Shxdw Is Unlocking the Possibilities of Music As NFT Utility

Musician shxdw shares how she dropped her new song exclusively to fans using a token-gated lyric NFT.

On December 22, 2022, shxdw joined Tellie’s Stephanie Guerrero to share how she conceived of her drop, You’re Lying But Ok. The below conversation has been edited for clarity.

Shxdw recording in the studio

Stephanie Guerrero: Can you tell me a little bit about your artistry? Why did you decide to get into punk music?

Shxdw: Punk is the genre of my heart. My first love was actually hip hop, back when I was like 10. I'm American, but I moved to Brazil when I was 10 and for whatever reason, my friends there were really into punk. My neighbors had a punk band, and this beautiful thing happened where my sound just got melded with this hardcore Black Flag-type sound. 

Overall, finding punk music gave me the opportunity to play with my sound. If I had stayed in the United States, who knows what would have happened because of the assumptions that, as a Black musician, you're supposed to fit within a certain genre, or have a certain sound or a certain look. So yeah, I'm forever grateful that I found punk. 

Screenshot of shxdw's tweet about her drop
Tweet announcing the drop.

At Tellie, we’re really excited about your recent drop,
You’re Lying But Ok. Let's go over the basics—what are the mechanics of it, and how does it work?

The drop is made up of nine unique pieces, with each piece containing a part of the lyrics to a song. Each piece also includes a visual, which is kind of an abstract interpretation of the song, as well as an animation of the song lyrics. So yeah, there are nine unique pieces, each of which were released as an editioned NFT, coming out to 108 NFTs total. I see each one as a lyric NFT, as opposed to a straight-up music NFT. It's a way to go deeper into the lyrics and what the song is about, in an abstract manner.

In addition to the aspects you’ve mentioned, is there any audio attached to the NFTs?

If you collect an NFT, you get access to the entire song. That's where Tellie comes in. We use a token-gated Tellie site to give collectors access to the song. And the song is exclusively available to people who access it in that manner. It won't be on streaming platforms, or anything else like that.

GIF featured in one of the NFTs. Visuals by Jesse Soleil (@jessesoleil), lyric animation by ren (@AbstractBLVCK)

Why did you decide to do this drop like this?

I value experimentation. I also value accessibility. Overall, I was curious to see how it would be received, and how it would work. But also, by focusing the project on the lyrics, I thought it would be interesting to play around with the song functioning as the utility of these pieces. I’ve never tried anything like that before. I also like the challenge of releasing something in a more limited way. It felt a little bit scary because I fell in love with the song, and to not let everybody have access to it feels odd. But it sets the bar for me to make something else I love that everyone can have access to.

If a person buys one of each of the nine NFT editions, will they have the full song within their NFTs, or are there parts of the song that are excluded?

If someone were to purchase the nine NFTs, there are parts of the song that would be excluded. There's a guitar solo in there, and a few other parts where there are no lyrics. So you definitely wouldn't be able to piece together the song perfectly, but you would have all the lyrics, for sure.

Apart from token-gated access to the full song, is there any other utility you're going to add to these NFTs?

With this drop, it's about access to the music. That's the main thing. I thought it was interesting to have the music itself as the utility. I've played around with this idea of utility in various ways, and I definitely want to explore adding other elements of utility to future drops, so that holders get discounts and things like that. But if I'm honest, I'm definitely still building those ideas out. Right now, it's definitely just the music—and there are so many ways to play around with music in the NFT space. Some people drop music NFTs and don't drop the music at all. The music itself, let's say, is an MP3 file or something, and you kind of have to listen on whatever platform it’s streaming from. So yeah, I thought it was interesting just to have the music itself be what you got for collecting the NFT.

Is this song going to be token gated forever, do you think? Or is it something where you’ll do it for a period of time, and then make it more widely available?

In my mind it's always going to be token gated. However, the person who produced the track—Grl, who's a really dope artist in the Web3 space—was like, “Are you sure? You don't ever want it on streaming platforms?” I might be open to it, but right now I just feel like there's something worth playing with, in terms of never releasing it more widely. So, it’s still a conversation. The middle ground we came to was that while we won’t release it beyond the NFT drop, collectors can leak it if they want.

I'm definitely not worried about not putting it on Spotify or anything like that, because you don't really make money from that anyway. I'm just like, “Okay, collectors can leak it, we have that little loophole if anybody wants to.” We have friends who collected it, so if we really wanted to be on SoundCloud or something like that, that would be the way—because, as I said earlier, I do value access a lot.

Are you going to be performing this song when you have shows? That's another way to give people access to it.

For sure. This song came together pretty fast. I mean, I don't think it's existed in the world for even a month yet. It’s still so new to me that whenever I listen to it, or whenever I'm sharing it with someone, I'm like, “I can't wait.” More and more I've been making songs that are geared towards performance and hype, even though I don't think every performance has to be super hyped up… but I think this one will just be really fun to perform, because of the energy that it brings.

Shwdw recording in the studio

Can we talk a little bit more about the production of the song, and how it came to be?

Really, it started with a tweet. I asked, “Does anybody have any beats that are kind of punkish, or in that realm?” And then I got a text from Grl and she was just like, “Do you like this?” What she sent definitely had a Sleater-Kinney vibe. And even though Carrie Brownstein is someone who I really look up to, my sound isn’t so Sleater-Kinney. But anyways, Grl sent me that beat probably two weeks before I went to Art Basel Miami. When I went there, I had an experience that gave me some things to process. As I was coming home, I started writing the song on the plane. It was just one of those things where I could not wait. It's all I was thinking about. I'm sure I got the hook on the plane because I just needed to process. I didn't think I was going to drop it or anything like that. But then after I recorded it, I fell in love. 

Going back to the production, Grl ended up producing it and playing guitar on it. And, she did the beat on a computer.

It's awesome that Grl was on board for this experiment. I'm excited for the drop. I know everyone was really excited about this project, so this is going to be really, really cool.

Yeah, I'm excited. Grl says that I found out about Tellie through her. I'm not sure if that's true, because Pastel, another Web3 artist, was the one who walked me through it. Either way, when I was using it for the first time, I remember everything just feeling so clean and user friendly. I knew right away that I wanted this song to be token gated, but I wasn’t sure how that was going to happen. And then I encountered you guys and Tellie made it really, really easy to set up. So I’m definitely thankful for that.

Follow shxdw on Twitter

We love how shxdw released her newest song exclusively via a series of lyric NFTs, which fans can collect to gain access to the track.

Want to try this approach for your own fan-exclusive release?

Using Tellie's no-code token-gating tools, you can use any NFT, POAP, or social token to create your own exclusive-access page featuring unreleased audio and more.

Get started on your token-gated page.

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