Multidisciplinary artist Dave Curry (aka Black Dave) has risen through the ranks of the NFT music ecosystem during the past year. Even by NFT standards, he's a one-of-a-kind artist who has funneled his sense of humor, love of anime, and musical skill into a fascinating blend of art that is well-known around the crypto world.
Dave, who initially tried his hand at NFTs around the end of 2020, has come a long way since his early days of minting anime characters. But, despite his extensive branching, he has not abandoned his origins. His current NFTs retain the humorous and passionate essence of his personality.
Black Dave's narrative may be related to every 20-something NFT enthusiast. In the aftermath of a global epidemic, Dave doubled down on his love, devoting a substantial portion of his time and energy to music. “In 2020, I was making a beat every day, and I was putting it out for sale every day. So they’re 400 or so beats for sale on the internet right now,” Dave mentioned in an interview. “I was writing a three-song EP every month. I would produce, it recorded, mix it, master it, and make the cover art,” he continued.
He first learned about NFTs in 2020, due to an old acquaintance who had been flipping paintings on Nifty Gateway and making good money. Dave realized flipping wasn't going to work for him, but following this introduction, he became interested in minting his own NFTs.
“I was really trying to be a rapper. Really trying to be a producer,” Dave says about his early beginnings in NFTs. “I just kept making music. Then, in December of 2020, I got into NFTs for real and minted my first NFT.”
According to Dave, his first NFT was a nod to the sort of visual art he had previously created. His first NFT, in particular, was an unused piece of cover art that had never been distributed.
Notably, Dave's visual art style frequently significantly relies on altering and combining anime and manga imagery created by others. As a result, his first few endeavors did not go over well with everyone.
“Artists in the space, especially artists that were doing anime style, said, ‘you’re just taking other people’s art and making it your own,'” Dave stated. “But that was literally was the point. So much of my aesthetic is taking things that exist and reformatting them. That’s just rap music too. You know? Production of rap music is sampling. Even streetwear culture can be just flipping logos.”
Nonetheless, Dave opted to depart from his first projects and focus on 2D and 3D art. Of course, there's music.
Music On The Blockchain
Nowadays, Black Dave is well renowned for his contributions to the NFT music scene. His NFT music adventure began with his edition piece Black Dave, Black Comet. Soon after, he acquired control of NFT music innovation.
Black Dave released a "Verse Token" as part of his BlackDave.io 002 collection in July 2021, among several 3D landscapes and his final few Manga Tears works. The mechanics of this single token were actually the collection's focal point. The "Black Dave Verse Token," as it was called, allowed its owner to redeem a verse from Black Dave at any time. While organizations like Arpeggi Labs had previously proposed blockchain music collaborations, Dave's drop may have been the first collaborative rap NFT ever made.
The Verse Token is available for auction now. It has been kicked off with a bid of .25 ETH and you can jump in now to claim it for yourself or someone you represent or to sell or whatever https://t.co/ateYs7We7Q— 𝚋𝚕𝚊𝚌𝚔𝚍𝚊𝚟𝚎 (@BlackDave) August 2, 2021
Dave highlighted the drop's fundamental physics, adding that it allowed people to combine both broad themes and music. “The unlockable content for the NFT is a link to a Google Form. In the Google Form, you can type in what you want me to rap about. You can upload a beat in the Google Form that uploads to Google Drive for me to rap to, and then I send it back,” he said.
Dave's greatest sale at the time was the "Black Dave Verse Token," which sold at auction for 0.33 ETH ($1,089). According to Dave, the winning bidder was aware of the token's potential before bidding and was shocked to obtain it for such a low price.
“The person who collected it was like, ‘I bid on it, but I wasn’t expecting to win it because I thought it was going to be the biggest thing in music NFTs,'” Dave mentioned in an interview. “Which is the story of my life, right? Everyone’s like, ‘What a genius idea — this should have sold for way more!’ That’s like the epitome of my whole existence in web3.”
From then, Black Dave went on to release two additional tracks, "Appreciate It" and "Kaioken 10," as part of the BlackDave.io 002 collection before getting allowed to mint his music on the top music NFT platform, Catalog.
Black Dave: Curated
In the winter of 2022, Black Dave was chosen for a Catalog release, launching him on the path to his present status in the music NFT sector. His record "Sharp" was created on November 8, 2021, and it eventually fetched 3 ETH (about $10,200) at auction on January 6.
"Sharp" was sold through PartyBid, a service that allows a group of collectors to get together and contribute gradually to collectively bidding on an item. When an auction is won on PartyBid, every contributing member of that party receives a token representing fractional ownership of the NFT that was acquired.
This feature is rarely used, leaving collectors with the option of holding the token and selling it later. But Dave, being Dave, decided to add some extra value to his NFTs' associated $SHARP token. How? By allowing token holders to influence what occurs with the "Sharp" NFT.
“What I did was I tied the $SHARP token to governance. Right now, there’s a vote happening around whether or not I should put ‘Sharp’ on streaming. The people who participated in the PartyBid are the only ones who can vote,” Dave said “I’m putting my spin on fan ownership by allowing them to actually vote on decisions surrounding my music. In the future, they’ll vote on [things] like: should the song have a music video, how much money should I spend on that music video, how much money should I spend on marketing?”
Dave then moved on to Sound, a service that mixes streaming with minting and community listening. Dave continues his good streak on Sound, releasing "Triple Beam" on February 2 and earning 2.5 ETH ($6,440).
For my @soundxyz_ drop, I put out so many videos of my process of making the song — but we all know that no Black Dave release is complete without the music over anime clips.— 𝚋𝚕𝚊𝚌𝚔𝚍𝚊𝚟𝚎 (@BlackDave) February 6, 2022
Here’s the last verse of “Triple Beam” available now on the secondary market at: https://t.co/mATEJYeVhq pic.twitter.com/oUpt6xnlcx
Next Up: Black Dave
What's next for Dave? To begin with, more music.
Now, barely three months into 2022, Dave is planning his third release of the year, this time through the curated NFT music site MintSongs. With this release, Dave will deliver one of his most distinctive projects to date — an EP titled WOLF, which he claims will be predominantly rock-focused — in an effort to determine whether or not the genre has promise in the NFT area.
“I think testing rock music is going to be really fun. I’ve never written a straight-up rock EP, even though I’ve been in bands,” Dave said “Normally, it’s me and another person. This is me doing all the music myself, recording everything myself. I just want to see if there’s a home for rock music in the same way that there is rap music.”
Once the WOLF drop is complete, Dave will be attending SXSW as part of ZORATOPIA, an event hosted by community NFT platform and marketplace Zora. The event will include four activations, two of which will include Dave speaking and performing for the first time at SXSW.
Dave said he'll be back to focus on his own projects after WOLF and SXSW. While he continues to navigate the vast web of curated music NFT platforms, he has returned to find out how to innovate with his own solo endeavors. Dave intends to build a layer of NFTs for his most ardent fans in the near future. He aspires to merge the digital and real worlds to provide his collectors with a more immersive experience.
After all, Dave isn't entirely reliant on the blockchain. He'd been composing music for a long time before he started minting it. And, in some respects, his objectives were the same then as they are now. NFTs are a terrific way to generate online money and build community, but Dave still wants to be a musician on a bigger platform.
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