Words cannot express how much I admire Emma Miller. Firstly for her talent which produces folky, singer-songwriter tracks touched with a gorgeous Scottish tang. Secondly, because if there’s any artist in the web3 space encouraging new artists to come on board in a jargon-free, art-first, approachable and inspiring fashion, it is Emma. Today, April 3rd, marks the launch date of her latest collection, “Artifacts”. To celebrate the launch, I had the pleasure of speaking with her about what web3 can truly offer the modern artist. Super honoured to say that she also listens to my music and has kindly welcomed and interviewed me on her spaces before which take place every Monday to Friday at 12pm UK time.
Rosa: Could you tell us about when you first discovered and entered the world of web3?
Emma: I first discovered crypto in 2020 as a way to make some passive income and continue making music. I got my fingers burnt later but luckily was sensible with my investments so didn’t lose too much. I discovered the music space, however, in spring of 2022 – so only a year ago. I was introduced to the space through fellow web3 music artists, Josh Savage and Violetta Zironi’s spaces where I started passively listening and learning and then engaging in the chat.
Rosa: Why should new artists get invested in the web3 music community? I think since it is still so new many artists question the point.
Emma: The game changer for me with web3 is that it takes away most perceivable barriers between artist and listener in various tiers. So you can still have the passive listener as well as the mega engaged, invested listener. If we compare it to web2, we can’t see the names, faces or identities of new Spotify followers for example. We might be able to see where they are based but these are real people who have clicked “follow” on my profile and yet I still don’t know how to connect with them – that’s a barrier of data which can be broken down in web3.
Even though Twitter is a web2 platform, they’ve really tapped into something with the spaces tab, giving artists the ability to directly connect, voice to voice, with listeners. The pedestal is removed and I think that fast tracks engagement and engagement that is direct rather than passive which often happens in web2.
Rosa: Do you think the music industry would benefit from putting artists on more of a ground level? Authenticity is such a buzzword especially on the likes of TikTok. Do you think consumer desire for less ‘stardom’ and more connection is heightened in web3?
Emma: While web2 promotes engagement, it is still very much a one way connection. I have struggled to find a voice on socials because I like a back and forth type of engagement. For this reason, web3 has allowed me to flourish because I can have that type of dynamic in spaces.
Rosa: From a feminist point of view, it is so refreshing for us to be known for our voice – and voice alone in spaces – rather than having to project a visual image of yourself. In web3 there are so many women thriving in the space especially from a business standpoint. Are you inspired by this?
Emma: I’m definitely excited by it. One of the powerhouses in the space is Violetta Zironi who is such a businesswoman and advocates for artists to have an independent mindset. She’s passionate about artists taking more responsibility for themselves. I resented this at first because I just wanted to do the music but the more and more I’ve taken charge the more empowered I feel. Thanks to blockchain decentralisation you can build so much on your own. Violetta just set up her own marketplace for example which is a facility web2 just doesn’t allow for many artists.
Rosa: I guess that Violetta was also able to do this because she has built such a strong community, it is almost guaranteed that a percentage of these fans will utilise or invest in a new launch such as a new marketplace. How would you advise artists to build these strong communities?
Emma: I want to first address DeGen culture which is common in the space and where artists are present all hours into the night, grinding on spaces from dawn till dusk. This is one approach and an admirable one but coming from web2 where your mental health is already challenged, oftentimes the last thing you want to face as an artist is to spend time all day on spaces. Having said that, I do believe that Twitter spaces are a great point of call to enter the web3 space as it’s easy and there is already a great community of music artists on there. I would suggest thinking about what you can offer the web3 space before you dive in straightaway. Asking questions is super important but think about how you can add to the community especially beyond the surface jargon. I love when new people come into the space because it’s so inclusive and welcoming. For example, an artist who has been entering my spaces for the past few months has now been brought on by Sound XYZ. So come to a few spaces, take your time and then get actively involved.
Rosa: Are you inspired by the music in the space?
