Blockchain and the Music Industry with Cooper Turley from AudiusMar 22, 2021
Host: Hey everybody. Welcome back to the Unstoppable podcast. I'm Diana Chen, your host, and I'm here today with my co-host, Matthew Gold, co-founder and CEO of Unstoppable Domains, and our guest, Cooper Turley. Cooper is a crypto strategist at Audience [phonetic] as well as a writer at The Defiant Camilo Russo's company who we had on last episode and De-Fi. Right. Welcome, Cooper. So happy to have you here.
Cooper Turly: Thank you guys. It's a pleasure to be here.
Host: So just to kick us off, Cooper, I'm just curious, how did you get into crypto in the first place?
Cooper Turly: Yeah, so I found crypto back in 2016. I was doing a music business degree at that point. And one of my professors was talking about smart contracts and the ability to expedite royalty payments. You know, as someone who kind of saw this right off the bat, it made a lot of sense and I just kind of went deep down the rabbit hole, learned about Ethereum, reading the Bitcoin white paper and then finding my way to where I am today.
Host: Got it. So—
Matt: —Well, let's give that professor a shout out because it's actually pretty forward looking. So who's the professor? Let's put him on blast for, for being awesome at educating the students.
Cooper Turly: Yeah, his names are Andy Rock Guerrero, he teaches at CU Denver. This is a close friend of mine. It's someone that I'm very thankful for having as a professor and as a friend.
Matt: All right. Great job, Andy.
Host: That’s awesome. Yeah, shout out to Andy. So other than reading the Bitcoin white paper, how else did you go about learning more about the space, you know, outside of maybe just in a music context and getting more educated on crypto in general and block chain technology and things like that?
Cooper Turly: Yeah, I think just reading literally every white paper that I could find, I must have read about like 200 at the time, granted, they were not the best projects and then today, but I thought it was fascinating to see the way that these things were structured the way that they're being talked about, you know, how people were positioning their team and the way that they built these things. And so just a very deep research experience where I went out of my way to go to the depths of all these ICO sites and all these YouTube channels or whatnot, and just trying to kind of educate myself as much as possible.
Host: Got it. And now in 2021, there's even more resources, even more YouTubers out there that are putting out great content. I think YouTube and Twitter are probably the top two places where people like to go and learn about this space. So definitely lots to check out there. Do you have any, any YouTube influencers or Twitter accounts you want to call out that you just see good content from all the time?
Cooper Turly: Yeah, so you mentioned De-Fi. I think what they're doing is absolutely fantastic. Robin who's leading the video content there. It's the best video content in crypto in my opinion. The - - podcast is fantastic. Highly recommend people check that out. A couple of my friends on Twitter, you know, Ryan Watkins who works for Messari, he's always putting out really amazing content. And then on the NFT side, DCL blogger and his coverage of the space it's fantastic. So there's honestly so many amazing resources these days and I think I've been most impressed by the quality of the content because when I started in 2017, it was a financial first mindset. It was like, this project is going to - - and you should buy it for X, Y, and Z reasons. Whereas today, we can—actually are very analytical about research and analyzing the ways and the reasons why crypto is doing well today.
Host: Love it. And so for listeners who are new to the space, how would you explain crypto to them just in a sentence or two?
Cooper Turly: Yes, I would say it’s about the ownership economy. The platforms that we use everyday, we capture no value for them, and with crypto, it’s reworking that so that if you contribute value to a platform, you’re able to earn that in the form of a token. I think that’s kind of like underpins everything that happens in crypto in my opinion and it just kind of got a way to make that accessible so that everyone can participate.
Host: I’m just curious, what are some of your favorite used cases for crypto that we’ve seen—that we’re seeing in the world already today?
Cooper Turly: Yeah, I may be biased there, but I think what we’re doing at Audius is really powerful. Coming from a music Industry where 99% of the value is captured by a few small actors that established - - ten years ago, being able to have a platform that’s truly - - and operated by its users is an incredibly powerful premise and something that I’m working very actively on today.
Host: That’s awesome. Let's dive into Audius, but right before we do that I'm just curious to—what do you see as some of the, the biggest barriers or obstacles preventing widespread adoption of crypto?
Cooper Turly: I think user experience is Number 1, the fact that most people have to download a meta mask wallet to access the cool things in crypto is definitely not too good. Gas fees obviously right now an obvious answer, but more generally just applications that make sense or an—attractive to people. I think that a lot of the platforms doing well today are very niche focused and people are using them because they're a crypto platform. I'm looking forward to a time when valuable products and platforms just exist and they happen to have crypto under the hood rather than people going out of their way to learn about them because they're a crypto platform.
