Justin Blau, also known by his stage name 3Lau, has entered the world of blockchain and envisions to revolutionize music festivals by decentralizing them. He put his thought process and excessive work in launching his own decentralized ethereum blockchain-based event network OMF (Our Music Festival). He explained his vision in an interview:
There’s a little bit of a disconnect between existing industries and blockchain startups and my goal is to be that bridge. To show the tech people and engineers what people like me need, to bring the music business a little more across the fence into the space. So that’s my personal goal — to be the bridge.
The DJ’s background in finance
Blau dropped out of Washington University in St. Louis to convert his music hobby into a profession, a decision which was encouraged by one of his finance professors. When he was in his junior year, he received a call from BlackRock, the recruiter offered him an internship which would have fast tracked him into Wall Street. Although he was a finance major and a son of a hedge fund manager, who was waiting for this opportunity for long, he turned down the offer to pursue his career in music. He told the recruiter, “I’m not going to be able to work with you this summer, I’m kind of making dance music.” The risk involved with entering the music business compared with being settled in the Wall Street was enormous, but it certainly paid off, as the DJ who used to play for collage parties went on to playing for enormous crowds in music festivals. He also told Forbes that he used the knowledge that he learned previously in university to support his career in music. He said,
I think there’s a really big misconception of what DJs actually do. They’re business owners.
Introduction to blockchain
The doors of blockchain world opened up for Blau when he got a chance to meet the crypto giants Winklevoss brothers back in 2014 at a music festival. The Winklevoss brothers invited the DJ to their penthouse. There, they had a conversation about cryptocurrency and blockchain, and according to Blau, that conversation opened his eyes to crypto and got him hooked to the technology, he said in the interview:
I very quickly saw all the ways in which blockchain [technology] could disrupt the music business and all aspects of the music business — from digital music to live music to manager and artist relationships — disintermediating the entire business as a whole. And I just found myself thinking about it all the time.
After meeting the Winklevoss brothers and talking to them about cryptocurrency, Blau started to imagine how he could link himself with blockchain to transform the music business and music festivals. He was quite impressed with the economic model that blockchain and cryptocurrencies provided:
After I performed my first ether transfer — I paid a Dutch company at 1:00 a.m. on a Saturday night in ETH for some animation work — I was like, ‘Holy crap, this is insane! Instant transfer of value. And that’s when I really started to dive in and learn as much as I possibly could and ask myself, ‘How could I be a part of it?
After the incident, Blau began to dive deeper into the business and did a lot of research about the technology, attending blockchain conferences, reading crypto-related literature and meeting with the leading innovators and professionals from the field, including the Winkelvoss brothers of course.
Making an entry with his startup
With the help of the powerful names of the industry, Blau muscled his way into the blockchain technology and introduced music festivals to the game. The first iteration of his perceived music festival is set to take place at UC Berkley on 20th of October this year. The music festival would contain big names like DJ Zedd, Big Sean, Matt and Kim, and Charlotte Lawrence, a lineup who would certainly boost his idea of revolutionizing music festivals.
Blau thinks that the first music festival would educate the fans about the blockchain technology, and they would be able to pay for the tickets in fiat as well as cryptocurrency. As a gesture, they will also issue Ethereum paper wallets to the attendees.
In the future, the DJ envisions to take his plans up a notch by introducing OMF tokens. These tokens would be used to pay for tickets, as well as getting discounts and promotions within the festival ground. Blau also plans to use these tokens for the fans to meet their favorite artists by giving them access to backstage and VIP passes.
The startup’s white paper provides the simple yet exciting model of their operation:
In the beginning, according to the plan, there’d be a reward system by which fans would be able to win OMF tokens by inviting their friends to the festival. Once the festival and the blockchain experiment becomes successful, Blau plans to give the fans a choice in deciding the lineup for the coming festivals and also a share of the overall revenue that the festival would be able to collect, but to reach that stage, Blau’s startup would have to face a lot to technical challenges and complexities, he stated:
We have to adapt as we go and that’s the biggest challenge for any company in an evolving space. Network scalability and regulatory environment are our biggest challenges
As Blau is new to the crypto business he is both positive and wary about the turnout of the fans and the success of the event, he said, “If the network fails for whatever reason and someone can’t get into the festival, it’s a huge loss for the technology as a whole.”
The DJ has made short term achievable plans to ensure practicality and success of the startup, his basic focus at the moment is the experience of the fans which would be the make or break point for the startup’s success. He explained his plan in the interview:
Year one is really kinda a launch event. Year two, start building out some of the tech. Year three to year five, our primary goals are giving fans ownership and enabling fans to vote for the lineups for these events. And in the long-term, even let them create their own small events.
All in all, the wave of startups that are being launched on blockchain are a positive sign for the industrial domains that they are being launched in. The technology and services provided by blockchain can be leveraged to bring about a decentralization revolution that offers security and has more to offer to the users rather than the usual one sided revenue collection finance models.