It’s a sunny morning in New York City as Crypto.com NFT’s Executive Vice President and Head of NFTs, Joe Conyers III, shares his insights into the NFT industry, exciting visions about where it’s going, and sage advice for creators looking to take advantage of the opportunities the NFT space can offer.
Joe talks about a careful curation approach to NFTs, daily drops selling out in minutes, and a seamless and user-friendly experience with Crypto.com NFT.
As well as talking ground-breaking partnerships, including in the digital fashion world, Joe enthuses on Crypto.com’s commitment to being carbon negative and why the company is listening to users and creators on the matter.
Find out why Joe calls the current NFT explosion ‘our modern art movement’ and makes comparisons with Michelangelo, the Renaissance, and catapults. Finally, NFTs in the next five years – what is Joe sure and unsure about?
If you’re an NFT creator, collector, buyer, seller, crypto-curious, crypto-centric, or even crypto-doubtful – this is for you.
Joe Conyers III – A track record in the music industry and new role as head of NFTs at Crypto.com NFT
How did it all start?
Joe’s development team began crafting Crypto.com NFT before he joined the platform in March 2021, and since then they have been growing and building it together.
Joe’s background is in the music industry. He enjoyed great successes as Chief Strategy Officer at Downtown Music Holdings, one of the largest independent music tech companies. Within Downtown, Joe co-founded Song Trust, a business which was the largest royalty collection services for songwriters, producers, and rights holders.
‘All in all, Downtown touches probably one out of every 3 or 4 songs on Spotify,’ says Joe. ‘Whether it’s monetization or playlist pitching or some other service for creators.’
Along with dealing in multi-million dollar mergers and acquisitions at Downtown, Joe developed an intimate knowledge of the creator space. Downtown has worked with some of the biggest musicians and songwriters in the world, from John Lennon to Motley Crew. Joe has also helped millions of other artists with Downtown’s acquisitions of CD Baby and FUGA.
So, can Joe use this experience and inside knowledge of the music industry to propel Crypto.com NFT to similar success?
Let’s find out.
What is Crypto.com NFT and how will it stand out from the crowd?
Crypto.com NFT is a platform that allows you to create, display, buy and sell NFTs. Joe is quick to emphasize the careful approach to curation they strive to take.
Crypto.com NFT have launched NFT collections with high-end creators like Snoop Dogg, UFC, F1, among others, and are now open to a wide spectrum of creative and ambitious artists and industries.
‘We’re keeping things rare and small in ways that make sense for the size of the creator’, says Joe. ‘We introduce new creations to collectors, and also bring existing brands into the space.’
Crypto.com’s already built-in massive audience, ‘gives us a big cheat code’, says Joe, ‘to help creators find an audience, to take risks in working with new creators, and to bring beloved brands and folks to market in a way that is simple for their audience to understand.’
Getting a whole new spectrum of users on board with this new technology cannot be easy – so what are Crypto.com NFT doing to get people off the NFT fence?
‘We have a nice clean user experience,’ says Joe. ‘We’re constantly looking to improve that thoughtful product development – thoughtful curation mixed with audience is where we’ve been successful so far.’
The team takes everything very seriously from a compliance perspective, allowing for VISA and Mastercard purchases alongside the Crypto.com wallet, and Wallet Connect which connects to standard wallets such as Rainbow, Keplr, and Metamask.
Daily drops are selling out fast, often within the first few minutes – and the ‘sold out’ tweet soon follows most drops including Mehmet Turgut’s recently released Ozzy Osbourne and Alice Cooper drops.
So, how does this ‘premium’ NFT platform along with a careful curation process give NFT creators an advantage?
According to Joe, Crypto.com NFT, ‘definitely exposes creators to a different fanbase’. The hugely popular and successful Crypto.com cryptocurrency exchange has over 10 million users. For Joe, this means, ‘We have folks who are from all walks of life…it’s more of a broad-based audience.’
Joe uses the word ‘crypto-curious’ to describe many of Crypto.com NFT’s users. This gives them a global perspective on NFTs along with an advantage in finding different fandoms – something which any creator looking for new audiences should take note of.
‘We are trying to mainstream crypto,’ says Joe. They are trying to get new people interested in NFTs, people who Joe says, ‘have heard about it in the news and they’re already using Crypto.com’.
So, how can creators take advantage of this broad-based audience?
Creators, Communities and Story-Telling
What are Crypto.com NFT looking for in creators and how can those creators use the platform to connect with fans and create new communities?
Joe reflects on what he’s looking for in creators at Crypto.com NFT – ‘Does this work speak to us? Do we believe in creators’ ability to market long-term?’ The creators which are most exciting for Joe are the ones who ‘are developing their own fans in their own communities,‘ he explains. ‘We can accelerate that for them.’
