PlayTreks conducts proof-of-concept in NFT space for indie music

Photo credit: Playtreks

Who says superstars can have all the music NFT fun? While stunning NFT headlines abound, PlayTreks has been quietly building its blockchain solution for indie and DIY artists. Now, the pre-Series A company is hitting critical early thresholds on its NFT marketplace, The Playgrounds.

Last year we first profiled PlayTreks, a Belgium and UAE-based company involved in music distribution, data analytics, airplay monitoring, and a blockchain-based marketplace. Since then, the pre-Series A company has been quietly luring indie artists to its music NFT marketplace to drive increased revenue and stronger fan relationships.

PlayTreks launched The Playgrounds with a pretty simple goal: enable creators to monetize their content by minting it into Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). A few months later, the early stages of this mission are beginning to take shape.

The Playgrounds now triggers a spike in daily logins. According to statistics from Playtreks founder and CEO Anjo de Heus, the burgeoning artist platform now has more than 6,000 indie musician members. Given the early phase of music NFTs, this is enough to signal a proof-of-concept while also building a base of core users.

The company says it is preparing to reach 20,000 users by the end of the year, most of whom will take advantage of the platform’s music NFT capabilities. Earlier this year, Playtreks partnered with DMN to further accelerate this ramp-up.

Playtreks is already attracting some interesting indie names.

These include composer and musical performer Chris Payne, who played with Gary Numan and co-wrote Visage’s early ’80s synth-pop hit “Fade to Grey.” Chris Willis, a longtime collaborator of David Guetta, is also on PlayTreks, as is Zaine Griff, whose collaboration credits include David Bowie and Hans Zimmer.

Playtreks also counts the participation of EDM producer Bolier, Nigerian Afrobeat musician Sam Derry and visual artist Mohamed Essawy.

“Essawy rocks with his art, sells a lot as NFTs and is a great ambassador. He also happens to be a music producer,” de Heus shared.

As for the music NFT scene, PlayTreks has become an interesting game.

According to HTF Market Intelligence, PlayTreks has achieved a 4% market share in terms of total NFT music revenue worldwide. This beachhead was completed in about a year, with PlayTreks rapidly expanding its platforming capabilities and member artists.

Aside from its menu of music distribution features, PlayTreks also acts as a data analytics platform, offering artists valuable information sourced from content platforms like social media and streaming services. The addition of blockchain, NFT, and cryptocurrency components gives PlayTreks its most interesting competitive edge.

“The goal was to close the data gap for all platforms, including streaming, social media, radio and more,” explained de Heus.

With Playgrounds blockchain technology and a controlled copyright mechanism, musicians can create, share, and shape different types of digital content. Following the PlayTreks model, this approach will push musicians to distribute via traditional endpoints while reaping the potentially lucrative benefits of NFTs.

According to PlayTreks, musicians can use up to seven different revenue streams with their platform. Artists can use any of these options in any combination. This diversified model could compel responses from more established distributors as well as dedicated music NFT games.

The Playtreks concept found support from investors early on.

The company is currently playing with a seed-stage round of €800,000 ($841,000), with a Series A target of €2.5 million ($2.64 million). Anjo de Heus assumes a broader company valuation of 30 million euros.

Just recently, NFT ticketing platform Arthouse drew a $4 million round. SoundMint, a company focused on expanding NFT format capabilities for music, has also raised a $1.7 million seed round. Elsewhere, John Legend’s Our Happy Company, which focuses on “democratizing NFTs for the masses,” raised $7.5 million.

These funding rounds point to a similar future uptick for PlayTreks, with a broader NFT boom increasing the odds.

In 2021, NFT’s sales volume grew to $25 billion. Interestingly, the transaction volume of NFTs was just over $40 million in 2018. But by the end of 2021, NFT trading volume had increased to $44 billion.

The market capitalization of the NFT sector is expected to reach $80 billion by the end of 2025. As of now, the growing enthusiasm and shared interest in NFTs is arguably at an all-time high.

All of this is happening against a growth spurt in the music industry. According to IFPI, recorded music assets worldwide alone generated $25.9 billion in 2021, up 18.5 percent year-on-year. IFPI reported revenue of $21.6 billion in 2020, an annual gain of 7.4 percent.

But that growth may be starting to taper off. Most recently, Spotify recorded a modest addition of 2 million subscribers in the first quarter, which pales in comparison to previous year-over-year fluctuations. Suddenly, the industry is staring at a potentially saturated, slower-growing music streaming space and looking for new revenue-generating areas. These include very early but promising opportunities like metaverse and music NFTs.

Anjo conceived PlayTreks after an insightful experience in the music industry.

In late 2018, de Heus found himself in a studio with a DJ/producer and other artists. The musicians ranted about the music industry, prompting technologist de Heus to seek solutions to a number of problems. Anjo dived into the music production business by starting a record label. He quickly began to identify serious problems.

“Something’s wrong,” Anjo told Creative Skills Europe, referring to his impressions of the music industry.

As a record label owner, Anjo had to subscribe to more than 20 platforms to find out what was happening to his artists’ music. It was an issue with disparate data analysis, and de Heus concluded that there’s a huge gap between streaming platforms and the artists who use them.

“You can’t expect an artist to know IT,” remarked de Heus. “You can’t expect an artist to just spend time in front of the computer to figure out what’s going on with their music, aside from making music. An artist will make music, that’s it.”

Anjo De Heus’ vision was to use data and technology to bring about transformative change in the music industry, enabling artists to manage their logistics within a single platform.

“It was quite an ambitious project, but today … we really see that this is a very attractive offer,” said Anjo.

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