The Music Industry is Waking Up to Ethereum: in Conversation with 3LAU

By Nick Tomaino, Founder @1confirmation

3LAU: Each minted creation represents an audio / visual tokenization of a 3LAU song. I will only ever mint 1 creation per song. There are currently < 30 possible creations based on my music catalogue. I will occasionally mint image-only creations that will never be sold – they will be transferred to owners of specific SSX3LAU pieces (this will be noted in the piece description). Please explore @SSX3LAU for unreleased audio / visual creations.

Star Crossed
Edition 1 of 1
S̷t̷a̷r̷ ̷C̷r̷o̷s̷s̷e̷d̷

Ata time when in-person shows have come to a halt globally, mainstream musical talent is beginning to take note of the growth of Ethereum-based digital art. In September, digital art sales reached $1M+ and October sales already surpassed that. The collector demand is there and top-tier talent is recognizing it.

3LAU is one of the mainstream musical talents that has recently entered the digital art world. He’s made millions in his 10+ year career touring around the world, had a #1 dance single globally and gets 2M+listens every month on Spotify. Along with his long-time visual collaborator slimesunday, he recently started tokenizing new audio + visual work on Ethereum. They’ve already earned $50K+ selling their work on SuperRare, Blockparty and Nifty Gateway and have big plans for the future.

Image for post
SSX3LAU works displayed on digital frames

3LAU and I recently linked up to discuss how the business of music is changing and why Ethereum-based digital art could be a path many others popular musicians follow. Here’s our conversation:

Nick: Justin, how are you man?

3LAU: Doing all right, how are you?

Nick: Can’t complain. So you’ve been going deep on digital art lately, huh? I’ve listened to a few podcasts that you’ve done recently and you’re just about the best spokesman for digital art that I’ve heard.

3LAU: That means a lot, man. Thank you. Yeah, there’s a bit of a back story here and I’m happy to share it in as brief of a format as I can.

Nick: Yeah, well, I know you’ve been following crypto for quite a while right and experimented in a number of different ways. Digital art is breaking out in the past few months and I imagine you saw that. But yeah, I’m curious specifically, more recently, what led you to dive in the way you have?

3LAU: Yeah, so I guess the best place to start is I kind of got involved in the blockchain space very passively in 2014 because of a friendship with the Winklevoss twins, who were working on Gemini at the time that I was staying with them in L.A. That was my first exposure to BTC and also the first exposure to any concept of digital scarcity. I didn’t even think it was a thing before 2014. I didn’t really understand it.

And as time went on, I started to really see the applications that digital scarcity can have in music, that it can have across all different verticals, all different parts of the entertainment business. And there’s kind of a long journey through crypto that we don’t have to dive into too much depth but I constantly was looking for ways to apply this incredible tech to music.

And any way I looked at it, whatever I tried to do would be a security. Because the music is a cash producing asset, to tokenize a song in the way that I wanted to to back in 17, my vision was to tokenized a song and let fans share in the profits of the song. That’s not something that’s very easy to execute.

I was constantly looking for other ways to tokenize art and make art limited, if that makes sense. And then I started to see, you know, and it’s not to say that it’s just about what some of the art sold for, but as I started to see digital art selling for higher and higher prices, I started to believe that the effort that I could put in would be worth it. And that’s when I started really diving in with my art director in making what we like to think is super, super, super high quality stuff. And if I’m going to sell something online that’s a piece of digital art, it better be the highest quality, better be something that no one else can replicate if it’s going to be exclusive.

So what ended up happening was, to dive into the NFT portion of my longer crypto career: in May, slimesunday, my art director, he’s been my art director for five years, so he’s worked on all of the 3LAU stuff for the past five years…

Nick: And on that, we invested in SuperRare in July. And when we invest in projects, we typically try to help in different ways. And so one of the things we did was look on Instagram to see who the most followed digital artists were. And slimesunday was right at the top, I think he’s got over five hundred thousand followers.

I reached out to him to try to pitch him SuperRare, and he’s like, “I’m already on it.” And I imagine you were kind of the one that got him on it. And it’s funny, he was really the only one that responded positively. You know, most of the rest, I think it’s still early, right. They don’t really understand it and they’re not ready to move. But, yeah, I’m curious to hear more about that collaboration with slimesunday. What’s he been doing for you for the past five years?

3LAU: He’s made all of the 3LAU album artwork and a lot of the 3LAU digital content.

