Where should musicians perform in the metaverse? Why should artists consider minting their own NFT today? How will it promote music? Vandal of DAORecords speaks with Monica Tong editor-in-chief of Music Press Asia on how we can all be participants in a new digital renaissance.
Q: Hello Vandal. Just to run over how we got to do this interview goes back to an event we met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia a few years back. You were already active in the blockchain scene then. What was the scene like then and now?
Thanks, Monica! At the time we met during Wired Music Week I’d just released my second crypto-themed song and was working on the now-defunct “Hip Hop The Blockchain” project. Oh, how times have changed! Back then it was definitely a challenge to find other creatives active in the space, as Crypto and Blockchain mostly attracted the financial and tech types. Now, we are in a new digital renaissance of sorts with the creatives taking over the NFT game and a lot of excitement specifically around how music fits into this ever-evolving Web3 ecosystem.
Q: Firstly, let’s talk about something we all know now. NFT is an incredibly trendy word in the music scene now. We know this can be a loose question whereby many may already know. Is this just a modern interpretation of merchandise?
An NFT is simply a digital collectible with verifiable ownership. Using blockchain technology allows us to create “smart” contracts that act as agreements outlining the details, content, and ownership of the NFT. It’s the closest you can get to a physical collectible in digital form. So with that in mind, you can apply the use of an NFT to almost anything, including merchandise, tickets, and music.
Q: What I could conservatively think of music NFT is an image that looks like a GIF. How creative and complex can this be? What does playable music NFT even mean?
Since the NFT itself is just the contract describing the content and conditions of the agreement it’s being used for, we should describe a Music NFT as one that highlights the music it contains. As with most of the music we interact with online we usually have a visual that accompanies it, which in the case of an NFT can be a static image or animated GIF. The fact that it’s playable is due to the interface.
Q: The very origin of the metaverse idea has probably been in the gaming and animation world for almost 20 years now. In your opinion, why has the music industry just begun to embrace the metaverse?
The global lock-downs in early to mid-2020 played a crucial role in the development of various blockchain-based metaverse projects, which provided a new outlet for artists to present content and engage a global audience. We started using Cryptovoxels just as a substitute for our physical event concepts and quickly realized the potential for these spaces to become a portal to NFTs and entertainment experiences. As the world now opens up again, I think the convergence of IRL and Metaverse will become the norm moving forward.
Q: How is the blockchain, or rather explained as the decentralised governance model, benefitting the music live scene now compare to working with a live promoter?
The Blockchain is an immutable decentralized ledger, it allows for the creation of a variety of tools, such as DAOs, which can benefit communities through a new form of governance and transparency in the distribution of funds. Creative communities can greatly benefit from these collaborative tools when applied to collectives and projects. Imagine an event as a DAO, with all participants including performers and promoters engaged in collective governance. Throw in NFTs as tickets, each with automated revenue splits, and you have a pretty good recipe for how to manage a project.
Q: We want to talk about security in the Metaverse world. Especially with regards to the recent NFT heist happening to celebrities and even to some of our friends who were just trying to sell their artwork or paintings at OpenSea. What do you think is happening?
Security starts with the individual. In decentralized systems, such as most in this Web3 space, everyone interacts using their wallet. The importance of understanding how to secure your wallet should be a top priority. You are the sole controller of your virtual assets, if you lose your seed phrase or connect your wallet to a phishing account then you can lose everything. My advice is to avoid clicking on links at all costs, never give anyone your seed phrase and make sure that when you connect your wallet, to either sell or buy NFTs, you are connecting to the official website.
Q: How did you eventually come to start DAOrecords? Why is there a need now? And what is the difference between what you are offering compared to a traditional record label?
I’ll try not to be long-winded and answer by saying that the current industry model of what a record label is has been in need of an overhaul for a while. With the tools available in the Web3 environment we can now provide a higher level of trust through transparency, co-ownership through the DAO and create a more equitable model for the future of the music industry as a whole. Along with what I’ve described above, DAOrecords is also building an NFT launchpad, where artists will be able to mint and sell their own Audio NFTs using our signature distribution system, which is currently in development.
Relevant reading: What’s Next for Music NFT
Q: Describe to us what Cryptovoxels can do for a musician/artist?
Cryptovoxels is a Metaverse environment that we have been using to engage the community through virtual events. As with the other tools in the Web3 ecosystem, it can be used to create custom experiences and is our favorite place to host NFT drops, release parties, and other forms of social gatherings. This is one of the core services we offer, from venue rental to full customization and event production we’re ready to bring your ideas to life in the Metaverse.
Q: Where do you find this community or groups of like-minded musicians and/or artists? Why are they willing to try this new way to gain fans/audience? What are their concerns?
When we started, over two years ago, I tapped into my personal network of artists to develop these concepts and ideas. It’s a “together” thing, where collaboration is important. It’s not for everyone, but I’ve found that over time those people who declined my early invitations are now reaching out and wanting to get involved. I would say the biggest concern is thinking about how they can bring over their existing fan base into this new space and tackle the steep learning curve that accompanies it. For the most part, people have been quite receptive and excited to start their journey, knowing that DAOrecords has the experience to have their backs!
Q: How should artists/musicians start preparing for this sort of collaboration?
Just do it! Jump in, get involved, get a wallet and some crypto, join a community, mint an NFT, buy an NFT, attend a virtual event and dive into the rabbit hole! My biggest piece of advice, aside from securing your wallet, is to take things slowly as it’s easy to get overwhelmed and try to do too much, which can quickly lead to burnout. But most of all, have fun!