With the current crypto market cooldown, there is no better time to filter out the noise and turn your attention towards discovering future high potential projects. As a music person, I’m always on…
Put your music on the blockchain, blockchain, blockchain
With the current crypto market cooldown, there is no better time to filter out the noise and turn your attention towards discovering future high potential projects.
As a music person, I’m always on the lookout for disruptive music use cases in the crypto industry. Large communities have formed around NFTs, music DAOs and metaverse music festivals, and it would be a pity if they were to all suddenly disperse and evaporate along with crypto gains.
And I don’t think they will. Simply put, artists are not averse to hardship. What’s a temporary downturn after suffering years giving away one’s craft for exposure? Music artists have frankly nothing to lose experimenting with crypto and blockchain technology as a new means of ownership and distribution.
In this article, I will not go into why blockchain tech has the potential to revolutionise the music industry, or whether NFTs are bad for the environment. Instead, I focus on listing some of the more interesting and exclusively music crypto projects that are currently enabling music artists on blockchains such as Ethereum, Solana, EOS and Algorand.
Whether the next Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Spotify or Mixcloud is on this list is anyone’s guess though––so dig in (and in alphabetical order)!
Arpeggi Studio is a fun implementation of blockchain technology and music. In essence, Arpeggi Studio is an in-browser digital audio workstation (DAW) that lets you create a track on the spot and mint it. They call it the first on-chain music creation platform.
What’s also exciting is that they will be working further on an artist royalty system for on-chain music, so that creators can receive secondary royalties for their work in perpetuity.
I admit spending a good 10 minutes playing around with the studio’s functions while writing this article. The current samples are limited but friendly, and you have the option to upload your own .arp file for extended possibilities.
Minting is on the Ethereum blockchain, and requires a Studio Pass first.
If there were a blockchain-based reiteration of Soundcloud, this would be it. Audius is a decentralized music streaming and sharing platform that allows music creators to upload their tracks while listeners on the other side can stream and discover new music.
What makes Audius special is that it integrates both Ethereum and Solana blockchains, and has an added NFT feature that lets creators showcase (or show-off) their NFT collections. Musicians that have used this feature include Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda and Disclosure.
I first started my account when Audius launched its $AUDIO token in Oct 2020 and without posting a single track or maintaining the account, have gained 25 followers (bless them). I like the direction that Audius is going but unfortunately, have not found an electronic music community there that I vibe with. Scrolling through my feed, there’s not much that I personally find interesting to listen to at the moment as it seems to mainly consist of younger artists making EDM, trap and hip-hop.
Catalog is a really nice, aesthetically pleasing music-only NFT platform powered by the larger medium-agnostic Zora NFT platform.
It took just a few clicks to find something that sounded good to my ears. The vinyl artwork, clean and minimal navigation make Catalog a fuss-free and enjoyable listening experience.
For creators, Catalog has been extra thoughtful in its music-focused features. Artists can decide shared revenue and royalties, and even choose to give their fans a slice of the pie. Interesting use cases have been artists crowdfunding for an album with royalties distributed to funders as well as personalized recordings, where bidders are given creative control over how the song turns out in the end.
Impressively, fans have paid artists some $1,421,424 using Catalog on the date of this article. NFTs are minted on the Ethereum blockchain.
A strong contender in the scene is Emanate, and I am now including it in the 2nd version of this article.
Emanate is still gaining ground with a ton of features in the roadmap about to be rolled out, but it seems to already have a highly passionate group of electronic music artists (mainly commercial) rallying around the cause. It even has its own $EMT token and an internal stablecoin running on the EOS blockchain.
As you can see from the chart above, Emanate is looking to integrate many features that web3 artists are looking for: fair payment for music streaming, on-chain rights registration and metaverse compatibility. I think musicians are tired of getting chump change from web2 streaming companies and a model such as Emanate’s could be the blueprint for other music ecosystems.