Emma: I listen to so many genres of music in the Twitter spaces but my personal genre that I make and have fallen in with is singer-songwriter. So many of these artists are so well established in their craft that it isn’t about web2/web3 artists, it’s just another space for the community to thrive. It’s just a cool scene where my personal music taste is thriving. I’m blown away by the talent that exists in the web3 space, such as yourself Rosa!
Rosa: Well I’m very flattered and return the compliment right back! I also think it’s great that you’re shining a light to your genre. It seems that many brands and music fans alike outside of the web3 space assume that music in the space is all very technological and futuristic but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Like you said, it’s not about the tech, it is just another place for us to connect and find community in a unique way and make the most of the web3 technology to connect with our fans.
Emma: Exactly. There’s a Country artist in the space called Sammy Arriaga who happened to make one song about the tech in web3 but all his other music covers more traditional topics or themes that feel true to him.
Rosa: Where do web3 artists reside – is it in web3 and does web3 technically exist yet?
Emma: It’s important to realise that as artists in the web3 space we do live in a bubble. While Twitter is a great jumping place, a lot of the culture exists outside of that and even in IRL events or platforms like Sound XYZ where listeners are discovering artists directly through these platforms. For this reason I am doing more outreach in person here in Edinburgh but the resistance is crazy. I went to a music shop to hand out a flyer and they seemed interested until I mentioned NFTs which brought on a disgruntled reaction – that really made me realise how much of a bubble we live in and how web3 has such a reputation from people that haven’t entered the space for a second. I think as a community we should address this reputation and change it for the better.
Rosa: While that is unfortunate to hear, it doesn’t surprise me in a way. I often feel like the marketing around web3 needs to change. Should we remove terms like NFTs altogether for example? How do you think it could be made more attractive for both artist and consumer?
Emma: It’s a tough one and comes down to whether we think web3 will be for everyone and I think a large scale of it will be when technology advances. California actually uses the blockchain to register car licence plates
Rosa: No way!
Emma: Yeah! And that is a great example of web3 tech being used without explicitly talking about the tech itself and this is already happening! In regards to music and bringing people across to music NFTs, I don’t see that happening in the current state of the market as it just isn’t accessible compared to a stream or even 99p iTunes song or physical vinyl. Web3 right now does prioritise investors. But I do think it will get to a stage, as it did with web2, when it isn’t so much about the tech anymore and it may be for everyone to use.
Rosa: I am a firm believer in never gatekeeping information that can benefit artists so why should artists develop a community in web3 and financially what can web3 offer artists?
Emma: Financially it has the potential to offer artists complete financial freedom. Again it can be tiered. If you only want to make music in web3 your community can become your label. We have been so brainwashed to devalue our art and do things for exposure and not receive financial reward for your skillset and hard work. If you think about the feeling your favourite artist gives you, you can then get into the mindset of a collector. When I entered the space I thought “who would buy this NFT for $100?” but they did and more! So artists gain emotional support, finances, a new community and more. The crypto market is a crazy and unstable world. For me I want to invest my financial support from web3 into curating further work for web2 such as shows and merch. Having my web3 community’s support to do this is fantastic.
Rosa: As an independent artist, your web3 community is your clientele. How do you keep a new listener intrigued and interested in the space?
Emma: If the listener has heard me chat, he is more likely to request to speak and talk to me. The likelihood of him clicking follow and coming back is so high because he has had direct engagement especially if I DM him after the space and thank him for coming by. This creates an onward and sustainable conversation and connection. Consistency is also helpful as long as it is measured, you don’t need to go crazy. I do daily spaces at midday from Monday to Friday and without that structure and boundary I don’t think I’d be able to sustain it.
Rosa: To end our lovely conversation, please tell us about your latest NFT project and why should we invest
Emma: My drop is actually the largest collection to ever come from a UK artist. The collection is entitled Artifacts and goes live on Monday April 3rd at 5pm UK time. It is a 1000 piece Music NFT collection consisting of 5 original songs and unique artwork featuring references to my life, passions and history. Traits activate several different levels of utility including access to shows, vinyl, live streams, workshops, songs written to your personal brief and much more. The artwork is actually designed by my mum!
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