In 2017, the price of the decentralized digital currency Bitcoin rose over 1,100 percent, peaking above $19,000 and spurring the total market capitalization of such cryptocurrencies to a peak of more than $830 billion, according to CoinMarketCap.
One group driving the boom: dance-music artists, who have piled into blockchain-based coins such as Ether, Ripple and Litecoin. Los Angeles DJ-producer Mija (real name Amber Giles) says that “almost everybody” she knows in the DJ world is either investing in cryptocurrency or doing their research.
Last July, RAC’s latest album, EGO, became the first full-length release to be distributed on the Ethereum blockchain. In November, Gramatik raised $2.3 million to launch his own GRMTK token, in partnership with New York blockchain studio SingularityDTV. And U.K. trance artist Gareth Emery recently announced his blockchain-based project, Choon, which aims to disrupt music publishing by compensating artists directly and immediately when their songs are streamed.
“Think about our demographic: It’s a bunch of fucking nerds that work on their computers all day anyway,” says Mija. “I feel like we’re slightly more in touch with all the modern technology.”
Giles was originally drawn to Bitcoin due to its advantages over centralized banking and has gotten into Ethereum’s decentralized applications, like music blockchain startup Ujo, which she describes as “the future.”
Justin Blau, who performs as 3LAU, says he first learned about Bitcoin in 2014 while hanging with Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, founders of a popular exchange called Gemini.
Blau, who worked in finance prior to music, is a member of a Twitter group that comprises 50 fellow crypto-enthusiast DJs, including Pendulum’s Rob Swire, GTA and Henry Fong. He says that other dance artists contact him daily about crypto, and he’s “not surprised” to see so many getting involved in the space.
“Dance-music artists in general have always been fascinated by technology,” says Blau, who tweeted on his 27th birthday that he would match $5,000 worth of Ether donations to support nonprofit Fuck Cancer. After he noticed his fans asking questions and making rookie mistakes, he even wrote a beginner’s guide to investing.
“I always say, ‘Be careful — it’s not always as easy as just making tons of money really quickly,'” says Blau, whose portfolio includes mostly Ether and “altcoins” like TRX, ICX and VEN. “It takes experience and discipline, and those are the skills that are more important than luck in the crypto game.”