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Web3 technologies have demonstrated potential for musicians to reach new audiences and benefit from new revenue streams.

To date the uptake and exploitation of Web3 technologies among Australian musicians has been limited. This project produced 10 music NFTs with 9 Australian artists to examine the barriers to adoption of Web3 for Australian music communities. Insights were gained through in-depth interviews with participants and via assisting them to bring their NFTs to market. The project was funded by the APRA AMCOS Digital Futures Initiative and administered by the Australia Council for the Arts.

Based on the experience of participating artists, Web3’s potential remains largely unexplored by Australian musicians and Music NFTs seem unlikely to attract widespread adoption or displace incumbent music ventures in the near future. For many Australian musicians, Web3 presents challenges and risks not associated with existing markets for musical goods without offering compelling evidence of prospective new audiences or financial gains.

This is due to:

  • Significant and complex technical barriers to entry, including for artists familiar with blockchain technologies;

  • Limited visibility and cultural hesitancy for Australian artists engaging in Web3;

  • The audience for Web3 offerings are discrete, highly concentrated and difficult to reach through traditional channels; and

  • Limited access for Australian artists to prominent international marketplaces**

The promises of Web3’s decentralised and global marketplace bely the ongoing reality for Australian music as geographically and culturally removed from markets in North America and Europe. Notions of disrupting the current music industries were absent in our interview data; the NFT was mostly envisioned as a new release format, indicating more interest in absorbing the technology into existing industries than in circumventing them.

We recommend future funded research in collaboration with Web3 music platforms to further investigate the operation and commercial potential of this space. We also suggest that arts-funding targeting mentor-based Web3 music projects and knowledge transfer may also prove helpful in lowering the barriers to entry for individual artists.


Web3 promises unique and lucrative opportunities for Australian musicians. Experiments conducted in the space strive to fix long-standing issues of income disparity and distribution, as well as open opportunities for platform/equity ownership and communal decision-making. However, little is known about how Australian musicians relate to these technologies or how they understand Web3’s potential.

The most common application of Web3 in music is the creation and sale of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). This project explored the marketplace and cultural fit of music NFTs for Australian artists. The project worked with nine Australian musicians to release (or ‘mint’) a music NFT. An additional NFT was created by the research team to explore the minting process in more depth. Each of the nine musicians was interviewed about their experiences with Web3 and assisted, where necessary, to navigate the process of producing a music NFT.

A podcast explaining the project’s key findings is available here.

Background and Context

What is Web3?

Web3 is shorthand for online platforms powered by distributed blockchain ledger technology.

What is an NFT?

A non-fungible-token (NFT) is a ledger entry on a blockchain inferring ownership. When ownership of digital artifacts or assets (for example an image or song) are involved this ledger entry points to where the file is hosted. Digital assets are typically hosted somewhere on the internet or via IPFS, a decentralised peer-to-peer hosting network. NFTs claim to function as proof of ownership over these assets in a way that is publicly verifiable and effectively tamper-proof. NFTs are resalable on secondary Web3 markets, but the intellectual property implications of owning an NFT are complex and contested. NFTs are transacted on a blockchain and typically require the use of crypto-currencies.

Application to Music

Web3 technologies have a number of proposed use cases in the music sector. Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) have been used to retail music products as unique digital assets, facilitate audience engagement by unlocking access to private servers, track publishing royalties, as tickets to events, as a mechanism for fundraising and community coordination, and as investment vehicles (in artists and their royalties). Any digital asset can be linked, and NFTs can also execute actions through code. Experimental approaches are ongoing.

The most prominent and recognisable form of music NFTs confer ownership over short videos or images, combined with audio excerpts. Internationally, artists such as Snoop Dogg, Grimes and The Weeknd have generated substantial amounts of crypto-currency through the sale of these types of music NFTs.

How are NFTs created?

To create an NFT, a ledger entry is added to an existing blockchain. The process of creating this ledger entry is called minting, and comes with a cost that can vary significantly depending on the retail terms, the blockchain used and the current volume of activity.