Host: For sure, and that's what Audius is. So let's dive into that. Tell people what Audius is, what does it do, why was it formed—created in the first place? I’d like you to talk about that.
Cooper Turly: Yeah, so Audius is a decentralized streaming protocol. We wanted to build a platform where artists could better connect with their fans. And the mission that our founder set off on was, you know, today in the world of music, you don't have a lot of data on the fans that you have, you're not able to really connect or interact with them directly. And so with Audius, we wanted to build a really modular platform where content can be shared amongst a global audience of node, node operators and it can be freely exchanged among artists and peers in a way that feels very natural. The analogy I like to use here is 2013 SoundCloud era. This was my favorite time in music, there was this vibrant remix culture. There were all these artists making a career on the back of these amazing collaborations. But the second—that monetization was turned on by SoundCloud and ads were introduced, that whole thing changed. A lot of that collaboration went away, it became a numbers game. Then at Audius, what we want to do is bring back that spirit of the collaborative community and allow these artists to really build deep relationships with their fans, especially in a digital world when they need it now more than ever.
Host: Yeah, that's one of my favorite things about the decentralized web and the decentralized world too, is putting more power into the hands of content creators. And I love the use case that you guys are doing at Audius with musicians. So who's all using the platform right now? Is this something that like all musicians and artists know about already, or is it really just a small percentage of crypto forward and forward thinking artists that are using Audius?
Cooper Turly: I think it's right in the middle. I'm actually really extremely proud of the artists that we’ve brought on board. I want to give a shout out to Clayton and Shane, our Artist Relations team. They've been absolutely killing it the past couple of years. Some names you might recognize, Skrillex, Flux, Pavilion. This last week, Mark Cuban joined our platform. A lot of base acts like - - excision. Basically any big electronic artist you've ever heard of is probably on Audius at this point. And now our challenge for this year is stepping outside of that genre, going more into rap so people like Russ, they're using our platform and then even like, niche genres like Lo-Fi and bedroom pop are kind of where we're starting to see a lot of traction on the more grassroots side of things.
Host: Yeah, if you don't mind sharing, what are some of the plans that you guys have in store for getting more of the mainstream artists onto your platform and spreading the word because that is a huge challenge that all of us in the crypto space face is how do we bring on the masses and quote unquote normal people into this space. So what are some of your plans or strategies for making this appealing to the masses?
Cooper Turly: Yeah, that's a great question. I had an epiphany this week that with what's happening with NFTs and social tokens, Audius is so well positioned to capture all this future of technology movements that are happening. And so I would say to any artists that's listening, if you want to stay up to date on anything cool happening in crypto and beyond, like Audius is the place to do that. And I can say very confidently that if there’s something worth paying attention to in crypto that makes sense for artists, we're going to be the first platform to integrate that.
Matt: So you actually said something earlier that I was interested in getting a little deeper on, which is artists don't really have a connection to their fans anymore, at least, on the older platforms. And you were thinking about data or fan data so that artists could better connect with them. So could you give me a couple of examples of how you guys are thinking about that and how that—how is that going to change the game for artists?
Cooper Turly: Yeah, so right now, if I want to target my Instagram followers, say I have a million Instagram followers, I have to pay a shit ton of money to run an ad campaign to reach like 25% of them. With Audius, what we want to create is channels where you can interact with fans very directly. You don't have to pay to access the breadth of your audience and you can create these more bespoke communities, you know, almost akin to a discord channel. So you’re able to actually have like genuine relationships with them. If you go on Spotify today, there's no way to tell who was listening to your music. You might have some very obscure data about like what region of the world they're located at or how old they are, but being able to do anything on a more personal level is just non existent. And so I think it's that like, genuine one on one relationship, getting to know your fans on a very personal level. We saw this work really well with Facebook groups where artists would go out of their way and create these deep fan communities. But the unfortunate part is that that's completely removed from the music experience. It's a Facebook group, people are sharing content, but in my opinion, those two things should be one in the same, music platform should support a community and allow them to sort of grow and interact with one another. And so at Audius, we want to build an ecosystem where, you don't have to go to a different platform to be able to talk about how much you love an artist or to connect with them in the first place.
Matt: And how does crypto help the artists connect with their consumer more directly? I guess. So how does the crypto fit in? I understand being a platform for artists—I’m just trying to connect the dots.
