If you were on Soundcloud in 2014 - you probably remember collectives.
Brands like OWSLA, Mad Decent, Foreign Family, FutureClassic, Deadbeats, bitbird and Sable Valley.
These were groups of artists who banded together to create communities around certain styles and genres.
Collectives were a great way to discover emerging talent - and an even better way to amplify songs from the core group of artists.
This article highlights the rise of Web3 Collectives.
What are Collectives?
Collectives are artist-lead communities of creators outputting songs under one unified brand.
They are commonly orchestrated by one major artist, for example:
OWSLA - Skrillex
Mad Decent - Diplo
Foreign Family - ODESZA
Future Classic - Flume
Deadbeats - Zeds Dead
Bitbird - San Holo
Sable Valley - RL Grime
This trend was very common during the development of electronic music on Soundcloud, but has existed across many different genres prior.
Collective typically release music on a song by song basis, though there are many instances or collectives releasing “compilations” or groups of 10-20 songs from artists on the roster.
The power of collectives came from network effects.
If you were an artist in the collective, you could expect 10+ other artists to instantly support your song - reposting to a network of millions of potential listeners.
These releases would then see support from other artists looking to be a part of the community, further amplifying their position in the market.
Reposts were the key feature that drove vitality on Soundcloud.
Getting a repost by your favorite artist was a huge deal.
But getting a repost from all your favorite artists at once? That’s what created the staying power.
Until it got commoditized.
Eventually - people starting selling their reposts, quickly diminishing their impact.
A repost was no longer a co-sign, it was a way to monetize your audience.
However - the best collectives never sold out.
You could never buy a repost. You could only earn it.
We’re starting to witness a new generation of collectives.
In the same way leading artists drove the success of collective on Soundcloud, we’re now seeing a similar development from leading artists on platforms like Sound.
Here are some key collectives to keep an eye on, along with their respective champion(s).
LNRZ - Reo Cragun
SongCamp - Matthew Chaim
Zoratopia - LATASHA
Hume Collective - Angelbaby
Nvak Collective - Annika Rose
While all these collectives have their own unique focus, they have a few elements in common.
They all support emerging artists in web3
They are all founded by artists who have seen success in web3
They continue to onboard and amplify artists who are a part of the collective
Let’s explore what makes these collective unique.
Case Study: LNRZ DAO
Founded by Reo Cragun, LNRZ is a “creative incubator and producer of groundbreaking music and visual NFTs.”
It was launched through a Mirror Crowdfund (similar to how SongCamp started) and has since gone on to become a trending project on Sound.
Since its launch, LNRZ has issued released 8 collections.
These drops have included artists DLG, Lyrah, Bloody White, Vaarwell, Mija, Mark Evans, Kevin George and Glasstempo - alongside founders Reo Cragun and Clear Eyes.
Now - while these numbers might not be too staggering - here are the key highlights to zoom in on.
Cadence - LNRZ is releasing at least one track per week, making it easy to keep up with the momentum of the collective and support artists along the way.
Treasury - 20% of every LNRZ drop is allocated towards a community treasury.
Curation - The LNRZ team is hand-selecting drops to drive momentum.
Each LNRZ drop has sold out within the first 10 seconds of launch, actively creating secondary demand beyond the initial collection.
To get a sense for the music - you can listen to LNRZ drops on Spinamp.
Here’s where these collectives get interesting.
Collect is the new Repost
Collecting creates a unique relationship native to web3.
It creates shared incentive to succeed - debatably as powerful as the early reposts on Soundcloud.
The existence of a Treasury takes these dynamics even further.
The underlying influx of capital gives the collective operating capital to bring on creative directors, community managers and add extra layers to the drops.
And when you layer in a governance token - all of this is amplified.
What you can then have is a system where collectors can stake their Music NFTs to earn governance over the treasury and proposals.
While we’ve yet to see it yet - I expect to see many more instances of collectives in web3 in the months to come.
Beyond the releases themselves, we’re now seeing collectives bring on additional capital from outside investors.
Projects like RELICS, HedsDAO, Hume, Dreams Never Die and StemsDAO are examples of companies operating like a collective with a strong focus on product.
They all raised capital to hire a team, and develop an ecosystem around their collective.
Under the hood, they’re all establishing a unique demographic of artists representing each brand.
While these projects do not have the same “artist champion” dynamic - they represent a unique class of collectives new to web3.
When collecting Music NFTs - focus on the artists underpinning new collectives.
These artists are strong bets as they continue to drive growth within their unique pocket, and within the ecosystem at large.
Furthermore, be on the lookout for:
Genesis Drops from new collectives
Early collections from artists who start collectives.
Ways to stake NFTs from collectives to earn governance tokens
For those creating a collective - keep the following in mind:
Simplicity and consistency are key
You don’t need to create a product or site to create a collective
One song each week is more than enough
Tying it all together - I am extremely bullish on collectives in web3.
It was a huge driver of success on Soundcloud, and I believe a similar model will play out in web3.
We referenced a couple collectives to follow.
Here are some ways to get involved with each.
LNRZ - Collect their weekly drops on Sound
SongCamp - Join the Weekly Heartbeat call on Mondays at 1 PST
Zoratopia - Attend the festival at Art Basel!
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out my latest piece on Finding the XCOPY of Music NFTs.
I write a weekly newsletter to keep track of all these projects and more.
Shoutout to Adam Levy for inspiring this piece as a part of the Vault.
Here’s to many more collectives to come!