The state of music/Web3 tools for artists

The state of music/Web3 tools for artists

📅 [ Archival Date ]
Jun 7, 2022 2:16 PM
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tl;dr: The shape of music/Web3 tooling is more exciting and diverse than ever before. New platforms are launching weekly to help artists leverage NFTs, social tokens and DAO infrastructure to create new economic models around creativity and fan engagement. However, there is an urgent need to address imbalances in music/Web3 capital flows, plus gaps in the foundational metadata and community-building models required to make the next stage of this ecosystem healthy and sustainable for artists of all career stages.

This is Part III of a five-part, collaborative research report that the Water & Music community has put together over the last two months on the state of music and Web3. Contributors to this research thread on music/Web3 startups are listed at the bottom of this page, sorted by role.

Part I focused on the burgeoning market for generative music NFTs; Part II focused on legal and contractual issues around music NFTs, especially those that promise a share of streaming revenue or royalties. You can view the current state of our report rollout, and a full list of our member-contributors, by visiting

For most of 2021, the mainstream music industry’s view of Web3 suffered heavily from NFT tunnel vision. Seeing the likes of 3LAU and Grimes pull off seven- to eight-figure sales in a matter of hours for their respective collections, hordes of celebrities jumped on the music NFT bandwagon in early spring, driving the market to a peak of $27 million in monthly primary sales in March. The frenzy triggered waves of scams and fan backlash regarding the perceived financial exclusivity and environmental concerns of NFTs as a format.

The subsequent bear market for music NFTs has also woken up many people in the music industry to the importance of looking beyond just one-off cash-grabs for headlines and instead embracing more holistic, thoughtful strategies for integrating NFTs into artists’ long-term marketing strategies and business models. In August 2021, Cherie Hu and Brooke Jackson from our team wrote a guest article for NFT Now that framed this shift as going “from collectibles to communities.” Emerging use cases for NFTs at the time included portable fan identities, on-chain ticketing solutions and crypto-native album rollouts.

Four months later, these longer-term use cases for Web3 are starting to come into sharper view as more artists start to experiment with the technology. In particular, artists are looking far beyond just NFTs into other implementations of crypto — such as social tokens and DAOs — to experiment with new models of interoperable fan patronage, collective pooling of financial resources, community-driven creative collaborations and much more. In turn, this experimental ethos is creating fertile ground for a new crop of music/Web3 startups to address a more diverse set of problems for artists in the products they build.

To that end, we thought it was time to reevaluate the shape of music and Web3 today, far beyond just NFTs. We’re thrilled to introduce our market map of music/Web3 tools — which features nearly 80 different startups putting NFTs, social tokens, DAOs in a music- and creator-centric context. ​​Most of these tools launched this year — a testament to the momentum of developing Web3-native solutions for artists moving into 2022.

Please note that this market map is likely not exhaustive, nor is it meant to be; rather, the purpose of this map is to present our starting mental model for the shape of the music/Web3 landscape as a whole. If you notice any startups missing from this map or our overall crypto dashboard, you can fill out our database submission form.

Alongside this market map, we’ve entirely revamped the tooling section of our members-only music/crypto dashboard. We’ve been tracking music NFT sales since summer 2020, but have not diversified further on tracking music/Web3 tools until now. Today, our once singular tab has expanded into two new tabs:

  • Music/Web3 tools — a curated list of startups and tools that artists and music brands are actively using to shape their Web3 strategy as a whole beyond just NFTs, and spanning across fan/community engagement, music licensing, distribution/consumption and much more. The database is sortable by variables including core utility, network, launch date, amount of funding and more.
  • Music crowdfunds and NFT sales on Mirror — a running list of over 20 different music-related crowdfunds and NFT sales hosted on the decentralized publishing platform Mirror. Featured projects range from individual artist campaigns, such as those from Daniel Allan and Ibn Inglor, to fundraises for new label DAOs like Good Karma Records and XYZ. Music-focused token crowdfunds on the platform have totaled nearly 200 ETH so far this year.