Nick: And did you did you see his stuff on Instagram and reach out to him also?

3LAU: I just was a huge fan. And we just jive together creatively. There are few people that just share the exact same creative vision as you do. And we never disagree anything, we rarely do.

But in short, he was doing a lot of freelance work in music; that was his primary source of income. And the music industry obviously took a pretty major hit with covid. My main source of income, disappeared after like decades of touring (one decade, I should say). And we were just exploring new ways to monetize our art at a time when Mike wasn’t getting as much incoming work, I obviously wasn’t touring. But we love making music and being creative. The problem with making a song and putting it up on Spotify is there’s a long feedback loop until you even see the success of it. It takes like six months to really know if a song is going to be successful or not. With digital art, the feedback is pretty instant. You put it up, people bid on it. And if it’s truly you know, I’d like to think if it’s truly an amazing piece of work, people bid it way higher. And if it’s a mediocre piece of work, they don’t. It’s an immediate feedback loop for art, you know for artistic vision. And that’s what’s so exciting for an artist because we sometimes have to wait a really long time before we even know if what we did is good.

It’s difficult. So we started exploring the NFT space about three months ago. And I advise a bunch of crypto companies just because lots of distributed ledger tech companies seek to onboard the mainstream, and I’ve always felt that I might be able to help bridge that gap between mainstream users and crypto specific users. And so I advise a bunch of companies. I advise Audius, but I also advise a company called Blockparty that started out ticketing and actually pivoted to NFTs. So we did our first launch with Blockparty. And we sold out in like three hours. That’s when I realized, OK, there’s clearly demand here.

But we needed to test it again and wanted to make sure that there’s real demand. And so my strategy was I want to approach as many platforms as possible and see if their audiences still have demand for the work that we create. So then the second auction we did two weeks ago witth Niftygateway and the auction ended at $21,000, which was an incredible feat, and all the other pieces in the collection sold out in 14 seconds.

Nick: I know, I tried to bid on The Block and missed it. Ended up buying it for 2X., so I’ve got one, but I bought it secondary.

3LAU: I appreciate the support. One of the reasons why I love to talk to you, because you’re obviously an experienced collector. And as we journey, I’m viewing this as a very long term vision, long term project that Mike and I, Mike and I’ve already worked here for five years. We’re going to work on this for many years to come. We want to bring this digital art to the physical world. We’re already working on physical and unique ways to display this stuff, to get the mainstream onboard because people like yourself have an understanding of this. I love this concept of a digital certificate of ownership that exists on the blockchain that shows support to an artist like myself and like Mike. We spend hours on this stuff. It’s not like we’re whipping up a meme and throwing it on Rarible. You know, this is way more complex. We spend hours on Facetime working on this stuff.

Historically, right, a painter will spend hours on a canvas and then only one person gets to enjoy it when they buy it for their home. But everyone can kind of see the famous painting on the Internet and Google it. It’s a different experience when it’s yours. There are very few words that are able to describe that feeling of owning something and being proud of supporting an artist’s work. It’s the same kind of feeling you get when you make a big charitable donation that means something to you. You don’t get anything physical in return for it. And yet you’re really excited about making a donation and helping people. There’s no difference in buying a digital certificate of authenticity for an artist that you that you enjoy.

So I’ve been trying to support this movement and encourage more mainstream artists to explore this new space. People like yourself have had this vision for even longer than I have because you’ve been involved in the space longer than I have. But it’s it’s an exciting time. It’s exciting to see how much demand is out there. And at this point, we just want to be very careful, given how I’ve learned that there’s been a lot of internal politics in the space and we want to make sure that we don’t cross any lines and we don’t release too much art. And we want to follow a strategy that keeps collectors happy, but still gives access to a lot of people to participate in this new economy.

Nick: One of the things I’ve found when talking to people outside of crypto about this. I find that it resonates in some ways more than speculating on a cryptocurrency. People understand art. But one of the things they don’t get is context. Right? Like, I think in traditional art people like to display it in their homes. There’s signaling and context for that. And in digital art there is that and I actually think we’re kind of just scratching the surface on that. But I’m curious how you think about kind of the different contexts by which people show off their art.

Like I know you guys are giving away a few of the Samsung frames, which I actually haven’t got one yet. I’ve got the Meural Canvas II, which I really like, although it doesn’t have audio. So like The Block piece that I bought, I can’t I can’t play the audio. I can show the video, but.

