As a musician, I am biased, but I’d argue that of all the arts we, music, tends to be the most rebellious. Of course, like any body, one part cannot exist without the other. What would the Sex Pistols be without Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren? Lana Del Rey’s soft, sultry ballads just don’t hit as hard without her grainy 60s Americana visuals. I mean, who even is Jennifer Lopez without an iconic dance break?
Nevertheless, it does tend to be the musicians who lead the big middle finger up at convention – or perhaps our message is just clearer and more explicit because it is lyrical rather than physical.
We strike again in the world of web3. As cryptocurrencies and the projects they power — from metaverses to NFT art galleries to fashion shows — have gained traction over the past several years, flocks of self-identified outsiders have gathered around and in them. Those outsiders are now making the rules we all live by. But even if what was once considered rebellion is by its nature doomed to become the establishment, that doesn’t mean the rebellious, revolutionary spirit doesn’t persist.
Music artists, producers and lovers in the web3 space are truly shaking up the industry. Let’s take a closer look.
The metaverse as a whole also promises a more democratic future for music production, where fans will have as much of a say in what goes into a song, a record or an album sleeve as its creator does. Given that artists like Snoop Dogg helped turn NFTs from a niche interest into a mainstream craze, it’s no surprise that music is central (or de-central) to the essence of Web3. But if the trend keeps up, the way we regard and consume music could increasingly be decided by the many as opposed to the few. In web2 Spotify currently takes a huge cut out of artists’ royalties and tends to act as an unwanted middleman. In web3, artists are for themselves and their fans alone.
Metaverses like Decentraland and The Sandbox are developing the sophistication to serve as concert arenas, and major artists ranging from BTS to Ariana Grande to Lil Nas X have test-driven virtual performances. Current Metaverses have gotten a fair amount of flak for not being the most aesthetically appealing or realistic. Twitter teardowns notwithstanding, we are getting more and more authentic representations of life in the Web3 sphere, and the momentum shows no signs of letting up. Travis Scott’s lucrative performance on Fortnite, which raked in roughly $20 million, is a great example of a well-marketed experience bridging the gap between web2 and web3 with a sense of seamless transition.
As another generation of artists rises, they’re likely going to rely more and more heavily on virtual means of connection, distribution and visibility. Likewise, NFT projects could help established and up-and-coming visual artists — including budding album cover and concert poster designers — to capitalize on the long-held tradition of fan art celebrating beloved musicians. Who knows, the metaverse could become the preferred platform for a wide array of fine artists.