Why Music NFTs Are a Radical New Creative Outlet for Alec King
"The music NFT world has opened the doors to potentially even the playing field regarding seeing actual profit from your art."
Editor’s Note: NFT digital collectibles are a new way for fans to support the artists they love. In this series, I talk to artists who have ventured into this new space to learn about their experiences.
Alec King is on a roll. The independent hip-hop artist has been putting out new music at the speed of streaming to stir up momentum for his infectious brand of hip-pop. Hot on the heels of tracks like “Peanut Butter Cherry,” “Fell In Love 1nce,” and “Tundra,” King unveiled his new single “Jojo” on streaming platforms last week. The wide release of the single follows the initial drop of the song as a digital collectible on sound.xyz that sold out in minutes.
I first ran across King a few weeks ago when he messaged me out of the blue on Twitter with an invite to his show at the Troubadour. I was curious about seeing him perform, and wow, I was in for a treat. King infused his set with tons of charisma and positive energy that had the crowd fully engaged from start to finish.
The dynamic quality of King’s live show is also a core ingredient of his new single “Jojo,” which combines different aspects of King’s artistry. The song is a potent mix of pop and hip-hop that showcases his soundboard wizardry and engineering savvy with its crisp, airtight production. Backed by a happy-go-lucky guitar riff and punchy percussion, the story and presentation of “Jojo” is proof of King’s gusto and freewheeling spirit.
King laments about a love lost, but even though he mourns, he approaches the situation with a sense of musical optimism. King’s clearly a glass-half-full type of guy, which makes “Jojo” an unusually uplifting heartbreak song. An exception to the overall sonic aesthetic is the violin outro that unveils his melancholy more explicitly.
When discussing '“Jojo,” I can’t fail to mention the pig that graces the cover of the single. In a rush to create single art, King decided to think creatively. “I knew a friend who had another friend who had a pig in Venice, and his name was Gary,” Kings explains in a recent interview. He ended up doing a whole photo session with Gary The Pig that turned out to be a pretty darn iconic move. Plus, true to form, it adds a wink and a smile to a heartbreak song in a way that only King can think of.
Born and partly raised in Denver, CO, King moved to Los Angeles in 2010 with his family. Initially, his life was all about sports, but things changed when he downloaded T-Pain’s AutoTune app when I was 14 and saw how fun it was to create music. He attended the Los Angeles Recording School and became a sound engineer at a North Hollywood studio. The beatmaker engineered random sessions, but the best thing about his gig was that he could use the studio space after the day’s sessions were done to work on his own music.
“I approach music like sports,” King recently said in a Clubhouse Room interview. “If I just practice every day, I will get better and better.
King initially used SoundCloud to share his music and started building a following. He got signed to Heavy Group and Republic Records, which gave him a taste of what the music business was like. The experience gave him a tremendous opportunity to learn and work with people he admired.
After parting ways with his record label, King looked into Web3 to explore new opportunities to release music at his own pace. It all started with a drop he did for “West Side” late last year that was released on Catalog. The drop garnered him “more than a million streams would pay out,” as he wrote on Instagram.
The experience of releasing his first NFT unlocked new creative opportunities for King that drew him deeper into the world of Web3, including drops on sound.xyz and Mint Songs. Time to learn more about King’s experiences navigating this new space of music collectibles as an independent artist.
Arjan: Making songs available as an NFT is a great way to engage with fans and have creative freedom. How many music NFTs have you released, and what compelled you to get into the space?
Alec: I was introduced to this space by a couple of music NFT collecting friends I made on Twitter actually. They pointed me in the direction of Catalog, where I released my genesis [debut] NFT “West Side.” Since that one, I’ve minted and sold 1/1 editions of songs on Catalog. Then I eventually did a drop on sound.xyz as well with 25 editions of my song ‘Jojo’ which just dropped this past Friday for streaming.
How do you think NFTs will support creators including yourself? How has it helped it in your career?
When I started making music, I would live on Soundcloud—whether I was finding new music or trying to share mine. I would send messages promoting until my account literally wouldn’t let me. Over the years, I have craved an outlet like that. Web3 music gives me that exciting feeling of a new space for that. My experience in the industry has shown me that being an independent artist may mean you are financially at a disadvantage compared to big-label artists. The music NFT world has opened the doors to potentially even the playing field regarding seeing actual profit from your art. As artists, we are so trained to be shocked to see income like that from what we create. That is BS, and one of the goals of Web3 is to change that. I’m now able to release a song and see some immediate return (or investment if I keep it in ETH) which helps pay my producer and video friends.
Have you redefined what success means? Is it a big playlist add, a sold-out tour, or a successful NFT drop?
I think in order to be successful in any field you have to keep your eyes on all of your lanes (or at least have people that can help with that.) I think whether it’s a big playlist add or a big NFT sale, they all work together to build the artist’s journey. I couldn’t pick which is more important because they both have such a big role. My advice for Web2 artists making the Web3 transition is to not bail on Web2 and all you’ve worked to build there. One helps the other. Keep rocking in both lanes. I’ve noticed a lot of people including myself use their Twitter page to be active with their Web3 community and fanbase. That way you can keep doing what you have been doing on Instagram and Tik Tok to see what works for you. Because when one pops off, they all pop off.
Are there other NTF advocates in the space you look up to?
Definitely guys like CoopahTroopa [Cooper Turley] and BlockchainBrett [Brett Shear]. I will drop some @’s here and that way you can do a little dive and follow some people who may be able to help: @Cooopahtroopa, @web3brett, @imdanielallan, @CallMeLatasha, @oshimakesmusic, @catalogworks, @soundxyz_, @venicemusic, and @karmawav.
What do you think holds artists back to jump into the NFT space? What do you recommend to other artists who want to get into the space? What's a good way to start?
When just beginning it really feels like you are learning a different language. It is extremely intimidating. But if you just ask the ‘stupid’ questions and get active on Twitter you will really surprise yourself. I would follow all those pages above and check some more accounts I interact with. I am @aleckingmusic on Twitter.
What did I not ask that I really should be asking?
Something that helped this click for me was when I learned that the ownership of a music NFT does not have anything to do with the master of the song or streams. There are ways to combine those but generally, they are separate. Look at it as a digital piece of merch with the song attached to it.
Stream Alec King “Jojo”
Follow Alec King on Twitter and Instagram