Preparing an NFT for minting requires writing and testing the code – referred to as a smart-contract – that describes the asset(s) associated with the NFT and governs how the NFT behaves once written to a blockchain.  Popular NFT exchanges such as OpenSea and Rarible offer authoring tools that streamline this process, at the expense of some flexibility for creators. For example, although any file hosted online can be associated with an NFT, OpenSea and Rarible specify file types and size limits for work created using their authoring tools. Use of these tools may also require creators to compromise around centralisation of data, future-proofing investments, and aesthetics. Finally, while employing a user interface that is relatively straight-forward, such tools assume a level of familiarity with blockchain technology and technical skill many musicians do not possess. Many projects in this sector code and deploy NFTs using tool sets outside of these larger portals. This requires additional intermediate skill.

At the time of writing, the most accessible pathway to do-it-yourself NFT creation required creators to possess the following:

  • An ability to buy and exchange various currencies;

  • An ability to transact with a crypto-wallet;

  • An understanding of ‘gas fees’ – the fluctuating cost of transacting on a blockchain;

  • Knowledge of specific platform UX;

  • An understanding of platform meta-data and its role in NFT purchasing behaviour; and

  • An ability to test NFTs on a test net before writing to a blockchain.

These are common skills for many people in Web3, but there is a significant time commitment required for new entrants.

To combat this complexity, a tier of music-specific platforms have arrived in Web3. These are marketplaces such as, Catalog and the Australian entrant, Serenade. These platforms are curated and have audiences of buyers specific to each. Unfortunately, these platforms mostly fall outside the remit of our research as many of our less experienced participants remain unsure how appropriate these spaces are to their work.

Once created NFTs can be bought, sold and traded on cryptocurrency exchanges through the use of a cryptocurrency wallet. They also typically divide and distribute royalties (automatically) to the original creator.

Where are NFTs sold?

There are many commercial marketplaces where Web3 users can look for music NFTs, and the main distinction is between open and curated marketplaces (sometimes called platforms). For Music NFTs The advantage of using curated platforms such as is reaching a pre-established audience. OpenSea acts as a type of NFT directory – as well as the central market for secondary sales.

Who buys Music NFTs?

The audience for music NFTs typically comprises existing Web3, cryptocurrency and blockchain users. Although lucrative for some artists, this audience is opaque and highly concentrated; and may be difficult to reach outside of preferred Web3 / cryptocurrency discussion channels such as Discord.


The motivations and underlying culture of the space is varied, but major NFT marketplaces like OpenSea and Rarible foreground the metrics of speculation such as pricing movement, sales volume and market capitalisation. NFTs, like cryptocurrency, are based on the concept of creating scarcity, which can deliver economic value. Thus, owning or collecting scarce digital musical artifacts has driven the first (and currently the primary) wave of consumer interest in these products. NFTs as digital collectibles have attracted significant speculative investment in recent years, producing a volatile market for trade. The ensuing marketplace for music NFTs is thus unstable in the short-term. It endured a considerable downturn during much of this project.

Project activity


For this project we worked with musicians playing in the following projects:

  • Beatrice (coming soon)

  • Electric Self

  • Maltese Well Monster


  • World Sick

  • Tape/Off

  • Charm Garden

  • Dundo

  • Too Birds

These musicians have all released music in a professional commercial context and most have some experience licensing their work to record labels. Most work with, or have worked with artist managers, and operate their artist brand projects as businesses. Most are experienced in touring; developing diverse income streams; working with professionals to help distribute their recordings; and the impact of streaming technologies on their practice. Most have been awarded grant funding. At the time of being interviewed for this project, all participants either fully controlled or expected the return of their master recording rights for their back catalog.

There are a number of ‘mid-tier’ artists in our sample; these artists are not household names, but earn a large portion of their annual income from their music practice.  Three participants stated that their main profession was as a musician, the rest held other forms of primary employment. Most participants described the reality of making a living primarily from music as being extremely difficult (often due to the size of the Australian market). All participants described intrinsic, rather than financial, motivations to create and release their work.

Participant Motivations

Participants were curious and open to exploring the potential for Web3 to generate financial return and expose their work to new audiences. In particular participants were interested in NFTs as a way to diversify their offerings and potential income streams.

