So Here's What Happened: Songcamp's Genesis Story

Written by Matthew Chaim, with personal testimonies from Songcamp’s Peace Node, Thys, Hvdson, Samsonite, Rowan Spencer, Kevin Paris, Gavin Slate and MAi.


A week ago, 13 strangers made roughly $34,000 USD off the sale of 3 music NFTs.

This was the result of Songcamp Genesis — a group of 9 musicians, 2 visual artists, and 2 project operatives who came together to try something new on the Internet.

Here’s how it all went down. From the very beginning...

Songcamp’s Genesis Batch → Antid0t3 by Rainbow Punch, Hold On Hope by Driftwood TX, Static Twist by The Lunar Viel

Week -1

It all started five weeks earlier, on the evening of Friday March 26th.

That night, I did something I like to do about once or twice a week: I smoked a little weed.

That, with the ideas swirling about in my head, led me to spinning up a little Discord server called “SONGCAMP”. I had no idea what it was about, save for the opening line that I threw up on the first channel:

This is a place for music and the new internet to crash into each other.

I sent off an invite to ~10 people.

The next day — in my clearer state of sobriety — I kicked myself for throwing an idea out into the world without much of it figured out at all.

Nevertheless, three days later Songcamp had its first call.

Four people showed up. One of them being my brother.

We spoke of music and web3 and it was fun and insightful. But no real plan came to light. I thought maybe this Discord server was a bit premature, and I considered cancelling the scheduled recurring call the following Monday.

Week 0

Seed Club had just announced its upcoming Creator x Crypto Summit, and with it a set of 3 sponsorship NFTs. Each NFT represented one of the 3 days of the event. Purchasing one of them meant you were unlocking the content for everyone else to enjoy for free.

The idea really resonated with me, and opened up an opportunity to show in a very tangible way my interest and support in what Seed Club is building.

I decided to bid on the sponsorship NFT for Day 3. And I won.

Shortly after, I had a call with Jess Sloss at Seed Club to talk about how we could bring value to my NFT collection. And that’s when I shared with him some of my loose ideas around Songcamp, and how I was thinking about what it could look like to run a songwriting camp in web3 land.

He loved it, and we decided to use my Day 3 sponsorship to talk about Songcamp during the summit.

Monday April 5th came around, and we had our next discord call.

This time more people showed up. The ideas presented at the Creator x Crypto summit really resonated with people, and a bunch jumped into the Songcamp discord to learn more about what we were doing.

I figured the best way to find out what it meant for music and web3 to crash into each other was to simply jump into an experiment head first.

So on that call, I put the call to action out there: we would run a 2-week songwriting camp that doesn’t end when the music is written, but extends out into the visual artwork and rollout of said music. We would use web3 tools to explore what it means to realize the value of that art in a more direct way.

I created a submission form. 26 people responded.

Week 1

That following week, on Monday April 12, the first Songcamp kicked off.

9 musicians, 2 visual artists, and 2 project operatives were chosen to participate in this first go.

The musicians were split into 3 teams of 3, and given one instruction: go make something together.

The visual team was given two distinct tasks: The main one was to create the 3 cover artworks for the resulting songs. But of course, at the start of the camp they had no music to go off of just yet. So to start, the visual team was tasked with creating a piece for what we called The Unlock NFT.

Pulling from Seed Club’s sponsorship NFTs which unlocked the summit’s content for everyone, we created The Unlock NFT to do just the same — fund Songcamp’s eventual distribution costs and thus unlock the camp for all involved.

Week 2

Halfway through the camp, on Monday April 19, we minted The Unlock NFT on Zora.

In an act of poetic beauty, Seed Club swooped in with 20 minutes left in the auction and won the NFT. We now had the funds necessary to release this music with a web3 rollout.

The musicians and visual artists were well on their way to creating their final artwork, and things were moving along swimmingly.

Meanwhile, the project operatives were busy figuring out how to release this music. Early on, the team at Catalog showed interest in supporting the release by allowing Songcamp into their beta platform to mint the 3 songs as NFTs. We loved the idea of minting 1/1 canonical records via the project that is building the music-first NFT platform.