3LAU: That’s interesting. The audio component of digital art is still new and I think the application of the audio as a part of the visual experience that we create is probably going to happen in future VR worlds.

Nick: Yeah that’s what that’s one of the things I wanted to talk to you about. I’m not that big in kind of different VR worlds and showing off my collections, things like that yet. But there are collectors that are in Sonium Space or in Cryptovoxels. And you can really imagine how the audio plus visual kind of plays out in there. Like, what if you did a 3LAU concert in VR in the middle of a gallery?

3LAU: I just did a call with Sonium Space a few days ago. He gave me a full demo. In fact the whole call was him in a VR world talking me through. I was mind blown, I didn’t think the tech was that far along.

Nick: Yeah. Do you have an Oculus? Have you dabbled in VR at all?

3LAU: I have dealt with VR. Like when I was in Korea, I went into a VR gaming studio and had an absolute blast. You know, like I’ve done I’ve done stuff in VR but never like in the comfort of my own home. Never messed with Decentraland or Cryptovoxels or anything like that.

Nick: My view is still it still feels early. Like I’ve got an Oculus, I like my Oculus. But Sonium is not in Oculus yet, rght? It’s my understanding that the full version is not an Oculus yet, although that may have changed recently

3LAU: I think he said that I needed I needed a PC as well.

Nick: Yeah, exactly. So that’s the great thing. Up until The Oculus Quest you could only get a good VR experience if you had a big, high-powered PC. But Oculus Quest is like four hundred bucks and you don’t need anything. And it’s wireless and it’s a comparable experience to the previous. So that’s why I think for digital art to really break through in VR, we need good Oculus Quest experiences. That’s kind of my view. And I think Sonium wants to get there, but it’s not there quite yet.

Can we expect a 3LAU concert plus gallery in Sonium Space any time soon?

3LAU: So I just had my first conversation with them about it, and it’s definitely something that we want to explore. The audience is still a bit a bit small right now. And of course, the barrier to entry as a fan having a VR headset and the compatible computer. But I’m still super excited about it. And I think seeing some of the digital works that they had in the VR space definitely made me believe in the potential a lot more.

Nick: Yeah. On that note, you’ve obviously got a massive following in your music world. I think you’ve got something like three hundred thousand plus Instagram followers and something like two million monthly listen to you on Spotify.

My guess, though, is the stuff you’re doing in digital art is not yet really bringing a lot of those fans over. Right? It’s mostly, my sense is it’s mostly crypto people like myself who maybe weren’t super familiar with you, but love your music and love that you’re doing something early as a big artist in the Ethereum space. So have you had much kind of existing fan base transition over to what you’re doing here yet or no?

3LAU: Yes and no. So there’s kind of and this is actually something that I’d love to get your opinion on because you are a collector and you’ve been involved in the space for a while. The one of one pieces that we’ve been doing ae selling at way too high of a price point for a regular fan to be able to access it. So one of the things that we’ve been exploring is, you know, how do we take a Kaws approach where we can sell a $15 million sculpture, but he can also sell a $50 figurine. Right. So with the Nifty drop, for instance, there were a bunch of fans that were trying to buy The Block like you were, and they all got shut out.

So we’ve been exploring like, well, how do we keep our collectors happy of our one of ones, the people that are really dedicated and believe in the art that we do, but how do we still onboard the mainstream? And the solution that we’ve kind of come up with is doing higher edition pieces that are already out there. So, like all the SSX3LAU stuff is brand new stuff that we’ve worked on, super exclusive new music that no one’s heard before, new visuals that that Mike hasn’t even put out there in the world before. And that’s what demands that higher premium. But if I wanted to sell a digital edition of my album artwork — so my last album, Ultraviolet, has over over like two hundred million streams — so the actual album artwork is pretty familiar. It’s already out there. So why not try selling an addition of a couple hundred of that piece? And it’s just a static artwork, right? To sell a higher edition number of that piece at a lower price just to help on board the mainstream. And one of the struggles that I’ve had with that is, you know, and you’re a collector yourself — like if someone like you wouldn’t feel that your collection is devalued from from us doing that, then we’re going to do it. But we also want to be sensitive to the fact that our one of ones, are they take a lot of hours and a lot of time and a lot of work and we want those to remain exclusive.

