Let’s get this out of the way: An NFT is a Non-Fungible Token … a non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a blockchain.* You need crypto currency to buy an NFT, and once it’s yours, you can sell it or trade it. It’s probably easier to understand when you’re in the thick of one, so I spoke to Caden Stobart, CEO of NFTLX, whose job it is to come up with marketing partnerships for entities interested in NFTs.
Where did you get your start?
I spent 20+ years in luxury fashion building and running businesses. In my very early days, I worked with Alexander McQueen. There is no one else you’d ever want to work for. He was the most brilliant designer in the world. I was there from the beginning, so it was almost like a start-up where I was doing about ten jobs. I really learned so much about events, spectacles, and how to surprise and delight a consumer. I went on to work at Gucci Group in London, Sergio Rossi in North and South America, All Saints and Carlisle Collection.
What made you gravitate toward the NFT space?
I remember a moment at a fashion show with Kate Moss, and she was projected as a hologram in the middle of the Louvre – it was an incredible digital experience and I thought, why couldn’t we start to create things that are digital and salable? I wouldn’t say I came up with the idea for NFTs, but I had envisioned a way for it to work, so when the technology caught up, I jumped at the chance. I was around from the beginning of e-commerce when people didn’t think the internet would work and now …everyone buys online! I have that same feeling about Web 3,** it’s going to be ‘the thing.’
Caden Stobart, NFTLX.io
How would you explain NFTs to someone who didn’t understand it?
It’s a digital representation of something – art, music, membership, a drink ticket. When it comes to music, it gives the artist an opportunity to sell their music to a community directly, without having many third parties involved in a sale. It cuts out a step and that ends up being profitable to the artist.
What are your first steps when you set up an NFT drop for an artist?
I ask what would make sense for their community – what would drive their audience in a good way. I look at their socials for ideas to see what makes sense for fans and what I think would make them excited. I would also advise an artist to try and develop a Discord*** community since that’s where a lot of NFT groups are growing.
I try to guide artists I work with, because most of the time people coming into the space don’t know what to do. From a legal perspective, as a songwriter, you need to protect your rights. There are many factors at play – there are composers, writers, musicians, a lot of people that come together to create a piece of music. Therefore, you need to cover the rights of all the different parties. This is where the Smart Contract **** comes into play. It’s specific to NFTs and the block chain and it’s where the contract would state the IP is owned by the artist, they’re going to sell it, and you can own part of it, but first you have to agree to the terms and conditions the artist has set forth. Those terms could be anything from saying ‘if you own this NFT you can play it anywhere you want’ or, ‘if you own this NFT you can only play it to a private audience’ or, ‘if you own this NFT you can’t play it to anyone at all.’ The contract would also stipulate that the Buyer can not augment or re-create the music. This is important in its specificity because you don’t want someone making 1000 copies of your NFT and selling it themselves.
Do you think NFTs have a chance to do well with musicians?
I definitely think NFTs are going to be the next big thing for music artists. If you think about it, music, in particular, has gone through so many iterations: records to cassettes to CDs to DAT to streaming. I think it’s such an interesting medium. An NFT is a technology that will help artists make more money and have more control in the long run.
Tell us about a successful campaign you worked on.
We partnered with Richie Range to create this beautiful sneaker mash up – two iconic sneakers coming together to become one. We did a digital and physical drop because buyers got the sneakers and also a digital video file featuring exclusive content. We dropped two different types of NFTs, and we were able to make one more exclusive than the other.
Can a developing act get into the NFT space or is it more for established artists?
Nothing is out of the question. Some “no-name” artists have done really well with NFTs and then there are some big-name artists who didn’t align with the right people and their drops didn’t do very well. A lot of it depends on the product, how you promote it and where you talk about it. As I mentioned, Discord is very NFT friendly and so is Twitter Spaces, so those communities will embrace what you’re putting out if it’s good.
Hypothetically, I’d say to try and get someone to help you put your music into an NFT and go from there. Collaboration is important – a social justice project if that’s something you support, a charity, partnering with a painter or even a clothing designer who does merch at your shows. Try to think of an NFT as an addition to how you market your music.
Where do you see the future of NFTs going?
I think it’s here to stay: payment systems, document storage, music rights… will all be a part of the NFT world.
The premise of an NFT for a musician is that people who want to buy your music are a community, and now you can create something to sell directly to those very people – and who wouldn’t want to try and do that? You don’t have to look a lot further than streaming and games like Roblox to know people are living in the metaverse. We have become, and will stay, a digital culture.
If you’re interested in learning more about Caden’s company, and what they do, visit NFTLX.io
* The NFT is the item/contract, and the Blockchain is where all the contracts and currency live.
** Web 3 is a new iteration of the World Wide Web based on blockchain technology.
*** Discord is the next generation of social engagement. It’s a very popular voice and text chat platform, with over 130 million registered users.
**** A Smart Contract is a transaction protocol which is intended to automatically execute, control or document legally relevant events and actions according to the terms of a contract or an agreement.