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Exclusive Interview: World known DJ Umek drops an NFT live gig, NFT Livestream and talks about his Viberate project

We had the pleasure of chatting with DJ Umek, a well-known veteran in the techno music industry. We went through NFTs, his Viberate project, Corona-crisis and much more.

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Can you tell us a bit more about your background and life before all the fame and recognition? How did the idea to become a DJ come to you?

My young life was pretty standard. I went to school diligently, and at about the age of eight or nine, I started playing basketball. I did well; I participated in quite a few tournaments at home. I also have some medals. I managed to get into the cadet national team. At the age of 17, I then left school and basketball with the goal of becoming a DJ. This decision was quite radical for me at the time, but all the effort I put into it finally paid off. I have loved music for as long as I can remember, even in the basketball club, I was known for always having some music tapes with me. The idea to become a DJ came to me at a school dance where DJ Alf played music. He had a massive sound system, and all these speakers’ installation was extremely interesting for me. Then he played music of his choice, people danced and had fun, so I said to myself, “If this is not the best job in the world, then I don’t know what is.”

How and when did you enter the blockchain/crypto world? With the Viberate project, or have you invested/monitored the technology before?

I stepped into the crypto world with Viberate in 2017, but I already had some knowledge and experience from before. I even mined; I had LEO coins. I remember it was in 2015 or even earlier when Matej Gregorčič (present CEO of Viberate) and I had 14 computers for mining in my attic, where it was insanely hot. I also traded, but I once made such a big mistake that made me sell all the coins and computers and leave the crypto world for a while. I did this at the worst possible time because, at that time, newcomers like me had just started to successfully mine ethereum.

What do you think of NFT’s madness in the world of athletes, artists, and their NFT collectibles? Are “eye-watering” prices appropriate, or is it just a bubble ready to burst? Are you the owner of any digital collections from the world of sports or art? If so, which ones?

That was something to be expected. Sports memorabilia has been around for quite some time, and it was clear that this would move to NFTs. We know what values objects achieve in physical form, and the same happens with things in the digital world. I am, say, a collector of sports equipment from Michael Jordan, and let’s say his sneakers and jerseys sell for millions of dollars. Imagine where it will all go together in the digital world, given that we are just getting started. I think we can talk about a bubble at the moment, which probably won’t burst but will anchor itself on some healthy ground. Then we will be able to talk about some fundamental values of NFTs. These corrections have already taken place, and many projects are failing.

I own about 20 minor works of art. I entered the market through Pixel Art to even learn how this thing works. I got acquainted with OpenSea to get to know the market laws, how to mint and how users or collectors see everything. But I don’t own CryptoPunks or anything like that. I’m practically a beginner, but let’s say I follow all the major NFT platforms on Instagram. I regularly listen to discussions on ClubHouse and so on. I can say that I have already learned quite a bit, and when it comes to NFTs, I think the future is bright.

Given that you are a musician yourself and you entered the world of NFTs, how do you think NFTs will affect the music industry, especially now, in these corona times that are difficult, especially for show-business, as more significant events are mostly not possible?

NFTs will affect the music industry in a variety of ways. Rumour has it that we will be able to receive copyright payments via NFTs as soon as your song is playing somewhere, i.e., without any middlemen. I believe this will happen. However, “dinosaurs” must be tackled in music labels. However, I think it will take quite some time before they conquer these new technologies. There is a lot of bureaucracy in the more prominent labels. They have many job positions for all sorts of things, so I think it will take at least ten years for something to be sorted out the way it should be. I hope that my team and I will be among the first to show how it all works in practice. With Viberate, we set ourselves the goal of arranging things in the live music industry. Two ideas came to us: the first is a live music performance, and I added a live stream. This is very important to me, primarily because of the times we are in now. As I mentioned, memorabilia is also an essential element, so we added my song Lanicor in different versions. I think the most revolutionary is the NFT live stream gig because it is the most easily transferable to NFTs. However, this means that I have to take care of the technical implementation myself, so I have to “bring” the music to the end customer or buyer of the NFT. He then has to connect it to a screen and speakers, which everyone has at home anyway, and you can already see and listen to me. This seems like a great thing to me because even in the post-Covid 19 period, performances via video link will remain. There may not be as many as there are now, but they will stay among us. On the other hand, a live gig NFT can be bought by a promoter, who then has to organize the event: he has to lease a sound system, come to pick you up at the airport… Here are quite a few costs and organization elements.

