UTA is Representing CryptoPunks

News Roundup #1: Hipgnosis launches NFTs, Apple acquires Primephonic, and YouTube Music hits 50M subscribers

Welcome to Appetite for Distraction, a newsletter exploring how technology is bridging the gap between art and commerce. 

Check out Apetito por la Distracción for the Spanish versions of this issue. 

As always, thanks so much for subscribing, and please tell a few friends if you’d like! 

— Yash


Hello hello! As you will soon notice, I have switched up the format a little bit. Confused? Check out this essay to learn what’s in store over the next few months. I’ve included short descriptions to explain each section, which I’ll eventually remove as y’all get used to the new format. Alrighty, let’s dive straight in: 

Music x Web3 News Roundup 

The latest roundup of news in the music x web3 space, and a thread that ties them together. 

CryptoPunks, Meebits, And Autoglyphs Get Hollywood Representation. UTA Looks To Take Them To The Masses. | Tubefilter 

  • United Talent Agency (UTA), one of Hollywood's foremost talent agencies, has signed a deal with Larva Labs, the company behind NFT collections such as CryptoPunks, Meebits, and Autoglyphs. UTA will try to place these NFTs in films, TV, and videogames. 

  • CryptoPunks are collectively worth $3 billion, some Meebits sell for upwards of $2 million, and the cheapest Autoglyph is priced at $1.1 million. 

Super Furry Animals announce new 'Rings Around The World' eco-friendly NFT | NME

  • Hipgnosis has partnered with NFT startup Serenade to launch a collection of NFTs to commemorate the re-release of Super Furry Animals’ album, Rings Around The World. 

  • These NFT collections are usually launched on platforms like Opensea, and Foundation. As more creators and companies launch their own NFTs, there arises a need for more niche NFT marketplaces. Serenade is one such music-focussed NFT marketplace. But other new entrants have also made the news recently: 

  • Artify Music, a platform to be launched in September aims to serve as a mix between a streaming service and an NFT marketplace, very similar to first mover Audius.  

Artist 3lau is launching a music-rights investment platform | MusicAlly

  • Justin Blau, aka 3lau, is also launching his own NFT-based network called Royal, where fans can buy shares in an artist’s master recording, and get paid ‘dividends’ when the songs are streamed. The company has launched with $16 million in seed funding, and is akin to Ditto Music’s Bluebox project announced earlier this year. Li, Nathan, and I analyzed these moves in depth for Means of Creation:  

“Music creators can monetize by letting fans have equity in their music, making it akin to classical investing. To be clear, this concept has been tried before. Sweden based Corite, and Austria-based Global Rockstar are some examples. Unlike Ditto however, these existing companies have not used blockchain as a way to power fan investments. 

This is reflective of a broader trend—artists want direct ownership over the relationship with their fans, and to be compensated based on how these fans interact with their music. Case in point: SoundCloud’s recent foray into ‘fan-centric’ payouts, Deezer’s continued experimentation with user-centric payout models, and the ongoing parliamentary inquiry in the UK on the economics of streaming underscore this shift.”

Legacy Music Industry News Roundup 

A roundup of news in the legacy music industry, so as to not scare the luddites among us.

Apple acquires classical music streaming service Primephonic | Apple Newsroom 

  • Apple acquired classical music streaming service Primephonic for an undisclosed sum. 

  • The app will be taken offline on September 7th and will be relaunched next year as a dedicated classical music streaming service. Details on whether it will be merged with Apple Music or launched as a standalone service are still speculative. 

  • Best paired with: MusicAlly’s detailed profile on Primephonic. 

YouTube Music Crushes 50 Million Subscribers | Tubefilter 

  • YouTube Music has registered 50 million subscribers three years after its launch. Subscriptions are priced at $10 a month. 

  • For context: Spotify had 165 million subscribers and Apple Music had 60 million as of last year.  

Twitch viewership noticeably dropped when streamers took a day off in protest | The Verge

  • Creators are sources of incredible value for platforms, but are often subject to autocratic rules that the platforms impose. The recent OnlyFans debacle serves as a great example.

  • There has been a heated discussion about the crisis the creator economy finds itself in, as it slowly starts resembling the gig economy. Decentralization using web3 promises to be a solution, but any discussion on decentralized platform governance actually starts with a discussion on The Republic

Olivia Rodrigo's Costly Credits to Taylor Swift | Billboard 

  • Multiple interpolations on her album SOUR have definitely left a sour taste in Olivia Rodrigo’s mouth, as she has had to cede a substantial portion of her publishing royalties.

Bird App Brilliance

The bird app is notorious for wasting our time, but some content really shines through. This section is dedicated to insightful Twitter threads.  

Reading List 

Insightful longform analyses that were published this week. 

Digital art social clubs | Kyle Chayka, The New Yorker  

Kyle Chayka is an expert navigator of internet culture and commerce. He recaps two columns he wrote for The New Yorker, on What the “Creator Economy” Promises — and What It Actually Does, and Why Bored Ape Avatars Are Taking Over Twitter.

“ What’s so compelling to me about BAYC is that it’s somewhere between an art project, a sports team, a streetwear brand, a hedge fund, and a creative studio: owners of the NFTs can make their own projects in the ape universe, which expands infinitely. It’s a form of decentralized culture, like if fans owned the Marvel universe.” 

We also had Kyle on Means of Creation recently, which I strongly recommend you check out on YouTube or on your podcast app of choice.

She's the Investor Guru for Online Creators | Taylor Lorenz, The New York Times

An amazing NYT profile on Li! So grateful I get to work with her. 

The Anti-Fan Phenomenon  | Fadeke Adegbuyi, Cybernaut 

"For every fandom, there’s an equal and opposite anti-fandom." writes Fadeke Adegbuyi for her latest essay taking a look inside the online communities where people love to hate influencers. 

Vinyl's Big Secret | The Cadence 

“Everyone is buying, but no one listens.” 

Trust Me, You Want This  | Camilla Cannon, Real Life 

A great piece on the parasocial relationships shared by podcast creators and their listeners, and how marketers are leveraging them.   

What I’m Listening To 

If You’ve Made It This Far.. 

You can make it all the way. 

What I’m Brewing — Sidama-Bensa de Etiopia from Tallat Coffee

ICYMI check out this brilliantly made video  about Decolonising Coffee Through Flavour. Raghunath and Namisha at Aramse have done a great job using the South Indian filter to brew specialty coffee. 

Thank you so much for reading! If you want to get in touch, you can respond directly to this email or reach out on Twitter or LinkedIn. Always excited to meet like-minded humans! 

Until next week,

— Yash