While this underlying data (which we will continue to update weekly long after this report is published) is only available to paid members, we wanted to distill a handful of critical trends and clear asks for today’s music/Web3 builders. We hope this resource ensures that future Web3 infrastructure remains sustainable and ethical for artists and fans, and acts as a deterrent from recreating Web2 industry problems.

Methodology + disclaimers

To build this market map, we crowdsourced suggestions for music/Web3 tools from our community over two months. We captured data including product type (e.g., general NFTs, music NFTs, social tokens), core utility (e.g., music/audio collectibles, fan/community rewards, royalty investments, event ticketing), network (e.g., Ethereum, Flow, Polygon) and publicly available funding information (pulling primarily from Crunchbase). We also held several weekly brainstorming and feedback calls in our Discord server over this period to determine the scope of the database and the higher-level story we were trying to tell through the data.

A few disclaimers:

  • This database and market map focuses on services that artists can use to build or sell their creative works on-chain, rather than on one-off NFT collections. For instance, Arpeggi Labs is an on-chain DAW for music creation and production that any artist can use. In contrast, EulerBeats, an on-chain generative music project, does not offer self-serve tooling for artists, and is consequently omitted from this list. (They are featured in Part I of this report about generative music NFTs though!)
  • We did our best to filter this list for tools and platforms that are open and active, in the sense of enabling a more significant segment of artists to engage with their products and features beyond just signing up for a waitlist or reading a whitepaper. That said, a few of the companies on our list do not offer their products or services to all artists, choosing instead to do business through exclusive deals (e.g., Sturdy Exchange, p00ls). A few others have demonstrated working prototypes at conferences or other events but have yet to launch a functional product for a wider audience (e.g., Dequency). We still decided to include these kinds of companies because they have some tangible proof of moving money to artists or rights holders on-chain — although there is a separate debate around whether these examples are “Web3” in the purest, more decentralized sense of the term.
  • For the most part, we have chosen to leave out generalist NFT platforms like OpenSea that do not focus specifically on serving creators or artists, even if these platforms may drive a lot of revenue for the music NFT category as a whole. That way, our database and market map stay high-signal for a music-facing audience looking to learn more about companies building bespoke tools for the industry.

What the data tells us

There are three main ways we can slice the music/Web3 market today, each of which has its distinct takeaway in terms of future opportunities for artists, developers, and entrepreneurs:

  1. Follow the money
  2. Follow the utility, and
  3. Follow the network.

In particular:

  1. Money: An unprecedented amount of venture-capital funding is flowing into NFT and social-token tooling for artists, at a level that currently exceeds the amount of Web3 capital flowing directly to the artists themselves.
  2. Utility: Emerging out of the bear market for music NFTs, music/Web3 founders are experimenting with new applications of Web3 infrastructure for fostering more interactive, two-way artist/fan relationships and communities, focusing on long-term fan rewards, royalty investments, and music consumption/discovery as some critical utilities.
  3. Network: Music/Web3 tooling is highly polarized right now with respect to developers’ decisions to embrace the complexity of decentralized infrastructure, versus shielding fans from engaging directly with blockchain networks via custodial wallets.

Follow the money: Hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for music/Web3 tools — but how much is going to artists?

Not counting more general NFT marketplaces and platforms in our database (e.g., Foundation, Sturdy Exchange, MakersPlace, and Manifold Studio), music/Web3 startups have raised over $300 million in venture-capital funding so far in 2021.

Unsurprisingly, the two categories of music/Web3 companies attracting the splashiest rounds are:

  • Music NFT platforms$63M for OneOf, which has worked with Doja Cat and iHeartRadio, and $55M for Royal, which is co-founded by DJ/producer and crypto veteran 3LAU).
  • Social token tools$57M for Rally, which has launched tokens for the likes of Megadeth and Portugal. The Man, and $18M for p00ls, which just launched a social token for the producer Blond:ish.

