Troy Carter’s Venice is launching an NFT-gated members’ club – offering artist services, studios, and more

Troy Carter’s Venice Music is simultaneously expanding into Web3 and launching its own private members’ club.

The company has today taken the wraps off a new NFT-gated project called the Venice Music Collective.

Amongst the perks on offer for artists accepted into this Collective? Access to a new physical space in Los Angeles called Venice House, which includes recording studios and a pool – and is claimed to offer “the creative spirit of Laurel Canyon into the modern-day era”.

Launched at the start of 2021 by Q&A co-founders, Carter and Suzy Ryoo, Venice Music offers services to indie artists including distribution, marketing, and A&R support, plus creative, digital, and sync services.

Venice says that, since its launch a year-and-a-half ago, it has “curated a group of creative geniuses” that includes over 100 artists, producers, managers, and indie labels.

Some of those partners, according to Venice, include Aminé, Riot Games, KOTA the Friend, Thuy, and Sonder.

Venice says that these 100-plus partners have crossed over a billion streams collectively “within a relatively short period of time”.

Now, Venice wants to formalize and expand its community of artists, producers and more in the form of an official members’ club.

This club can be accessed by purchasing an NFT – so long as your application is then approved by the Venice team.

The aforementioned 100 Venice Music partners serve as the founding members of the Collective.

The NFT, dubbed the ‘Venice Music Collective Genesis Pass‘ will cost around 0.2 ETH (approx $411 at current exchange rates) and is initially valid from June 1, 2022 to May 31, 2023. Members are then required to renew yearly.

Having bought an NFT – and after being approved to join – community members get access to the entire Venice ecosystem, including distribution, sync opportunities, analytics, financial services.

In addition, they get access to a private Discord channel, recording and creative workspaces, equipment rental, community events, and more.

According to Venice’s website, 10% of all primary and secondary sales of the NFTs “will flow back into the community treasury where members will be able to vote on how to allocate funds across artist projects and community initiatives”.

On the distribution front, Venice Music Collective members get access to global distribution, streaming analytics, payment split management and other services.

Venice notes that its team of engineers and marketers come from the likes of Spotify, YouTube, Amazon, Disney, Caroline, and “other top companies”.

Select Venice Music Collective members will also have their music pitched for TV, movies, video games, and commercials, for which Venice will receive a 10% placement fee, which it says is “a considerable discount compared to the 25-50% industry standard”.

The Venice House facility in L.A is scheduled to open this summer. It houses recording studios, writer rooms, a podcast studio, editing bays, an outdoor workspace and a pool.

There are plans to launch similar spaces in other locations globally.

In addition, the Venice Music Collective will be running a Gear Share program, which will give members access to audio and video production equipment, with an extensive list of gear available to borrow and rent.

Troy Carter, Venice Music’s co-founder, and a former Global Head of Creator Services at Spotify, tells MBW that the Venice Music Collective is the result of marrying a private members’ club concept, like Soho House, with a music distribution platform.

“That’s what we’re looking at putting together,” explains Carter, commenting on the ingredients that make up the Collective. “When I left [Spotify], I got highly focused around the independent music space, and looking at the problems to solve there.

“The biggest thing I noticed over the last year and a half, since we started Venice, was that artists needed a lot more alongside just distribution. We decided to build a more holistic solution to it. That’s what created the idea around the [Venice] Collective.”

MBW caught up with Venice Music co-founder Troy Carter to talk about the Venice Music Collective. He also shared his thoughts on the future of Web3 and NFTs in the music industry…

Venice Music Collective Membership is accessed through an NFT, but artists also have to be accepted. How will you decide who to let into the community?

For the founding members of the community, it was about who could really add value to the community.  Founding members are made up of artists, producers, managers, collectors, and music enthusiasts. What I was finding was, a lot of the principles we believed in were principles that web3 was founded on.

Specifically with artists, [it was about] being able to give them [access to a] real community and also access to a collectors base [and] support.

There’s obviously a lot of activity in the wider web3 space right now. How do you want to be positioned in the wider space?

I’m a big believer in what’s happening in the NFT space and probably just as big on music NFTs as I was on streaming, when streaming was coming in.

I honestly think that this has the potential to unlock more financial value for artists, where they’re able to name their own prices and have this direct relationship [with fans], versus streaming, where you’re beholden to the prices of the larger music ecosystem.

That’s the part I really liked about it. On our end, we’re also working on a marketplace on the NFT side, where artists that distribute through us can actually mint and market to fans.

Okay, so there are two layers to the NFTs. you have to acquire an NFT to access the community, but then after that you can sell your own NFTs via the Venice platform.

Exactly. Part of it is the way we look at distribution. It’s not just going to be about the mp3 file, it’s [also] going to be about NFT [and]eventually, it’ll be about your digital merch. As a distribution company, we have to have that ability to service whatever needs [artists have].

Once you acquire the NFT, can you then sell that NFT on to another artist or producer who can then apply for access to the community themselves? 

Absolutely. The idea is that you own your membership. When you look at social clubs out in the real world, members add value, but they don’t actually participate in the value that they add.

At the end of the day, we want to be able to give flexibility to the members to do what they want with their membership, but at the same time being able to add so much value, that people don’t want to part with their memberships.

Will there be a cap on the number of memberships that are allowed into the community?

For the founding community, yes. But as we look at scaling, we don’t see a cap. When you think about a global footprint, the physical space is only going to attract a certain type of member.

You [will] also have members who may not even care about the physical space as much as they care about having access to a network, whether that be through your Discord, or real life events.

If I’m a student at Berkeley, for instance, and I’m looking to be in the music business and learn more and be part of a community, I might get the most value out of just [having] access to the community itself.

