✘ Your number 1 issue is storytelling - here's how to start your story
And: Adobe creator economy study; Tokens of appreciation; Serenade's Digital Pressings; Sony Music sues Triller; The clairvoyance of TikTok; Future Music Forum
The greatest bands have great stories. The best films consist of great stories. The most engaging communities have great stories. The most successful companies have great stories. Stories matter, they’re how we relate to the world around us. Stories are also how we connect to other people and objects. And there’s an art to storytelling, but first you have to understand that you need a story and that you always already have a story. Then, you can tell your story in a lot of different ways. You can be the central element of your story or you can create a fictional story or you can focus the story about whatever it is you create. The possibilities are endless, but as with any good story it’s important to find focus and stay with that. Here’s some places to start your thinking about the story you might want to tell.
Emma Coats’ 22 Rules (nee, guidelines) of Storytelling
Emma Coats worked at Pixar and back in 2011 she tweeted these 22 rules of storytelling, which she’s since redubbed as guidelines.
Since this is before the time of threads, these are 22 different tweets. Thankfully, various websites have collected them together. This is, of course, very much about stories that are fictional. But just take this first one and remember that even if the story centres around you will need to make sure that you don’t just show success. Storytelling isn’t painting a perfect Instagram picture of your life as an artist. It’s about sharing the downs and the ups.
There’s also this Pixar in a Box course with the Khan Academy you should check out if you’re into Pixar’s mode of storytelling.
Thinking about what stories to tell invariably leads you to question why you do something. Especially if the story is meant to convince people to do or buy something after hearing it. Those stories need to light a fire and those fires won’t get lit without a good dose of passion. Now, I could go down the slightly more evident route of the kind of self-help ‘you can do this’ passion inciters. But there’s more interesting reasons why passion is so important and Larry Smith is the messenger here.
One of my favourite things about this talk is how angry Larry gets on stage. He sort of goes against all the rules of the perfect TED talk and yet he’s thoroughly engaging and brings his point across clearly. The reason? He’s passionate about this subject - and it shows! Let’s bring out one of his quotes from this talk to emphasize his point:
“Passion is the thing that will help you create the highest expression of your talent.”
The Art of Storytelling in crypto music
While storytelling is relevant for every part of life - whether you want to sell an album or get investors for your new company - there’s a seemingly stronger need for stories in Web3. That’s probably because much of crypto music is about human relations. NFT sales lead to artist contact and before that artist can even get to a successful drop, they need to represent themselves around Twitter, Discord, and other spaces. How do you stand out in such an ecosystem? Through a good story. As mentioned, there’s many different ways to tell a story, but as a musician there a strong binary choice to be made: 1) create a story about yourself as an artist; 2) create a fictional character that inhabits your music, like an alter ego. Sound of Fractures and Ghost-EMC represent two examples who each adhere to one of these two extremes of storytelling. They both spoke about their work and the way they weave their story in this Spaces hosted by Hifi Labs.
What’s great about the polar opposite play of these two artists’ their stories is how for one, Sound of Fractures, the story is about his place in the world and sharing that as a singular vision through music and visuals alike. There’s music and there’s a story to that music that connects the dots of everything that music touches. At the same time, Ghost-EMC first creating a character - a hip hop superhero looking to save the genre from herself and bring it back to her roots. The character and design was there first, then came the music. Two great storytellers, two very different creative approaches. Both offer lots to learn, from where to start and how to prioritize to creating an audiovisual world that speaks as a singular whole.
A personal note: I’m speaking and moderating on music & Web3, music & the metaverse as well as my company Symphony at Future Music Forum in Barcelona in the last week of September.
There’s lots going on over the course of the forum which has a strong focus on mental health and wellbeing, Web3, the metaverse, AI and new tech more broadly. There’s also lots of upcoming talent in their showcases and one of my all time favourites, DJ Krust, in their Producers’ Corner. Hope to see many of you there, and if you don’t have a ticket yet, I can offer a discount by using the code 22musicx during checkout.
✘ I could’ve dedicated this newsletter to this study, there’s so much in there. Mostly, though, my takeaways are twofold:
The report talks about a positive correlation to creating online content and feeling good about yourself. This makes sense, because you get to be creative and do something you care about. We should be careful to take this positive note at face value, though, as the danger is when the pendulum swings too far and the pressure to post becomes too high, for example.
The younger the creator, Gen Z first, the more they care about social causes. This is not just a good thing, it’s even better that there’s revenue to be made for these kinds of content creators.
💗 Tokens of appreciating appreciation (Joey DeBruin)
“Despite having “token” in the name, the value in this type of interaction has (rightly) been used as skepticism for crypto’s version of tokens, especially in social contexts. To use economist-speak, people complain that financialization will tend to “crowd out” intrinsic human desires to interact and collaborate. In other words, when you spend all day moving your friend’s stuff and they bake you your favorite kind of cookies in return, you feel all warm and fuzzy. If they instead said “thanks for the help, here’s 8 dollars (the price of the cookie ingredients)” you would probably be disgusted and maybe never help them again. Not only does financialization ruin the warm and fuzzies, it “crowds out” your desire to do the work because it would take a lot more than 8 dollars to get you to do that work for money.”
✘ This hits something I think about a lot. Our entire financial system is built around transactions, but appreciation isn’t a transaction. Thinking further, lots of communities are built around things that are not transactional and we need to be able to account for that in the way we position ourselves towards each other.
💿 Digital Pressings - A Richer Metadata Standard for Music & NFTs (Craig Myles)
“We believe we’ve created a solution for capturing the rich data associated with Digital Pressings, whilst also offering a limitless solution for other NFT developers that requires minimal amendment to existing ERC721 metadata standards. With this flexible approach, we’ve opened the door for complex, nested metadata structures with upgradable schemas.”
✘ Lots has been written and said about Muse’s NFT drop with Serenade. Personally, I think that it’s necessary to have these Web2.5 points of entry for a bigger audience to enter into the Web3. Beyond that, though, I appreciate how open Serenade has been about their approach and this piece about the developments in relation to metadata is part of that. Now, for all those people working on a new metadata standards in crypto music to start working together.
⚖️ Sony Music sues Triller over copyright infringement after missing payments (Amanda Silberling)
“Now, Sony Music says that it faced similar problems with the social media platform. According to the company, Triller “historically failed to make payments in a timely manner,” but the situation became worse when Triller stopped making any payments in March. When Sony Music requested this outstanding payment, Triller offered “near-total radio silence in response,” per Variety. In response, Sony Music terminated its agreement with Triller earlier this month, but the copyrighted music remained on the platform, leading to the music giant’s infringement claim against the app.”
✘ After recent news, it’s just getting worse and worse for Triller. I wonder what’s going on in their C-Suite…
🙈 The Clairvoyance of TikTok (Katherine Dee)
“There’s some recognition, even subconsciously, that we’re not fully separate from TikTok. It’s like an astral plane that we can carry around with us in our pockets. Or maybe, put another way, it’s a part of us. There ceases to be a clear boundary between us and the machine: TikTok is just another expression of our consciousness, just one we can swipe up and down on. Big Brother has the power to tell us things about ourselves that we hadn’t noticed.”
✘ A little thought experiment on what it means to meld together with technology in your everyday life and rhythms.
I often share new music, but recently I’ve been taking in again with traditional Georgian choral music. It doesn’t get much older than this and it’s breathtakingly beautiful to listen to.