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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

In June, the volume of Ethereum NFT trading decreased by 70%, although sales remained stable

Although there is less money in NFTs, sales haven’t really slowed down.

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Despite the negative market, there is some good news regarding NFTs.

According to Nansen data, the overall amount of Ethereum NFT trades has decreased by 55% over the past month, falling from 1.3 million ETH to roughly 584,000 ETH. In terms of US dollars, that represents a decline of about 70% from just under $2.6 billion to about $672 million.

Over the past month, Ethereum’s price has decreased by around 43%. But because “blue chip” NFT prices haven’t increased to make up for it, fewer transactions are taking place.

Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT prices are still circling about 100 ETH among the top five listed NFT collections on OpenSea, with average ETH prices having essentially remained unchanged. The exception is CryptoPunks, whose buy-in floor pricing increased by 48 percent in part as a result of Christie’s head of digital sales taking over as the Punks’ new brand lead this month.

The unique blockchain tokens that represent ownership over digital art are still being bought and sold by NFT traders; they’re just purchasing less expensive tokens and “aping” into free mints like Goblintown, which launched a wave of free-to-mint NFT collections centered around bodily waste, nihilism, and memes.

According to data from CryptoSlam, the typical sale price for an Ethereum NFT dropped from $2,463 in May to barely $703, a 71% reduction. While a result, NFTs are often more expensive to buy as the crypto bear market persists.

OpenSea reported 1.478 million NFTs were sold on its platform in May. As of Wednesday, 1.476 million NFTs have been sold in June, thus it’s entirely probable that this month will see an increase in NFT sales over May. The Otherside NFTs from Yuga Labs, which saw $561 million traded in just one day, also significantly helped May’s results.

According to Dune data, the total number of registered users who have completed at least one transaction on OpenSea’s marketplace increased by a modest 6.5 percent. With a 16 percent drop from roughly 422,000 to 354,000, the number of active traders for Ethereum NFTs has only marginally decreased.

Nansen data show that there hasn’t been much of a reduction in the number of weekly active NFT projects that are seeing revenues. Three NFT collections—the same number as last month—have seen more than 10,000 sales. Only 30% fewer collections this month—from 109 to 76—saw more than a thousand sales in a given period. Therefore, NFT designers are still making sales, especially in collections with the biggest market caps.

Consequently, traders are still making trades even though overall volume may be down 55 to 70 percent in ETH and USD, respectively. Despite the fact that they are currently buying and selling for less, it appears that NFT aficionados still have hope.

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ART & COLLECTABLES

GIVENCHY PARFUMS, AMAR STUDIO, REWIND COLLECTIVE & VEVE REUNITE FOR THE CREATION OF AN NFT IN SUPPORT OF THE LGBTQIA+ CAUSE FOR PRIDE 2022

Fashion House, Artists and NFT Platform Team Up Once Again for Pride Month

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PARIS, June 23, 2022 – To mark Pride Month this year, Givenchy Parfums states its support for the LGBTQIA+ cause by reuniting with LGBTQIA activist Amar Singh, artists Rewind Collective & NFT platform VeVe, the largest mobile-first digital collectibles platform, for the release of a new digital collectible to be sold for charity releasing on Wednesday, June 29 at 12 p.m. PT. The release of the digital artwork, Pride II by Rewind Collective, will be sold for the benefit of the Le MAG Jeunes association, on VeVe’s digital collectible platform, available to download on the App Store and Google Play.

Drawing inspiration from the House’s Prisme Libre, combining four shades of colors, as well as the Rewind Collective’s Pixelated Heroes series, this original virtual artwork is being sold on VeVe in a limited series of 1952 editions. After the sale, the proceeds will be entirely donated to the Le MAG Jeunes association.

Titled “Pride II”, the artwork created by Rewind Collective for Givenchy Parfums is a series of animated portraits symbolizing diversity, the assertion of identity, and the fight for equal rights. Innovative photos, which the collective reinterpreted digitally in the colors of the Rainbow Flag, expres Givenchy’s commitment to a more diverse, more inclusive, more universal kind of beauty.

