In early 2014, I, DJ J-Scrilla, conjured up an album called SILK ROAD with my production team Inner Loop (Casito delFresco, Grussle and myself.) The album dug into the deep web and with that came the discovery of bitcoin. After releasing the project in December 2014 and wanting to accept bitcoin for the project I discovered it wasn’t easy. The technology was young and, as far as I could tell, no reliable platforms had been built. So, over the next few years your boy Scrilla went down the rabbit hole and I entrenched myself in the bitcoin and cryptocurrency space with a focus on learning how musicians, artists, creatives and service industry professionals could benefit from this new peer to peer exchange of digital goods.
In January of 2017, I was invited to speak at a DC Government Blockchain event about how I was creating art and selling it using Counterparty which is a second layer protocol of Bitcoin. Many were shocked that someone was generating income using the blockchain technology and not just speculating or raising money for an ICO. In fact, the “Blockchain Billions” podcast hosts were in attendance and they were writing a now published book, stating that they’d love to interview me because, in their own words, I was the first and only person they ever had met that was using the technology to actually make money. My friend, Cynthia Gayton, Esq., spoke about blockchain and copyright laws at the event and then soon after we decided to create a podcast called “Art On The Blockchain” — a podcast for crypto creatives. The podcast launched in March of 2017 and we had Tokenly founder and “Let’s Talk Bitcoin” host Adam Levine on as our first guest. The podcast did numbers (thanks to Adam’s huge network at the time) and we slowly slugged away throughout the year getting the format down and interviewing many of the vanguards in the cryptoart space.
Enter 2018, the Rareartlabs produced Rare Digital Art Festival in NYC which took place on January 13, 2018 and the AOTB duo were invited to speak at the event. Cynthia was on a panel called “Rare Digital Art In The Wild” and I was on a panel called “Rare Digital Art Breaks Out” in which we both spoke to an audience of hundreds about how and why artists and musicians were using the new technology. The event had representatives from traditional art auction houses like Christies and Sotheby’s, SoHo art gallery curators and new age digital blockchain art franchises like Dada, Cryptokitties, Rarepepe trading cards, Cryptopunks, Spells Of Genesis and Decentraland. Nobody could see it coming but The New York Times, Paris Review, Vice and other many other media outlets covered the event and since then the likes of CNN.com, threefiftyeight.com and many others have started exploring cryptoart. The space hasn’t been the same since that legendary event.
Artists can make a new stream of income by accepting cryptocurrencies for their artwork, services and music. Not everyone wants to fork over their hard earned dollars to invest in crypto, but artists have an advantage as they can sell their already existing works for the crypto. They can also create limited edition or rare art and music pieces that can be represented by digital tokens, which can then be programmed to use and give access to the artist’s exclusive content, private chats with the artist, summon monsters in video games, appear in virtual reality and whatever else the imagination can conjure up. Some folks are even creating pieces by using the blockchain as the artwork. A recent hackathon in Denver, CO had hundreds of people competing for prizes using art and the cryptocurrencies Ethereum and DOGE. Businesses are also exploring this new technology for online auctions, proving provenance and chain of custody for art pieces or on the music side of things, artists are discovering they earn a lot more per stream or download.
Limited Edition Digital Art and Music
One of the great things about bitcoin and crypto tokens are that they can be provably rare by issuing the asset, locking up the issuance amount and it will show up for all on a transparent, immutable block explorer like xchain.io. I can’t say all blockchains are good but I like bitcoin and second layer protocols like Counterparty. Security and immutability are important variables in this technology and the Bitcoin platform (which Counterparty uses) is light years ahead in this fashion. Ethereum is very popular as well and has a ton of young developers working on making it a solid and innovative platform. Many Ethereum websites are using Chrome extensions like Metamask that make all of this technical stuff user friendly. The Web 3.0 will be blockchain integrated for sure.
Speculating On Cryptocurrencies
(Not Investment Advice)
Being an early adopter of earning crypto in this space has been highly rewarding for many artists. There is a new wave of wealthy people who got in to the space early that are one to three commas richer because of their early risk taking in either investing or selling product for cheap Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Monero, Prepecash and many more. Recently a digitally painted rose (ROSE ERC20 token) was sold for $1,000,000 worth of Ethereum. Some Rare Pepe Trading cards have commanded 5 figures worth of Pepecash and Counterparty tokens and a Cryptokitty recently sold for $100,000 thousands of dollars worth of Ethereum. If you accept a currency before the network effect catches on then you are primed to earn far more than you ever have. For instance, the HOMERPEPE recently sold for $33k worth of Pepecash and was created by an artist who spent less than $20 to make it. Cryptograffiti recently auctioned off his “Terrible Store Of Value” piece that earned $33,000 in bitcoin and was bid on 93 times through the bitify service. There are many instances of this and if you do some exploring you will see that artists can earn in this space right now. Just by opening your catalogue up and using coins like Musicoin which is just another crypto- backed streaming site, you can diversify your earnings and get crypto without spending a cent.
Musicians Entering The Space
Snoop Dogg, Nipsey Hussle, Young Dirty Bastard, Pitbull, Raekwon, Ghsotface Killa, Gramatik, DJ Khlaed, Katy Perry, DJPEPE, Trinidad James and many more are all using cryptocurrencies in some fashion. The space is still young but here is sampling of some of the tokens, communities and cryptocurrencies currently exploring this space (in no particular order): Musicoin, Choon, Vezt, Alexandria, VOISE, Viberate, CreativeChain, Opus, Token.fm, TAO, and many more.
The future is bright and artists can earn and innovate in the space right now. Check out the podcast Cynthia and I do- “Art On The Blockchain” — the podcast for crypto-creatives. Also, look out for the “Intro Into CryptoArt and CryptoMusic” talks that Rare Scrilla, LLC will be bringing to a city near you soon. Atlanta, Washington D.C. and NYC are up next. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info and bookings.
NOTE: There are a ton of links in this piece so you can explore the rabbit hole yourself. I was paid by no one to write this piece. Feel free to donate bitcoin if you like itthough: 1K4RRjDuiRWjJJC1yVCc8w1rd9hS6wF5g6