✖️ NFT Avatars and Onboarding Subcultures to the Web3

And: Recycling dancers' heat; Livestreaming's 'unaddressable' market; SoundCloud x Portishead update; Virtual artists; Music biz putting too much money in A&R?

Hi everyone,

I’m back from vacation. It’s been lovely meeting some of you in Bologna and at Milan’s Music Innovation Hub. If you’re new to the list: welcome!

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about NFT avatars, also referred to as PFPs, like CryptoPunks and Bored Apes. Over the next years, we’ll see subcultural DAOs emerge, as more music and culture scenes move onto the web3. Today’s post highlights what role PFPs can play in the onboarding of subcultures and what the main hurdles currently are for this.

I don’t know about you, but I’m so ready for crypto goth, crypto gabber, and actual crypto punk.

Read the article


🙌 This nightclub traps dancers’ body heat to warm and cool the building (Mark Wilson)

SWG3, a dance club and arts venue, is getting a radical retrofit over the next two months, which will allow it to suck up the heat generated by thousands of visitors, store it in the depths of the Earth, and pump it back into the venue whenever it’s not filled by ravers.”

👛 Decentralized Autonomous Organizations and the promise of utopia (Andrew Ryce)

“There are so many facets to what crypto can enable, including the creation of community-owned platforms. That's the biggest shift—it's tough (or near impossible) to build wealth without ownership, and artists have never had ownership of platforms.”

Austin Robey, co-founder of Ampled

🧞‍♀️ Virtual artists are an opportunity for the music business – not an enemy (Ian Simon)

“This is one area of promise for the virtual artist. Gifted musicians can contribute music without having to be the face of the music.”

💻 Extended Play: Music livestreaming’s total (un)addressable market (Cherie Hu)

“With the current hype around crypto, I can see a music livestreaming startup build a core niche in helping artists sell both physical and digital merch (read: NFTs) for their shows using blockchain-powered tools. In my opinion, with the slow but steady return of live music, not enough music livestreaming startups are taking this hybrid partnership approach.”

🟡 Why Genius sold for less money than it raised (Dan Runcie)

“When Genius sold last week, it sold a multimedia company focused with a focus on hip-hop content. Standalone media companies can still be successful, but it’s not quite the unicorn opportunity that “annotating the internet” once was.”


🏦 Hartwig Masuch thinks the music industry is putting too much of its money in the wrong places (Tim Ingham)

Clear thoughts by BMG boss Hartwig Masuch about streaming economics, the value of catalogue, and the amount of investment going into new music. Masuch argues the proportion doesn’t make sense, since most revenue comes from catalogue.

📊 ‘Middle class’ artists need niche, not scale (Mark Mulligan)

“While some artists have opted to remove themselves from streaming and focus solely on platforms like Bandcamp, this approach is unnecessarily reductive and will actually hurt the artist’s earning income in the longer-term, as the funnel for acquiring new fans has been massively narrowed.”

🕵️‍♀️ SoundCloud says Portishead song earned 500% more under new royalty plan (Marc Hogan)

Interesting headline about SoundCloud’s ‘fan-powered’ royalty model, but we shouldn’t read into it too much without more data being made public.

For example, the user-centric payment model looks great when an artist brings a lot of one-time users to a platform who only check out their song and then leave, because you get 100% of their revenue instead of it ending up in a pool and then split across all streams. This is obviously not desirable behaviour for a streaming service: it wants users to stick around, to get regular payments from them. The way this is done is by pulling people deeper into the catalogue through search, feeds, and recommendations. In most cases, this moves revenue away from the artist who onboarded the user, since now the generated revenue has to be split across more songs.

This, to me, is the most important aspect to solve when it comes to royalty models. We need more artist or fan-centric services besides catalogue-centric services. (see also: my thoughts back in March this year)

Just want to note: the above example might not be what’s the case here - I’m using it to point out how hard it is to interpret a single ‘500%’ figure. I’m happy there’s at least one major DSP sticking their neck out and going user-centric.

🎆 The true story of how India partied through Covid-19 (Dhruva Balram)

Sunburn has been helping young people get vaccinated by turning their clubs into vaccination centres. “We teamed up with hospitals to increase the vaccination,” Mohit says. “We converted Sunburn Superclub in Hyderabad into a vaccination centre, and had doctors and nurses there giving out vaccines. This encourages young people, it excites them: ‘Come to your favourite club, you don’t need to go to the hospital’.””

🌱 #UprootTheSystem - Global Climate Strike, Sept 24 (Fridays For Future)

This Friday, dozens of cities around the world will see demonstrations to demand intersectional climate justice, led by the Fridays For Future movement started by Greta Thunberg. You can learn about the demands and the message via the link above, as well as any demonstrations occurring in your city.

Please consider coming out. The music business cannot stay silent on this generation’s most pressing issues.


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Moonchild Sanelly is an amazing artist from South Africa and I’ve been enjoying her tunes for a few years now. Her latest track is produced by Débruit of Congolese collective KOKOKO! Don’t skip out on the video.