Transcript: Minting Millions
This is a raw, unedited transcript of the Dot Dot Dot Conversation “Minting Millions: NFTs & the Power of Community”
You can listen to the full recording here.
Laurie Segall 01:16
I’m Laurie from Dot Dot Dot Media. And we do conversations about that intersection of tech and humanity. So just going back to what I was saying about NF T’s, I did a piece for 60 minutes and part time was 60 minutes on NF T’s and the metaverse. And I created our startup beat back at CNN, and honestly like 2009/2010. And there’s so much. People are so excited about this and it still feels to me like the early days, when I was covering startups and people thought, Uber was a crazy idea and they thought Instagram was kind of crazy, and has a similar feel. So it seems like a really exciting time so I’m really excited for you to be joining me on this topic so maybe we could start by you just giving us a little bit of your background, I mean I can get the highlights which is you know you’re, you’ve had various VP creative roles at Live Nation entertainment. I went through like your whole resume online, to a point where I felt a little bit creepy. So, I would love if you want to just kind of give us some of the highlights of the stuff you’d like to talk about.
Jeff Nicholas 02:47
Yeah, yeah, for sure. So, before I do that, I think, you know, one of the things you mentioned about, you know, Uber seemed like a crazy idea, I think, any, any of these ideas that seem crazy, you know, or outlandish, in the, in the moment. You know when you sort of play them out like they all felt that way. And, and, you know now like I can’t even, you know we none of us can imagine a world where Uber didn’t exist or rideshare didn’t exist right and I think if you just kind of look at what’s going on with you know kids in video games and collectibles within video games like NFT start to make a lot of sense. Outside of video games, but before we go there. Yeah, so I’ve been doing things in the digital art world for a long time. The highlights are, you know, back in mid 90s 94 I was a kid, and we were playing with Anssi art, which was you know, prior to Windows, it was computer generated are made with, you know, blocks and 16 colors, and there wasn’t a market for it, and everybody thought we were crazy. And why would you spend all that time making these pieces that no one can see. And, you know, the same thing, the same sort of mentality that we’re kind of talking about now within NFT’s. And, you know, that stuff didn’t end up going anywhere, directly, but everybody I know from that scene, you know, really went on to create, you know, companies and advertising agencies or, you know, become a graphic designer or become a creative director, and it really planted the seeds I think for a lot of us and for entrepreneurship and and you know where we would go down the road. And then, you know when you fast forward, I was on the road with bands for a while, I was in artist management for a while, was trying to find my way, but always kept coming back to technology and creativity and that led me to start a small little boutique agency. It was called the uprising creative, it was just my business partner and I, at the start, and by the end of it we had like, I think it was three locations 40 employees, and we were doing music videos for Rhianna and Justin Timberlake and Shakira, and you know campaigns for Nike and, you know, big work that was all really integrated Integrated Media, lots of web development, lots of music video, you know, and then sort of got into VR. And so from, from there it. I got sort of got bit by the VR bug, and that took me into like a whole new place where all of a sudden, you know, my, my passion for technology and my passion for creativity came together and Live Nation took an interest in that. I went around the world shooting a piece for Hulu and Live Nation, where we, you know, work with Little Wayne and work with Major Lazer and Phoenix and really dove into their creative process, through the lens of VR so you could feel immersed and, you know, and, and then it just kind of like kept going, VR turned into AR right for me.
Laurie Segall 05:49
Jeff Nicholas 05:50
AR turned into XR XR turned in, you know, the whole of it turned into just Metaverse as a whole. And then next thing I know my, a friend of mine is like, there’s this thing happening in NFT’s and I think you in particular would be really interested, and that led me to here, right, and so I’ve made a big because of NFT’s and because of the space and what’s happening in the metaverse as a whole. I did make a big change at the beginning of the year leaving Live Nation, and coming over to a startup I’ve been advising full time, that’s working on virtual artists that are born on the metaverse. So that’s,
Laurie Segall 06:24
It’s fascinating. First of all, and so much to unpack right like so you spent the beginning of your career, touring with artists so I’m sure you have just some crazy stories, I guess, out of curiosity, who was the craziest.
Jeff Nicholas 06:39
Yeah, I won’t blow anyone’s cover. But.
Laurie Segall 06:44
Well, that’s boring, isn’t it.
Jeff Nicholas 06:45
Yeah, well, but I did, we did have some. I was out with a punk band, and we were on tour with a lot of bands, and we had a lot of fun. Let’s just say it was debaucherous at best, you know, insane at its worst.
Laurie Segall 07:02
But it’s it’s fascinating to see because you know that intersection of music and technology and how these things really are beginning to come together in a big way, and I know that you’re known for being the creative director I think was behind the largest global VR livestream in history, this is, I think, broadcast is something like 50 plus countries, and that was the Coldplay concert. Can you explain how this came about, and, and, you know what, what kind of the behind the scenes was like and then I want to get into, into NFT’s.
Jeff Nicholas 07:36
Yeah, that was such a fun show in such a fun experience that, you know, Coldplay as a, as a band, they’re just such a warm, group of people in such a family atmosphere within their crew, and you know they’re very tight and very tight knit and so, you know, number one, getting them to participate in that with us was a feat in and of itself, because they’ve got every opportunity under the sun. But then once we got into it with them like they were just all about, You know, doing something new and doing something like as big as we possibly could, and and yeah you’re right like it still holds the record for the most viewed live stream, or VR live stream, the most like cities simulcasts to, there were pop up events that were happening all over the world at Samsung and Samsung had sponsored the live stream. And so, Samsung stores and locations all around the world at the same time. And it was one of those things where like, you know, in the middle of it. I was at Live Nation At the time I was working in our innovation group and our my whole mission was creating VR content. And so at the time, we’re like, you know heads down, we’re going to do this big event, with the biggest band in the world, but you don’t think about it that way. It’s just like, we’re gonna, we’re gonna go do this cool thing, and we’re gonna have a lot of fun doing it. And it wasn’t until the day after, You know, we had 17 VR cameras on top of their I think 14 traditional cameras. Wow, and running all of that through a sap truck in the back with like, the most insane, you know wiring rig and you’ve ever seen. And, and, like, the crew, like our crew just for the VR side I think was something like 70 people. And, you know you’re in the middle of that storm, and you’re just like grabbing the rail next year you know like, is he gonna make it right because the technology was so new to that, you know, if this wasn’t like tried and true like, you know, hey, let’s go on broadcast on NBC and, you know, it’s dialed, right, like it was, like, really, you know, tested but relatively untested Nokia cameras and Ozo cameras. And so, yeah, I guess the point is, once we got through all of that, the next day and you look back and go like, Oh my god we just did that, you know, and it was such a, such a big moment for all of us and, you know, the band was super happy and I think you know it went on to get nominated at Cannes lion which was great. We didn’t win, there was a bunch of great stuff that year. But, but, yeah, definitely a highlight.
