DisruptArt envisions a community where artists of all sorts intersect so they can create dialogue about social impact, contemporary art and the blockchain. CEO Rob Richardson is in the heart of this collaborative endeavor. He joins the show to share with us how his personal challenges helped lead to the inception of DisruptArt, how the platform changes the dynamic between artists and the community, and how Web 3 and NFT technology will impact the world moving forward. We’re also joined on this episode by Rick Farman, who talks about Superf3st, the platform that will finally enable his career-long dream of building a music and arts festival from the ground up. Join in and learn about two of today’s most innovative projects that straddle the intersection between the arts, community, social impact and the blockchain.
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Rob Richardson Of DisruptArt, The Global Marketplace Revolutionizing The Impact Of Art, Music, Fashion & Film, Plus: Rick Farman Of Superf3st, And More…
I’m Rob Richardson, CEO of Disrupt Art, the Web3 platform, leading intersection impacting culture. Join me here on the show. We’re going to talk about the disruptors, the thinkers, and the builders of the future.
NFT curious readers, stay tuned for this episode and find out how selling Badazz Bears helps make the bear market more bearable.
Also, on where to go for sweet deals on private islands.
Additionally, on how festivals co-created by fans and talent are already happening right under our noses, all this and more in this episode.
We put together a little gathering at NFT LA that brought out thousands of the world’s most innovative doers in the NFT space. Head to NFTLA.live to get tickets to our bigger, bolder, and better, but also as intimate and impactful event happening in Los Angeles, March 20th through the 23rd, 2023. See you there.
Now sponsored spotlight episode features Rob Richardson, the Cofounder and CEO of Disrupt Art, a global marketplace studio and technology company created to revolutionize the impact of art, music, fashion, and film. He is also the Founder of Disruption Now Media, a platform that connects entrepreneurs, artists, and leaders through interactive events, educational content, and podcasts.
Disruption Now Podcast hosts the conversational podcast with disruptors focused on impact. At the intersection of art and activism, Disrupt Art aims to curate an interactive space for artists, collectors, and activists to revolutionize the impact of art. Artists sell their pieces as NFTs receive a majority of the funds generated and always earn a royalty for their work. The Disrupt Art vision is to create a community where spoken word artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, photographers, and crypto artists intersect, creating dialogue about social impact, contemporary art, and the blockchain. Rob, welcome to the show.
It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me.
You’re getting ready to make some disruption now.
How are you holding up, Rob, after MidwestCon? We had to take a good month to recover from NFT LA.
I’m still recovering too. It took me a week to try to get back some stable sense of myself and ourselves. It’s a lot to throw a conference, but it was worth it because that has led to many other opportunities. It’s not for the faint of heart. It is hard to do any type of large-scale event.
Similar to podcasting, it becomes an addiction. You get up and do it again. You forget all the pain that went into it.
We have some unique points, being in a bear market, but also the fact that we’re in Cincinnati. You’re in LA, the harder part is you have more competition, but you’re the center of entertainment in the world. When people think of Cincinnati, they don’t necessarily think of those things. The opportunity is that we surprise people with the level of culture and the art we had there.
The fact that we had our mayor come and talk about working with us. We had an event at an art school. That was a different vibe. It was more like a lounge club feel for our conference than it was a stiff conference. Our goal was to be intentional about curating a different experience that could be unique to our conference. I know we accomplished that.
We’re not about stiff conferences, either.
That wasn’t the NFT LA. You guys were stiff. That was to somebody else, another place that begins with NFT, and I won’t finish the sentence.
It’s all about a cultural experience. You got to have fun in life and work. If you’re not having fun, what’s the point? That’s cool. I heard great things about it.
We are having it there in 2023. It will be worth it. We had lots of people from LA. You got to come.
Disrupt Art has taken on quite an important vision, where artists of all forms can intersect and make a big impact in the world. Where did all this come from? What was the culmination of this vision and concept for you?
It comes from who I am and who I have been my entire life. The focus of my entire career, before I even knew what crypto, NFTs, or any of that, has been about how I can use my voice, help change other people’s lives, and have systemic change. Those things are important to me because of how I grew up. To make a long story bearable, I had an overall good childhood. It’s not a sob story, where I grew up poor or any of that. That’s not the story you’re about to read.
The story you will know is that I did have some challenges. I was diagnosed with ADHD, which is a learning difference, not a learning disability. Back then, they thought if you had any trouble at school, if you were hyper, you were a nobody. You were somebody that didn’t care about school. You were lazy. You combine that with my skin color. I grew up in a place that was more White than Black. I had teachers that might have been culturally insensitive.
