Tycho first heard about crypto back in the Silk Road days, calling the underground marketplace “the coolest thing in the world” at the time. Now, decidedly legit, he’s launching his own “Tycho Open Source Community” using Polygon NFTs.
Tycho says he bought his first hardware wallet in 2011, but didn’t put Bitcoin on it. In an interview with Decrypt, the artist—also known as Scott Hansen, or ISO50 from his blogging days in the aughts—shared the story of how he got into crypto and Web3.
In 2016, he bought Ethereum and vowed to never sell it, just to see what happened with it.
“We should get this thing Ethereum,” he recalled telling musician Jakub Alexander at the time while on tour. “Bitcoin is old school but Ethereum, this thing’s cool.”
He then all but forgot about his crypto for years as he kept making music and visual art. Hansen designed all the graphics for his albums and engineered his distinct melodic, ethereal electronic sound—music which earned him two Grammy nominations.
“Our pact was that we should never sell any of it, and see what happens with it,” he said of the ETH he’s still “hodling” today.
In 2021, Hansen released some NFTs on Nifty Gateway and OpenSea, which he calls “a learning experience.” Inspired by the likes of Beeple, Justin Blau (3lau), and artist Reuben Wu, Hansen sees Web3 and crypto as a great fit for his community.
“We knew each other from speaking at graphic design conferences back in the day,” Hansen said of Beeple, who recently collaborated with Madonna on an NSFW NFT collection.
Tycho’s community—which he says includes VFX artists, musicians, and other graphic designers—was first formed in the blogosphere but has since spread to a token-gated Discord server.
Given its collaborative and professional members, it’s not unlike the one music producer Illmind is also building through NFTs with his “Squad of Knights,” which offers holders IRL perks like recording studio space and musical collaboration opportunities.
Hansen sees Web3 as a way for artists to get rid of the middleman of social media.
“Web2 social media platforms came around and kind of hijacked this whole thing,” Hansen said of how social media changed internet communities. “It doesn’t really feel like a two-way street anymore.”
When he learned about Medallion, a full-service crypto platform, Hansen was intrigued. He said he started working with the company because he found their terms appealing.
“What is interesting to me about the Web3 space and leveraging Web3 to this end is, with Patreon, you’re just creating a login,” Hansen said.
But with his “Open Source” community, which grants holders access to things like advance album listening parties, and livestreams, “the artist owns the data.”
Hansen said he always wants the NFTs—which act as access tokens—to be free, while additional perks might cost money or crypto in the future.
“I think this was the endgame, to create this kind of community space, this Web3 community,” Hansen said.
As for whether Hansen will release any music NFTs under his Tycho alias in the future, it’s something he says he’s exploring. Hansen told Decrypt he has “a couple releases on the horizon” that he might turn into music NFTs, but that he doesn’t have concrete plans yet.
When asked why electronic artists like Steve Aoki, 3lau, deadmau5, Dillon Francis, and himself are so open to Web3 compared to artists in other genres, Hansen has a few ideas.
“Electronic musicians in general […] have to be somewhat technically adept to even be able to get into it, and I think you’re probably pretty interested in technology just as a general concept anyways if you’re getting into this kind of music,” he said.
As someone with a background in computer science, digital graphic design, and electronic music, Web3 and crypto felt like a natural thing for Hansen to explore.
In his view, Web3 hasn’t leveled the playing field—it’s still hard for new musicians to find success—but he believes Web3 will eventually become “the norm.”
“I’m not looking at it […] as this like utopian vision that it kind of was being touted as at the beginning,” he said. “But I definitely think it’s another tool in the toolkit of artists, so anytime we have any other kind of leverage I think that is going to shift [the] power dynamic in some way.”
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