Laurie Segall 10:13
Yeah, I mean, so much of this got and you talk about Major Lazer like I remember for a piece, this was during the pandemic. I mean, by the way, we’re let’s say we’re out of the pandemic, but during the height of the pandemic I remember going. It was probably an hour outside of LA and we go to this random warehouse and, and all of a sudden we’re and we’re shooting a story. And all of a sudden it’s Major Lazer in these giant, everything was, it was on these. I don’t even know how to explain it right it was such a crazy sight to see, they were doing a VR concert are beginning to tape a VR concert. And we walk in and they’re like women torquing everywhere and they’re, oh I remember that one. Yeah, yeah, it was, it was fascinating, and, and what they said to me, you know is, especially, you know with Facebook horizon coming and all this kind of stuff, what, what all of them basically said was this is the future of entertainment and I think this will take us to NF T’s right like I want to start out here so it’s kind of palpable. But this idea that, okay, maybe during the pandemic people can attend concerts in the virtual space but you know this is not just pandemic related right like you have you have artists who are making more money doing concerts and and Fortnite look at someone like Travis Scott right where millions of people are showing up to these shows in these metaverses right these, these games, to some degree and so artists really want to capitalize on it and do it in the right way and so it’s really creating this, this moment for creativity and also where I dig out is like the tech innovation here, what does this actually mean for the rest of us so it was certainly, you know I’m like I’m painfully unhip, I will say that but it was, it was very cool to be in kind of this warehouse with Major Lazer and watching them perform this, you know, this performance to no one but to everyone, to some degree, and it certainly seems like we’re seeing this shift in art and music and either artists or musicians feel like they want to get on board, but there’s so much out there and it’s hard to kind of wrap your head around and so I’m assuming that’s kind of where you come in and some of these projects that you’re doing.
Jeff Nicholas 12:25
Yeah, well it’s interesting, so the music industry as forward thinking as the artists within the industry are and, and some of the entities, some of the labels like there are people and there are really good people in the music industry trying really hard to do cool innovative things, but there’s also a lot of history, and a lot of like trepidation in the music industry that do anything, brand new, like they don’t play guinea pigs so many times right and they also like really, really, like, did not handle the, the mp3 Well, you think back to Napster and Limewire and all that stuff like they got burned really hard by technology. And so there’s still a lot of that that the music industry at large is trying to shake off. And then, and then when you go to the live music industry. They’re really like, you know, hey, all of this stuff that you’re talking about right now performance in the metaverse like performance at home. This is going to eat into our ticket sales, and our ticket sales are a number one driver for an artists right so you can see there being a lot of fear. At the same time and all of us that are involved in innovation are sitting there beating the drum going like, you don’t get it, You don’t get it, not getting it where your ticket sales, what it’s going to do is it’s actually going to be additive, and it’s going to make people want to go to your show, even more, because the, the human experience of being in a room, you know, exchanging energy with other humans, and having that like almost religious moment with art, and with the artists on stage, right, like, there’s no, there’s no comparison to that. And so all of the stuff that’s happening in the metaverse for a physical artist for you know like a living breathing artist is really just all additive, and so when the pandemic happened, And all of a sudden, everything got shut down and it was just a mad scramble it was like, what do we do right like –
Laurie Segall 14:13
Tell, just give us some like insight right yeah who called you, what artists called you and what did they say whatever like everybody’s been like coming up with creative crazy ideas like what was the craziest idea you got And who was it i Please tell me was Brianna She’s so cool.
Jeff Nicholas 14:28
Yeah, well, we, we got a lot of crazy ideas, but at first it was everybody was just in total shock, like their, their business had just come out from under on Yeah, or is were being cancelled and everything and so, and the only thing anybody could think to do because we were all locked down to was like okay concerts at home, right, like, we’re just gonna do concerts at home, and we kept pitching bigger and bigger and bigger, like we had this pitch out to BTS that was really about like this insane Metaverse experience that’s used, you know, live action with, you know AR components and XR components and really made it like something that you could never do in real life, right, and the, you know, a lot of that stuff ended up towards the end of the pandemic coming true and happening, you had, you know, big performances happening Billie Eilish did an incredible job with her XR performance and, you know, as, as the, as things opened back up and became safer to shoot, then people would go out and start doing more, right, but what really happened that I thought was even more interesting, not just like performances at home of existing artists, but it was this idea that like, what if, you know, what if things that were just like, born of the metaverse were entertainment became entertainment value, and all of a sudden it wasn’t just like transpose this artist into the metaverse it was like, create something from the metaverse that we could all experience there. Right, and then let that be additive to the whole of how we interact with music.
Laurie Segall 16:00
And I want to make sure for folks listening to that we’re not like speaking in code right like we’re talking NFT’s Metaverse and all that so I know folks on here are very familiar with a lot of these terms, but I think it could still be helpful, because you’re a pro right then this to kind of explain it when we’re talking about the metaverse. And, and doing these shows like in the metaverse Can you just explain like what exactly what that, that means why you think that’s the future.
