Grammy-winning electronic musician RAC recently teamed up with HIFI Labs to launch CULT Pass, a dynamic, block-enabled membership pass for his Web3 supporters.
Instead of a static digital image, the NFT orb morphs depending on the contents of the owner’s wallet, using special generative seeds based on digital artist Andres Reisinger’s artistic vibe and visual prompts from the text-to-image AI model Stable Diffusion—and audio. RAC triggers themselves, of course.
“This project tests what’s possible at the intersection of Web3 and AI,” Joe Barham, co-founder and CEO of HIFI Labs, said. Decrypt.
I am very proud to announce ↴
CULT Pass ✨
an experiment in online identity that I built last year with @hifilabs
a dynamic membership that visually changes and changes based on what’s in your wallet pic.twitter.com/m7iVkbCr9E
— rac.eth ⌐◨-◨ (@RAC) May 4, 2023
The CULT Pass is officially announced last week, but RAC (real name André Anjos) started distributing it to his biggest fans a few months ago.
“We’re not trying to sell a product with this. It’s more about the concept and making that happen,” he explained. This is the latest in a long line of Web3 projects that RAC is working on in an attempt to connect in the gap between artist and audience, as well as helping to heal what he calls the “broken music industry.”
In 2017, RAC allowed fans to purchase “Ego,” the first full-length album released through the Ethereum blockchain, and then did the same. in 2020 with his album “Boy.” About 150 fans took him up on the latter offer, and he says it’s the closest he’s ever felt to people appreciating his art.
In the following years, he experimented its own ERC-20 token, RAC.
“I spent a lot of time building networks and trying to connect with audiences on social media,” said RAC, “only for these companies to start putting things behind a paywall.”
This is happening on SoundCloud, Facebook, and most recently Twitter. These CULT Pass orbs are designed to act like a membership token to the RAC fan club, and morph depending on which RAC tokens you own.
“It’s a way of owning our community. It’s a layer on top of social networks,” he continued, likening it to wearing a t-shirt of your favorite band. “It’s not always about the ‘thing.’ It’s about belonging to something.”
The CULT Pass orb is an early version of the technology and, with four different iterations of visuals available, is currently “on the rails” according to RAC—but he and HIFI Labs have big plans for where it’s next.
As well as imagining, RAC wants to include generative music and video in future versions of the orb, while off-chain activities such as streaming music on Spotify, buying gig tickets, and viewing well with livestreams also affect how the orb progresses.
“The system is built in a way that recognizes and supports organic, authentic engagement,” Barham explained.
As well as leveling up the orb, this data can also be used by the artist to reward fans with things like pre-sale access or unreleased music. As the orb evolves, so does the access and functionality it unlocks. Heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold recently pursued a similar initiative with its TicketPass NFT and an integration with Ticketmaster.
“It’s transactional, but not exploitative,” RAC says of his approach. “Even within our ecosystem, I think some people get caught up in the trading aspect of these things. I want to move away from that and create a membership that allows you to build it.”
love my orb.
It’s kind of funny because technically I don’t own my rarer releases so it’s pretty low level, still nice though. pic.twitter.com/g3oBWxHTjq
— rac.eth ⌐◨-◨ (@RAC) May 4, 2023
Right now, the orb is focused on RAC and his career, but he is the ultimate test case. “Now that we have established the infrastructure and framework, we can change easily,” he explained. “We can make this technology available to anyone.”
“Each artist has their own version of audio and visual DNA, their own style of engagement and unique community,” added Barham. “The framework we’re launching with CULT Pass—while replicable and expansive—is meant to showcase the unique expression of each artist and their community.”
In the future, this framework can also be used in the handles of like-minded Discord communities or subreddits. There’s no firm release date for future versions of the orb because, as RAC explains, they’re still “figuring it out as we go.”
“My approach to these things has always been ‘come to this side.’ I know there’s a whole class of fans who don’t care about any of this, and that’s fine. I do want to reward the fans who are invested though because it’s about building a fairer system for all of us ,” continued the RAC, adding that he wanted to make sure both the art and the audience were valued.
“We are very early, but I really believe in what we are doing,” he added. “How long will we have the chance to shape a future like this?”