So, yeah. So I kind of wanted to get your feedback there. On the one hand, we want to onboard more people. On the other hand, we don’t want to upset our collectors who’ve already spent a lot of a lot of money on our one on one pieces. So I’d love to ask you, like, what’s your perspective?

Nick: I love the approach that you’re thinking about. Yeah, and I absolutely think that is that’s going to be the way that every digital artist, every premium digital artist does it. And we’ve kind of already seen it with someone like Pak who I think is by some metrics the most successful.

And he’s sold over $250K worth of art and he started just on SuperRare doing one of ones. And he’s since gone to Nifty Gateway and done editions. And I think it’s good for a collector like me if more people know who Pak is and are able to own a Pak work.

So I see it as a great way for someone like Pak or someone like you guys to grow your brand in the digital art world and make more people aware of your digital art. Particularly if you have this approach where your new stuff is one of one and you’re like your old album stuff is the edition stuff. Like I would I would encourage you to even do, like, you know, a thousand or ten thousand or whatever at a very low price. So a lot of people can own now. If you do that, you’re able to draw more fans into the digital art world as a result, I mean, that’s a win win for everyone.

3LAU: So we agree. I really appreciate that you have that perspective. I just want to be sensitive to the collectors that do own those one on ones. Like we never want to devalue that work. And as long as we’re sensitive to that, I don’t see any reason why we can’t sell lower priced products as long as we wouldn’t do a one on one and then let everyone access it because it defeats the purpose of us spending so much time on it.

My album art, is something that Mike and I worked on two years ago and it’s already out there. So why not give fans the ability to own a limited edition of that? And we wouldn’t start off with a thousand, we’d start off with a couple hundred, and then we can scale it to a thousand. I mean, even in Pak’s case, you know, he did unlimited editions for like for a brief period of time. We’ve also thought about releasing editions over time. So maybe there’s a thousand possible, but only 20 come out per month. So newcomers to the space still have an opportunity to buy something later, even if they missed it. So we’re just kind of exploring, like what types of content we keep exclusive and what types of content we give the public more access to. And I agree. I think it’s super important that some of this stuff is affordable. Otherwise no one’s going to you know, it’s never going to reach that, like, mainstream inflection point. So it’s reassuring to hear a collector like yourself have an open perspective. I can’t say all collectors feel that way that I have spoken to. So I have to navigate. I have to keep everyone happy, you know.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, look I’m first and foremost an investor and I just want the space to succeed. Right, collecting is a very small piece of my overall interest and exposure. But I do think the mindset of a collector is like, look, if I’m if I’m buying the first 3LAU or if I’m buying an early Pak I think that there’s a chance that digital art gets absolutely massive and 3LAU or Pak becomes one of the biggest in this space. So anything that you do to grow that I see is, as I said, a win win.

Where it really gets interesting for me is for many years, even before crypto for me, I’ve been interested in like spotting new artists early. Like I’ve loved finding YouTube artists that were doing good renditions of existing work and being really there early and betting that they were going to succeed. But I’ve never been able to make money on that. Right. And there’s been a bunch of attempts — I’m sure you’ve been following this in the past 15 years to do this — to create like a marketplace so that early fans could bet on artists. And there’s a lot of reasons that it hasn’t worked. I think what you alluded to the securities issue is one big one. There’s many. But I see what you’re doing, particularly if it’s new work, if I can bet early on a new 3LAU song that goes on to be a massive hit on Spotify and I own the one of one audio plus visual, I’m betting on kind of your success. That’s how I think about any artist I’m collecting. It’s a bet on the artist. Right. And I really like this very new audio plus visual, which you are really pioneering along with a few others. And I saw even today — right — I hadn’t heard of the guy, but a new German EDM guy.

3LAU: Oh, he’s huge. Boys Noize is a legend. I bid on his piece because he’s a legend in the dance world. I mean, I grew up listening to his stuff and we were texting. So a lot of musicians that are into crypto — we’re all in a WhatsApp group chat. And he saw that RAC and I did some stuff and he was like, I got to do this, too. And I think we’re going to see a lot of that coming in the future from artists that are forward thinking. But yeah, Boys Noize I’m a huge fan. So like even though I’m a creator, I’ve actually bid on at least four pieces on SuperRare to lose all of them.

NT: I think I’ve seen you on there — you bid on a Pak piece right?