Jeff Nicholas 16:27
Yeah, totally. Well, it’s so funny so the metaverse used to be a term that we would talk about like a replicant, like a digital world that you would go into. So, the metaverse was like, you know, Second Life if anybody remembers that that was considered the metaverse you had an avatar, and you were living a second life in this Metaverse right and VR is promise of a Metaverse is immersive, you put that headset on, all of a sudden you’re transformed and transported into this metaverse. Ready Player One movie like that showed a Metaverse that was a connected Metaverse of all this, you know essentially immersive like you were going into an overlay of digital world overtop of the physical world. But I think what’s happening. And that’s what we were talking a lot about at the beginning of the pandemic was the metaverse the metaverse right like everybody was like, Okay we’re going into, like, digital worlds, our world is gone. As we do it right like people outside, or we can’t see people.
Laurie Segall 17:33
It was this idea that we were all spending so much time immersed in even more time immersed in these in our computer and our phones and all these things became more normalized right and yeah and maybe like there’s some element of like the world is better in here than it is out there, you know, not bad.
Jeff Nicholas 17:51
No, but But it’s true though. But I think what’s happened is like we saw we all entered into this perception of that word Metaverse meaning immersive world, and what we’re now, like coming out of that and into the reality of it is the metaverse is actually more like every connected piece of media that you experience online. It’s just like when you know, if you think Back to the Future, or Back to the Future Two. And, like cars were supposed to fly. And we’ve passed the date at which cars were supposed to fly and we don’t have flying cars. Right, like, if you think about all of the futurist perspectives on stuff it’s always like, like let’s dream really big and that’s where we’ll get to, but the reality is like the infrastructure we use today the roads, the old cars like we’re all sort of bound by what has come before us. And so, the metaverse as it, as it’s really fleshing itself out, it’s kind of like being bootstrapped right now is more like clubhouse, Twitter, right like yes there’s immersive worlds like decentraland or, you know, Facebook’s VR stuff but like it’s also right here like we’re in it right now because we’re talking digitally about this stuff, right, and that interconnectedness is I think what gets really interesting, like to circle it back around to NF T’s and web three right yes, it becomes a foundational layer for that kind of exchange of information and media that happened,
Laurie Segall 19:22
Right, like I can envision a world, not to just kind of go there but where you hear our voices right now but maybe one day, there’s with augmented reality or virtual space we’re more immersed in a different way right or it goes even kind of further and there are different types, the metaverse or just, there’s so many different ways, I think, to consume media as, as we’re talking right like and and how and how it is and you talk about web three I think for, for folks listening like web one we think about the rise of the you know the up to like the dot com boom right we think of web two is, you know the web. This is when I started covering technology I was a senior technology correspondent at CNN for over a decade and I remember I started read around web 2.0 which was the rise of startups like Instagram and Twitter and Uber and that’s when you know we’re talking we’re joking at the beginning of this call, like, you know where everyone was like, Oh, get into into a stranger’s car like that’s insane or like, you know going sleeping in a stranger’s home the Airbnb like no one’s gonna do that right like there was a same kind of attitude and so then we enter web 3.0, and this is what’s really exciting about this moment that I think in many ways, and correct me if I’m wrong because you’re you’re much more into it but was accelerated by the pandemic and, and a lot of this stuff being more normalized which is you know web 3.0 and us living more in these immersive worlds and you have Facebook and Zuckerberg saying they’re going to the future of Facebook as the metaverse and all this stuff but I think it’s such an interesting thing of what you say, which is okay, well maybe it’s not quite Ready Player One or it’s not quite this, but we’re already here, you know, maybe as we begin to wrap our heads around that it’s easier for us to grasp why NFT’s are the future or important, and why there’s value to them or why there might be more value in the future, and it helps us kind of shift the conversation to what I promised everyone we would talk about, which is NFT’s and the power of community right Is that Is that a fair shift or if there’s a fair thing to say. Totally, yeah, totally. And you know I mean that, you know, going off of like this idea of web three, like, how would you describe web three like is are we entering web three like is this web 3.0 what is web 3.0.
Jeff Nicholas 21:40
Yeah, it’s a good question. I think a lot of the definitions that people are using are evolving, and you know and just for anybody in the room like I’m no expert, I don’t claim to be, there’s, I don’t believe there are experts actually I believe we all have our own shared experience that we can share with each other, but the, the idea of for web 3.0, that, that seems to be most relevant is worth shifting into this world where, instead of being provided rich media in exchange for our attention. So this attention based economy that web two was full of right, I’m gonna look at this Instagram post, then you’re gonna serve me an ad, I’m gonna like it. You know, it’s all about like giving our attention to these companies, web 3.0 all of a sudden kind of flips it on its head and it says, Actually, we’re all going to be decentralized nodes and custodians of our own attention and time, and this creator economy, all of a sudden, can blossom because we can go direct to each other with creation, and instead of giving these platforms our attention or our money for ads or whatever, we can give the Creator, a share of value for for that piece of creativity right so that’s like kind of the underpinning, I think that it flips web to on its head and that’s why it’s like, that’s why we’re calling it whether it’s a brand new thing.
Laurie Segall 22:57
Yeah, and it certainly seems like as you’re saying it’s like a reaction to be attention based economy and a lot of the criticism that Tech has faced over the last decade, you know, as someone I’ve always said in front of the founders and asked them the hard questions, I feel like that’s kind of viral, and there have been a lot of questions, whether it’s Zuckerberg or Tim Cook or any of these about you know about the business model Silicon Valley, about power and control and so web 3.0 offers is really interesting opportunity, and I think that’s where it might be interesting to get into this idea of NFT’s so, you know, what about NFT’s for you was interesting and I know it’s kind of like buzzy just to talk about NF T’s but explain for you as someone who has always kind of been at the forefront of emerging media, and not someone who just likes to experiment for the sake of experimenting but really, you know, knows media knows the landscape, why were NF T’s interesting to you when it came to the idea of entertainment and the artists and musicians that you serve and who you know and what you’ve seen in your career.
