As we move forward together into the web3 space, and continue to evolve how and why we release NFTs, it’s important to note that the backbone which supports all of these movements stands on one thing: community. The theme of this new era of music and releases is no longer artist to fan, but artists building with fans, together as part of the shared community evolving together into a new territory.
Below are some suggestions from our team on how to build a community: prior to releasing an NFT, as part of an NFT launch, and post NFT-release. If we can embrace NFT releases as a small part of a big picture journey into developing a true collaborative community between artists and fans, then the benefits of releasing an NFT can go beyond just a one-off payday (which ultimately could hurt your long-term relationship with your fans).
Check out these seven steps ways towards building a community, and let us know in our Discord, if you have any additional suggestions to add to the mix.
- Have an open mind when it comes to new opportunities and revenue streams. Be willing to make mistakes.
For some artists, releasing music the traditional way, touring around records and selling merch is enough. Perhaps they don’t financially need the support of new revenue streams, or they simply want to stop there - and everyone can make that decision for themselves. However, for those looking to jump into web3, support new models and creative ways of thinking about art and the artist-fan relationship, it’s important to go into this space with an open mind.
If you’ve experimented with new tech or if you consider yourself a pioneer in new lanes (like gaming, live streaming and nontraditional social media), then you’re already on the right path. Plus your fans may already be primed to go on this journey with you. Because we are all navigating this new space together, and as with all pioneers in a new landscape, not everything is going to work, and there has to be a willingness to try new things and roll with the punches. Having an open mind and a creative outlook is an excellent way to lean into a space where you’re building the car as you’re driving it. That means not being overly precious with every step in the process, taking risks and being open to road bumps along the way.
- Solidify your voice and your vision and be authentic.
Web3 relies on community - connection between the fans and the artist, as well as between fans with one another. While social media has helped bridge the gap between artists and fans more than the traditional methods of releasing music, promoting to radio, touring, and securing editorial & playlist placement on DSPs, we are now looking to go a few steps further - even beyond the structures of traditional fanclubs. For this next venture, it’s about defining your story, your voice, your defining characteristics and the things that separate your art, style, mission and creativity from every other artist out there in order to create a world of your own.
One easy way to build this community is to share more about yourself with your fans directly, and in a way that is as platform-agnostic and decentralized as possible. Take a stance on a cause that really matters to you, talk directly with your fans and let them learn who you are, learn who they are and ask them questions, build a vlog, talk about your likes and dislikes, the meaning behind your lyrics and the stories that got you to where you are. The list goes on. Fans ready to join this community need more than just music - they need to become a part of your world in order to create the sort of strong community that’s needed for web3 music endeavors.
Build an engaged, direct, two-way relationship with your fans… and do it as independently as possible. One of the most fundamental ways you can build your audience, and eventually move towards a decentralized community platform, is to create true and authentic relationships with your fans. Of course if you already have an audience on Tik Tok, Twitch, Instagram or any other social platform - the best way to start is to really start engaging. Posting is not enough. Talk to your fans, share DMs, go “live” and interact. There are a multitude of ways to do this, but building the communication and conversation is key to translating those fans from social platform to decentralized space.
- Lean into tech and blockchain. Learn more about the opportunities available and past projects and use this research to become a pioneer in this space. Start connecting with more people in the web3 conversation (via Twitter & Discord, primarily).
Before jumping straight into launching an NFT (which you don’t want to come out of nowhere), you have to do the research. Since there is so much information available on the topic and so many new players in the space, while the landscape is changing every day, the big question is where to start and how to distinguish the real from the fake.
We’ve compiled a list below of some resources to check out, including case studies, articles, Twitter handles to follow and Discord communities to join.
- Find ways to introduce your fans to web3 and test the waters to gauge their interest.
When transitioning from web2 into web3, it’s important to start small rather than throwing a bunch of new concepts at your audience without knowing if they’re familiar or interested.
A few easy ways to introduce your fans to web3 (before launching an NFT or even an artist DAO) are below. Most of these lean on some of the principles we’ve discussed already - creating a direct-to-fan decentralized relationship and communicating authentically with your fans.
- Ask your fans what they think. Take a poll on IG, Tweet about it, or post and ask for comments. “If I were to launch an NFT - what would you think?” or “Would anyone be interested in tokenized access to a fanclub for special access to art / music / performances etc?” A great way to see what interests your fans (and to cultivate connection with them) is just to ask.
- Make sure you have a newsletter - or a way to connect directly to fans outside of social platforms.
