Hume is a Web3 record label developing a roster of virtual “Metastars.”
It uses music NFTs to promote its virtual label artists and nurture its community.
The Hume team believes that if music NFTs are successful, millions of artists will eventually use virtual avatars to represent themselves.
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Hume is a Web3 record label developing a roster of virtual artists called “Metastars.”
What Is Hume?
Hume is one of the world’s first Web3-native record labels. It focuses on harnessing the power of blockchain technology to create deeper connections between music artists and their fans.
The label pioneers what it calls “Metastars,” completely virtual artists that Hume NFT holders help influence and develop. The Hume website defines Metastars as Metaverse-native, universally influential, virtual music artists who exist in both the Metaverse and the physical world. Hume’s goal is to become the leading Web3 record label dedicated to promoting virtual artists and onboarding them and their fans into its music collective. Crypto Briefing sat down with Hume co-founders David Beiner and Jay Stolar to find out what inspired them to launch Hume, their backgrounds in the music industry, and how NFTs play a pivotal role in creating a community-driven virtual artist platform.
Angelbaby and the Metastars
Hume’s first Metastar is angelbaby, an NFT from Non-Fungible Labs’ FLUF World collection. Before becoming Hume’s foundational Metastar, angelbaby was already an established artist in their own right. They’ve played several live shows this year at leading art and music events, including Art Basel Miami and South by Southwest. Additionally, angelbaby’s music has consistently topped the charts for the best-selling music NFTs on platforms like OpenSea and Audius.
Angelbaby’s first live Metaverse performance at Art Basel Miami 2021 (Source: the hume collective)
However, in Hume’s world, angelbaby takes on a new role as one of the founding members of the hume collective. The project has shed light on the mysterious artists’ background, revealing them as a time traveler from the year 3045.
The story goes that in the far future, censorship is rampant, and all creative expression is controlled by an oppressive force called the Xani Republic. Angelbaby has come back in time to the present day to found a group of rebel artists to fight against the Xani Republic. This group, known as the hume collective, is dedicated to preserving creative expression and the open Metaverse at all costs.
“Angelbaby went through a gate that brought them back in time, they met me and David, and they’ve been introducing us to other Metastars. So as crazy as that all sounds, there is a deep story,” said Stolar, highlighting how Hume is an exercise in creative world-building and a new way for fans to connect with their favorite artists. “Our world is not just developing these tools that will let you interact with your fans in new ways, but developing each Metastar as part of a larger narrative world that they are all part of,” he added.
Besides Hume’s innovative world-building through the eyes of angelbaby, the collective’s other founders each have their own stories to tell. Jay Stolar, Hume’s Chief Artist Officer, has an extensive background in performance, songwriting, and music production. His claims to fame include writing songs for Aloe Blacc, Selena Gomez, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Demi Lovato, and producing music for hit multiplayer games like League of Legends and Fortnite.
During Stolar’s time producing music for other artists, he realized the lines between the real and virtual were becoming increasingly blurred. “What I started to realize was that essentially, a lot of these projects were being treated as if they were [for] a virtual artist,” he explained.
For example, the projects Stolar worked on with Riot Games for League of Legends involved producing music for virtual artists who are also playable characters in the game. While some initially doubted whether fans would be able to connect with virtual artists in the same way as artists in the real world, projects such as Seraphine and K/DA proved that virtual artists could be successful, opening the door to a whole new paradigm in music production. “That led us down a path where we really fell in love with the idea of virtual artists early,” said Stolar.
Virtual League of Legends K-pop group K/DA (Source: Riot Games)
While Stolar was discovering the untapped potential of virtual music artists, his fellow Hume co-founder, David Beiner, was exploring blockchain technology and the emerging idea of the Metaverse. “I was getting deep in Web3 and Ethereum, starting to think about NFTs and the Metaverse, and the more I talked to Jay, I was like, what’s the difference between writing songs for Selena Gomez, or a virtual artist we can develop and build the trajectory for,” he recounted.