Let’s compare these figures to music NFT revenue this year, which clocks in at just over $83M in primary sales, according to our ongoing tracking in our dashboard. While this may seem like a high number, there are three important caveats:

  • Not all $83M is going directly to artists, for a variety of reasons (e.g., the artist is splitting the revenue with one or more creative collaborators, or the platform is taking anywhere from a 5% to 20% cut of sales, or the artist opts to send the funds to a charitable cause, or part of this revenue ends up getting eaten by gas costs). Hence, while $83M might accurately represent the value collectors and the general public see upfront in music NFTs, the actual dollars that artists are receiving is likely lower.
  • Over 75% of these sales were concentrated in the span of just three months (February, March, and April 2021), amidst an unprecedented swirl of NFT hype at the time.
  • Nearly 90% of these sales are concentrated in the top 5 platforms — namely Nifty Gateway, Origin, OpenSea,, and SuperRare. Importantly, apart from OpenSea, all of these top platforms are invite-only, i.e. unavailable to 99% of artists. So, the topline $83M figure is largely not reflective of the financial reality for most artists trying to navigate Web3 today.

These stats show the unfortunate reality that when it comes to music and Web3, the amount of capital flowing into music/Web3 technology is outpacing the amount flowing to music/Web3 artists by at least 3x. This is not as imbalanced as in the Web2 music industry — where, for instance, Spotify distributed roughly $5 billion in streaming royalties in the same year that its own market cap approached $50 billion. But it is still an important asymmetry in capital flows to be aware of, in the context of having more thoughtful and critical discussions about ensuring artists and creators remain the center of gravity in the future of music/Web3 development.

Follow the utility: Web3 experiences beyond just collectibles

Let’s revisit our original market map:


At Water & Music, we’ve previously argued that there might be too many music NFT platforms — at least to the point where many companies in the ecosystem are resorting to scammy marketing tactics, often at the expense of adequately educating and protecting fans. With this context in mind, “music/audio collectibles” unsurprisingly comprise the most popular and crowded kind of utility in our market map, accounting for nearly 50% of the companies on our list.

In the context of the broader historical arc of music and tech, it kind of makes sense that a majority of the first generation of Web3 products are being built around marketplace infrastructure. Similarly, Napster pushed an early use case for digital file sharing, iTunes drove MP3 sales and Spotify brought streaming mainstream. In Web3, the focus happens to be on the exchange (including minting, buying, selling and distribution) of NFTs.

What’s different from Napster, iTunes and Spotify — which all represented new modes of fan consumption at the time — is that NFTs, as well as social tokens, represent a new opportunity for a more interactive artist-fan relationship. While fans consuming digital music has historically been structured as a one-way transaction (download the song, buy the song, stream the song), the underlying technology in Web3 opens up the possibility for more tools around fan and community participation.

To that end, there are three emerging categories of utility in music/Web3 that we think will define the landscape going into 2022:

Fan/community rewards and social tokens (12% of the companies on our map)

At the most basic layer in the context of the artist/fan relationship, both fungible and non-fungible tokens enable an easily verifiable, interoperable record of fan patronage — a significant paradigm shift from a Web2 world where a like, heart or follow is stuck on its respective platform.

In this vein, beyond treating NFTs as one-off collectibles, many artists and music collectives are starting to adopt the model of NFTs as unlocks — i.e., as long-term, interoperable gateways to a combination of URL and IRL experiences. Key examples of these kinds of tools on our list include Unlock (token-gated WordPress, Discord, etc.), Temple (token-gated WordPress, Shopify, Webflow, etc.), FWB Gatekeeper (token-gated events), Afterparty (token-gated events), and Communifty (NFT-gated DAO access).

Outside of NFTs, the prevalence of social tokens is also on the rise, with key examples of partner platforms including Rally, Mirror, and P00LS. Owning an artist’s social token gives fans perks such as deeper access to an artist’s exclusive community, and sometimes even governance rights over certain decisions in an artist’s career or creative process. There is, of course, the added benefit (or burden) of extrinsic financial rewards expected from owning an artist’s cryptocurrency, the critical implications of which are only now starting to come to light when it comes to reshaping the artist/fan relationship (more on this later).

