You can also read this article on our website.
One of the most common pieces of feedback we receive from Water & Music members — both in passing and through our regular surveys — is that our community is keen for us to expand into education.
There’s no denying that the music industry is changing fast, and many professionals feel that they are struggling to keep up. In our last community-wide survey, our respondents reported feeling overwhelmed at the rapid rate of technological change, and anxious that their particular area of the industry might fall behind. Traditional methods of industry education —whether university degrees or organization-led professional development — arguably fall short of keeping pace with this dynamic environment, where the goalposts for “best practices” are constantly shifting.
As we’ve covered in previous articles, Web3 was a perfect first topic for fleshing out our emerging collaborative research model and wider structure as a DAO. The decentralized nature of Web3 at large and its surrounding information flows lends itself naturally to a more decentralized peer-to-peer approach to research and knowledge-sharing. Ultimately, we found that the wisdom of crowds provided more nuanced perspective and creative advantages over smaller, more traditional editorial teams working behind the scenes.
After publishing over 40,000 words on the music/Web3 ecosystem in our Season 1 and Season 1.5 collaborative reports, we’re excited to work with our community on exploring a wider range of topics in a similarly collaborative fashion for Season 2 — with the goal not only of breaking new experimental ground in music and tech, but also of onboarding a new cohort of DAO contributors from both inside and outside of Web3-native communities.
In December 2021, we launched Season 1 of our DAO with our inaugural collaborative report on music and Web3. Our findings drove industry-wide discussions about the most pertinent opportunities and challenges facing the music/Web3 ecosystem, across business models, tech stacks, legal issues, marketing strategies, creative techniques and more. The report also proved the power of DAO infrastructure to break down information silos and pioneer new models of knowledge-sharing and research.
Since our Season 1 launch, the music/Web3 ecosystem has continued to evolve at a rapid pace. In the same breath that celebrities like Snoop Dogg and Steve Aoki are going all-in on NFTs and social tokens, we’re hearing about yet more music NFT scams and rampant fraud on the world’s biggest NFT marketplaces. Startups like Royal are raising tens of millions of dollars in venture-capital funding on the thesis that music royalty NFTs will become a valuable asset for fans and investors alike, while artist social tokens like $RAC are becoming available on mainstream crypto exchanges for the first time. Deals like PleasrDAO’s acquisition of the single copy of the Wu-Tang Clan’s Once Upon A Time in Shaolin are gradually bringing cultural DAOs into the sphere of mainstream awareness.
The conglomeration of all these trends represents a major inflection point in the music industry’s mental model for what’s possible with Web3, and will serve as a major test for the ecosystem as a whole with respect to scaling technology, messaging and adoption.
With this rapid change in mind, we’re excited to unveil our follow-up “Season 1.5” report, which builds upon and scales our learnings from Season 1 with a new set of iterative, modular resources for artists, founders and innovators.
Last month, we rolled out our first-ever collaborative report as a DAO — an in-depth, five-part syllabus on the state of music/Web3, assembled by over 40 contributors from our community.
The report, which marked “Season 1” of our collaborative research model, spans topics from artist tooling and fan onboarding/sentiment, to music PFPs and legal challenges around defining music NFT ownership. Our supporters and onlookers have praised the report for:
Oh, and we’re also now the top search result for “Web3 music."
Like so much in technological innovation, Water & Music's journey into Web3 happened very slowly, and then all at once.
After covering music, tech and crypto from a critical, research-oriented perspective for the past two years, we dove headfirst into becoming Web3 and DAO operators ourselves in the second half of 2021. Within the span of just five months, we:
This post below is focused on fleshing out both the philosophical context and tactical details behind our inaugural $STREAMdrop (see what we did there?...). Not only is our airdrop approach complex in its multiple component parts, but it's also markedly different in its intention and target audience from those of many other DAOs, because fundamentally we are not a Web3-native community.
It would not be an exaggeration to call the rise of Web3 one of the biggest music-business stories of 2021. From independent artists recording multimillion-dollar music NFT sales, to acts like Megadeth, Blond:Ish and Portugal. The Man launching their own social tokens, to labels like Topshelf Records and Leaving Records experimenting with becoming decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) — practically every corner of the music industry seems to be experimenting with making blockchain and crypto a crucial ingredient in their next stage of evolution.
To be sure, there's been a lot of noise coming from the top down, as countless celebrities have treated one-off NFT drops as get-rich-quick schemes without a long-term vision, often duping their own fan bases in the process. At the same time, from the bottom up, independent artists and creative collectives are leveraging Web3 to rewrite the playbook for digital music monetization, community engagement and IP co-creation right in front of our eyes, crafting new social and financial incentives around culture on their own terms.
In Water & Music’s first-ever collaborative research report, nearly 40 of our community members across industries, geographies, career stages and skill sets came together to try to make sense of the immense challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for music/Web3's future.
Over the past two months, we’ve:
“Countless treasures are buried along the path to nowhere in particular.”*
We’re Water & Music, a newsletter and research DAO on a mission to empower the music industry with the knowledge, network and skills to do more collaborative, innovative and progressive work with technology.
In December 2021, we will be launching $STREAM, a research token designed to incentivize, credit and reward collaborative knowledge-sharing in music, tech and entertainment. We’re excited to share more info below about the context, utility and roadmap around our token, and how you can get involved today.
Over the past few weeks, Berlin-based creative collective CO:QUO has been hosting a virtual panel series titled Music Futures & Simulacra, exploring the use of “symbols and signs to imagine new futures for the music industry.”
The first panel, focused on the future of NFTs and crypto for music, took place via Zoom and Facebook Live on June 16, featuring perspectives from artists, researchers, developers and curators. With a healthy dose of skepticism and criticism, the discussion dissected not only how artists can leverage NFTs to gain more ownership over their careers, but also the significant cultural, financial and ethical risks associated with this emerging infrastructure that tend to get overlooked in mainstream music-industry conversations.
The full recording of the panel is available on Facebook, but we also wanted to publish a text recap of the key themes and takeaways here on Mirror. This specific platform also gives us a chance to put the panel speakers’ collective enthusiasm for collaborative crypto economics into practice, in even a small way.