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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

A YouTuber has Exchanged his Tesla Roadster for an NFT

“Looking back in a year, two years, or three years, this could be a monumentally idiotic decision, but it could also be a fantastic decision,” Dan Markham said.

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Dan Markham, the creator of the What’s Inside YouTube channel with seven million subscribers, has swapped his Tesla Roadster for a single nonfungible token.

Markham traded a blue Tesla Roadster — which he claimed may be worth “a quarter-million dollars pretty soon” — for a nonfungible token of a “positive porcupine” in a video posted to his What’s Inside Family channel on Sept. 15. The NFT was created as part of the VeeFriends project and is owned by Eli Burton, the creator of the graphic novel The Adventures of Starman.

“Looking back in a year, two years, three years, it may be a monumentally idiotic decision, but it could also be a fantastic decision. I feel these automobiles will hold their worth for a long time, and I am a firm believer in NFTs.”

YouTuber added:

“It’s a picture for a car — clearly he’s getting the better end of this deal.”

Before learning of Markham’s offer, Burton said he had planned to sell the digital painting for more than $100,000. But, according to the graphic novelist, trading the NFT for the car was “as simple as supply and demand,” as there were 10,000 tokens available at a starting price of $60,000 apiece. VeeFriends has a list of 40 porcupines that seem alike in a range of settings.

“Having it makes practically no difference in terms of money – whether it’s in a collector automobile or a collectible NFT — it’s still collectible,” Markham said.

Even though the two collectors exchanged NFTs on the blockchain, the transaction was primarily conducted in the real world, with Markham physically handing Burton the Tesla’s paper title and key. The porcupine is presently listed on OpenSea with a top bid of 16.339 Wrapped Ether (WETH) — around $56,445 at the time of publication — but Markham stated that he intends to keep the NFT in order to obtain access to a VeeFriends token holders-only conference.

NFTs have also been linked to physical collectibles by certain cryptocurrency users. For example, in July, an entrepreneur held simultaneous auctions for an Apple co-founder Steve Jobs job application and an NFT. The actual paper sold for $343,000, while the NFT received a final bid of 12 Ether (ETH), or $27,460 at the moment.

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ART & COLLECTABLES

NFTs Inspired by Freddie Mercury is Being Released to Benefit an AIDS Charity

On the 75th anniversary of his birth, the renowned musician is honored with a special NFT collection.

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Four digital collectible artworks inspired by the late Freddie Mercury will be auctioned soon. On what would have been the singer’s 75th birthday, the auction will take place.

Blake Kathryn, Chad Knight, Mat Maitland, and MBSJQ contributed artwork to the collectibles. SuperRare, a digital art marketplace, will host the timed auction. It will go live on September 20th and will last 75 hours, according to the organizers.

Furthermore, the auction earnings will benefit the Mercury Phoenix Trust, an AIDS charity. The nonprofit was formed in remembrance of the singer by Queen band members Brian May and Roger Taylor and band manager Jim Beach.

Three of the NFTs in the collection feature images of the performer himself. The fourth image depicts a white grand piano with a crown on the seat and a goldfish pond in the background.

Both SupreRare and the charity linked the effort to Mercury’s inventiveness in a joint statement. “When Freddie Mercury died, he left the world an obvious artistic brief. ‘You can do whatever you want with my work as long as you don’t bore me.’

NFT Commemorations

The popularity and activity of the NFT market has exploded in the recent year. These digital collectibles took over key mainstream industries, resulting in the emergence of a digital metaverse. Some, such as Tether’s co-founder, predict that in the future, “every consumer product will have an NFT.”

Like the Freddie Mercury NFT, various examples of this technology have been deployed in space for commemorative and charitable objectives.

Beeple, a well-known digital artist, sold an NFT for $6 million and donated the earnings to the OpenEarth Foundation. Pele, a Brazilian footballer, also sold NFTs as digital trading cards and donated the proceeds to his charity.