Some of the labels Emanate has attracted to its world include: Mau5trap, Black Book Records, World Famous HQ and Medium Rare Records. If EDM music is your thing, I would recommend checking this platform out.
Another really clean website, Nina is a newly launched music platform that reminds me of a Bandcamp in the making.
But unlike Bandcamp owned by a centralized entity, Nina is a decentralized service running on the Solana blockchain. This might not mean a lot at first, but it means that artists are able to get 100% of their direct sales for one. Another is that artists will never run the risk of being de-platformed.
I like that Nina is on the Solana blockchain, as that means very low fees for minting and as a proof-of-stake blockchain, has much lower impact on the environment. I also like that sales are made in the stablecoin USDC to provide stability for artists who are averse to crypto’s high volatility.
Several prominent artists in the electronic music industry are already minting on Nina such as Surgeon, Kangding Ray and Space Dimension Controller, so I look forward to seeing a music community growing around it rather than what could be just a passing fad.
It is rare for a music project to launch on another blockchain other than the already established ones, so my curiosity was piqued with Opulous on the Algorand blockchain.
Opulous is also doing something remarkably different, as it is bringing the utility of DeFi (Decentralized Finance) and music NFTs together in one space. DeFi is basically the use of crypto to earn more crypto such as through the activities of lending and borrowing.
Besides a minting platform, Opulous has essentially created a music trading marketplace, where investors can speculate on their favorite music NFTs and trade music copyright shares like you would basketball cards. In addition, owners can earn additional royalty revenue for every transaction, making the entire exercise rather lucrative if done right.
Opulous’s introduction of the Music Security NFT (S-NFT) token standard can also be seen as innovative as the token acts as a security instrument, with royalties of a track automatically distributed into a token holder’s crypto wallet with every secondary sale.
Opulous reaches into a section of the music industry occupied by majors and megawatt stars such as Tyga, Lil Pump and Soulja Boy. I can’t say that I am much attuned to this side of the music business, but it is definitely interesting and eye-opening to see the work of music artists being invested in and traded out in the open and in such a blatant and transparent way.
A music friend alerted me to this platform, which is again, also very electronic music focused, and on the more commercial side.
Collectors can buy music collectibles, also available in packs and bundles that can include exclusive content and items such as event tickets or physicals such as a cassette tape or vinyl. I can definitely see the NFTs on this platform working in synergy with the global EDM festival circuit.
In this article by founder Obie Fernandez, he writes about his vision for Rcrdshp, and combining music collectibles, the “NBA Top shot for Music”, with gamification. For example, among the collectibles offered could also be “artifact cards” with special functions such as NFT burning to allow different game theories to be played out on the platform in the future.
Interestingly, Rcrdshp is supported by the legendary NFT collector Metakovan (same person who paid $69 million for a Beeple NFT) and Dapper Labs, the creators of OG NFT collectible CryptoKitties.
It is not clear which blockchain Rcrdshp is on, although they mention that it is proof-of-stake.
Sound does something different from the rest by putting an emphasis on community, music culture and the collective experience.
After minting their NFTs, creators can organize listening parties on Discord to engage with their fans further on their work. Other fun and unique features of the platform include song commenting (that disappear once you sell off the NFT), and a “golden egg” that gives you a lucky chance to upgrade your NFT to a 1/1 version with unique artwork chosen by the artist.
It is heartwarming to see an artist’s work being backed by an “audience” of NFT owners, with their supportive comments on display. AbJo’s 5:55am track is one such example. Having raised 2.5 ETH or approximately $9.5k at today’s price, it makes real Sound’s mission to help musicians make a full-time living off their music alone. I don’t know many musicians who can make $9.5k on a single track, so Sound must be doing something right by at least offering the opportunity for those who fit the bill.
Sound is on the Ethereum blockchain.
So there you have it, a neat round up of the top crypto music projects to keep an eye on heading into 2022.
Personally, my record label will continue to mint on Mintbase and explore Nina for special projects.
If you know something that should be on the list, feel free to leave a note and I’ll add it in.