Joshua Stone and JR White were both early adopters of cryptocurrency, having bought into Bitcoin more than a decade ago.
But while Stone remained active in the space both as an investor and evangelist, White stepped away to focus on his career at Amazon.com, where he was a systems development engineer. It wasn’t until last year, after White quit his job, that the Dupont Manual High School graduates reconnected thanks, in part, to crypto.
“I had made a post on social media about crypto or NFTs and [White] commented on it,” Stone said. “We started messaging back and forth, and within a week, we were meeting up in person and talking about where we could build and where there was a need.”
After hundreds of text messages and dozens of ideas, the duo began working on the concept that would become Pool Party Labs in June 2021. The emerging nonfungible token (NFT) company aims to help musicians develop and manage their blockchain assets, and it’s in the process of building a platform for artists to create their own music NFTs.
Stone said they were inspired to engage in the space after conversations with musicians, who have lamented about how challenging it is to earn a living within the music industry as it exists today.
For example, Spotify, the most popular music streaming platform, pays rights holders — like record labels — between $.003 and $.005 per stream, according to this Insider report. That means it takes about 250 streams to earn just $1, and then it’s up to the rights holder to pass on those earnings to the artists themselves.
“We’re focusing on onboarding as many musicians as we possibly can to blockchain to get them out from under that umbrella where it’s impossible to make a living unless you have a million fans,” Stone said. “Our belief is, with 1,000 true fans, a musician or an artist should be able to make a living.”
Pool Party Labs intends to offer musicians a new way of monetizing their music, merchandise and performances, while also giving fans a new way to support and experience music. It’s already working with several musicians, and it will announce relationships with well-known artists within the coming weeks to bring exclusive music and fan experiences to the metaverse.
“The natural progression is, ‘Let’s all meet up at Pool Party Labs Amphitheater in the metaverse and watch a concert together,'” he described. “You would log in and join all the other people who are interested in the band the same way you would in a real-life concert, and then be able to see the band perform and interact with other fans. It really sort of takes that fan experience to another level by having exclusive access to these events.”
Pool Party Labs’ platform is still early along, and Stone said they hope to have a beta version of it ready by the fourth quarter of this year. In the meantime, the company will be looking to raise $5 million from the NFT and web3 community itself, through Ethereum.
“It’s an untraditional way of raising money, but it will fall into the idea that decentralization is the most important part of it — that’s what’s going to protect the artists,” Stone said, noting that the company will look to hire five to 10 employees after the funding round comes through.
Now if you’ve made it this far, I bet you’re still wondering about the Bored Ape you see as the main photo for this story. Pool Party Labs is using the ape to create its digital identity online, as owning a Bored Ape grants the owner full intellectual property rights.
The Bored Ape Yacht Club is a collection of 10,000 unique Bored Ape NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain. They are expensive NFTs — the most “affordable” one on OpenSea is more than $33,000 — and celebrities like Jimmy Fallon, Post Malone and Paris Hilton have bought in.
While NFTs have largely been recognized for digital art, any kind of digital asset can be stored on blockchain. The space is still pretty new, especially when it comes to music, but artists like Grimes and Kings of Leon have already experimented with NFTs.
Snoop Dogg also active in the NFT space, having bought Death Row Records and announced it would be converted into an NFT music label.
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