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WEB3 Is “Scaring the System,” According to Pharrell Williams

Pharrell Williams, iconic musician, producer, and fashion designer believes that a revolution is on the way that will disrupt the music industry, the banking system, and even government—and that blockchain and decentralized Web3 technologies will play a crucial role.

On Saturday, Williams spoke onstage with entrepreneur and event creator Gary Vaynerchuk about his introduction to NFTs and how he sees the underlying technology empowering social progress. Williams is best known for the hit songs “Happy,” “Get Lucky” with Daft Punk, and “Drop It Like It’s Hot” with Snoop Dogg.

Williams admitted that he started looking into NFTs a few years ago and that he was “late to it.” The audience laughed as Vaynerchuk returned a facial expression suggesting that Williams’ view was incorrect—that he was actually early to NFTs, considering that the market just took off in 2021.

More recently, the 13-time Grammy Award winner has been looking into the creative potential of NFTs and the broader world of Web3 technology, such as how it can disintermediate traditional music labels, entertainment studios, and distribution platforms, allowing artists and fans to connect more directly.

Artists like Snoop Dogg, The Chainsmokers, 3LAU, and Nas have been strong proponents of using blockchain tokens to release music and provide additional incentives to fans, like as a portion of streaming earnings to people who buy their NFTs.

Artists can receive secondary market royalties from NFT sales, which can be integrated into the smart contract (or underlying technology) that supports such assets, according to him. After the initial sale of a work, an artist may not receive any more advantages in the traditional space.

Williams talked about some of the Web3 projects he’s working on, including the Gallery of Digital Assets, which he describes as “a safe space for traditional artists who’ve done really well to have a place where they can transition into the digital world.” Other platforms, he noted, assist seasoned artists in entering Web3, but it “might not be what you want it to be in the end.”

Another project is Black Ambition, a nonprofit that supports Black and Latinx entrepreneurs who are starting businesses. Web3 is a category in Black Ambition, and the program offers mentorship and up to $1 million in funding to selected entrepreneurs.

“You come here talking to the people about the blockchain and Web3. What you should know is, this is a moment in time where everything is changing right now. You all are looking at these old systems—you know that they’re antiquated, you know that they don’t work. And you are standing up, and you’re saying, ‘No more.’”

He further added:

“Blockchain and Web3—it’s unlocking something that is scaring the system. They are working really hard to put laws together to try to legislate around your concept, your idea. You all are the most powerful human beings on this planet. You don’t know it yet.”

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