Reflections & Analysis: Lessons From Crescendo
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May 11th, 2022

For context, almost two months ago, we announced that Amanda Frances’ release would be on a bonding curve.  Amanda did an even better job announcing this with her post and video - WTF Are Bonding Curves? 

We named our (bonding curve) dynamic pricing mechanism Crescendo and published the release announcement below, explaining how bonding curves work and why we want to use them.  If you haven’t already, we recommend skimming through to get acquainted with Decent’s Crescendo:

Lessons from Crescendo in the Past Two Months

Most of our hypotheses have come to fruition, which is incredibly exciting.  Namely:

Sellouts are an arbitrary success metric with negative externalities on NFT collections’ price, quantity, and strength of the holder community.  For example:  

  • Amanda would have released 20-30 NFTs at 0.1 ETH had we used limited editions.  Today (5/11/22), she has sold 33 and grossed ~3.8 ETH, representing an average sale price of ~0.12 ETH.  Asymmetric pricing information coupled with a rigid release mechanism, like limited editions, would have significantly shortchanged Amanda.  We proved that Crescendo effectively captures surplus demand while letting fans facilitate price discovery.  
  • Proponents of limited editions might counter, stating editions create artificial scarcity value that serves as kindling for secondary trading. Secondary trading is more attractive because it can yield higher multiples via speculation and unites communities via momentum.  We do not believe this is true for three reasons:
    • Exciting secondary trading does not exist without a sellout.  You cannot equally believe that sellouts are a critical design flaw and platforms should optimize for secondary trading.  We have spoken about the negative implications of sellouts for a few months now (most notably in our original Crescendo post), and it seems as if the industry is starting to move this way with Sound’s release of Range Editions.    
    • Based on the performance of our Crescendo artists vs. those on limited editions (admittedly still a small sample size), we’ve grown confident that Crescendo captures, at a minimum, all of the demand that would be expressed in secondary trading.  
    • Crescendo is better at aligning incentives between artists and fans.  You can read more about our initial justification for this claim in the original Crescendo post, discussing prisoner’s dilemmas in NFT communities.  Since then, we learned that the hardest problem to solve is what the post-mint relationship looks like between artists and fans.  We believe that platforms should be designed to move beyond patronage by incentivizing creators’ fans to work on their behalf.  Creators and their fans should share value jointly created so that community network effects form around each fan in addition to the artist.  Crescendo creates a pool of capital that grows with the strength of a community and is shared by both artists and fans.  For good reason, this probably sounds like a DAO treasury.  We believe artist DAOs are extremely compelling and painted a picture of what this could look like with Harrison First’s release (check out “The Bigger Picture” section).
    • Unlimited supply is a feature, not a bug.  The music industry is a game of network effects.  It is far easier to move the needle on streaming or general popularity with thousands or even millions of fans supporting an artist rather than tens.  Even the 1,000 true fans thesis is extremely difficult to employ if the size of an artist’s fanbase does not have organic growth.

 

Fans want assurances.  This is some of the most consistent feedback we hear in Twitter Spaces and user interviews.  Mainstream music fans are still skeptical of NFTs and are risk averse.  A key risk mitigant is liquidity.  We view Jacob Horne’s Hyperstructures as the future of crypto companies.  Among other conditions, his framework states crypto protocols need to be valuable, defined as, “[accruing] value which is accessible and exitable by owners.”  With NFTs, liquidity = exitability; it is the assurance to fans that they are entitled to the value they helped create.  

  • Despite overwhelming feedback, this position can be controversial in crypto communities.  Some believe fans should be locked into an artist’s community and the freedom to leave is scary or counterproductive.  We have come to believe that if a community’s existence is predicated on limited liquidity, it is not actually valuable.  Furthermore, communities are strongest when they are composed of people that actively want to be there.  Liquidity is a powerful assurance that will help entice mainstream music fans to join crypto communities and create more productive communities in the long run.

At this stage of Decent, we are committed to developing infrastructure that can underpin durable institutions to support sustainable communities.  Minting mechanisms heavily influence socio-political relations in web3 communities.  They contribute to citizenship, identity, and personal sovereignty, governing whether user entrance, credentials, and right to exit. Our near-term product development will continue to be focused on minting mechanism innovations and community infrastructure that optimize for the best post-mint relationships between artists and fans (e.g., $FIRST DAO).  

We’re incredibly thankful to all of the artists that have helped us get this far.  Tomorrow, we’re excited to welcome GLOWSTONE to Decent!

GLOWSTONE Release Details

GLOWSTONE will be using Crescendo for their release of the first single off of their new EP ‘FORMULA ONE’.  Please see the details below:

Release Date: May 12, 2022 @ 5pm ET / 2pm PT

Starting Price: 0.05 ETH

Listing Period: 3 years

Royalties Committed: 25% to their new song FORMULA ONE

NFTs in Core Collection: 20

Shape of Curve: Linear with a “kink” (piecewise)

  • The first NFT will be sold for 0.05 ETH and the price will increase 0.005 ETH per NFT for the first 20 NFTs (the Core Collection)
  • After the 20th NFT is sold, the price will increase by 0.05 ETH per NFT
  • This design further incentivizes being early to an artist’s community

Artist Transaction Take Rate: 15%

Distribution of Bonding Curve:

  • At the end of the listing period, the money in Crescendo used to provide liquidity will be released to the artist and NFT holders (our initial implementation of “synthetic royalties”).
  • 75% of curve liquidity: NFT holders
  • 25% of curve liquidity: Artist

Conclusion

One of our priorities is to start distilling and returning analysis on the experiments we have run so that we can share what we’ve learned in hope of advancing this space and soliciting feedback on the direction of Decent.  

We would love to hear thoughts and feedback from you (founder Twitter dm’s open! @cdurbinxyz; @wdcollier_; @willkantaros).  Join us in our Discord and follow us on Twitter to keep up with and contribute to the Decent community as we build.

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