MODA DAO’s Vision for a Web3-Powered Music Industry

Virgile Domine shares how MODA DAO is helping musicians use web3 tooling to “do what they do best."

On November 3, 2022, electronic music producer Virgile Domine joined host Raffi Krikorian in the Tellie Discord for an AMA chat. Virgile is the community manager and content writer at MODA, a DAO dedicated to using web3 technologies to advance the music industry. The below conversation has been edited for flow and clarity.

Raffi Krikorian: Can you tell us a bit about MODA DAO, and how it got started?

Virgile Domine: As you said, MODA is a DAO. The founding team is composed of people who have made music a priority in their lives. They realized that in the Web2 space, artists weren’t being properly compensated for their work. Royalties were being lost, ownership rights could become vague (especially with DJ mashups and remixes), and emerging artists were finding it extremely difficult to find their footing. The team of founders wanted to use web3 technologies to build a DAO that could work towards solving these problems.

Is the focus mainly helping artists to generate revenue? 

MODA aims to bring forth solutions at an artist level. The key question is, “How do we empower artists and give them the tools they need to do what they do best?”

There’s a statistic somewhere that shows music is the most abundant and widely consumed creative asset, but also the most undervalued. How does that make any sense? On the other hand, there is virtually limitless potential for artists releasing music using web3 technologies. Full ownership rights, full creative sovereignty, and exposure to a community who’ll pay them for their work are some of the top reasons it makes sense.

We are convinced that empowering musicians with web3 tools can benefit their fans, too. Artists can create a deeper relationship with fans, remain independent, and ultimately be able to place 100% of their focus on music—helping them to create much stronger projects.

We have a similar mindset at Tellie. Our focus is on providing tools to artists with the mindset being that by connecting them to their fans and community, they are able to take control of the value they’re generating through their work.

When did you and your team see the value of web3 in music? Is there a specific problem within the music industry that you want to work towards solving first?

Indeed, and it begins with full rights ownership. We are giving artists the means to protect their IP by minting it on-chain at its birth. We’re doing this through our fingerprinting tool that creates a unique NFT based on the metadata of your song.

Also, there is a very important focal point for us as a community of music lovers: make music collectable again. With streaming, the desire to build a collection of music has been lost. We want to bring back the value of collecting music.

Can you go into a bit of detail on what the value of a music NFT is?

I think NFTs are valuable on both sides of the proverbial coin. Artists retain ownership over their music and are paid properly for it, and fans can own tracks and collect music again. Plus, artists and fans can form direct connections with each other—something that’s been missing in the past.

In addition to being collectible, NFTs can be a key to opening doors. As a fan, how amazing would it be to have a web page full of exclusive content that I can access with the NFT I collected from one of my favorite artists?

Right now, I suppose the big question is: “How do we bring people who don't yet know about web3 into this new economy?” 

If we can make the experience of buying and adopting NFTs as easy as possible, in a way where people don’t even know that they are using web3 technologies, then I think we will see a lot more adoption. At this point though, do you think artists should be focusing solely on web3, or do you think music NFTs should be used to complement other kinds of campaign tools, and/or the web2 strategies (such as social media) that they’re already implementing?

Personally, I don’t think that artists should focus solely on using web3 technologies. Especially now, with the current market and lack of mass adoption of web3 tools. I’ve had this convo a few times: “Why should an artist only take advantage of one tool?” For example, streams are a great way for artists to have their music discovered. On the other hand, web3 brings new monetization opportunities that have been completely absent from music streaming platforms.

Here is what Sean Gardner, one MODA's founder, thinks about this:

Let’s dig a bit deeper into what you were saying about using NFTs to unlock fans-only content. From your professional POV, and from your perspective as a music fan, what kinds of exclusive content do you think are most valuable?

I've been collecting records for over 10 years now. When I buy a new record that just dropped, sometimes I'd like to get more—like sample packs so I can play with the songs and make my own versions, for example. I'd also love to get access to exclusive tracks, maybe mock-ups, or unreleased interviews… even Zoom calls to join where I could learn more about the album.

Overall, I think it will become more and more common for artists to adopt the "content creator model," in which they monetize exclusive content. With that, the possibilities are endless, and every artist can be creative with what they’re excited to offer. To me, that's the beauty of web3.

How did you start working with industry leaders like Deadmau5/Mau5trap and Richie Hawtin?

The founding team of MODA had a long-standing relationship with these artists/labels, and when forming our DAO, they all agreed that a big change was needed in terms of how the traditional music industry operates. It just made sense to collaborate and build something great together.

Can you tell us about the artist grants that MODA is providing?

We wanted to test the idea of handing out assets to artists in order to help fund their projects in the web3 space. While our initial wave of artist grants have been closed off, it was a great initiative. 

Artists who have been funded are starting to roll out their projects right now, using MODA contracts and tools. You can learn more about that in our latest announcements on Discord.

Since we launched the first grants initiative, we’ve gotten feedback from our early wave of grantees, and are building out a revamped artist grants program. Stay tuned for details to come.

(The grants program was approved by MODA community member via a Snapshot vote, which is really cool.)

Lastly, what are some features that you would like to see implemented in web3 that would help you and your team accomplish your goals more efficiently?

We need more platforms for artists to be heard on, that don’t act as a web3 version of a “walled garden,” so to speak. On this note, MODA plans to keep collaborating with awesome projects and like-minded individuals to build tooling that enables artists to take their value propositions to the next level.

I actually think that most of the tools that an artist needs to start a project are available:

I think what’s lacking is proper infrastructure and cohesion. At the moment, everything sort of feels chunky; it would be helpful for all of the tooling to be organized into an easily digestible package. The ecosystem needs to be more streamlined.

100%. I think we will see more streamlined tools over the next few years, and we’ll see major labels and DSPs integrate web3 into their models. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens.

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