I was introduced to Justin Blau through a mutual friend who told me about his vision of making music events a better experience for the fans by tokenizing them. My first response was to roll my eyes and say, “Here we go,” and wrote him off as just another dude trying to cash in on Crypto mania. I did some research on Justin and realized that he is a renowned DJ and producer who has worked with many A list musicians and currently tours around the world. My curiosity got the best of me and we scheduled a phone call to discuss his plans.
Before we talked I jotted down all kinds of questions, and my goal was to test him and try and shoot holes in plans. I am very skeptical of token schemes and I promised myself to be hard on him. Justin and I finally got on a call and we talked for over an hour. I pressed him on many points as he walked me through the who, what, where and how his events would work. Justin never balked, and his sincerity for wanting to make music festivals more fan friendly is what hit home with me.
I told him I was interested in doing an interview, but this would not be a fluffy PR piece. I explained to him that many would be critical of his plans, and this interview would be a great opportunity to respond to people questioning his motives. Justin and I stayed in contact via text over the last few months while he was jet setting around the world on tour, and we managed to put this interview together. During this process my respect for him grew, and I can assure you is he is a very grounded and humble guy for being so acclaimed.
In the meantime, Justin and his team have been hard at work planning to launch the premier Our Music Festival (OMF) event in San Francisco on October 20th. The headliners are no joke with Zedd, Big Sean, Matt and Kim and of course 3LAU a.k.a. Justin, along with a lineup of other solid musicians. As a matter of fact, when I was writing this intro the OMF Crypto presale sold out in under an hour. Unlike many tokens out there with no utility, the OMF tokens will be redeemed for concert entry. Justin and his crew have big plans to continue to evolve this project, and whether you agree or disagree with the business model it will be interesting to see how this evolves.Justin 3LAU
3LAU, previously Chronocornica
RJ: (Real Job)
Musician / producer DJ
Years in the $BTC game:
3 inactive years, 1 active year
How might people know you?
Most likely for my music :)
How can people follow you?
3LAU on most social platforms
What is your background, education or formal training?
Before going into music I studied finance at Washington University in St. Louis, Olin. I left school after my junior year to pursue music full time, with blessing from my professors, friends & parents.
When did you become interested in Bitcoin and Crypto?
The Winklevoss twins are friends of mine, and were building Gemini at the time I was first interested in the space.
What is the single best experience you have had in this space?
Meeting such incredible, intelligent, and forward thinking people.
Tell us your biggest Bitcoin or Crypto fail.
When BCH was added to Gdax, and I converted most of my on-exchange binance holdings to BCH to arb the spread between Binance & Gdax… and then Gdax locked the market, and my withdrawal limit was too low to do anything about it… Terrible day(s).
Where do you personally get your Bitcoin or Crypto news?
All over the place, but lately Medium posts from my favorite authors, as well as aggregator apps!
Best tips you can give anyone new to the Bitcoin world?
Trust no one and DYOR on anything and everything before making brash decisions about investments!
Where did you grow up?
Originally New York, but since I was 13 years old, my current home of Las Vegas.
What kind of kid were you?
I loved video games, legos, and weird music. I definitely didn’t have many friends.
What advice would you give your younger self?
To embrace my personal oddities and to listen to my parents (both are true heros).Justin got his start DJing small college parties.
You are an accomplished DJ and producer, tell us how you got into this?
It all kind of happened by accident! I always loved making music, but was inspired to make mashups in college, to access a more mainstream audience. I was previously making more experimental electronic music. A couple of these mashups took off on music blogs, and before I knew it, I was getting requests to play college campuses all over the US.
Who are some of the people you have worked with that we might know?
Everyone from Ariana Grande to Katy Perry; before they were some of the biggest in the game, The Chainsmokers actually opened for me on tour :)
What is it like touring the world as a DJ?
It’s not as glamorous as anyone would expect. Making music, and playing shows are two huge passions of mine.
What is the biggest show you have ever played?
