Creators, not brands, are the linchpin to Web3

The Bushidos artwork that Booth designed
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A few weeks ago...

I was sitting in a Discord channel with 1,500 raging crypto heads. We were waiting for a link to drop that would let us Mint an NFT before the real NFT. Think of it as the drop before the drop.

The link hit Discord and before you knew it all 888 NFTs sold out. In three minutes. Three. Minutes.

“We sold them for free”, Jeremy Booth said. He’s the ringleader behind Bushidos, a creative community that’s building projects on the blockchain, centered around the theme of samurai lore and culture. “All you had to pay were gas fees, which were about $60 that day. And the floor price for buying that same artwork has jumped well over 1 ETH (~ USD 4,000+). It’s incredible.”

Jeremy Booth

Booth, a designer at Coinbase, is the visionary behind Bushidos and is chiefly responsible for the artwork behind these first set of NFT drops, along with cofounders Jai Prased, Cesar Pantoja, and Christopher Davis, who are also employees at both Coinbase and Stripe.

The Bushidos artwork that Booth designed

Getting past the hype

As of today, that same Discord has over 6,000 community members, which is no small feat for a project that’s been bootstrapped from the outset. 

“My NFT journey started in early 2021. I sold a few art pieces and got hooked. Over the summer I started thinking about a new kind of crypto project that involved community-building, something with longevity to it, and that’s where things took off.”

Jeremy’s NFT pop-art samurai-themed artwork has gone from idea to a business and community that’s grown to four people, and on October 22nd they’re releasing 8,888 unique Bushidos designs to the public on OpenSea.

Look, for as much hype and excitement as there is around NFTs, DAOs, DAMNs, crypto, and Web3 in general, there’s also plenty of skepticism and speculation around where it’s all going. 

What does it mean for you, and me? And us? 

So, I’d like to reframe the conversation for us. Let’s look beyond the hype, and you’ll see that what we’re witnessing is a reflection of a new era, one in which creators—nay, everyone—can benefit from the upside. We’re in the very early days, but creators are finally building equitability and ownership for their work. Throughout history, the few and powerful have held “the keys to the castle”, and now we’re watching the reverse unfold.

Decentralization and Web3

That’s what makes Web3 different from Web2. Peter Yang—another crypto expert who writes a newsletter called Creator Economy—agrees. “Web3 lets creators own the upside from their work instead of giving up revenue share to the middleman.”

Where Web2 centralized the internet for us, Web3 is decentralizing it, and that unlocks a myriad of opportunities.

Sidenote: Here’s a concise explainer for anyone looking to learn more about Web3 and the future of the internet.

Okay, back to speculation versus reality.

What Booth and the Bushidos community are doing resonates with so many, and it’s because they’re a real, practical example of this new era playing out for regular people in real life. There’s no mystery to it. When they sell out of all 8,888 NFTs this week, they’ll have effectively raised a comfortable Seed round for their community to continue building more projects. All from selling JPEGs. And it’s just the beginning for them.

What does this mean for brands?

This is the world we live in; this is where we’re headed. 

But, one can’t help and think: what does this mean for brands? Naturally, you’ve got brands and corporations trying to step in and ride the momentum of what’s happening in the space, but they won’t be able to simply “buy” their way into relevance with crypto, NFTs, and Web3. 

Everything will eventually become decentralized in some form, from shopping to messaging, to content, and everything in between. Where the last decade of consumption has been about optimizing for reach, this decade is going to be defined by depth. And by depth, I mean community.

And who’s driving the community right now? 

Creators, not companies.

“Creators are in the driver's seat now”, says Brandon Doyle (founder of Wallaroo Media, and crypto loyalist who owns over 400 NFTs to date). People are serious about community because they want to feel a sense of belonging and ownership. That’s why the future of Web3, the internet, and consumer technology et al looks like creators driving innovation. They—not corporations—will be key to unlocking the future of Web3.

So, rather than forcing their way into a space that’s being cultivated by creators, brands should work with and enable creators if they want to thrive in that space. The creators of today are building the companies and culture of tomorrow, and a key component to that culture is community. Trust comes first, then the magic will follow.

And we’re already seeing this play out on the brand side too. “There's been a few brands that have excelled in the NFT space,” says Doyle. “What communities like the Bored Ape Yacht Club have done is incredible. Giving their owners full usage/ownership rights has allowed the holders to build the BAYC brand for them. And then the other brands start trickling in. Like The Hundreds, a streetwear company based in LA. They did a capsule collection with BAYC a few months back and it sold out in an instant. “And brands have also started purchasing their own apes (like AriZona Iced Tea), which has brought extra visibility to the BAYC project.”

That’s how you do it.

Conversely, you’ve got brands like Coca-Cola and Taco Bell selling art projects, of their own branding, which is completely fine. It’s important for brands to dabble, and there’s a path forward there. But, realistically, how many NFT “drops” can Taco Bell do without having a community before the public loses interest. Again, it’s not purely about reach anymore. It’s about depth too. And if you want longevity, you go for depth, and you get there by working with creators, the people already invested in this space.

Taco Bell’s first run of NFTs

Power to the creator

The platforms are shifting the tune to how they partner with creators as well. Recently, TikTok launched “Own the Moment”, an NFT project that lets fans own viral moments from top creators.

They’re already building infrastructure to let creators sell artwork on the app because they understand how important this will be to their long-term plans.

“I think long-term success in this industry will be determined by the community you build. Without community, you can’t succeed. Do great work, of course, but the community is key. They are your lifeblood.”

Indeed. Community > Quantity. As the future unfolds before our eyes, look past the hype and the vanity. Look for the creators, like Bushidos, who are, brick-by-brick, hacking away with their communities. 

They’ll be the companies of tomorrow.