Participants tended to conceive of NFTs not just as financial commodities, but as a vehicle for drawing in new listeners and engaging with current listeners in new ways. There was a notable interest in using video as the visual component of the token, rather than a static image, as well as a general interest in experimenting with various types of ancillary sound (live recordings, demos, remixes) and ‘b-sides’. Some musicians seemed to align music NFTs with ancillary or extended product lines closer to merchandise than core product.

Participant attitudes towards Web3

Attitudes toward the potential of Web3 and Music NFTs ranged from skeptical to enthusiastic. On one end of the spectrum, one musician speculated cynically on “Who's the sucker that's gonna pay for a photo of my guitar?” At the other, we heard hopeful encouragement that struggling artists can harness web3 to pay their rent from cultivating a small, but highly profitable cult fanbase. These two sentiments were outliers, and the sentiment of the majority was one of cautious curiosity, and a willingness to experiment.

This sense of inquisitive experimentalism was a common thread that unified what was otherwise a diverse range of participants. However, many were still sensitive to widespread criticisms of Web3 as explicitly harmful to the environment, financially volatile or perceived as a scam. Though a possible negative impact on their artist brand was acknowledged in some cases, all chose to move forward with the project. There was hesitation and, in two cases, the use of a pseudonym.

Artist Brand and ‘Authenticity’

The use of pseudonyms and artist brands in Web3 requires further consideration. For our purposes ‘artist brands’ refers to the branding of a musical project as something the musician participates and/or performs in, and is less predicated on the personal authenticity of ‘being yourself’ (cf Meier 2017)’. Web3 appears to privilege this concept of artist branding as a project. Participation in multiple artist brand projects is a common trait among participants.

This seems associated with participants being more open to experiment with strategies that might be risky to their personal brand reputation. In some cases this allowed participants to cast themselves as recent entrants or not limited by previous commitments and/or ideologies. For instance, all of our respondents were offered anonymity. Participants such as Charm Garden and Electric Self opted for this, using less personified artist brands to assuage perceived risk.

This aspect of Web3 has further implications for music-making. Anonymity is an inherent part of Web3’s underlying ethos and, while not essential, is widely accommodated. We noted aesthetic and cultural formations arising out of this.

For instance, popularity within the space is not at all transparent or obvious outside of Web3. SLOE JACK earned approximately $20,000 AUD from Web3 platform last year, but did so from 130 customers. Dundo sold approximately the same amount in 2021 from 50-70 collectors without a curated portal or industry assistance. Thus, these audiences remain somewhat hidden as well, and the degree to which success in Web3 can be assimilated into music’s broader promotional strategies is unknown. At present, there appears to be very little crossover from commercial success in Web3 back into Web 2.0 and vice-versa.

Participant Experiences with Web3

Participants ranged in experience from artists who were already active in Web3 to those who had no experience with blockchain technologies at all.

Almost half were starting from zero in terms of relevant skills. These musicians did not have a crypto-wallet and thus have not made a single transaction using blockchain technology. They had no competency at all with NFT-making, nor the marketplaces that trade them.

Four participants maintained a very basic level of adoption (had crypto-wallets or had traded cryptocurrency) but had not made NFTs.

Two participants, SLOE JACK and Dundo were active in Web3 prior to their involvement in this project. SLOE JACK claims to be the first  Australian artist brand to premiere their debut song in web3 as an NFT. Meanwhile, Dundo has been active in building an audience in Web3 since 2021 without engaging with traditional industry structures. Each of these projects grossed significant incomes for their creators (ranging from $20,000 AUD and beyond), but represent two distinct phases in Web3’s popularity and fundamentally different approaches.

Dundo possessed a very high competency in web3 and seemed to be the only participant capable of minting NFTs through his own website without a commercial platform, a practice more consistent with the early decentralised concept of minting NFTs without an intermediary.

SLOE JACK is experienced in working with a curated platform; possesed intermediate knowledge and skills in relation to Web3; and employs a highly experienced US-based management team knowledgeable in the space.

NFT Creation

The NFTs from this project were created using a range of methods:

  • SLOE JACK worked with his management (Dreams Never Die) and the Web3 music platform

  • Dundo minted his own project via a web3 toolset called Manifold.

