My love for early 2000s music and internet culture runs deep. But this era means so much more to me than another shallow aesthetic taken out of context, or passing trend. I was a very sheltered kid growing up, and went to a school that was almost an hour away from where I lived, so I spent about two hours each day on a rainy bus ride from Olympia to Tacoma and back again, listening to my beloved CDs, and eventually mp3s when that format took over. I felt like an outsider from my classmates because of the distance, and an outsider to my local community because of my school. Music was my constant companion that didn't depend on any physical location -- I could put on headphones anytime and immediately be transported to wherever I wanted to go.
Even though I was sheltered from things like parties and concerts, I was one of the first kids in my friend group to have a computer in their room, and would hang out for hours downloading new music on Napster, digging through niche message boards, chatting on AIM and taking care of my Neopets. Myspace profiles were a high-level form of self expression at the time, and taught an entire era of internet kids some basic coding skills. My computer was like a portal to the outside world, where I could discover new music that wasn't curated by my parents or the radio, and where I could find communities that had the same interests as me. It was this incredible access point to information and communication, and I honestly don't know how I would have survived middle school or high school without this window to the world. The internet used to make me feel inspired rather than drained or depressed, as so much of it does today.
These early memories and nostalgia for music discovery are much of the inspiration behind Portal Music: an onchain electronic label and artist collective that brings together the best music distribution tools of both Web2 and Web3 to create an entirely new community experience for both artists and fans. I’m so thrilled to be launching this week with the release of our Genesis Mixtape, and taking so much of what I’ve learned over the last 10 years of working in the music industry and applying it to this new model.
Sites like Limewire, Napster, Kazaa, and eventually iTunes reigned supreme in my world when I was a kid, but at the time I had no awareness of how they would shape the music industry or impact the artists that I loved so dearly at the time. As I began producing my own music in my teens and twenties, and started my own all-female music label after college, I was quickly faced with the harsh economic realities of a streaming-based industry. As much as I loved independent music and DIY bedroom productions, it felt like an impossible mission to make a sustainable living from slinging WAVs and mp3s alone.
There just never seemed to be a perfect business model that would help me or my friends to achieve financial sustainability without compromising on values, or just plain burning out from juggling so many different roles. From the outside, it sometimes looked like I was achieving what a lot of aspiring artists dream of: securing Spotify playlist covers on Fresh Finds and Creamy for music released on my own label, having a DJ residency at a trendy hotel rooftop and being able to curate my own lineups for shows around LA, getting a song placed with a Nike ad or another other trendy brand here and there, and being a part of a collective of superproducers on SoundCloud. But what was cool and successful in theory was a major struggle in practice. It has always been a never-ending battle to make ends meet and hustle to find the next gig, and my main creative output (song files) essentially held zero economic value when I uploaded them to the internet.
The one thing that has kept me going through all of this time is community. From my time spent as an Alpha Pup intern and going to Low End Theory like it was my religion, to being a part of TeamSupreme as the only female member in a collective of 18 other (very talented) dudes, these little musical homes gave me purpose outside of my own independent work. I was part of a conversation instead of just throwing my music out into the vast void of the internet, and always had the confidence that my friends would listen, give feedback, and inspire one another. As prestigious as Low End Theory was, it was also a creative safe space where you had the freedom to experiment and try new sounds. You could get feedback from your peers or artists that you looked up to, as well as from open-minded audiences who were hungry for something new and different. Something more raw and authentic than what you could ever find in a Hollywood club at that time.
I never would have gotten to play stages like Red Rocks or EDC if it wasn't for underground communities and collectives lifting me up for so many years prior, and keeping me motivated to continue. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been ready to just give up and do something else with my life, but the collectives kept me going. It's essential for these kinds of scenes and incubators to not only be able to survive, but to thrive if we care about the future of our creative landscape and human expression.
For the first time ever, we have a clear and meaningful way to assign value to digital music and works of art. And we are in the process of creating new tools and industry structures that can leverage the power of community and culture like we've never seen before. There is still so much to unlock that is beyond our current imagination, which is why it's so exciting to be here on the cutting edge of the music industry as both artist and entrepreneur. I am so deeply motivated to create a positive impact, big or small, in shaping the future of music business. I'm taking all the lessons I've learned through my decade of experience working at or running independent labels and collectives, and pouring it all into Portal Music.
In its current iteration, Portal is both an onchain electronic music label and artist collective that hybridizes music distribution tools from both Web2 and Web3. But as technology and platforms rapidly develop, I recognize the need to remain flexible and leave plenty of room for experimentation and growth as we usher in this new era of music. Rather than writing a mission statement, I offer a series of mission questions for us to seek the answers to as we build and develop:
1. How can we develop a sustainable ecosystem that incentivizes artists to create innovative and authentic music, rather than follow trends to go viral? In a creative age dominated by TikTok, and a music industry designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator, how do we prioritize authenticity and creative exploration again?
2. How can we more deeply connect with our community of fans and curators in a way that brings them into the creative process, where their curation and involvement is another form of self expression that has value and can be rewarded.
3. What tools and structures can we use to scale the community and reach wider audiences without compromising creative output, event experiences, or online interactions.
My dream is for Portal to be an access point for both artists and fans to discover new worlds of sounds, new scenes, and to inspire one another. I want people to experience what I felt about the early internet growing up, where the computer could provide this amazing window to communities and places I couldn't physically go to, but could still be a part of, and feel a sense of belonging and support. And I want fans and curators to also have their work be valued, and recognized as another form of creativity and self expression.