Jeff Nicholas 24:01
Well yeah and so I think it’s probably important that you know for the room. NFT’s this big buzzword, you know, what is it, what does it stand for non fungible token, it just means that it I can’t, it’s not divisible, I have it I own it, I can transfer it to you but I can’t give you a part of it. Right, that’s, that’s the non fungible part of it, there’s, there’s much deeper meanings and stuff around it but you can just kind of think about it that way, it’s like a, like a piece of fine art, that can be transferred in that way. Anybody in the room who knows more about NFT’s than that will will skewer me for that definition. It’s so much deeper than that but I’m just trying to like lay some groundwork. What mattered to me with it was like I was when I, when I first, when they first came across my, you know, proverbial desk. It was like, okay I don’t quite get this and I come from a creative and technology background I don’t quite get this because I can just hear this all the time I can right click save. So what’s to stop me from doing that. Right, and that’s like one of the biggest criticisms that when people are like, look I just right click save your NFT, and then you start to understand well, you know, anybody can take a picture of the Mona Lisa, and anybody can make a print of anything, and that doesn’t stop the Mona Lisa from being valuable, in fact it actually makes it more valuable, because it shows demand for it, right, but there’s still one owner of the Mona Lisa, and there’s still one owner of these NFT’s. And so, that for me was a lightbulb moment when I, When I was finally able to put that together, and I went like, you know, this is now a way for creators, and when I say creators, I mean like, anybody who’s creating anything, right, this is where we are right now, anybody who’s creating anything photographs, like, photographers, you know 3D artists, you know, you name it, right, to now find collectors who value their work, and are willing to, you know, collect their work in exchange for, you know, some sort of value. That’s really powerful because it didn’t exist before you, you put your stuff up on Instagram, you get some likes you get an agent, you get some jobs, you might make it into a gallery, you know you could claw your way up through the art scene that way, but it was hard. And this all of a sudden, you know, you could turn this on and, and really distribute your work, and find collector base in a much different way. So that was part one, and that was super cool. But then you start to realize, as you get deeper into the space that NFT has so much is so much more than that. And it’s the token itself can become, it can have a lot of utility attached to it. So all of a sudden, because I hold a specific token, I might have access to a show, right, like a kind of special concert, or I might have access to exclusive content, or I might be able to be part of a community. And so, that utility starts to expand it from, I’m just collecting art to now I’m getting like I’m getting something in return for this and I’m part of something that I’ve invested in, and that’s really powerful. And then when you expand that out even further, and you go well wait a minute, like, if that’s the case, if this token can have all this utility attached to it, and it can, it’s non fungible and it represents a thing like a title to a house, or you know a deed to a house or whatever, like, why would it not replace all of the paperwork that we have around the world. Why would it not replace all of the things that you know require this sort of like ownership piece, and the utility piece that are, you know, really sort of archaic and, and then you start to realize like how powerful this is. Right.
Laurie Segall 27:39
Yeah, and and by the way, how, how, I think it’s a great way to describe but also how we’re just really at the beginning, right, like how, how this could change and evolve and how, how many different applications. This could be used for his what’s really intriguing to me. I spent some time with people who’s, you know, I feel like he’s one of the, the artists that really made put this on the mainstream radar when he’s sold a piece of digital art for 69 million and I think a lot of people said oh my god, this jpg cells and so many people said no no this is much more than that and this is why, for all the reasons that you just explained. And it was fascinating to be I spent time with people in this family when we were doing this piece and just to see his life change to watch him do his art. You know we were there when, when he did another auction, and, and just watching how many people were buying the art and then also you have the smart contract which we can get into, which continues to give back to the artists which kind of changes the game when it comes to royalties and whatnot so it certainly is something that a lot of people in the traditional industries, I think, sometimes they’re kind of shaking their head heads that in the same way they were I think when I started covering tech back, back in 2009 2010, and saying well this doesn’t make sense but it but it certainly does make sense for a lot of creators as you’re saying,
Jeff Nicholas 29:04
Well, it’s like I said up front, like, if you look at kids and you look at their behavior right now with games. If we just like if we just hyper focus in on that, that little tiny aspect right, I’ve got a 10 year old and my son just turned seven on Sunday. And, you know, they, much to my chagrin. We play a lot more Roblox and are on their iPads a lot more than I really want the pandemic accelerated that for them too, because we needed somebody who needed them to have something to do. But if you look at what they’re doing, like they’re playing these games, most of their games that they’re playing these. These days though aren’t the games that I grew up playing on like Nintendo where it was like a fighter, fighting game or a racing game or whatever it’s more like kind of role playing like Hangout, sort of vibes, and, and what they’re doing there in those. Let’s call it metaverse is buying digital goods, they might be buying cat ears for their character, a new outfit or a new couch for their home that they have in adopt me or like whatever, and they really value those digital goods. And so, if we’ve got, you know, kids who are playing these games, they’re learning a lot. They’re having a lot of great entertainment, it’s relatively wholesome for the most part, and they’re also like already collecting these goods, and, and they would rather spend their allowance money on these digital goods than they would like a toy. It starts to tell you a lot about where our culture is going as a whole. Right. They’re already buying NF T’s, sort of, not really, but they’re buying these goods they’re non transferable goods, I guess you can’t take that out of Roblox it’s, it’s a walled garden. So that’s a difference here. But NFT’s are almost like the grown up sort of version of that, that allow for interoperability, anywhere you go around the internet, so your wallet that your NFT’s are stored in is kind of like your knapsack and you’re running around the internet and Metaverse carrying your bag of stuff with you, and you’re like, you show up to one site and you’re like well I gotta pull this one out because this one gives me utility, and you show it to another one and you’re like, well here’s my gallery of all my stuff look how cool it is. Right. And, and that’s kind of, if you if you track that through, like those kids are growing up, and they’re going to be expecting that. We’re just getting indoctrinated into it, and our culture is like whoa what is happening right now.
Laurie Segall 31:25
Yeah, and I forget who was saying this during one of the pieces we did, but they were talking about how children, kids and maybe it probably won’t be Instagram in the future but but more teenagers or young people put more emphasis on their Instagram profiles than you know than any something in real life, there’s more value on those on that curated profile than on a lot of the things that they hold in their bedroom. Right, so what if there was a way to place value on it I think a lot of this is about placing digital value so it’s, it’s fascinating. What, so for you. You have projects that you buy into that you can invest in so what what are the NFT’s that, that you are interested in that you’ve bought, get that you have a collection I mean get give us kind of insight into your personal NFT journey.
