He's a music executive of over a decade, a four-time consecutive Billboard Digital Power Player, and now the new head of Crypto.com's soon-to-be-launched NFT platform.
It may sound like an unlikely transition going from Chief Strategy Officer at Downtown Music Holdings to the Wild West of blockchain technology, but for Joe Conyers III, there's a discernible through-line: a passion for helping artists share their stories.
With new artists entering the space everyday, the rise in NFT popularity has been nothing short of meteoric. While Conyers acknowledges there's a bit of a "gold rush" right now to tap into the trend, he still sees a long runway for growth for the space. "We have a very interesting art movement happening," Conyers told EDM.com. "I've been telling people to think about this over the next ten years...You can't just show up with your album art and a record on top of it. That's not going to be very interesting to people."
Conyers instead suggests that artists take the time to familiarize themselves with the space before diving in head-first, suggesting that collectors are likely to see through a cynical attempts at a quick buck. "Don't just treat it like a record release," he cautions. "It's not a record release. It's a chance to tell some stories and a chance to do some world-building."
The storytelling point is one Conyers returns to frequently. The music executive has taken a particular interest in NFTs due to his belief that they address a critical gap in today's music landscape. "So much energy right now is spent trying to pitch playlisters. 'I need to get on this playlist, or I need to write a song that fits this playlist,'" he said. "It's driving the culture."
Conyers contrasts the playlist-driven landscape of today with the peak of the music video era. The previous generation of artists who had the means to produce music videos treated them as though they were the most important elements of the release strategy, he explains, because of their ability to frame the song while reaching a wide audience. Conyers says NFTs yield a similar utility, but their accessibility and low barrier to entry will allow more than just the mainstream artists to take advantage of the technology.
"I think this [medium] gives power back to a much broader set of folks and a means to collaborate in such a way that the fans will love because they can participate in it," Conyers continued. "They can participate long-term in the appreciation of having [the NFT] as a collectible, and appreciation in terms of earnings. That incentivizes everyone to be thinking about the same long-term aspect of creating valuable art again."
While NFTs are currently enjoying their time in the limelight, Conyers acknowledges there's still friction for many who are looking to dabble in the digital art form due to the complexities of blockchain technology. "One of the things Crypto.com is incredibly good at is explaining how to use crypto in the simplest way while providing an amazing user experience," he gushed. "One of the things I love about technology over time is that it eventually just turns into magic. It just works."
"We're going to be at that inflection point with NFTs in the next one to two years where people will figure out how to make them much more simply and people are going to be able to buy them in a much simpler way," Conyers continued. "You can just be a fan and start collecting without having to think about making transfers to a wallet, or changing tokens."
Conyers has a clear vision of what NFTs may look like on the other side of that inflection point. "You may not be able to show [NFTs] on your wrist today or put them on your wall, but that is going to rapidly change," he asserted. This notion is buttressed by his vision of a digital future where walking into someone's house with augmented reality glasses will reveal immersive NFT collections on its walls. Conyers also mentions hearing Gary Vaynerchuk predict that in the next handful of years, collectors will be showcasing their NFTs in their Tinder profiles.
Ultimately, Conyers' convictions in the NFT space come from an understanding of the younger generations' comfort level with digital goods. He points out the success of in-game collectibles within Roblox and Fortnite, and remains confident that the same mentality will continue to yield a fruitful market for digital assets. "There are going to be ways to flex with these things that we haven't even thought about yet," he affirms.
Conyers says that evolution is only going to accelerate as the music industry eases back into a normalized post-pandemic state. "There are so many good ideas on the sidelines that we're going to see as the tech evolves," he said. "I think until we're out in real life again when everyone has their vaccines, that's when you're really going to see this huge explosion in how people use these things. You've seen some ticketing ideas, some IP sale ideas, some collectible ideas. These are just the early innings in what will be a perpetually evolving marketplace."