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.
The purpose of the following blog post is to describe how and why Nvak Collective onboarded our artist Annika Rose into the ‘web3 music space’. We’ll discuss what this means; industry habits that guided us in this direction; general principles around building community; and details on processes that work, and those that do not, to acquire and engage with fans directly.
It is important to note that our goal is not to replace the ‘web2 music industry’ (Spotify, YouTube, Apple, Instagram, TikTok, Major Labels and more), it is simply to provide an alternate solution to the current path of developing artists and launching them to commercial success.
The Web2 Music Landscape
Musicians today are competing against an unprecedented amount of market saturation; they face an estimated 100,000 daily song uploads to DSPs (Digital Service Platforms) like Spotify, YouTube, Apple, & Amazon. This forces most into a ‘ford-factory’ method of song creation, delivery, and marketing to be seen and heard.
There are a slew of ‘best-practices’ that can be followed to play this game, such as: deliver your song to DSPs 6 weeks prior to its release date with a full marketing plan; include marketing drivers like music videos, social campaigns, live shows, brand partnerships, collaborations, and anything else cool you could think of under the sun; and deliver a new track every 6 weeks. Overtime, the playlisters and the algorithms will start to take notice of your music and you will be able to move up the ranks.
However, there is one main disrupter that can change all of that – TikTok. If you and your song start going ‘viral’ on TikTok (hundreds of thousands to millions of views), you have yourself a golden nugget of a marketing driver that will guarantee playlisting and streams.
The above mentioned method of creating, delivering, and marketing music can be draining, hinder creativity, and become unfair when competing with major record label artists who enjoy the benefits of market share. The process can also become incredibly costly over the long development time it may take to get that viral moment or build up brick-by-brick ($100k - $500k over 1-2 years). So we asked ourselves, what is an alternate solution that can make better use of this development time? Can we use the same energy and resources to directly engage with fans, and create new revenue streams to offset the inherent costs of developing an artist?
By using the same amount of money, time, and human resources as one would in a typical ‘web2 music industry artist development campaign’, a record label can achieve a higher probability of success (net profitability) by targeting a smaller audience of engaged fans in the web3 ecosystem. Doing so will simultaneously support creative collaborators like producers, songwriters, visual artists, and mixers, funneling the best talent into this system. Artists will have longer ‘runways’ so they don’t run out of cash, get shelved at a major record label, or simply burn out.
So how did Nvak Collective bring Annika Rose into web3?
It’s no secret that blockchain technology has empowered the creator economy in more ways than one, ushering in a creative renaissance not seen since the dawn of the internet. Blockchain technology is slowly disrupting industries for the better one by one - the music industry included.
No longer are music artists having to enter into predatory deals with major labels, fight for streams on over-saturated platforms like Spotify, or fall trapped into the starving artist stereotypes. For many artists entering into the space, web3 comes with artistic autonomy, a greater sense of community, and financial freedom. Yet with most things that may sound too good to be true, outcomes from person to person differ greatly - all depending on their approach.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to “success” in web3. Every artist's project and approach to the space is unique, depending on their fan base, background, and goals for entering web3. While there is no rule book to breaking in, the following case study outlines how Nvak Collective guided artist Annika Rose through the web3 space:
In order for an artist to realize their full potential in web3, they must first have a basic understanding of the current landscape and how blockchain technology may benefit their project. In December 2021, Nvak Collective began to discuss web3 with Annika Rose and how this technology could be used for good - to better compensate collaborators on her project, to create greater extensions of her artwork, to have deeper connections with her most engaged fans, and more.
However, it should be noted, that Nvak Collective can show each of our artists the door, but it’s ultimately up to them to walk through it. We began to educate Annika Rose about web3, from weekly internal web3 education calls to recommendations on Twitter spaces to listen to. Slowly Annika began understanding the jargon and the key players, until she made the decision for herself to fully dive in.
The best way to learn is to do. Annika jumped in with both feet. She began collecting NFTs, launching her own discord, hosting her own Twitter spaces and speaking on others, and attending IRL events. As a label, we advised on NFTs to collect, communities to engage with, Discord/Twitter best practices, and guests for her spaces, but ultimately it was her decision on where to implement based on who and what she resonated with the most.
From the beginning, Annika understood that “success” would come from doing the work and engaging day after day. We don’t believe that there is such a thing as an “overnight success” in web3, let alone music, and take pride in signing artists with grit that are willing to put in the work everyday. Annika began to put in the daily work required for a “successful” future drop, including but not limited to listening, learning, engaging, collecting, and collaborating.