EDC Vegas in 2016, probably the biggest crowd I’ve ever played for. It was also a long term dream of mine.
Where can people find your music?
The best place would be searching for my spotify profile, just @3LAU — be sure to checkout my latest album called Ultraviolet.
In the last year you have launched Our Music Festival (OMF). Explain what it is and what you would like to accomplish?
Our goal with OMF is to give fans more power over their festival experiences, rewarding them for their involvement and encouraging them to give back to the ecosystem by telling friends and providing feedback
Where is OMF based out of?
In year one, OMF will take place at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, CA. We hope to expand all around the world in the next three years with targets in Barcelona, Seoul & Tokyo!
Who else is involved in OMF and why do you think it will be successful?
I’m lucky to have such an incredible team of music industry leaders, successful entrepreneurs, and tech experts. From my co-founder Adam, to some of our incredible advisors like the founders of Origin Protocol, I think we’re poised to make serious waves in both the music industry and the blockchain space.
Many people will scratch their heads when they hear about this and ask why do music events need to be on a blockchain?
There are thre primary applications we’re exploring. First is ticketing; collapsing primary & secondary markets with a more transparent means of access transfer / price discover. The entire concept of a “ticket” will shift towards digital assets that enable access, we want to be a part of that journey. Second, fan engagement & loyalty are both increasingly difficult for experience creators to secure. By incentivizing fans to engage more deeply with festival ecosystems, OMF will disintermediate the festival business and cut middlemen that are profiting from arbitrary fees and useless marketing campaigns that fail to engage end-users. Ideally that combats ticket inflation and decentralizes promotional efforts for events. Finally, OMF aims to compensate fans fairly for contributing data, and opting in to share personal information. Most other participants in festival ecosystems have no access to that data, including artists like myself that ultimately drive traffic to live music experiences in the first place. We ultimately want to build a protocol for all events to tokenize, and engage fans at a deeper level. Our branded events will function as pilots for the tech we build, as we build it! In the long term, our vision is to have the fans vote for the artists on the lineup; we cannot wait till we get there!
Do you feel the blockchain is an overused buzzword?
Yes, and no. It’s definitely the go-to term to describe this giant revolution that humanity is still learning about, but it’s difficult to succinctly characterize this new industry with any other term. It’s a crutch, but necessary in conversation :)
What kind of funding have you raised privately to build the back end infrastructure to launch OMF?
We started with 1m, and we’re over 2x committed for our strategic round of 3m. This current round is reserved for long term partners who we believe can build the OMF story & provide both labor and capital resources to ensure the success of the project. The next round will be a 12m soft cap 15m hard cap round. In ICO terms, these are small numbers, but it’s more important to our team to protect investors & fairly value the nature of what we’re building. In the long term, we believe that’s key to our success.Just 3LAU tours the world entertaining and his home is entertaining sold out venues.
Many people might call OMF token a marketing ploy. What’s your response to that?
I would just tell someone to check out our all-star team, read our materials, and ask questions. Everyone on the OMF team is happy to answer.
How will you differentiate OMF from the long list of scammers trying to make a quick buck off developing a shit coin or token?
Our goal is to be as transparent as possible. We aren’t raising money from the public until we know that we’re building completely functional tech. Our #1 priority is the fan experience.
You are building OMF token on Ethereum. Why have you chosen Ethereum versus Bitcoin or using other options?
We are exploring every option currently. We are primarily using ETH as a means of raising funds, since it has become the industry standard for ICOs, and it’s familiar to investors!
Take us through how OMF token will be used by fans at your events?
It’s easiest to think of OMF utility tokens like SkyMiles, but that are limited in quantity and have multifaceted functionality. Fans will be able to earn tokens by participating in the festival ecosystem as explained in the previous Fan Incentive Mechanisms section of this paper. The more tokens a fan earns, the higher status they earn within the network, representing their contribution to the network’s success. Simultaneously, tokens earned will be redeemable for tickets, merch, food & beverage at heavily discounted rates; they will also be redeemable for exclusive experiences like artist meet & greets, backstage tours, VIP upgrades, and other elements of festivals that are currently inaccessible to members of the music festival community.