Once we’re officially up and running, we’ll be able to see where the most value for the different types of members comes from, and that’ll direct us as to how we scale the memberships.

NFTs are bought and sold using cryptocurrency. Does the recent crypto crash and instability in the crypto market concern you, that there might be a devaluation of the wider NFT market in months to come?

It doesn’t concern me at all. I definitely agree that within months to come, we’re going to see a ton of volatility; probably over the next year or so.

Right now, my bet is on the future. Blockchain is here to stay and it’s going to be transformational to the world: Music NFTs specifically.

All of the use cases, in terms of utility, that [NFTs] unlock for artists, there’s a lot of value for artists with music NFTs.

I’m not thinking about what’s happening over the next year, as far as pricing is concerned, as much as being able to build a significant footprint in the market.

“Streaming wasn’t lucrative early, and became lucrative much later. We saw for a long time it trailed downloads and physical then we saw the flip. We’ll see the same exact thing in the [web3] space.”

When we look at what happened with streaming, the artists who adopted early and understood how to leverage the streaming platforms in terms of cadence of release, number of releases a year, and how to market those releases through social, sped past artists who were coming from the iTunes download world.

We saw a totally streaming native star come out of it and we saw new companies built on top of what was happening in streaming. We’re going to see the same thing within the NFT space with music artists. We’re going to see a lot of native artists come out of [the NFT] space and new platforms and business models built around it.

Streaming wasn’t lucrative early, and became lucrative much later. We saw for a long time it trailed downloads and physical then we saw the flip. We’ll see the same exact thing in the [web3] space.

Spotify is testing for artists to promote NFT’s on their profiles. What role do you think the DSPs will play in the wider space?

New companies are going to be native where it’ll feel more intuitive to the user. There’s still a big gap between fans that listen to music on streaming services, and people who actually buy music NFTs.

“DSPs can promote within artists profiles, but I’d be interested to see the conversion from seeing it in a profile to actually purchasing the NFT.”

Even down to the education process of having to download a Metamask wallet, having to buy crypto: these hurdles in terms of actually being able to buy the NFT [means] there’s a big gap.

So yes, the DSPs can promote within artists profiles, but I’d be interested to see the conversion from seeing it in a profile to actually purchasing the NFT.

There’s room for companies to come in and be transformational in the space, but I don’t think the products are going to look anything like they look right now.

following on from that, the major labels are becoming more and more active in the NFT space and in the wider web three space. Are the major labels’ involvement in the space a good thing for the NFT sector in that it amplifies awareness of the space and educates the mass market about the space, or does it present a challenge for the space in the form of competition, but also of potential saturation of the market?

When thinking about the structure of major labels and how major labels think about deals, it’s the antithesis of web3.

Web3 is about transparency, community. It’s about sharing. It’s about the artists actually making more and the fans being able to participate in a financial outcome. And so, to do a NFT with an artist under the same exact deal terms goes against everything that web3 actually stands for.

“I don’t think the spirit of web3 is congruent with the spirit of the traditional music ecosystem.”

A lot of artists are going to look at it as, ‘Ok, if I can go mint for free, capture all that value from the resale of NFTs, finance my projects through there as well, and actually build directly with my community, what do I need to give you 80% for?’

I don’t think the spirit of of web3 is congruent with the spirit of the traditional music ecosystem. [In] the music industry, one of the biggest problems overall, is that we always try to fit old models into new models.

It reminds me a lot of record labels trying to think of this idea of album equivalents with streaming. There is no such thing; it doesn’t exist.

No amount of streams adds up to an actual album. Consumption is totally different. It’s two different things. But we always try to push the old with the new, so we understand it better. It’s almost impossible to do that [with Web3].

How does this next phase in Venice’s history position Venice in the market? 

It’s not really about web3 for us as much as it is, ‘Can we find innovative ways to push things forward?’

It’s no different than what I’ve done in the past, in terms of finding new ways to push things forward.

It could be web4, web5, or web6, you know? The technology is just a means to an end. That’s how I look at it. If we could use web3 technology to help push things forward for our business, and for artists then great.

Web2 is still incredibly important, so we still need to be in business with all of the streaming services, all of the social media platforms, going back as far as radio and physical retailers as well.

It’s a holistic approach, versus music NFTs are the only thing that it’s going to take for artists to be successful. That’s not true. It’s going to help put money in artists’ pockets, it’s going to help them fund some of their projects, and it’s going to help them build some direct relationships with new fans.

What are your predictions for the market? How big can music NFTs get?

This is going to sound crazy: We’re going to see the most wealthy artists come out of this particular space.

When you think about music, and about the number of fans that musicians build globally, and you think about [fan] loyalty and the long horizon of music careers, even with independent artists, where everybody might not be Ariana Grande, but if you build 5,000, or 10,000 , or 20,000 fans, that becomes pretty significant when you think about it through the lens of web3.

“This is going to sound crazy: We’re going to see the most wealthy artists come out of this particular space. We’re going to see independent artists that make hundreds of millions of dollars, by being able to own their destiny, through building in web3.”

With music, what we’ve done, historically, is we’ve under productised, and under monetized music for decades. The NBA is an example of what they’ve been able to do with Top Shots, and what they’ve done on jerseys.

Musicians are much more famous than basketball players, and their careers are much longer than [those of] basketball players.

If we’re able to apply some of the same principles, we will see multi-millionaires and billionaires come out of the independent music space, not just the major artists.

We’re going to see independent artists that make hundreds of millions of dollars, by being able to own their destiny, through building in web3.Music Business Worldwide