Next up was figuring out how to build an event around the release, and make it matter.

Week 3

On Monday April 26, the 2-week camp came to a close. All teams delivered their final masters + cover artwork. And incredibly, everything was insanely fire! All three songs were magical, and the cover artwork imbued that magic through and through. We were all blown away.

After our in-camp listening party, we switched gears into release mode. We knew we were releasing the songs via Catalog NFTs. But the when and how kept changing.

At first we thought of running a week-long auction via Catalog’s order book bidding. But then we got talking to Mirror’s team, and they got us real excited at the prospect of using their Splits tool to instantaneously split the proceeds of each NFT between all recipients.

The problem: No Catalog NFTs had yet to be auctioned off via Mirror, and thus Mirror did not yet support Catalog’s metadata.

Luckily, both teams were super down to interoperate to bring this project to life. Mirror created the necessary functionality so that the cover artwork and audio player would populate on their interface. Furthermore, Catalog blocked bidding on their site for the NFTs, signalling that the auctions were taking place on Mirror.

All this within the space of a few days, so we could get the auctions up and running the following Monday.

It was amazing to witness the Catalog and Mirror teams enthusiastically go out of their way to support the specified needs for our first release. They demonstrated what it is like when platforms are truly being built to serve the artists who use them.

Week 4

On Monday May 3, the three songs were minted as 1/1 NFTs on Catalog and put up for auction on Mirror.

We had a pre-auction Discord call one hour prior to the auctions going live. At exactly 5pm, while still on the call together, we pushed the three auctions live.

Before the clock could strike 5:01pm, all 3 NFTs’ reserve bids were met.

The discord call went ballistic. Everyone was ecstatic, and could not believe the immediate success the release was having. With many of the camp’s participants never having sold an NFT before, this was a powerful moment in experientially tasting an entirely new avenue for realizing the value of their work. The energy on that call at that moment was exhilarating. And all 3 bidders, who were also on the call at that time, were able to witness in real time the huge impact they were having.

On Tuesday May 4, the 24-hour auctions came to a close. In the final hour, bidding activity really picked up and brought the value exponentially higher than we would have ever anticipated. It was truly a thrill to not only watch the bids go up, but to also see each participant’s share of those amounts rise in real time via Mirror’s Splits block.

The 3 NFTs ended up selling for a cumulative amount of 10.05 ETH (equivalent to ~$34,000 USD that day).

All funds were automatically split between those involved on each song. All recipients were able to claim their share and transfer it to their own wallet directly after the auctions closed.

These results, as you can imagine, were not what we expected. Not only did the 3 NFTs go for an amount of ETH far beyond our expectations, but there was also this newfound power in receiving those funds directly and instantaneously.

Catalog, Mirror, and the underlying Zora protocol did not take any fees whatsoever. So 100% of the auctions’ proceeds went directly to those involved in the project. And those funds were made available right away.

Musicians often grow used to a world where we wait months or even years to receive any sort of revenue from our work, if at all. Here, we experienced a project that in the span of a few weeks went from nothing, to 3 songs and artwork created from scratch, to over $30,000 in value.

Week 5 and Onward

This brings us to present day. We’ve had a week to relax and take in what just went down. And we are beginning to think about the road ahead. We want to keep these experiments going, and push into deeper waters at this new frontier.

This first experiment is in no way the end all be all answer for the future of music. We still have much to learn as far as how these new technologies will be used by people in the future. But we do feel confident that they will do hold a ton of untapped value for artists to discover. And we are set on uncovering those hidden paths and bringing them to light.

This is just the beginning. We collectively funded, created and distributed art. And we will continue to do so, in even more expansive ways.

More to come on that topic. But for now..