Royalty investments and licensing/metadata management (12%)

Several platforms on our list focus on using Web3 infrastructure as the rails for managing music metadata, licensing deals, and royalty investment agreements in a more streamlined manner. Platforms like Royal and Decent partner with artists to fractionalize investments in NFTs. Some primarily Web2 platforms like Royalty Exchange and Republic Music (the equity crowdfunding platform, not the major record label) also embrace NFTs in their catalog of investment offerings — although as a more decorative layer on top of traditional investment agreements that are still off-chain and highly regulated.

The notion of fans being able to own a “stake” in their favorite artists’ music certainly sounds enticing in theory. But there are two main issues with its current implementation:

  1. Most royalty investment NFT application agreements suffer from a lack of fundamental knowledge regarding music copyright, and fail to communicate assurances to end-consumers. Bringing this lack of education on-chain exacerbates ongoing fan and investor protection issues.
  2. Arguably, none of the tools in this category are truly disruptive to current music economics, because they rely on the legacy streaming economy. As Dan Fowler previously wrote for Water & Music, these projects “are ultimately still reliant on old-school royalty flows” — namely, streaming royalties — “to generate value in their systems,” instead of building from the assumption that the future source of value generation for the music industry will come from completely outside today’s dominant financial structures.

Web3-friendly music streaming experiences, including Discord bots (10%)

In recent months, we’ve seen the emergence of a fascinating new culture in Web3. In contrast to historically opaque business practices in the music industry, many of today’s music and culture DAOs are building bespoke tools and offering modular tooling to other DAO communities free of charge. This collaborative framework extends the paradigm of “come for the network, pay for the tool” that is permeating online paid communities at large.

The DAO Friends With Benefits was one of the first to lead the way with this mindset in culture/Web3 circles back in July 2021 with FWB Gatekeeper, a bespoke token-gated ticketing app that their community built for their IRL events that several other DAOs like The Heart Project and SquiggleDAO have since used for their own meetups.

In the months since, several music DAOs have launched custom Discord bots — mainly along the lines of creating new consumption and curation layers on top of music NFTs and paying artists in more Web3-native ways for music consumption. Top examples in this category include:

  • Tone, Topshelf Records’ own freemium Discord music bot, which pulls songs from SoundCloud and Bandcamp and makes payments to artists using Celo.
  • BPM bot, a Discord bot built by Songcamp that pulls from music NFTs on Catalog.
  • Future Tape, a custom interface built by Hype Machine’s Anthony Volodkin for navigating music NFTs on Catalog, with filters for highest sale price, top collectors and more.

The popularity of these developments within music/Web3 communities perhaps speaks to the importance of discoverability and human curation in growing the music “consumption” and engagement pie around NFTs going into 2022, especially in the context of onboarding a broader, more mainstream fan base.

Follow the network: Making Web3 more visible

We also captured network information for our market map, i.e., the blockchain hosting each tool. Ethereum is by far the most popular network in our database, hosting more than 50% of the tools on our list. Runners-up include:

  • Flow — proof-of-stake blockchain created by Dapper Labs; accounts for 8% of our list, with examples including KLKTN, RCRDSHP and Sturdy Exchange.
  • Polygon — Layer 2 scaling solution for Ethereum; accounts for 8% of our list, with examples including Serenade, Decent and YellowHeart (which also supports Ethereum).
  • Tezos — proof-of-stake blockchain supervised by the Swiss government; accounts for just under 5% of our list, with examples including OneOf and Truesy.

Why does understanding music/Web3 tooling at the network level matter? It all comes down to understanding what we mean when we talk about decentralization — a concept that is a central core benefit of “Web3” infrastructure in its purest form, but that not all networks adopt equally.

