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Black Dave on Sound Swap

tl;dr: I’m dropping a song on Sound called I Love This Shit! featuring Stonez the Organic using their new drop format, Sound Swap. It goes Live on April 4th, at 3PM Eastern.

Hi. Been a while. My first personal NFT drop of the year hits the streets very soon (tomorrow(!!!) as of the writing of this post), and I’m taking a dive into a new type of drop, and since I have many thoughts about it, I decided to write about it. I hope you’re doing well. Let’s go:

So I’m dropping a song called I Love This Shit! Featuring Stonez the Organic, and I know no one cares about the song itself, but it reminds me of those interludes in albums where the song isn’t actually the artist but is almost completely a different artist. This one has Stonez almost all through it and I just produced and capped it off with a…hook? Is it a hook? Think about Drake’s song Buried Alive Interlude, which is actually all Kendrick Lamar with no Drake vocals, or Kendrick’s song Savior (Interlude) which is all Baby Keep with no Kendrick vocals. That’s kinda how I think about the song…if anyone cares. Insert a paragraph about how we’re in an obnoxious financialization period of Music NFTs and a lot of the content doesn’t matter if the hype machine is properly set up.

I think the song is wonderful and really reflects the type of energy I’m going for, but what’s most interesting about this drop is the mechanics surrounding it. I’m not new to trying things on Sound, I was the first artist to do a free mint, I marketed my first drop with 20 minutes of behind the scenes content, I minted an edition of 12 NFTs, making 11 of them free and the last at the max price of .1 ETH…I’ve played around with things. The way this new drop works, dubbed Sound Swap, is that it takes place in two phases. The first phase is an open edition NFT, nothing new or special there. The pricing is set at .005 ETH ($9.06 as I type this) per edition. The second phase is the where you enter the swap period, allowing you to sell your NFTs without a buyer, as long as the demand is higher than the supply in this period. The pricing adjusts based on demand. If more folks are buying, the price in phase two is higher, If more folks are selling, the price in phase two is lower, all the way down to the initial mint price. We’ve seen models that appear similar to phase two with Glass’s Prism drop format and Decent’s Crescendo format (which are both very different under the hood)…but Sound sets themselves apart, to me, with the open edition at the front of the model. The open edition allows the artist to capture as much value as possible from the folks who were there on time, and as things grow, the folks who are a bit later can still get in, but it comes with a bit of a penalty through the increased price if the demand is high enough.

Sound Swap Pros

Sound is looking to move away from the (often toxic) sellout culture and is looking for ways that artists have an opportunity to capitalize on their growth, and especially on viral moments. I’ve expressed similar beliefs in this long term, “always on” model, where you always something in an open/unlimited edition for sale as people discover you and want to find a way to financially get into your ecosystem. I wrote about it here. I’m a firm believer that you don’t have to own someone’s NFT to be involved in their community, but I do think that a lot of artists see it as an opportunity to build with folks who have built (bought) with them. The open edition, followed by the Sound Swap, allows for you to build the community as large as it could possibly get. The larger the community, the more possibility you have to activate at a larger scale around token ownership.

Although I’m largely disinterested in market mechanics that overly support collectors (because I’m more interested in providing experience), this is also useful to them because as long as there’s any amount of continued demand for the specific NFT, they can sell at a possibly higher number than they bought in. The only utility that seems to actually matter in web3 is if the number goes up, so that’s important to consider…even as an artist.

If you circle back to the vial moments I mentioned in the beginning of this section, if a song has a viral moment and you’re able to direct everyone to the Sound Swap, you’ll have a big opportunity to make money, in larger amounts and much faster than DSPs. Collectors who got in during phase one will be able to sell with no need to wait on a secondary buyer and be able to make a profit from that belief in you.

There are many upsides to this model and using this approach, if you’re looking to play/use it the right way.

Sound Swap Cons

Sound Swap, in its experimental glory (one of my favorite things (experimental glory)), doesn’t fully align with how I wanna move in web3. I’ve been excited about the opportunity of NFTs, specifically music, to have the same value as fine art. This really resonated with me as someone who makes rap music, which has massive cultural value that I believe should translate to financial value. “Free to listen, expensive to own” was a motto of the bull market that really resonated with me…and as we cross being in the bear market for a year, from experimenting with free mints, cheap mints, open editions and more, I think we’re getting further away from the idea of music as fine art and more to the idea of music as a commodity. Maybe commodity is the wrong word and if I spin it into something like “music as a community” then my marketing team (it’s me I’m the marketing team) might like it more.

When I think about NFTs, I am still a fan of the ideas of scarcity and uniqueness, and I worry that making things too easy to get may have an adverse effect on the idea that NFTs are inherently unique and rare.

Obviously the answer is “just don’t do it then” but in spite of this con, I think if there’s a home for this style of drop in your system you should consider it.

My Take

This is the first real week of Sound Swap, but I’m seeing mints happen in large amounts, and it makes me wonder if we should have continued down the path of a differently priced open edition instead. I’ve seen folks offer different perks for minting in bulk. In the days leading to this post, and the drop, I’ve been trying to think about this sort of methodology myself, and there were a couple things I wanted to try to do, but because of the splits of this specific song, it requires people to mint multiples higher than I would want people to have to get in order to make it happen. Adding to this, I’m not so much interested in saying “give me as much money as you can” as I am saying “go ahead and get one” and hoping that I can reach a very wide audience, as opposed to trying to stick my hand as deeply into the pockets of folks as I can. These are the very beginning phases of this drop, and I know it will iterate and evolve over time, so I’m approaching this drop with an open mind to anything. I’ll worry about what sorts of experiences I’ll build for collectors later, but it’s definitely on my mind.

I believe any web3 tool built by a marketplace/platform/etc is only as powerful as we, the artists, make it, so I’m going to approach this with an open mind and think about all of the best ways I can present this to the world.

I hope that everyone who has ever wanted an NFT from me gets one of these, and if you want to mint many to show your support, go for it.

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