends up doing well, I don’t even know if that’s going to be possible, an acquisition may be even possible, but it will definitely be putting more pressure on these corporations, then maybe that it may introduce a new conversation for secondary royalties. I’m not sure, like you brought up this concept of like free to own right, like that’s only applicable and really well executed. I think at scale when it comes to the mobile side of things, right. We can even talk about like web three mobile and web three social and whatnot, but I don’t know, do you think I’m losing you or do you think my head is in the right place? What do you think?

Gaby Goldberg: I think it makes a lot of sense. I think Solana phone is really interesting. I also love that Ethos S project Ethereum phone basically doing something very similar. I also think, outside of just this kind of mobile native OSs, we’re gonna see also a more open approach from the consumer side, but also even like from Apple towards web apps, versus actual apps on the App Store. Because it’s going to be, unless Apple does away with a 30% tax, which I don’t think is going to happen, it’s going to be the best way to actually have mobile native experiences for web three. So, I think my other kind of like prediction over the next maybe five years is like, we’ll see the rise of more just kind of like web apps for mobile. Generally, I think web three, mobile is a super interesting space, though. I mean, even as we saw the shift towards mobile, a decade ago, it really shepherded in kind of the quote, unquote, casual consumer. And I think there are a lot of, you know, we talked about interfaces at the beginning, there are a lot of experiences that are really not possible and will be uniquely unlocked by a mobile native interface. And so, stepping again, you know, we talked about it, but one of the big reasons it did so well in terms of user acquisition is it was on mobile, and you know, everybody has a phone even. This is a web to kind of tangent, but I think Replete launching, basically, like the code editor on mobile is so interesting, right? Not everybody has a laptop and being able to do that on mobile is so powerful. But other kinds of experiences that I think will be uniquely unlocked, because of mobile will be things like geo located NFTs, almost like a web three Pokémon Go. So, there are companies that are doing interesting things in that space, Mirage is my favorite one in this space, and then drop versus another super interesting one. I imagine we’ll also see a bunch more VR, AR type experiences in the future. I haven’t totally figured out my opinion on that at a high level. But Jadu is an interesting web three AR game and all these things are mobile native. And then, obviously, also, I think, web three wallets on mobile are going to continue to be massive. And so, rainbow is one that is already widely used on mobile, the glow wallet on Solana is interesting. We are investors in kind of like an explorer called Genesis, that’s mobile first, and really a beautiful consumer experience. So, I’m really excited about kind of all of these interfaces. But I imagine we’ve got a little bit of a ways to go, until we’re really mobile first for web three, just because of kind of the infrastructure that we have today.

How to Build Product Defensibility When Data Is Open to All

So, if we keep on building front ends, for a world where data is a commodity in blockchain, how do you build stickiness? How do you build defensibility? What does that look like from your perspective?

Gaby Goldberg: This is like the big question, right? I think it depends on what you’re trying to do. So, I think a big one actually is in brand and in brand equity. Perhaps there are token gated experiences, for a specific type of experience that you want to have. And that’s kind of the moat of, you know, I want to have a certain experience for a certain type of action I’m completing and web three. Specifically, I think wallets are a very interesting space. I put out a prediction, I can’t believe it was almost a year ago. That’s crazy. But it was my 2022 prediction in Mario Gabriel is kind of like what to watch in 2022 for crypto. And I basically said we’re going to see this shift from crypto wallets to web three wallets. And kind of how I would explain that shift, is generally to date all wallets have been built and designed around transactions, right? How do I buy and sell and custody tokens, and the wallets that are able to capture specific consumer behaviors at certain points in time will be really successful for that cycle. So, for example, in defi summer, all you needed to be able to do was to interact with defi, you want to be able to buy and sell and custody those tokens. And Meta mask was around for defi summer. And they skyrocketed to, I think half a million to 10 million users in the span of a year, because they were there to capture that consumer demand. Similarly, I think rainbow was a good example. After defi summer came NFT summer, and everybody wanted a highly visual way to show and display and explore NFTs as assets in their wallet. Meta mask couldn’t really do that. But rainbow could and rainbow skyrocketed and users.

So, the story like really doesn’t end there. The question now becomes, what are going to be you know, the really big waves of consumer appetite and which wallets are going to be there to capture that demand? And so generally, I think we’re just going to see more wallet front ends. So even a couple months after I wrote that Mario Gabriel’s piece, I put out an article, stop calling it a wallet, basically saying and I’ll probably say I don’t have a better word yet. So don’t come at me. But I think the word wallet is a little bit limiting, because it insinuates that the things in your wallet are static and that they’re capital assets. And that already is very limiting to how we interact with web three and the things that we hold in there. So maybe, perhaps, again, don’t quote me on this, I guess you have to quote me, but, yeah, maybe there’s a passport, perhaps if it’s a wallet all around digital fashion, there’s a better interface for actually trying on digital fashion. And you can browse through the clothes hanging on a rack, instead of like a really shitty 2d image, like you see on open sea. And maybe that wallet is called a wardrobe. Or maybe there’s a specific front end for music NFTs. And it plugs into NF T’s that were purchased on specific marketplaces that focus on music. And maybe if you bought a glass music video NFT you can watch the video within the wallet or maybe you can play the songs on a playlist. And so maybe that wallet is called a discography or something. And so, again, I haven’t really flushed out a better word, because obviously, the word needs to be able to kind of take the thing seriously, and it’s not something to be taken lightly, obviously, that it’s like a high value and, you know, important thing.

The way I see it as like different front ends for different experiences. That’s how I sort of see right? 

Gaby Goldberg: Absolutely.

Outro

Like you said with music NFTs with the rise of people collecting music NFTs with the rise of tokenized audio, there is going to be a media player, right? Whether it be spin amp or future tape, right that people are tapping into, they just act as aggregation layers, maybe soon have marketplaces on a mobile front, right? That they sort of like monetize accordingly, based off the attention that people use and listen the application for right, I think there’s going to be many different instances around that. And I think, now we’re tying back curation, playing an even more important role, in sort of like showcasing the right assets, and the right experiences on that front end, in a world where data is so vast and so expansive, right, and when you have indexers popping up left and right, for all different types of used cases, it’s up to you, the creator, the entrepreneur, to figure out what type of experience, what type of front end you’re going to create for what type of data. I think this is a great place to end off Gaby. Before I let you go, where can we find you? Where can we learn more about your work? Show it away.

Gaby Goldberg: Yeah, so I’m on Twitter, Gabby underscore Goldberg, send me a DM, say hi, I’ll try and respond to most of them. And then I write on mirror, Gaby.mirror.XYZ. And first time I’ve said this, but I’m on Farcaster @Gaby. So maybe you should DM me there.

Sounds good. 

Gaby Goldberg: But thanks so much for having me. This was so much fun.

Thank you so much. We’ll have to do this again soon. Till next time.

Categories
Podcast Transcript

Rewriting The Music Industry: Web3 Protocols, Marketplaces, and Fandom

Background

Mint Season 6 episode 22 welcomes back David Greenstein, the Co-Founder of Sound.xyz. We talk about his vision for the future of music, Sound’s protocol, their new 0% fee music NFT marketplace, and much more.

I hope you guys enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 01:17 – The Current State of Music NFTs
  • 05:04 – Lessons David Learned Since His Last Time On Mint
  • 07:17 – What Can Be Built On Top of Sound?
  • 10:09 – If Spotify or Apple Music Were to Release a Protocol 10 Years Ago
  • 13:15 – The Goal Behind Web3 Music
  • 18:47 – Thoughts Around the Consumption Layer for Collectibles
  • 22:01 – Strategies Working For Artists On Sound
  • 24:45 – How Exclusivity is Created On Sound
  • 30:35 – Biggest Challenges Creating Sound.xyz
  • 37:48 – What’s Missing in Web3 Music?
  • 40:19 – What Will Take the Protocol to the Next Level?
  • 42:58 – “Web3’s Breakout Artist”
  • 46:20 – Thoughts For Web2 Artists Experimenting in Web3
  • 50:22 – Thoughts Around Secondary Sales of Music NFTs
  • 53:01 – What’s Next for Sound.xyz?
  • 55:33 – Outro

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Intro

David Greenstein, welcome back to mint. How you doing, man? Thank you for being on again.

David Greenstein: Yeah, it’s my first time doing a repeat episode. Figured there is no better place than mint.

The Current State of Music NFTs

Let’s go. I agree with you. There is no better place than mint. David, I think a good place to start because you’ve already been on, so if you don’t know who David is, go listen to the last episode. But I want to understand what is the current state of music NFTs from your perspective?

David Greenstein: Yeah, so I mean, the main thing is that there’s been no stoppage obviously, we’re, you know, in the middle of like, somewhat of a bear market. But there’s been no stoppage of on the artist side of artists releasing music, in fact, like we’re seeing, you know, like, for us, like all time, releases on sound. And we even did 11 drops in one day, this past previous week, which used to be that we did 11 drops in like almost a month or like, you know, 15 days. So, I think the one thing that’s been really, really inspirational, is seeing all the artists continue to release music, because so much of what’s been going on is not tied to any type of bull or bear market. It’s really about, you know, releasing music in a fun, creative and like autonomous way, which is, which transcends a lot of the kind of market conditions of web three. And I think it’s something that really excites me. So, I think, to be honest, like the state of music NFTs is extremely health, from the perspective of like this, people still collecting every single day on the sound site. And there’s more artists than ever, that want to release and create music NFTs, which is something that has been incredibly inspiring, not just to me, but the entire sound team.

And what season are we on right now for sound? Is it season four, season five?

David Greenstein: We’re on season four, I wonder how long will go. But we’re obviously like, you know, we just launched season four and really like the main kind of change there. As we start to, you know, one of the things that has stopped sound from growing a little bit faster as we did a Twitter space for every single new artist on sound, because one of the things that we wanted to do is really highlight every single story of these artists and, you know, really tell the stories of like, why they were joining, you know, sound and why they were putting out that song that day. And so, you know, as somebody who does, obviously, you know, podcasts every day, these Twitter spaces are usually 30 minutes to an hour. And so, every single day, we probably done several 100 of them at this point, I stopped counting a long time ago. But basically, we made the decision to like not do it Twitter space, every single new artist, which has had the, you know, the benefit of being able to slowly start to onboard more artists, which has been incredible. And that’s obviously like how we’re able to get more artists on sound. And this kind of sets the stage for the conversation today. 

But one thing we’ve been consistent about, since the day we launch is that sound has always been designed and you know intention to basically be open to as many people as possible. Because the tools and music NFTs for any artists, it’s not just for sub as like a selection of artists. And so, the first major step towards that was basically, you know, the protocol, which is there’s kind of two parts to sound canning open. One is access to the contracts, and, you know, the same smart contracts that power, you know, sound and we kind of revamp them which we can get into for this like, you know, protocol release. And then the second is like the UI and the front end of being on the sound website. And that one was even more even more nuanced. Because of you know, how do you discover all the songs, if there’s thousands being uploaded per day? How do you, you know, how do you deal with like content moderation, if somebody uploads a song illegally, that isn’t theirs. So really, just being extremely thoughtful around that. So that, you know, the goal, obviously, is to find set of ears for every single song and we want to make sure that we’re able to deliver on that promise. So, the first step in that direction was really getting these contracts, these new contracts open, so that everyone has the same tools to releasing great music NFTs in a really gas efficient, fun way.

Lessons David Learned Since His Last Time On Mint

Last time you were on, we recorded the episode during season two. So, two seasons have passed, you announced the sound protocol. Honestly, a very monumental update in the world of music NFTs. I’m curious, what have been some of your learning lessons from season two, since the last time you were on two now?

David Greenstein: Yeah, so I think there’s like a couple main reasons why we like, you know, revamp the contracts and kind of move towards the protocol. One is like, we started to move towards like, the song is like the atomic unit for music NFTs, and so we wanted every single song to be it’s own contract, and therefore its own collection, that was a way that we were able to get end to end secondary royalties across primary and secondary sales. It was also like artists today, we originally started with like artists contracts, but artists themselves are not contracts, songs are typically under the contract. And so, it made sense for us to focus on kind of the song as the kind of base unit. We also, like saw a lot of like, you know, people obviously talking about metadata and different mint formats, and it was really hard to like, predict, like, what are all the like, you know, like options that people are going to want. And so, we really crafted the protocol and like a pretty modular way, so that each of these components, whether it’s like a minting module, or metadata module, or payments module, can all be configurable to support different use cases based on the artist’s needs. And it’s all permissionless at the base layer. 

So, if you want to, like not use the sound metadata module, and you know, plug in your own metadata module, you’re more than, you don’t need to ask for permission to do that. Until really like, we think like, you know, these contracts are like are going to become the standard for kind of music NFTs because of how gas efficient they are. And because of how like configurable they are. And that’s kind of reflected in kind of, you know, what’s been going on with kind of the early usage today. So, I think like last, I, you know, was on upload, which was like last week, to deploy a song contract was about like $7 on Eth layer one, which obviously takes into account like gas fees today. But that’s pretty good starting point. So, I’ve been excited about.

What Can Be Built On Top of Sound?

I would agree as well. And I think with the introduction of a protocol specifically for music, I guess there’s also like, there’s a vision of what can be built on top of the protocol. And I’m curious, from your perspective, what are some applications use cases, ideas that you would love to see the community experiment with and sort of implement on sounds protocol?

David Greenstein: Yeah, so I think the main thing is like, something we’ve always said is like, what are the things that you can build uniquely today that like things like Spotify haven’t been able to build before and I think there’s always, the first thing that was really obvious is that, there’s always been this tension between artists, and you know, somewhat listeners, because from a listener perspective, a lot of people like going to one place to discover and find new music because there’s a single destination for discovery, but artists oftentimes want to do custom websites or custom drops or have their own brand and that’s really hard to build, tooling that supports all those you know, custom drops and experiences because you just can’t think of all the possibilities and that’s also part of the fun of this and also from a more like a collector perspective, it might be more like intimate to purchase on artists website because it feels like you’re purchasing directly from them. But if you don’t even know about an artist in the first place, then there’s obviously a lot of value because of the you know, the buyers that are coming to sound every single day to just go to discover new people, so how do you help an artist like really engage their existing audience, but also how to help artists like continue to grow their audience and right now it kind of, you know, feels like you have to choose and so the first initial use case was basically to like let artists do drops on their own website, which was kind of a trend that we saw, kind of you know, happening and you know, artists want to have their own brand their own control. 

And so, we launched the protocol with like Reo Cragun in partnership with, who I know has been on the podcast as well. And basically, Reo did an album drop on his own website, own domain, but then it also existed on sound, you know, before and after the drop for like playback purposes. And so that’s something that I think has been really, really inspirational kicked off, a slew of them with like Daniel Allen, doing a remix album, Connie Digital’s did the same thing. Aman who obviously works at sound, did an incredible job for her song surrender on bonfire as well. So that’s been like one of the like, clear used cases so far. And then there’s a few more of the music NFT applications, that are starting to build on top of sound as well in terms of like doing other like, you know, forking like or doing a different mint experience that exists on sound and then having the audio live on sound afterwards. And then one of the things obviously, you know, that I think will be happening are like what are the other types of like audio minting that can be done that isn’t necessarily on sound today. So, I think for people looking to do audio smart contract creation. I think these contracts are the most cutting edge for obviously being able to mint music NFTs but I think applies to more audio or any form of audio NFT more broadly.

If Spotify or Apple Music Were to Release a Protocol 10 Years Ago

I want to do in hypothesis or another hypothesis, a hypothetical situation, okay, for a minute. Imagine Spotify or Apple music were to release or had released a protocol, like, let’s say, 10 years ago for the music industry, what do you think the music industry would look and feel like today?

David Greenstein: I think you’d see a much more multiclient world, where there’s so many other ways to discover and support music outside of the mains, you know, Spotify application, I think that’s kind of like, like the opportunity set that kind of exists today is like, it’s very, very hard. In fact, I can’t really name one, I don’t know if you can, but like about 1/3 party application that’s built on top of Spotify or Apple music, that actually has scale and traction. And I think that’s like more of like, you know, like by design than anything else. So, to me, it’s like, they’ve never really encouraged third party developers to basically build on top of, you know, a Spotify or an Apple or an Apple music because you either get rate limited, or you’re not able to, or you’re at the mercy of them cutting you off at any single time. And I think that’s something that I think has been really, really inspirational with cool is like, people don’t need to ask for permission to start building on top of sound, or the contracts. And I think, you know, it would lead to a world where like, what if artists can have their own kind of streaming platform on their own website, what if there can be other clients that like focus specifically on a certain genre of music, or on a specific particular type of artists at an earlier stage, you might be able to build these types of, you know, applications. And then the cool part is that it’s all kind of ties together, like, you know, maybe a stream on one effect, a stream on another, like, they’re all kind of interconnected, it’s still aggregating, like streaming and streaming. 

And so that, to me, is like kind of a missed opportunity today, because you’re basically required to get all the data aggregated the eyeballs, which is super powerful, but it comes at the expense of kind of the creativity, there’s only one experience for streaming today, which is what I think, you know, I think the kind of, like web three mindset is, is like, there’s already you know, spin and future tape. And a lot of three of the predominant, you know, music streaming, you know, then like, really ask for permission, I started building on top of sound, which is really, really cool and exciting to see. And so, you just build this like ecosystem, and I think that’s the thing to take away is like, I wouldn’t say like, the web through music space is like that old, it’s pretty, pretty rare. But what encourages me is like, just seeing how many experiments are being run, is something that I think is like, pretty cool as like a music. You know, I’ve always been, like obsessed with kind of the intersection of music and technology. And for so long, you know, it hasn’t been exactly the space that you’d want to build them. And so, to see this many experiments from like, you know, things like heads or Peggi, or song camp. And, you know, obviously, like the marketplaces like sound and catalog, and Zora everything, it’s been pretty, like fascinating to see. Because it’s like, you know, there’s so much like, there’s so much just like incredible collaboration, so much, at the end of the day, so much incredible music, that it really does feel like we’re just getting started.

The Goal Behind Web3 Music

You love saying that, you love tweeting that we’re just getting started. I think where we are in, in music NFTs today is, it feels a lot like it really feels like there’s a huge energy around, of course collecting and curation. But I feel like we’re still missing the component of listenership, right? Like a lot of these platforms, whether it be sound or like other sort of like creator base collecting platforms are like glass, right? They don’t really like highlight viewer count, they highlight more of like the collecting, right, the collecting experience around it. Is that sort of like the intention and the vision we’re building towards? Is the goal behind web three music to build more of like a collector-based environment around music, or do you think it’s more so to highlight the listenership, the viewership, and all these other sorts of components that maybe web two has done really well, for example?

David Greenstein: Yeah, so I think it’s a bit, it’s a really good question. And I think it has a bit of nuance there. Which is like, the reason why, like, you know, a lot of places have left out the views is that like, artists are, like coming out of an experience with like, something like Spotify, where, like, everything is about how many plays did you get, and I think the like, part of the notion of like, you know, the web three music space was about challenging that the number of streams is correlated with like, to how, like, impactful or how much emotional value that song creates, because you have artists that, you know, don’t necessarily have the highest number of stream counts that can sell out huge tours, and you have, you know, other artists that have huge stream counts that can’t sell out, you know, a 200 cap venue. And so, it kind of puts the challenge, like, you know, and flips it a little bit on its head and saying, like, hey, like, let’s focus on like, active relationships. So, let’s focus on the people that actually care about the music and really value the artists and their craft, and really like reward and celebrate those people and kind of like distance ourselves a little bit from like, the people that are more passively consuming music, now there’s anything wrong with that, which we’ll get to in a second. But that’s kind of what’s already valued today based on like, the Spotify ecosystem.

So, I think it was more of a feature than a bug to kind of not include that information. But I don’t think play counts are a inherently, you know, bad thing in the sense that like, you know, artists obviously want to have their music heard by as many people as possible. I think it’s the more the corollary, that that’s true, which is, you know, just because it’s one doesn’t have that many streams do not mean that that song is an incredibly impactful, I think in order to like, understand this whole music NFT landscape, you kind of have to understand the history of music in the internet. And that kind of starts with Napster, which is obviously you know, my profile photo avatar on Twitter, Napster, and also my spirit animal, but also like the Napster like, you know, logo. And I’m sorry that Napster, you know, product kind of showed that, like people want to listen to music for free, like the average music listener, wants to listen to music for free. And I talked about this, you know, in the famous debate with Kobe, but, you know, the music industry was like, we’re not gonna let you monetize music for free, because that’s just not the way it’s gonna work over here. 

