Music needs to trash the default release strategy

And 2 major artists drop an album only on-chain

Welcome, artists & builders.

Each week, we navigate music’s future together. Today, I’m getting into the default mode of music release strategies & get into a great example of 2 artists trying something new.

Inside Issue #18

💡 Context: Challenge the default
🤔 That’s New: Earl Sweatshirt & the Alchemist drop fully on-chain album
🗞️ What You Missed: Youtube AI Music Incubator & more

Music’s Default Mode

We’ve been releasing music the same way, over & over, for a decade.

Rinse & repeat. In the name of reach.

We’ve been told music needs to look the same on every platform, at the same time, and you can’t hold any back for your own community.

To do otherwise is bad:

→ Bad for the industry. Streaming is our savior.
→ Bad for artists. Don’t piss off the masters of attention.

The slot machine could hit & your streams/views could go burrrrr.

But, we're waking up to that.

We can offer different experiences to different people. We can optimize for more than just reach.

We can play our own games.

Convenience Isn’t the Only Thing

With music, friction can be a feature, not a bug.

Buying in
Showing up
Dropping the needle

These enhance the experience. They don't take it away. They center the music.

It starts to feel earned.
It feels owned.

When everything is disposable, infinitely available & requires no commitment, is it a surprise we don’t put value on it?

Is it a surprise music becomes commodity?

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Embracing Friction

Some things limit your reach, but they grow your impact.

🪟 You can window your releases. Let your community listen before anyone else. EVEN is doing this in a paid format as ‘Sell First, Stream Later’. Your distributor will tell you this will hurt your playlist opportunities. Ok.

🪜 You can own the premium tier. Make the complete album only available through your own channels. Not just “bonus tracks”, but key cuts that only exist in your world: vinyl, community, etc.

⛓️ You can release on-chain. Yep. Music NFTs give the possibility to take the collecting experience of vinyl online, where convenience, discovery & scale are typically prioritized at all costs. It's a format that is by definition undefined. And it’s up to the artist to create an experience worth the friction.

These only work if the experience on the other side is worthwhile.

There’s more than one way to release music.

Sometimes, the default must be challenged.


Two major artists are taking a shot at this today. See below.


An Exclusively On-Chain Album

Earl Sweatshirt x Alchemist just dropped a surprise album. And it’s only available on-chain.

A big moment for web3 music. Two well-respected artists at the top of their game are not just releasing an album on-chain, but doing it exclusively.

🎧️ Free to Stream: only on Gala
💵 Rare to Own: only 2,440 editions

And there's only 20 editions of the full album.

This is no normal album. In 2019, Alchemist sent rap Twitter into a frenzy when he revealed a long-awaited collaborative album with Earl Sweatshirt had dropped under a fake artist & title on Youtube.

No one ever found it. It remained legend.

Until now.

You can also earn add-ons using Gala's gamified concept. Own a track, earns points when it gets streamed, use those in the All Access shop.

• 1:1 Facetimes
• Music video cameo
• Meet & greet smoke-ups
• Guest list spot & open bar to the release party

And each track comes with a physical artwork poster.

Why Does This Matter: These are artists with something to lose.

→ Well-respected
→ Large audiences (but not superstars)
→ Super-hyped album

And they've gone all-in on web3 for this release.

🧠 Create myth. Make lore. And embrace the friction. This will receive a lot of push back from fans. It’s a bold move, and it will be interesting to see how it lands.

The album is streaming now.
The drop goes live at noon EST today (Fri, Aug 25)

Disclaimer: I am a strategic advisor on this project. I’m covering here as I believe we need new formats that raise music’s value (for artists & fans), this drop is notable, and one we can learn from. Buy it if you see value in it - not for financial gain.

📚️ My 3 Favorite Reads This Week

Youtube Launch Music AI Incubator

Youtube is working on a suite of AI music tools: creativity, protection, monetization.

And they want industry buy-in to do it responsibly.

• UMG is the founding partner
• Frank Sinatra's estate is involved
• They published their AI music principles

They've outlined 3 principles:

  1. Embrace AI responsibly with music partners

  2. Grant protections while unlocking opportunity

  3. Invest in trust & safety work

Think Content ID, on steroids.

12 UMG artists kick off the program: d4vd, Anitta, Juanes, Yo Gotti , Don Was , Louis Bell, Max Richter, Ryan Tedder, Rosanne Cash, Rodney Jerkins, ABBA's Bjorn Ulvaeus, & the estate of Frank Sinatra 👀 

🧠 AI music is happening. The biggest players are now embracing it. And we need models to license & monetize it.

🔥 What You Missed

🔥 Oh, That’s Helpful

🧃 Have Fresh Ideas for Changing Music?

JUICE launch “FRESH”: where artists & builders can submit their ideas to gain resources for fundraising, go-to-market, growth & more.

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That’s all this week. See you on Twitter or LinkedIn.

- Rob