Scripted limited-run dramas inspired by recent, buzzy true-crime tales have recently oversaturated the market. And yet for as many as there are, notably few have drawn from what is arguably America’s most consequential (and most intractable) criminal justice phenomenon. The problem of dysfunctional policing and its disproportionate impact on communities of color has been largely […]
Buzzy titles such as “Guián,” “Rhinoceros” and “Of Books and Women I Sing” are among the 14 titles at Málaga’s extensive WIP showcase, a springboard in the past for the discovery of titles such as Spanish horror thriller “The Platform” which, winning the Latido Films Prize at WIP, has gone on to become the second most-watched […]
Hulu’s buzzy new erotic thriller “Deep Water” debuted on March 18 and has been trending on Twitter ever since, thanks to a bizarre plot that feels like chunks were left on the cutting room floor, as well as the sultry performances of one-time real-life couple Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas. But what makes this […]
A buzzy new music startup called Sound.xyz has raised a $5 million seed round, with contributions from Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), Variant Fund, Li Jin’s Atelier Ventures, a handful of crypto angels and artists like Holly Herndon, 21 Savage and DJ Drama.
Sound’s pitch has to do with helping musicians make a living via crypto – specifically, a set of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) tied to new releases.
“There’s only 7,800 artists that make over $100,000 or more per year [on Spotify],” said Sound co-founder David Greenstein, who built the company in relative secrecy over the course of the past year. “The number for $50,000 or more per year is 13,400. This is before you pay a label, before you pay any bandmates or producers.”
The idea is to target artists with low-to-mid-sized followings, who could potentially use non-fungible tokens to supplement streaming revenue.
Said Greenstein, “If we build for the artists who are making a lot of money on Spotify, it’s 7,500. If we go for the artists that aren’t making sustainable careers, we’re dealing with the 99.9%.”
How Sound works
Artists putting out music through Sound.xyz can offer a limited supply of NFTs to go along with the release. They’re souvenirs, but they also let you leave a comment at a certain moment in a given song. It’s similar to the comment functionality on SoundCloud; when an NFT is traded, a new owner can overwrite the token’s original comment.
The music itself is stored on the Ethereum blockchain, through the decentralized storage provider IPFS, and the NFT contracts are branded with the artists’ names as opposed to the company’s. (Minting an NFT through companies like Foundation or Zora leaves protocol-specific branding on the blockchain – not so with Sound.xyz.)
An alum of the University of Pennsylvania and Y Combinator, Greenstein recruited two co-founders – Vignesh Hirudayakanth and Matt Masurka, better known as the electronic musician Gigamesh – both with technical backgrounds, to set the company in motion this summer.
It’s Greenstein’s second attempt at a music tech startup. The first, an analytics company called StreamReport (now TrendPop), was his Y Combinator moment – he’s described it as a stats-based “Moneyball” approach for discovering new talent. Greenstein also has family ties to the industry. His father, Scott, is the president of Sirius XM Radio, which owns Pandora, where David once worked as a product manager.
Music NFT experiments
For the past few weeks, Sound has been selling NFTs through a set of curated “drops” – 25 comments-as-tokens tied to a single, each priced at .1 ETH (around $400). There’s also a feature called the “golden egg,” where one of the 25 collectors is randomly designated to receive an additional one-of-one token.
Oshi, Marian Hill and one-time Kanye collaborator Allan Kingdom are among the seven musicians Sound has featured so far; all seven sold their full supply of NFTs in less than a minute.
Song #7 Reasons by @AllanKingdom sold out in under a minute
— sound.xyz (🎧,🎧) (@soundxyz_) December 14, 2021
A caveat is that Greenstein and his co-founders are currently hand-selecting the artists for these drops. Unlike SoundCloud, Sound.xyz doesn’t let artists upload their own music to the site – at least not yet.
“The last thing that we want is people to be DMing us about how to get on Sound,” said Greenstein. “And we’re very much exploring how to figure out a more scalable way to onboard new artists that is completely permissionless from our end. As for why we haven’t done that already: one, we’re brand new, and two, we’re an insanely small team.”
Sound is less than a year old, but its ambitions are grand. It eventually plans to push even harder on its “listening party” NFT drops, in an effort to make the experience of buying a token feel like buying a piece of merch at a live concert.
“I think when you mix the nerds and the culture, you get really powerful results,” said Greenstein. “The goal is to help as many artists as possible – maybe a million – live off their music.”
Disclosure: Greenstein attended the same high school as the author, but in a different class.
Another entrant is gunning for crypto gaming’s buzzy play-to-earn (P2E) battlefield – by becoming the battlefield.
Rainmaker Guild Limited on Thursday said it raised $6.5 million in a seed round anchored by CoinFund, Alameda Research and Animoca Brands as venture capital rushes in to fund the next Axie Infinity.
Few have been able to replicate Axie’s 2021 success. Rainmaker Games is betting on becoming a central P2E gateway by wooing players, training them for the big time and then connecting them with guilds.
Seed investors are taking 4% of all RAIN tokens. That would give Rainmaker Games, which has not yet launched, a market cap of around $162 million. Play-to-earn games such as Axie, which requires an expensive NFT to access, can command multibillion-dollar market caps.
The $RAIN token is coming💧
🚀 Get ready for our Fair Token Launch on Dec 17th!
👀What is Rainmaker: a free global platform to play hundreds of #P2E games, connecting gamers, games, and guilds worldwide.
✍️Sign up here:https://t.co/SPWrA1rGXV
🙌Join TG: https://t.co/FjydaACA3J
— Rainmaker Games (@RainmakerGaming) December 7, 2021
A flood of first-time players keeps raising the floor price of those NFTs, giving rise to “guilds” that buy the NFTs and share access with their users. Rainmaker started as a guild, according to CEO Will Deane. It’s now angling to be something closer to a talent agency and training gym.
“We’re gonna help you train and level up to get guild-verified or game-verified,” Deane said in a call. Lower-tier first-timers will start out doing tasks that “go through the motions” until they improve to a point where they can start playing to earn.
“If you score on the low percentile, then you get to go to our training center and level up. As you level up you become more appetizing to guilds and games,” he said. Strong gamers will climb into prime positions for guild recruitment.
Players will eventually be able to sell or loan their NFTs on a Rainmaker marketplace, according to the project’s profile on Polkastarter.
Beyond the numbers, 2021 was a buzzy year for Africa.
Multiple outlets are bidding on a buzzy limited series adaptation of the best-selling novel “The Plot” with Mahershala Ali attached to star for Endeavor Content. “How to Get Away With Murder” writer Abby Ajayi is on board to pen the series based on the psychological thriller by “The Undoing” author Jean Hanff Korelitz about a […]
The Japanese staple connects Michelin-star chefs, buzzy restaurants and brewers the the country’s culture.
Variety will present a virtual showcase of buzzy new programs coming from Korea’s KBS, SBS and FormatEast on Nov. 12 at 9:30 a.m. PT. Jun Young Song, program director and showrunner for Korean Broadcasting System, and Iljoong Kim, senior director of Seoul Broadcasting System and an executive director of FormatEast, SBS’ format sales unit, will […]
Buzzy live audio-chat startup Clubhouse has recruited Grey Munford as its head of communications, with the PR pro leaving Spotify after two years. In an email last Friday, Munford said, “Following a wildly exciting and wonderful few years at Spotify I am packing up my virtual office (read: logging out of my company gmail) and […]