So, Napster ultimately got shut down as an illegal business. And then iTunes kind of pops up. And I tend to actually did, something that I find quite interesting, which is like, it has a really active relationship between like, you know, purchase certain artists, because you’re not like running around, accidentally purchasing things. And so, in that regard, like, I think it was, you know, much more stronger connection between, like you and the music. And I also think it’s very akin to like CD and evolution of like vinyl, and you know, some of the more active forms of music consumption. The problem was the average music, you know, like listener doesn’t want to spend like that much money on music per year, which was kind of proven out. And then they were also used to kind of the Napster era, where everything was free. So, iTunes ultimately starts to decrease in it’s popularity. And then Spotify comes along and Spotify you know, from my perspective is like Napster, with for 999 a month, and that has been working for like the last decade and continues to work and don’t think it’s gonna stop working for a, you know, a selection of artists. But many artists on Spotify don’t, you know, like, aren’t streaming quite well and therefore aren’t getting paid. And if your music is on a storefront, and it’s not getting paid, it basically feels like Napster. And that’s kind of created this opportunity for music NFTs. And Spotify is like really pioneered the passive music listening, even monthly listeners, the primary metric on any artist profile is a passive metric, it is literally anyone who listens to a song once a month, and I can check out an artist right now on a playlist, that does not mean that I’m a fan of them. 

And so, there’s a bit of missing active consumption today. And then music NFTs, which, you know, like everybody likes to make fun of, the concept is actually quite simple. If anyone can listen for free, but collecting and or ownership is valuable to own. And I think that concept is pretty powerful. Because if anyone can listen for free is very akin to like a Spotify or a Napster type, you know, era where you know, you can basically listen for free, but the collecting aspect is very more like iTunes, vinyl, and like CD, but has this twist of like the social status, the scarcity, and all these little, you know, web three elements, which seem kind of innocuous at the surface, but are actually quite powerful. Because of you know, the fact that like, people have been running around the internet for as long as you know, I’ve been around saying like, hey, I discovered, you know, Drake before you or I was here first. And that’s like, the primary message in any artist DMs that it’s filled with, I’ve been a fan of yours since 2014. And music, NFTs are like a very clean, simple way to basically show you’re here first supporting artists through their music, get some, you know, like social status in return and like, really, really exciting. So that’s kind of the gist of it.

Thoughts Around the Consumption Layer for Collectibles 

If you look back eight months ago, one of the biggest conversations was around the consumption layer of music NFTs. And there was a heavy environment around collecting but you couldn’t really consume the things that you collected, they sat in your Meta mask, right. And maybe some of these wallets had like media native players, but they sucked to be frank. But now we’re seeing products like future tape, who just got acquired by Zora and spin it who is rolling out and getting more and more traction, sort of like building out like the consumption layer for media, audio, video collectibles. What are your thoughts around that? Is that net positive or do you see that sort of like going down the line?

David Greenstein: Yeah, so I think the first thing is that, like, music has always been meant to be heard by as many people as possible. And so, the more you know, product services, applications that are spreading music, and finding ears, the better for obviously, like the artists, which is at the end of the day, all that matters. And so, you know, obviously what we talked about earlier, like this, isn’t that like Spotify and kind of the DSPs, kind of missed out on was having this rich ecosystem of like third party applications, that kind of build on top of kind of the content, you know, minting kind of catalog. And that to me is like something that is like really, really exciting to see. And so, I think it’s really interesting that you can have different types of listening experiences based on, like, whatever that product is trying to solve, and then obviously, you know, on sound like we’re also investing a lot into, like discovery as well, in terms of how do you find out about these, you know, songs that are getting released, as you know, there’s more and more drops, even, like, you know, having 11 drops in one day. Like, that’s, that creates a whole different set of challenges that we didn’t face. And I think that’s something that like, I think, is kind of the era that we’re about to enter, which is like this, you know, obviously, like this, you know, sound is kind of takes a little bit of a node from this, but we’re like, we’re about to enter the like, web three version of the SoundCloud era where like, you know, artists are no longer gonna stop, or, like, no longer to have to, like overthink, like this whole release, because of like, you know, is it gonna get playlisted or all these things, and artists are gonna be free to like, just release music and you’re seeing, we’re seeing like, a lot of artists make a track, minted on the spot and just send it, which I think is something that has, like, been missing from the music industry today, because there’s so much paranoia around, is it gonna go viral on Tik Tok? Is it gonna get playlisted? That I think is going to take some time to get undone. 

But that is really what made this sound so like, exciting, interesting was like, artists were just experimenting with music, putting it out, there having no idea what was gonna go viral, it was not gonna go viral. And really just like, putting out it, like incredibly exciting, you know, music. And that’s something that I think is like, what’s been most encouraging, is we’re seeing more drops and less overthinking. I think music NFTs have, like started to hopefully simplify. Like, there’s really is just, you know, the JPEG and the wav file, and so not over complicating things. And, you know, that’s kind of been the formula that’s been working. And a lot of the artists in the space that are having the most success, are the ones that are like, consistently releasing, and as there’s more music being released, there should be more kind of homes to find that music and whether that’s on sound, whether that’s on, you know, spin app or feature tape, it’s overall incredible for the for the music ecosystem, and kind of like, lifts to the, like the promises of, you know, or the web three kind of ideals of like not having it contained and kind of one primary kind of application.

Strategies Working For Artists On Sound

So that brings me to a very relevant question that got asked on Twitter, for music artists looking to release on sound, what are some potential roadmap slash strategies you’re seeing working right now? And how might those strategies evolve as the platform grows?

David Greenstein: Yeah, I literally say that there’s two ingredients for like, what works on sound. One is getting music, like if the music is not great, there’s nothing that’s gonna, you know, help you on that front. And then two is like, release consistently and consistently like, there’s not really like a strict timeline on that. Like, I think, like, if I had to get like some very large spectrum, it’s like two to eight weeks, which is a very large, you know, timeframe. And anybody really doing that right now, is having a decent amount of success on sound. Because truthfully, like just the act of minting alone, is something I also said more recently, like the act of minting alone is the what? Is the w like, it is the win, because, you know, the more artists that are tokenizing their works on chain, the more possibilities and the more places that can discover them, the more places that can integrate with kind of the catalog, that is already really, really exciting. And I think that’s probably been one of the biggest shifts is, you know, obviously, like sound kinda was like very, you know, kind of like, like caught us by surprise, but like became very associated with like, obviously selling out because so many of the like, drops in the beginning sold out and still continue to sell out. But I think that’s like not something that like where as a brand, like, you know, like, you know, like caring as much about like it’s really like I think the things that we want to like leverage our brain to champion, are really artists you know, putting out incredible music, connecting with their like, you know, listeners in cool ways and if it sells out great but I always say like you can’t rug good music like if it’s good, it will eventually you know, find it’s audience, so I think that part is, you know, something that rings true for me.

How Exclusivity is Created On Sound

Let’s put it back to the protocol for a minute because something that’s really interesting about sound, that I feel like you’ve done so well David, is create this environment of exclusivity. And with that that’s attracted a really interesting group of collectors, based off how your team curates’ artists sort of like drives hype and excitement around. Yeah, around who buys what, what gets bought and how much gets bought and whatnot. And then you come around, you introduce the protocol. And I guess I’m trying to tap into your mind for a minute, like, what’s your strategy of releasing the protocol first, before opening up the platform to more people? Like, how do you how do you see that?

David Greenstein: Yeah, I mean, we talked about this like a little bit like the protocol is like, and the underlying like, smart contract infrastructure is like the first step to like opening up sound, because everybody should have access to the same contracts that are powering sound drops today, that shouldn’t be like just a privilege for people on sound, if anybody looking to do music NFTS should have like cutting edge smart contracts, for being able to release songs with, you know, decentralized metadata that’s permanent sort of, are we even having like multiple mint options, ability to do their own golden egg if that if they want to do so different, you know, minting modules, payment modules for, you know, integrating with things like zero splits, we feel like those are tools that everyone should have. And, you know, we don’t like, you know, I think I changed my twitter thing to David shipping. At the moment, it’s ready, like we launch it, we don’t wait. And so that’s something that like, you know, we felt like, a lot of artists would, would want to have access to this. And so why would we like, hold this just to ourselves, if, like, we think it’s ready. And so once, you know, we felt comfortable, we obviously wanted to put it out in the world, so that people, you know, whether it’s like artists, or developers or companies can immediately start integrating. 

And so, the contracts that we had pretty high clarity on, like, how that would work, and what the process is, I think, in terms of why we haven’t let people like just start uploading to sound more broadly. And, you know, like, basically, like open source the upload tool, which is something that is kind of next in line, and will happen, you know, sooner than people think, is basically because like, it comes with a much more complicated set of tradeoffs. And like, you know, we’re on both the product side and the legal side, product side being like, I think it’s really important that people can find the music that they want to find out about. And you know, if there’s 5000 uploads tomorrow on sound, I can guarantee you’re not going to find out about the ones that you really care about. And so, to me, that’s something that’s like, really critical is like, it can’t, you know, I think my dream for sound is like, as content grows, you know, Adam still feels like it’s a really intimate experience, the way that it is today with like, you know, the, the artists that you obviously are familiar with on the site. And so, one is like, how do we like separate content growth, from like, you know, music discovery, which I think is really important. And then two is like, the legal concerns, like, I’ve never been on, you know, the record saying anything along the lines of like, the people who make the music shouldn’t get paid, like, you obviously want all the stakeholders in a song to get paid. 

And so, you know, the last thing I want to do is have somebody monetize music, that doesn’t actually go to the person who made that music, because that doesn’t seem like what the space is about. In fact, it was all about getting artists paid. And so, the main thing is like, it will happen, like somebody will, you know, and this is ultimately like something that we should obviously learned from like SoundCloud, because it got them into a lot of trouble, you know, back in the day, and they took them many years to, like, reform their business to like, you know, like, accommodate like that content. And so, to us, it’s like, we want to make sure, like, we have, like, all of our, you know, ducks in a row before we like, you know, jump off the cliff. And, you know, say like, let’s open it up. So, I think it’s really just around having an actual strategy and not being reckless here, because it’s much easier to like, open the floodgates and just open it and close it back. And so that’s really why it’s been taking, you know, a little bit longer, but what I always like to remind people of is like, sound is still less than a year old. And so, it just takes time to build these cool things. And I’m usually pretty good at getting and this is really credit to the team that works on sound, and I’m really lucky to work with them because they’re the best team ever. And so really, it’s like, you know, it takes us it’s gonna take a second but we’re gonna get it right.

How big is the sound team now actually?

David Greenstein: we just had 15 people on, I think, yeah, the goals, I think like you’re in our grow a little bit more but like something that we’ve been really proud of, is like keeping them team as small as possible. Because really, like you know, the more autonomy and ownership each person has and the more we can have less meetings and more and more shipping and getting features out there for artists. So, I think that’s something that we’re incredibly proud of, is keeping the team as lean as possible and building an environment where everyone has ownership over the product and can release like ideas into the world and you see something broken go fix it. And so, for a while it was like probably, we did our last episode, it was probably like, you know, five to seven or it was it was really, a long time. And we needed a little bit of help to get the these features out a little bit faster. So that’s kind of the gist of it. And one of those people is somebody who goes by the name vectorized, who kind of like author and helped work on our smart contracts. And he actually like maintains 721A, which came out of like the Cairo Labs, which is like part of the Zucchi project and 2721A is like the main like NFT repo for, you know, from a smart contract perspective. And so having him work on the, you know the sound protocol, was something that was a true privilege for us, because, you know, he’s one of the best out there. And, you know, he’s done it, he’s done it before. And that’s why, that’s part of the, I wish I could take credit. But that’s part of the reason why the contracts are so optimized.

Biggest Challenges Creating Sound.xyz

Amazing. I think one of the things that I respect about the season four release, and the season four announcement was, you introduced the protocol and then you also introduced monetization around sound, which I really thought was genuinely, really wise, because there’s value in being able to curate and being that brand, that sort of like puts artists on the maps. And there should be a take rate, a minimal take rate that comes with that. But providing all these tools in an open-source, fashion that allows anybody to build upon the sound protocol, like the way you sort of like introduced that was really smart. I’m curious, as you’re sort of like building out the sound protocol prior to launch, what were some of the biggest challenges in forming the protocol and putting it together? Like, did you have like a mood board sort of, when you were putting together the protocol, designing it and preparing it for release? Like, walk me through that entire process?

David Greenstein: Yeah, so first of all, like 5% thing, it was actually something that was like, pretty, like, you know, something that I believe from a product perspective is like, let’s get the product out there to the world, let’s make it free, let’s get you know, adoption, let’s see how people react, and then only turn on monetization, when we feel like we’re delivering enough value to the world, and people are happy, because you know, most of the time people are, if you’re delivering a service that people like, they’re more than happy to pay you for it. And the only time people get upset, is when you’re not delivering value and taking something and we never, we always wanted to under promise, over deliver. And so, for the first you know, three and a half million dollars, that sound generated for artists, we passed 100% of it, like didn’t take a single penny directly to artists, which obviously, you know, is a statement more than anything else. And then we started taking 5% of the primary. But again, that’s only on the like, sound like website at the protocol level, there’s actually a 0% fee, and we already deployed like fee less mentors, for people to basically build on top of, so if people want to build their own minting experience, the 5% fee is completely, you know, like up to them, or they can charge their own fee if they want to. But that’s only at the like, you know, like the essentially the UI level at sound. 

As far as like the mood board, we have like a couple, I would say like it’s more principles that we had, like, we wanted this to be a permissionless contract factory, we wanted to make sure it was not upgradeable. So that, you know, people, like, you know, artists had complete creative sovereignty over their own contracts, which was something that was really, really important to us. We wanted the metadata to be permanent and decentralized. That’s why we ended up choosing, we’ve wanted to have, you know, support our different like, metadata modules in terms of like, we have this thing called the golden egg, which is obviously very part of sounds brand, we actually moved the golden egg calculation fully on chain, which is like, you know, something that we invested some resources and time in. So, like, the golden egg is completely, like not tied to the sound back end in any way, shape, or form, which has been really, really exciting and kind of cool to kind of see. And then we have like different like, we want a different like auction mechanics essentially, like we have fixed option, we have range conditions, you know, maybe in the future, open additions or whatever the like, again, the used cases might be it’s the cool part is not having to think of all the possibilities today and knowing that we can build them in the future, like as they kind of come up.

So really, it was about the like composability, the like extensibility and the like modular aspect of like the sound contracts, that I think really, really got me excited. And then kind of like the secret source was really just like optimizing them to get them so cheap and like efficient, that you could actually afford to deploy a new contract for every single song, which obviously creates this, you know, massive amount of collections, because you know, they’re creating a collection for every single song, which obviously makes it a little bit harder to find these things on the you know, secondary marketplace. And, you know, we can talk about a little bit about this now, but obviously, like launching the sound market, which is going to be like the home for discovering music NFTs because right now like open sea, and all of secondary marketplaces are obviously incredible. But they aren’t, like necessarily optimized for music. And even unlike, you know, there are other tools that people have built first, deploying smart contracts. But something that at the core of sound was always like, for musicians, like nothing else. We’re not like building for other types of creators. It’s really, we’ve been laser focused on artists. And that is true, you know, in the product level, in terms of like how the pages are structured. It’s true on our profile pages. It’s true, you know, on the minting experiences but it also should be true in the secondary market. And I think, you know, artists like to be around other artists. And so, something that I think is interesting is like, I think open sea, obviously, in all the primary marketplaces have done like incredible works obviously, like getting the secondary market in the first place.

And one of the cool things about the market that we’re launching is like, a aggregates liquidity across all marketplaces. So, we’re not like, you know, it, you can list where we believe, again, same way with music, like you can list wherever you want list on open sea, list on list on, you know, looks rare, wherever you want to, wherever you want to list, but we also have like sound native listings, where you can list directly on the sound marketplace. And the cool part is that under the hood, that’s actually a, like seaport kind of marketplace, which I think is really cool, which obviously, is the protocol that open zero, rolled out. And so, if you listen to sound market, there’s 0% listening phase, or we’re saving buyers two and a half percent that open sea is taking on the open sea side, which is something that we’re really excited to kind of launch in our beta phase, where we’re having a 0%, you know, listing fee, and this was all kind of built with a new startup, that we’re friends of, you know, sound called first mate. That is kind of building, you know, marketplaces for startups. So that’s something that has been a really cool partnership as well. Obviously, they’re leveraging a lot of the new protocol stuff as well. So, it’s just been building with other builders.

So, collectors are getting their own unique marketplace for music NFTs, that sort of detachment entire experience of open sea, but they can still experience the benefits of listing right across all these marketplaces, but they can take advantage of the purchasing experience on the sound marketplace. 

David Greenstein: Yeah, the sound marketplace that kind of, to me offers like, you know, two or three main value props. One is that it is incredibly painful to go find out about music, NFTs on some of these larger marketplaces, it’s partially our fault, because we have every single song has it’s own contract. And so, it creates this like, you know, like, very large amount of like, links that you would have to keep track of and follow to like, find out about music NFTs. And so, one is just the discovery, I think is really awesome. Two, is that we have like the native listening experience, which basically comes with like a 0% listing fee. And therefore, you know, it’s obviously cheaper to list on the sound market. And then three, like this is like a home for like music NFTS and really just about, you know, having artists around other artists, which I think is also, you know, incredibly exciting. And obviously, like there’s the market is in it’s like beta phase. And, you know, we’re looking forward to adding as many music NFTs as possible. So, I think that’s something that is really, really exciting. And I’m really proud to get out this week.

What’s Missing in Web3 Music?

I think one of the coolest unlocks of the whole entire music NFT wave, is the ability to collect something, I think though over time genuinely, it’s going to become a little mundane and boring. And I’m curious from your perspective, like we’ve tapped into the first phase I feel like or maybe you could even consider it phase zero, because we’re just getting started right, of collecting something. Where do you imagine it going from here? Like, what are we missing to sort of, like, bring this entire experience together?

David Greenstein: Yeah, so I think like the collecting is kind of your entry into the music NFT world, I actually think there’s like, two kinds of main paths, were like collecting those. One is it the artists level, and like, I think the experiences that like artists can offer their collectors are just like literally the money, I wouldn’t even know if they’d gotten started. Like, obviously, we started making some really small ones, like, you could leave a comment, the golden egg, we recently launched, like exclusive listening. If you obviously like collecting artists, you know, when the next time they upload, you can start listening to the song early, which is obviously something that like, you know, like people already, like, you know, like listen to songs anyway. But I think like some of the, you know, other use cases that are really obvious, whether it’s like, you know, the wall to wall messaging hasn’t necessarily, you know, taken off yet, I think the like artists like enacting their collectors to like, help, you know, make decisions about like feature releases or future marketing strategies, I think it’s going to become a lot more of like, building that complex ecosystem and community around, it’s still incredibly painful for artists to like, engage with their collectors. 

And so, I think there’s going to be a whole set of experiences that like artists use, and I think artists have also just never had the tools to know who their like individual like believers are. And that’s something that I think is like, just seeing the artists come up with ideas to like, you know, to like, do things with people that, like, basically support their music, I think is literally just getting started. And then I think there’s a lot of stuff at the sound level that like collectors will be able to do in terms of like, hey, like, you know, maybe they’re able to influence like some of the curation on sound, maybe they’re able to, you know, like become curators themselves. So, I think there’s a lot of stuff that like we can do with collectors that I think, you know, we haven’t necessarily, like rolled out yet, which I think is something that’s really exciting. So, I think collecting is definitely like the entry point into the like music NFT world, but there will be other ways to kind of start to participate that don’t necessarily like involve collecting. So, I think that’s all for now.

What Will Take the Protocol to the Next Level?

