As part of our annual Indie Now package, we asked notable figures in the independent scene to offer advice on how to succeed in the industry. Below, electronic producer/digital artist Pat Lok talks to Billboard’s Katie Bain.
I was lucky enough to write an NFT clause into an indie single deal of mine back in February 2021, via the Australian label Club Sweat [a subsidiary of Sydney-based record label Sweat It Out]. Verbatim, the contract said, “Licensers shall retain exclusive rights to create and exploit NFTs in connection with license masters.” I actually did exploit that for my Alaska drop, a collaboration with Party Pupils, on [NFT marketplace] Catalog in October 2021.
[These clauses] allow you to be versatile in a way that’s reminiscent of the SoundCloud and Hype Machine era, where the energy was, “Who knows what we’re going to do today?” You can talk to your audience and get them excited about something you’re dropping tomorrow. That’s something labels traditionally shy away from. Often, it’s hard to get even a same-day response from a label because they’re so busy.
The thing to keep in mind is that a lot of NFT collectors are already following artists they like or have found [out about] through the Web3 space, so the marketing of NFTs is really driven by artists doing the legwork. My perspective is to consider the value-add [of a label]. There are a few different scenarios of how they may be involved with an NFT project, but a lot of labels are not even really thinking about it yet because even the majority of artists don’t yet know how to do this. It’s cool if you’re able to say, “We agreed upon 10% for the gross of my share.” That seems super fair, as it’s similar to an agent contract. Meanwhile, the manager/artist split on this stuff is also all over the board, and that should be as important [as a conversation with a label] because the manager is going to be talking to the label side.
These clauses are niche, but very important, and I think the standard is being built deal by deal right now. It’s important we have conversations about NFT clauses so that artists, especially new artists, don’t just give up their NFT projects before knowing what they’re worth. It’s just like with your masters.