Cooper Turly: Yeah, I think token permission access is really powerful. It's something I've been working on a lot in the social token space, but being able to sort of gauge who's able to access these groups to be able to filter like who has skin in the game, whether it's an artist with their own social token, or whether it's using the audio platform token. You can sort of customize these experiences where someone must have followed you on the platform, they must have listened to X amount of tracks or something like that, and being able to establish these criteria where in order to be a member of this community, you need to have done some value-added service. I think the quality of those groups goes way up and it's just kind of a nice way to ensure the quality of that group is as high as possible.
Matt: Yeah, and so how does an artist create their own tokens or if they wanted to do—so I guess maybe we should start back with token permission access. It's a big word for a lot of people probably listening and what you're just saying is an artist on the platform can say hey, if you want to have access to my new track or some—any type of action like you want to see this special content, then you have to have this, I guess, ERC 20 token or NFT token. You have to have this crypto token so that you can get to that content. So how—so how does the artist go about creating their own token with Audius? What does that mean? What type of token is it? Is it one of one, is it one of 100? I kind of want to understand a little bit more about that token model for the artist.
Cooper Turly: Yeah, lots to unpack there. What I'd say is that you don't need to have a token to do this. You can get content behind any arbitrary set of actions. Like I said, a follow on the platform, the amount of times you've listened to a song, you know, for those artists that are willing to go deeper. We're starting to see artists like - - experiment with this where he has a currency for his community. And within that he can be really modular about how that's used. I'll be very honest that today, you cannot create a token through Audius and I actually don't think you'll ever be able to do that. Audius acts as sort of an aggregator and a distributor so that if you're going out and playing around with NFTs, with social tokens and you're a little bit further down the rabbit hole, we want to allow Audius that our fan base to kind of be the way that you surface those experiments, and allow people to discover your content. So excited to dive into both of those topics. I'll kind of pause there and maybe you can choose which path to go down next.
Matt: I'm actually uncertain which way I want to go there. So how about you tell me how do you see the market developing, like what are artists doing when they come on to Audius? How does that—how does that set them apart from SoundCloud which is—when I think of platforms for artists who create music, SoundCloud immediately comes to mind. So what's the differentiator between Audius and SoundCloud? And then where does the crypto plug into Audius to make it that—give that ownership that you just can't get in the traditional internet?
Cooper Turly: Yeah, well, I think at its core, the fact that Audius is the decentralized protocol that is owned through a token is inherently different from SoundCloud which is a company that's owned by a few shareholders, right? And so like that Number 1 premise is like the fundamental difference between the two platforms. I'd say as an artist coming onto the platform, being able to earn tokens for uploading content for utilizing our features like remix contest, making playlists, et cetera, you're actually able to earn value without having to go out of your way to like exploit it or use like these campaigns that we see on SoundCloud today, where artists are paying like thousands of dollars to get plays and then earning like a small royalty back. Like at its core, earning tokens for value is really interesting. More granularly from there, I found that people are using Audius, it’s kind of like a home base to jump off into other places in crypto. So you could upload an exclusive track to Audius and then make an NFT that it's back to that song and being able to do cool things where you're tying together your music experience with some of these more interesting crypto experiments like NFTs is kind of the foundation that allows Audius to be a nice jumping off point.
Matt: So that makes sense. And I'll call the point that makes sense. To me, the most—maybe it's the easiest to understand is the remix thing to earn tokens, right? Because like, if I'm on SoundCloud, like yeah, someone could give me a like, like a thumbs up or something. Or maybe they bookmark my song, but it would be much cooler if I could get paid for making something cool. And so I mean, definitely. So I guess that would—if I was to differentiate the two, I would just be like, yeah, you can make music over here, and you'll get nothing for it. But you can make music on this new crypto platform and you could be paid directly. You mentioned one other thing there at the end which I'm interested in because it's a buzzword right now, which is, you create NFTs that connect to songs. So if you don't mind explaining that for people at home, because that's kind of wild, like we've talked about NFTs as artwork a lot, you know, we talked about NFTs as domain names. And then I guess generally we talked about NFTs as—can be any intangible property, like at a very theoretical level the other week. We had an attorney on here, we were chatting about it that way. But now, we're talking about NFTs for songs. So tell me what that means. Like if I create an NFT that connects to a song, yeah, just the mind blowing—so like, what does that mean, and then how do I get one?
