Music NFTs Having Their Moment, Black Women Making NFT History, List of Music NFT Marketplaces & Protocols, & How Independent Creators Can Participate Right Now
Music NFTs are having their moment, again, to end this year in a bang. The last time Music + Web3 had a bull market and mainstream curiuosioty was in March of this year with already established artists gaining clickbait traction on Twitter. Azealia Banks’ boyfriend Ryder Rips selling their audio sex-tape as a NFT with a signed 1/1 physical vinyl record attached for 10 ETH on Foundation and Grimes selling $6 million through her digital collection on NiftyGateway were the type of headlines that dominated Twitter in March. These two music acts had successful drops yet the former was on an invite-only marketplace for 1/1 art, Foundation, and the latter was on NiftyGateway — another invite-only centralized NFT Marketplace by Gemini.
Music NFTs gained traction early this year not because of music being minted on-chain, music videos selling for thousands of dollars, artists crowdfunding their own projects, music-centered NFT Marketplaces, millions of dollars being poured into the ecosystem from investors, or artists being able to make more than a living off their work — but rather high profile artists were creating new ways of wealth in a space that did not seem to cater to independent creators. Add the clickbait titles from journalists not truly aware of web3 back in March, digital ownership/IP confusion, the overall Crypto market fall off in May, and it is easy to see why Music NFTs were in a lull for months.
Enter November and December 2021
Despite Music NFT interest dissipating and the ecosystem entering a bear market there was still excitement in the space for upcoming music protocols in stealth mode that actually cater to independent musicians. Water&Music reported that Music + Web3 startups raised over $300 million in venture capital for 2021 while creator sales totaled to over $80 million.
Catalog, still in beta, allows artists to sell their songs and projects as NFTs. They are still in the process of onboarding artists however a lot more creators have been brought on to sell their work to close out the year with a big percentage of artists receiving bids on their work. Soundxyz, a listening party experience with 25 NFTs per drop, recently raised $5 million led by a16Z and other prominent investors with the potential of being the go-to Music NFT experience without the middleman. Sound is currently having a historic run of artist drops every day and they are selling out each collection in a matter of seconds.
Some artists like Domino have also seen success this past month going out of their way to create their own smart contracts with NFT drops on their websites. Domino released, and sold out, his Presessence Volume 1 album with seven songs each having almost 500 pieces that his fans collected. He was able to account for $175K in total sales, or over 43 million Spotify streams, for his album collection in the span of a couple months. Domino noted his Spotify Wrapped showed that he had over 88 thousand streams this past year paying out a little over $300 dollars. The power of web3 is shining bright on Domino and other independent creators who are excited to create and be compensated for their work how they choose to.
In the month of December we also saw Soulection start their pivot to web3 by onboarding their community and collective of artists. I can see Soulection succeeding in throwing token-gated virtual and IRL events as well as them amplifying music protocols and ecosystem. Cherie Hue and Water&Music released their extensive Music & Web3 report which has a lot of artists, creators, those in management positions, and the public excited for what is to come for Music + Web3 in 2022.
With the influx of interest, money, collectors, and new platforms emerging every other day it is no surprise to see Black Women making history in the Blockchain when given the opportunity. My biggest gripe with these new Music and Web3 protocols is the fact that they have mostly onboarded straight white male artists and they are not amplifying Black and Brown women. Artist Iman Europe recently sold out her better listening party NFT on Soundxyz in under thirty seconds and had one of the most exciting Twitter Spaces right after. Iman is the first Black Women and solo female act to be onboarded onto Soundxyz with hopefully a lot more to come in the near future.
This past month Diana Sinclair also shined with an iconic NFT drop in collaboration with the Whitney Houston Estate for an unreleased recording using Diana’s art that sold for $999,999 with OneOf on the Tezos blockchain. LATASHÁ, Web3’s musical superstar, also showed out in the month of December by having her GOGO WYNE music video sell for over 13 ETH ($51,000) on Zora. These are the type of headlines Black Women in the NFT space are making and will continue to make — so let us put them in those positions to win and make a living off their art + vibes. In a space that is very very very young, it is important that we advocate for a diverse range of artists to be at the table making history with their own work and brand collaborations.
