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Music x NFTs: Death Row edition

How Snoop Dogg and Death Row could open the door to a new market.

Music in the metaverse?

Music NFTs may be poised to disrupt both the record and cryptocurrency industries. This movement is led by hip-hop legend Calvin Broadus Jr, better known as Snoop Dogg, who wants to turn the iconic Death Row Records into a non-fungible token (NFT) label.

Snoop Dogg is well positioned to make his ambition a reality. In fact, the artist recently acquired ownership of the Death Row label that made him famous in the 90s and released a few mixtapes, obviously in the form of NFT, on OpenSea.

Snoop Dogg in the NFT scene

The image of the gangstar rapper doesn't fit the stereotypes of the tech scene, but Snoop Dogg has been active in new technologies for a long time. The rapper has been streaming video games and making appearances on many platforms, from gaming to the crypto world. But Snoop isn't just playing games, in fact he was also an investor in RobinHood and Reddit in 2014 and was a pioneer in making Bitcoin (BTC) a viable payment option for purchasing his albums. In 2013, he also publicly supported Dogecoin.

It's no surprise, then, that this icon is breaking into the NFT space. Snoop Dogg's journey into NFTs began as a collector using the alias "Cozomo de' Medici," best known on twitter. His personal NFT portfolio contains several Meebits, CryptoPunks, BAYCs, Fidenza NFTs etc... with one notable CryptoPunk (#3831) currently worth $2.57 million.

The rapper has also released several NFT collections using his image. On February 9, he partnered with Gala Games to launch Stash Box, a series of NFTs linked to songs from his latest album, Bacc on Death Row. The NFTs have already grossed more than $50 million in sales. Instead, on February 21, he launched a collection of thousands of voxel art avatars, Doggie, inspired by his personal look and style, in our beloved metaverse layer The Sandbox. The avatars are divided into various sizes and rarities to entice collectors looking to stand out in the metaverse. Snoop himself has purchased many Sandbox lands.

The reason we're spreading a lot about Snoop Dogg's Crypto/NFT background is the credibility the artist has managed to build over the years. If you've read our previous articles, you'll know that we always avoid getting into celebrity-publicized projects... in this case, the situation is quite different.

Snoop Dogg's latest NFT venture is the Mixtape volume 1: Dogg on It, a series of tracks that can be purchased on the OpenSea marketplace, this could seriously represent a significant change for the music industry, let's see why together.

A game-changer for remixes

Mixtape Volume 1: Dogg on It is a series of 'Mixtapes' by different artists, Snoop included. Some of the songs are blockchain themed, directly referencing Bored Apes, Sandbox, OpenSea, and crypto culture. The audio files are even linked to avatar images of the artists who produced them, such as Bored Ape Yacht Club, Mutant Ape Yacht Club, Doodles, etc... but the most interesting thing is how the tracks have been divided.

The versions of the new songs are divided into different files, some with just the instrumental track, some with the vocal track (a cappella), or some combination of both, either with vocals or base. Each version of the track comes with a limited amount of tokens. For example, the vocal track of 'High' has 420 tokens, of course!

The description of the collection reads, "Own it. Remix it. Master it." Basically, Snoop Dogg is inviting collectors to remix and distribute (selling them in turn) their own remixes of his tracks. The rapper confirmed this on his Twitter account, saying, "You buy it. You own the rights to everything. You buy Snoop Dogg's beat? Make your own track. 👊🏿👊🏿💫🔥🔥🔥."

Remixes and samples have been a staple of hip-hop music since its inception, but they have also raised thorny issues of rights and plagiarism, which have led to many high-profile lawsuits in the music industry, and not just with hip-hop. Even famous artists like Jay-Z, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, and Nicki Minaj have found themselves in legal trouble over samples.

A new way forward for digital ownership?

In addition to the problem of unauthorized but artistically important remixes and samples, the recording industry has struggled with online piracy since the beginnings of the digital world in the 1990s. NFTs offer an opportunity to preserve artists' rights in the digital landscape, so could they also represent a new arrangement between a music track's producers, fans and remixers?

Can buyers of these NFTs legally monetize their remixes?

If Snoop Dogg completely owns his masters (and he does), then he would be in a position to give away 100% of the rights to those tracks online. But NFT ownership doesn't legally guarantee those rights by itself. Some kind of external contract from Death Row Records confirming that these specific NFTs work this way would be necessary to legally protect anyone buying the NFTs in question.

Right now, collectors on Snoop Dogg's OpenSea get a promise, rather than a legal guarantee, with their tokens. But Snoop has said that he wants Death Row to become a full-fledged "metaverse label," releasing NFTs along with his music. If he's serious, then more explicit terms should be released to clarify the legal aspects to artists and remixers.


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