Cooper Turly: Yeah, so two different things to touch on here. Number 1, the metadata of an NFT is really modular. So in the case of Audius being able to use content that's hosted on the Audius protocol to plug into that NFT in the first place can kind of like underpin the foundational content there. What I think is workable here is a lot of these NFT now allow you to embed like a secret link. It's like only people who hold that NFT can access whatever the secret piece of content is, and using something like Audius, you can program in a private track link or something that requires you to hold this NFT to access it. And so again, going back to token permission access, I think that this is where NFTs are interesting. You can basically release a private remix that you would never share to the world, but you embed that secret link into your NFT. And the only way to actually access it is to have - - on that NFT in the first place.
Matt: Yeah. And so on the technical side when you're saying secret link, I'm assuming you're just meaning in the ERC 721 NFT token standard, in the field where it's supposed to point to an image or something. It points to an API endpoint that would require the user to sign a message in order to access that content. Am I going too deep on there? Does that sound about right how that's working?
Cooper Turly: I think you're going deep but that is how it works, right. And I think that what's more important here is that for a lot of people, just unlocking a secret link to something is really cool, but what that looks like today is you just sending them a Dropbox file or you just sending them a link, but I think this flow of like you buy something and you get a link directly as a result of purchasing that without there being an interaction from the Creator, I don't have to go out of my way and e-mail you the link or something like that. Like that flow being really natural and autonomous, I think is kind of the, the killer feature here that we haven't really seen before.
Matt: That was really good. I'm sorry, I just got a little nerdy there because I was like, oh, how are they doing that? And that's actually a really cool hack that you guys plugged into that that vertical standard there to work with audio files. And I'm going to think about that more because what Cooper just said there, for people who are tuning in at home is there's actually a way now with these tokens where not only can they represent a specific thing somewhere that maybe you can display like a piece of art or something, but they are using them as more like access tokens. So you can get the one on one release for the Wu Tang album, right? Like I Think—I think the Wu Tang album sold for like $10 million or something to that. That crazy stock trading guy. And he's like the only one who has a copy of it. I just think that's—you could even do this digitally now. So that's pretty neat. Okay, I'll stop nerding out. Diana, I'll pass it back to you if you have some questions for him. I'm looking pretty hard for the last 10 minutes.
Host: I'll let you pause and think about that some more. Cooper, I'm curious, where do you see this industry moving in the next say five or ten years? Like in ten years from now, where are artists going to be in terms of putting out their music, owning their music, connecting with their fans, accessing their data, all of these things?
Cooper Turly: Yeah, the trend that I'm excited about is fractional ownership. I think there's a lot of legal gray area to be solved here but a world that I see is one in which artists can share the upside of their tracks directly with their fans. If I'm someone who finds an artist really early on, there's not really a way for me to be able to signal that or even sharing their upside at all. And what I'm excited for with crypto and fractionalized ownership is I can find an artist or a track really early on, I can contribute to that track in some way, shape, or form. And then I have a smart contract that's issuing me royalties over the lifecycle of the duration that I hold either those tokens or those rights. And so today, you know, those opportunities are really limited to sort of the powers that be, access those opportunities is not something the average fan would ever know about but with these new crypto platforms, I firmly believe we'll have a world where if you find a viral track on Day 1, you're able to sort of stick to that and capture in its upside without having to ask for permission or having to be a deeply connected person in the music industry.
Host: Yeah, and so from a more practical standpoint, what is this going to mean for new and boarding artists? So say you're a new artist and right now, you're just on YouTube, putting out some videos from your house, and nobody really knows about you yet. But say you get discovered by a bunch of people, they can sort of contribute to your fund and get that fractionalized ownership and help you grow. So is it going to be—like in ten years, is it going to be a situation where the artists that are big are people that—are artists that people actually want to see get big? Is it almost like everybody's going to get a vote in terms of which artists they see on, on the big stages?
Cooper Turly: I'm really hopeful that governance will play a role in that in the long term. I think that is somewhere that we're headed. I do think that some gatekeepers are really good. And what's more important here is just democratizing access to these opportunities. So you know, when you have that artists in ten years from now, let's starting from the ground up, if they on Day 1 are sharing pieces of their project with their fans out in section, I think this is a really powerful flywheel in a world today where, specific to crypto, artists are coming in retro actively, they're doing NFTs, they're kind of tokenizing - - work. But as a fan, you're not really capturing direct value from that. You're owning a part of the experience and you're owning a collectible version of the song, which is amazing. But in my opinion, that's like step one of this longer roadmap where if I'm a true fan in the middle of nowhere, but I find your, your profile when you have ten followers, I should be able to really stake my reputation on you and theoretically be able to capture on your upside as you grow as an artist in the future.