This realization marked the beginning of what is now called the hume collective, something the pair have never looked back on. “We had this general belief that now seems obvious—we’re going to have digital products, we’re going to have digital identities, those digital identities are going to blur the lines between the physical and the digital, and so you’re going to have fully virtual artists who are also blurring the lines between both those worlds,” Beiner added.
Hume Genesis NFTs
In line with pioneering a platform for virtual music artists, Hume has elected to use virtual assets in the form of NFTs to bridge the gap between artists and their fans. When asked why NFTs were the best choice for the hume collective, Beiner gave two main reasons: community and intellectual property.
NFTs have long been recognized for their ability to galvanize communities online. Through their ability to grant perks such as voting rights, Discord access, or airdrops to holders, the nascent blockchain-based technology has made coordinating communities and rewarding members easier than ever before.
However, Beiner takes this a step further in the context of the relationship between music artists and their fans. In addition to knowing exactly who a virtual artist’s fans are, Hume’s Genesis NFTs will allow their holders to make decisions on the future of the Hume community. “We’re a big fan of making decisions,” said Stolar, careful to distance Hume from existing token voting mechanics popularized by DAO governance structures. “The reason we don’t like the word “voting” is because Hume’s not a DAO; we’re not going to have community proposals. It’s more of a story, [in the story] of the Hume Genesis in the future, everyone had one, and they would meet at a spot and make decisions together,” Beiner explained.
There are 1,000 Hume Genesis NFTs that were dropped for free to those who met certain criteria, such as holding angelbaby POAPs or owning angelbaby music NFTs. After the drop, the genesis NFTs revealed into one of three tiers: Rare, Ultra-Rare, and Legendary. Depending on the tier, each genesis NFT will give its holder an increased amount of influence in the Hume decision-making process.
Regarding additional benefits from holding higher-tier NFTs, Beiner hinted at perks such as exclusive dinners, going backstage at events, and priority access to Metaverse concerts. “I’ll let your imagination go through all the possibilities of what you could do,” he said. “Angelbaby wouldn’t be very happy if we started talking about things that are going to happen for each tier,” Stolar added jokingly.
Starting with Hume’s first Metastar, angelbaby, each virtual artist launched through Hume will have their own genesis NFT event, and all Hume Genesis holders will be guaranteed NFTs for all artists over the next 18 months. Little is known about the subsequent genesis drops aside from that each one will be larger in size than the Hume Genesis collection.
Each Metastar’s genesis NFTs will give holders the opportunity to help develop them and their music career. Possible decisions revolving around music production include which songs should make it onto albums, which song the artist should release as singles, and deciding album cover art. “If you have 1,000 passionate fans, let them ‘get in the room with the artist,’ let them be part of the process. They’re the ones listening. They’re the ones who love it most,” Beiner explained.
The Future of Music
Although Hume is still in its early stages of development, Beiner and Stolar are confident that NFTs will eventually change the way we interact with and consume music. They see Web3 and blockchain as the next big technological evolution in how people interact with music, akin to the record player allowing for ownership or digitization making music portable.
At the same time, the pair acknowledged that bringing music NFTs into the mainstream will not be easy. “Music NFTs have definitely not gotten the same amount of love or attention as PFP projects or visual art, and there’s definitely been a big barrier there,” Beiner said.
On the virtual artist side of things, Stolar recommends checking out angelbaby and their music to understand the concept of a virtual artist fully. “We’re only years away from there being a time where there are, I think, millions of people taking on virtual avatars to represent themselves as artists,” he posited, sharing his optimism for the idea.
Whether Hume will succeed in its vision of becoming the premier Web3 record label will largely depend on the success of music NFTs as a concept. Other Web3 music platforms such as Audius, Catalog and RŌHKI are also helping develop music NFTs, but like Hume, have yet to find mainstream adoption. Still, as blockchain technology grows, more artists will likely see music NFTs as a viable option to connect with their fans in a way that was never previously possible.
Disclosure: At the time of writing this feature, the author owned ETH and several other cryptocurrencies.
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