Building an Alternative Model to Music's Reliance on TikTok

Who We Are

Nvak Collective is a next-generation record label and artist advocacy collective that fully embraces web3 to uplift creators. We believe that the operating system of the music industry is broken, and our mission is to make the music industry more equitable, profitable, and diverse. Our small team has already discovered talent from remote regions around the globe and launched them to billions of streams and hundreds of thousands of fans, all while providing artist-friendly deals and artist care.

Purpose

TikTok is one of the world’s largest music discovery platforms, and while it’s a major marketing driver for artists, it shouldn’t be the only pathway to success. This becomes especially apparent when the future of TikTok remains uncertain, and the platform’s potential disappearance in regions around the world raises questions about the viability of relying solely on the app for success. In this blog post, we dive deeper into the issues with TikTok and fan engagement, and outline Nvak’s approach to creating alternative models for success for artists.

TikTok & Fan Engagement Today

Talent is equally distributed, but opportunity isn’t, leading to many high-potential creators going unnoticed. TikTok has played a significant role in providing creators around the world with access to the opportunity they deserve, no matter their background, income level, cultural identity, or place in the world. One viral moment on the platform can launch an artist into millions of streams, onto coveted Spotify editorial playlists, and expand an audience beyond the artist’s wildest dreams.

However, TikTok tends to create fans of a song far more than fans of an artist. Your viral video may garner millions of views and lead to millions of streams on DSPs, but unfortunately only passive engagement. Despite streaming being at an all time high, artists are struggling more than ever before to fill venues, gain album listens, or retain fans beyond one listen or scroll. This presents a major challenge for artists’ career longevity when most revenue streams are tied to touring and album sales. When the average artist earns only 0.00437 per stream on DSPs like Spotify, it’s clear there is a need for more support and resources to achieve alternate revenue streams. Sadly, most artists can’t afford to stay in the game long enough.

In addition to the challenges with revenue streams, the pressure to create viral content, maintain engagement, and constantly produce new material has also been shown to have negative effects on artists’ mental health. It’s been heard time and time again from artists like Halsey, Chelsea Cutler, and even Ed Sheeran. Furthermore, the emphasis on short-form content and fleeting moments of virality can create a sense of instability and insecurity for artists, who may be struggling to establish a long-term career.

Finally, many artists fall trapped under the belief that the support of a major label team will help them turn their organic growth on TikTok into real engagement, only to be left disappointed once they sign their deals. This is because the hyper-focus on TikTok has made majors reactive instead of proactive. They rush to sign an artist who is already going viral on their own (without the support of a team) on TikTok, but fail to provide adequate artist development and resources for long-term success. When the artist doesn’t generate real fans through TikTok alone (the label’s sole marketing tool), they are dropped as quickly as they were signed. Artists are left in debt, exhausted, and unaware of their true fanbase.

Creating Direct-to-Fan Engagement through Music Video Games

As a label, Nvak Collective is focused on putting the artist first. Our goal is to help artists create a real fanbase and develop alternative revenue streams through web3 and blockchain technology, so that they aren’t reliant on TikTok alone or a predatory major label deal. Note that Nvak Collective doesn’t believe that major labels or TikTok should go away entirely - by any means. Instead, we believe that there can be another more artist-friendly approach to launching and sustaining artists’ careers that makes the industry less reliant on the platform.

Nvak’s thesis is based on the idea that relationships are built on a continued mutual exchange. If you add value to someone’s life, they are more likely to add value back and continue engaging with you. If you are not adding value to someone’s life, they’re more likely to exit the relationship.  Let’s take a look at the exchange between artist and fan:

An artist releases high-quality content. A fan then supports that artist through a variety of ways. They stream their music, watch their videos, purchase their show tickets & merch, share their content on socials, and more. Ultimately, it is the fan that makes or breaks an artist’s livelihood.

Nvak Collective believes that fans should receive value back in return for supporting and engaging with their favorite artist. They should be able to own their fandom, and benefit from it. See below for how Nvak Collective is using blockchain technology to add value back to fanbases:

NFTs (and POAPs) - NFTs offer verifiable proof of fandom. Now, fans can prove that they were the first to hear a song, the first to attend an event, and even the first to follow on social platforms. Nvak’s roster is utilizing content NFTs (music, video, merch, etc.) to not only create extensions of an artist’s artwork and story, but also timestamp a fan’s engagement with that artist and unlock unique perks for fans. For an example from Nvak’s roster, owning an Annika Rose music NFT unlocks first-access to her ticketed events, free claim opportunities, and pre-sale access to new drops.

Music Video Games & On-Chain Fan Clubs - Fans engage with artists when there is an emotional connection. A listener decides they like an artist's music because it speaks to them, they see themselves in the lyrics, they like the artist’s story, and it makes them want more from that artist. Prior to TikTok, music videos were one of the primary tools to story-tell and create emotional connections with fans. However, music videos haven’t been innovated since the 1980s, and they’re losing influence compared to platforms like TikTok.

Nvak Collective’s Music Video Games merge the storytelling power of music videos with the engagement level of video games. They convey the narrative of a song, but are interactive, evolve over time, and allow for fan ownership. In-game and out-of-game actions such as the collecting of tokens or the streaming of a song help players to unlock cinematics, new game levels, and earn fan status. Fan status is secured on their NFT, which can then be sold or rented out to other fans to share in their fan perks. For more information on how these work and our music video game roadmap, see Nvak Collective’s Whitepaper here.

So how is the Music Video Game solving issues caused by TikTok?

TikTok has made music passive. Users are typically only spending 30 - 60 seconds with an artist’s music on the platform, and aren’t incentivized to engage any deeper. Nvak's music video games aim to increase fan engagement with the artist, their story, and music, while also providing rewards. Each game can take up to 10 minutes to complete, and within that 10 minutes, fans are listening to the song / stems, interacting with an immersive experience crafted by that artist, and getting to know that artist’s narrative on a deeper level. It’s fun, engaging, and the more a fan participates, the more points and perks they earn. This is ensuring that fans are receiving value back for engaging with their favorite artists - returning to the thesis of creating a mutual exchange between artist and fan.

Nvak’s first Music Video Game will be out for Annika Rose’s track “Bruises” in 2023. Pre-save it here.

Conclusion

While TikTok has provided an unprecedented platform for developing artists to gain exposure and connect with a wider audience, it has also created challenges for long-term career sustainability and genuine fan engagement. We hope that Nvak Collective’s Music Video Games and use of NFTs can help artists to better tell their stories, establish deeper connections with their fanbases, and reward their biggest supporters in an immersive and exciting way that enables career longevity. Nvak’s model is one of many proposed solutions to issues in the music industry today, and as the industry continues to evolve, it's clear that labels and artists will need to adapt quickly to the rapidly changing landscape.

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