Host: And then for the artists themselves, this just popped into my mind say, say I buy an NFT from an artist for an exclusive track and then I sell that to somebody to—I sell that to you because you're really an artist as well, will the artists get a cut of whatever I sell that to you too and then you know, et cetera, et cetera, if you sell it to somebody else, will the artist get a cut every time there's a transaction made on their NFT?
Cooper Turly: Yeah, this is one of the things that are so incredible about NFTs, it’s this secondary sale dynamic where the creator is always getting a royalty on every transaction that happens from now through the end of history. It is so important, and that artist can define that cut out inception. So they can say hey, I want to get 10% on secondary sales, I want to get 50%, but just that premise of not having to worry and go to hound people down to get these payments. This is programmed directly into either A, the platforms where these exchanges are happening or B, into the asset itself using a protocol like Zara. And so I've seen so much amazing response from artists where they'll do this primary drop and they'll make a ton of money be really happy and then like six months later, they'll just have this residual income stream whereas all these assets are being exchanged. They're just getting a cut every single time and it's a really, really beautiful flywheel.
Host: That’s awesome because these artists don’t have to have some kind of connection and get signed with the big label. Anybody can just independently go and produce music as long as what they’re producing is good and it’s what people want to hear. So what are some things, if you can share, that Audius is working on to launch in 2021 that are going to help us move towards this ultimate goal.
Cooper Turly: Yeah, so like I said, Audius is a bedrock for all things - -. Right now, NFTs are the hot conversation. Without sharing too much detail, I think we want to be able to participate in that in a way that feels friendly to new users. So NFTs are a very complicated topic, we recognize that, but what we have to our advantage is 2.5 million users who have an Ethereum wallet and they don't even know it. So on our end, why this is exciting is allowing artists to use their audience profile as a way to showcase their NFTs to show that they're active in this crypto conversation and giving them ways to sort of more broadly market these releases to an audience that really cares about it. In a world today where musicians are trying to kind of cut through the noise and fight amongst every discipline of creator you know, I think it's really important for vertical specific showcases and marketplaces to emerge.
Matt: So just to recap here, and you can hit anything you think I've missed, but it sounds like for new artists, having this type of platform is going to make it easier for them to get discovered because more people are going to have an ability to help them get discovered and participate in that. And then for older artists, it seems like it's going to be easier to monetize like your super fans, because the people who really care about you, you could potentially issue you know, exclusive tokens with special access or NFTs or what have you. And so you'll be able to monetize a super fan. So for older artists, it’s a way to continue making money maybe past the time where you're—when you're in the charts, but you're still very popular with a base that really cares about you. You get a higher percentage of revenue from your creation, you know, you get 90% instead of one. I'm a really big fan of that. I think it's awful what we've been doing to the creative economy for the past 20, 30 years. You have more ways to monetize in general and then you're just touching on the end, the lot more control. So - - the summit - - I did an okay job there.
Cooper Turly: Yeah, absolutely, man. And I'd say like on the discovery side of things, I'm not going to pretend that people are going out of their way and making and breaking acts because they file them on Audius yet. But I do think that to your point about true fans, the community that we've incubated so far and the support around creators that are taking crypto seriously, if you want to be respected as someone that is actually giving crypto the time of day and trying to figure out how to incorporate that into your brand, there's literally no better place to do that than getting started on Audius and using that as sort of the foundation for all these amazing - - experiments that you want to try out.
Matt: All right. Well, let's transition a little bit. I'm actually kind of curious about you more specifically. So what is your job as a crypto strategist? And I also see you on Twitter, a lot of places. So how do you—how do you encapsulate what you do?
Cooper Turly: Yeah, it's a great question. So my job is to help the users of Audius who have never heard of crypto before understand what the hell's going on, while at the same time making sure people who trade shit coins every day, respect and know that Audius is a platform that is catering to all of their deepest desires. And so I sort of sit right in the middle between this very deep educated crypto audience and this really, really knew and green and user base and want to play the role of like, this is why you should care about crypto but at the same time, this is how we're designing it in such a way that when someone comes to really do their due diligence on this, they understand that we're thinking about it in a really thoughtful manner. What that looks like is obviously ensuring that our, our brand and our presence is known in the Ethereum ecosystem. So you'll see us on a lot of podcasts like this and sort of different outlets that show that we're really deeply ingrained in the space. And then more specifically on a product level when you see things like this new tiers feature that we rolled out, or this AirDrop that we did a couple months ago, you know those are all projects that I play a pretty big role in stewarding.
