Empowering Artists with NFTs and Digital Collectibles with Justin Blau aka 3LAU, DJ, Producer, Independent Recording Artist
About Justin Blau aka 3LAU
Justin Blau, AKA 3LAU, is a rarity in the music industry: A successful recording artist, DJ, and producer whose main goal is not fame, but helping others. Raised in New York and Las Vegas by parents who emphasized the importance of charitable work, Blau left college, where he studied finance, and the promise of a career in business to pursue his dream of making music. He went on to release a string of well-received original tracks, including “How You Love Me,” “Is It Love,” “On My Mind,” and most recently “Tokyo” (#1 song on SiriusXM BPM for 6 weeks). Along with remixes for Rihanna, Katy Perry, Shawn Mendes, and Ariana Grande — all of which have racked up millions of streams, Blau has collaborated with world famous gamer Ninja and HYO of Girls’ Generation.
Unwilling to take and not give back, Blau has used his business savvy to parlay his success into doing good. In 2016 Blau launched Blume Records, an independent label with a ground-breaking model that harnesses the power of streaming to raise money for charitable causes with over $350k donated so far. In 2018, 3LAU released his debut album Ultraviolet featuring hit single "Touch," both reached #1 on the iTunes Electronic chart and all profits are being donated to cancer research charities. Outside of the studio 3LAU has also built his reputation as a must-see live performer, appearing at such major festivals as EDC Vegas/Korea/Orlando, Ultra, Electric Zoo, Lollapalooza, and Life Is Beautiful and tours extensively internationally.
In this episode, I sat down with my friend and renowned recording artist Justin Blau (aka 3LAU). Justin and I first connected through our mutual friend and my partner on a number of festivals, Adam Lynn. But it wasn’t until we both fell deep down the cryptocurrency rabbit hole in 2017 that our connection really took off. I was an advisor to 3LAU’s first crypto project, Our Music Festival, and a coinvestor in a number of projects. We discuss the problems with the music industry and why 3LAU decided to remain an independent artist. We then dive into how cryptocurrency and specifically digital collectibles (aka NFTs) might help solve these problems. Crypto was designed to cut out value-extracting middle men who give more than they take and NFTs create a direct link from the artist to the consumer. Virtual goods are expected to be a $250 billion market by 2025, so any artists who are struggling right now with low recording revenue and a decline in touring revenue due to COVID19 should explore this path!
My Favorite Quotes:
“I’m training my brain to focus on one area of my life at a time – sometimes it’s the creative side, others it’s the business side.”
“The purpose of a record label historically is first liquidity, to provide an artist enough up front that they have room to create and second distribution. But now an artist can get both of these directly from their fans on the Internet”
“The statistic that Rolling Stone cited in 2018 is of the $40B revenue that recorded music generates, artists only keep 12% and 88% goes to middle men – that’s how big the discrepancy is. Where is that other money going? Who should be getting it? Think about it – it’s the artists and the listeners, why is anybody else involved in 2020?”
“The fact that I can’t transfer value anywhere in the world nor on the weekend is absurd. The fact that ACH transfers take days and fees for wire transfers are so high is a shame.”
“It was saddening to me, because I felt like I had failed, but over time I realized I was just a little bit too early AND the value that I got out of that experience was irreplaceable.”
“If you go back to Mozart/Bach days, their live experiences were limited to a few wealthy people in a small home. They were exclusive.”
“What if media could only be accessible by a couple of people OR what if the whole world can see it, but only one person can SAY, they own it. Just like anyone can look at a Picasso online.”
“We spend hours and hours designing this stuff. The same amount of time that an artist puts into a painting.”
“That’s the future… this helps the redistribution of wealth, because it’s typically only the wealthy who have access to these opportunities.”
“The art that I’ve been working on are either musical ideas that aren’t out yet… I’ve created an alias with my art director – together we’re SSX3LAU. We’ve created audio-reactive content that is visually encapsulating.”
“We’ve generated over $80,000 in digital art sales in the last 36-37 days.”
00:00 – Integrating creativity and entrepreneurship
10:00 – Why 3LAU stayed independent
16:00 – Issues with the music industry
20:00 – Can the crypto industry help artists?
24:00 – 3LAU’s “crypto journey”
32:00 – Our Music Festival
41:00 – NFTs or Non Fungible Tokens
52:00 – Social money and community currencies
1:00:00 – What are these digital collectibles?
1:03:00 – My skepticism toward Clubhouse
Other Resources & References
Marc Weinstein, host of the Look Up! Podcast is a public speaker for corporations, universities, and conferences. Click here to view past talks and to book Marc
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