Jeff Nicholas 32:15
Yeah, so, so coming in, I think I got into the NFT space around the end of February, which, by, but we thought we joke in the NFT world that like a day is a week and a year, you know, so like, coming in. In February, the landscape has shifted so much right, yeah. At the beginning, you know, I didn’t really like I was seeing the people pieces and all those really big sales, and it was just like, totally unattainable, but it was really inspiring. And then what I found through really Clubhouse early days like spending, you know, hours here the NFT community was massive, within Clubhouse, we would, there were like minded artists that were all like, wow, this could be a real thing. And so we all started collecting each other’s work and you sell a piece you collect a piece to kind of give back to the community. So early days my collection was really you know a lot of photography because that’s that’s where I ended up using as a creative vehicle for myself within MSDs, so a lot of photography, a lot of like 3d artists that sort of thing. And then it shifted, and I think it was about end of April. For Dave Yacht Club launched, and the board a yacht club was a collectible. It was there had been once before it, you know crypto punks, which is, you know, some of that in the audience may be familiar with. There were a number of different projects but in crypto punks is still a thing and it’s like the gold standard right now of these avatar projects. But when boarded Yacht Club launched, I found it, like somebody retweeted something I found that early days, and it was like, oh this art is really cool, it’s like lowbrow like funny, you know, monkeys wearing hats like, you know, it was like this was interesting. There was a roadmap that of utility that the NFT got you, or that they were going to offer, right, like, you know, a 3d character for the metaverse and all kinds of other you know discord access and all this stuff. And they were really cheap, right, they’re like point oh eight, which was like 200 bucks. At the time, and, and all of a sudden it went from like, Oh this is cool like I’m gonna keep collecting art, too. I really liked this I’m gonna collect this collectible. And then, then the entire NSTC just exploded in collectibles and aboard a yacht club went from, you know, point oh eight to now 60s Wild right now I think it’s like 40 years, to buy aboard a, you know, Avatar, and you think about that growth like that’s explosive growth. So all of a sudden, that’s flooded with the collectibles and I’d like right now I’m repping cool cats that’s, you know my avatar that I have up right here. Cool Cats are like these fun cats that Klein made like he’s been working on him for 20 years, he launched this project they’re just super fun, fun loving cats. Right. And that becomes the thing you’re like I identify with the ethos of us or identify with the founder or the community. And so that’s a lot of what my collection is now, it’s that early art, and then collectibles that I think are like that I attached to in some way, some of which I’m invested in because I think there’s a profit to turn and some I really love the, you know, sort of overused word, but the community of them.
Laurie Segall 35:26
Yeah, I mean, and I didn’t realize it was so, so recent for you to which is and I think you’re right, it’s like I feel like it’s like dog years, right, like everything goes so quickly, right now with with how this is moving, I mean, how much would you say, like, how much would you say your collection is valued at.
Jeff Nicholas 35:44
I don’t like to, to, to do that because it’s fluctuates so much and it’s kind of not about that. But, you know there are flippers out there and there are people out there that, that’s what they’re, they’re collecting as an investment to, you know hopefully cash out big down the road, and that’s totally valid, that’s, that’s the community, the NFT space has created the ability for that to happen, and they’re kind of changing lives in that way. For me it’s just been more about like, I really like this stuff and some of it’s probably gonna pay off, but like Gary Vee says like 90% of what you collect will probably have no value. later, so make sure that what you collect is, you love have it in your wallet. You know, right. And because you don’t know, like it’s so saturated it’s so flooded, it’s, it is like, you know, think back that Beeple piece was what in February. That’s like, that’s like, oh gee ancient news at this point, right, like, he’s not but that sale. In two years, like the stuff we’re collecting today. Who knows, right.
Laurie Segall 36:45
What is your advice because it it is right, it sounds it’s either I think right now, it seems like you either know about this community or you don’t, right, there’s really little in between, you know, I still think my claim to fame was, was being able to do a 60 minutes piece on NFT’s and explaining NFT’s and the metaverse to the executive producer 60 minutes which like I will say because it’s, you know 16 a little bit older. Right. It is a hard, it is hard, if you haven’t really, if you’re not really all in so what advice would you give to folks who, who want to get into to this community who want to kind of delve in but aren’t sure where to start, especially as it’s moving so quickly.
Jeff Nicholas 37:29
Yeah, it’s a it’s a really good question. It’s actually one of the, the sort of, if you want to call it a problem for adoption, it’s, you know you’ve got the people who don’t understand it, and they give all kinds of, like, everything from, I can right click and say why would I buy it to, you know I don’t under you know just frankly don’t understand some people who get really really upset about it, it’s interesting. Um, but if you aren’t one of those people and you’re interested, and you’re like this is really, like, I don’t know it does feel like the future or I’m just curious, it moves so fast, you’re right, like it’s where do, where do you jump in, how do you how do you know what’s worth what right like, how do you make sure you’re not overspending on something that’s it’s really hard to tell. So my advice is usually get involved in the NFT space on Twitter, start following, like the hashtag NFT’s, start looking in that or searching for people or finding people in your network who might be into NF Ts and following a bunch of those people. And what you’ll start to discover and artists really like if there’s D fi side, and that’s really about like the investment side, and that might be your jam like follow those people, or if you’re really into like the art follow artists right, there’s a couple of different entry points, but get just like immerse like it’s part of your timeline now you start to see stuff coming through your timeline, and you start to get an understanding of what’s going on. And then you can start engaging in that conversation, asking questions, and the space is so welcoming, that it doesn’t matter if you’ve got one day in it, you know, and you’re just curious or you’ve got 100 days in it. A question will always be answered, and it will be answered with glee because everybody’s like, I want to help you. You know in this space. And so by doing that and not just jumping in and being like I’m just gonna buy the first thing I see, you start to get a sense of like what appeals to you, where the value actually lies and, but, but that’s kind of a commitment, right, like, and that’s, that’s what I mean but that’s kind of the problem and moves so fast, you have to commit to, to getting immersed in it, and people frankly don’t have that time. So, there, there are better mechanisms coming, you know, curation tools news outlets like things coming infrastructure around the community that will help, but right now it’s still early days, that’s really the only one.