Matt: Yeah. And then I guess, maybe on a more personal level, what are some of the most recent projects you've been involved in? I'm actually kind of curious about the people B20 token. Do you mind taking people through kind of what's going on out there for artists like, more broadly and specifically? I want to hear about people B20.
Cooper Turly: Yeah. So outside of Audius, I've been working with a ton of creators just to help them figure out what their - - strategy is. Today, that takes the form of NFTs. In the past couple of months, it's been social tokens. So I worked very closely with RAC on his social token, RAC coin, and I also work closely with a community called FWB. That's like a culture crypto crossover community. Outside of that, you know, I want to try and stay up at all the trends that are happening. So you mentioned B20. And when the—before everything drops happened, which is largely regarded as what kicked off this massive NFT wave, there were these really rare and exciting pieces. One entity went out of their way to purchase the bulk majority of those, and they took them and they fractionalized ownership of them using a social token. And so you know, B20 is the social token that represents these underlying people everyday collection pieces. That's kind of what gives it its like underlying value, quote, unquote. But more specifically than that, they went out of their way to launch this virtual world experience that kind of give it the platform and the showcase that it deserves. I think kind of in light of what we're seeing with people today, having just sold his nifty gateway piece for $6.6 million on the secondary market. The Christie's Auction that's going on right now. Yeah, he's really being held up on a pedestal as kind of like the pioneer in this movement, and having to—finding a way to be able to participate in that from a very small level through a fractionalized token like this is actually really important in a world where most of these pieces now are kind of six figures at minimum to be able to collect.
Matt: Interesting. And just a step back for people at home. So - - real quick—and I just looked him up online, but it sounds like he's just a he's been in the community for a while, graphic artist and videographer is an accurate description that he's been just making artwork and various videos to go—and then he's been tying that into these NFTs I guess, more recently?
Cooper Turly: Yeah, and very statement specific. The art that he creates is very much in the moment. It kind of encapsulates a lot of the trends that are happening in the real world and sort of—as somebody who had a lot of successes and Instagram designer who kind of had this prolific brand for the images he created. Obviously, there's commissioned work on the side, but there's never a way for him to sort of directly monetize his work as - -. And so NFTs became so important because he was able to take these really prolific creations he was making and offer them in a scarce way such that the creators and supporters of him could really, rally around behind this. Yeah, I mean, it's been fantastic. I'll share here really quick, I have my, my - - NFT that I got, and I think this is just kind of a testament to like how cool and creative this space is. As someone who's collected Pokémon cards his whole life and stuff like this, specific collectible was one of the coolest things I've ever owned, if not the coolest thing I've owned and just goes to show that NFTs go much deeper than a bunch of random people collecting things on the internet.
Matt: And so people is mostly—so people mostly are—but you also mentioned another thing that was pretty interesting, which was RAC or is it RAC? I don't know which way it goes, but you were also saying he had a social token which was a little bit—a little bit different. So let's go back to that because I'm actually curious what that was if you don't mind helping us catch up here?
Cooper Turly: Yeah, so RAC is an extremely well versed musician, probably the most knowledgeable person when it comes to crypto that I know personally. He's been doing NFT experiments for a long time. He did a drop on ZORA called tape where he tokenized a limited edition cassette tape. And as these experiments kind of panned out, he started to recognize that his true fans in his community are like the most important thing about his project. He's been growing a very strong following on Twitch. He has a Patreon channel that's been doing really well, but they're all very fragmented. There was no way to sort of tie all these people together. And so we started to build this discord and at that point, it became a question of like, what can we do to make these people more empowered to give them a spirit—more spirit of ownership, and that's where this token came into play. So in partnership with ZORA, he basically created an ERC 20 token called RAC. This allowed fans to basically hold it for more exclusive access in that community and then also discounts on merchandise and it's a really cool stuff that we're working on in terms of creating like a Web3 fan club where if you're a super user of his community, you can kind of access you know, NFTs and collectibles and all these really rare and exclusive things through this token as access.
Matt: And then just for the—for the artist out there, compared to how much RAC is making on Spotify, royalties, it's not even close, right, what he's able to do in the crypto community and actually directly monetizing individuals, direct artists to consumer.