At its core, decentralization enables trust that your assets are secured and only submitted to what is explicitly programmed in perpetuity. We can measure network decentralization in multiple ways. One way is by looking at the accessibility of operating a node on a given blockchain and counting the number of independent, unrelated hosts or “node operators” of the underlying protocol. Another measure is the distribution of the protocol’s token supply, and the policy for managing that supply over time. Ideally, in the purest expression of “Web3,” both the network itself and users’ access to the network should be fully decentralized.

Each network exists somewhere on a spectrum of decentralization; Ethereum, the most overall “decentralized” network by the above metrics, has the most activity by numbers of users. As a result, a flourishing community is building at the application layer and influencing the overall Web3 movement, including music/Web3 specifically. For example, the fundamental concepts of NFTs, social tokens, and DAOs are all derived from developments first put forth by people building on the Ethereum network.

One of the most contentious debates in Web3 right now, especially from a marketing and onboarding perspective, is whether to lay the complexity of blockchain bare at the application layer. Since the internet was created, it has been optimized around improving user experience and radically simplifying processes; in contrast, crypto requires an entirely new process, one still in its infancy, and with a clunkier-than-usual user experience. For the end user, crypto has introduced this idea of “digital money” that is not dollars, and the idea of a wallet that is not a wallet but is in fact a tool that acts as a personal gateway to the blockchain.

Kayvon Tehranian, founder and CEO of the popular NFT art marketplace Foundation, touched on this gateway concept in his article “Why Crypto Wants to be Seen.” For Tehranian, clunky UX was a major issue early on with developing Foundation, to the point where “figuring out how to abstract away crypto became a key focus of our design process.” he wrote. “However, as we tried to push this approach further, we started to run into problems. And the longer we took this approach, the bigger the problems got. Eventually, we realized that with every new abstraction, we were digging ourselves into a deeper hole.”

As the title of Tehranian’s article goes, crypto, and its clunkiness, ultimately want to be seen. Abstracting that clunkiness away arguably reduces the value these new tools — Web3, the user-owned internet — provide. In contrast, several NFT marketplaces have emerged in the last year on newer networks that are incompatible with Ethereum. Instead, these marketplaces are lauded as “better than Ethereum” because they are more accessible via cheaper network fees, a less clunky user experience, or both.

This discrepancy comes out in our own music/Web3 database and market map, which represents a wide spectrum of willingness vs. reluctance to display the clunkiness of decentralization transparently at the application layer. For instance, when filtering our database to show only tools hosted on Ethereum that offer no custodial wallet option — i.e. tools that force users to interact immediately with a truly decentralized, public blockchain from the beginning — less than 25% of the list satisfies these criteria. Notable examples among them include Foundation, Manifold Studio, and many apps that run on the Zora protocol including Catalog, Mirror, and Artiva.

Meanwhile, a third of music/Web3 tools in our database offer a custodial wallet option for fans and collectors, shielding them from needing to interact directly with a given network. This mindset arguably misses the Web3 forest for the trees; the whole point of blockchain technology is to forcefully require users to interact with the network itself to receive the benefits of being a genuinely user-owned internet.

Three asks for music/Web3 builders

Alongside the data-driven trends outlined above, we’ve identified three key areas where Web3 tooling can improve to increase accessibility for artists and audiences alike.

1: Build better creator-centric metadata models for music NFTs

One of the most crucial components of NFTs, especially in the context of music, is one that you cannot see on the surface: Metadata.

NFT metadata involves the storage of attributes about a given asset either on-chain, like on IPFS or Arweave, or off-chain, like on a central data server. Today, the most broadly adopted metadata standard for NFTs contains the following keys:

  • image
  • image_data
  • external_url
  • description
  • name
  • attributes (e.g. primarily used for color and clothing traits for PFPs)
  • background_color
  • animation_url (this, for some reason, is currently the key where music is being stored)
  • youtube_url

The above metadata standard has largely been shaped and influenced by OpenSea, simply for the purposes of getting clean data on NFT transactions. But because OpenSea is by far the world’s largest NFT marketplace by trading volume, the irony of the current Web3 landscape is that many NFT platforms are now conforming their own metadata standards to maximize exposure on OpenSea because of the platform’s size and reach, even if these other NFT platforms might otherwise specialize in a specific kind of asset (say, Mint Songs). This goes against the supposed spirit of interoperability in Web3, as startups feel pressure to homogenize their offerings to a system that was arbitrarily set up before them.