Share

Creators, not brands, are the linchpin to Web3

The Bushidos artwork that Booth designed

Listen to this article: 

A few weeks ago...

I was sitting in a Discord channel with 1,500 raging crypto heads. We were waiting for a link to drop that would let us Mint an NFT before the real NFT. Think of it as the drop before the drop.

The link hit Discord and before you knew it all 888 NFTs sold out. In three minutes. Three. Minutes.

“We sold them for free”, Jeremy Booth said. He’s the ringleader behind Bushidos, a creative community that’s building projects on the blockchain, centered around the theme of samurai lore and culture. “All you had to pay were gas fees, which were about $60 that day. And the floor price for buying that same artwork has jumped well over 1 ETH (~ USD 4,000+). It’s incredible.”

Jeremy Booth

Booth, a designer at Coinbase, is the visionary behind Bushidos and is chiefly responsible for the artwork behind these first set of NFT drops, along with cofounders Jai Prased, Cesar Pantoja, and Christopher Davis, who are also employees at both Coinbase and Stripe.

The Bushidos artwork that Booth designed

Getting past the hype

As of today, that same Discord has over 6,000 community members, which is no small feat for a project that’s been bootstrapped from the outset. 

“My NFT journey started in early 2021. I sold a few art pieces and got hooked. Over the summer I started thinking about a new kind of crypto project that involved community-building, something with longevity to it, and that’s where things took off.”

Jeremy’s NFT pop-art samurai-themed artwork has gone from idea to a business and community that’s grown to four people, and on October 22nd they’re releasing 8,888 unique Bushidos designs to the public on OpenSea.

Look, for as much hype and excitement as there is around NFTs, DAOs, DAMNs, crypto, and Web3 in general, there’s also plenty of skepticism and speculation around where it’s all going. 

What does it mean for you, and me? And us? 

So, I’d like to reframe the conversation for us. Let’s look beyond the hype, and you’ll see that what we’re witnessing is a reflection of a new era, one in which creators—nay, everyone—can benefit from the upside. We’re in the very early days, but creators are finally building equitability and ownership for their work. Throughout history, the few and powerful have held “the keys to the castle”, and now we’re watching the reverse unfold.

Decentralization and Web3

That’s what makes Web3 different from Web2. Peter Yang—another crypto expert who writes a newsletter called Creator Economy—agrees. “Web3 lets creators own the upside from their work instead of giving up revenue share to the middleman.”

Where Web2 centralized the internet for us, Web3 is decentralizing it, and that unlocks a myriad of opportunities.

Sidenote: Here’s a concise explainer for anyone looking to learn more about Web3 and the future of the internet.

Okay, back to speculation versus reality.

What Booth and the Bushidos community are doing resonates with so many, and it’s because they’re a real, practical example of this new era playing out for regular people in real life. There’s no mystery to it. When they sell out of all 8,888 NFTs this week, they’ll have effectively raised a comfortable Seed round for their community to continue building more projects. All from selling JPEGs. And it’s just the beginning for them.

What does this mean for brands?

This is the world we live in; this is where we’re headed. 

But, one can’t help and think: what does this mean for brands? Naturally, you’ve got brands and corporations trying to step in and ride the momentum of what’s happening in the space, but they won’t be able to simply “buy” their way into relevance with crypto, NFTs, and Web3. 

Everything will eventually become decentralized in some form, from shopping to messaging, to content, and everything in between. Where the last decade of consumption has been about optimizing for reach, this decade is going to be defined by depth. And by depth, I mean community.

And who’s driving the community right now? 

Creators, not companies.

“Creators are in the driver's seat now”, says Brandon Doyle (founder of Wallaroo Media, and crypto loyalist who owns over 400 NFTs to date). People are serious about community because they want to feel a sense of belonging and ownership. That’s why the future of Web3, the internet, and consumer technology et al looks like creators driving innovation. They—not corporations—will be key to unlocking the future of Web3.

So, rather than forcing their way into a space that’s being cultivated by creators, brands should work with and enable creators if they want to thrive in that space. The creators of today are building the companies and culture of tomorrow, and a key component to that culture is community. Trust comes first, then the magic will follow.

And we’re already seeing this play out on the brand side too. “There's been a few brands that have excelled in the NFT space,” says Doyle. “What communities like the Bored Ape Yacht Club have done is incredible. Giving their owners full usage/ownership rights has allowed the holders to build the BAYC brand for them. And then the other brands start trickling in. Like The Hundreds, a streetwear company based in LA. They did a capsule collection with BAYC a few months back and it sold out in an instant. “And brands have also started purchasing their own apes (like AriZona Iced Tea), which has brought extra visibility to the BAYC project.”

That’s how you do it.

Conversely, you’ve got brands like Coca-Cola and Taco Bell selling art projects, of their own branding, which is completely fine. It’s important for brands to dabble, and there’s a path forward there. But, realistically, how many NFT “drops” can Taco Bell do without having a community before the public loses interest. Again, it’s not purely about reach anymore. It’s about depth too. And if you want longevity, you go for depth, and you get there by working with creators, the people already invested in this space.

Taco Bell’s first run of NFTs

Power to the creator

The platforms are shifting the tune to how they partner with creators as well. Recently, TikTok launched “Own the Moment”, an NFT project that lets fans own viral moments from top creators.

They’re already building infrastructure to let creators sell artwork on the app because they understand how important this will be to their long-term plans.

“I think long-term success in this industry will be determined by the community you build. Without community, you can’t succeed. Do great work, of course, but the community is key. They are your lifeblood.”

Indeed. Community > Quantity. As the future unfolds before our eyes, look past the hype and the vanity. Look for the creators, like Bushidos, who are, brick-by-brick, hacking away with their communities. 

They’ll be the companies of tomorrow.