Cooper Turly: Yeah, and I think that's where the NFT stuff he's been doing has been really important because for him, being able to monetize on the behalf of these exclusive works is really fitting for his brand. I treat the social token as kind of more of like a community glue, where when he starts touring again, being able to use this token as a way to attract fans to attend shows and whatnot. It's going to be really great, but I think it's important to recognize that social tokens in my opinion should not be treated as revenue. It's kind of like a community participation vehicle. And if you can find a way to like really engage and energize your community, there will be ways to monetize on behalf of them that don't feel very speculative in nature which is unfortunately what we see with a lot of tokens today.
Matt: Yeah, yeah. I guess what you're saying is if you can create a community where people are more engaged, then they're probably also more likely to show up to your concert, right, and they're also more likely to buy your merchandise, or listen to your e-mail or come and check out some new work that you may have released or something like that or buying NFT. Okay. All right. I get it. I think—I think I'm—I think I am fully, fully versed on social token and the people phenomenon.
Cooper Turly: Nice.
Host: Well, so another artist who sort of following the footsteps of RAC is Blau [phonetic]. He's actually dropping his debut album, Ultraviolet, today. We're recording this on February 25th. You'll be listening to it a little bit later. But tell me a little bit more about that and what he's doing around that including his Shopify store and tell us about that.
Cooper Turly: Yeah, so Blau was really forward thinking when it came to predicting this NFT wave that's happening today. He's someone who is a really early user of super nifty gateway, has been doing drops for close to two years at this point. And more recently, when he sort of noticed how awesome this NFT space was, I think he wanted to go a step beyond sort of the de facto standard of doing like NFT gateway release. And so in partnership with origin, he built this specific platform where fans can come and bid on limited versions of his, his last album, Ultraviolet, so every single on that record now has a limited edition cassette tape. You can purchase that as an NFT and there's sort of this auction like experience where those top collectors are able to have these deeper relationships with him. For example, being able to collaborate on his next track, being able to sort of go and hang out with him in Las Vegas, like, do all these cool things that just sort of go above and beyond owning an NFT and kind of packaging that up in such a way that he could be really modular about its design because he built his own platform to be able to facilitate something like this.
Host: It's awesome. So there's obviously a lot of hype around NFTs right now. These artists are coming out, doing these things. But you know, beyond the hype, like what happens after this? Do you see this trend continuing to go on and on and on this hype, just like keeps getting bigger and bigger? Or is this something that we're going to get over and we're going to go back to real life? Like, where do you see this NFT hype going in the future?
Cooper Turly: So NFTs are not going anywhere. What's going to change is the rate at which these NFTs are selling and the price points at which they're selling for. Right now, anyone can basically release any NFT and get like a couple - - for it, you know, that's not going to stick around much longer, quite frankly. But what will exist is artists being able to use a digital medium to share collectibles with their fan base. And so I'm looking forward to is a world in which there are $20 collectibles and there's 10,000 people buying them from a global act like BTS or something like that, which is kind of in parallel to something that we're seeing now, which is more niche specific, you know, one of one auctions and drops where it's like $10,000 to collect. I think those worlds will coexist, but I think the major difference here is going to be—it's going to be hard to sell an NFT. I think today, people are being rewarded for being able to use the technology, but in the future and just based on the conversations I've been having, we're going to start seeing a market where supply is drastically outpacing demand. And the same way you need to market correctly to stand out in music, people are going to have to be really thoughtful about how they're releasing these NFTs, that there's actual demand to collect them in the first place.
Host: Got it. Got it, makes sense. All right. - - any other questions before we dive into the next segment?
Matt: No, I think I wouldn't want to—I wouldn't want to dig too much further. I already feel like we've blasted you with like 100 questions in less than 30 minutes. So I think we did pretty good here. I'm interested to see how you perform at our next section though. We're going to do—we're going to go by—Diana is going to roll through—explain your tweet, and I'm going to let her—I'm going to let her run it since that's her show.
Host: Yeah, so this is just where I go through your Twitter account, pull out some tweets that are interesting or cryptic or funny, whatever the case and give you a chance to explain it and you're very active on Twitter and you have tons of great content. So I'm just going to pull out two or three today for the sake of time, but people definitely go follow Cooper, Cooper Turley on Twitter and go, go read his content. It's really good. So first one, this is from just yesterday, you tweeted, “Music blogs are about to make a big comeback. Thanks to NFTs, curation is key.” So we talked obviously, this whole podcast episode about music, but music blogs, we haven't really hit on. What do you mean by that?
