In 2023 I intend to go back to my work as an author-illustrator, and this decision is taking me back to seeing the Internet through the eyes of a creator more that ever. My idea in 2023 is using only tools that are already available for us on the web3: services to make forms, blogs and newsletters, and of course digital collectibles like NFTs.
The idea is tons to prepare that new stage in good spirit, and that was my intention, when I received a first warning.
A few days ago, I discovered an NFT collection which exploited the idea of the hungry artist, pretending to attract artists to provide them support. The intro ended with these words: “Stay hungry, keep creating”. I observed how in the tech community supporting this project, the slogan was spread using Twitter… I could not believe it… A professional musician was with me and commented “don’t they realize this is actually offensive for artists? How did no one tell them?”… we’ll, here I leave this testimonial for every reader to make up its mind.
It’s not for me to censor or judge upon others works, but I definitely have the right to express my disappointment. how can you support an enslaving slogan from a tech community that was born with the mission of defending fundamental rights? As I said, I can only feel a deep disappointment.
I am the do-founder of a startup which is trying to build the tools for independent authors like myself on the web3, and I have been working the past years trying to understand and communicate what this technology was enabling. At this crucial moment when I want to star using what is already there, I believe that what is fair and actually useful is to share my experience with all those who have been following me with total honesty. After all, the way I have walked only makes sense if it can serve independent artists-authors like myself.
As I have not been able to finish the development of our app, Smartists, which is meant to enable artists mint and sell their own NFTs from there are studios, I finally decided to start minting some collection in a marketplace. This way I was able to learn two important lessons:
Firstly, it is necessary to count or to build a community of followers who are ready to buy digital collectibles, this is, NFTs. Those who followed my previous work as an author are neither on the web3, nor in their usual media like Discord, or so it seems according to our unsuccessful invitations in our regular newsletter. I have actually been keeping in contact with my followers via Mirlo’s newsletter —> MirloStudio.news, on Substack. We also opened a server on Discord to invite our news] friends from the web3, yet we have not been very successful there… We will persevere, although there we get comments about how Discord is far from friendly for classical music lovers, and classical music has a lot to do with what we do at Mirlo Music.
Secondly, the minting process is less easily that it looks, since you are compelled to make decisions which are actually challenging: some because you don’t understand week the wording, and some others because you need to accept terms and conditions for the service which affect your right, something I did not expect to find on this new web, which promised to put us in control. The feeling when you read some of the new terms of web3 platforms is that very little has changed from Web 2.0, and this is especially disappointing, especially when to focus on how Intellectual Property is addressed.
Intellectual Property management on NFTs marketplaces is frankly poor for independent authors, and this is the least I can say. Actually, many of them are adopting generally some some kind of licenses proposed by a16z, which are especially harmful for independent artists. All that said, as for now, we decided at Mirlo Music to explore these NFTs marketplaces to get some practice using this technology, as we hope it will mature and it will get easier progressively. On another side, in such marketplaces you can start promoting your work in a new market that is deemed to grow in the future. For that purpose we will choose some files from past works (never our best ones).
But wait, wasn’t this technology going to open the door to make real business on the web with our art works? If just for promotion, the Web 2.0 could work, despite the collateral abuses. If we go to the web3 just for promotion and getting to some new audiences as well as creating new adapted art works, is is just for the benefit of new platforms? Because this time, giving up on our intellectual property, and transferring our rights irrevocably (like it so happens with a16z licenses) while such terms being recorded immutably, looks actually perverse to me.
For this reason, and without further delay< I am going to start exploring the possibilities of minting ly own NFTs from my own website, where I intend to manage in secure form my Intellectual Property rights. It won’t be easy as I will need to find a developer to help me, and I wonder if this might be too difficult for anyone. I personally would love to have a way for licensing that could be fair and easy to use by anyone, and actually available to everyone. This is why We are creating our app, Smartists (to know about our progresses you can sign up to our newsletter.
The web3 for me is still the promise from engineers fond of blockchain tech, this is why I believed in the upcoming Internet of Value. It was the web where our rights could be respected, since they were given back to Internet users. Many apps are working in that direction, creating services which are giving back control to users over their data, thanks to encryption, so we are protected against surveillance and exploitation. From Mirlo Music, we use some of them.
It is true that blockchain and web3 bring the possibility of a true Internet of Value. Yet it can sadly open the door to the Internet of Greed. Because I also observe that some new apps are looking to take the place of the tech giants of the past, or are simply ready to adopt their tactics, or they limit their purpose to making whatever kind of business, forgetting about the greatness of the promises of an actual Internet of Value, of an open and free market, where independent authors can enjoy the same opportunities as brands.
Technology is agnostic, and the success of some apps over some others depends exclusively in their users. Therefore, only if artists and art-users get involved and claim for their rights, will it be possible to build a worthy Internet of Value.
There is an interest in weakening The Humanities. I am standing up to defend them, as well as to defend my Intellectual Property, my rights management, my Freedom of Speech, my Privacy. I will do it with the tools I will find on my way, and I will try to keep building the one that could serve all of us who want to live from our creations.
I am still hopefull and strong, and I wish to count with you by my side,
Georgina Mauriño, autora en Mirlo Music y co-fundadora de Smartists