3LAU: I bid on a Pak piece, but then I actually bid pretty high on this Alessio piece and then, like, someone just bought it. So it’s tough to win stuff,I got to tell you. But I obviously want to be you know, I enjoy the creative process, but I want to collect as well, especially like artists that I support. And I think doing both is it you know, I want to show the whole NFT world that I’m in this more than just as a creator in this, because I really believe in the space as a whole,

NT: That’s super cool. I saw Boys Noize’s was a collab with some other visual artist as well. Do a lot of people like yourself have a Slimesunday that you’re already working with? Is that pretty common in your world?

3LAU: Yes, usually a DJ or musician will find an art director that they can see eye to eye with creatively, and I’ve done a lot of my art direction with with Mike, I’ve been working for five years, like I said. or did his with his art director, Boys Noize did his with the guy the designs the visuals for his live performances. And we’ve already all been working together, so the creative chemistry exists. And that’s why Mike and I kind of committed to working together and we’re still going to do individual stuff. So like Mike’s individual stuff, Slimesunday’s, individual stuff is super different, but he’s so versatile. So he’s going to kind of do his thing. 3LAU stuff is going to be specific to songs that are already big. And the SSX3LAU stuff is going to be stuff that’s not out yet, that might never come out, that may come out, but it’s all kind of built from scratch. That’s not to say any is necessarily more valuable than the other. We just wanted to kind of separate the vision for each artistic identity that we’re working with.

You know because Mike’s stuff is like super sexual and weird and awesome, but like, that’s not my stuff. But when we come together, we kind of do more futuristic dance stuff. I don’t want to limit Mike and what he can put out there. So he obviously put out his first art piece. I don’t know if you saw this, but Instagram banned like 30 of his images for being too explicit. So he’s uploading those to SuperRare, which makes so much sense. And that’s really exciting. And, you know, we’re all just exploring this new space. And it’s it’s helpful to get perspective from people like yourself as someone who’s relatively new. And you’ve obviously you’re an investor and this is this is your bread and butter. I think you’re right. I think your theory is right that this is the first time the public will get exposure to betting on creatives. And I think that’s so powerful.

Nick: So one of the things I’ve heard you talk about is the fact that you’re independent, right. You’ve been independent for your 10 year career, which has allowed you to really experiment a lot in this space. Right? You own all of your masters, I think, or the vast majority of them. and so it’s it’s not difficult for you experiment.

Is that the case for Boys Noize also? And is that something you think is important— as we think about how this grows? And I think it’s absolutely going to. But I’m curious, what characteristics are needed from big artists like yourself to to really get involved here? Do you think it is really important to to be independent, at least for a while, until the record labels adapt?

3LAU: So there’s going to be limitations to a non-independent artist issuing any of these tokens because their record deals will prevent them from it. Boys Noize, I imagine, created a unique sound for his piece. RAC I know did, I did for all the original SSX stuff and then any of the existing songs like if I did it with someone else, it’ll be way more difficult to get my permission to actually sell it as an NFT. So I think independent artists will lead the effort, but eventually record labels will catch on and they’ll see that there’s no risk in this, that it’s just a new way to monetize the content they already own the licensing to.

But I do think that independent artists are going to gravitate towards this a little bit quicker because they don’t have to ask anyone permission. So with StarCrossed, you know, I wrote that entire song myself. I have all the master, all the pub. There was a vocalist on it, but we actually paid a fee to the vocalist instead of giving them a percentage because she wasn’t really a big part of it. And so in that instance, I can do whatever I want with the instrumental. The next 3LAU token that we’re going to launch is another instrumental song from my album that was really popular when I play it live and the visual is a little bit darker than the StarCrossed visual I’ll say that. And that’s also easy for me to do because it’s on my album and I own it. But the second there’s a vocalist or singer I’ll probably have to split the proceeds, it’s the right thing to do. I don’t have to but the right thing to do would be to split the proceeds based on our agreement.

You know, it’s not always 50/50. Sometimes it’s like 75/25, sometimes 20 percent whatever to them. But I do think that’s fair. So in the case there’s a vocalist, even if I control the master, which I do when I work with another vocalist, I’ll still ask their permission. And I imagine they’re going to say yes because to them it’s new found capital, and it’s not something they would have had otherwise.

