Almost a year ago when I was in the baby stages of onboarding to Web3 and we were in the tail end of the bull cycle on PFP NFTs, I read “Trading the Metagame” by Cobie. This was actually one of the first Web3 articles I laid my hands on. Essentially, Cobie identified that crypto/NFTs are a video game with an evolving or changing narrative that market participants want to play (no duh!). The key to success in this orientation is playing the “metagame” or noticing the trends occurring in the overarching narrative i.e DeFi summer, PFP flipping, etc., jumping on them to make a profit, and exiting.
Cobie’s “metagame” discussion had a lot to do with mass trading activity, which is something that is not seen yet in music NFTs, but the concept of seeing opportunity and executing it for gains (socially/financially) is taking off for music NFTs, in my opinion. While we are currently sitting in a bear/crab market, I have begun to take notice of some interesting meta moves in the music NFT space that are building a narrative and gamification for music artist success. Below I will muse on a couple of recent emergences of narrative that could be useful for newer Web3 artists to be thinking about as they attempt to break through in this space.
The inspiration for this piece came the other night when I watched Reo Cragun mobilize his community and the larger music NFT space to sell out a recently released collaboration that he was a part of. Earlier that day Sound.xyz shipped their activity feed feature whereby consumers/collectors could see what others were buying on the platform. Reo Cragun saw this development as an opportunity to activate and create a brief but successful narrative “flood the feed”– the mint sold out in a matter of hours and at one point was moving pretty fast. With a simple call to action to the community that highlighted this feature, he was able to execute a metagame narrative.
A couple of days later, Lackhoney replicated this activation with the added perk of winning a flight around Miami during Art Basel (to persuade the space to engage with his activation tactic). Lackhoney’s mint did eventually sell out but it had less spark than Reo’s initial play. This narrative will inevitably play out several times over with each additional activation seeing decreased success until it is no longer viable. We can even see this in the two examples above, Reo’s drop had 24 editions left and sold out in a matter of hours, Lackhoney had 13 editions left and his sell-out took a bit longer. The key point of this move is being tapped into what is happening and jumping on the opportunity to use a new tool creatively.
Another narrative that is taking place right now is the rapid-release movement. I will point the popularization of this play to Grady when he began releasing a track a week on Sound.xyz at the end of August and more recently a “track a day” activation. For a while releases at large were being made sporadically, one (or two) a month was the norm, and once every six weeks was even acceptable. The slower release strategy still led to sold-out collections, but then Grady went bull-mode and began dropping a track a week from his most recent album (and it is not even released on DSPs yet). He was still selling out almost instantly. Not only did he put pressure on artists to be dropping music even more frequently, but he brought to light that there was a consumer base that would support it.
Since then the pace of release (including features/collabs) has quickened immensely. We have seen artists like Mija-16 tracks in November, bloody white-6 in November, Reo Cragun-6 in November, Lackhoney-5 in November, Daz Merchant-once a week since the beginning of October, and others join in on this frequent release game. While these artists all have existing collector bases that contribute to the sell-out of their collections, we are even seeing new Web3 artists take note and adopt the pace such as Valentina Cy who is NFT-ing a track off of her latest album each week.
This pace reminds me very much of the golden age of SoundCloud where artists such as Russ who released a song a week for two years, and then his career took off. My take on this is if it worked before, it will work again, here, in Web3… at least for some time before the market gets saturated. I believe this play is particularly effective on Sound.xyz right now because the platform is not open to the public. If that changes and anyone can drop on Sound.xyz, this play will likely have less success due to saturation. For now, it is worth watching and considering– there are other platforms to release music NFTs and related content where this play could be implemented. I have also yet to see someone do a music video a week through Zora…
If one thing is clear in this discussion it is that Sound.xyz has a huge market pull, anyone in the Web3 music space knows this. Getting onto Sound.xyz is a huge launch for a Web3 music artist's career, but it is not that easy to get on the platform. LNRZ DAO is a collective within Web3 playing with a brilliant idea that opens a door for more artists to get onto Sound.xyz, right now. Just a few days ago their first “free beat” remix track went live on Sound.xyz and sold out in seconds. While the artist Twerl was already on Sound.xyz, this type of activation is innovative and provides an opportunity for any Web3 music artist to get their name onto the platform.
LNRZ has now dropped two free beat mints. Collectors of these tracks are encouraged to remix and submit them back to the collective where the best track will be released under the LNRZ collective name on Sound.xyz. I have no further insight into how this process works behind the scenes but, as mentioned, this could be a huge win for a new Web3 artist. A smart new Web3 artist would be keeping their eyes out for plays such as this, especially coming from LNRZ, and capitalizing on the free mint to remix opportunity (or very low cost, I think my edition was .02 on the secondary market). Further, LNRZ is being extremely high-minded and innovative with this move. It encourages collaboration between their team and other artists in the space, it opens doors that are otherwise quite difficult to open, and it taps into the altruistic intentions of Web3 music. After Cooper’s case study on LNRZ and the function of collectives in music curation/discovery, it is highly probable that the space will see more communities like this emerge shortly.
This is not a comprehensive write-up of the music metagame – new developments are being made daily, these are just a select few that have caught my eye as interesting, useful, and replicable/modifiable for music artist benefit. In totality the takeaway from this discussion should be as follows:
Pay close attention and be tapped into what is going on in Web3 music (the crux of playing the metagame)
Be innovative and creative with plays because if it works being the FIRST pays off. It is a fact that we are all STILL EARLY and you can still catch that “first” position.
If you see an opportunity, take it, especially if it is free. Even if you don’t have your remix chosen by LNRZ you are now connected to the artists and collectors of their collective!