The current focus for Portal is to release quarterly collaborative mixtapes that are built around producer challenges, where any artist can participate during a Pledge Week event and earn their spot on the mixtape, along with a Portal Artist Membership Card. Each tape will be co-curated with a different artist alongside the Portal community, and the first one is available to mint this week. We will also be working with Portal Artists to release their own EPs and Albums on the label, and continuing my partnership with Seed Distribution to reach larger audiences on all DSPs alongside our digital collectibles.
Outside of music releases, one of my biggest goals for Portal in 2024 is to create a virtual space where artists and fans can experience shows, DJ sets and EP or Album drops in VR. As much as I value in-person events and experiences, and will definitely be throwing as many Portal shows, parties and artist retreats as I can in the future, I see a tremendous amount of potential in VR as a creative community medium. I had initially set out to create this space for the Future Shock album drop earlier this year, and while we had some great momentum with this project in the beginning, the label I was releasing it on was not set up to accommodate that type of release party or prioritize it among their other projects and marketing efforts. I'm still committed to bringing this space to life for Portal in the near future, and excited to see what types of new sounds and connections come from it as a result.
As a starting point for the community, we'll be using a token-gated discord server as our main mode of sharing and communication amongst artists and collectors. Everyone in the Portal ecosystem will have a membership card, with different tiers granting access to token-gated channels, exclusive merch drops, online events, and future IRL events. Higher level tiers will also be granted greater voting and curation power within the community, and there will be multiple ways that these can also be earned and not just purchased.
Street team missions and smaller quests based on engagement, event attendance, and playlist creations will offer opportunities for upgrades or to earn coins. Collectors that mint higher-tiered cards will also receive bonus tokens when we launch Portal Coins in 2024, and I'll be taking special consideration to reward bonus tokens to the early Dot collectors who hold any 1/1 Dot Songs, or have given a high volume of support through editions since my first drop on Sound over a year ago.
Membership cards for the 2024 season will be available to mint starting November 10th at 12pm PST on the Portal Website, with our Discord server opening the same day. The window to mint will only be open for one week, and only those who collected our Genesis Mixtape will be allowlisted for the cards. Future windows to mint a card and become a member will open and close around the quarterly mixtapes.
Lifetime Basic Membership .01 ETH
Access to the collectors chat on the Portal Discord Server
Access to discounted presale on all Portal releases
Access to members-only merch drops and events (both online and IRL)
2024 VIP Membership .03 ETH
Everything stated above, PLUS
Voting power to co-curate future mixtapes and releases on the label
Early admission to the VR Space and future VIP-only events within it
VIP status at all in-person events
Request tickets and/or guest list for Dot shows (accommodated on a first come first serve basis)
Anyone who minted an edition of Seeing Is Believing earlier this year will be receiving one of these cards for free
2024 Platinum Membership .25 ETH
Everything stated above, PLUS
Never miss a drop -- receive an automatic airdrop of one edition of every single Portal release on the day it comes out
Enhanced voting power to co-curate future mixtapes and releases on the label
Bonus Portal Coins during the Portal token launch in 2024
2024 Diamond Membership 1 ETH
Everything stated above, PLUS
Executive Producer credits on all releases, and curator percentage on smart contracts for digital collectibles (amount dependent on artist agreements with each individual drop in 2024)
Access to team chat, and can propose projects, ideas or events
Additional bonus coins during the token launch to reflect the early investment
Lifetime Artist Membership Free
Can only be earned by participating in Pledge Week and submitting music for the quarterly mixtape series
Grants access to Portal artist community and online resources
Voting power to co-curate future mixtapes and releases on the label
After an incredibly successful first Pledge Week in October, I am so excited to present our first mixtape alongside a stellar roster of artists: some of whom I just met through this online event, and some who I've had the pleasure of knowing and collaborating with for over a decade. Even though my dreams for Portal are tempered with a healthy dose of the realism that comes from trying to sustain a music career independently for ten years, my vision for the future of this creative ecosystem is immensely bright because of these individuals.
If you are interested in getting involved with the label as an investor, artist, community member, developer or other professional role, please reach out to me on social media or email! We are in the very early phases of this new collective, and I'm eager to meet and work with like-minded people who share this passion for innovative music and community events.
We are in a remarkable moment in music history right now. AI is quickly becoming a common tool for writing, production and sound design, and with social media reaching new peaks, sounds now have the potential to reach the largest audiences in history at a faster rate than we've ever seen before. Any song that falls short of going viral is in many ways considered a failure by current music industry standards. The creative "middle class" of artists is rapidly disappearing as creators struggle to keep up with content demands while still trying to carve out time for deeper, authentic expression and craftsmanship. There is a palpable need and desire for meaningful and higher-value interactions with fans and artists to support one another and usher in this next era.
Whether we as artists want to acknowledge this fact or not, business and economics will always be tied to our time and ability to create art in today’s world, and we now have a rare window of opportunity to build new systems that can fuel our artistry and self-expression. I think it's phenomenal that we have access to such advanced tools and the technology to reach new audiences, but with that comes the responsibility to use them with a higher level of intention and consciousness than ever before. I'm eager to bring these purpose-driven dreams and visions into Portal Music and see where it can take us.