Joe also asks, ‘Is there a story we can tell? ‘Storytelling is critical,’ he explains. The power of story-telling became a running theme throughout our conversation so it’s no surprise that Joe likes ‘telling a story over a couple of drops’. He shows a particular interest for augmented reality games, journeys, and hidden encoded secrets in drops waiting to be unveiled.
Let’s see how it can be done.
Exciting Drops – Showing the Way
Why should people get excited about Crypto.com NFT’s exciting drops and partnerships?
Joe explains, ‘We love to juice the excitement levels,’ around the creator’s work. ‘We will dig into what their inspirations are and help them tell their stories.’ Redeemables, such as jerseys, or fun things to do, raise excitement levels even further.
He enthuses about the Heavy Metal Magazine drop, ‘Beyond Kuiper: The Galactic Star Alliance’, based on the Amazon #1 best-selling hard science fiction novel created by Heavy Metal CEO Matthew Medney and Lockheed space engineer John Connelly.
So, what does ‘juicing the excitement levels,’ as Joe says, look like in terms of fan engagement? Well, all 2120 “Karandu Galaxy: Planet Packs” in Heavy Metal’s “Beyond Kuiper” drop sold out within 12 minutes – with all but one edition of the other five individual collectibles selling out within 30 minutes. Collectibles such as the “Karandu Galaxy Map” and the “Assembly of Planets” NFTs sold out almost instantly, within minutes of their release.
The drops have fun ephemera – collectible memorabilia, and chances to enter special giveaway campaigns – different ways to participate in the creations – it’s no wonder why fans are excited (details in the image below).
‘We just airdropped a bunch of people who managed to snag a pack from the next stage of the story,’ says Joe.
More drops from Heavy Metal are planned, including from George C. Romero, whose terrifying graphic novel ‘The Rise’ is the basis for a collection set to be dropped on the platform in October. The Rise has, according to Joe, ‘really cool content, really cool stories.’ He adds, ‘It’s really exciting to bring that to market around Halloween, so perfect timing.’
Sage Advice for Creators
The platform is now open for any creator to apply to have their work featured on Crypto.com NFT. We’ve seen how celebrity drops can entice new users into the NFT space but what are they looking for when you apply for a chance to be on their platform?
Does Joe have advice for ‘non-celebrity’ creators seeking to feature on the platform? How does he see creators utilizing the platform for connecting with fans and creating new communities?
According to Joe, he’s looking for quality producers with some sort of built-in audience – creators with an eye for marketing.
He explains: ‘We had someone self-curate their own drop the day after they joined. She used our discord channel as an opportunity to show off some of her drops…she sold out within 15 minutes…she’s never sold like this before.’
What about creators who aren’t tech-savvy and might a bit wary of the new technology?
‘Minting with us is a very easy simple experience’, says Joe, ‘It’s really simple to understand how to upload the documents.’
The takeaway? ‘Our collector base is pretty rabid,’ says Joe, ‘as long as you’re representing yourself well while introducing yourself to the new community…I think it’s a good chance to sell.’
Watching Trends and Taking A Careful Approach to Creating NFTs
It may surprise some people but creating NFTs has been around for years. But now, new NFT utilization and technologies are rising exponentially. As you can imagine, many artists are coming to Joe and Crypto.com NFT for their first NFT experience.
‘We’ve done over 100 drops,’ says Joe. ‘We’ve learned a lot about what you should and shouldn’t do…what works now vs what used to work 3 months ago.’ It’s clear from this experience that, at Crypto.com NFT, they are watching trends and advising creators.
Why is this so important for the platform, the creators, the fans? What do artists have to lose by not being careful?
‘Early on in this, people thought it was a fad, they thought it was going away,’ says Joe. ‘They did these huge big cash grabs and it wasn’t interesting.’
‘They’re going to have a hard time getting back into the space when they realize this is forever.’
Climate Sustainability and Digital Fashion
Being carbon neutral isn’t enough for Crypto.com NFT. They are aiming to do more. ‘We’re going carbon negative’, Joe says. He elaborates, ‘We’re not going to just buy carbon offsets and hope for the best…we want to do it right.’
The world is heating up and this is dawning on more and more people, particularly in the crypto/NFT space. Having had feedback from creators and collectors from very early on, Joe and Crypto.com NFT know they need to prioritize the issue. ‘We moved quickly,’ he explains.
The company will be working with effective sustainability providers. The Crypto.com chain already uses the less energy-intensive proof of stake transactions, and they’ve done some climate-focused charity drops. ‘It’s important to our company, our CEO, our culture, our world,’ says Joe. ‘I’m glad we’re doing it.’
