Music-Focused NFT Marketplace Raises $4M From Cuban, Kutcher, Dapper CEO

Music-Focused NFT Marketplace Raises $4M From Cuban, Kutcher, Dapper CEO

NBA Top Shot is getting a neighbor on Flow.

Announced Monday, NFT Genius will be using its $4 million seed round to build a verticalized non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace on Dapper Labs’ Flow blockchain. The round was backed by Dapper Labs CEO Roham Gharegozlou, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, actor Ashton Kutcher and bitcoin advocate Anthony Pompliano.

While NFT Genius currently has eyes on music-driven experiences, the startup expects to bring NFTs into sports, gaming and even comedy, a press release said. The team is betting that NFTs will sustain their popularity in spite of the white-hot market’s recent cooldown.

NFTs have already begun gaining popularity in the music industry. In March of this year, Post Malone released his second NFT collaboration with concert streaming service Aux Live. Music-related NFTs reportedly topped over $25 million in sales in February alone.

“What NFT Genius is doing, that others are not, is creating a verticalized destination for interactive experiences and meaningful virtual connections,” Cuban said in a statement.

Digital ‘fanfic’

Cuban compared the appeal of NFTs to “the phenomenon of fanfiction,” where superfans craft their own works related to their favorite books or movies. It’s an internet-era twist on the relationship between creator and consumer.

That relationship is at the core of the company’s vision, said NFT Genius CEO and co-founder Jeremy Born. He cited the music industry as an example of a space that can be revolutionized with the storytelling capabilities of NFTs.

“The [music] industry has been transformed into something about streaming. It’s all about how many plays, how many eyes, how many downloads you have,” Born told CoinDesk in an interview. “Artists are forced into this specific cookie cutter mold to succeed. Back in the older days, music was all about collectibility. I think that NFTs bring back that collectibility aspect to the industry, and allow artists to more creatively connect with their audience.”

The NFT Genius marketplace is still under production, but the company did release a Bitcoin-themed NFT collection in the fall of 2020. The collection allowed users to experience the story of Bitcoin’s creation through a cross-platform treasure hunt for a prize of 1 BTC.

While few have an idea of what exactly the future of the NFT industry will look like, NFT Genius is betting on immersive experiences.

“The experiential side of things, and how deep you can dive into [NFTs], and connect with the fan, that’s for us the key. The people who win will connect with the fanbase in ways others can’t,” said Born.