Despite all the controversy surrounding the crypto world, one obvious bright spot of blockchain technology has been its ability to support creators and artists in monetizing their work. Rapper and visual artist Latashá, our guest on the latest episode of the Chain Reaction podcast, is a living embodiment of web3's potential to support independent artists.
She minted and successfully sold her first NFT in 2021 of a music video she had made — her first foray into the web3 world. Since then, she's sold NFTs of her work for tens of thousands of dollars and has become a highly visible advocate for artists to leverage web3 technology. She serves as head of community at NFT marketplace Zora, through which she has hosted her signature event, Zoratopia, all over the country to educate artists interested in getting into the space.
You can listen to the full episode below:
For artists, the value proposition of minting NFTs is “just like putting things up in an art gallery,” Latashá said.
“I remind [artists], especially in the music industry, that the cost of entry is so expensive. I mean, to get your songs onto playlists, to get your songs onto the radio, you're usually going to have to pay some amounts that are just absurd, from $10,000 up. So I'm like, would you rather pay $10,000 to a radio station? Or would you rather pay $50 to $100 on-chain and watch this thing grow, especially in this new fertile soil right now,” she added.
Since Latashá first entered the NFT space, a plethora of new challenges have arisen for artists looking to replicate her path to success. For one thing, gas prices on Ethereum have gone up significantly, from about $25 per NFT when she got her start, she said. Secondly, the crypto industry as a whole is in the midst of a market downturn, and with token prices going down, so do NFT prices (which are quoted in their native cryptocurrencies).
Latashá said that despite these challenges, she is still convinced that leveraging web3 is a smart strategy for many artists. Just like any other industry, she said, web3 ebbs and flows, and participants in the market will have to live through waves of differing sentiment.
“I think there was eagerness and getting a lot of people in at the same time,” she said, musing on crypto's most recent bull run. “I think that was probably the part that we needed to think over before, because we needed to prepare the people for when there was an ebb and flow,” she continued.
More education could have made a difference in helping creators prepare for this downturn, Latashá said. That's part of why educating people is core to her mission at Zora.
“I always say [to artists], decide what you want to do with your money, right? If you want to keep your money in crypto, go for it. But I would also say, be in multiple streams of income,” Latashá said. “Always decide if you want to take some of your crypto and put it into different forms of art, or get a marketing team for your music or do other things that can build income in different ways … I don't think we should ever be cuffed to any income stream. We should always be free and as open as possible.”