Okay, okay, it makes sense. I want to also again, pivot, because all these sound protocol discussions are introducing sort of like side branches to talk about, but with introducing a protocol is with the hopes of sort of attracting a thriving developer community to build on top of it, right. I’m curious, like how do you? Yeah, how do you build a sustainable developer ecosystem and find one developer who want to sort of like build towards this web three, music vision? And then how do you sustain those people like, will sound have some type of like grant program? Well, I see start seeing you guys at like DEF CON, like what do you see from your perspective of sort of, like taking the protocol to the next level?

David Greenstein: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s not just the protocol. But like, we launched, we also launched, which I probably should have said, like, we launched an SDK and like, so basically, like a full set of tools to help developers engage with the, you know, the content on sound and make it as easy as possible, I think what attracts developers is obviously like making that data as accessible as possible. And then obviously, like, as easy to build on top of and then as rich like having a really like a complete set of information. And as long as that’s true, like people will start to kind of build these experiences on top of it, because there’s such a, like, kind of natural overlap between, like the developer community and kind of music, and some of the applications that people wanted to build, but it’s not necessarily have built, I think the main thing that like, you know, attracts developers is just showing that you like want them to build on top of it, and leading kind of with actions and supporting those projects. So even today, like you know, like having the three main you know, music listener, streaming players, like spin it, future tape, and blah, blah, like that’s incredible for the ecosystem, seeing bonfire recently integrate, has been really, really exciting. There’re some other ones that I can’t disclose yet that are coming out, that are big, that are starting to integrate even this like first made integration for the marketplace, there’s just been so many really cool and exciting things that it’s really just about showing concrete examples and making it less about, you know, some mythology that you can integrate the sound protocol and more about showing example apps, that people can actually like, relate to. And so I think that’s why, even when we launched the protocol, was very important to us that we had a concrete example of like what you can do, so that, you know, people can very tangibly understand and the reality they may not understand the sound protocol, or you know, all the things that kind of come with it, and in the beginning, but people can understand Reo dropping an album on his own website, it’s showing up on sound, doing a really cool bespoke experience. And that’s why we kind of paired it, I thought it was like the perfect example to kind of pair it with and Reo was the perfect partner. Because anybody who knows Reo, knows how awesome he is to kind of, you know, launch this with them.

“Web3’s Breakout Artist”

I want to also talk to, before your wrap up about like, macro current events that sort of took place. So, Warner and open sea sort of did a partnership to bring more of their artists into the space, we saw a couple of major record labels introduced their own like, I guess one sort of actually comes to mind, I forgot who but you might know off the top of your head, but they introduced like a music NFT fund of some sort, right? All these sorts of like more big picture initiatives. So, us Dejan sort of like made enough noise. You know, even though I feel like I played a very small part with collecting platforms like yours brought a lot of the scene to life, right. And all the other collectors that sort of like came through that billboards article of saying, like Daniel Allen is on the verge of becoming like web threes breakout artists, like all these headlines, all these interesting initiatives and activities sort of spurred external movement and behavior. How do you feel about that? Are we for that? Are we against that? What do you think? 

David Greenstein: I mean, it’s on the one hand, I’m like, no more music NFT activity, the better for a kind of pioneering this is like an emerging technology within the music space. On the other hand, like, it’s like, just a completely different field to kind of where we’re at. Like, I think sound you know, a lot of the native web three ecosystem is really focused on championing the independent up and coming artists, the artists that like have been overlooked by things like Spotify. And I think in general, like, it’s really hard to, like, build that community around something like a major corporation, or major label to kind of win over like, it’s just not like, you know, a lot of the principles are like fast transparency and accuracy. And I think it’s like really cool, and I think should be encouraged and actually give them a lot of credit for like, even wanting to experiment in the first place because they don’t have to, they make a lot of money as it is. But I think in terms of like, becoming the de facto solution for where, you know, music is going to be discovered. It’s just completely like you know, I wouldn’t say like it’s occupying too much mindshare, for me right now. So, I think really, it’s about supporting the current ecosystem, and you know, building like the true music NFT community, which I think is like, really started to take shape in terms of something that is another signal. To me, it’s just seeing all the artists collaborate with each other, making music, putting it out together, across, you know, not just sounds, but other platforms, it’s been really, really cool to see, I think companies are collaborating with each other, I think artists are clapping, or collaborating with each other. And every week, it feels like, you know, the movement is growing a little bit more, and you’re seeing an artist’s friend, come check out, you know, the web three space, and word kind of spreads. 

And so, I think that’s one thing that has remained true, since our last episode is like sound has still never spent a penny on marketing. It’s fully organic. You know, we still really don’t have a way to sign up for like emails or anything on sound, which is a terrible idea that we should probably figure out, but it’s been fully organic. And it’s really like the artists who deserve all the credit for it. Because it’s really artists championing kind of what’s been going on, telling their friends and their peers and, you know, making music with each other. And I think collaboration is actually one of the ways that you solve education, and you solve onboarding, because artists, you know, start, like, you know, like, they might throw their collaborator on a split, who doesn’t even know about music NFTs. But now they have to come claim the Eth that gets generated from the sale. Now all of a sudden, they have like a wallet, and they’re curious, and then they want to put out their own song and, you know, creates that kind of flywheel effect. So, I think, you know, we’re just getting started.

Thoughts For Web2 Artists Experimenting in Web3

Yeah, Black Dave said this best when we record an episode, he’s like, I think when you look at more mainstream artists trying to make their way into web three, a lot of them fail, because they don’t embrace the element of collaboration. They sort of come in with their status of being up here and us, web three through people were maybe like down here, but soon to be up here. But then he referenced Snoop Dogg as an example of like his entrance into web three, he did have a lot of experimentation. But one thing that he did really right, was sort of like call out a lot of like the up-and-coming web three artists, do a song with them, right, and then eventually release that on sound. And he got a lot of like the web three music cloud, despite how much of an icon he has already to begin with, right? But sort of like his entire entrance into web three was very felt organic, felt aligned with the community, which I really respect. And I’m curious from your perspective, like if you were to say anything to these web two artists coming into web three, right, that have done really well for themselves, have built listenership, they want to experiment what the web three route, what is that entrance? Like what does that look like? So, we talked about collaboration, looking at one of them. Do you have like a playbook or roadmap that you could maybe share? What are your thoughts?

David Greenstein: So, it’s still the same advice that I give, like even artists in the space, that are that are more native, it’s put out good music and release consistently. And like, I think like just the act of tokenizing, your music is already the sign that like, hey, you’re taking this space seriously. And the reason why I say released consistently is, you know, if you put out music, or you minted music NFT one time, and then you disappear for six months, it’s pretty hard to convince people that you’re like, genuinely serious about the space and come across, like, hey, like, maybe you’re just in this for the money. But when you release consistently, it kind of shows that you’re like, somewhat committed to like tokenizing your music. And then I think like a third, I wouldn’t say like mandatory, but I think a really cool gesture, is people who like set aside a certain percentage of their earnings to like, start collecting other artists in the space. Because I think, you know, if you show up for others, they’ll show up for you. And I think it’s kind of like, you know, kind of, you know, it’s less of like a take mentality and more of like a, you know, give mentality. And so, the more you give, the more you get in return. And I think some of the really exciting artists that have come into the space and done really well. They’re not just like releasing consistently or putting out incredible music, they’re also supporting a lot of the artists that were like, there before them, that they also genuinely appreciate. I think the one thing is like, I don’t think should be collecting for the sake of collecting, I think should be collecting people that genuinely inspire you. And that’s something that I think has been really, really cool. And that’s how like, friendships start to form and collaboration starts to form. And they might go from collecting somebody’s work, to doing a Twitter space with them, to them putting out a song with them. And that’s something that I think is a pretty repeatable blueprint and strategy. 

What are some things that you’ve collected recently, that you’ve sort of, like really fallen in love with?

David Greenstein: I’m saying neutral on this one, because I think I don’t play favorites. Any artists on sound are like, putting out incredible, incredible music. So, I let you guys on the collecting side, do that for me.

So, does that mean giving a nod wallet that just like collects very discreetly?

David Greenstein: if you can find it, go ahead, but I’m pretty like, you know, I stay kind of neutral on this one. Mainly because I think the main thing is like, just putting out the music alone and minting it is, as I said, the win. And I think it’s really, like there’s so much good music. It’s overwhelming. Like, I mean, looking at one of the days, I would like I would have said like that could be our whole months’ worth of music, you know, like a couple months ago. And so just seeing how much incredible music is being released and even like the artists themselves are like, getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and just building community around their music and it’s been just insane to see the growth that people have taken, over the last couple of months like months and that we’re talking months, so like, give people a year or two yours and like, let’s see what happens. And I really do feel like we’re on the precipice of like, something very major happening in the next three to six months. And I think we will get all those things that people have been clamoring for like the first breakout song, the first breakout artists, and there’s so many talented artists in the space. It’s just a natural reaction of what happens when you like, put talented artists together.

Thoughts Around Secondary Sales of Music NFTs

Two questions left for you. Okay. The first one is, how do you feel about secondaries for music NFTs? Are you a fan of collectors selling and reselling the things that they mint? We’ll start there, and then I’ll ask the next one.

David Greenstein: Yeah, I mean, so this isn’t not necessarily tied to music NFTs, is more broadly, I think the one thing about secondary sales, like you are kind of like rewarding people for exiting the community. And like, you know, like, if you have a lot of secondary volume, that means people are trading these things back and forth with versus in theory, you kind of want to reward people who like hold forever. So, I think as long as the value that’s being created, is generating back to the artist, and there’s obviously been a lot of famous royalty debates. More recently, I think, like, I’m okay, with, like secondary volume, it’s an additional source of revenue for artists. I don’t think it’s like, yeah, I think it’s like important to that, like, you know, like, these music NFTs are viewed as valuable and obviously go up in value over time, which I think has been the case for the majority of the NFTs on sound. But I don’t think it’s like, I have kind of like a, you know, I think the secondary marketplace is like, barely even gotten started. And like, it’s sounds so much across like 5 million in secondary volume, which is not trivial. And that’s obviously like an extra, you know, 500k that’s been paid out to artists. So, I think that extended, it’s pretty powerful. And I think, you know, once you build the tools for more discovery, you build things like sound market. Yeah, like the secondary market is going to be as kind of powerful as the primary one?

So quick tangent, wouldn’t you say there’s other ways to sort of like solidify one’s participation in an artist? So, does them selling the NFT sort of indicate their loss of love for that artist? Or is it maybe them just tapping into the economics of the beauty of having like an open mark and everything being tokenized and being able to sort of like profiteer, if there is room for that?

David Greenstein: Yeah, I don’t think like artists would even care if like their fans is very sold, if it’s like them, obviously, like having some type of economic empowerment, like if you can come in and support an artist to their music, and then you know, that support ends up being more something. There’s nothing wrong with obviously, like, you know taking, especially like, because a lot of people who made money on sound, have like taken it and just reinvested it into collecting more artists. So, I think it’s like I think, you know, in general, I like believe artists should be able to put out whatever music they want, I think collectors be able to sell and buy whatever they want. I don’t believe that there should be like constructs or rules around like, what’s acceptable behavior, I think we should adhere to like the web three ideals, and like free market economics, and just see where things go. But I think for people who like really have an emotional connection with that song, they’re going to continue to hold the music NFT. And, you know, I think that’s all that matters.

What’s Next for Sound.xyz?

And my last question for you, because we’re just getting started, what’s next for sound? What can we expect? So last one that we did was in April, or May, it’s been about like, six, seven months, I guess, since we did this interview, we’re obviously going to do another one. And in a few months to do another recap, what can we expect in the next few months? We talked a little bit about the marketplace, the protocol introduction, but yeah, from your perspective.

David Greenstein: All my bullets like, well, you know, we did the protocol, when we launched our new song page, we obviously have this like market coming out, which is like a bit of a surprise. I think the next step, I’m gonna stay pretty quiet on the product level, because there’s some cool things coming. But what I will say is that the goal is obviously to like get sound open in the next couple of months. And my hope is, by the next time we record, the part three is that we’re talking about obviously, like the you know, sound like the final piece, the final half is like the UI is fully open, that people can take advantage or upload tools open source. So, people can kind of, you know mint music NFTs and have access to these contracts, you know, at the UI level, and host their own drop parties, in their own listening experiences and own golden eggs and all this other fun stuff. So, I think that’s really when the fun the chaos begins. And I think that’s an I’m really, like, I think it’s gonna be the next chapter of music NFT is, on the artist side, you’re going to have artists, you know, like kind of releasing as they make songs and, you know, kind of bring back that sound clutter. And then on the collector side, it’s actually going to become a game of who’s the first to discover new music. I think today, the ecosystem is so small, that if you really want to, like you can essentially collect every single, you know, artists on sound and, you know, I think a few people have gotten really close to doing so. But I think the game gets a little bit more interesting when like, there’s so much music being released, you actually have to like, you know, use your taste or your judgment to actually choose which ones you want to collect. And it actually makes like you supporting an artist, actually even more valuable because now all of a sudden like your taste is like a curator or a tastemaker actually like means something today, I think it’s hard for me to get behind if you collect every single artist that means like, essentially your, you know, like the best curator, right? But I do think that if you know, there’s thousand artists on sound, and you collect the 10 that have done the best, that does technically start to mean like, hey, like, you might know, like, you might be able to predict the next one. And I think that’s really where this game is headed. A lot of fun stuff and, you know, I’m sure I’m sure it’ll still be in the thick of it. So, I look forward to that in part three.

Outro

Amazing, David, thank you so much. Before I let you go, where can we find you? Where can we find sound? Show it away for those who don’t know.

David Greenstein: Well, first, we’ll start with sound, sound is on Twitter, at sound XYZ underscore, on Instagram, it’s just sound XYZ. My personal is D Greenstein one. You can find me with the Napster logo on Twitter. And yeah, that’s pretty much it. If I’m not there I’m probably listening to mint.

Amazing, like to hear, woof. Like, I’m gonna copy that one. I love it. David, thank you so much, till next time.

David Greenstein: No, thank you for having me as always, Adam.

Categories
Podcast Transcript

Blockchain Data’s Role in the Web3 Creator Economy

https://youtu.be/yPQCAMKPQ4M

Background

Mint Season 6 episode 21 welcomes Hildebert, the Dune Wizard and Data Analyst at Dragonfly Capital. Throughout the hour, we discuss blockchain data in the creator economy, metrics to measure the success of a crypto community, Hildebert’s perspective on royalties, the world of zero knowledge technology, trends that made on-chain data more favorable to analyze, and so much more.

I hope you guys enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:09 – Intro
  • 04:21 – How Do People Use the Data You Provide?
  • 06:17 – The Day to Day as Head of Data at a VC Fund 
  • 08:11 – Data Researching
  • 08:59 – Thoughts Around Data in the Web3 Creator Economy
  • 11:01 – Metrics to Measure the Success of a Crypto Community
  • 13:46 – The Art Cobbler
  • 14:18 – Hildebert’s Perspective On Royalties
  • 18:07 – The Adoption of Analyzing On-Chain Data
  • 19:41 – Tools For Understanding the Value Creators Generate
  • 21:54 – Where Data Lies in the World of Anonymous Wallet Interactions
  • 25:45 – What’s On Your List to Look into Right Now?
  • 28:12 – Interesting Stats or Trends in the Bear Market
  • 30:55 – What Are You Looking Forward to in Today’s Market?
  • 31:47 – Outro

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Hildebert, welcome to the podcast. Thank you for being on, a part of season six. How are you doing, man?

Hildebert: Great, great. Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure.

Intro

It’s a pleasure to have you on, you’re destroying the streets of the on-chain data community. And when I did this season on on-chain data, I couldn’t really figure out who to bring on when I announced the season. But as I did more research, I found you and a few others from Dune, across crypto Twitter. So, I think a good place to start is who are you, man? What does the world need to know about you and how did you get your start into web three?

Hildebert: So, my name is Hildebert. I’m a French guy who, I got my start into crypto by doing an internship at a company called Keiko, which is an on chain, which is a data provider for central exchange data. So, trade data, Orderbook data or this and that also decentralized data, dec data. And then I went back to my master’s studies here in Amsterdam. And while we, I started my master’s studies, and alongside, eventually, I discovered dune and started to play around with it, to kind of understand the blockchain as a way to kind of fiddle and see, okay, how does this work and everything. And eventually, people started to take an interest from my work. And I get to realize, okay, this can be a lot bigger than just me like, getting interested into the data and, and digging in. And, yeah, so I started to take this more seriously. Eventually, I started in March 2021. And then I think, November, up until then, I was doing it just as a hobby on the side, then I started thinking more seriously then, and started to get some contract jobs, and basically started freelancing through the platform. I eventually dropped out of my studies in February, because I realized that at that point, I had gotten enough traction that basically my dune profile and building this out, as well as just my analytics career in crypto was more important probably than my actual CV, which I was never asked for in anything, in contrary to my dune profile. So yeah, from February, I took it seriously and I was like, okay, for now, I’m freelancing, but I’m waiting for the perfect opportunity. And what, and whatever job comes my way that I fully think is the right one for me. And that came out to be a data scientist position at dragonfly, a venture capital, pretty big one in the space, where I’m the first data scientist. And, yeah, it’s pretty cool. I get to do a lot of what I used to do in freelancing, but also a bit of working with portfolio companies or due diligence. And yeah, so it’s really a fun role.

So, when you started creating, I guess, charts, and web three, what were some of the graphs and areas of focus that you were known for?

Hildebert: At the very beginning, I started looking into defi, NFTs weren’t really a thing. Well, I mean, it was a thing, but it wasn’t as mainstream as it is now. And I looked into defi, I think I started with a crypto I was looking into, because I was investing and I couldn’t see any stats out there. So, I was like, okay, well, if no one has done it, maybe I can do it through dune, which was really cool. I learned basically, I didn’t realize SQL at all, at first, I just learned by forking other people’s queries and, and slowly building out some stats. So, I started there. And I also started kind of trend that I have, which is making Airdrop dashboards. So, whenever there’s a thing, I’ve done eight of them. Now, whenever there’s an airdrop coming, I’d say a notable Airdrop, from a notable protocol. I find it interesting too, because the only time I have to do it is whenever it drops. And I have to do it as soon as possible, so that it’s live as soon as possible. And I kind of like the challenge where each drop is slightly different in its mechanics. So, it’s a challenge of whenever it goes live, I have basically a timer and have to do the whole stats as quickly as possible, and then share it.

How Do People Use the Data You Provide?

Got it. That makes sense. So, of all these graphs that you’ve created, all these data points, metrics that you sort of analyzed, what sort of value does that bring to the end user? So, you’re the one creating it? How do people sort of interpret your data? Is it sort of to understand the market better, is it to sort of, is it to track what airdrops they get, like, how do they use your data? The people who have sort of fallen in love with your work?

Hildebert: Yeah, so I think airdrops is nice, but it’s not necessarily a big, it doesn’t bring a lot of value. It’s mostly to track how much has been claimed and stuff like this. It’s more of a fun challenge for me. The stats that people are more interested in from my profile are probably the micro stats on NFT marketplaces, which over the past summer, basically I took an interest for as the NFT started to explode, I guess. And at first yeah, there’s a lot of different sets. At first, it was global macro markets. So, comparing all the marketplaces and then looks rare came around and I did a lot of stats for looks rare, especially one dashboard that a lot of people were interested in, which is comparing looks rare to open sea. Because that’s it was trying to, the goal was to be competitors for open sea, so it was very interesting. So, it’s a lot of macro level statistics on a lot of NFTs. But there’s also, I did some gas, some stuff on gas, if you’re on gas, I did some stuff on staking. That’s one of my favorite dashboards I have. What else? I’ve done other. But yeah, I focus on a lot of things and whenever I have an interest, I’ll just look into it. If I can’t find the stats in a publicly and easily available way. I’ll make stat myself.

The Day to Day as Head of Data at a VC Fund 

Makes sense. I know dragonfly has an extensive portfolio. And as the data scientist over there, I can’t imagine how closely maybe you work with the port COEs at dragonfly. I guess my question is like, what is the day to day look like, as a head of data at a VC fund? What are your jobs look like? What are your responsibilities look like? Are you trying to find alpha for the fund of new opportunities to sort of invest in like, walk me through that a bit.

