A couple of weeks ago my boyfriend was scrolling through TikTok and became obsessed with a trending creator named Luca Maxim. His videos mock the popular hustle porn culture of internet entrepreneurs as he stands in a hooded sweatshirt, accompanied by click-baitey titles and nonsensical “advice” urging followers to collect rare fish and work towards raising the Mongolian GDP.
It was absurd, funny, and we realized that each of his videos was backed by his own songs.
Luca is a Georgian based musician using the mockery of hustle culture to create weird memes and push his independent music, and we watched him go from 40k followers to 220k followers on TikTok in a few weeks.
As we started searching for his other online presences we saw that he had released an NFT collection on sound.xyz.
This saga made me think about up-and-coming artists who are tiptoeing the line between web2 and web3 platforms. The question I keep on coming back to is, mainly, how can a musician like Luca convert his Web2 fanbase over to Web3?
Anyone already involved in Web3 understands the benefits of decentralized platforms which prevent de-platforming, and people experimenting with music NFTs put forward great arguments as to why music NFTs are better for artists and fans. Fans can own a percentage of a song, they can show via their wallet that they were an early listener, and for the artist they can actually earn on streams as opposed to platforms like Spotify where 1 million streams pays anywhere from $1K-$8k.
But even as someone working in the crypto industry and a musician in my free-time, I hadn’t yet taken the full plunge down the music NFT rabbithole.
This saga of following Luca’s TikTok to his sound.xyz made me take a closer look at the music NFT space, and I was pleasantly surprised by the user activity on various platforms.
2021 was a big year for experimentation in Music NFTs. Songcamp created a “headless” band called Chaos, which was a group of 80 artists who collectively produced and released a series of Music NFTs. Catalog, originally launched in 2020, saw traction as an outlet for artists to release one to one digital records, and have paid artists over $3 million who use Catalog records.
In September of this year Cooper Turley, probably the most well-known cheerleader of Music NFTs, raised $10 million to fund Coop Records, which is investing in pre-seed and seed stage Web3 companies experimenting at the intersection of music and Web3.
Sound.xyz, which Luca had used to release a series of music NFTs, originally launched in December 2021, and in a recap thread posted a few days ago they boasted statistics from their first year notably including onboarding 240 artists, reaching 6,900 unique collectors, minting 33,771 NFTs, and paid out $4 million directly to artists.
It’s important to note that Snoop Dogg, the top selling artist on sound.xyz, alone has total sales of 783.635 ETH which is just shy of $1 Million at the time of writing.
Either way, as everyone searches for use cases and real user activity, I’d encourage you to browse through the activity on sound.xyz and other music NFT minting platforms.
In November when FTX imploded and crypto twitter was at its lowest, sound.xyz saw more than double the amount of songs minted than in its previous highest month. There were more new drops on sound.xyz than any month before, and November had the highest month of active wallets.
Crypto is definitely not dead, but the activity is happening on the fringes of the space.
A lot of up-and-coming artists, like Luca, will probably not put all of their eggs into one basket for music distribution.
They will continue to grow their audiences on platforms like YouTube and TikTok where millions of users log on daily for entertainment, and simultaneously experiment with music NFTs on platforms like sound.xyz and Catalog to tap into both audiences.
I expect to see more artists crossing the chasm to use every tool at their disposal.
If artists are able to earn more from music NFTs than traditional streaming services, we could look back on music NFTs as a fresh onboarding mechanism for bringing users into the space, giving both fans and artists a taste of how decentralized platforms can reshape our relationship to music.
Follow Mia Grodsky on Twitter.