Interview: Black Dave on Web3 and Music

Interview: Black Dave on Web3 and Music

Today we interview Web3 musician Black Dave, who shares a ton of insights and experience when it comes to connecting with fans on and off the blockchain

How did you get started in music?

I started playing music in the mid-2000s playing bass in a punk band with some of my friends. This was right around the peak of the myspace era, which inevitably lead me to getting into and playing varying forms of heavy music before really diving into rap music in the early 2010s, via being really into SoundCloud. I put out my first tape in 2014 and have been releasing music as Black Dave since then.

What do you feel is the biggest obstacle for artists at this time?

There are so many obstacles, it feels hard to choose a single one. I think something that artists could benefit from is just more and more access to fan data and fan growth tools. There is an imbalance between what independent artists get as opposed to their major label counterparts. I understand that the tools platforms build are proprietary to them and they can decide who uses them but come on! Share the wealth!

How did you get into the Web3 space?

In the beginning of 2020, I had a friend who was telling me that I needed to get into NFTs, but since I wasn’t someone working in 3D, I dismissed it like “yeah I don’t make 3D art” and continued making things. I had heard about Cryptokitties in the years but didn’t link that to NFTs or anything, but knew they existed with breeding mechanics and stuff. At the end of 2020, while I’m on Clubhouse like the rest of the world, the now homie Sirsu was doing a “NFTs in 5 Days” class on there and I minted my first NFT on day 2 of it. I had been collecting crypto since my birthday in 2017, so I already had ETH I could access.

What was your biggest breakthrough moment with Web3?

While I think there’s nothing like selling through your first big collection, the moment I think solidified me the most in Web3 was when my first song on Catalog had sold for 3 ETH. It was a big deal at the time, and it was through a partybid that over 40 people had invested in. I had marketed and promoted for about 8 weeks before it sold, but once it happened, people started to pay attention to what I was up to. It’s funny how a breakthrough moment isn’t usually tied to you becoming better at your thing, but people making note of it.

What would you advise a fellow musician trying to understand the Web3 space?

At the time I entered Web3, things were very different than they are now. It was pre-Beeple, so it wasn’t quite popular but was interesting yet to an insane wave of folks but I’m a nerd and recovering gamer so it was interesting to me. I also would implore any artist getting into Web3 to drop what THEY like the most. There’s no “pop music” in the ecosystem, so do what you want and do what you can tell stories around.

“do what you want and do what you can tell stories around”

How do you see Web3 disrupting the music industry in the future?

Music industry disruption is an issue of power held by the incumbents more than it is the ability for tech to exist. Blockchain enables seamless payments without confusion or worry about where money ends up, NFTs through digital scarcity (which is a wild phrase but that’s what we’re doing here) create an opportunity for creators to bring value back to their work. NFTs through widely available digital assets are a powerful tool for creating experiences that anyone can take anywhere. We haven’t figured out why the incumbents would want to use these tools instead of what they have, but something will show itself eventually.

What value do fans get out of connecting with artists onto Web3?

Many artists in Web3 are a lot earlier in their journey to greatness, which means that fans have an opportunity to have an authentic connection with an artist they like. After a certain point, it’s hard for us as artists to keep up with the amount of fans people we interact with and we have to become more selective. Token ownership is so serious to a lot of us in the ecosystem that we, as artists, want to make sure we show appreciation for it so we are sure to open lines of communication. I think communities will be built through tokens a lot more in the future, and fans will be able to see clear lines between tiers of fandom through that token ownership. Honestly, there aren’t enough fan tools out there and I hope more folks spend time focusing on fans as they build these platforms. There are enough tools for artists.

What do you think people in music get wrong about Web3?

A lot of people are convinced that the music released in web3 is bad, but I think it's that the music that does well isn’t quite good. This is largely due to the nature of taste in Web3, which may be a bit lacking…or rather, it’s specific. Its really easy to get caught up in what’s popular and overlook what’s good.

I also think that artists using this technology are some of the most forward thinking independent artists out there. It feels like artists in Web3 are looking further ahead than their offchain counterparts. I think that’s worth noting and studying.

My last thought is that I think a lot of people in music think artists in Web3 are fine just existing in this ecosystem when many of us want more than to just make money, but to play shows and impact culture and be a part of music at large.

Is there a specific platform you recommend for musicians?

I would offer up a couple of options, I think. Sound and Zora are both super simple options. I think Sound ties in a lot of social features that are interesting, but if you’re looking to just create a marketplace that has much lighter community elements, Zora is the place to go.

You mentioned on the Validated Podcast that you take a culture-first approach to Web3. What does this look like for you and your community?

The simplest way to put this is that I try to present as who I am before what I do. I think so many people are defined by the thing that they do, and not necessarily the things they like or care about or have a passion for outside of the work. Putting culture first for me just means making sure you know I like anime, and I have a sneaker collection and I like other certain things or have a specific demeanor about certain topics before getting to the songs themselves, which are also great. Leading with who you are makes it a bit more tough to be put inside of a box of creativity.

“I try to present as who I am before what I do”

What obstacles, if any, do you find in on-boarding people into Web3?

Scams, especially the prevalent ones. I think if we’re able to express the updates as far as environmental concerns or even user experience concerns, people can become interested…but there have been so many scams that people only think about crypto, NFTs and Web3 as a way to support scammers. Other than this, I think its worth considering if your fanbase is willing to accept you entering web3 despite the concerns. Don’t want to distance yourself from too many fans because of an emerging technology, gotta do what’s right for you individually.

What’s next for Black Dave?

I’m working on my next body of work, Aspiring Gundam Pilot. I’m working on the continuation of my sort of biggest or most important NFT project, Black Dave Token. I’m looking to expand that more. I’m working with Matt Monday on a PFP project called Project Phäros. We work on many things together but this one is upcoming. Just trying to let ideas flow and create in whatever ways I see best.

Where can people find out more about you?

Learning about me isn’t something that I think can be simplified to a single location. I feel like (and hope) there’s more depth to me than what can be found on a single page. Check out my website, of course, at but also head to all of my socials and dig in there. I’m @blackdave on twitter/X and on Instagram.

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