  • The RMIT class experimented with both OpenSea and Rarible.

  • The remaining NFTs were made with online Web3 tools provided by a platform called Decent, as well as OpenSea’s ERC-1155 token standard.

Despite these differences, when viewed on OpenSea by a casual consumer, all project NFTs closely resemble each other.

Technical Barriers

The technical barriers to creating an NFT were too significant for most participants to overcome on their own. In the majority of cases the authors adopted a hands-on role to produce the final NFTs. Participants simply could not do so as it required technical skill far outside their comfort zone, coupled with intimidating complexity around blockchain and platform options and a myriad of new and incumbent user interfaces and dashboards. This is a key finding of this project as it speaks to the very real barriers to entry to this space for Australian musicians not already familiar with or active in Web3.

Cultural Hesitancy

Another barrier to entry was cultural rather than skills-based. We asked each participant if they could name Australian music NFTs or local musicians working in web3. The majority of our participants were completely unaware of any Australian musicians working in this sector.

In Australia, where one of the central drivers of music practice is a close-knit social experience (see Rogers, 2012), Web3 remains at a near-complete social remove. Outside of the two musicians experienced in music NFTs (SLOE JACK and Dundo) no participant could name a musician active in Web3 and, as such, were cautious to become involved themselves.

Additionally, music NFTs do not align cleanly with Australian music’s key commodities. While the technology for listening to a music NFT is closer to hand than many expect (audio streaming is a feature of many crypto-wallets), the concept of what a music NFT is remains unsettled. At interview, our participants described it as merchandise, a music format, as ‘digital art’, as a community token and as a virtual ticket. Many of the musicians we spoke with had no idea how to market their NFTs. It’s anticipated that the Australian music media may similarly struggle to report on the space.

Australian startups such as Serenade and Ocean Floor Music were only on Dundo’s radar. The Victorian Music Development Office launched web3 education modules in September 2021, but our participants remain unaware of it. While these private and public projects are all very recent, it would seem that the curiosity of the people we spoke with did not reach the level of locating existing self-education tools.

With a caveat around our small sample size it appears producing music NFTs isn’t something the average Australian musician does at present or has taken the time to research.

Early Movers vs New Entrant

The two most experienced participants, SLOE JACK and Dondo, have benefited from early-mover advantages. Both artists were early adopters of Web3 and, in part, reaped the rewards of scarcity and preferable market conditions. This has implications for the visibility and potential of new entrants into the space.

While OpenSea and Rarible were platforms of choice for early NFT creators, Dundo told us that reaching a new audience of NFT collectors through an uncurated platform now would be much harder than it was before 2022, when there were far fewer people minting NFTs. Australian artists have limited visibility in the Web3 space and limited access to higher profile marketplaces for music NFTs such as due to emergent gatekeeping practices.

New entrants hoping to attract the attention of NFT collectors may need to increasingly rely on placement in curated collections on selective platforms: a return to the classic music industries distribution model of relying on intermediary curators or gatekeepers to add value in distribution.

Next Steps

The disparity of knowledge and experience between the active web3 users and the traditional musicians indicates that in the short-term, Web3 does not pose a significant threat to incumbent music ventures, nor does it currently address the concern of these traditional Australian musicians in providing a dependable new revenue source.

Many of the aspirant experiments (or emerging businesses) coming out of Web3 are innovative and potentially exciting, but the user experience for musicians wanting to engage in the space leaves much to be desired and there are serious challenges in promoting work beyond incumbent audiences.

The medium and longer-term future of Web3 and Australian music is so uncertain that in lieu of recommendations, we feel it more valuable to provide some ideas around how further research might best position stakeholders.

If further exploration of web3 is a priority we recommend the Australia Council or the newly established Music Australia, consider funding collaborative research with Web3 music platforms. These platforms are essential parts of the professionalised Web3 music ecosystem at the moment. Building partnerships between stakeholders, operators and musicians could yield interesting findings. We also suggest that arts funding in this space might helpfully target mentor-based and/or knowledge transfer projects aimed at lowering the barriers to entry around Web3 for individual artists.

A gallery of the NFTs made for this project can be found here.


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