Even though I sucked as a student until about the eighth grade, in the eighth grade, the light bulb went off, and I said, “I want to start applying myself.” I had a conversation with my teacher at the time, and I will never forget the conversation. I told her all of my dreams and aspirations to change the world and the light bulb I found. She tried to crush that dream. She was like, “Rob, you’re an awful student. College is not meant for everybody. I’m not trying to hurt your feelings, but you’re not going to be able to do that like that.”
Luckily, I had a much better conversation with my parents. My mother said these words that stick with me to this day. She said, “Rob, you never have to be defined by anyone’s low or narrow expectations of you. You define yourself or yourself by yourself.” Despite what this teacher said, my counselors and lots of people tried to give this whole long lecture about how I was going to fail and how this was a bad idea to put me in challenging classes. Seriously, it was a thing. I never let that define me because I had strong backing and lots of opportunities and success.
I know that story turns out differently for many others who are defined or confined by the narratives and the constructs, the things that are in place in front of them. They think that is the only place they can go because that is what the world tells them. My goal in life has always been to help empower people, be it through coming up with better systems for education and better ways to move technology.
Before I was involved in public politics, I ended up pivoting and getting into entrepreneurship. What I learned about Web3 through my entrepreneurship with Disruption Now and having these events with artists, creators, and entrepreneurs, I not only wanted to take a deep dive into the space, I realized it was important to own technology to help influence this space. Even though we’re in decentralized technology, platforms are still going to be the spaces that move opportunities for people. Platforms still matter, and it’s important to have that. That was the genesis and the reason. This is another application to my passion in life, which is about empowering people.
Thank you for sharing that. There are many times that us crazy entrepreneurs have been told, “No.” It’s the fire that culminates from our bellies. I came from a fairly poor neighborhood and single mom. There are a lot of ways my life could have played out. A lot of it is choice and conviction, but it also comes from supporting each other’s dreams. I love what you said there.
That’s an inspiring stuff. I identify with that too. From a young age, my mother always talked about how she had dyslexia. That was the thing with her. Go way back to the ‘40s and ‘50s, when she grew up, she was left-handed in a Catholic school. I always had a strong sense of what you described. Even though I did relatively well in academia and school, that sense that there were all these other ways for all different minds has been a huge thing for me. It’s great to hear you call that out and be working diligently there. Let’s talk about an experience of an artist that works with Disrupt Art. What is the process like if they’re getting into the space? How do you guide and work with them?
Our goal is to make this as easy as possible to onboard into this space, be it for the collector or creator. A lot of us in this space like to believe the process is easy. It’s doable but not easy, specifically for how people or minds are geared towards having a quick and easy experience. We have to know that, for us to get to mass adoption, it has to have the benefits of Web3, but it needs to have as close to the experience as Web2 because if you are asking people for more steps, they’re never going to get there. What we work to do is, first of all, make sure artists understand what this is, how this works, what NFTs are, and why and how it can be transformative.
I often figure out ways to explain it in a way that they can see it. Sometimes, different things make the light bulb go off. I make them understand that the same way people are talking about NFTs now, as if they are not safe and fraudulent, is the same way people talked about social media several years prior. It’s the same way they talked about the internet. I said, “My question for you is, do you want to be Blockbuster who said no one is going to download and watch movies, and they no longer exist? Do you want to be Netflix, where you can build off this work for the rest of your life and your kid’s life? There are no guarantees, but this is the future. Those who are building at the infrastructure level have the greatest opportunity.” That is usually my pitch somewhere or another.
We try to walk through a three-step process to side on a Disrupt Art. First, you create an account like you would in a social media account. You connect your wallet to your email, which gives you a quick code. Your wallet is connected. You can start minting and creating. If you’re a creator, we have to prove you for a creator because we are a curated site. Those are the steps, and it doesn’t require you to do all the other steps that are required for people to onboard. We make that process as easy as possible. We walk them through that. We usually answer personal emails to walk people through the process if they have any questions.
You conveyed it as making Web3 on the level of Web2. It also is not that, but it’s those principles of human design. We saw all these things. You look at the genius of what Apple was able to achieve by saying, “Let’s make sure you can make little gestures with your hand, pinch, point, and whatever. Make things happen in a natural intuitive way.” It’s not just Web2. It’s the way to get human intuition integrated and involved.
A lot of us, and I have been guilty in this space, too, say, “Everybody needs to do it this way because this is the best way it needs.” The best way is whatever way the consumer understands it to get them there. That is the best way. Not the way we think it is.
We referenced this throughout the conversation so far but let’s dive a little deeper into social impact and your goals. How do you incorporate that into your ecosystem?
