✖️ The promise, pitfalls & possibilities of Web3: case study music

And: Technological revolutions; US audio ad forecast; Blackstone investing $1b in Hipgnosis; UnitedMasters pays artists in crypto; Background music as promo; Tim Exile on the metaverse

On the one hand, Web3 is going through its own decades-long development and adoption cycle. On the other hand, we see fast-moving changes in the way artists and their fans, or broader communities, interact. By taking a look at the intersection of these two developments we can take stock on where we’ve come from, and what we can do to push for good growth. I’ll use music as a case study, but as a whole this can be applied much more broadly.

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💀🚼 The death and birth of technological revolutions (Ben Thompson)

If you haven’t read my article today, I just want to highlight this piece by Ben Thompson here too. It goes into Carlota Perez’ lifecycle of technological revolutions and argues around where we stand currently in relation to the digital and crypto revolutions.

UnitedMasters launches deal with Coinbase to let artists get paid in cryptocurrency (Okla Jones)

“Working with Coinbase to give independent artists the ability to be paid in crypto is a natural next step for us, using technology to ensure that the economics of the music business favor the creators behind it. As the financial sector continues to evolve and innovate, we’re committed to putting our artists in the best position to benefit from these changes.”

Steve Stoute, Founder and CEO of UnitedMasters

🌐 How the metaverse promises to transform how we interact with music online (Tim Exile)

“Rather than producing content to compete for attention, the outputs of our creativity in the metaverse will be symbols, narratives or experiences. They’ll encapsulate and communicate the value of the spaces we gather in, and the status of the people that gather there.”

⛏️ Spotify is breaking podcasts (Will Bedingfield)

“Closed loops, mixed with a situation where the primary stakeholder is an advertiser, creates a race to the bottom, which is terrible for the consumer and for creativity more generally.”

🎛️ Courtney Barnett introduces Interactive Stem Mixer for new album 'Things Take Time, Take Time' (Ynez Wahab)

“They can do this simply by using the various sliders to adjust the volume of everything from the drums, percussion, bass, and acoustic/electric guitar, to the synths, vocals, and backing vocals.


📈 US Audio Advertising Forecast 2021 (Ross Benes)

With ad-spend not slowing down and a third now going to digital audio, this report also has some great insights into music. For example:

“This year, Spotify will have 83.1 million US listeners, and Pandora will have 54.2 million. Amazon and Apple are gaining listeners, and we expect Amazon to surpass Pandora by the end of 2022.”

💰 SeatGeek, RedBall announce merger, bringing ticketing company public (Dave Clark)

SPACs are hot and there’s a lot of bullish behaviour around the return of the live entertainment industry. This is just another example of that.

💸 Official: Blackstone is investing $1 billion in music rights via Merck Mercuriadis and Hipgnosis… and there could be billions more on the way (Tim Ingham)

This isn’t pretty, because of Blackstone’s reputation, but the continued investment in the future revenues of music IP goes to show how much the industry as a whole has been leaving on the table for decades.

🥻 Why companies inside and out of gaming are designing and showcasing clothes in Unreal Engine (Alexander Lee)

While music is a great case study for things like Web3 and the metaverse, we can also learn a lot from what other industries do.

Indeed, while Unreal Engine forms the bedrock of virtual environments like Team Liquid’s post-apocalyptic LQD space, the organization’s animators also used programs such as Blender, ZBrush and Substance Painter to “texturize and put the finishing details on the clothing,” according to van Rooijen.”

🧫 Background Music: The untapped promotional avenue for music (MRC Data)

“Background music has the ability to shift a mood, curate an ambiance and enhance any environment. It makes sense that retail locations would want to utilize a tool that entices customers to stay longer, spend more money, and share favorable opinions. The right tunes can make all the difference in elevating an in-person experience. In fact, 55% of U.S. consumers have stayed longer at a business and 36% have a more favorable opinion of a business because they enjoyed the music being played.”


I just want to bring the Music Tectonics conference, and their preconference to your attention. I had a great time there last year and found it to be one of the best online conference experiences I’ve had. The preconference has the likes of Mark Mulligan and Stuart Dredge speaking as well as the semi-finals of the ‘Swimming with Narwhals’ start-up competition which includes great companies like Infinite Catalog, AmplifyX, Fuzz, and seven others. Hope to see you there.

I’m speaking at Unwrap Festival today. No link, it’s in-person!

Right after Music Tectonics there’s the hybrid Most Wanted: Music Berlin, which also has a great line-up that includes panels, workshops, and talks ranging from mental health, to NFTs and Juan Atkins talking about Futurism and Techno.


It’s been too long since I’ve shared some jazz music, so today I want to take you back to 1969 and Thelonious Monk’s last gig, at the Salle Pleyel in Paris. It’s truly remarkable that this was captured on film.