We need a better, more tailored standard for music NFT applications — and we need one quickly. Because a defining trait of blockchain technology is immutability, a lot of smart contracts are built in such a way that the metadata is “frozen” and cannot be altered. This means that the longer we wait to make changes to the current system, the more difficult it will be to conform to a better standard. This will cause issues for decentralized applications (or dApps) down the line if they don’t have a standard way they can read the data.

For example, say there was a movement down the line to add genre as a key to NFT metadata so that dApps could build creative filtering methods for fans — but you had frozen generic metadata, without any on-chain genre info, before this was fully adopted. That means there would be no way to integrate your NFT into this new standard without introducing centralized services (e.g. being forced to self-categorize your NFTs internally in a central database, or feeding your own NFTs into a third party’s centralized database of all NFTs that don’t have this genre key), or just being left out of the picture entirely.

In general, as blockchains have had more usage, there has been a migration towards keeping audio and visual artwork off-chain to save on transactional costs. It will be especially important to have clear delineation on metadata when working with a mix of permanent and semi-permanent storage systems.

In the spirit of more collaborative and collective industry models, there is also an urgent need to improve metadata standards for music NFTs in a way that emulates artists’ existing creative and business relationships. For example, in the current paradigm of on-chain provenance with NFT payouts, we assume the minting party behind an NFT is always the artist. In reality, it is often the artist’s manager or another team member tasked with setting up and minting a music NFT for them. However, there is no easy, standardized way for a third party to do this and still send 100% of royalties to the original artist.

With a cohesive music metadata standard on the backend, we can avoid, for example, delineating collaborators on a track by guessing and splitting the description or name for the “ft.” or “featuring” text. We then can provide dApps with the data they need to create more robust, elegant experiences on the frontend, which will have positive downstream effects on fan adoption of Web3.

(If you’re interested in contributing to a more collaborative metadata standard around music, please reach out to Water & Music member and Season 1 contributor Garrett Hughes and view the open-source working document he’s put together here.)

2: Better fan adoption models

Despite the proliferation of multiple platforms for artists to release their music — which have in turn attracted a large number of artists — collectors have not flocked to music NFTs at nearly the same rate as in the visual art world. Across all the major music NFT platforms on Ethereum (Mint Songs, Catalog, Zora), sources tell us that there are only around 500 unique collectors, with a majority of their purchases focused on already-established artists. Ironically, this is roughly the same number of artists who have successfully generated revenue from an NFT sale, extrapolating from our database.

There also seems to be a high concentration of music NFT ownership in the hands of wealthier collectors. In recent weeks, several landmark music NFT auctions — such as Haleek Maul’s 11 ETH auction on Catalog, and Two Feet’s 11 ETH auction on Glass — were collected by major crypto whales or investors, rather than reaching “fans” in the traditional sense of that term. This concentration is consistent with broader market trends for NFTs; one academic paper published in October 2021 found that the top 10% of traders account for 85% of NFT transactions and trade 97% of all NFT assets at least once.

Hence, we think growth in the music/Web3 ecosystem needs to be focused not only on onboarding new artists but also on increasing the number of active, non-whale users at more affordable rates, both inside and outside the specific realm of NFTs. There is a largely unexplored opportunity for music/Web3 developers to build tooling for artists to help transition Web2-native audiences into Web3, especially in making fans feel like collaborators or contributors in the creative process. We will dive deeper into this issue in our report’s fan onboarding and experience chapter later this week.