Regarding NFTs, I would like to mention one more thing: through them, you can offer something otherwise tricky: this personal relationship with the person who buys NFT from you. It’s a kind of digital meet and greets because people can ask you something during the broadcast, get to know you better. This digital world offers many possibilities. There are practically no limits, so I appeal to every artist to use imagination and make each performance at least a little special. In this context, I also wish we had some rating system where people would rate performances to know which ones were good and which ones weren’t. This would mean that those with good live stream performances would find it easier to sell NFTs.

First NFT live event… congratulations! Very revolutionary for the music industry and thinking outside the box. How did the idea for such an NFT come about and how long did the idea grow before the drop?

The first start of this NFT was created as part of our presentation document (white paper) in 2017 when we at Viberate announced that we would offer musical performances via blockchain. We could have done this earlier, but it was technically challenging to implement. There was practically no market for such a thing. With NFTs, there has been a popularization and the emergence of a market where you can sell something, and people are willing to buy it. So the time to launch this product was right. We have successfully tested the thing and proved that we could do it. We are already looking ahead with the team and preparing new drops.

We have a little more interest in your NFTs, especially in your live gig NFT and Livestream NFT. How is it with the time frame? Does NFT have a “shelf life?” If someone doesn’t take advantage of the NFT and sell it on? What about royalties, do you, as an artist, get some resale share, as is usually the case with other NFTs? Does the NFT have any restrictions on the event itself, e.g., in terms of location, time, number of audiences, and perhaps ticket sales for the event?

The live stream will, of course, have a shelf life, mainly because I’m 45 years old, and some DJs are also over 60 years old, so you never know what will happen in so many years. The timestamp is something that makes sense. Still, the user will also decide in what kind of time frame they will use the NFT.

I have to say that reselling performances seems like a fascinating thing to me. So the one who bought my NFT for the live gig can either use it or resell it on the market. Viberate already has the best database of musicians globally. Anyone with at least a little understanding of how business works can check the musicians with our platform and quickly find out which one is growing or is well on their way to becoming a star. If someone buys an NFT from an artist who is clear to become even more popular over time, it makes sense that this NFT may be sold for more money in the future. This is especially interesting when we talk about musicians who are still at the beginning of their careers. NFTs can also serve as a kind of crowdfunding, as some artists have talent but don’t have the money to record an album. Through the sale of NFTs, however, they can pay for studio work and release an album. This increases their popularity, and they can attack the market. As their price rises, such NFTs can be sold by buyers for more money.

The next thing that is very useful with NFTs is this: for an event in Barcelona, someone wants to hire me, but that’s not possible because I have particular business partners there and play music for specific people. On the other hand, if someone buys my NFT, I commit to making a performance for the customer, of course. If it is not possible to reach me through established practices, it is undoubtedly through NFTs. It is essential to know that it is not easy to get a star DJ through an agency, especially not in a short time. You have to hire other DJs before you get to the top pick. Someone can struggle for two years to get to him, and then the agency tells him that he can’t be reached because he already has some other partner and you have a problem. You can solve this problem through NFTs.

The rest of the requirements are as follows: the technical equipment must be arranged like it is specified in the rider, because the performance is still handed over to the agency, where they take care of the technical things. According to the contract, my requirements must be taken into account, but of course the nature of the event must also be taken into account. If it’s a birthday party, I don’t expect the best sound system, but let’s say some “hygienic minimum” is expected.