Here are a few first-person testimonies from some of the participants of Songcamp Genesis:

Gavin Slate — Songwriter, Producer (Driftwood TX)

I was blown away by the whole process of Songcamp. I’ve done many song camps over the years as a writer/producer and they always have a vibe and are a great way to create, this however was one of a kind. It was incredible to see how quickly this all came together with 13 strangers on the internet. Most of the other camps it would take well over a year for any action to even happen with the songs themselves. I think this whole process shows such promise for the music industry as creatives no longer have to wait years to earn revenue from their works (we were paid out 3 hours after the auction ended). This web3 experiment opened my eyes to the continued possibilities of how this can create more efficient, more productive and a more creative focused music industry. Songcamp sorta feels like we’re music mad scientists, but in a good way.

MAi — Artist, Producer, Engineer (Rainbow Punch)

MAi experience with song camp was a pleasure, a treasure, and defiant of the weather. Tbh I don’t have many opinions other than this was a successful experiment with talented artists trying to break free from the industry we are a part of. From the first meeting, it felt like a very fun and exciting experience. The time constraint added a cool pressure to throw ideas out quickly and not judge the flow. And having a visual and marketing team all to go along with the process let off a lot of pressure and added another level of trust and companionship to the game. I guess ‘game’ is a word that resonates with me in this case. It felt like a game. And we all won. The potential of this is grand and this first go gives me a lot of foresight as to where this could go; when more people understand this and can easily participate , I could see it being an ‘experience’/‘game’ that every artist/creator desires to be a part of. Idk if that helps, I’m just typing words. This gave power back to the art itself and as a creator thats the most exciting part.

Hvdson — Producer (The Lunar Veil)

The intersection of web3 and music is right here! For the longest time I was looking for a community that had both of these qualities and thankfully I found songcamp. I always had trouble working within the confines of the traditional music industry complex, but with this experiment, it was the first time I could relax all those predefined notions of what being a “musician” was and just do what was important - make music.

Samsonite — Producer (The Lunar Veil)

Wonderful to discover and hone in on a shared invisible thread between strangers. Collectively expound on that in ways beyond our imagination. And do it trustlessly with new web3 tooling where everything is fully transparent. Fuck yes.

Thys — Producer (The Lunar Veil)

Two things learned: 1. Strangers don’t bite. You have some things in common with everybody. 2. The way to find out what doesn’t work is to do it anyway, get in touch with people building the technology and tell them what changes you need. It was amazing to see how Catalog (Zora) and Mirror came together and built new functionality for this project, that can now be used by everybody!

Peace Node — Visual Artist (Clearest Deep Balloon)

Round one of songcamp in the visual team included moodboarding & focusing in on the necessary communication points of the artwork. Workshopping back and forth for individual elements and logo marks. That includes photography, illustration, and type. The moodboarding eliminated unnecessary back and forth and helped streamline our process to the end goal. Fastest work I completed happened when zooming in on assets rather than composing an entire image. Working like a ouji board and letting the group guide me over the visual language I was able to bring to the table.

Rowan Spencer — Songwriter, Producer (Driftwood TX)

What Hvdson said has to be said again: This is the intersection of web3 and music. Songcamp brings people from the world of music production / art / industry in direct contact with the community-first and change-driven energy of the world of web3. I thought I must have been particularly lucky to be paired with such positive and encouraging collaborators as Gavin and Kevin but, when it came time to share everyone’s experiences from Camp 1, it seemed everyone felt as lucky as I did. All credit to the energy of the web3 space and the unending energy of Matthew Chaim as well, without whom none of this would have happened.

Kevin Paris — Singer-Songwriter, Producer (Driftwood TX)

"The role of the artist is to make revolution irresistible" - Toni Cade Bambara. A lot of people like talking about the future of music and web3, and complain about the massive flaws in the music industry & creator economies, but very few are actually doing anything substantial about it. That’s where SONGCAMP comes in. Started by the absolute legend Matthew Chaim, SONGCAMP creates an opportunity for total strangers to make incredible art through collaboration, harness cutting edge web3 tools, and simultaneously help shape a brighter future for all musicians and creators through web3 tech, relationships, tools, community, and the boundary-pushing experiments we lead. All of us in Driftwood TX loved being a part of it and are here to stay. The future is now, and it’s bright as ever. Join us.

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