Laurie Segall 39:51
We talk a lot about the rise of creator economy you use that term even in this call, we hear that over and over again, but, you know, part of what really makes NFT’s popular that community that rallies around them right and gives them value. Do you think we’re entering kind of more of this community economy?
Jeff Nicholas 40:08
That’s a good question. I haven’t actually heard anybody use that term yet. Um, but as you say it, it feels right. You know, cuz the Creator economy feels very isolating and I don’t want to say selfish because it’s not but it’s, it’s very self propelling right and, and what we have in the NFT space really and I, it’s funny because in this space, we talked about community all the time. And it’s become the dirty word like, it’s like you know in the marketing world like using the word authentic or authenticity became like such a dirty word for a long time. It’s so it community sort of feels like that because everybody gets the buzzword, but the reality is like that is what’s driving the space 100% And that community economy feeling is what you feel when you’re in the middle of the NFT space, there is a there is a community no matter what pocket of it you’re in, that’s rallying together to either support each other, or support projects. And you’re right, like a lot of the value does come from, like, oh the community says that this is valuable, they’re willing to spend their money on it so now it’s valuable. Like, that’s very true, but it’s also really true of like, you know any anything, right, like if something gets media attention, it’s going to be popular or right if collectors buy a piece in a gallery, all of a sudden that artist now has a career. So, it, but it’s feels hyper focused here, and it feels like incredibly supportive. It’s this weird thing like decentralization, feels like it would be isolating. Like we’re all off on our own little islands. But what it seems to actually do the inverse by decentralizing and letting everybody be custodians of their own experience. It brings people together.
Laurie Segall 42:01
Yeah, I mean, it certainly is interesting, especially if you look at kind of web 2.0 and this idea, when you talk about the Creator economy and it being a little bit selfish right but this idea even like the algorithms are optimized for people to put photos of themselves. You know, I do think what’s so fascinating to me right now about NFT’s in this space is kind of what you’re talking about which is that decentralized nature of it, where it is a different playing field now and there’s, you know, and it feels like just a completely different era of tech, of course, I think it’ll come with a lot of issues right and a lot of issues on inclusivity and how we make sure a lot of people can win from this and whatnot but, but it certainly seems like we’re entering kind of this, this new era.
Jeff Nicholas 42:51
Well, I think, you know, there’s a, you said it earlier, there, there was a, like what do we do now, when the pandemic sort of hit and everybody, you know, had their livelihoods kind of taken out from underneath them in whatever industry you were in, right, and all of a sudden, you couldn’t communicate with people the same way you couldn’t see people, depending on where you were in the world you were locked down, but we all as humans crave community. And, and, like, you know, as much of an overused word as it can be it’s it’s really true, like, whether that’s large community or small community. We all need human contact. We all need, you know that ability to rally around something. And I think that’s why this ended up coalescing the way that it did and why Clubhouse was such an early, you know not to plug Clubhouse because we’re on it I’m not doing that but, but literally it was such an early way for this NF T community to blossom, because people were stuck at home and they get on the app and listen for hours and talk about the future and talk about like the way that things can change. And it really fused that second moment in time that fuse that fuse like where this is all going right and it’s used a need for inclusivity and diversity and it and it fused, the community where we’ll rally around things in a way that like I haven’t seen in the public like out in the rest of the world quite as quickly, like if something doesn’t feel right. If something isn’t inclusive, if it isn’t diverse, if it’s, you know, if it’s, if it doesn’t have the right vibe, you know, from the humanities and human humanitarian standpoint, like that stuff gets called out really quickly, which is also really interesting.
Laurie Segall 44:41
When it comes to the future of music and musicians, artists, you know, we’re beginning to understand I think the power of NF T’s, right, or at least you see that artists are very interested in this because they see there’s money to be made, they’re wrapping their heads around people like you, we’re helping people understand this. What do you think that future looks like for for the creative industry for, for folks like Reon or folks like the people that you, I mean you did, I was reading in your resume that you did merchandising right like back in the day earlier in your career, I mean what what does this mean for those artists for both big and small artists.
Jeff Nicholas 45:22
Well, I think, you know fan clubs have always been a huge thing for artists and offering exclusive experiences, you know, in the last few years has been a really powerful driver for both fusing like, you know, sort of fan love but also, you know, income for an artist, and you know that might mean like come to my show and you get me angry, or, you know, you get access to special merchandise drops like, like all of these things have become such a cornerstone for the artists community, but they’re all really, really low phi, I’m going to sell you a t shirt, you’re going to come meet me in person, right, like, and all of those things require a lot of the artists, except the merchandise side but, like, it requires the artist time and the artist time is finite. So, when you’ve got NF T’s and all of a sudden you if you use them as like access tokens, as an example, those fans can can both feel like they’ve invested into an artist, just right and they might actually see a return on their investment. If that token becomes valuable, which very well could be, and it can also provide. And so then it’s also providing like liquidity and, you know income to an artist, and it’s, and then there are many different digital things that an artist can turn on for the fan base that’s dated or, you know, included with the NFT purchase that doesn’t require their time. And so they can all of a sudden, diversify their income streams, they can be in more places at once. They can build more of a global community, that ultimately, it’s ultimately like that communities getting a lot of value to as fans they’re not just, you know, sucking dollars from them, they’re, they’re actually like providing real value, which is cool. So I think that’s, that’s always my view towards artists now is like, look at it like that like look at it as a community building tool that can also provide a an entirely new revenue stream for you
Laurie Segall 47:23
and I, we also have Dr Carlene who’s, who’s up here and patiently waiting so I would love to bring you in. You just became the psychiatrist in residence for the last boy and a T community. This is like a first can you explain, get, introduce yourself and we’d love to hear you weigh in.