Through this initiative, Givenchy Parfums, Amar Studio & VeVe are proud to support Le MAG Jeunes (Movement for the Assertion of Young Gay, Lesbian, Bi & Trans people), a French association founded in Paris in 1985. Amar Singh continues to lead India’s national effort at the supreme court to abolish LGBT+ conversion therapy.  Aimed at the LGBTQIA+ young population (15 to 30), Le MAG Jeunes focuses on support and accompanying: it carries out awareness-raising missions in schools, offers cultural and educational activities, and provides psychological support to all those who need it. It also lobbies international institutions, so as to promote the implementation of more inclusive public policies, for today and tomorrow.

“Art remains one of the most powerful forms of self-expression, we’re honored to further the LGBTQIA+ cause so that everyone can present their authentic self,” said David Yu, Co-Founder of VeVe. “We are proud to support the LGBTQIA+ community and help fund the fight against LGBT phobias and sexism through the sales of this unique digital collectible.”

Last year the companies came together to sell the digital artwork, “Pride”, as a sign of support for the LGBTQIA+ cause and MAG. The $128,000 raised led to the organization:

  • Moving to a bigger space in Paris and opening of two new local centers for LGBT+ youth inclusion, to overcome isolation and that offers support and multiple activities. The Paris local group is now in the heart of the capital Quincampoix Street, Paris 4th, with a great space to welcome LGBT+ youth. And the two new branches are in Lyon and Clermont Ferrand. 
  • An increase of LGBT+ youth supported by the organization to 529. The foundation aims to support 1,600 youths thanks to the new spaces and new members of staff. 
  • Building and recruitment a team of professionals to accompany youth and fight LGBT phobias and sexism.
  • An increase of interventions in school from 3,000 students in 2021 to 11,360 in 2022, to prevent LGBT phobia and sexism in the education sector.

About VeVe:
Founded in 2018, VeVe was created by collectors, for collectors to bring premium licensed NFT digital collectibles to the mass market. With millions of active users and over 6      million NFTs sold, VeVe is the largest mobile-first digital collectibles platform and one of the top-grossing Entertainment Apps in the Google Play and Apple stores.

Utilizing both blockchain and augmented reality technologies, VeVe offers premium licensed collectibles from leading brands including DC Comics and Warner Bros, Cartoon Network, tokidoki, Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, and more. For the first time, these brands can provide customization to collectibles after their initial sale, creating endless revenue possibilities for products both new and previously offered. In addition, VeVe’s 3D augmented reality photo mode allows collectors to interact with every digital collectible, as well as share their collectibles through VeVe’s in-app social feed, or on external social platforms including Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and more.

In March 2021, VeVe committed to 100% carbon neutral NFTs and provided $7+ million in grants to environmental nonprofits to raise money for causes through NFT promotions. In addition, VeVe uses Ethereum’s layer 2 scaling protocol, Immutable X, which provides instant trade confirmation, scalability (over 9,000 trades per second), zero gas fees, and a 99.9% reduction in environmental footprint.

The VeVe Digital Collectible app is available on both iOS and Android.

Learn more: VeVe.me | Twitter | Discord | Facebook | Instagram | Medium

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ART & COLLECTABLES

Salvatore Ferragamo, an Italian luxury brand, has an NFT booth in SoHo

Customers can create and mint their own Ethereum-backed non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on OpenSea at a booth set up by Salvatore Ferragamo, an upscale clothing company with its headquarters in Florence, New York.

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The Salvatore Ferragamo concept store in the city’s SoHo neighborhood opened its doors on Friday, and the booth is a part of a bigger debut of the business. All visitors are eligible to receive free NFTs, which are limited to 256 in total. The brand will pay all associated costs up front to mint an NFT.

For the launch, the company is collaborating with artist Shxpir, who has previously created holographic handbags for businesses like Coach. Shxpir has produced 3D digital graphic elements for the NFTs for Salvatore Ferragamo.

Just one day after NFT, there will be a launch.

After a week of discussions about how fashion businesses may tap into the Web3 and NFT arena, NYC, a conference about non-fungible tokens in Times Square, comes to an end. Famous companies have lately debuted their own NFT collections, including Gucci, Prada, Bulgari, and many others.

Salvatore Ferragamo has previously entered the online space.

The company collaborated with Obsess, a virtual and augmented reality software platform that aids businesses in the establishment of interactive online storefronts and virtual experiences, last year. Customers could explore a virtual mansion that featured Ferragamo goods at the online store dubbed “House of Gifts.”

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