And as if that’s not enough, they’re also aiming for environmental sustainability in fast fashion. An oxymoron? No. Just a stellar idea from Crypto.com NFT’s new partner DRESSX. DRESSX is a digital fashion platform where users can ‘try on’ digital fashion items using Augmented Reality and their own photos. ‘There’s a lot of pushback in the fashion community around fast-fashion…people wearing things one or two times for Instagram – then throwing it away,’ says Joe.
DRESSX and Crypto.com NFT see an opportunity to help remedy this problem with their unique digital fashion collections such as their first drop together – the Space X inspired NFT collection.
Fashionistas can hyper-realistically retouch those digital fashion items so it looks like they’re really wearing them in photos and social media posts. ‘You can do these outfits and look cool for your fans,’ says Joe, ‘without having to spend 40 gallons of water on a t-shirt’.
The partnership provides more opportunities for adopting this new technology to ‘wear’ digital clothes. The NFTs are not virtually wearable themselves, instead, they unlock the ability to wear these unique items in Augmented Reality (AR) on the DRESSX iOS App.
One of DRESSX’s co-founders, Daria Shapovalova, says, ‘blockchain provides unique possibilities for identifying, owning, and using digital assets.’ Following the Space X collection, Crypto.com NFT and DRESSX launched a second collection –Unseenberries – featuring unique female avatars.
So, how does Joe see NFTs on Earth’s timeline – past, present, and future?
Let’s find out.
A New Artistic Landscape – A New Art Movement
So what about Joe’s own knowledge and experience in the creative space – for artists and for the future of NFTs.
Joe said in a recent interview that NFTs can address a ‘critical gap’ in today’s music landscape.
What is this critical gap and how can utilizing NFTs address this gap for all of today’s artists and creators?
Having worked with so many artists and songwriters already, Joe sees two things preoccupying the minds of music artists: Firstly, ‘How do I get on the best Spotify playlist?’ And secondly, ‘How do I get into film and television?’
These two things, Joe hints, are hurting artists and the industry long-term. He explains, ‘A lot of energy is just expelled going after this rather than building your cannon, your culture, your creativity around what you’re doing.’
The Florence Connection
So, what opportunities can getting into the NFT space offer artists and creators?
In Joe’s eyes, NFTs ‘provide an amazing opportunity’ to reward creators and create relationships between different fandoms, with artists being able to service their fans, revisit old projects, and ultimately partner with fans to create a more ‘patron-like’ experience.
Joe thinks it can be really difficult for artists to get beyond the idea that they need to beg their fans for more, ask them for more money. ‘It feels like a pledge drive’, he says. On the other hand, ‘with NFTs’, artists can say, “Come with me on this journey…you’re buying my work because I’ve shown you and you like it…I’m not begging you to buy it”.’
According to Joe, this changes the narrative and dynamic between fans and creators. ‘This creates more of a collective around the art,’ he says.
Joe doesn’t hold back when illustrating this point. ‘This is our modern art movement, our Tangier, our beat poetry movement,’ he says. Joe sees NFTs like the old-school Renaissance, and muses, ‘I’m sure when Michelangelo was making trebuchets there were ten other guys making trebuchets, but he had the best ones so he ended up getting all the money…people were partnering with him to do all sorts of stuff,’ (Sistine Chapel, Statue of David, etc – pretty amazing stuff or as Lorenzo de’ Medici might have said at the time, ‘Bellissimo’). Joe, a bit of a Renaissance man himself, sees this happening in the NFT community.
He continues, ‘Creators collaborate with each other, sell each other NFTs…they’re invested in each other’s careers…and that’s super exciting.’
Our modern art movement it may be, and for added excitement, Joe reminds us that this one is, ‘on the internet, it’s very global, and it’s fast!’
The Future of NFTs?
So, what is Joe sure and unsure about in the exploding space of NFTs?
Joe is pragmatic. ‘I’m sure there’s going to be some really, really good times, and some really, really tough times,’ he says.
He’s still figuring out this NFT market as people and projects go from hot and cold, one project to the next. Some areas are hot at the moment – will they still be hot in a couple of months? He’s unsure.
Joe also wonders about how the biggest brand IPs will make NFTs their thing but he does say he’s seeing ‘stalwart brands start to realize what they can really do with this,’ and ultimately drive a whole new piece of commerce.
He is sure that NFTs are here to stay. We spoke about wearing NFTs on our wrists or viewing immersive NFT collections with AR glasses in a friend’s house within the next 5 years. He thinks these things will be a reality much sooner.
‘We’re going to have a ‘Star Wars’ or a ‘Hobbit’ come out of the NFT world,’ says Joe Conyers III, ‘It’s going to change the way people think about everything’.
‘This is going to be the next supercycle of creativity.’
Big thanks to Joe Conyers III for speaking with us and sharing his advice, thoughts, and insights. You can watch the full interview here.