Web3 2023

In Beats + Bytes by Nue Agency

Recently, Alex and I were asked for our take on the state of Web3 in music as part of a trend report from Hype Research.

On a macro level, there are many factors that make it hard to predict the future: We have wars in Israel and in the Ukraine; there is looming inevitability around a recession, which is a byproduct of a chopping economic climate; interest rates are sky high and staying there; people are being laid off; and there remains political unrest in the US, which continues to feel overtly divided. We believe there is nonetheless great hope for the power of technology and culture.

One of the best podcast episodes all year was the Tetragrammaton with Ian Rogers and Rick Rubin. If you care about the intersection of music, technology, and culture, this is a worthwhile listen. When Ian was working with the Beastie Boys, he knew Hip-Hop was destined to be a global phenomenon, but never would he have predicted that the Canadian kid in the wheelchair from Degrassi would be the biggest rapper in the world. When he subsequently worked in Silicon Valley with Yahoo! Music and Topspin, he knew digital music was going to be a big thing for the music business, but never would he have thought a Swedish company that incubated out of Europe would become the driving force of music globally. Now that he works in blockchain as Chief Brand Officer at Legder, he’s certain that the ideals of Web3 are going to be realized, it’s just a matter of when. Still, he’s quick to cop to having no idea how and what will make this next era of transactions truly connect.

From our perspective, music is the preeminent trendsetter in digital and culture, and musicians are its sherpas, so you can bet that music will be central to Web3’s growth and use. Brands are the purveyors of art and culture and can thus help amplify that growth and storytelling.

The economic climate may be dicey (we are in a fringe bear market), but the genie is out of the bottle and Web3 isn’t going anywhere; it just needs more use cases, stories, and hits! When we come out of this downturn, great new companies will be born. Following the ’08 crash, paradigm-shifting businesses like Uber, Venmo, Airbnb, Pinterest, Spotify, and Slack took advantage of the burgeoning technologies of the time. A similar tsunami could crest in 2024. Timing is everything when it comes to innovation.

Web3 wasn’t ready for primetime when it broke onto the scene, but we expect new use cases with more intermediary steps: digital collectibles (paired with physical aka phygital), fan club and loyalty communities, digital ticketing, publishing solutions, XR (AR & VR), AI, and digital worlds to name a few.

This won’t necessarily all be on blockchain. Ahead of that development, it’s all about proof of concept for the general public, which still needs greater understanding of the benefits of Web3. It’s time to build! Themes like creator-to-community, digital rights ownership, and special utility for superfans really resonate with us and our enterprise clients, all of which are being done with provenance tracking, smart data capture, curation, taste, and transparency of payment made more seamless “on-chain.”

The truth of the matter is, no one knows what the breakout use cases and complimentary projects will be. It’s very hard to predict these things, as evidenced by Ian Rogers’ experience. But we know music has a vibrant Web3 community with a lot of room to grow. This movement is going to happen and the artists and brands that are willing to put in the effort and experiment now will be rewarded handsomely on the other end. As the space reconfigures from here, there will be a lot of upside.

Here’s the full report on Music & Web3.

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Also published on Medium.