Hildebert: So, I yeah, I’m not a partner, where my goal isn’t necessarily deal flow or stuff like this. But my main goal is still research. So, to like I used to surface stats and share them and share the first within the fun, but also afterwards, maybe to the public, if it’s relevant, then there is also often a partner is going to come and reach out to me and say, hey, could you help me look into this project? I mean, what they share with us looks good, but maybe the stats, the on-chain stats don’t line up or do line up but maybe you can give us a clearer picture on this. So that’s the whole due diligence. And then one of the most fun parts that I didn’t really foresee joining dragonfly was, is working with portfolio companies. There’s various really in what I do, but it can be research. So, working on a research piece with them. It can be, yeah; I don’t know anything. But the concept of having these new companies that I could definitely see as the future of the space. Seeing them early and working together in the nitty gritty parts of the project, I think is really interesting. So, it’s a, it brings, I guess there’s, I used to do a lot of data surfacing. But data researching is, I think, even more interesting and more engaging.

Data Researching

Can you, for those who don’t know what data, researching really means, can you go into that for a sec?

Hildebert: I mean, so I don’t know if data researching is a thing. It’s a term but I mean, researching, like, so that you can just surface that. So that’s relatively easy in that, okay, these number of transactions on open sea, and this is a factual stat, right. But then there’s some other pieces, which is more of a curation process. So, it can be trying to do some cluster analysis, some all kinds of different analysis that aren’t factual stats, but more of an interpretation of the stats and trying to make sense of them. And get out some information out of it. That’s yeah.

Thoughts Around Data in the Web3 Creator Economy

Makes sense. You know, that one of the main reasons why I wanted to have you on the podcast and for us to have this discussion is because, all of season six was centered around like audience interoperability and on like, as you build communities on chain, right, what does that mean? And also, the data availability that comes with sort of these communities forming and spawning, right and all these tokens that they’re issuing and these collective communities that they’re creating, right? What does that mean in the grand scheme of things in the context of the creator economy? And while I invited you on, I would love to sort of have a discussion on where does data fit in the web three, native creator economy? What is your overall thesis around that? Do you have thoughts around that concept?

Hildebert: I think data is a bit, in general in crypto is still a very new thing. If you look at the beginning of the fast bull market, it was not really much of a big interest as it was, as it is now, used to be mostly technical analysis. That was probably the only data you got but I think gets not really as relevant as the other data points you can get. And I think that going forward, that is going to be seen more and more as a goldmine for the creator economy in general, because you can, that way there’s a feedback loop. And you can actually see based on past events, past data, actually see what works, what doesn’t. It’s currently very under exploited, I would say, there’s very little data out there. For the same reason, probably that, you know, ads in crypto aren’t really a thing. I mean, they when they are, they’re terrible, and they’re on. Yeah, it’s not, it’s not really a thing. And I think it’s because we don’t have actually, any data, or no one has worked on data that shows what works and what does not. So, I think that is a big focus that I hope to see a lot of in the next bull market, next wave of projects that come out of the shadows.

Metrics to Measure the Success of a Crypto Community

So, let’s say a community surface during the bull market, there in the bear market now. It’s tough, like 1% of all these NFT collections are maybe going to last, 99% of them are maybe trash, right and don’t know really how to sustain, don’t know how to build and sustain communities. From your perspective, what metrics would you look at, as a way to determine the health of a crypto community? Whether an NFT community, a Dao, one that’s run, maybe offer social token, any sort of metrics that come to mind that you would consider like, these are the optimal metrics people should be measuring, as they sort of like conquer the bear market?

Hildebert: I guess it’s a case-by-case things because tokens are used differently for different protocols. But there’s some important ones like in terms of holder, whoever, how many people are actually holding, if it’s an NFT, or ERC 20 or whatever you want to see, how many are holding? Is it just two people holding the entire supply or more diverse set of people who are holding it? I think that’s very important. And then it’s a very tough question, what metrics? It depends. It really depends. If it’s if it’s solely an NFT, then probably, I would say some volume, some, yes, on volume in general is healthy. Dying volume is a thing of whatever markets are dying down. But you don’t want them to flatline. You think it’s a healthy thing for people, for new people to come in, and also other people to leave the project. So yeah, I think the volume that is holding steady is probably a good sign in general for a project. If it’s dying down it’s not as good of a sign. But also, I think the whole NFT space right now is a bit cluttered with a lot of the same things, the same, like the projects are, in terms of what they’re doing. There’s a lot of similarities, there’s not much diversification. And now we’re seeing the downfall of a lot of projects considering no royalties. And for many that was their sole source of revenue. So, I think, or I hope to see a lot of innovation coming our way. I really like for example, one of the things I’ve seen is paradigms, art cobbler, which they’re working on, I don’t know if you’ve seen it’s a project, it looks very innovative in it’s mechanics, and I kind of like that.

The Art Cobbler

What is the art cobbler? What are they doing over there?

Hildebert: It’s an NFT project. And there’s a whole mechanic with the ERC 20 tokens, as well as NFTs. And then you, I guess I’ll send it to you afterwards. But it’s okay, you can, yeah, I’m not gonna go, it’s more complex. But essentially, it’s more full-fledged of a project than a lot of just 10k PFP projects that are just that. Not much more.

Hildebert’s Perspective On Royalties

Okay. All right. Well, I’ll include the link in the show notes after this. Can you give me your perspective on the whole royalty debate? What are your thoughts around that?

Hildebert: Yeah. So, on a technical level, it’s really hard to enforce royalties. If you don’t have the main avenue for everyone to go and buy, sell your tokens, you can’t enforce, unless you have shown that the marketplace, you favor is also favored by the community and they have some probably incentive or some incentive to go back to this marketplace rather than other one. Because if you don’t go to this one, then the entire volume is going to go through a marketplace that has 0% royalty I think, that’s the future because it’s very hard to enforce on a smart contract level. So, I do think that a lot of projects can sustain the royalties, especially with the, lately there’s been reservoir which is a project that allows you to build your marketplace pretty easily through an API and have integrate basically all marketplaces. And I think through there, you can probably have your own royalties, and as long as you show to your community that this marketplace is better to be used than others. It could be other mechanics than just typical NFT marketplaces we see right now; I don’t know if some kind of necessarily rewards or I don’t know. But there’s there needs to be some innovation and to make sure that your community sticks to the marketplace you want, otherwise, the fees will be undercut.

Yeah, I remember, during the nifty gateway era, when a lot of these Instagram corporate artists were making their way into crypto, the royalty component was a very strong like selling point for them, right? Despite being able to make hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars on a drop, they accumulate a lot more value, maybe not a lot more, but sometimes it would over like supersede the value that they made on the primary sales through their secondary sales, right? And there’s this like whole, like wave of anger and like this angry mob, just like roaming crypto Twitter, and I’m imagining just like people with picks and shovels, just like chasing the people that are kind of like taking away the royalty and I’m curious sort of what happens down the line because I’m a big fan of creators getting the royalties, I think it’s a novel concept that’s unique to crypto, that you don’t really see anywhere else in the industry, outside of crypto at least. So, I’m curious how that sort of plays out, do you think it’s a sustainable model long term or is it just like experiments sort of surfacing?

Hildebert: I think as long as the user, the end user sees the value in giving you royalty, royalty to the creator, then it can be sustainable, in that I still foresee a large portion of traders to actually use the marketplace with royalties. But it really needs to be that actually the creator is probably giving extra value or has showcases something that warrants those royalties, I guess, you can’t just easily live off royalty and do nothing, which is a common problem with many NFT projects, just launch and then I guess, bail and don’t do anything and just benefit from royalties. So, I think it’s very tough to enforce but if you’re good, and you can show to your like your community, that is something that adds value and will enable you to create some more on top of this project or whatever, I think it can be sustained.

The Adoption of Analyzing On-Chain Data

Yeah, that was a little side tangent, I want to jump back into the data because that’s your core. And when we were talking in the green room preparing for the interview, you were telling me how like up to a year ago on chain analytics was extremely niche and the sector grew immensely during the recent market cycle. I’m curious to hear your perspective on what macro events you saw sort of motivate this further adoption, of analyzing on chain data, anything come to mind?

Hildebert: Yeah, so if you look back to early in the cycle, in this last cycle, there wasn’t as much to look into in general on chain, defi summer was the big defi boom. And it was really the first big thing I think, coming out of Ethereum and other EVMs. If you look before it was ICOs, but ICOs already, there’s not a lot to look into necessarily. So, I think the diversification of what’s going on chain led in general to more analytics. So now defi was much more of a niche before. It was interesting, but it was mostly there was like a uniswap V one, which was barely used compared to the volume of C now, similar to also NFTs which also exploded, and gave away to a new sector that people don’t want to dive into and analyze. So, I think the diversification of what is going on on-chain is what changed the public’s view on the need for analytics.

Tools For Understanding the Value Creators Generate

Do you think the industry is missing anything, in terms of empowering more web3 native users with on-chain data, so that they can become more informed? Because I argue like one of the biggest unlocks for creators and communities when they build in web three is the immutability, the transparency and the interoperability that comes with building on the blockchain. Yeah, I feel like a lot of these individuals, they don’t really have the right access to the right information, tools, infrastructure to really understand what’s happening from the value that they create, right? Do you feel the same way? Do you feel differently? What do you think?

Hildebert: I think, in general education for in crypto is a bit lacking. And when you start, I know I was a bit lost of, okay, what’s going on, there’s a lot going on. But you don’t necessarily know until you’ve been there for a bit what’s going on and what to use when. And that is, analytics is one piece of this whole puzzle that I think needs to be worked on. But I think it all comes with the lack right now focus on the UI and UX in general. You know, if you don’t use, if you don’t know how to use Meta mask, which for you is probably easy and trivial, like for me as well. But if you’ve never used it, it’s not intuitive, and you don’t necessarily understand it right away. So, it’s kind of a barrier to entry in the old space. And so yeah, I think, probably like the early ages, or the early age of the internet, where at first, it was really unusable for the average user. And no one knew what to do until nice interfaces came. And you could actually understand easily without necessarily, you know, I foresee a future where you don’t necessarily need to know what chain you’re on or what like the entire how route through what is routed your trade or whatever, you know, this will be hopefully abstracted away into the back end. And you will just know that, okay, you swapped this coin for this coin, or you bought this NFT or whatever. But you don’t necessarily need to deal with the underlying I don’t think.

Where Data Lies in the World of Anonymous Wallet Interactions

Makes sense. I also want to talk to you about sort of like the macro vision of where transparent data lies in the future of web three. There’s new technologies like ZKs, right, like kind of like popping up left and right. There are companies like Aztec popping up, right, and I am at the hackathon here at Eth, Bogota, there’s this group that built like a PFP project on Aztec, where that sort of information can’t really be traced and tracked and analyzed on Dune or Nansen. Because of the nature in which it’s built and launched. Also, if Vitalik, sort of proposed a new token standard, I think it’s like a new ERC 721 token standard, where sort of the interactions between wallet addresses are anonymous, right? And you can’t really tell it, like everything stays private, between everybody on chain. Where does data, like the value of data, the use of data sort of lie in a world like that, a privacy enforced world that people are, other groups are sort of building towards? What do you think?

Hildebert: So, first of all, I’m all for privacy, I think it’s really cool to finally have privacy layer built on top of the blockchain we have and I think it’s going to shift quite a bit how we analyze things, how we analyze these projects, in that we don’t necessarily know who owns it, but there’s still a lot to be looked into. And then there is the on-chain data but there is also not all the data, for example, listings on NFTs aren’t actually on chain, they need to be called through. It’s off chain data through an API, whether it’s open seas, looks rare or whoever’s API, we need to actually fetch that to obtain it. And I think all these privacy layers will feed some kind of data publicly into an API, not the part where it actually reveals who owns or who interacted whatever, but there’s a lot of data that is, I think the future is gonna be entangled between on chain and off chain data. Not everything needs to be on chain. There’s a lot of projects that if, especially if you want to scale and have more, technically advanced projects that have a lot more going on and a lot more transactions that needed, then you don’t necessarily need always to use the blockchain. It may not just make sense. So, proofs are submitted and often are sufficient. And in a way to analyze this, is to probably have the off-chain data available somewhere and have the ability for the end user check that proofs match with the off-chain data. And then you can essentially do just as much as you would have done with on chain data. In terms of privacy ones, obviously, that abstracts away anything on holders and whatever other privacy feature they want to add but there’s still a ton to be analyzed. Even now, as an analyst, I’m never bored, there’s always stuff to analyze this. I guess my backlog is more like constantly growing than shrinking, which is a good thing. There’s just loads of things to look into. And yeah, even in the privacy world, I think that’s gonna keep going up.

What’s On Your List to Look into Right Now?

What’s on your list to look into right now?

Hildebert: So, my list I have, so I have some, give me one second, I have like staging dashboards, which is dashboards I’m working on. And I only want to release the dashboard whenever it’s fully, once I’m very happy with it, I don’t want to have something incomplete. The main thing I’m working on right now is, we working my whole NFT markets, statistics. And because there’s, it’s been missed, interpreted lately, due to the fact that it’s missing some marketplaces. And also, by default, it’s not filtering out wash trading, which definitely should be by default. But it’s just I haven’t, last time I did, it was kind of right after looks rare, the whole looks rare thing in end of January, February, and since then, a lot more marketplaces have come up, like pseudo swap, X2Y2, and others. And so my stats have been misinterpreted. I think I’ve seen it on Bloomberg lately and a few other places and they use my stats with what’s trading, not unfiltered. As the thing,as a showcase that okay, the NFT market is down 97%, which when you look at the bigger picture, it really isn’t true. Like it’s way too soon, as well, I’ve had been gaining volume, especially lately, and taking market share from the open sea and other marketplaces. And also, they’re using raw trade data for looks rare I which isn’t really representative, because in January, it was huge volume if you look at raw volume, but if you filter, there’s actually a lot less so. But that’s a, general thing is one of my goals as an analyst is to surface data that is easily accessible and easy to understand. So that journals and any big, I guess publications, can understand and easily access it. There’s a lot of misinformation in data. And also, because it’s more click Beatty to have dooming titles. But I think I’m trying to do my part in making sure these medias have the right data to work with. 

Interesting Stats or Trends in the Bear Market

Are there any interesting like stats or trends you noticed while kind of like surfacing data during the bear market? Anything you could share?

Hildebert: In terms of very interesting that I can share? I’m not sure there’s anything I can share that’s going to be something you don’t know or you haven’t seen. I’m looking into, I’ve looked into some staking data and trying to see how that evolved, postman merge, I wanted to see if the distribution of individual stakers was actually growing. Because I think once the merge has happened, there’s probably more confidence in the end user and that this staking system actually works and is more reliable than pre merge, a lot of you know, I was I guess a lot of people were probably expecting it to go wrong. And it has increased slightly in terms of share of people, who stake individually rather than going through liquid staking services or staking pools or stuff like this. But it’s a small amount, it’s not something that is yet to be huge. I think. Probably the Shango fork, when people will be able to withdraw their stake, will probably change that even further. But also give, I think, leeway for the liquid staking services to grow more as well because there’s a small period where you have to wait to get your stake in but also to stake and staking, liquid staking is going to help both on this front to have instance staking in and out at a small fee, of course, but also for whatever amount of Eth you want to stake, which is a big barrier to entry right now, not everyone has to Eth to stake. But yeah, I’m thinking that I guess the increase in confidence in the staking mechanism leads to more people staking individually but also through liquid staking.

Are you sticking yourself at the moment? Are you participating in that?

Hildebert: No, I am not. But I’m, I want to eventually stake, I will get my node up eventually.

What Are You Looking Forward to in Today’s Market?

I think I’m; I have a little bit of a problem to addicted on spending my Eth. So, I’m not staking. I just keep buying NFTs. One of the trends that I like to look at is, the rate of NFT collections, and how many there are in the market today. And there’s about a little over 180,000 NFT collections, as of what, Monday, October 10, 2022. And it’s been growing at like a 500% growth rate year over year. And despite the bear market, people are still creating, NFT sales are still increasing. And by the way, this data sort of source from into the block. Trade volume is still, it’s decreased by a lot but there’s still activity. And as someone who buys like a lot of music, NFTs, I’m also seeing a lot more activity kind of like happen on that niche factor. So, I’m noticing a lot more creators come into the space, I’m noticing a lot more web two native people kind of becoming more what web three native individuals, issuing NFT, social token Daos like, all very optimistic points of information for me to kind of like, continue my excitement of creating more content, right? Creating more of these episodes. And I’m curious how that sort of plays into effect a year from now, two years from now, I don’t know, the bear market is an interesting time. That’s all I’m saying. But I’m still optimistic. I’m still bullish, seeing NFT collections get created left and right, more and more and more. So yeah, I guess my last question to you, Hildebert is, what are you looking forward to in the bear market? What’s on your radar? And, yeah, we’ll end with that. And then we’ll let you go.

Hildebert: I’m kind of excited on what’s the whole scaling space that is growing, in terms of ZK, and all these filters that are being developed. ZK, in general, is a huge thing that is being worked on and a lot of protocols are coming out. I think today polygon announced their z k was beta, or staging, sorry, that’s what I mean. Sorry, that’s the word I was looking for. But and so I think that’s pretty exciting. Also, in terms of NFTs, I think it’s a very, very small market compared to probably what it will be in a few years, because right now they’re under exploited in their used case, they’re, by most not understood properly for what they are. And they can come into play for a lot of sectors that are yet to be looking into this. It could be music is still very small for NFTs and I think there’s an avenue where that grows. There’s in terms of, what else? There’s, yeah, there’s a lot of other markets. Of course, when I want to say this, I don’t have one in mind. But there’s a lot of other markets that can benefit from the technology that blockchains and NFTs help create.

Outro

Fantastic Hildebert before I let you go, where can we find you? Where can we find your work? Show it away.

Hildebert: Yeah, so I’m on Twitter as Hildebert, as well as on dune.com under the same name. And that’s the two biggest places where I at and I published my work, I will usually make all my dashboards available when it’s relevant. And also show them Twitter. Yeah, I think that’s it.

Amazing. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you for being on, we’ll have to do this again soon. But yeah, untill next time.

Hildebert: Thanks a lot for having me.

Categories
Podcast Transcript

From Coinbase Employee #20 to Building Farcaster with Dan Romero

Background

Mint Season 6 episode 20 welcomes Dan Romero, Co-Founder of Farcaster, the sufficiently decentralized social network. Throughout the hour we discuss his thesis for web3, the current state of web3 social, building an audience as a crypto-native creator, what it means to be sufficiently decentralized, how web3 will beat the bots, and so much more.

Previously, Dan was the 20th employee at Coinbase and is an active early-stage angel investor across web2 and web3.

I hope you guys enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:09 – Intro
  • 03:37 – Dan’s Original Thesis For Web3
  • 07:37 – The Current State of Web3 Social
  • 19:23 – Problems to Fix With a Web3 Social Graph
  • 31:19 – Building an Audience as a Crypto-Native Creator
  • 36:18 – Measuring the Success of a Creator In Web3
  • 45:46 – What is Decentralized On Farcaster?
  • 53:25 – How Do You See Clients For Farcaster Evolving?
  • 01:02:15 – How Do We Beat the Bots?
  • 01:03:29 – Incentives For Developers to Build On Top of Farcaster
  • 01:05:56 – Outro

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Dan, welcome to mint season six. What’s up, man? How are you doing? Thank you for being on.

Dan Romero: Well, thanks for having me.

Intro

I’m excited to have you on the podcast, a lot is going on in the web three social space and what better person to talk to you than the one who’s building Farcaster, right? I’ve been on Farcaster, a lot of people use Farcaster, a lot of excitement across crypto Twitter, that also now migrates to Farcaster and vice versa. So, a lot to talk about. I want to start with you, though. Okay, who are you? What does the world need to know about you? And more specifically, how did you get your start into crypto?

