A few days ago, Punjabi singer and actor Sunanda Sharma’s song, ‘9-9 Mashukan’ released along with the drop of 2,370 NFTs on FanTiger. The singer, who terms NFTs as a ‘revolutionary technology’, is giving away a 0.008% royalty for Silver NFT collectors (₹799); 0.04% royalty share for Gold NFT collectors (₹3,999); and 0.4% share to Platinum NFT holders (₹ 39,999). Other perks include access to listening parties and concerts, future material and a video call with the artist.
The platform onboarded to facilitate Sharma’s NFT was conceived early this year and established shortly after in April. Founded by Prashan Agarwal – former CEO of homegrown music streaming DSP Gaana – FanTiger wants to be the music NFT platform that brings Web2 audiences into the Web3 fold. The company wants to provide artists with the means to all three layers of music making: that is funding, marketing and distribution; by leaning on their fanbases in Web3. “We are essentially a platform which is enabling wholesale crowdfunding using NFTs,” says Agarwal.
A core offering, also mentioned on FanTiger’s website, is the incentivisation of marketing taken up NFT holders, which essentially places this task in the hands of consumers and collectors. The concept stems from the idea of a diehard fan who will do more for their favourite musician as opposed to the channel-switching, trend-hopping wider ‘audience’. Agarwal explains, “While audiences are basically looking at what’s trending and effectively switching songs by the day, the fan is the only one who’s kind of looking up to an artist and is kind of a constant listener to the ups and downs.”
In FanTiger’s vision, through their NFTs, artists build a community that gives back to them. Through their early access program, they’ve already brought in about 190,000 users. Agarwal says musicians can seek feedback on their work as well as crowdfund for projects through this community. FanTiger shows contributors the incentive behind pushing a song or release by an artist, especially when there’s an additional carrot of royalty shares. “If you enable the listeners to become vocal marketeers of the song, then they will not just play the song to themselves, but they’ll actually talk about the music and artist in a more passionate way to their friends and family,” says Agarwal. To set the ball rolling and offer the initial boost, FanTiger will enlist influencers via a fan connect programme to promote songs over a longer period rather than just point-in-time marketing.
With $5.5 million raised in a seed round in June, courtesy of the likes of Multicoin Capital, Polygon Studio and Krafton, among others, it’s been strong tidings for FanTiger so far. But it’s one thing to have the support of Web3, blockchain and technology players, and another thing to have artists convinced. Agarwal’s five year-stint helming Gaana and spearheading initiatives such as Gaana Originals means that he could reach out to all the artists he’d built relationships with over time in the music industry. “We’re not changing anything for [artists],” he clarifies. “Streaming and distribution remains the same. Nothing changes in terms of the entire ecosystem that exists today, except for the fact that they now have a community of fans who are enabling a larger kind of canvas for them to create on,” he says.
During our conversation, oddly enough, Agarwal doesn’t bring in even a mention of NFTs until prompted. It’s likely how he’s explained it to artists as well, perhaps shedding all the confusing connotations and processes associated with the term. He says, “NFTs are a means of achieving a certain outcome. We are building NFTs which have a cash flow.”
While funding and distribution have never been unconquerable for artists, it’s the marketing and strong connection to fans that Agarwal zeroes in on as the issues. On FanTiger, the community can choose to back certain artists and then the fan journey starts from there. In addition to buying artist NFTs, the platform has its own ‘company NFTs’ which Agarwal promises more incentives. “That’s either early access to the song launches that we do, merchandise and discounts. We might plan some events, too. The idea is to take the world by storm and launch about 50-60 songs in the next six months,” he says.
For that volume of NFT drops, FanTiger wants to take on the responsibility of introducing the advantages of Web3 to Web2 users. Their community of over 180,000 includes ‘crypto natives’ as well as music fans dipping their toes into becoming collectors. The onboarding is simpler; FanTiger doesn’t insist on wallets, although they will have their custodial wallet in place. “As we launch the marketplace for secondary trading on our own platform for people who are savvy, they can do their own wallet, but for most of the people, we will use a custodial Wallet. All they basically need is a login, password and OTP [to transact].”
They’re also building their own ‘community product’ so that no one’s necessarily having to install and understand platforms like Discord. Agarwal says with artists finding this community of fans, FanTiger could also be used to facilitate touring for independent artists and “going deep into the country” for multi-city concerts.