✘ Introducing a thoughtful series on touring + I started a podcast
And: The new CRM; Keep music out of Music NFTs; A new, immersive, genre of electronic music; ZKPs and the future of Music/Web3; A guide for musicians in Web3; A productive asset model for Crypto Music
I’m writing a piece on community which is turning into something that requires me to take another week to get it together. So, there’s no full post from me this week. However, I do already want to introduce a meaningful and thoughtful series of articles about touring by Beatriz Negreiros. She’s previously written an excellent article for us on Lana del Rey and parasocial relationships. Beatriz now returns to shed more light on what is fast becoming one of the most significant issues in the music business: the failures of touring as a model for fan engagement and revenue generation. In her own words:
“Touring has gone far past a hot-button issue. Seemingly every single day a new act is axing dates or skipping the usual touring procedure altogether - and, with each announcement, comes a statement listing the now-familiar reasons why. Starting Tuesday, we are combing through them with the scrutiny and care they deserve.”
Expect MUSIC x to hit your inbox again on Tuesdays for the next three weeks as Beatriz goes into:
1 November: Touring and mental health
8 November: Climate change and the cost of living crisis
15 November: VR & virtual concert experiences
I started a podcast - Appetite for Distraction
Together with Yash Bagal, I started a podcast. We speak about the latest technologies and innovations hitting the music industry today. There’s always something to get hyped about, but we aim to bring nuance to the table. We bring our our own takes and try to speak as plainly as possible about new tech often filled with jargon. We call it Appetite for Distraction, after Yash’s great newsletter, and the first episode is out now. Listen to it here, it’s only one cup of hot tea long.
👛 The New CRM (Jennifer Roebuck & Lisa Pillette)
“So, once a crypto wallet is in the mix - how does that change things? It depends on the business profile. For native Web3 businesses - the crypto wallet and an email address are typically all that business has. Consumers prefer to use their wallets to engage with that organization. A web3 brand understands the full Web3 tech stack.”
✘ This gets quite technical in the marketing data space, but the key takeaway is that Web3 has the power to reverse a really important element of the older marketing data stacks - it puts the power over data in the hands of the user/consumer. That is, if we don’t end up with a bunch of platform-custodial wallets but retain one or more wallets over which we ourselves have custody instead of a third party.
🎼 Keep Music out of Music NFTs (Vaughn McKenzie-Landell)
“Ownership of revenue-generating copyrights is where most of the leverage lies in the music value chain. The majors monopolize these rights, giving them leverage over the entire value chain. As a result, Spotify has less say in your favorite artist’s Spotify earnings than you’d assume.
But NFTs, like all technologies prior, have a habit of shifting the primary constraint in the value chain elsewhere. In my opinion, NFTs:
lower the cost of creating assets, birthing non-traditional asset markets
lower the cost of maintaining digital relationships without an intermediary
lower the cost of capital formation
Notice that neither of these has much to do with music consumption. I’d argue that NFTs are not disruptive to Spotify’s business in the short-to-medium term.”
✘ Ok, big quote here, but the basic tenet is that the power of NFTs - or other blockchain-based tools - is not about monetizing copyrights in music, but about creating value for artists outside of that convoluted space. It might feel strange to think about this, because it feels like saying that music doesn’t matter, but it’s actually really empowering as it creates a new ecosystem of value.
💨 A New Genre of Electronic Music is Being Made at MUTEK and it will be Released on Steam (Anne McKinnon)
“MUTEK sees this shift in content consumption as an opportunity to tap into new markets, and reach new audiences to bring greater benefits to their festival and the artists they support. As a producer of XR content, and publisher that releases immersive music content on Steam, they are pioneering a space which is historically dominated by the gaming industry.”
✘ Shifting scales in the global world of festivals. This feels similar to how the whole recorded music industry shifted to licensing models. Now, we might be on the cusp of a creation and distribution revolution driven by opening up towards new, immersive technologies.
0️ From ZKPs to the future of music/Web3: What we learned at DevCon (Water & Music)
“A year into this DAO thing, though, I’ve realized that structure is not only good, but is also necessary for running a DAO effectively. Fostering emergent community interests and passions in a way that stays aligned with the community’s mission requires clear frameworks for what is and is not safe to try. We’re spending a lot of our time at W&M nowadays trying to build out templates around our research, education, and events initiatives in a way that we can more confidently hand off to our community to run themselves.”
✘ Creating and allowing for emergence still requires building a culture that supports that. While Cherie Hu here talks about tools like templates, I feel what she’s really talking about is how there’s a clear Water & Music culture being built around an approach to research on music and its surrounding industries.
🎬 WTF is Web3? A quick start guide for musicians (Elcee the Alchemist)
“This article aims to help those who are new to the space by providing a catalog of resources to help deepen your understanding, all in one place. I have spent hundreds of hours compiling resources, taking notes and studying the moves of prolific members within the scene.”
✘ Ever wonder where to start? Here’s a great overview of various resources and tools that could help you dip your toe into the ecosystem of the Web3.
💡 A productive asset model for the Crypto Music industry (Dan Fowler)
“If we can get past this idea that Crypto Music needs to run on a patronage model. And past the idea that the only productive asset model for music rests in royalties. Then I think that the design space for building productive assets based on an artist, band, curation group, label, whatever’s brand and the community that they build could be really quite incredible.
And to tie all this together we already have the glue; tokens. Not solely tokens that carry music in their metadata (although these may make sense in some specific examples), but fundamentally tokens that represent the collective entity.”
✘ Closely related to Vaughn’s article above and also the takeaways from Water & Music members from DevCon, Dan argues it’s time to start thinking about a way forward for music’s engagement with crypto. We tend to talk about the Web3 in relation to music outside of the fact it’s all built on blockchains. What I take away from Dan’s article here is that we should actually move closer to the narrative of crypto. This allows us to create a different conception of music next to what we currently know through a convoluted set of copyrights. This can then lead us to create value around the music instead of through what we historically understand as music.
If you’re reading MUSIC x, you enjoy the intersection of music and tech. A lot of this concerns distribution, but often new tech gets adopted by artists first. Sun Ra is a favourite of mine. Not only did he conjure up brilliant sonic spaces, but he knew that he needed new music technologies to create the sounds and timbres he imagined. There’s a new album coming out of his which hears him experimenting with synths and it’s beautiful, disconcerting, and melodic all at once. I can’t wait to listen to the whole thing.