TommyD is an award-winning music producer from Britain who has worked with Kanye West, Jay Z, Adele, Beyonce, Janet Jackson, Emeli Sande and many more. He got into blockchain in 2016 and “fell in love with the tech concepts and the underlying philosophy of decentralization.”
But he admitted he didn’t see the right interception of the tech and music industries at the time. It was when nonfungible tokens (NFT) gained their momentum when he realized the true potential this technology could bring to artists. In 2021, he co-founded Token||Traxx, an NFT marketplace for musicians.
Tommy, you’ve got impressive experience in the music industry. When and why did you get into the blockchain space?
I’ve been fortunate to have worked with some amazing artists, from Kanye to Kylie, and I’m an artist myself. We are all the same in that we are looking for acceptance and support from the communities that enjoy our work.
I’ve always been fascinated by creativity and collaboration throughout my career in music, and I found that same energy in the blockchain space.
When I learned about blockchain technology, I couldn’t see how the transparency and providence provided by blockchain technology would sit with the traditional industry, which, to be honest, is built in part on controlling the money that's stuck in the pipelines of royalty distribution.
And then NFTs came along, and that was the answer. Being able to apply providence and transparency to a unique concept, a song, track, VIP experience, means music creators can connect to their fan base directly on a much deeper level, building new concepts of value into that relationship. And collectors can, for the first time, trade that value, so it’s a win for both sides.
Why did you decide to launch Token||Traxx? Tell us about its creation.
The music streaming industry is a gift for the fans, with more music than anyone will be able to listen to in their lifetime, but unfortunately, the way it’s set up is not financially favorable to music creators.
I had a feeling that there were opportunities for music and blockchain, but I didn’t see anything in the market that used blockchain that I felt respected the concepts around music discovery and adoption. So, I decided to build a company that puts music value first and crypto value second. That’s not a knock to tech, I love tech, but sometimes tech people don’t understand the intrinsic concept of why anyone in the real world needs their product!
I’m joined by Miles Leonard, who is a former chairman and CEO of Warners and EMI. He’s helped develop the careers of Coldplay, Gorillaz, Radiohead and many other artists. We’ve both been working with music creators for 25 years. We understand them, speak their language and know their pain points. Token||Traxx can help them develop a Web3 strategy to take their music to the next level.
What’s Token||Traxx’s business model?
Our model rests on selecting the very best artists who are ready to provide their fanbase with a whole new musical experience driven by blockchain and NFTs. These music creators are supported by our team to make sure we get the best possible campaign executed over an extended period of time, and we do see it as a campaign. We’re not into creators just coming in and doing a cash grab. We talk in six- to 12-month cycles. The crypto community are not stupid. If you come into their space, you need to come in with respect, imagination and commitment.
This really is the future. I saw it with the internet, the iPhone and streaming. When tech delivers a new, cleaner, more intuitive experience, it’s just a matter of time before the masses cotton on.
Right now, a music creator really needs a Web3 strategy, and as alien as that might seem to them now, it was no different when talking to artists 15 years ago about their streaming strategy.
I want to grow this blockchain space, I’m a firm believer, and the only way to do that is through education and, ultimately, success. It’s a pretty easy play to get a creator to onboard into Web3. I mean, who doesn’t want extra cash? But the creators need to sell it to their fan base, which is a much harder play. Why does a fan need an NFT, and why does the NFT collector want your NFT? Token||Traxx has the team and strategy to do this.
What plans and updates does Token||Traxx have for the near future?
What we are launching with is just the start. We are a tech company that looks to innovate across every aspect of how we engage with music. There are so many areas, like at-source data collection, music registration, traditional royalty payments, direct on-chain payments, etc. In 10 years’ time, I see a world where more and more industries that use music will be on-chain, and this will facilitate micropayments directly to the music creators.
We’ve got a brilliant innovation team, and every day, we look at every situation in music, dissect it, and then think how it can be made better.
We start with a very simple concept, the three Cs — creators, curators and collectors — the beautiful relationship between those who create music, those who curate and funnel that choice, and those who collect and love music. What do they want? What do they need? Let’s build it!
What are your thoughts on the creator economy?
It is a buzzword for so many things. The bottom line is that we need to pay creators properly! We’re stuck in an ancient world where industries sprung up to facilitate the distribution of hard copies, like vinyl and CD, siphoning off money at every turn. That system is gone; digital makes it all so easy, but creators are still governed by that old system, so it’s messed up. When music creators receive 12% of the money generated by their music, then something is not right with that system. Change is coming.
After the unimaginable interest in NFTs we saw last year, it looks like the momentum has been losing its spike these past few months. What do you think, is the real future for nonfungible tokens?
Those that know crypto know it’s the calm before the storm. I’m super bullish in the long term. It is the future. TokenTraxx is long-term. We’ll weather any storm because we have a great team and great investors. Get on it and start building.
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