Dan Romero: Yeah, so I think my background, I’m originally from Massachusetts, I went to school on the East Coast, worked in Boston for a bit and then eventually moved to Silicon Valley. I started on the operational side of things. So, it didn’t study something technical and undergrad, I grew up kind of always with computers, programming, kind of, you know, mucking around with the internals of stuff. But for whatever reason, major in college, but when I moved out to Silicon Valley, I had worked in consulting, so kind of got a job and more on the operational side of things. And I was working at a Saas company, that does visitor sign in software for iPads. And I just kept hearing about Bitcoin from all the smart people I had started to meet in the bay area. And I realized I didn’t have my own point of view on it. And actually, if you back up, when I first moved to Silicon Valley, a college classmate of mine Feddersen, one of the co-founders of Coinbase, heard that I was moving out, reached out, we got coffee, mentioned that he had just raised a Series a for Coinbase. And we’re looking to kind of hire out the first few employees. And I categorically dismissed him thinking that Bitcoin was a Ponzi scheme, why would you be spending your money on that, why don’t you work in a real tech company? Fast forward a year later, I actually had read the white paper finally, and couldn’t stop thinking about Bitcoin. And I think that the thing that got me most excited about Bitcoin, in the kind of early days enough to make the switch over to Coinbase, was thinking about it as a computing layer. And kind of thinking about, if you think about like computing history, you kind of go from mainframes to the kind of like, okay, PCs, then you add the internet, then you add mobile, and then you start to go away from the local machine to the cloud. 

And so, each one of these new platforms offers really interesting opportunities for entrepreneurs and to build new products and experiences, mobile being the most recent, and in 2014, I thought, okay, Bitcoin is clearly that next computing platform, right, you can start to do new experiences that don’t live within a centralized database. And the first applications of that being money and payments. And so, I joined Coinbase, very much thinking it was going to be all about the new apps that were going to be built on top of the Coinbase API, which ended up being wrong. And I’m happy to talk through my experience at Coinbase. And what I learned there, but so I kind of went in with a very naive point of view, and then stuck around for five years, and, in many ways, got lucky in the sense that the market shifted. And something like Ethereum came along, and the company didn’t have doing well. But I always like to point out that I joined Coinbase, with the completely wrong thesis for what was going to be big, at least for Bitcoin. And I think we’re finally actually starting to play out some of the ideas that I originally were excited about in 2014. But that’s how I got started in crypto.

Dan’s Original Thesis For Web3

What were some of those original ideas that now you’re sort of seeing get played out right now?

Dan Romero: Well, the, the idea is that, there was like one very concrete idea that I got excited about, was prediction markets and there was a paper from the Marcous Center. I think Jerry Brito, who now runs coin center was still in academia and he wrote it, just talking about the history of different prediction markets, from a theoretical standpoint. And I’ve always just found that to be fascinating. I’m a bit of a political news junkie. And so, the idea that you could kind of use markets to predict elections better than polling, as I’ve always found intellectually Interesting. And so that they talked about potential using Bitcoin because one of the fundamental issues is, in the US if you want to offer a prediction market that’s considered a derivative, which is regulated by the CFTC. And there’s a notable example of a company that wanted to do a prediction market specifically for Hollywood movies. It’s called Hollywood exchange. They raise a bunch of funding, build out a product and they went to go launch this product, which essentially would allow you to bet on whether what the box office receipts for a movie would be, and Hollywood crackdown by during a bunch of lobbying in DC, which ultimately got the CFTC to shut it down, because they didn’t want people to be betting, especially insiders to be betting on whether a movie was going to flop or not, because then you would start using that information as consumer to potentially not go see that movie, because nobody would do that, which is kind of interesting, if you think about it from a consumer benefit standpoint, that Hollywood exchange would be great, for Hollywood it would be bad in the sense that they couldn’t really package up that movies and try to promote them. 

But CFTC decided that that wasn’t allowed and so that doesn’t exist. There’s actually now an exchange in the kind of more FinTech world that is not crypto related called Kashi. And they are one of the first kind of more consumer-oriented prediction markets that have found some amount of CFTC approval, or at least the set of markets that they’re doing. But I think that the other thing that I just generally got excited about in crypto is regulated markets are fine. And if you know Coinbase, the experience I had there did a lot with the regulation, and you have to get it right and actually ends up creating a lot of value for business because not a lot, a lot of people want to do it. Some people call that regulatory capture. But there’s a kind of aspect of the internet that I’ve always been interested in is permissionless innovation. And I think the ethos of the internet is, if you have a good idea, you should have a computer and the capability to program something, you should just be able to do it. And with FinTech, it’s much more, okay, if you can go convince people to raise money, and then you can go build out like a special relationship with other banks or card processing companies. And then you can put an API on top of that, right? 

A company like Stripe, or a company like plaid has done an excellent job of managing that. And actually, by virtue of them being very developer oriented, have significantly increased the number of apps that exist in the world of FinTech, because each of those kinds of apps that sit on top of a platter or stripe, they don’t have to go do those relationships directly, right. But what’s neat about crypto is there, you don’t even need the middleman, the API’s and the data and the value are directly accessible to the end user as well as the driver. And I think that that concept of removing a huge chunk of kind of like intermediaries is just like a concept that I think is really fascinating. And frankly, one of the most compelling reasons to work in technology for me, is you can actually build these things on the internet, that can exist as protocols that create coordination between humans, but honestly, rarely any one individual or company.

The Current State of Web3 Social

So, is that where social comes into the picture? Because of the things that you said that interest you, you didn’t bring up social media as like, the key word sort of within that entire explanation, and I’m curious, like, where does social fit into that vision of yours?

Dan Romero: I think 2014, I wasn’t thinking about social as a crypto thing in that. When I first started at Coinbase, we were Bitcoin only and the push was payments, which ended up again, not not quite playing out. And what Coinbase ended up becoming is more of an investment platform, but also a gateway into being able to take the coin or Eth. And then put it into whether it’s defi or any kind of permissionless, they build app on top of these blockchains. So that’s an important function, right? It’s not just purely financial exposure. But in 2014, at least when I was joining Coinbase, I think that was right around when Twitter was potentially hamstringing the API, but prior to that Twitter and had a very open API. And so, you had a very diverse ecosystem of third-party clients, I like to always point out that the pull the refresh, the kind of universal of you know, whether you’re using a mail client today, or Instagram, to just refresh your feed, that was invented by a third party, indie developer, Lauren Richter, who had an app called Tweety, which eventually ended up selling to Twitter, and then Twitter technically owns the patent for polar refresh. And they did something that’s quite honorable, they kind of said, hey, we’ll never prosecute anyone from using it. 

But that was an era where I think there was still a lot of promise in social media as potentially this API driven, yes, there were going to be kind of first party clients, but third-party clients, there could be a diverse ecosystem, especially for something like Twitter. Fast forward to 2022, I think we’re in a far different state of the world related to social networks, social media, in that they are more centralized. There are, I think, a stricter set of guidelines in terms of what’s acceptable use versus not. And I think in some ways, there are some good aspects of that, but at the same time, I think it’s kind of wild. If you think about something like Twitter. You have a bunch of people in San Francisco making decisions on what is acceptable speech for right use for the entire world which what? Right. Whereas something like the internet, again, it’s country by country. But to me, that’s a much more credibly neutral platform in the sense that the US has strong free speech laws. So if you maintain your own website, and you don’t fall afoul of very limited set of things that would violate free speech, that’s on you, and, or you and your hosting provider. Whereas if you live in another country that maybe has stricter limits on speech, that’s your version of the internet. But what’s neat is, it’s kind of is global, and you as an individual, if you can either get outside of your country, or maybe have answered anonymous way of publishing, you really can get access to the direct level of the protocol. Whereas with the social networks, you’re much more limited in terms of where that company’s leadership and jurisdiction is for the company. And then that kind of propagates out to the rest of the world. 

And so, I think, where my thinking from 2014 to 2020, 2022 era has changed is, we’ve gotten significantly more centralized with social media and social networks, they’re significantly larger and more present in terms of just public discourse. And I think we’re starting to see the seams where they just they can’t scale at this level, and maintain some of the core original promises that they have. You go back to the early product marketing for Twitter, as they were very pro free speech. Like that was actually their differentiator as hey, Twitter is a place to be able to express what you think, whether you’re in the US or a country in the Middle East, the whole Arab Spring was a moment for Twitter, at least in that moment and I think that’s changed quite a bit. And the question is, is like, as society should we have a neutral public square protocol that allows us to do some of the things that social centralized social media is significantly better than kind of open protocols, right? So, the open protocols here would be the web, email, RSS. But can you actually take some of the best aspects of centralized social media from the usability standpoint, discoverability and actually, bring those into something that looks more credibly neutral, like more traditional Internet protocol. And so that’s the thing that I got excited about, and why I’m working out.

Interesting. So, I think we’re seeing an increase of like senate adoption across what three social applications, whether it be from people trying to build applications to users trying to use these applications, or creators trying to create content and monetize through these applications. And I’m still trying to understand the space from like a macro lens. I’m curious to hear your point of view, what do you think is the current state of Web3 social?

Dan Romero: we’re early. I think there are a variety of different approaches, there probably more additional networks that pop up, and people with different points of view on how to do things. We are also in a slightly different situation, compared to maybe some other technology trends. And that if you take the examples of Twitter and Facebook, they were kind of in that first generation of social media, the web two social media boom. And so, a lot of the stuff is getting figured out for the first time for the most part, right? Because yeah, you had some earlier social networks, Friendster, right, Myspace. But the inflection point was really as society shifted over to mobile as being the dominant form factor, that actually massively increases the amount of social media to use, right, rather than being something that oh, I’m gonna go sit on my computer and use Facebook, versus being on the couch watching TV and also having Facebook open. And so, I think with web three, you’re not in a situation where you’re competing mostly against greenfield like in that here you are in a greenfield situation, you’re competing against mature web to social networks, for time spent, right. And so, if you think about social, it’s a zero-sum game, in that you only have a limited amount of time, you can’t spend time on two social networks at once. 

So, if you’re spending it on one social network, or watching Netflix, that’s the tradeoff. And so, I think we’re web three social is early days in terms of infrastructure development, both the protocol layer as well as app development on top, but also in the kind of figuring out what’s the differentiator versus the mature options that basically everyone is already on, right? It’s not like people are onboarding social media for the first time with web three social. They’re already on web to social media. And if anything, that’s actually where you’re finding a lot of those people as a developer of a web three, social media product, but the challenge is okay, I already have a big audience and web two social media, I have the habit of spend time curating my feed I like the algorithmic stuff that I’m getting, maybe you don’t. But to then actually get everything up and running and web three, that’s where we really are right now it’s can you actually offer something that is reasonably competitive, such that someone is willing to trade off time spent over here in web three. And so that’s actually something that we’ve been really focused on for the last two years, is building the initial client for Farcast, for the protocol. Because from our point of view, that the thing that’s actually going to drive the most switching is you have to have a base level of feature parity, right? You can’t say, hey, is really rough app, but it’s decentralized, no one, no one’s gonna switch to that. Whereas if you can get a mobile app that from a performance standpoint, feels pretty close, maybe not quite there. And then sufficient number of kind of people that are interesting, then you might start to get the early adopters who say, oh, this is actually kind of nice. It’s the spam bots aren’t here, or I actually have more control over what I see in my feed. 

But I think that’s a pretty slow process. Whereas maybe fast forward two or three years from now, and you have a variety of attempts and web three social that have kind of gotten that first stage done, you may start to see actually apps grow at a faster clip, but more mainstream audience clip. But I think where we are right now, isn’t that kind of early adopter deployment phase and then you have this kind of challenge of like, okay, well, how do you cross that chasm to mainstream? But I actually think that you need to focus on the first phase first, before you even worry about them, right? I think there are a lot of people who, when they think went through social, I think NFTs in a positive way kind of increased the aperture of what crypto can be for people, rather than this kind of like very finance, quantitative numeric thing. There’s a visual element, a very consumer element, yes, there’s a financial element to it. But I think as a result of that, a lot of people, especially with the kind of bull market of 2021, want it to proclaim, okay, this is cryptos, mainstream moment, and I can tell you having worked since 2014, people have been saying this is cryptos, mainstream moment. And I think I think it’s just the wrong frame, right? I don’t think we get to a sudden, okay, this is now mainstream because I think the analogy is people like to use oh, this is like 1993. And now we have Netscape, that’s why to kind of kick off this adoption. The difference is, there was no internet before. Whereas now with crypto, it’s a subset of the internet. 

So inevitably, like it isn’t a step function of a change for consumer, if you just kind of the simple thing of, okay, I can get an Uber with Uber or someone goes build the centralized Uber, you still get the Uber, whereas pre internet, there was no Uber, taxis or whatever. But the step function changes to the zero to one and I think we’re crypto is always, fairly or unfairly compared is this. I think that when people are being unreasonable, they’re trying to say it’s a step function change but it’s probably more incremental. And I think that’s even the wrong frame to be thinking about as an entrepreneur, because I actually think what’s interesting is if you can just actually shift to say what new experiences are things that are fundamentally not possible in web two, can you actually start to build. And so that’s one of the first principles in terms of building that we’ve approached with Farcaster is use the amount of web two or web three, as minimal as possible, like the amount of stuff we put on chain as small as possible, and then leverage everything else from web two. That’s great in terms of usability, and speed and all that and see if you can actually start to get to a fundamentally new experience. In our case, it’s a social network, where the back end is truly a protocol. And it’s permissionless. And then figure out okay, how do you scale that from there without trying to say that everything is fundamentally better? Because to be totally frank, like, it’s not like our client for Farcaster is like pretty good. But it is not as good as something like Twitter. Yeah. And so, there’s a lot of work to do.

Problems to Fix With a Web3 Social Graph

But I think that’s okay. Because just like having an open brainstorm session, I just reached, I feel like a stage on Twitter, I just crossed 10k followers, okay. And as a creator, as a content creator, like that’s like, a pivotal moment for me and for many other creators, right? But I still like going to these other platforms, because they act as pockets of information and they act as like a pocket of like, reset, right? Like, I feel like there’s too much going on sometimes on these mainstream platforms. Whereas in these new social platforms, it’s like, things are just like starting to cook up, right? Like it’s not there and that type the conversations you see having on those platforms are different than the conversations you have on the mainstream platforms, right? So, I see from like, an information pocket point of view, right. Another thing that’s super interesting is like, I know you’re big on history, right? And also, the way you speak, I noticed like you reference a lot of like, learning lessons and insights that you sort of developed and picked on, picked up on like, as you saw social media kind of develop. I’m curious, can you share more about like the history around the social graph, right? And if you build a web three social graph, like, what sort of problems are you aiming to fix, right, big picture? What did web two social graphs do wrong, that you think, yeah, like these, these more open permissionless, protocols can do right?

Dan Romero: Yeah, so I actually don’t think there’s a ton of great reading out there, you kind of had to experience some of it and I was fortunate that I was not super old yet. But I was in high school enough that I really got to see the full rise of web two social media. But the kind of things to think about are, you have the kind of early version of the internet, which is very much about read, right? So, it’s a kind of consuming information, weather information, sports called stocks, and then as the performance of browsers and broadband connections, you started to move to this kind of interactive model, where you could effectively use a web application as in lieu of using desktop software, right? And as that happened, you had the kind of first wave of social networks Facebook in 2004, Twitter, I think 2006 and, and a whole bunch of other ones that popped up. But what’s interesting is, in that era, the primary way of bootstrapping those social graphs outside of just people kind of friending each other on Facebook, specifically, because they went to school together. So that was actually gated on email. If you look at some of the growth tactics, this is what I’ve been told, at least, that Facebook used, it was kind of the contact importer, from your email address, right, like sign in with your Gmail or upload your contact list. And that in of itself, kind of it was able to create a pretty big graph. 

And what’s interesting about that is, so let’s say 10 of my friends had signed up for Facebook, and I show up for Facebook, because I was in their contact book, Facebook actually had enough information to make a recommendation of here’s some potential friends. And I think there’s the kind of apocryphal story of you know, getting to 10 friends is the magic number. And then Facebook users. Right, so that was the Facebook implementation is gate on email, based on school, get concentration in those schools, expand to other schools. And then eventually, once you have all the college students in the US, you can expand out for the rest of the world. And the thing I always like to kind of point out is, if you think about Facebook stopped being cool the moment it stopped being only for colleges, but because they had created such a high concentration of very engaged users at a, I think a critical cool juncture for society, right? Everyone younger than a college student thinks they’re cool, because they’re in college, and then people who are graduated from college, were back in college. 

And so, my theory on that is that that concentration of you know, basically, college students had this crazy half-life where even if college student engagement started to slowly decline on Facebook, it didn’t matter because the rest of the world wanted to kind of go after that original field. And then you eventually get to several billion people using the app, I mean, phenomenal success from building a social graph. Twitter is a little different, in that it was a little bit more SF tech scene, and the, you know, South by Southwest, and it kind of started actually, as a slightly older platform relative to, if you look at a lot of social networks tend to be younger. And the push with Twitter is, if you actually look at it, just didn’t grow that much in the scheme of things for the first five years. And it really, it’s an only in the last five, seven years that it’s had a significant, like really big impact on society. It really kind of around the 2016 election, I think Twitter became a lot more mainstream. Obviously, always high status from the, you know, the hashtag, are the out reply, but in terms of Twitter being used as kind of this true Internet public square, and in 2016, and after that’s where, you know, Twitter, and then part of is the President was using Twitter correctly?

And so, I think that network, I don’t have as much insight into exactly how the social graph develops. But that said, I also think one thing to think about with Twitter is, Twitter is not a social network for most people who use it, I think, on the order of 200 million people use Twitter every day, what percentage of people are actually tweeting, liking, replying is relatively small. Whereas I think most people use Twitter as an information feed and just simply a way to catch up on news. Whereas if you and I, the way we use Twitter is this kind of intellectual, you know, thought leadership network, where you’re meeting other like-minded people in your industry to kind of have a better perspective on whatever you’re working on. And that version of Twitter is what it started with, but really has not expanded. It didn’t, we didn’t have 100 million people all of a sudden doing threads on Twitter, right? And so that’s actually something that’s influenced our thinking with Farcaster is if you actually think of, of the addressable market that you have to go after in order to be something that’s competitive with Twitter, that total number of users are the 200 million people using it every day. That’s a daunting number and feels like we never get there. 

But if you reframe it to say, actually, the Twitter version that we’re trying to compete with early on, is go for the people who use Twitter as kind of this public intellectual social network, then that’s a far smaller number, and it makes it more achievable, right? Like, you go from being barely any way that the percentage of the way there to, okay, maybe you can get to like point 1%. And, you know, then point 5%, 1%, 10%. And so, I think that is a way of reframing what we’re going after. And the other interesting thing about people who use Twitter as a social network, is they’re the ones who hit the problems the most, right? They post about, you know, Meta mask, or the future of crypto wallets. And then they get all the crypto spam responding to them, right? You take a lot of time to craft, whether it’s a thread or a post for your podcast. And for whatever reason, the algo is like, oh, you put a link, we don’t want you clicking on the link, because that kicks you out of the app. Okay, it gets downright underrated. 

And so that is where I think the opportunity for a new social network, at least in the bootstrapping mechanism, it’s to go after the people that feel the acute pain points of Twitter. But the challenge with those people, and I think we’ve talked about this on DM, is you’re trying to build an audience. And so, you’re going to optimize for the platform where you feel like you’re gonna get the most reach and so for something like Farcast, or we’re approaching it with this kind of very deliberate growth, invite only 3000 ish people in a beta, it’s gonna be hard to justify for you as a content creator to say, hey, I’m going to spend more time on Farcaster because I really want to build my audience. If you feel like there’s more potential on either another web three social network, or realistically, something like Twitter. And it’s actually an insight that when we launched Farcaster, last year, I on boarded a whole bunch of people that I would call on my Twitter, friends and people in my professional network. And they had talked a lot about for a long time about the need for a decentralized version of Twitter. And so, I started working on this thing, I’m ready to onboard them, they go through an onboarding with me, they’re really, you know, excited. They’re like, wow, this is actually pretty decent, never come back. And I reached out to them and asked, why didn’t you come back, you told me that you thought this is an important thing. 