Other projects looking for bids right now that I love are tika’s Sideways music visual on Zora, which has a reserve price of 2 ETH. I also enjoy SassyBlack’s **(Respect) My Mental Health **visual on Zora which is also looking to kick off its auction starting at 1 ETH bid. I look forward to apps like Sound, Glass Protocol, Catalog, Manifold, MintSongs, and others to continue amplifying works of Black and Brown women alongside marginalized communities looking for representation in this space.
Below is a list I curated of Music NFT Protocols, Marketplaces, & Tools
If you are a creative ready to onboard to Web3 but still want to do more research I would suggest How To NFT (+ No FOMO Rules) Google Doc by DigitalMinter, Understanding Web3 - A User Controlled Internet by Coinbase, and NFTs for Artists PDF by Brittany Pierre. After reading these I would suggest artists to apply to be a creator in all of the protocols I listed above. As stated earlier — there is an influx of money, over $300 million, pouring into the Music + Web3 ecosystem not just from venture capitalists for new apps like Soundxyz, but for artists looking for sales and collectors. Soundxyz collections are selling out in seconds so creators, follow the money, network, and utility. If minting your art is out of your budget (gas and minting fees) apply for funding with EQ Exchange and MintFund. If you do not want to apply to these protocols and wish to get started right away then I would suggest Zora, Artiva, Audius, (maybe?) OpenSea, and Manifold for NFTs.
**I also suggest artists to embed themselves in a community of other creatives, web3 enthusiasts, NFT marketplaces, or any space that offers support, conversation, collaborations, and resources. Collaboration and networking in the Web3 space is one of the most important features the space can offer so find a community and embrace it. I currently spend a lot of time in Music/Creator Discords such as Soulection, Soundxyz, COLDS Collective, Water&Music (paid), & BlurredLines educating, onboarding artists, learning more myself, & community building. Another simple action creators can take is to sign up for a ZORATOPIA session to be onboarded to NFTs and Web3 on Zora via Zoom with a cohort of artists. ZORATOPIA allows for hands on education, onboarding to Zora, and community without the need for Discord. The next session will be held on January 12th, 2022.
If Discord is not for you then I urge you to use Twitter to your advantage. The Music + Web3 space is still relatively young and niche especially for Black and Brown creators. Follow a current Music + Web3 Creative like Iman Europe or Jamee Cornelia and join a Twitter Space, take note of who they retweet, how they go about minting, marketing (good thread on marketing collections here), and collaborations. You will see the community is very small yet united in amplifying each other’s work. Everyone is still learning so do not be afraid to speak up with questions, comments, concerns. We all want to see each other win.
And lastly, show that you are about the ecosystem you are in. For example, most NFT Marketplaces are on Ethereum. Show your presence in the Ethereum ecosystem by registering your Ethereum Domain Name, such as makemyrecordskp.eth, to make it easier to receive funds, show Twitter presence, and reply for airdrops. It costs money to register an ETH domain, but if you have the funds I recommend you register your ENS here. You can also use Mirror as a publishing tool, a blog, a place to market, crowdfund your project, sell your work as NFTs, and a place in a community through MirrorDAO if you are an active participant in $WRITE races. Lastly, upload your catalog on Audius the web3 streaming app.
I am very excited for Music + Web3 in 2022 and look forward to seeing creators win! There is and will continue to be an influx of money and collectors coming into the space. In 2022 I expect all of these protocols mentioned above to become open to all creators. Any of the Music NFT marketplaces that are curated by a middleman and continue gatekeeping these opportunities in 2022 will be the ones that should not be supported as that is not Web3 ethos. I support protocols that are about amplifying marginalized communities, making their app open to all creators, and employing BIPOC. Zora does a great job at this. This is the future we must build.
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