Is selling NFT live events perhaps a way for musicians to cut out the middlemen, maybe earn more, and raise the price of your music while also lowering the cost of the concert, which could bring the music closer to larger crowds of people?

Of course, that makes sense. Airbnb has already shown how this can be successful in practice. NFTs will achieve a particular market share in this industry. They may become the dominant element over the years, but this transition will take quite some time. Successful musicians and agents together earn millions of euros and, of course, do not want to change their tactics and established practices. This revolution will only happen when there is a change of generations. When a brave artist appears, who, for example, no longer has his website, similar to myself – I only use my Viberate profile – and will offer performances exclusively through NFTs, then this kind of sales have a chance. Once this happens globally, then agents and other intermediaries will no longer be needed. Instead of one middleman taking 10 percent, another 15, a third 20 percent of your earnings, you will only have to pay a commission on transactions and a provider like Viberate. Still, these percentages are not so high because we are not talking about many people but automated processes. I will be thrilled if this happens in the near future.

At this point, I would also like to mention that I am planning a very special NFT – I call it the “NFT Experience.” What exactly will its name be? I don’t know yet, but it’s an NFT that allows the musician to approach his fans differently. Every artist is known for his music, but there is usually much more hidden in it. Maybe there are good sculptors and painters among us, let’s say I collect sneakers, and I don’t know what else. I know quite a few passionate photographers among DJs; one Italian is a good chef. So a DJ can offer a cooking class in some fun way, why not? There are many possibilities. I hope we can run this NFT by the end of the year.

In the first wave of cryptomania, we saw the tremendous success of the Viberate project, then after the collapse of the crypto market, the project, like most others, fell silent a bit, and now it is rising again like a phoenix from the ashes. What has been going on in the meantime and what are the plans for the near future?

As for Viberate, it is like this: the collapse of the crypto market affected us, but our project was set seriously and, above all, for the long run. Covid 19 also did not help with this plan, as the music industry is among those industries that have suffered the most damage. However, there is one very positive aspect: we have been given valuable time to develop our products and meet the commitments set out in the white paper. I believe that otherwise, we would have succeeded much sooner, and even more; people would understand how big and important an analytical platform we have managed to develop. But you don’t have to take our word for it – visit www.viberate.com and see it for yourself. You will find a lot of valuable and exciting information. For example, when I choose artists for my 1605 label, I constantly review their Viberate profiles and decide whether I will collaborate with them.

We continue to work at full steam, and of course, we expect things to fall into place over time. We are constantly improving the platform and adding new features. We cover the most significant social networks and leading streaming music providers, and other platforms such as YouTube and Beatport. Just recently, we added 24,000 radio stations operating in 150 countries to the database. Regarding music analytics, I would say that we currently have no competition on the same level as us globally. At NFTs, we are pioneers in our segment. Still, I hope that other musicians will also realize as soon as possible how they can use them to their advantage. Those of us who are hooked on electronic music are more open to novelties, and I believe that with the new drops, we will inspire even more artists to join us.

Finally, we would like to touch on your plans for the after Covid 19-period (hopefully, it will be over soon). Probably some extended vacation after all the restrictions and regulations? We are also interested if you will get back on track to traditional performances and events, or do you tend to take a more “digital” approach to everything together and maybe release another NFT live event / live stream?

Of course, I would like to get back on track as soon as possible, but I have to say that it’s nice to be home. During this time, quite a few other DJs who have ten performances per month have found something similar. In addition to chasing after as many performances as possible and proving to oneself and others, there is another side to life. I think the mental state of the musicians has improved considerably during this period. Still, I am aware that many suffer from a loss of income when there are no live performances. I also miss them, actual performances in front of a live audience. But I find this balance between live performances and the time you spend at home as something important. Going back to live stream NFTs: one of the advantages of this is that you don’t have to travel, you don’t have to fly to the other end of the world, but you still work. Let’s say you do a live stream on Friday, which can be one, two, or three hours long, and then on Saturday and Sunday, you have time to get together with friends, go to a family lunch, for a walk, or do some sports activity.