And whether they were willing to admit it or not, I think I finally figured it out. And this is obvious in retrospect, but I think you sometimes have to just go through the hard lesson of sure is, if you have 500,000, or 800,000 followers on Twitter, and you have 80 followers on a nascent social network, how are you going to justify spending the time on that network out of just pure passion or interest, but those people are busy. So, like, of course, they’re going to default to the thing that has massive distribution, because ultimately, if you’re playing this kind of public intellectual social network game, what you care about is mean propagation and idea, idea profit and so quantity does matter. Now, I think one thing I would say is, quality has been very hard to measure traditionally. And I didn’t want interesting thing about a decentralized social network, that is crypto native, like Farcaster is, one you cannot have a whole bunch of competing companies have full access to the entire data set. Right. So, one thing about Twitter, like the proverbial firehose, I think that that’s pretty limited and who has access to it, I don’t even know if they even give access to it at this point. But the idea is you can actually do a full measure of the entire network, you have to do sample, right. Whereas with something like Farcaster, you can genuinely, you can just actually index the entire network, right? And then what’s interesting is you can also look at the on-chain activity. 

And so, you can actually use that on chain activity in two ways, I think is interesting is one, you can quickly figure out if things look spammy, right? Because it’s very expensive to put you know, high value NFT or even $5,000 worth of Ethereum into a whole bunch of addresses to kind of fake account. Whereas contrast that to a Twitter account, you know, bot account, we’re, you know, I think lot of times, they just need a phone number which you can programmatically create and, and so I think that that becomes really interesting because you can actually start to measure the quality in by whatever metric you want, of your audience in a way that in web two, you get a little bit of it like Facebook and have some centralized reporting tools. But it’s pretty general and crude, whereas I think you get a lot more detail with web three, and maybe it doesn’t always fit the same, maybe we get a little bit more privacy on chain in terms of what we’re doing. But I think it’s an underexplored area. And I think as we scale Farcaster, I do think people are going to build some interesting tools, so that you have a much better understanding of your audience, building on a, you know, decentralized crypto native network like Farcaster. And yes, your audience might only be 10% or 1% of your audience on Twitter, but you have higher confidence that it’s actually a higher value audience and an audience that might actually refer your podcast to another front, right. And so, I think that’s like one element that we’re trying to figure out, because it’s just gonna be a really long time before we ever kind of reached the larger scale that web two social networks have.

Building an Audience as a Crypto-Native Creator

I’m curious, Dan, because I’m trying to figure out like, what does it mean to be a crypto native creator, let alone build an audience using like web three primitives, right? So, one thing that I’ve been experimenting with is like giving out like NFTs to my listeners as a way to kind of like prove their participation across seasons, right? And over time, like there’s been 1000s of NFTs that have been minted. And now I’m trying to use that information to create better content for them, right by seeing like their activity on chain, right, so that I can find better sponsors, etc., find better guests. So, if I noticed that a lot of people have been, for example, collecting music, NFTs, that tells me I should be having more music NFT related conversations. If I see a lot of activity around like web three social applications, right? Then I want to have more web through native social conversations, right? Hence why I did like this season on like, web three social media data, like interoperability, etc., right? And I’m trying to figure out still like, what does it mean to be a crypto native creator and build an audience in web three, right? Do you have any insight on that? Like, do you have any opinions on that?

Dan Romero: Well, I think you’re on the frontier. So, what you’re coming up with are from an idea standpoint is the innovation that you know, enough people doing it, you’ll start to start to come up with the new patterns, that may be more crypto native or web three native. And so, one thing that you mentioned that I think is really interesting, is you actually have insight into what your listeners, assuming you kind of correlate listeners on a web three social network, like Farcaster or other ones, you can actually look at their own trade activity, and then start to glean insights and say, oh, interesting. 100 people who are following me also have the new Reddit at avatar that’s on Polygon, I think. And maybe I should actually reach out to Reddit and see if I can find the lead engineer or product manager who did that product, as a way for you to offer a more compelling interview that is really relevant to your audience, or at least a portion of your audience. And then that person might never have been interviewed before in terms of like a, like a bigger podcast shows that tends to focus on the CEO or something like that. Right. And so, I think that those insights that you can start to permissionlessly get from your audience may offer better tailored content for your audience or like subset segments of your audience. I also think that the concept of fandom is, I’m not nearly as deep as some of the other people in space, who building dedicated companies to this but I just think it’s a really interesting concept because if you take crypto weaponry and put it this up, for as long as music has existed, there’s always been that kind of early fan hipster, who finds a band, really enjoys them when they’re kind of under the radar and you know, really passionate about it. 

That early passion creates some word of mouth which creates more and then that network effect, right you can kind of model a band like a social network, gets big enough that the band becomes more mainstream, which then brings it even more people but the original people who were early kind of get disaffected, like I liked them before they got big or they sold out or whatever. And just the idea that there could be a provable way, not even have a financial setup, just a provable way to say, oh, I used to listen to x artists before they were, the classic, hipster line and was like okay, well prove it like show me the music NFT or you get to a level where every Spotify streams somehow is in a decentralized data structure, we’re ways away from that if that ever happens, but you can generally understand the concept of that provable skin in the game historical on kind of an immutable ledger. It starts to open up some new interesting experiences, right? Maybe those artists now can actually say, hey, yeah, we’re really big. We do these big stadium tours. But every year, we do a concert in New York City at Madison Square Garden for our original 50,000 fans, right? And for the rest of your life, you have access to that concert. That kind of seems interesting. You can find someone like a web two person who hates web three is gonna go oh, wait, well, you could have had a fan club, and then you can find, yeah, you could do that. But I think like part of the beauty of web three is it changes people kind of to think bigger, or new paradigms. And the ability to permissionlessly do that is pretty cool, right? Imagine if you give a free concert to your original 10,000 fans, didn’t need to pay, just show up to the door, show me the NFT, that’s it, like no money exchange has pure brand. Can’t do that, web two for the most part, right? Like you’d have to maintain this list and well, okay, what happens when you want to switch providers, whereas if it just lives on the blockchain, it doesn’t matter like that NFT will exist. 

Measuring the Success of a Creator In Web3

Let alone try to get that information to like when a creator builds an audience on like a web two native platform, there’s only so much information that they can get access to, right? Whereas in crypto, when you’re building these audiences using either tokens or NFT, social, whatever it may be, right, like that lives immutably like, you can always go back to that record, like one thing that I’m thinking like, at some point, as the podcast grows, I can do some type of like David Letterman type of shit, where I just like rent out an auditorium and everybody that’s sort of collected my early season, or NFTs, they’ll have access to watch like a live interview with us, right? And experience that. Yeah, I think that’s really cool. I’m also trying to think from like, a monetization point of view, I think we sort of maybe just skim the surface of what monetization looks like, a lot of my bet is that all media will be tokenized to an extent, right. And all media, everything will be collectible, to an extent, in some shape, or form. And what does that look like in terms of monetization? So right now, a lot of creators, they measure success from like views on YouTube or subscribes, right? How does that look like in the context of web three, does that mean the number of unique holders that you have at scale, right? Does that mean like the number of primary and secondary sales you have? Like what gets, how do you measure the success of a creator? I don’t know. I’m thinking out loud over here.

Dan Romero: I again, I go back to this idea that I think web two is very much about quantity. Everything’s about scale, like total number of users. Cristiano Ronaldo has, you know, 100 million followers on Instagram or Kim Kardashian. And that’s how you talk about it. And Balaji has come up with this concept of like, being able to measure a fan economy is a far more interesting thing. So fine, Kim might have 100 million followers on Instagram. But what is the GDP of the Kim Kardashian expanded universe right? As a gimmick, but people laugh at that, right? So, he was saying this a couple of years ago, and now Kim Kardashian is potentially starting a private equity firm, based on the fact that he’s gonna potentially be able to use that distribution. And so, I think that what gets interesting is, if you can actually take the distribution out of the silos, like I have this many followers on YouTube, I have this many followers on Twitter, and you move it to kind of these decentralized credibly neutral kind of core data structures, where now the relationship is between the creator, the publisher, whatever, and the people who choose to follow them, right. And that is a, actually it’s an opt in relationship, right? Because the person can always unfollow you. It’s not like you own that follower forever. But the key is that no one can come in and say, oh, you know, our terms of service violation, we’ve decided that what you said here is no longer acceptable. You’ve spent 10 years building an audience, tough luck, but right you get kicked off YouTube or Twitter. There’s no recourse there’s no exit. There’s no oh, take your followers who you got here all their emails, now you can email them. 

And so, I think if you look at just the way web two social media is, you as a creator have to spend way more time, you either take the bet on these platforms will keep you forever, probably fine or you do the extra effort of hey, subscribe, also sign up for my newsletter. So, I have a direct line of communication with you. Whereas if these web three social protocols work, you as a creator, you just have a direct relationship. You want to send them a podcast, you want to send them a video you want to send them a cast, can basically come through a variety of different client’s applications channels, but that that relationship is a single relationship and it belongs to the two people who have opted to be in it, which I think is a pretty radical shift from what we’ve been used to in web two. And that also means you have freedom of monetization. Right? So, I think the kind of idea space for monetization is just getting started, not only because you have crypto with this kind of poor, financial primitive, and you can do things like NFTs, and defi and the remix ability and composability of that. But also, just the idea that, okay, I can do a traditional subscription, and maybe it’s done on chain, or maybe it’s done through stripe and a traditional web to platform. Fine, I think the challenge is when you are reliant on platforms, and in some cases, platforms that are relying on other platforms with the example of like, if you’re on YouTube, and then Apple iOS, like there are two rent seeking platforms that want to take dollars before they even get to you. I think the most extreme example, was, I think, meta-Oculus. They were trying to do a platform for that and then they had a like a Facebook like horizons platform cut. And I want to say if you did the thing on an iPhone, it had like an iOS, like, it was just like cuts all the way down, right. 

And what’s great about web three is like you can actually solidify through cryptographic proof, again, the average user doesn’t need to see this, but from a developer standpoint, that relationship between the creator and a person in their audience, as well as what also gets interesting, audience the audience connections, right. And so that’s another interesting thing that’s hard to measure. But if you think about it, what if you’re on Taylor Swift, and you want your whole fan club, maybe Taylor Swift is big enough to have like a custom social app that people are willing to even show up to, whereas most other artists or creators, you’re never going to have like a custom app that people are going to use, their basically, their time spent as an Instagram, their time spent isn’t in Twitter. And so, you kind of have to play the game there, because that’s where the attention is. Whereas I think with this kind of remixable, composable, open access social protocols, I think there’s a totally foreseeable future, where for the three or five creators, whether that’s, you know, video creator, or music artists, if I want to have a direct relationship with them, I’m using one of these open protocols, because it actually just does a lot of the plumbing for me. And then there’s probably some version of call it WordPress or whatever, where you can kind of or Squarespace, where you can basically, as a creator, have a mobile app, that the user is like, oh, great, this is completely interoperable. So, when you post a video, I can get it over here on Twitter, the Twitter one, if I want, but if I really want to go deep with everyone else in the community, I can use this token gated app that based on your show, and I can get really, really deep with other people who are members of the show.

 And we have seen this, by the way, with like the rise of discords, is an indication that there is demand for this, but discord, which look tremendous products and success in terms of just scale. But it’s imperfect in the sense that it’s not really optimized for mobile, it’s a game or product at the end of the day, right. And so, it’s a very desktop heavy experience. Whereas if you think about it, like when you as a as a creator, if you say hey, I have a discord and I have 10,000 people in my discord, you’re just like another little icon. And this whole long set of discord controls the notifications and all the experience, where you can imagine being, if you know, you’re my favorite Podcast Producer, I can actually now install your app, which didn’t take you a lot of effort in the scheme of things, no different than a website, because it’s using these open protocols. And now you get push notifications on my phone that are completely, you know, direct between you and your audience. And whatever the experience, right, and so that has a way off. And maybe we don’t get there, I’m a big believer that we will. But I think you need to get the infrastructure in place first, before entrepreneurs start to say, oh, this has become a commodity or this has become this kind of credibly neutral infrastructure, that I know I can actually go build these apps for these different creators, because this protocol is going to have some level of stability, right. 

And I think the example here is obviously email is an example of a protocol that, if I really wanted to take the brain damage and go build my own email client, right, super human being the most recent, you can do it. And there’s no, you don’t have to ask the email Consortium for permission, if you understand SMTP and IMAP, like it’ll just work. And what’s actually even kind of neat is, you can build an email client that works with Google. And Google just because at least in the email world kind of has to support IMAP because it’s kind of the Defacto standard. They don’t even really get to say it’s like oh, wait, so, I can actually build on top of your back end and you did all the hard part and just build a better client, which is what I think superhuman is today. Like they don’t even handle the like low level email plumbing. They’re just an IMAP client or a deeper integration with Google. But I think that that like becomes a pretty powerful thing, where if more stuff in social actually has that level of like permission list innovation, and in the case of the building on Google, that’s not even permissionless. It’s like, mostly permissionless. I think you just yield a whole bunch of more interesting experiences, which gets back to this monetization thing is, I think we’re just scratching the surface it just to say, oh, well, we’ll have Aves, we’ll have subscriptions. And then we’ll have some amount of, you know, NFTs, I guess, you’re just at the start. It’s like looking at the Internet in 1994 and predicting all of the different business models and new companies that have come out of it. 

What is Decentralized On Farcaster?

Right, right. One thing that Farcaster tends to be very public about in their branding and their image is that it’s a sufficiently decentralized social network. And I think when you come back to and you ask yourself, like, what does it mean to be sufficiently decentralized? And I’m sure you get this question all the time. I’m curious, what is the answer to that? What is decentralized on Farcaster? How do you make decisions on what to decentralize versus centralized, like, share with me your entire mental model around that?

Dan Romero: So, the way to think about how sufficiently decentralized works is, there’s a spectrum between centralized and decentralized, in terms of an application, right. And in a centralized application, most common example is a company runs a set of APIs, the company decides who uses those APIs, can revoke the API keys at any point. And that’s basically Twitter. There is no adjudication process for getting back on Twitter. Twitter doesn’t want you on Twitter, tough luck, right? Same thing goes for the developer. So, Twitter has a bunch of APIs. In a prior era, they were much more open, they changed over time and so that is very much the centralized approach. Other side of things, decentralized, right, so something like SMTP for email, Git is another good example of one, right? Like, I can go build a competitor to GitHub, and I don’t have to ask GitHub for permission. And it’ll work out of the box, because Git is a decentralized protocol that does not have kind of like a corporate owner, right. But the challenge, when you start to get out on the decentralized side of things is, the user experience tends to get very technical and way worse, right? You just need to know how to do everything. RSS is a good example of that, right. So, to use RSS, you need to know, oh, I need to have a feed reader. And it’s like, oh, I have a feed reader. And I need to keep all of my subscriptions in place. 

And so, the protocol itself tends to be the thing that is more decentralized. And then the spectrum in between is, where you can get to something what we’d call sufficiently decentralized. And so, from our point of view, rather than start with decentralized and work your way to centralization, it’s actually start with centralization. And then work your way on the spectrum to decentralization to the point where you can satisfy two conditions. The first is, in the case of a social network, any user can have a direct relationship with another user, and no one can take them away like that way from them, right. So, if you and I want to be connected, there’s no third party that can come in and say no, sorry, you can’t be connected. The most extreme example of that, obviously, is if you have 100 million followers on Twitter, or YouTube, and the platform comes in and says, sorry, you don’t have a relationship with those followers anymore. So, the kind of user-to-user relationship or creator to audience relationship, that is a core primitive in my view, for what decentralization is. And then the second thing, is the access for developers, right? So, if I want to go build on the data set here, and APIs, there shouldn’t be a single individual or company that can come around and say, sorry, Terms of Service change, we’re going to really actually monetize the advertising. And sorry, your app doesn’t work anymore. 

And so, from our standpoint, the way to accomplish that is the thing that needs to be decentralized is the, effectively the identity, which is two parts. The first is an ID number, right? So, every person on social media is represented by an internal number in a database is just an ID. And one nice feature of that, is on Twitter, you can upgrade your username, and you don’t lose your followers, right? It’s not like people were following Dan Romero before. And when I switched to DWR. I lost all of them. It’s because the way Twitter maps follow is just to that idea, right. And then the second thing is the user name, which that is much more of a status symbol and a kind of like a, what represents how you interact with these networks. And so, if you can remove that from any corporate company and API, it allows any user to choose whatever client they want, and not have to worry about lock in or anything like that. And I think an analogy here is Bitcoin and Eth. When you put it on a company like Coinbase, Coinbase is a centralized company over here, right? Coinbase can choose to kick you off Coinbase. But when Coinbase kicks you off Coinbase, you don’t lose your Bitcoin or Eth, you, we call it you know, mandatory account closure. That’s what happens with Coinbase for some compliance reason, they don’t take your money from you, they say, where do you want your money sent? Like, we don’t want to do business with you anymore. But you as the user have the ability to exit and then interoperate with everything else in the ecosystem, right? It’s not like special Coinbase Bitcoin, it’s no, it’s like, this is real Bitcoin. And I can move that to FTX, I can move into a self-hosted wallet, same thing goes for social network.

 So, in the totally centralized version, you get kicked off, there is no ability to exit and then interoperate with the same graph, you have to effectively rebuild it, right. Another example of this, and there’s actually more relevant for social media is email. So, I have sub stack. And for whatever reason, I might not want to use sub stack anymore, as a publisher, or sub stack, doesn’t want to host my content, there is no confusion that the email subscriber list that I have belongs to me, right. And if I take that list, and I moved to a self-hosted option, or a competing newsletter provider, I have an uninterrupted access to my subscribers that I worked hard to build that relationship with. And so, in our point of view, that’s the only thing you actually need to focus on the decentralization, everything else you can actually have it be the primary way people deal with stuff, is in a centralized client, right. And the benefit you get from that, is the centralized client is going to offer vastly superior user experience, because the economies of scale that start to happen, you probably have cloud-based services versus if you use the truly decentralized client, where you have to host everything yourself, you’re now dealing with what happens when the, you know, my client goes down, or the host doesn’t work, or I have to now upgrade it because there’s like a vulnerability in the, you know, the no JS package that’s in the open source software, it like the user experience is significantly worse. 

And that the easy answer is why do most people use Gmail, and they don’t run their own mail server? It’s just because it just works. It’s easy, right? And what’s interesting about Gmail is, you have a Gmail address that’s not exit with interoperability, if you have your own domain and use G Suite, you can move to a different host, right? Because you own the domain, you can just change where it’s pointed. But if you have a Gmail address, and you get really attached to that Gmail address, Gmail is not allowing you to move that to Yahoo and say, Okay, well, the Gmail address can’t belong to this client over here. Generally, I think Google is pretty good, in that you can use other clients that sit on top of it. But the relationship you do have with Gmail is they’re looking at all your emails in mining and data, right, for whatever advertising purposes they want to do. That’s part of it being free. But I think that the core of that sufficient decentralization is, find the thing that you need to be able to get to be a decentralized point, keep that decentralized. And then let the market develop in a way that you’re gonna have centralized clients that people opt into, and then people can choose more decentralized clients.

How Do You See Clients For Farcaster Evolving?

Yeah, I feel like Dan, we need to have like a three-hour long podcast episode, because I’ve maybe asked three questions in this entire, like, 53 minutes, and I’m impressed with how much you have to say around. Yeah, but I want to jump to some community questions that we had to come across Twitter, Farcaster, etc. Okay. So, this one comes from Martin. Okay, how he sees, how do you see clients for Farcaster evolving plus monetization plans in the future? And we can even do this thing like fire rounds kind of thing.