Dr. Carlene MacMillian 47:44
So yeah, I’m Dr Carlene MacMillan I’m a psychiatrist and I think many folks have probably seen me here on the app and in my mental health room so maybe sort of wondering why I’m up on stage here with this with this profile picture and what I’m up to but you know I think February. Seems you know early in the space, I got involved in the NFT community I would say, early July, and I feel like, you know it’s changing as Jeff said, every, every hour, every day. And what really has drawn me to it is that sense of community and finding these online communities where, you know, there really is a sense of camaraderie, and I learned about someone in the space, named sabich, who’s been doing a lot of charitable work and partnering with things like the alphabetic project for example that’s donating a lot to schools and school teachers, like literally like a teacher might need crayons for her classroom and they will use some of the proceeds from from the alphabet ease to, you know, to help that teacher out to larger scale projects like blazed cats which you can see, I have one and then Carolina’s whole picture blazed cats is a program that’s donated, I think, probably, I don’t want to misquote now but at least $250,000 to Mental Health America within the span of several weeks from the proceeds right so I became really interested once I saw that there were ways that these communities could give back to on a larger scale to nonprofits, but also start to give back to each other. We talked a lot about utility and people say well what you know what utility does it have to buy this particular profile picture. And one very interesting example of that is this program called Lost Boy and if T. And that really is going hard into mental health people joining that community want mental health support. I think it’s called loss boy because men going into therapy, there’s a lot of stigma around it, there’s just, there’s kind of high barriers to entry. So by forming this safe space in the form of these profile pictures, as well as this discord community, you have a bunch of people it’s not just boys right it’s not just just men, but people kind of seeking out that support and so satvik approached me about becoming the psychiatrist in residence, so for the community which is, I think, is a first. And so if you have a lost boy there, they will be having kind of exclusive AMA’s with me taking taking questions or them not providing direct therapy to them, but I’m able to provide these more sort of intimate conversations, similar to what we do on clubhouse, but for that community and so I’m really super interested in how each of these communities in this saturated space are going to differentiate themselves by offering things like that right, whether it’s a psychiatrist, like me, or you know another type of keynote speaker, you know, it’s sort of like if you belong to a country club and they bring in the sort of high profile speakers. Just yesterday, Another, another Blaze cat community, they’re great. Definitely worth checking them out. One of the guys that’s really involved in that brought jog rule and Andy Milonakis into these like private chats yesterday just like randomly like spur of the moment. And if you’re part of that community you get to have those magical moments so it’s not just you know the picture of the cat that Caroline has it turns into something, sort of, much more. And it becomes kind of part of your life, you’re like, I gotta I gotta go check in on these, this discord community today and I think, for me at least it’s less about like what can I buy and flip and make some money, but more like what’s the community that I can be a part of that can actually do something for each other and for the world. So, since I’ve become involved a lot more people, I think, more mainstream have been like okay well this doctors involved, maybe there’s something here maybe this isn’t just sort of for tech bros or whatever, right, it’s get I’m getting like patients interested other psychiatrists interested. I think we’ll start to sheet see a shift over the coming months of more people like myself, kind of, you know taking the plunge figuring out the steps, because it’s still a little cumbersome to do it but once you kind of put your toe in the water. You can kind of go all in.
Laurie Segall 52:22
I mean that’s fascinating. Even thinking about bringing together a community and talking mental health, and, and using this as an opportunity to do that. So I think that’s really interesting I’m sure folks would want to check it out, you know, Jeff, I would hate to end this call, there’s no really, eight minutes without asking you about your crazy crypto heist story am I I hope that’s okay to ask you about I think you’ve kind of like put it on Twitter, a little bit so I didn’t. Correct me if I’m wrong but like Didn’t you have kind of a crazy crypto heist story.
Jeff Nicholas 53:01
Yeah, it’s been, it’s been a weird few weeks, couple of weeks dealing with. First of all, are you okay, I am okay. I think okay. And I think, you know, instead of talking about it directly, you know, if you are interested in that story I did a breakdown on my, on my Twitter, where you can kind of get a sense of like what happened, because, as I was sort of resurfacing from it I was like, you know, this was hard, and people need to know that it’s okay to talk about that, this stuff happening to you. Well, what I’ll say. Out of that, out of sharing that story. And this really goes in to what Dr Carlene was just saying, there was a, there has been a community of people that have, you know, been in my DM since that are, you know, that have all gone through something really similar recently, or you know within the last few weeks. That felt really ashamed and really embarrassed that something like that could happen to them.
Laurie Segall 54:03
And can you just give like a top line, so folks know what you’re talking about I just don’t want to speak about it so much so that people don’t don’t know, can you just give a top line.
Jeff Nicholas 54:13
Yeah, yeah, top, top line is, I essentially fell victim to an impersonation scam. I thought I was speaking to support from a platform in their Discord, but in fact I was speaking to impersonators who then through a bunch of social engineering, were able to get me to share my share a QR code that was in my Metamask wallet. The details kind of don’t matter a lot there because it’s a, it’s a nuanced story of how that’ll happen but basically were able to wipe my wallet. And when they did that they wiped out, you know, all of the NF T’s, that I had collected, and it was devastating. In a lot of ways, right. It was super embarrassing because we talk a lot in this community, about, you know don’t share your seed phrase which are basically the keys to your wallet, don’t share. There’s lots of don’ts. But when I was a little distracted, you know, I was like, making my kids dinner, this was happening. They gained my trust they really socially, like, kind of, they, they were posing as people that I know from the platform, so I thought I was in good hands and next thing I know, I was just like all the blood drained from my face and it was like holy, you know what, just have that. And, and so when I shared that story. You know, the amount of it’s staggering actually, the amount of people who came forward to say, I was so embarrassed. This just happened to me. And, and the challenge with it is, this space is so new, and there’s that side of it is really it’s difficult to set up a wallet, it’s in. And we’re also used to like regulation in banks or security, two factor authentication on a website or whatever. We kind of just like, assume that that exists here in in this space, and it doesn’t. Right now, we’re all custodians of our own money. We’re all custodians of our own wallets. And so you have to be really careful and there’s a lot of scams because there’s a lot of money in this space. So there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to mainstream this to keep people to keep people safe from their ignorance, or what they don’t know, not their ignorance but to keep people safe from what they, they feel safe, because the internet in a web to feel safe, kind of
Laurie Segall 56:43
brain and limb, but the idea behind web day that it’s like it feels even more safe right blockchain and a lot of this stuff, right, yeah. It certainly sounds like, and by the way, I really am sorry, that’s, that’s horrible. but it’s, but I think it’s really interesting that a lot of folks are talking to you about how it’s happening to them too which shows you that there’s a growing problem, because as we all know, you know, when there’s kind of a gold rush of some sorts right especially when it comes to the internet like it’s like the bad guys go there too, and so you got to talk about these types of things because it sounds like you fell victim to a social engineering scam of some sort, right, so I’m curious to know, you know, the security of these transactions and what does it say and what kind of education should we have around them, especially as more and more people as this becomes more mainstream and not just for the inside baseball kind of techies and folks who know how to utilize this but for other folks too because it could become even more of a problem.
