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:
The result is a first-of-its-kind, five-part syllabus on the state of music/Web3 in 2021, with a collection of market maps, databases, best practices and calls to action for music-industry stakeholders to use Web3 as a tool for fostering a more innovative, sustainable and equitable environment for everyone involved.
You can follow along with our drop schedule, plus browse a full list of our member-contributors for Season 1, by visiting stream.waterandmusic.com — and/or read on for more details below.
Our collaborative report will be dropping in five parts — one for each weekday this week — in the following order and on the following topics:
We will also be holding members-only deep-dive sessions throughout this week in our Discord server, to give our community an opportunity to give us feedback and ask us follow-up questions about our research:
All Season 1 contributors will receive a $STREAM airdrop on Sunday, December 19 alongside a retroactive $STREAM airdrop to longtime members of our community, including our most engaged Discord server members, supporters from our Patreon days and previous guest writers.
One of the most exciting aspects of covering emerging trends in music and entertainment is the opportunity to experiment tangibly with the technologies we are covering. To that end, it only makes sense for a sprawling report about the state of music/Web3 that we also offer options for readers to support our work on-chain.
We’re excited to launch a genesis NFT collection to commemorate Season 1 of $STREAM, consisting of two parts:
The artwork for these tokens is designed by Water & Music member Ana Carolina — a visual designer from Brazil with experience in entertainment marketing, who is now looking to explore how Web3 and decentralization can enrich music discovery and artist/fan experiences.
Ana also led design for the visual identity of our collaborative report as a whole. After going down several rabbit holes on Behance and Dribbble, we arrived at a more muted blue/pink color palette and leaned more into softer, grainier and more papery textures (mood boards here, here and here), in the hopes of crafting a warmer, more approachable aesthetic that stood out from the plethora of shiny/metallic/neon logos elsewhere in the Web3 universe. Each of the five circular icons you see in the limited-edition and 1/1 NFTs corresponds to the cover design for a specific thread of our report.
Collectively, these tokens represent the first official opportunity to support our work and community on-chain. Revenue from sales of these NFTs will be split in the following way:
The NFTs will come with the following perks:
We’re thrilled to showcase these early fruits of our DAO and collaborative research model to the world, and would love to bring you on board with us as we continue on our Web3 journey.
If you're interested in staying up to date with our token strategy, upcoming collaborative research seasons and opportunities to get involved in our community, please fill out this general interest form. (Identifying information on the form like ethnicity, gender and location are 100% optional, but will be helpful for us as we look to recruit and curate a diverse range of contributors for future research seasons.)
Water & Music is 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. We’ve been early to report on several cutting-edge industry trends — from music avatars and niche streaming services to several different strands of music and Web3 including music NFT drops, Web3-native music communities and crypto-based royalty payments.
Our community is home to over 1,500 paying members across music and entertainment, spanning everyone from emerging artists and startup founders to marketers, investors and C-Suite executives at major music companies. What makes our work stand out is our relentless curiosity, our penchant for experimentation, our passion for interdisciplinary thinking and our recognition of constructive critique as a driving force of progress in music, tech and culture.
2021 is a major transitional year for us as we shift from solely covering Web3 from a critical/research lens, to embracing Web3 rails ourselves as builders and operators. We are proud alums of the Seed Club accelerator (Cohort #3) and are excited to be rolling out $STREAM, our research token framework for incentivizing, crediting and rewarding collaborative knowledge-sharing in music, tech and entertainment, this month.