So on the SSX3BLAU stuff, it’s all new, so we don’t have to worry about it. On the 3LAU side, I’m only I’m starting out with the records that I know are safe that I don’t have to worry about. And then as I get into more of the vocal records and stuff, we’ll ask for permission and we’ll do the right thing. Like we’re going to pay out the artists that contributed to the art. But the vision is to keep the 3LAU stuff one of one with the exception of like the album artwork, which is different. We might do multi-edition, but like the actual songs, I’m only going to do one token for every song that’s ever come out. I think that’s the best way to approach it. But that’s my current philosophy. I mean, it’s taken like three months to come up with that philosophy. You know, like, it’s it’s hard to kind of like figure out how to do this, but I’m glad be.

Nick: That makes sense to me. Yeah, that’s interesting. So I imagine, like a typical artist, the contracts vary a lot. But if you’re a big artist, that’s locked into a record deal, they were created something new could they? Or it depends?

3LAU: It depends on the deal. Sometimes a record label will own every single thing someone does into the future for a period of time, sometimes many albums. It depends on the deal. But luckily for a lot of electronic artists, they don’t sign long term deals, so electronic artists are probably better positioned to do this than pop artists or than singers.

But I mean, the fact that RAC and I started this and then now Boys Noize is involved. And Boys Noize is really close to Skrillex, really close with, like a lot of other really cool artists. People will take notice.

And, you know, that’s why I’m like trying to push this Boys Noize piece, because I think that he’s he’s an artist that’s not as active in the crypto space. But the fact that he’s still willing to put his name out there and give this a shot is is going to resonate with a lot of people within the music business. So like you said, like right now, maybe only 1 percent of my fans even knows what’s going on. But I think in the six months that will grow to five percent to 10 percent and then in the next five years, hopefully that grows to 50 percent and.

It’s just exciting, it’s energizing, man, like I’m more inspired by this than I’ve been in a long time.

Nick: That’s super cool. So I’m curious a little on the on the business front, you know, like I don’t know anything about the music business, really. And I heard you say on one podcast that Spotify actually is pretty good as a monetization platform. And I think the perspective that I have that I think a lot of people in crypto have and it’s been a narrative in crypto for the past five or seven years, both in and outside of crypto to some degree, is that the existing social platforms are not great for creators. Right, they’re not great for monetization.

And I’m also curious, just in like 2019, without giving specific numbers, you know, we all know 2020 has been a big hit for artists because of the inability to to do anything in person. I’m curious, in 2019, roughly, the breakdown of what was what was your revenue percentage wise in person versus everything else.

3LAU: So from a gross standpoint, the touring revenue in 2015 made up about like 97% of the income. And in 2019 it made up like 75% of the income.

I’m happy to give specific numbers, my total song royalties earned in 2015, maybe $10,000. For the past three years in a row, it’s been over $300,000. So that’s like a many fold increase from what it used to be. And that’s just because I own my own masters. We also actually donate a lot of it to charity, but that’s a separate conversation.

So the reason why this false narrative exists that artists don’t get paid is because they signed predatorial record deals. And we need to train artists that they don’t need to do that anymore. I’ve said this a lot, but there’s kind of two reasons why an artist will sign a record deal. One is the distribution. Because an artist may not know how to market themselves and they need the resources of a record label to market.

The other is the liquidity. An artist needs money to pursue their dream. They need to not go get a job. They need to sacrifice that to be able to. They need money to survive as they pursue their art. So those are the two reasons why people signed a record deal.

Both of those things that aren’t really relevant anymore in 2020. An artist can raise money from their fans in a lot of different ways. And I’m really excited to see, you know, this future world where the public can invest in music assets. That’s something that I’m exploring — it’s a pure security, but something that I’m really excited about.

And then the distribution is all TikTok and Spotify algorithms. There’s no, like, game to play. You can just get really creative on the Internet and make shit happen. Whereas 10 years ago, you needed them. So there’s this pretty big cosmic shift happening in music, and I think more and more artists will remain independent because they’ll see that they can do it themselves.

Nick: That’s interesting. Yeah, wow. I mean, I think the number 75% in 2019, is that pretty standard, would you say, for an artist?

3LAU: Well it’s more, it’s more like 95% to 99% for most. Touring revenue makes up that big — so like, covid hits. And now what?

You know, I personally, I do a lot of stuff outside of music. I invest in multifamily real estate, I do a lot of other like deals. But if I didn’t have that, I’d be fucked, royally fucked.

