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 millions of streams and thousands of fans, all while providing artist-friendly deals and artist care.
At their core, artists are storytellers. They communicate ideas, emotions, or experiences through their craft, hoping to engage an audience and form a connection. The more they’re able to form these connections, the more likely they are to build a returning consumer base, and sustain careers over the long-term.
However, while music artists will always continue to create and share their stories, their ability to form a deep connection with an audience has grown more difficult over time. This article will outline the challenges artists face in connecting with their fan bases today, and how these challenges can be overcome through the use of narrative-driven, immersive experiences that better convey an artist’s story and enable deeper connections between artist and fan.
How Music Has Been Consumed through History
How artists release music, promote their work, and engage with their fans is greatly influenced by the latest technologies. Prior to the rise of the internet, music was primarily consumed by an audience through physical formats - CDs, vinyl, and/or cassette tapes. Fans discovered their favorite artists most often through the radio or word-of-mouth, then purchased their music (or concert tickets). These physical sales and direct connections with artists provided a more stable income stream for creators, and fans were more likely to listen to entire bodies of an artist’s work over one-off singles. Superfans became known for collecting all of an artist’s vinyls, following them on tour, purchasing their merchandise, and more. This not only helped artists financially sustain their careers, but offered multiple touchpoints between artist and listener.
In the early 1980s, music videos came onto the scene. Music videos presented an entirely new way for artists to storytell and convey the narratives behind their music, and thus further form emotional connections with fans. As the internet became more widely available in the late 90s and early 2000s, digital music formats such as MP3s and digital music downloads gained popularity, allowing for easy and instant access to music through computers and portable devices. Users could suddenly purchase their favorite tracks for as little as 99 cents and curate their own portable music libraries that were accessible anywhere, at any time.
In the late 2010s, we saw the advent of streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. Fans now had on-demand, subscription based access to music of their choice, reducing the cost of curating their music libraries and ensuring access to a wider variety of music than ever before. While this was great for music discovery, it became harder for artists to stand out. Editorial playlists became one of the main ways to ensure that a song could reach a particular audience, and artists began to compete for a coveted spot. Now, in the early 2020s, social media platforms like TikTok are the main drivers to digital streaming services, with one viral video helping artists garner millions of streams.
Changing Music Consumption through Narrative-Driven Experiences
While the rise in popularity of social media platforms and digital streaming services has enhanced music discovery for listeners, it’s created an over-saturated market, with a viral online moment or lucky playlist spot serving as artists’ only chances at breaking through the noise. Platforms like TikTok are creating fans of a song far more than fans of an artist, and artists are left unaware of who their true fans are.
Narrative-driven experiences, made possible through the latest technologies, now present a unique opportunity for artists to share their stories, reach an audience, and form connections with their fan bases. Below we’ll outline a few use cases of technologies that enable storytelling and help artists further connect with an audience:
Live Performance, Virtual Reality, & Augmented Reality: Live concerts and festivals have always provided an opportunity for people to experience an artist surrounded by other like-minded fans they can form a connection with. Now, thanks to VR/AR technologies, virtual concerts have become an increasingly popular option, crafting an experience complete with 3D graphics, special effects, and interactive elements that add layers to an artist’s narrative beyond the music itself and removes geographic constraints of live events. Gaming giant Fortnite has made waves in this arena, most notably with artists like Travis Scott and Marshmello. As another recent example, TikTok made headlines when they partnered with The Weeknd for a virtual concert performed by a digital avatar of the artist, incorporating 3D renderings and picture-in-picture video, plus gave fans the opportunity to purchase unique merch items.
Metastars, NFTs, and Immersive Worlds: Web3 is introducing a generation of metaverse-native artists that often come with their own NFT collections, immersive worlds, and experiences owned by fans. Take recent CAA signee and FLUF avatar, Angelbaby, music duo RŌHKI, or Bored Ape, Shilly, who are currently trailblazing through the space and offering fans an entirely new music x storytelling experience. Fans can now benefit from investing in these metastars early on in their careers, having the opportunity to own a piece of the artist’s history and make decisions on the metastar’s next move.
Music x Game Engines: Unreal Engine has inspired a wave of animated, life-like music videos that make creativity limitless and allow artists to experiment with new angles, locations, and lighting. No longer are artists confined to real-world environments, but can instead craft their very own life-like versions through Unreal Engine 5 to bring their visions to life. Artists such as Empire of the Sun/H3000 have already experimented with this, releasing their video for “Running” created in the software popularized by Fortnite.
In all, tech is enabling artists to develop greater extensions of their artwork, create special moments for their fans, and form connections with listeners in ways they were never able to reach before. And as technology advances, we’re sure to see even more innovative opportunities for storytelling and direct-to-fan engagement.