Once Annika had a solid foundational understanding of the web3 space and its capabilities, and was part of other communities, it came time to begin building her own community.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a community. Her community was going to be built one member at a time. (Note: You may have 300,000 monthly listeners on DSPs, and zero engaged fans. Real lasting community relies on engagement.) Additionally*,* her goal was to build a community, not a customer base. If she tried to sell a product to her community too early, and at too high a price, she wasn’t setting herself up for growth.
In June 2022, following 6-7 months of web3 education and engagement, we secured two performance slots for Annika Rose at NFT NYC to be her formal entrance into the space.
Instead of trying to sell NFTs while Annika was at the conference, we began inviting supporters to join her community through a POAP campaign. Every person Annika came in contact with at NFT NYC was given a POAP. From there, anyone who joined her Twitter spaces or followed her on Twitter was invited to claim one of her POAPs. Her early fan POAPs are capped at 500 claimed, and these 500 early supporters receive value over the long-term as a thank you for believing in her early on and engaging.
After Annika had built a small yet mighty community, we began ideating further ways to engage them and collaborate with other projects. Working with different artists, projects, DAOs, and communities that an artist resonates with opens up doors for both audiences to engage with one another. Cross-pollinating communities not only builds awareness around what that artist is building, but can also serve as a way for that artist to add value back to the communities they resonate with the most.
To Annika, the groups that she resonated with the most from the beginning were Hume Collective, WarpSound, FLUF, and Party Bear. She owned their NFTs, she was in their discords, and felt welcomed by them as a whole. She owned two Hume Genesis NFTs, and we thought a great way to engage each of these communities while rewarding her own, would be to host a Hume Genesis NFT giveaway for these specific groups.
Once we had these partners on board, we also onboarded Cub3 into Annika’s project. Cub3 is a web3 tool for proof of behavior. They’ve brilliantly created a protocol to meet fans where they are - bringing them into web3 utilizing the “web2” platforms they’re already using. This looks like rewarding fans with NFTs for actions like tweeting at their favorite artist, pre-saving their songs on DSPs, or joining their email list. Cub3 also creates custodial wallets for fans that live on the Cub3 platform. All fans need to do to sign up is enter their email address.
We built a Cub3 page with the Hume Genesis giveaway as Annika’s first event, and users were given extra entries for taking actions such as joining her discord, pre-saving “Bruises”, or claiming Annika’s POAP. Anyone who entered the giveaway was given a “Collectors’ Mashup Token” as a thank you. By the end of the giveaway, Annika had gained 130 POAP holders, 143 Discord members, and 111 pre-saves for her next single.
Only after establishing a community base of a couple hundred did we begin planning Annika’s first audio NFT drop. We partnered with blockchain analytics company Bello to get a better understanding of Annika’s POAP holders and who they are, including the most common price points they were engaging with and what other NFTs they were holding. We used that information to best plan her first drop on sound.xyz.
For her first drop, “Bruises”, we decided to start small with 25 audio NFTs and price them at 0.05 ETH. This would set Annika up for growth. If 25 at 0.05 went well, then she could grow to 50, to 75, to 100, and so on at higher prices for her next drops.
To us, and Annika, it was important to not forget about Annika’s early collectors and to continue to reward them. When sound.xyz announced their new protocol, we thought allowlisting her POAP holders would be a great way to reward them and ensure they had first access to collect her first audio NFT. We understand that not every release or drop must have a form of utility or perk attached, but utility can be a meaningful way to create a new relationship between fan and artist.
For the drop, we followed sound.xyz’s recommendations in their onboarding checklist - from creating Twitter threads to posting on Instagram. On October 7th, her POAP holders showed what they were capable of by selling out the NFTs on pre-sale. Annika then had a listening party in discord to chat with everyone about the song and celebrate the drop.
Evaluate and Reengage.
Gearing up for Annika’s next audio NFT drop on November 18th, we’re evaluating what worked best for her first drop and where we can improve. She has a few events on her roadmap before the 18th, including discord performances and giveaways for her holders, weekly Twitter spaces with her favorite creators in the Web3 space, and more.
We will begin our next round of partnerships, growth, rewards, and collecting over the remainder of Q4, 2022. By the end of Q1, 2023 we hope to be able to publish a post outlining the exact time and money spent to launch Annika Rose, the achieved success, and comparison to a more traditional web2 launch strategy.