So it’s like, you know, it’s that’s why the NFT stuff is so exciting to me. Is it, you know, even for collectors like yourself. When you collect another like a new artist that might come on board, like maybe really believe in them, maybe they’re already established when you collect their art, you’re really helping them pursue their art in this tough time. And for someone who can afford to help their favorite artist or an artist they really believe in, it’s really cool. There hasn’t really been a means for the public to show that kind of support. Right. The way the public shows support for artists is by going to their show and enjoying themselves, like that’s how it’s been in the past.

And streaming, everyone doesn’t think it really pays the artist that much. So they don’t necessarily, like, dedicate to it. They’re not like I don’t know about you, but I’m not like, oh, I’m going to go listen to this artist’s music because it’s going to support them no matter how you think about it. So this is the first time that this kind of product exists as a completely new layer for creatives to interact with their fans and with their fan bases. And I think that’s why it’s so powerful. And clearly, we both believe in it. And I think more people will. I mean, as more money gets injected into the space, inevitably more people will come. But right now, it’s like this special moment where obviously there is some money in the space, but it’s not like an overwhelmingly large like these platforms are still only doing two to three million in volume. It’s not like they’re doing hundreds of millions in volume. So you can really feel the dedication of the artists and the collectors. And it feels really genuine and natural. And it’s really exciting because there’s a lot of innovation happening. I think that it will become even more speculative over time. But with speculation comes innovation. It’s just a part of the process, as we all know in crypto, as we all know.

Nick: Yeah. How I kind of see it playing out is. And I think we’re already seeing it with you — crypto people love when new people come into the space to do things that are pushing the space forward. Right. And that’s exactly what you’re doing.

When I was at Coinbase in 2013, 2014 I was leading our merchant adoption at the time. So we were we were onboarding like Overstock and Dell and Dish Networks and all these big merchants to accept bitcoin.

3LAU: I used Commerce.

Nick: That’s the pure crypto product. But this was when we were just a BTC payment processor. What we saw was that crypto people — Bitcoin people at that time — really got excited to support these new big merchants that were accepting BTC. And initially, sales for a lot of these merchants really increased.

But at that time, it turned out a lot of most people didn’t want to spend their bitcoin. Bitcoin is digital gold. It’s an asset that that you save rather than spend. So it was a little early for that type of mainstream adoption — the spending of crypto with merchants.

But I see something similar happening here where new people like yourself that are coming in and bringing in new people and pushing the space forward are getting support from crypto. And we’re going to continue to. But I see this as more sustainable behavior also, because we’re collecting something that is going to appreciate in value if this becomes a real thing. Right.

3LAU: And we’ve already seen it on Nifty. I mean, I can’t believe that like, I think Deeper — we sold for fifteen hundred — I think the last sale was fifty five hundred. Right. That’s crazy. You know, like I didn’t expect it.

But clearly, you know, even with StarCrossed, which obviously you participated on, I always go into it with no expectation. Right. I want the art to speak for itself. I’m happy with any I’m happy with any result.

That auction could have kept going, by the way. I think it would have gone much higher. We’re working on at SupeRarre to add in auctions product like an eBay style auction so that it’s automated rather than the artist having to manage it, you know?

Yeah, I think tweeting about it, not everyone sees it. It’s kind of difficult. There’s no like timer, so no one really knows. It was kind of weird because one of the guys that was bidding against you has become a friend as well. You know, I love chatting with you guys and learning and learning just like how collectors think. And he was saying the same thing, like how much he likes to show his support early on in the bidding process. And he hates when a sniper comes in and then one literally came in and I was like, oh, man. Like, I feel kind of bad. But, you know, we’ve got to play by the rules.

I think it’ll be great when SuperRare integrates that new auction tech. I’ve actually been talking to John and Zack about it because we might want to save — I don’t know what you think about this -but like we were thinking about saving our next SSX3LAU piece, which would be our first SuperRare, because we’ve done stuff individually, but we haven’t done an SSX3Lauyet. we were waiting to do that until that auction functionality came on. But it might take a little bit longer. So I don’t know when it’ll be ready. I got I got to reach out to Zach about that.

Nick: Yeah, I think they’re targeting for a first week of November.

3LAU: So we’re a ways away still. Ok, well, then we’ll put it up before that and then we’ll do another one.