Dan Romero: Yeah. We have the initial client; I think we been building it for two years. It’s his certain level of polish usability, we have a mobile client desktop client. So, we’ve done a lot of work to kind of make it easy to onboard the Farcaster or the protocol. Everyone who onboards to so the company has named Merkel manufacturing Farcasters, the protocol. Anyone onwards to a Merkel manufacturing client has this really nice easy experience, gets in, now they’re active on Farcaster, which now also means that they’re an addressable user, for anyone who wants to build within the Farcaster ecosystem because now as a developer, building a new client or experience, I don’t have to worry about going to convince someone to sign up for Farcaster I already know that they’re there. I can actually just kind of focus on, okay, here are the active users. Let me let me try to market my product or go to market in terms of that and by the way, you can post in the feed and people will respond and you know, that their native Farcaster users, right so There’s some built in distribution there, which as we add more users to the protocol, then the distribution gets better. The natural place for clients to start, which has already happened is, simple view clients that are kind of just doing read only operations, right. So, most of the apps that have been built in Farcaster ecosystem today, have been kind of read only where they index all the data, or rely on a third-party indexer and then are able to show kind of a specialized view. So, an example of this is Insta caster shows all of the posts on Farcaster that had an image in it. Pretty straightforward, pretty interesting UI, relatively easy to boot up. 

But right now, it doesn’t have the ability to also use that client to then post back an image into Farcaster, we’ve been doing a lot of upgrades to the underlying protocol over the last few months, we’re going to hopefully get there and offer a much easier way for a developer to actually now go from just read access to both read. And that right access is where I think you’re going to start to see people do two things. So, the first is actually just, okay, I’m going to be a specialized client that does something really well, I don’t know, maybe surfaces, all the questions on Farcaster, other recommendations, and it shows it in slightly different way. And anytime you take an action there, maybe you like something, it kind of propagates back into the protocol, and then it would reflect in that that kind of like feed experience for other users. Those are probably the easiest place to start because they they’re smaller projects, maybe you can do them over a weekend or a week and you start from there. I think that the longer term, you’ll have people building completely new social experiences and using Farcaster to bootstrap the social graph, and all of those interactions, the likes, the replies, because it kind of get it out of the box for free. But those are apps that probably need a larger number of people, the more substantial apps, probably start to exist when you have 10x, or even 100x number of users, right. 

So today, we have about 3000 people using Farcaster. It’s a private beta, invite only been really deliberate about growth. So maybe 10x or 100x from here, 30,000, 300,000. That’s where you start to get developers who go okay, maybe it’s actually worth me, testing out this kind of weird social idea I have on this network, because that gets to them at least enough potential users that if you get 10% of them, now you’ll at least have an early user base that you can play around. And as the overall protocol grows, I think that the sophistication of the apps will get more and more sophisticated. And I think the natural way to monetize for these different apps are as the network gets more scale, I think you’re gonna see naturally apps do free with ads or something. But I do think in the early days, and part of this might be a norm set by our client, we plan to use subscriptions as the primary way to do monetization, because we actually think it aligns the values that we are hoping to have in terms of what the network should be, as this kind of a little bit more sophisticated pro feeling network, versus lowest common denominator scale of maybe some of the web two social networks. 

And the other nice thing is that it aligns how we built the product with what our users want, versus how to get them to spend more time so they see more ads, right. So, every subscriber we have, essentially, you can think of it as like Amazon Prime, where what Amazon is constantly trying to do, is they’re trying to find other things that they can add to the prime bundle that make prime subscriptions that much more valuable to their subscribers. It’s this kind of drive more value. Same thing for Netflix, right? Netflix is looking at how can we add better and more interesting content for the same price that we’re charging for people. But that is a fundamentally different model than something like Facebook and Twitter, they have to keep users happy enough but there’s always that kind of tension where they can dial up the amount of ads in the feed or just do whatever they want. Because they’re ultimately focused on time spent. Good example of this recently as Instagram because of Tik Tok is pushing on reels, the revealed preference, by the way, as people love algo feeds despite what people complain, but the push is a result of you were trying to actually compete in a zero-sum world of time spent between Tik Tok and Instagram. And so, doing the kind of change is, you’re focused on what gets our users spend more time versus does this actually what people want? And it’s a hard thing because again, the review preferences, people actually do like algo feeds but I would say it’s a slightly different model for us in that, you can imagine that the average person is spending 10 minutes a day on Farcaster.

We may actually launch a feature, that maybe it’s algorithmic, machine learning, or just filters that allow people to be more efficient in finding whatever they’re looking for and farcaster when they look at the feed, that it reduces the time spent from 10 minutes to 9 minutes and 30 seconds. In an advertising-based business, probably not a good thing, right? Because the amount of time you spend is probably how many correlates with how many ads you see. Whereas in a subscriber base business, you could argue that that is actually providing more value to the customer because now what they got is they got 30 seconds back, as a result of it being higher signal or more efficient for them, right. So, thinking of it as like a tool, versus this kind of almost a competitor to television of like, we just want you to spend time here and then look at a bunch of ads, I think is somebody that we’re going to try to experiment with. But if it works, I do think it sets an ethos in the ecosystem, at least for the early adopters. And I think more pro users, the people who are using the network as this kind of public, intellectual social network, that, I bet you if you could actually go back in time, if Twitter could choose a different monetization path, and probably would have done this, instead of trying to kind of always be this Facebook that never has the same scale or the ability to do the targeting. And I actually think their business would be in a fine place today, compared to basically it’s a public company that has never made a single, like the total cumulative mount of profit is negative is a public company. 

And part of that is also I think they’re overstaffed. There’s like 8000 people that work there and you can’t solve the spammer problem. But part of that also might be a set of incentives is that you don’t want top line numbers and an advertising-based business to go down, maybe a little cynical on that. But my point being is I think clients in a new ecosystem in 2022, may find success with subscriptions, thinking of themselves more as tools accessing this kind of public social network, versus we need to kind of be this lock in, and everything needs to be in the mothership. So that that’s one way.

How Do We Beat the Bots?

Okay. Couple more questions. How do we beat the bots?

Dan Romero: I tweeted this recently, I think Twitter could do this tomorrow, if they really wanted to just take the hit on their total number of users. And I think we’ll plan to do this with Merkel manufacturer clients, phone number, credit card on file. So, you know, don’t charge them but you know, maybe do a one-time charge of $1 till you have that. Coinbase, we ask for a passport, so you could do it another thing. And it should just be a set of steps, five steps to get verified and that’s how you get a blue check, not your celebrity or you work in some media organization or whatever or maybe you have two different types of checks, right. But I bet you a ton of people would go through the friction if they spent a lot of time on Twitter to get that checkmark. Especially if you could say, hey, the algorithm will boost anyone who’s verified and explicitly, we will not show replies from unverified people, you can use Twitter as an unverified way, like that’s a consumption mechanism. But if you want to participate in the conversation, you need to go through a little bit of back. So, to me, that’s what we do, recommend if you don’t have bots, plus, it costs money to register Farcasters username because there’s an on chain.

Incentives For Developers to Build On Top of Farcaster

Right, are there, Akil BVs asks, are there any plans relevant incentives to build on top of Farcaster to attract developers? What sort of new apps with social primitives’ slash used cases do you think builders can build?

Dan Romero: Well to the second part of that question is the world’s your oyster, if I get every new social app, the new primitive to go after because it’s a lot easier to grow if you have a viral new primitive. That said, I think, incentives, that’s something that we’ve tried a little bit. So, we had a couple of people build early apps last, like, you know, in the spring, and we offered them kind of a onetime block grants no strings attached for the summer. And just to kind of defense over costs, and encourage them to keep building the apps that they were doing that work pretty well. So, I think that we probably will do something along those lines. I think what’s important though, is people show organic interest. And there’s no promises like, oh, if I build something you’re gonna give me grant. It’s more of a, you know, when you see a good faith effort, which maybe doesn’t scale, but I think aligns you much more towards a organic community versus a strictly paid for mercenary community. So, I think we want to avoid that that part but there’s probably a pretty optimal trade off. And I think going back to the idea is, the one thing I think that I’m excited about is one primitive that every user on Farcaster has, is a private key. So, it’s the first network that just by itself, you’re signing up for Forcaster username, you have a public and private key, even something like signal, you have to actually verify with phone number. 

And so, you can imagine the amount of encrypted or zero knowledge, if you want to get more technical in the crypto side, types of experiences that you can permission to build as a developer, knowing that every single user and Farcaster in order for them to even be on forecast or half to have a private key that’s, that’s hot, right live, I think is an idea space that someone will build something really interesting. And to use a framework that I think a lot of people talk about, generally, social networks that succeed, offer some new type of speech or new primitive that enables people to communicate in a new way. And I think that entire space of new encrypted experiences and new zero knowledge experiences, is completely under tapped, partially because the It’s cutting-edge technology, right? Like you have to really understand it. It has not been, there’s no ruby on rails equivalent for ZK and so I think it’ll take some time for that to happen.

Outro

Got it. We’re way over, but I appreciate you staying a little bit longer. Dan, before I let you go. How do we get a Farcaster invite if those listening wants to join, and where can we find you?

Dan Romero: Yeah, so if you’ve made it this far, it’s proof of work. Proof of Work amount that if you DM me on Twitter, DWR and mention you heard the podcast, I’m happy to send you an invite. I think we’re really trying to be deliberate people who are thoughtful, optimistic, energetic, and if you spending time listening to podcasts, someone talking about web three social, you’re probably a good candidate for Farcaster.

Cool, cool. Thank you so much. We’ll have to do this again soon. But yeah, until next time, cheers.

Dan Romero: Cheers.

Categories
Podcast Transcript

Paradigm Placed A Multi-Million Dollar Bet On n.xyz And Here’s Why

Background

Mint Season 6 episode 19 welcomes the co-founder and CEO of n.xyz, Sridhar Ramaswamy (ra-mas-wah-mee). This ex-googler previously led the largest search engine’s $115 billion advertising division and has his eye on a new focus: blockchain data. With their debut launch this week, followed by an impressive series A led by Paradigm, we explore how he’s building web3’s indexer of choice and how his time at Google lead to where he is today.

I hope you guys enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:13 – Intro
  • 04:27 – What It’s Like Managing Over 10,000 People and $100 Billion in Revenue
  • 06:32 – Leaving Google to Start Neeva
  • 09:20 – The Birth of Web3 Neeva
  • 16:10 – Less Obvious Applications Using the Power of Neeva
  • 17:41 – Web2 Search Versus Web3 Search
  • 20:36 – End User Blockchain Search
  • 22:57 – On-Chain SEO
  • 24:20 – The Future of Advertising in Web3
  • 30:15 – The Emergence of New Tech and Zero-Knowledge Proofs
  • 32:33 – The Next Trend for Neeva to Tackle
  • 35:02 – The World of On-Chain Data
  • 39:55 – Thoughts Around Data Access in Web3 Versus Web2 
  • 43:04 – Outro

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Sridhar, welcome to mint, thank you for being on the podcast, a part of season six. How are you doing, man?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: Very excited to be here. I know, we started with some technical glitches, but I’m sure everything will go just fine.

Intro

Everything will go just fine and even better, I’m sure. I’m super stoked to have you on. It’s actually a privilege to be talking with you, a man of your level of seniority, doing what you’ve done at Google plus more now on web three, I’m super excited to dive in. I think a good place to start, Sridhar, is who are you? For those who don’t know you, okay. How do you typically introduce yourself to someone. And I’d also love to kind of like, tag along your entry into web three with that, too.

Sridhar Ramaswamy: That’s great. Well, I start by saying, I’m an immigrant came to get a graduate degree at Brown University on the East Coast, kind of tried my hand at being an academic worked at Bell Labs, the same place where the transistor was invented for a few years, before deciding to come out to the valley to work on software. And it was my true passion, super early at Google, none of us quite realized, the juggernaut that the company was going to become, started as an engineer, but sort of grew as the company grew, I went from being like, you know, a team of one myself, to leading a team of over 10,000 people and a business of over $100 billion, amazing opportunity there. But left about four years ago, to pursue a passion of mine, that’s Neeva. It’s a search engine with a very different goal. It’s to always be user focused, undertake search back to it’s roots. And really, web three came as a result of exploring the Neeva mission of sort of just making the world’s information available to everybody, started looking at web three and what was out there, I got super excited. And that was the beginning of another pun chapter and the overall journey.

So what employee number were you at Google?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: I think it was like 300 and something. It was a pretty big company, even by the time I got there. So, it’s not like 10 or 20 years.

Do you remember your initial motives and reasoning for joining that company such as so quote, unquote, early on?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: It was a very successful company already, I think the year Google was going to make $1.6 billion of revenue, it was like, in some sense, the best kept secret in the valley, here was this quiet little company working on a boring little problem search. And my god, they were printing money. So, I had some friends who had moved. And they said, it was an amazing place to work. And I had actually tried my hand at managing a team at my previous startup as a company called Epiphany. And so, I decided that I really just wanted to be an engineer to learn. Google is doing some incredible things, distributed computing, as we know it today, really has its origins at Google, they were sort of really good at taking low-cost machines and creating something very reliable. So, it was very exciting for an engineer to just go in there and learn. And there was this era of success in the company already. 

Did you did you have to have a startup sort of mentality entering at 300 people? And I only ask that, because you’ve been there for, you were there for a very long time. And I feel like you could get distracted very easily to work on other stuff. Right, based off the experience that you built up. I’m curious to hear that side.

Sridhar Ramaswamy: Yeah, different people handle these things differently. There are some people at Google that switched from team to team, they’re like, oh, I work on ads, now I work on this, now I work on search. For whatever reason, you know, I stayed on with the same games for a very long time, I kept finding ways to challenge myself there were still like new things to learn. I started in the infrastructure team and then I learned more about advertiser tools. And then I learned about quality and machine learning, then about what it was to run and grow a very large business, dealing with customers. I can look back every year and say, like, yeah, I learned something new, learn payments, learn shopping. So, it’s just this incredible opportunity. Because Google as a company has had so much impact on so many aspects of our lives.

What It’s Like Managing Over 10,000 People and $100 Billion in Revenue

What’s it like managing over 10,000 people and being in charge for sort of being responsible for managing over $100 billion of revenue? And I’m sure you get this question all the time. But yeah, I’m super curious.

Sridhar Ramaswamy: Well, I mean, first of all, the thing that you learn very quickly as a leader, if you truly want to be successful at it, is a service mentality. You realize that you know, you’re there to serve. You’re there to make the teams better. By the time your team is even like 100 people, most smart leaders figured out that they personally cannot do all that much, not compared to 100 people. And so, you very much have to learn what it is on to bring out the best in other people. You learn about motivation, you learn about, you know how to convey a sense of purpose to your team, you learn how to make each person feel in your team, feel that their work is worthwhile. So, in many, many ways, being a leader of a large team is a humbling learning experience. But you also get the privilege of betting on lots and lots of people. I became what I became at Google, because people like Eric Schmidt, people like Bill Campbell, or Larry Page, they saw things in me that I never could have seen. And I’m always grateful to people like that for giving me amazing opportunity. So, I’ve always taken it as kind of my job also, to take bets on people. And so, you spend a lot of time you know, coaching people, you spend a lot of time helping people truly excel, you problem solve. But you’re, you know, you’re a coach you are betting on people. And every big leader, you know, very, very quickly realizes that they are there to serve other people, they are there to motivate other people. It’s a lot of fun and you’ll learn a lot.

Leaving Google to Start Neeva

And I’m sure I could spend hours upon hours asking you about Google but I want to sort of transition now into Neva, at least the web two Neva, okay. Another, it’s an ad free sort of search engine, right? And it’s become your passion. That’s what you coined it. That’s my search is my passion. So, talk me through the transition of going from Google to then starting Neva and what did you sort of set to aim to do at the get go?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: Yeah, towards the end of my stay at Google, I realized that, you know, any company that aspired to keep on growing, that was ads based, essentially would see no limit to how many ads it showed within it’s products. There are no natural limits, especially for a company like Google that honestly has no competitors. And so, I saw a world in which the search experience was going to get worse and worse. Funny story, true story. We were playing around, looking at Google’s UI on the phone versus that off Neeva’s. And, you know, a query that we tried was what to do in a car accident. If you try it on Google today, you will get four ads for lives. And on Neeva, it’ll kind of be like, first of all, it’s time to get to the side of the road, make sure that you don’t put yourself in danger. If like, if you’re involved with another car, and if they need help, make sure that you call 911. We showed this to people and there were some people that just went like ballistic, they’re like, I’m just in like a car accident, you guys are showing me ads like what the hell. So, you know, in many ways, that sort of is a sad outcome but it also points to the opportunity, which is you want, search is a very deeply personal function, you have a headache, you’re going to search, you’re bothered about something, you want to search, you want to buy something, you want to a search, you don’t remember the lyrics to a song, you’d like to search. And so, we wanted to take search back to it’s root, create just a worry-free, truly useful product. And that’s what we are in the process of doing. It didn’t come immediately after Google, you know, tried my hand at investing for a little bit with my friends at Greylock. That was fun, but I like creating things. And the early parts of conceiving of an idea and seeing like it worked out, is there like a cool product here to be created. That’s always the most exciting part. And so, Neva came a little bit after I left Google and I’m also very fortunate to have my co-founder and partner Vivek, in this journey. And yeah, this one has been our passion for the past three and a half, four years.

The Birth of Web3 Neeva

And now there’s a web three native Neeva, right? And that’s why we’re here today. That’s why I added you to the seasonal lineup for season six, because season six is all about on chain data. And yeah, you guys are sort of focusing your attention on what’s happening in web three. Talk to me about sort of what were some of your findings that we were like, wow, we need to enter web three, we need us maybe shift the product focus from web two search to web three, search and how did web three Neeva sort of come about?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: Well, so web three Neeva actually is an independent company. Neeva is a big shareholder in that company, but it’s an independent company. The journey started with a simple question of what should web three mean for a search engine? You know, as a startup, we know that our strength is in going and exploring areas that others will be hesitant to explore. So, for example, if you look for a product on Neeva, we’re going to, we’re going to stack the page full of reviews, because we’re like, ah, you’re going to educate Adam about the product. And if he wants to buy the product, sure, we’ll show it to him. But we are not in a rush, as soon as you type of product name to get you to go buy the product, that is his element of education, that is always an important part of search. So, we started looking at this question four, how do we make it easy to find information from web three? Now, what exactly is about three, of course, there’s the on-chain data. And we started looking at that, we also realized that there was a lot of web three relevant information on Twitter, on Discord, on some websites, but this information was everywhere. 

So, we initially started to build out an NFT search engine, because we thought, oh, that’s very visual. It is clearly, you know, pretty popular. Let’s look at what it would take for us to index on chain data. And then we realized that at least when it came to NFTs, a lot of the information whether it’s metadata or media are actually off chain. Sometimes they’re on IPFS. But quite a few people also put them up on regular web two sites, not something I would recommend, but people do that. Anyway. So, we wrote a little crawler. And then we use the power of the search stock that we had built for, to run Neeva’s web search, which runs at petabyte scale, in order to create this NFT search engine, which we call Neeva XYZ, we kept it separate from Neeva, because we wanted to iterate very, very quickly. You know, there have been days in which I personally have pushed out like a dozen releases on a single day. And that’s the benefit of being a small team. There’s just five people and me, by the way. And the hide, like as a shoestring team, we built this great search experience. And then we started showing it to friends to get feedback. You know, I know a number of friends who had moved in web three or like that three, oh, geez. 

And while they love the idea of an NFT search engine on thought that a consumer product could be interesting. A number of them also said, hey, carrying at web three data, creating just obligations, knowing what’s going on. In, you know, in the blockchain, whether it’s Ethereum, or Polygon or Solana, that part was really hard. That’s when we decided to change the focus of the effort from creating like an end user search product, which is like Neeva XYZ is to providing a set of developer API’s. We also decided that we wanted to have focus, we wanted to have great investors, you know, for this new effort, you know, crypto emojis, and so be splintered off as a separate company. We are lucky to have the backing of folks like, like Paradigm like Greylock and Sequoia that invested in Neeva, but also people like Coinbase ventures, and a whole bunch of other folks that were very excited by the idea of creating amazing technology, to provide much better data to developers, get in early beta testing, we’ll have more to say about this in in a few weeks. But if you want to build any web three application, whether it’s a wallet, or an NFT minting site, or a gallery or a marketplace, or you just want to do analysis on this data, to figure out like hey, can you do time series prediction on NFT or defi prices? We’d love to talk to you. That’s really the focus of the company lightning-fast access to web three data.

