Talent scouting and artist development used to be a huge deal in the record industry. Now, thanks to social media, those roles have melted into the internet space. Muverse goes a step further, blending indie artist development and decentralised economy.
The internet changed a lot of things. Many traditional music industry standards either evolved or died out, including typical talent spotting. Web3 platform, Muverse is reimagining the whole practice once again.
Before we dive head first into Muverse, we should probably talk a little bit about the good old days. To appreciate the significance of changes and developments, it’s good to get a handle on how things were done before. Of course, not everyone will be familiar with the ins and outs of the old school music industry. If that sounds like you, don’t worry! Let us guide you through the evolution of talent spotting, right up to its latest web3 iteration.
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We keep referencing “A&R”, but what on earth does that mean!?
Artist & Repertoire (casually referred to as A&R by industry insiders) is the division of a record label responsible for spotting new talent, as well as the creative development of performing and recording artists.
You might have noticed that we’re referring to it sort of in past tense, and a little bit in present tense too. Whilst this might cause a little confusion, it’s not without good reason. A&R roles do still exist within the music industry, but they look a lot different from how they did twenty or thirty years ago.
Before the internet took over, music fans relied on print journalism, television & radio, and word of mouth to hear about the next big hit. These were the days when trailing queues outside records stores weren’t uncommon, and if you didn’t happen to be at a venue when a band made a surprise appearance, tough luck!
At these exciting gigs, you could find A&R people. Working for record labels, these experts were on-hand to check out hot tip-offs and see if a band had star potential. If an A&R rep liked what they saw, that artist or group could land a shiny new record deal. For many musical acts, impressing A&R scouts was top of the agenda, since signing a deal represented success, fame, and validation.
Along Came Web 2.0
Online platforms like Myspace and SoundCloud completely transformed the talent spotting landscape. Web 2.0 enabled internet users to interact, creating content like blogs and online magazines, as well as forming communities and airing their opinions globally.
With audiences and fans now being so connected online, A&R could no longer solely function in music venues, clubs, and bars, focussing only on physical performances.
Bands and artists like Arctic Monkeys and Lily Allen were discovered on Myspace, launching massive careers for them in music. Since not working within the music industry no longer precluded people from sharing their views on artists or promoting their favourite new bands, the importance of traditional A&R people began to dwindle.
These days, talent scouting tends to be just one aspect of a music industry professional’s portfolio of roles. Many of them work simultaneously as promoters, event managers, or marketing executives.
Old School A&R Drawbacks
Pinning all your hopes on landing a record deal, as an emerging artist, was certainly a flawed approach. A lot of fresh musicians weren’t schooled in music business, and had no experience negotiating fair contracts for themselves. Once spotted by A&R, it felt like your career was about to kick off, but often that’s when a lot of the problems began.
An artist could be offered $25,000 to produce a studio album. As a previously independent artist, this sum of money is not to be scoffed at. However, in reality, it doesn’t stretch that far. This is a situation too many musicians found themselves in. The results were fierce deadlines, financial limitations, and stifling rules and expectations regarding creativity. In other words, the label owned you, and you had to deliver, regardless of how your finances looked.
Social media didn’t prevent this situation from arising again. However, as time has passed and technology has developed, many artists have turned to a more DIY approach.
The reality of being signed to a label has been more widely exposed, and the glamorous myths debunked. Artists are now able to write, record, mix, distribute, and promote their music all from their own homes. Taking marketing into their own hands, musicians can act as their own A&R people, fostering their own community of fans and generating excitement around their music.
Community vs Monopoly
Especially in terms of the music industry, community driven economies and monopolies have been in opposition to one another. Explaining this point, Cointelegraph’s article describes how capital typically favours monopolies over communities.
The monopolies in the context of music are the major labels, like UMG, Warner Music, or EMI. These businesses possess a concentration of resources, i.e. money/capital. Rather than spreading to the consumers or parts of the business lower down the chain, these resources tend to end up going to the head. This system doesn’t favour independent artists, or music consumers particularly. It doesn’t even work that brilliantly for artists signed to these major labels.
The development of recommendation algorithms, such as Spotify’s or YouTube’s, has proven damaging to the development of indie artists. It’s harder for audiences to stumble across smaller artists, since monopolies are constantly pushing bigger artists who are more financially beneficial to them.
Thankfully, web3 platforms are here to save the day.
Muverse to the Rescue
Web3 projects are decentralised and transparent. This means that they favour community, and offer the opportunity for users to make money independently and without relying on large monopolies, like record companies.
NFTs are becoming more prevalent in the world of music, and are much more than just profile pictures or digital trading cards. Plenty of independent artists have been exploring the benefits of NFTs when paired with music copyright and other aspects. Some awesome projects have emerged from this way of thinking too, including Fractis!
Sharing some core principles to our community-first music NFT marketplace is Muverse. It’s a slightly different set-up though, combining aspects of GameFi and SocialFi. Users can earn crypto (MTC is the native coin) by interacting with music on the platform, through purchasing headphone NFTs.
On the whole, Muverse is designed to enable independent artists to be fairly compensated for their work. It employs a Listen to Earn concept, encouraging users to engage with new music. As a DAO (decentralised autonomous organisation), the DApp is community-owned and operated. This helps it to be a free, fair, and better connected corner of the music industry.
Talent Spotting on Muverse
How exactly has Muverse trnsformed talent spotting and adapted it to the web3 space?
The platform explains that its vision is “to gather music lovers worldwide via music, allowing them to meet soulmates through music, and become best friends.” By creating a “digital music world”, Muverse enables users and creators to carve out a landscape which suits them best, casting off the shackles of traditional music industry practices.
Through building and engaging communities, indie artists can open themselves up to being discovered and hyped as the next big thing. Gameifying social interactions, as well as interactions with music, provides an incentive, both financial and novel, for users and collectors to get involved. In the spirit of web3, everyone’s a winner.