Nick: I love to see different platforms for artists like yourself to launch on. Because I think there’s very different approaches that appeal to different audiences, which is really good for everyone. Like I think Nifty Gateway — I really like because it’s easy for anyone without crypto to add a credit card and buy. And I think I actually think Nifty Gateway likely, you know, for like a mass market type of product where you want to get some of your existing fans to to get involved. I think Nifty Gateway is probably the best product for that.

Right now we’re like, you know, using Metamask, which you and I are comfortable with and like, but it’s not for most of your fans, right? Which is what you need.

3LAU: Even even Mike — I had to do a couple of walkthroughs with Slimesunday because he did his own issuances and he was running into some issues with Metamask and so little things like sending the same transaction with a different like a later n like people don’t people don’t know how to troubleshoot that. Like, people feel like they’re fucked.

You know, what I’m talking about later nonces. I remember like a couple of years ago when that happened to me, I had to call one of my friends. I was like, dude, what the fuck is going on? Like, I’m stuck like and I felt I was really scared because I’m not an engineer, a software engineer. I’m a sound engineer. Right, but it’s there is a pretty big barrier to entry using Metamask.

And like you said, Nifty is such a great way to get non crypto people on board, which is why we do why we’ve done the multiple editions there. And with SuperRare, obviously there’s a reason why they’re one of ones. And like SuperRare caters to the kind of more hardcore crypto community and it is truly decentralized. It in the sense that, like, you know, I can rent a token whenever I want tomorrow. I don’t have to, like, rely on a third party to, like, mint them and custody them and all that stuff. But the sacrifice there is, of course, usability.

But I think there’s a place for both in the art world, a place for super rare, and there’s a place for Nifty. And there’s a reason why I I kind of wanted to test it because we just didn’t. And I kind of release the StarCrossed piece soon after the Nifty situation because I wanted to test it and see, you know, how many users were on both platforms. You are, but not many, not not everyone is and want to kind of test like, you know, how frequently we could release stuff. It was different enough and what the different audiences were. And it was funny because like you said, after the super auction ended, there were a lot of people that were like, oh, I would have been on that. And I was kind of like, oh, shit. Sorry, but but it’s a it’s a learning. It’s a learning process, I think, for everyone. So, you know, it’s exciting for us because we. We our next little little little tease there, and I’m going to run to this hair cut and again, really appreciate your time, this is like super informative for me as well. Kind of learn how you think about things within the space. But a little teaser from what we’re working on. We’re going to do a full length animated music video for a song that’s not out yet.

And that’s going to be like probably our big entrance to 2021, doing literally a complete song and music video that’s a one of one, and then potentially splitting up parts of that and making additions out of the parts of it for people that don’t want to spend as much money on the whole thing. So we’re like, we’re experimenting with that. But I think that’s like super powerful. No one’s done that before. And it’s also very time consuming. Like like it’s it’s time to do obviously create the song. It’s even more time consuming to animate a two minute, 30 second video with completely different animations, kind of in the style of twenty one. So when we started making digital art, we felt that like all the other stuff out, there was usually a clip that had one viewpoint or one perspective the whole time. If you noticed, like most of the video art that’s out there as an artist, it’s not like edited and changing. It’s usually like one graphic that’s just moving. And only one was our experiment of like actually editing different clips and seeing if people liked it and everyone loved it. So now we’re like to do a full music video with this can be really cool. So that’s kind of our next our next move.

Nick: I like it. Good stuff, man. Well, the last question I haven’t asked you much about music, but one one thing that came to mind, I saw you did a collab with Ninja, I think, a couple of years ago. In the sports world, I think a lot of people in crypto would probably love to see a Vitalik collab. We got to get Vitalik on a vocal.

3LAU: I could get some crypto influencers and founders saying some shit. Absolutely.

Yeah, that was really fun. We’ve been friends. You listen to music and, you know, they reached out to us. They reached out to a bunch of his favorite deejays to participate in his album. He actually did an album with a bunch of DJs and mostly just kind of made a song for it. But I wanted him to be involved. So I had him record that game, that three, two, one game time. And and that was a fun one, actually, which took me Shirley Tokenized that I just had to I have to get permission on that one.

Nick: We’ll say I loved the chat and let’s talk again soon.

3LAU: Yeah. Let’s stay in touch on Twitter and and look forward to chat with you more. Again, thanks for all your collector long term perspective. And I think it’s good as we continue down this road. Thanks for this. Great to meet.

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Nick Tomaino

Founder @1confirmation

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