Such a difficult problem to solve. Very difficult problem to solve, especially when there’s no real standardization around on-chain data. I’m curious how you attempted to sort of approach that problem, especially around the metadata when you’re trying to create aggregation sites, right? I know it’s a big problem in the music NFT side of things where you try to create like a playlisting site, right. But the music metadata is all over the place. How have you guys’ sort of approached that problem?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: In a few different ways. At one level, we looked at what was common to all the different categories of NFTs. So, we basically constructed this schema for NFTs, we constructed a similar schema for ERC 20 tokens, we’re in the process of constructing, essentially doing a whole bunch of data engineering, data diagnostics, to figure out how can we represent different defi products, whether they are like swapped liquidity pools or loans, and so that work can be done time consuming, but it is well worth it. And then something like search is a very powerful tool on top of it. This new company, which is called an XYZ, by the way, a little bit of an abbreviation of XYZ, you know, it’s not just a search API is also, it’s an API to get at the contents of what is on chain. So, if you want to know what’s in a wallet, but you want it to be real time as of a few seconds ago, you can use our API’s on, so there is an element of standardization that we did for common asset classes. But even for custom used cases, whether it’s the nouns project, for example, logging their own metadata, or other people like rabbit hole, we’ve had a lot of conversations close to 100 for the past couple of months, just trying to figure out, how do people want to index this data? What are the best tools that we can provide to, A, make it easy, B, make it flexible, but much more importantly, make it highly, highly performant at.

Less Obvious Applications Using the Power of Neeva

What are some of the more less obvious applications you imagine being built using the power of Neeva’s API for example real time?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: We’ve experimented with fun little projects like hey, can you write a predictor or bot wallet? As you know, detecting civil wallets is a game that lots of people play. And as things like Airdrops become more and more important. As a marketing tool, you want to make sure that you Airdrop to real people not, you know, not wallets controlled by a program. So that was like a fun little project, that insurance firm who worked with us over the summer did, I can think of other things. You just played around with it; can you establish a trust score for a wallet? Is this a real person? Are they holding real assets or is it one of these like pump and dump wallets? What can you say about things like that? Other obvious applications? Can you trace money movement across chains in real time? As you know, there are companies like 0x, like layer zero or Nomad that are creating protocols for moving money cross chain, can you track that in real time? So, these are all like, you know, I would say these are not the V one applications that we are creating. But these are the kinds of things that might be pretty fun to create on top of the data and infrastructure that we create. 

Web2 Search Versus Web3 Search

I’d argue that on chain data is just another form of data that somebody may want to search, right? And kind of get answers for and I’m curious from your point of view, how does web three search differ in compared to web to search? And maybe you could also take it from like, how does the product experience differ?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: I think web three search is still being defined, simply because the entities that make up the search are not completely clear yet. The great thing about the web, is that this notion of a web page, a page that had some information became common currency. Everybody, like literally think about it in the world, sort of implicitly understands what a web pages, they implicitly understand what a click on a link is, there’s nothing obvious about it, that you can go from one page to another. Remember, books had this but they’re more like bibliographies, you had to go to the end of the book, find the name of a book, and then maybe go look up the library index, was all painful. The web made all of these things instant. So, I think they’re still figuring out things like, what are the interesting concepts that you want to search over? So, when we think of NFT search, for example, we think in terms of is something that token, is something a wallet, is something a contract, one that mint tokens, but as you can imagine, there are other people, other things like, what is a collection? Or what is the person that corresponds that’s like a creator of different contracts? it’s not quite a lot. 

And so I think there’s this first question of, how do you like, you know, how do you figure out what is it that you are looking for, and then you begin to define like, the relationships between these entities on you know, Neeva on XYZ, you can just throw in some words, and you can search, and you can click on a token and go from there to the wallet that has the token or you can go from there to the contract that has the token, and then you can do like attribute filters on the tokens that are contract issues. It just makes navigation possible. I think over the next few years, as these concepts will become more and more solidified, and then people will truly be able to say, well, I am looking for a Dao that has these people in it. And why don’t you tell me? I think things will get clearer as these things grow in popularity. Right now, we are still trying to define what exactly we are finding. And this is a ton of information on Twitter on Discord, anything that claims to do web three search needs to bring all of these together as well. So, it’s a fun problem. It’s a big and it’s sort of a loosey goosey problem right now.

End User Blockchain Search

Right. I’m also trying to like I’m thinking out loud here. I’m also trying to understand like, does the user understand what even searching on the blockchain means? Like, what would they even be searching for kind of thing? Right now, it feels like we’re just searching open sea or ether scan, for the most part, right? Or maybe we’re using some analytic platforms to get some statistics and interesting insights, right? But I think like, if you think about the like the web two user and how they use a product like Google or Neeva, right? I feel like they go, they would obviously go and use that product with a different intent, as if they were to use a web three type of search product. And I don’t know if that user sort of exists in web three just yet, to kind of get to that level, you know, where my head is at?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: 100%. This completely makes sense. And many ways, what you are describing mirrors the development of things like the Yahoo directory, back when the web was very, very early, Yahoo literally had a bunch of people that constructed this catalog, this directory, that basically said, if you want to look for shops, look here, if you want to look for something else, universities, look over here. And over time, what happened is, there were so many stores, so many universities, so many other sorts of like sites, that it became impossible for anybody to categorize it. The reason you go to open sea right now to look for NFTs is because it is the definitive marketplace for NFTs. If you imagine a world where there are like 100 marketplaces, all of a sudden, an aggregation play becomes more interesting, if there are 20 blockchain. So, this idea of like looking at ether scan, which is already Ethereum data suddenly sounds a little bit silly. On this part of what we do, by the way, if you search on Neeva on XYZ, we will return data back to you. Whether it’s on Ethereum, or polygon or optimism or arbitrage, we are like, you know, continuously adding more chains. And so, search is fundamentally an aggregation play, it makes sense only when there are so many things that you and I simply cannot keep track, or we don’t want to bother to keep track of all the different places to go to.

On-Chain SEO

Yeah. Another thing that I’ve been thinking about in preparation for this interview is like trying to understand what is on chain SEO look like, right? Search engine optimization, as a marketer myself, right? I’ve done a ton of gigs where I try to optimize blogs or pages on Google to kind of come on the first search results, right? I’m curious what that looks like. In the future. I wonder if you have any takes on that.

Sridhar Ramaswamy: People are doing this today. Remember when you create a hot new collection, you get your friends to like go buy the NFTs from that collection. And so, it is all on Twitter, if you have a handle, yeah, you try to build up a following. In many ways. You know, the, the founding principle of page rank, by the way, is like this funny definition that says, a page of popular page or a good page, if other popular pages say so, it’s a little bit like high school phase, right? This is like you’re cool, if like the cool people like, let you in. And so, to a certain extent Twitter is also like that, you’re cool if a lot of good people follow you on Twitter. So, there are similar things that will happen. I think those things are universal in, you know, in nature, a collection of school. I don’t know if like Zink owns one of your tokens. And so, I think stuff like that.

The Future of Advertising in Web3

Interesting. Interesting, interesting. Okay, interesting. All right, let’s transition into advertising, where web three meets advertising. Okay. That is obviously a big hat you worked at Google. It’s something that you may know a little bit about, I’d argue. What does the future of advertising look and feel like in web three?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: That is one part of you know, web three, a lot of early players. They are actively against advertising that are, you know, focused on things like more value for the early users. So, the ethos of web three, the ethos of Daos around like community ownership, community management, you know, puts on a very odd user as community, or community as owners, I think it’s a different set of principles. I think Daos are very powerful. They, you know, hearken back to collectives that have existed, like in humanity for a very, very long time. So, I think, loosely coupled organizations working together, has a lot of promise but on the other hand, as they said, you know, things like what has value or what is popular is inherently a social phenomenon. And so, whenever that happens, that is going to be advertising, you see this today, there are, I’m sure you get a lot of token drops. And that’s a form of advertising, people are like reaching out and saying, hey, you should claim this token. There might be something cool that is out there. I think that is also an opportunity for social networks, where basically you decide on membership in a particular group, depending on whether you own a particular token or not. I see recommendation engines coming as NFTs become more popular. If you own the sets of NFTs, maybe you should consider owning something else. And that is always like whenever there are recommendations that are made, there’s going to be a promotional element to these recommendations, I think it’s early to call. But I think things like better Airdrop, which you can think of as marketing, early advertising, definitely have a role to play. But the whole ecosystem is super nascent. And then if you lay it on things like metaverse, truly immersive experiences, that have an element of web three, of blockchain of like, you know, decentralized state also associated with them. I think that adds an additional twist into how advertising will work. Overall, I would say the world of web three metaverse, advertising is very, very young. But it will develop, advertising arises naturally whenever there is commercial interest and that is a reason to stand out. I don’t expect web three are the metaverse to be wildly different.

Yeah, I think there’s a or at least it feels like there’s a notion amongst many users that they don’t want advertising. Like they don’t want that same experience, a lot of users feel like that if we introduce, for example, the most common or memorable form of advertising is like display advertising, right? It’s like, it’s like if we go back to that world, are we just moving backwards? Like, what are we doing, right? And I wonder, I wonder at what point we’re actually going to see like more web three, native advertising, air drops are a great example. What other forms of advertising sort of live and exist or have yet to live in exist in web three? We have yet to find out. I wonder if you have any more additional thoughts just around that.

Sridhar Ramaswamy: I think, as I said, the culture very much is that off, like, hey, let’s leave the worst of the web two world behind. And this sort of utopian promise of advertising will deliver great content to all of us, and it’ll all be free. Everybody has realized by now that there is no free lunch. And these ads can get more and more intrusive. In many ways a company like Neeva, is like the opposite of the web two model where militantly pro user, and the ads and the tracking. So, I think that is definitely the ethos. And the thing is, you know, blockchains also offer the potential for much lower transaction costs. Marc Andreessen calls the lack of payments on web two original sin. So, a lot of like low-cost services could not really be created, advertising became the way in which to monetize like, lots of eyeballs into something tangible. I do hope that, you know, things like gas fees come down low enough. So, through innovations that all of us desperately need, like microtransactions, like the ability to aggregate value in terms of what is being delivered to you and me, I hope things like that truly come to pass because the current world in which the minimum cost of moving any money, like in the real world is like 35 cents plus 3%, which is ridiculous. You’re just moving bits from one computer to another. And the sad part about Ethereum right now is like oh, wait, like what? 20 bucks, 50 bucks to move like one little bit of information, that’s a terrible place to be. But, you know, I think that our chains like polygon, where this is cheaper. But really, we need this kind of innovation, we need innovation in which like, value can be transferred with much less friction.

The Emergence of New Tech and Zero-Knowledge Proofs

Sure. I want to talk to you about also like new and emerging technology. How do you imagine like new tech like that of which Vitalik recently proposed, he proposed a new token standard for stealth addresses, for anonymous NFT ownership. And also like the introduction of like, zero-knowledge proofs, right? How do those play an effect on sort of the vision of what you guys are after, let alone the entire level of transparency, and openness of what crypto is today?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: You know, I’m still learning, I heard a bunch of amazing podcasts about zero knowledge proof, obviously, you know, companies like Stark ware projects like Stark ware, or CK sync, are super, super popular or the range. I think there’s always a balance in all societies, between like, anonymity, and sort of the openness or the visibility that is needed to prevent bad actors, and, you know, subversive elements within. And so, I think there’s always going to be tension there. I think like we all, just like, we all realize that a truly advertising driven like internet is a pretty ugly place to be. I think we also realize, you know, thanks to the various tech trends that we’ve all had on Twitter, that a place in which someone can be absolutely anonymous, also removes the incentive for any of us to be like civil to each other. So, I think there’s always going to be this balance between how much anonymity is provided by a platform, and whether that leads to like, good, you know, good behavior, I think a certain amount of this kind of attention is natural. And it’s also very clear that the current Internet, current online world has gone to like the other extreme of having all of our information, just get like, you know, bucketed and bottled up and sold and resold, it’s a pretty nasty place to be. So, innovation is desperately needed.

The Next Trend for Neeva to Tackle

Sure. I want to talk to you also about other products that can kind of spin up out of what you guys are building at Neeva. So right now, the vision is sort of provide really extensive, reliable APIs for developers, right? But I feel like by setting that level of foundation, you also open yourself up to a world of new opportunities, right. So, you may be focusing on the API section, because that’s what’s hot right now, right? And that’s what people need. Where do you think we’re going next? What’s like, sort of like the next trend beyond here?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: Oh, there’s so much fun stuff to do, as I said, that are things like wallet trust scores, or better ways to figure out Airdrops, I can think of everything from, you know, hedge funds that use real time data to sophisticated modeling, of ERC. 20, like token prices, or NFT prices, you know, things like figuring out fractional ownership really becomes a thing. I think that’ll be interesting. And as more assets get digitized and gets stored, you know, on the blockchain, I think that’s going to be another interesting area, in which people will want to know more stats, even things like Dao warding records, the tooling for that is very poor. And so, being able to, you know, just have information, like how many people that belong to Dao actually voted? What’s the voting record? You know, how much are different projects raising? It’s a fun platform in which to build stuff. We’re also working with some early projects on things like goal ownership, so that people can make, you know, you can be part of like a social club or a network. And you can create new groups similar to WhatsApp groups, based on chain behavior. And, you know, you can get recommendations for groups that you can be part of. So, I think there’s a lot of fun applications that can be created on top of this data, not to mention things like oh, can we do real time aggregations for different kinds of contracts, like you know, how long protocols doing? How is something else doing? I feel really excited because it’s just really very early and here is so much to be built, and so many fun product ideas to support.

The World of On-Chain Data

I love seeing you say that and the smile that appears on your face as you, all those words come out of your mouth. Another thing I want to talk about, which is a core theme of season six is on chain data. Okay, we covered a lot about that, but more specifically how it pertains to the creative economy. A lot of my audience, the people who listen are creators, they are the musicians, the artists, the project founders, the community managers, even collectors and web three founders in general, as a whole. I want to talk to you more about like, the data analysis side of things, okay. Because there’s a big trend, kind of shifting towards how creators can either better use data, how communities use data today, whether it be through the financialization of the data, whether through understanding who your community is, and kind of creating better experiences. How do you see that world sort of emerging, especially with what you guys have going on at your company?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: Yeah, I mean, that’s a whole other category of fun, you know, fun application. So, for example, one product that I think needs to be created is, let’s say that, you know, you want to create a new NFT collection. And you’re like, I think people that like this collection, are going to be people that like on this particular token, or maybe have done this kind of behavior, I wonder if that is a way to reach them effectively or maybe you start with like a set of people that you think would be excited about what you’re doing. And then you want a tool that lets you expand out, by the way for this is Deja vu all over again, for people that are worked in ads, because this is a product called similar audiences, when you start with a set of people and you try to expand out to other people that are like that. I’d say one of the things that is often disappointing, people don’t necessarily know this, about even pretty large creator ecosystems like YouTube, is that the number of creators that can make a living off of those platforms is shockingly small. Most people will be shocked to know that the number of people that say, make more than 50k, 60k on YouTube, is like tens of thousands, is not millions, you know, there are like, you know, five, at least 5 million software engineers in the United States, if you include the larger ecosystem, that’s 20 million people, all making, let’s face it, a pretty decent living. 

And to me, part of what platforms like you know, like Instagram, like YouTube, or even like, you know, Twitter or Tik Tok have not really done, is create like mass employment opportunities. That’s because these platforms are so powerful, that they don’t really share that much of their wealth, with the people that are creating, the platforms reap all the benefit, especially ad supported platforms, that is so much concentration of power, but they reap all the benefits of scale. Not really the creators, it becomes very head heavy. I love the NBA but let’s face it, it’s not going to imply like a million players, It’s very, very head heavy. I’m like, yes, all of us want to be Steph Curry, but there’s like one. And so, to me, what’s exciting about web three, and the creator economy is you get decentralized, you get to set things like I created this beautiful piece of digital art. And whenever it gets sold, there needs to be a way for me to realize value. So, this is why things like creators shares that can be burned into the contract. So, you get like a steady supply. And as the items that you’re creating grow in value, as they are traded, you also benefit from it. To me those are like the egalitarian aspects of that three, I think it’s an open question whether they’re going to scale to the level of like, you know, hundreds of thousands of people or millions of people. I have no issue with like top-heavy economies like the NBA, as I said, but we should also be careful about it, you know, things like that not becoming the aspiration for every teenager, not if they cannot support like millions of people operating at that level. And the hope with web three, and it’s not clear that we’re going to get to it, we all have to work towards it, is that it supports a broader base of prosperity than the Vette head heavy ecosystems that pretty much all the existing platforms like YouTube, like Instagram, like Tik Tok have created.

Thoughts Around Data Access in Web3 Versus Web2

I think web three will enable a larger middle class of creators, that can be. Yeah, that’s also what I’m hoping for, if you sort of look at what’s happening right now in web through the creator economy, and you measure the number of creators based off how many collections, NFT collections exist, it’s about 150,000, collections and communities that sort of exists today in web three. And of course, not all of them are making the same amount of value as Board ape yacht club, right. But as long as you have that, sort of like hustle, grit and entrepreneurial type of energy, or at least an ounce of that, you can find a way to not only use web three as a tool to tokenize your art, but you can find a way to monetize it as well. I think what’s also super interesting is that, as a creator in web three, you get to tap into all this interesting data to become a smarter, and a more intelligent and a wiser creator, data that you otherwise maybe not would have had in web two, right? From being a YouTube creator, a Google creator, etc. Do you have any takes on that? Any thoughts around that as well?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: I actually, I completely agree with what you’re saying. I think part of what the big platforms that the music labels before that have gotten away with is, the incredibly opaque pricing, and the opaque contracts that have hidden sort of a lot of things. And the nice thing about web tree is all of this data is in the open, and people can see what is creating value, they can get their fair share. And they can also like that is more, you know, chances for experimentation. If you did a project in a certain way, or collection in a certain way, and you saw that it had some outcome, and you want to do better the next time, you have the chance to do that. And part of what like an XYZ wants to enable is like all of this data to be easily accessible to people, so that they can reach better decisions.

Yeah, yeah, I’m a big fan. I really am excited to see one of the products go live beyond just the beta test that you’re doing right now. And kind of see where this vehicle ends up going. I’m curious, from your point of view, what questions am I not asking? Do you think I should be asking to be a better-informed creator in the space and how to use data to sort of build an audience, build a community, etc?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: I think you’ve gone through many of the questions, but I think, you know, having a sense for what creates value. And once something is out there, how quickly are you getting that information back? You know, are you able to come up with hypotheses that you can then test, that you can then check out in real life? I think the tooling around that is pretty early. But I think the openness of the data will lead to lots of companies like an XYZ to get this data, to give it to more people. And I said, I love that phrase that you used earlier, which is hopefully web three will lead to a much bigger middle class of creators of all kinds.

Outro

Yeah, I hope so as well, I guess, before we wrap up, and I let you go. Sridhar, where can I find you? Where can we learn more about what you’re building? Show it away?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: Yeah, so our little website, which will get bigger soon is N.XYZ. And you’re lucky to get like a single letter domain. And then we are also on Twitter. Still hanging to N.XYZ handle, but right now you have to put underscores between all of the letters. It’s like underscore N, underscore X, underscore Y, underscore Z underscore, but just look for us

Also memorable by the way. Yeah, also memorable.

Sridhar Ramaswamy: Also, memorable. Exactly. And, yeah, we’re going to be making a big announcement, hopefully in less than a month. And I’m super excited to be in web three. I know that, you know, these are tough times overall, in the stock market on web three. But the foundational infrastructure that is there, things like decentralized state, things like currency natively built into how these amazing systems operate. I think they are very early; I think there’s a lot of value to be created and a lot of work to be done. You know, I think of this as what the internet was, like, 2025 years ago, no one could have predicted, you know, the Internet of 2015 from like, the Mozilla of 1995. So, I feel it’s that early. There’s a lot of great work to be done. And the more we build, the better the outcome that we create. And I personally am super excited to be part of the journey.

Amazing. Sridhar, thank you so much for being on a part of the season. We’ll have to do this again soon. But till then, appreciate you and good luck.

Sridhar Ramaswamy: Thank you, Adam, lovely to chat