How will music fans purchase OMF tokens
The public will not be able to purchase OMF tokens directly until more clarity from the SEC is given on utility token frameworks. We are exploring compliant airdrops to enable fans to start earning OMF as quickly as possible, without necessarily purchasing it directly.
Will the OMF token be listed on exchanges? If so, which ones?
Unfortunately cannot give more detail here due to regulation, it’s a very unfortunate circumstance.
What type of regulatory challenges is OMF up against?
Many. That’s why I focused the first six months of this project on compliance measures and corporate structure. I look forward to sharing a lot of my documents with the public down the road!
When and where will the first OMF event take place?
The first OMF will occur in the bay area on October 20th! Zedd is our first artist on the lineup, but of course I’ll be playing too. We can’t wait to announce the rest of the artists soon, and we’ll be selling tickets ASAP.
Describe what fans can expect?
In year one, we’re enabling crypto-payments for tickets, and everyone who joins the festival will receive an ETH paper wallet, which we can airdrop to in the future. As our app is developed, fans will be able to import that wallet & we’ll be adding features over time.
What artists have signed on to perform?
We’ll be announcing our list of artist ambassadors very soon!
Will all attendees be forced to use OMF token to buy tickets?
Definitely not, our goal is to create a hybridized system that gives all consumers access, that’s the key to fueling mainstream adoption of crypto, on a macro-level.
What if they don’t want to?
They’ll be able to use fiat, ETH, BTC + more.
Will fans be able to buy merchandise and music with OMF token?
In year one, we might face network issues, but in year two we hope to enable OMF purchases for all kinds of products and services in the festival ecosystem.
Are you afraid this concept might be over the heads of the masses?
Ideally we can build a beautiful UI & create simple, educational content to bring the masses to our platform. Thankfully, our founders and advisors have some serious reach.
What other technical hurdles do you foresee?
There are obvious network / scaling issues for blockchain ticketing. We also have to make sure that festival internet can handle the load.
How will fans hold their OMF tokens and what incentive will there be for doing so?
There will be multiple staking incentives to access VIP upgrades, early access to tickets, meet & greets + more. The exact incentive structure is still in development.
What type of response have you received from the music industry?
So far the response has been incredible, the six agent advisors to our project make up some of the most powerful leaders in the live music business. We’re excited to keep expanding our music team as well!
What is your end goal with OMF?
The end goal is to give fans more control over the experiences they love and look forward to on a daily basis. Disintermediating the music industry as a whole is essential for it to grow, but it’s great to start with the festival business, which attracts so many people, with different tastes, across the globe!The tools of the trade for a boss DJ
What is your relationship with the Winklevoss twins?
I credit the twins with the reason why I entered the space in the first place. I met them while they were building Gemini, and became intrigued with the potential of cryptocurrencies immediately. I didn’t take the deeper dive until mid-2017 when markets sparked unprecedented upward momentum.
Are they down to help and support you?
The twins were helpful in pointing me in the correct legal direction for the project. They cautioned moving too quickly without having the proper legal team in place. I’m thankful they encouraged me to double check all of my work.
What is your prediction for Bitcoin in 5–10–20 years?
I truly believe that we’ll see substantial price appreciation once institutions begin to explore the space. Until then, we’re at the whim of uncertain regulation and constant scamming. I hope the world remains open to the potential that bitcoin holds.
Anyone you want to throw a shout out to?
Shout out to you PB! Thanks for taking the time to interview me, and educate the masses on the potentials of DLT!
Where can people learn more about upcoming OMF events and tokens?
You can check it all out at omf.io and stay in touch on our telegram channel :) https://t.me/ourmusicfest
Any last words?
Huge thanks to PB for conducting this interview. So glad to meet other passionate people in the space!
The First Crypto Powered Music Festival: Interview with Co-Founder Justin Blau was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.