- Launch a Discord and see how your fans react.
- Perhaps try your hand at an NFT - when you feel ready. Before going all out and launching a DAO, maybe try this out when you feel ready. Not all NFTs are the same so it’s important to do your research and learn what might work best for your community and fans. (See step 5 for more about how to launch an NFT).
Depending on your fanbase, how much you have done in the web3 space before and how open your fans are to this transition, it may make sense to focus on building new web3 fans from scratch. This should be done carefully, so as not to alienate your web2 fans, but to keep satiating your audience while slowly dipping your toe into web3. In some instances, this is the best way to transition, and will encourage your web2 fans to explore this space with you as you all jump in together.
- Consider releasing an NFT, but only to help establish a long-term relationship with your fans. Think of your NFT release as a gateway to a bigger step towards a continuing decentralized community with your fans.
Lots of what is off-putting about the NFT space today, is that everyone seems to be jumping on the bandwagon, and many of those releasing do not have long term plans to build in this space. Like with anything music and art related, it is really clear when a launch is authentic… and really clear when it’s just a cash grab. Fans can see through a brand or an artist who is just here for the fad, but quite the opposite stands true as well: artists who use NFTs as a tool to help build, grow and elevate their art and communities, are the ones who will be the most successful.
There are many ways to release and launch NFTs and quite a few different marketplaces where you can do so. One of the easiest and most accessible places to get started is Mint Songs, which you likely have already heard of if you’ve already done some reading about this space. Here’s a guide they have posted about How To Create A Music NFT On Mint Songs.
POAPs (Proof Of Attendance Protocols) - or digital “badges” that show proof of attendance - are also a very low barrier to entry for new fans to start becoming familiar with NFTs and how they work. They are also free / have a very low overhead cost for the artist to deploy.
Wallet Addresses & their importance: Regardless of the marketplace (or blockchain) you use, there will be a wallet address associated with the buyer of your NFT. A wallet address is unique to each buyer and is a way for you to identify your fans and supporters. While the ability to directly communicate and interact with these wallet addresses is currently in the early phases of development from an average fan UX perspective, we believe there are many empowering opportunities to potentially leverage the fan-artist relationship in the future using wallet addresses. The underlying technological design of wallet addresses and the role they play in the web3 ecosystem enable portability and interoperability. Simplified, these two characteristics may be key in unlocking artists’ dependence on any single platform (such as Instagram or Facebook in “web2”), and as adoption of this technology becomes more widespread, it will give musicians more autonomy over how and where they interact with their community online.
- Build your “Super Fans” and make superfandom accessible to all of your fans.
Releasing an NFT is one way to gauge and track your superfans, but it’s not the only way. Here are some other ways to identify and build engaged / superfans
- Any fans who consistently post or reply to your posts on socials
- Any fans who may be running fan accounts or pages dedicated to your work
- Fans who are active or who have community leadership status on your Discord
- Fans who are Patreon subscribers (if you have a Patreon)
- Fans who are part of your fanclub
- Recurring ticket-buyers
- Fans who consistently purchase or RSVP for VIP experiences (online or live)
Before launching an NFT, see if you can identify at least 100 superfans who would contribute to and engage in this launch. If you can’t wrap your head around 100 engaged fans, it might not be time to launch an NFT… and that doesn’t mean it’s not for you. It just might mean that building your community up further before you do so will help your NFT drop be more successful.
- Define your goals: What would you like to achieve with the launch of an NFT?
What’s exciting about the web3 space (and potentially the most confusing for artists deciding where to begin) is that they can be a stepping stone towards almost anything you can think of. While this step sits at the end of our list, defining your goals is something that should be considered throughout this entire process - and envisioning a roadmap for how your goals can be achieved with the help of an NFT launch is a great way to start.
Some creative ways NFTs have been used by musicians are:
- Limited edition collector’s items
- Early access to merch, events, music etc.
- Special access to stems, BTS content, 1:1 or group conversations with the artist
- Private membership or fanclub experiences
- Entry to a DAO and the ability to help make decisions in the artist’s community
- Collaborative art & music
- Fundraising efforts
Twitter accounts to follow:
Discords to join:
- Seed Club
- Water & Music
- daniel allan
- dreams never die dao
- goodkarma records
- mint songs
- mashibeats (mdcl's community)
- Music NFT Women
- Apreggi Labs
- veribaes (verite community)
- Mint (Adam Levy's podcast)
About The Author
Taryn Haight is Head of Strategy at HIFI Labs