For our first ever music spotlight, it’s only fitting that we feature Spottie WiFi – the world’s first and only CryptoPunk rapper. His debut album, I’m Spottie, sold out in an impressive 60 seconds, making him over $190,000!
Spottie’s success as an independent musician in the NFT space has proven that musicians can successfully monetize their content, while still maintaining accessibility and allowing fans to listen to their music for free. The ingredients for his success? An innovative new model for releasing music, a unique brand, and strong community engagement.
Now, Spottie’s back with a project that’s even bigger and better than before. The first single from his new album, ALL TIME HIGH feat. Bun B, was released on Monday 15 November via his official website.
In the wake of his latest NFT drop, we interviewed the musical innovator to find out what sets him apart, and what wisdom he has to share with aspiring NFT musicians.
What was your inspiration for creating Spottie WiFi? Why use a CryptoPunk as the face of your music?
I noticed that there were many CryptoPunk owners who are totally anonymous or pseudonymous online, but have gained a pretty big following; not just because they have a CryptoPunk, but because it helps them in a big way. It signals to the world that they have credibility, that they are thought leaders.
I was intrigued by the prospect that people could be pseudonymous and build a brand, but I didn’t see anybody doing anything artistic or creative with their punk. I began thinking about ways I could combine this with my music background, taking inspiration from bands like the Gorillaz, and other mainstream musicians who have taken on different identities. This was how I came up with the idea of Spottie WiFi, to make a brand out of my punk and make it more unique than it already is – through music.
How did you come up with the structure of your collection and the idea of creating rarity through mashups?
I was inspired by the PFP projects. When you mint a Bored Ape or Guttercat, you don’t know which version you’re gonna get – the type of fur, what it’s wearing, the attributes – so it can turn out to be any combination. I think that’s really interesting – it reminds me of when we were kids, and we’d put a quarter in the gumball machine and we wouldn’t know what flavor we were going to get.
I looked at these PFP projects and thought, what would that look like for music? We would need to have different traits, attributes, different rarities – and from there my producer and I decided to create 3 different genres of the same song, and mash them up to create different combos with corresponding artwork. It’s gamifying the music purchasing experience; you’re buying an album, but you’re also getting something as a digital collectible that is gonna be random and a mystery.
There are a lot of different reasons people collect NFTs. Some people collect because they used to collect physical items like baseball cards or vinyl records. That’s why we wanted to give the album to collectors as a physical vinyl. Some people I think, for better or worse, are really minting to get lucky, to get something rare and get rich. By doing different types of songs with different rarities, we were also able to appeal to the people who were just putting their quarter in the gumball machine.
Can you tell me more about your latest NFT drop and what your plans are for the future?
I have a new song with Bun B who’s a legendary rapper. The song is called All Time High, and it’s out now on all streaming platforms – and it’s the first single from my new album. This album is going to be a year-long project, and (almost) every song is gonna be a collaboration with another artist. We’re really trying to use collaboration to bridge the gap between the NFT world and the mainstream – Bun B is the first mainstream artist that I’m collaborating with, but he won’t be the last.
We’re taking some of the things we liked about the first album drop, and doing that for this album drop. There are 27 versions of the song with Bun B, and you’ll be able to mint it as an NFT on Nov 15. You won’t know what version you’re getting until you mint. Some are more common, some are rare, and there’s a copyright license associated with the NFT. We’re releasing 4 more NFT songs next year with different artists, different collabs, and if you collect 1 NFT from each drop, you’ll get this historic, limited edition collab album as a vinyl record.
Basically, we’re looking at what worked for our debut album, and how we can make it even bigger and better through collaboration. We want to do something that will make the NFT community really proud, and help expose NFTs to new audiences through partnerships.
You have an incredible amount of support from your community, which contributed greatly to the success of your first album. What advice can you give other NFT creators looking to find their own community?
The biggest advice I can give is to think about how you can show love to different communities within the NFT world. NFTs are a subculture, but there are subcultures within that subculture. Everybody won’t be able to afford a Punk, or a Bored Ape. But if you’re a songwriter, you could write a song that celebrates these projects. Or maybe there’s a smaller project you vibe with more.
I think a lot of musicians for some reason don’t like to do that, but it works. If you want to build community and find your audience, I think one of most powerful things you can do is get involved with some of these communities and use your talent, use your skills to celebrate these communities.
Let’s say you make a theme song for a project, like the Bored Apes, and post it on twitter and start tagging Bored Apes – even if you don’t own one, you’ll get a good amount of people sharing it and supporting it, and you’ll find friends that way – guaranteed. That’s very tactical, but the strategy is to think about how you can collaborate and celebrate what you love about the NFT space. In my debut album, I wrote a song about a collector named Artchick – my whole theme is collaboration.
I get some criticism. Some people think it’s a gimmick but I’m really just having fun. I really love these communities and it comes naturally to me, because I spend so much time in these communities. A lot of rappers talk about how much money they have, how many cars they have, and nobody calls this a gimmick. But to me, I’d rather make songs about the communities that I’m a part of.
What are the top 3 pieces of advice you can give to aspiring NFT artists?
1. Don’t be in a rush to sell something. A big mistake many people make is that they come into the NFT space and they wanna sell something straight away. I bought my CryptoPunk in February, but I didn’t sell an NFT until August. I spent 6 months really making friends, building relationships, writing songs about different communities, and learning how to best connect with this space.
2. Innovate. Figure out a way to innovate, and be a pioneer in whatever you do. Many people just take a whole song, a music video, and mint it. But it could be so much more than that – think about what we can do with NFTs that we couldn’t do before NFTs, and try to make something interesting and new.
3. The best advice I got all year: If you’re planning a drop – whatever quantity you’re thinking of minting, mint fewer. Whatever you’re thinking of charging, charge less. You want those early collectors to feel like they got a great deal; you want them to have great energy – and that won’t happen if you charge a high price and the price drops after the initial mint.
What’s one development you really want to see in the NFT space moving forward?
More sophisticated smart contract generators on the Ethereum blockchain that are open source and free.
One of the biggest challenges facing individual creators right now is that artists are reliant on developers to make smart contracts, especially if they want more sophisticated mechanics and utility built into their NFTs. Right now, if you use a platform like Mintable or OpenSea you’re able to mint pretty affordably, but you’re very limited in the different mechanics that you can implement. You can pretty much just mint it and sell it – you can’t do a mystery mint, or randomized mint or anything like that.
The one thing that I really want to see in the space, is open source tools that allow people to do this more easily. I think that needs to change; I think it will change. It needs to get to a point where an artist can just go to a website, fill out a form, and input the layers, stems, music, how they all combine – and get to a place where all the fees are zero across the board.
I’m very fortunate that I work with a team of devs called West Coast NFT, who are helping me with my album. I’m in a privileged position because I’m the “CryptoPunk Rapper”, and that made it a lot easier for me to find devs. When I tell people i wanna make 27 versions of a song, and i wanna have different artwork, a lot of times people’s eyes would glaze over. But when i say I’m the first and only CryptoPunk rapper, they would listen.
So ultimately, I know I’m in a privileged position and I don’t take it for granted. I’m gonna use that position to try and help make this easier for other people. Basically, I’m gonna prove that this model that I’m doing is not a fluke and that it can succeed in a repeatable way.
Spottie WiFi’s latest single ALL TIME HIGH is available for mint now on spottiewifi.com
Follow Spottie on Twitter and join his Discord server for the latest updates, MP3s and song lyrics.