ART & COLLECTABLES

NFT Show Europe was all about innovators of the Future of the Internet: web 3.0, metaverse, blockchain, and digital art

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Valencia, October 10th 2022: NFT Show Europe, the leading event on Web 3.0, Blockchain, Metaverse and Digital Art took place in the futuristic venue of the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain. From the 17th to the 18th of September 2022, #NFTSE attracted over 2300 visitors from 59 countries.

The show featured a packed conference programme with world-renowned speakers. Topics covered included the use of Blockchain and Web 3.0 oriented technologies in traditional businesses, gaming, sports, fashion, art and collectibles, among others.

First edition beyond expectations

“The event showcased the very best in European talent, demonstrating the unstoppable growth of these technologies and its potential in both business and artistic innovation.” explains Patrick Cyrus, Marketing Manager of #NFTSE22.

“We already count with the support of big players such as Tezos, Polkadot, Zeroframe, Crypto Page, Block Ape Scissors or Wert. All of us were equally impressed with the level of potential collaborations and we are already looking forward to the next edition.”

NFT Show beyond Europe

#NFTSE gathers some of the most influential companies and artists to discuss the latest trends and developments. The event was a major boost for the web 3.0 industry companies, fostering new partnerships and collaborations, which helped to solidify its position as a major meeting point in this world.

With visitors from 59 countries attending, the event showcased the latest in blockchain and web3 technologies and its potential applications in the real world.

The speaker line-up was formed by industry leaders such as Takayaki Suzuki, CEO of Metatokio and Esen Tümer, Founder of Metaverse Hub. Other notable speakers included Hide Uehara, Director of Business Development for Square Enix or Sam Hamilton, the Creative Director of Decentraland Foundation.

Showcasing more than 170 artworks by artists such as Zancan, Solimán López, Pablo Alpe, Ulysses, A.L. Crego or Jenni Pasanen, the art exhibition included exclusive minting by fxhash.com, workshops, interactive installations, panel discussions and XR experiences.

Conclusions & Trends

“Web 3.0 technologies provide a way for users to create and interact with digital assets in a virtual space. These technologies have the potential to revolutionize many industries, including gaming, art and finance. NFT Show Europe provided a platform for leading experts to share their insights on those industries in a futuristic business-art atmosphere.” adds Esen Tümer, Founder of MetaverseHub based in Turkey, Istambul.

NFTs and crypto are transforming the art industry by providing creators with a new way to monetize their work and by giving collectors a new way to invest in art. They can be used to track and prove ownership of everything from digital art to in-game items. One of the barriers is the acquisition of cryptocurrencies which is already approached by companies such as Wert.

“We enable the consumers to purchase NFTs with credit or debit cards just like normal or virtual goods … if you’re in the NFT, Generative Art and Web 3.0 space (NFTSE) is just the perfect spot to do that.” explains George Basiladze, Founder of Wert.io.

There is no doubt that the web 3.0 users have the potential to change the way we live, work and play. By harnessing the power of the internet, these technologies can help us to connect with others in new and innovative ways and help us to access information and services that were previously out of reach. With the right support and investment, web 3.0 content will help us to create a more inclusive and connected world.

The producers of NFT Show Europe are already planning the next stages for 2023.

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ART & COLLECTABLES

Logan Paul’s unsuccessful NFT Investment: Over $620K to $10

Logan Paul, a well-known YouTuber, has lost millions of dollars as a result of the current crypto winter.

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Logan Paul, an American YouTuber, actor, and social media star, holds a $623,000 unrealized loss as a result of his investment in an NFT from the Azuki line.

Also unsuccessful is his involvement with cryptocurrency. The market collapse has reduced the value of his possessions by more than $500,000.

Losses in Logan Paul’s Critical Papers
The well-known YouTuber joined the cryptocurrency bandwagon last spring when the values of most assets were surging, just like many other people. A few months later, he spent almost $2.5 million on NFTs, joining the trend. The most expensive thing he bought was a piece from the Azuki collection, which cost him $623,000.