Jeff Nicholas 57:46
Yeah, I think there’s a double edged sword to there being such an inclusive and valuable community, and that is when you become part of that community, you sort of expect that that’s what you’re getting when someone reaches out to help you, for example, and things are difficult to do, you might get a stuck transaction and you don’t know what to do and, you know, and so then when somebody is like, I’ll help you with that, and you’re like oh great, you’re another member of this fantastic community right. Yeah, but what you don’t realize is that a bad actor and they’re taking advantage of the fact that that’s the vibe that’s here, because that’s there are those people in the world, and then all of a sudden, you know you’ve been scammed or you’ve been hacked or you’ve they’ve had you click on a length and installed a Trojan and like there’s all these things that are really, you know, they’re, they can be devastating for people. You know, I think we have to do we have to prioritize mental health, we have to prioritize safety and security, and education. A lot of this stuff comes down to, you know, understanding the risks involved with the blockchain, because of the financial aspect of it, like there’s this beautiful part of it in NF T’s and community and utility and all of that. And then there’s also the side where you don’t have a bank protecting you. You are the custodian of your own money. And if that money moves out of your, you know, that NFT or that crypto or whatever it is moves out of your wallet to someone else’s wallet. That’s, that’s done. There’s no way to go get that back unless they’re willing to give it back to you. So, understanding those risks is incredibly important because the, the decentralization in the blockchain, don’t want, you know, safeguards put in, they don’t want regulation. Right. But what’s going to happen if this keeps happening to people at a large scale. It’s for the protection of people, regulators are going to try to come in. So if we don’t want that to happen, we have to educate everyone who’s being on boarded so that everybody can be a proper custodian of their of their stuff.
Laurie Segall 59:58
Yeah, I mean, I know we have to wrap soon but I’m curious. We talked about decentralized finance right what you’re talking about this idea that the future of the web, could be decentralized tech companies, and I think to some degree, I hear it’s like tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, a lot of people just think these a lot of the big tech companies have grown to powerful and this is almost a reaction to that. In this next phase of the Internet, what do you think,
Jeff Nicholas 1:00:26
I think it is a reaction to that. I think it’s a reaction to much more than, right I think Bitcoin and that blockchain, you know, really was a reaction to the financial crisis and the power that those power structures held globally, right. So, NFT’s in Ethereum and in this blockchain is, is a different type of reaction to that attention economy we were talking about these Facebook’s and whatever that hold all this power and monetize our attention. I think it’s good. I think it’s necessary. I’m not the only one, right, like I said I’m not an expert, many, many, many of us think it’s good and necessary. But, but we still, it’s the Wild West, it’s, it’s, it, we just, we have to educate, we have to educate people to be careful until there’s enough UI and UX built up that people understand, like, you know what, to how to how to be careful.
Laurie Segall 1:01:23
Yeah, I think it’s a, that’s a great point and I’m very curious you know someone who’s been in the media industry, my whole career right I think a lot about AI, we’ve heard a lot about how NF T’s and Metaverse is very disruptive for music and art. I think a lot about media, right, like, you know how there’s so much. You know even when, if you’re a production company or whatnot you sell a show to say Netflix or something like that you get a certain cut right, but not a lot. And it certainly seems like NFT’s right there’s this is all about kind of the Creator economy and giving money back to an, and helping people on content in different way or on the original and it is the real buzzword right in media, so I think I’m curious for your thoughts on like what do you think the future of NF T’s and media, whether and this is maybe a little bit out of your lane but I just have to ask given my background CNN and 60 minutes and my own media company. What do you think the future is when it comes to NF T’s and media, Are we going to be dropping documentaries as NF T’s are we going to, instead of doing web extras on, you know on the inner on on a website or on Twitter be, you know, doing them as an NF t like what what do you think,
Jeff Nicholas 1:02:36
well, well think about this right. You sell that film, let’s use your example. So that’s the Netflix. Netflix pays you your money for it then gets distributed in whatever deal you have with them. What if you flip that on its head, and you found an audience for that film or that series or whatever, and that audience could invest in that project and be part of the and own part of that project, And you got, you’re able to get more money by going direct to the audience, and doing these microtransactions, that they now feel invested in, they’re not just being served it by Netflix and Netflix is making the money all of a sudden they’re invested in so that the content, you know creator gets the same or more that they would have they retained the IPD. And now that community is invested in it so the better it does, the better their investment is, and all those web X rays and everything that you’re talking about. Go to that community directly, because why service, like if you’re able to build that sort of a economy around your creative why service it out, other than to use it as top of funnel to draw people in, it’s a, it flips the whole model, it has the potential to flip the whole model on its head. And I think that’s powerful.
Laurie Segall 1:03:51
Yeah. Well, this is, It’s fascinating, it’s a lot to think about. And I appreciate I want to be mindful of everyone’s time, but I appreciate you guys joining us. And, you know, we’re gonna be back next week, we’re doing a very different panel on death in the digital age and talking about life after death in the digital age and it’s this is weirdly one of my favorite topics, after I did a doc on a woman who brought her best friend back to life using artificial intelligence. So ever since then I’ve been obsessed. So we’re going to be talking through some of these themes, next Tuesday at 6:30am, and you can always check out my Instagram and twitter and data dot media were on all the social media and maybe we’ll figure out a way to end up to your content at some point I’m going to probably have to offline with Jeff about that. But you guys thank you so much I really appreciate it. Yeah, thanks for having me. This has been great. Yeah, great, Thanks. All right.