3: Better communication of incentives

As outlined throughout this piece, social tokens have been one of the areas of music/Web3 with the most momentum, in terms of both artist adoption (e.g. 200 ETH in music-related Mirror crowdfunds) and investor interest (e.g. nearly $90 million in funding for platforms like Rally and P00LS).

A salient concern of this trend is the pressure to move quickly at the expense of thinking more critically about the extrinsic, financialized incentives that these tokens bring to the artist-fan relationship, and how that can dramatically change the way artists run their careers (for better or for worse).

Mechanisms like crowdfunds or token sales certainly give fans a feeling of deeper, more direct participation in an artist’s growth journey (and, in turn, give artists more direct access to their most loyal followings). But this new structure for artists and fans doesn’t necessarily protect them against deeply entrenched historical power dynamics and the potential risk of losing artist agency. In fact, tokens might only exacerbate these issues, especially if there is some substitution of intrinsic with extrinsic rewards from the fan perspective, intentionally or otherwise.

Water & Music member and software developer Lee Martin recently outlined his experience navigating these issues as a fan in a Twitter thread about deadmau5’s latest token drop, Head5. From Martin’s perspective, he found many token owners “pondering if the mint was a failure because it didn’t sell out immediately,” to the point where it felt like “their definition of failure is connected to the perceived worth of their NFT,” instead of prioritizing the inherent value of the art or the artist themselves.

The continual rise of social tokens for artists has created an urgent need for clearer language and communication around incentive design for artists’ social tokens — directly addressing the following questions:

  • What does token ownership really mean? In a traditional artist-label relationship, this can mean control and exploitation of intellectual property. In Web3, it can mean this, but it can also simply mean ownership of an underlying rare collectible digital asset. Artists must be clear in what they are offering and what the fan is purchasing. (We dive into the complexities around defining digital ownership with music NFTs in the contracts chapter of our collaborative report.)
  • What is the motivation behind the fan’s purchase — and is the token holder acting as a fan, or as a speculator? How, if at all, is the promise of music royalties playing into the motivations for contributors? How are artists defining the entitlement of decision-making for crowdfund contributors with respect to creative output?
  • What will be the source of the token’s long-term value? Is there some shared mission or set of core values binding the community of token holders together in a way that transcends the earning power, personality or celebrity appeal of the singular artist? If yes, how will technology facilitate coordination of this community around these values, beyond shared financing alone? Or, to borrow a quote from Martin’s Twitter thread: “Ask, how you can turn those ‘stock holders’ into fans or your art rather than your actual fucking fans into ‘stock holders?’”

As this nascent music/Web3 landscape matures and expands — as marketplaces and protocols come and go — it’s important to remember that the artists themselves are the platform in this new paradigm. In a genuinely decentralized framework, music is no longer beholden to the whims of a DSP or physical storefront; instead, a “platform” is truly Web3 if it is nothing more than a bespoke front-end for the artist and their fan community to engage with one another using a public blockchain. Even if one of the tools from this latest music/Web3 wave ultimately shutters its doors, the ideal scenario is that all of the underlying information — from NFTs to social tokens and other assets – remains forever stored on-chain. From balancing out capital flows and experimenting with more long-term utility to embracing truly decentralized infrastructure, we hope to see the music/Web3 ecosystem flourish in the coming months and years with the artist at the center.


Cherie Hu (A, B, C) Henry Chatfield (A, B, C)Xhjyl (B, C)Jack Spallone (B, C) Garrett Hughes (B, D) Brandon Landowski (B)Andres Botero (C) Kevin Valentine (D) Dan Medland (D) Lindsey Lonadier (D) Levi Downey (D) Lalai Persson (D) Elliot Cole (D)Nicole d’Avis (D) Ana Carolina Laurindo (E)

(A) Research project leads(B) Writers/editors(C) Core database contributors(D) Other database contributors (E) Visualization

For a full, regularly updated list of music/web3 tools, music NFT drops, music crowdfunds on Mirror and more, you can visit our members-only music/crypto dashboard.

Music NFT market update, Q2 2021: Sales down by over 90%, but artists are still experimenting