However, the YouTube celebrity has suffered significant financial losses as a result of the unstable state of the bitcoin market and the NFT niche, at least on paper. The Azuki NFT currently trades around $10, as Paul recently made known, a drastic decline that sparked debate in the cryptocurrency world.

Many Twitter users made fun of the celebrity for using non-fungible tokens to transact at a time when there was obviously excitement in the industry. Others asserted that digital collectibles are frauds and should not be purchased. Some, however, contend that the price decline is a result of the current bad market and that once the next bull run begins, the valuation will rise.

It’s important to note that the NFT transactions were booming at the time he purchased the things. OpenSea’s trade volume spiked to almost $500 million for a single day at one time last summer, but in recent months, it has struggled to reach $10 million.

Paul has added bitcoin and other alternative currency to his portfolio in addition to NFTs. He recently acknowledged that he had lost almost $500,000 on such investments when he first entered the ecosystem at its peak last year.

Unfortunately for others that followed suit, this year has seen a significant decline in the value of the cryptocurrency market, which now has a total valuation of less than $1 billion (down from $3 billion a year ago).

Millions are Lost by KSI
The British rapper JJ Olatunji, a.k.a. KSI, was another prominent YouTuber who was severely hurt by the crypto market decline.

When Terra’s native token, LUNA, began to fall in price in May, he took the chance to predict that the price will eventually rise again. When the asset was going for about $25, KSI invested $2.8 million of his wealth in it.

He had no idea that the token would keep declining and eventually fall to almost nothing, wiping away the rapper’s multi-million dollar investment.

KSI is a strong supporter of the cryptocurrency market, especially bitcoin. He claimed that BTC will be crucial to the monetary system of the future last year. The rapper continued, claiming that he would have given each UK citizen £100 worth of bitcoin if he were the Prime Minister.

BTC is the ideal investment vehicle in KSI’s opinion. He believes that after ten years, individuals who have some exposure to the asset will “be laughing”:

“I feel like a lot of people are trying to search for quick money like, ‘Oh, I want to get in and out,’ but they’re not really seeing that. I’m prepared to travel a considerable distance for this.

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ART & COLLECTABLES

Ford is getting ready to enter the Metaverse with digital cars and NFTs

A month after the company announced significant personnel reductions, it has filed a trademark application covering its future initiatives in the Metaverse and NFT space.

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Ford Motor Company, an American automaker, has filed 19 trademark applications across its key automobile brands as it prepares to enter the realm of nonfungible tokens (NFTs) and the Metaverse.

Mike Kondoudis, a trademark attorney licensed by the United States Patent and Trade Office (USPTO), disclosed in a tweet on Wednesday that the business had submitted a total of 19 trademark applications covering its car brands, including Mustang, Bronco, Lincoln, Explorer, and F-150 Lightning, among others.

The trademark applications include a projected online marketplace for NFTs and virtual versions of its businesses’ automobiles, trucks, vans, SUVs, and clothes.

Ford intends to produce digital images of its vehicles, SUVs, trucks, and vans that will be verified by NFTs, according to USPTO filings submitted by the automaker on September 2.

The business also disclosed plans for “downloadable virtual commodities,” or “computer programs,” that would include apparel, accessories, and parts for vehicles for usage in “online virtual environments,” such as virtual and augmented reality trade exhibitions.

Additionally, there are plans to develop an online marketplace for “others’ digital artwork” as well as “online retail shop services featuring non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and digital collectibles.”

Less than a month after Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford and CEO Jim Farley announced significant personnel reductions from its global workforce to decrease corporate expenses; Ford has decided to enter the Web3 area.

Ford isn’t the first automaker to enter the Metaverse market.

While premium automakers like Bentley and Lamborghini have already launched NFT collections, automakers including Nissan, Toyota, and Hyundai have indicated ambitions to enter the fast-expanding Metaverse market.

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