NFTs also allow for the creation of a digital capsule or a remembrance of something or someone. For example, Russel Simmons and Snoop Dogg just released an NFT anthology honoring hip-hop music pioneers. Never-before-seen artwork and music from industry giants were featured in The Masterminds of Hip Hop.

Commemorative NFTs are popular outside of the music industry as well. Unreleased images of Kobe Bryant were put up for auction as NFTs in August. Bryant was photographed while he was an 18-year-old basketball player.

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ART & COLLECTABLES

Do you Aspire to be President? You Can Now Purchase the White House as a Virtual Property NFT

For decades, the White House has served as a symbol of the American people and democratic values. Until today, the public could only fantasize about possessing an actual model of the White House for their house. However, you may now own a piece of history—as well as home decor—by purchasing an NFT powered by Next Earth.

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Who is the owner of a piece of history?

Many well-known landmarks have historical significance for the cities in which they are located. Maybe one day, you’ll be able to “purchase” a section of the Great Wall of China or a space on Mount Rushmore. The public, however, now has that ability with the purchase of an NFT on Next Earth. Likewise, on the Ethereum blockchain, you can own land tiles of the White House by simply picking them from a map of the world.

What is the value of it? No one knows how the digital real estate replica phenomena will develop because the notion is still in its early stages. Virtual properties, on the other hand, have been sold for large sums in past virtual worlds. As a result, it’s possible that an NFT version of the White House could one day be sold for a considerable sum—much like a house—in the future.

Putting Together a Virtual Real Estate Portfolio

Although the White House serves as the residence of the President of the United States, it is also a significant piece of real estate. The same may be said of numerous famous properties worldwide, whether or not they are political milestones.

Take a glance at any large city on the earth, and you’ll see that it has its own set of valuable assets, whether virtual or tangible. Furthermore, because you can develop nearly anything on land, it is the place to be.

So, what if you could purchase a plot of land in a major city? In a world where everything is now a piece of digital real estate, a plot of land that would be yours to develop – yours to do with as you please? That is precisely what Next Earth is constructing.

The Metaverse’s Implications

The White House NFT is just one of several high-profile real estate properties available for purchase in the metaverse. The metaverse represents the ability to own digital real estate in virtual environments. Virtual real estate can be owned, developed, and monetized in the metaverse.

We’ve already seen many significant business leaders tweet about buying NFTs and other virtual real estate assets in the metaverse, such as sports memorabilia. As more organizations and individuals get on board with investing in digital real estate, this trend will only continue to increase.

The Metaverse in the Future

These days, the metaverse craze is all the rage, and virtual real estate is no exception. One of the metaverse’s possible futures is similar to Ready Player One but without the dismal components. Virtual real estate based on NFT is already a reality, and Next Earth is leading the way.

Second Life and The Sims were among the first to provide Metaverse 1.0, which is a centralized virtual world that you can explore, construct, and play with. But, of course, at the end of the day, the centralized firm in the middle would be in charge of your assets.

For the first time, Metaverse 2.0 integrates blockchain technology with a digital duplicate of Earth, allowing users to hold rare digital assets that can be brought to life. Within the metaverse, users form communities that provide chances for interaction with other users and the construction of virtual structures.

Metaverse 3.0 is the way things will be in the future: It’s a hybrid of virtual reality, metaverse 2.0, and blockchain technology. This is a digital rendering of what our home planet would look like if we turned it into a virtual reality experience. People will interact with the real world via digital avatars, communicate as if they were in person, and construct virtual reality-only objects. The infrastructure required for this new version of the metaverse to operate safely, securely, and transparently is provided by the blockchain, the technology that allows bitcoin to act as money rather than merely a digital currency.

In their metaverse, Next Earth is now selling virtual land tracts. The NFT-based metaverse is already an amazing development and yet another illustration of how blockchain and NFTs are transforming our lives, with more intriguing innovations in the pipeline, such as pixel-based land art.

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