Cooper Turly: Yeah, so in 2013, when SoundCloud was popping off, the way that the songs went viral was when they got covered by these big outlets. So back in college I used to write for a blog called, This Song in Sec, this was an amazing music discovery tool. A lot of artists are being broken through that. There are remixes that were going to the top of the charts and they kind of went through the cycle where you would get covered on This Song in Sec, you would get listed on something called Hype Machine. And based on that chart, whoever placed at the top of it was kind of seen as like the best song of the week per se. What we're going to see with NFTs now is with all these new musicians getting into this space. A lot of these blogs are going to start covering NFTs in a very dynamic way, similar to what that experience looked like with the music era a couple years back. And I think that for more of these retail oriented NFT drops, so ones that are meant to be more democratized and meant to be more like fan oriented, I know for a fact that a lot of blogs are looking into how to cover that and how to sort of give it a spotlight above and beyond what we're seeing today which is very nice focused.
Host: That is very cool. I look forward to seeing that too. All right. Next tweet. This is from a couple of days ago. You tweeted, “Price is not an indicator of success.” What was going on in your mind when you tweeted that?
Cooper Turly: Yeah, so there's a lot of projects, especially today, we're like there's tokens that will go up, you know, 1,000% in 14 days, and everyone will say that it is the greatest thing in the world. In my opinion, using the token price is the leading indicator, it's whether or not a token is valuable is really fundamentally broken. And I think that for a lot of people, it's obvious to think because the token went up that they're doing cool and amazing things but I would encourage everyone to take ten minutes to look under the hood of whatever tokens going up and see if there's actually something of value being created there, or if there has been a group of community members that have a vested interest in seeing it go up in price.
Host: Got it. Okay. And then last tweet that I'll call out on this podcast. This is from February 21st. You tweeted, “Continually impressed by the quality of Z NFTs released on our Zuora it turns out strong culture attracts extremely talented creators.” Zuora, you mentioned that earlier in the podcast. For listeners who aren't familiar with what that is, can you explain what that is and then what you meant by your tweet?
Cooper Turly: Yeah, it's an open protocol for NFT creation. So kind of similar to - - today. Anyone can - - NFTs on the platform. The way that Zuora rolled out is you have to have an invite from another trader to get on, similar to Clubhouse. This is kind of pre facing this world in which anyone can freely mint on it but I was kind of worried that with the lack of curation from the team, you know, you see on Super Foundation ND Nifty Gateway, there's like some—a gate that you need to go through to be able to release, and that maintains that there's really high quality on - - which - - you kind of seen this like long tail assets that are quite frankly just really shit. But what Zuora, I was really impressed by the fact that all the craters that were on there were releasing all this amazing work. They got an invite from one of their friends, but just sort of the culture behind it kind of forced people to have like this really high quality creation. And beyond sort of the visual experiences that we see on foundation, people are playing clips of like them skateboarding or writing blog posts. They're kind of like doing these like blog type videos that just feel like really natural and personal. And I guess to me, like someone who collects NFTs is really actively—the culture around that I'm seeing on there, it's really unique and something that I've found a lot of pleasure out of collecting.
Host: Awesome. Give people something else to check out as well. Thank you so much, Cooper. This is great. And not to speak for you, Matt. But I think both of us learned a lot and we've got a lot to think about from our conversation. So really appreciate you being here and sharing a little bit more about entities especially in the music space with people. So before you go, just tell people where they can find you if they want to connect with you personally, where they can learn more about Audius. And then what are some cool, just easy and interesting things that people can do on Audius right away both for artists as well as for consumers?
Cooper Turly: Yeah, so best place to follow me would be on Twitter at Cooper Turley. Audius, we're at Audius project on Instagram at Audius. To get started with Audius today, I'd recommend just signing up. You can log in with an e-mail and a password. You have an Ethereum wallet but no need to worry about key management which is really exciting. Head over to our trending page, we have so many amazing artists that are doing like really incredible things. So I'd say get started there and outside of that, just stick around and kind of keep an eye out for some of the resources I'm working on. So I really want to play an active role in helping to cover and help people understand the space. So I'm hoping that I can share some content that resonates with you.
Matt: I appreciate.
Host: Thanks so much, Cooper. This is great.
Cooper Turly: Yeah, thank you guys.
Host: Yeah, thanks, Matt, for being here as always. Thank you. Well, thanks, listeners for tuning in. We'll be back again soon with another episode of the Unstoppable podcast.