It is important because all my career has been focused on that. How do we incorporate that? We tend to work with artists that resonate around that message. A lot of our artists tend to give parts to their proceeds, a social impact that we seek artists out like that. In the near future, we’re going to build it almost like a crowdfunding type of structure where you can opt-in to support a social impact. Some of your funds or additional funds will go towards supporting a social call that is tied to that artist or something that we, as a platform, support.
It will be some ways down the road but do a DAO that will have an infrastructure that will put things towards the social impact that the community will put up options for things that we want to support. Specifically, we have a few projects. We have one project, which is the Badazz Bears Project, which is a project that we’ve done with Jim Jones. There are a lot of cool features to the project. It’s a build-a-bear project. Everybody that gets one of these bears gets into all of our events, like MidwestCon. We have activations at Art Basel. We usually let them in VIP access.
Part of the future vision beyond building your own bear, having different custom bears, and things like that, which is like building your bears using NFTs, is the social impact tied to helping returning citizens. When I say returning citizens, I mean those who have been through our criminal justice system. Here’s a quick fact about this. The United States has more people in prison than any other nation in the world. More than Russia and China. Any other authoritarian nation that you think, we have more people within our system than them.
DisruptArt: It’s very important to actually own technology to help influence this space. Even though we’re in a decentralized space, technology platforms are still going to be the spaces that move opportunity for people. Platforms still matter.
We spend an extraordinary amount of money on locking people up, which drains money and resources. It ends up draining talent and opportunities for people. Even those who have served because they should serve because they have committed an act that they have to be responsible for, we as a society need to be able to integrate people back and not dehumanize them for the rest of their life.
This is important because it’s a project that is tied to the original artist of Badazz Bears, which is Jim Jones, the rapper. His uncle served a lot of time in prison but always would connect with these bears. He had the vision of creating these bears as a fashion line several years ago. We wanted to use this technology to help organize more people around understanding this concept. We work with the REFORM Alliance, the largest criminal justice reform organization in the United States. Jay-Z is part of that, Meek Mill, and others. The CEO works with us. We have awareness events for returning citizens, and we’re doing some other things.
I believe that the best use of technology is its ability to connect people. When you can connect with people, you can create change faster. That is the beauty of blockchain technology because it breaks down barriers, financial barriers, and global barriers, frankly. That is what we saw with Disrupt Art, being able to do that intentionally. One more example is that we have artists that are global. We have a couple of artists that are out in Nigeria. This artist sold some of his work for 100 FLOW, which is $200 roughly. Not a lot of money, relatively speaking, in the United States.
In Nigeria, $200 is equivalent to something like ₦60,000 or ₦70,000. He would have to work for 4 or 5 months to get that. The government probably wouldn’t have allowed him to do it, but we’re breaking down bears because we don’t have gas fees, and it’s easy for him to use it. That’s what gets me up and excited. Being able to think about things like Badazz Bears, we can build the community there and help global artists in a way where they wouldn’t have these opportunities. That is the power of blockchain to me.
Social impact is near and dear to our hearts. It’s something we incorporated into what we did at NFT LA 2022. It’s something we’re amplifying in 2023 with our social impact track. It’s set up by Arielle Caputo, our Head of Operations in Social Impact in our company. There are probably going to be some cool ways we can collaborate on that. There are amazing things happening there. It’s a great platform to raise awareness.
We would love to explore that. Let’s talk more about that.
Shout out to Jim Jones. We met Jim last 2021, and he allowed us to debut his crypto song on our show, which was super fun. He performed at NFT LA 2022. I was chuckling when you’re like, “We sometimes let those guys in.” I’m thinking, “If you got a bear that is cool, you get in. If you chose a bear with the wrong attributes, you might have to wait out outside a little bit longer.”
We always let our bears in. In a lot of NFT projects, what they do is they use the projects to be able to tell what they are going to do to build the technology that they hope to build. We did the opposite. We have a full-scale NFT marketplace with far advanced technology. We did a PFP project for a few reasons, but that is not where we live. That might be our only PFP project we ever do. Those folks will get special and exclusive benefits because I believe those with you from the beginning should get the greatest benefits. The bears that joined us in the bear market, we’re going to give them a lot of benefits.
You touched on the importance of artists and community in some of the ways you’re building community. To go down that rabbit hole a little bit more, are there other specific techniques you’re using to nurture the Disrupt Art community now or in the future?
We’re being intentional about immersive real-life experiences. I believe it’s important in this. When we initially got into the space of NFTs, everything was about being digital, your digital avatar, and so on and so forth. The real power was that it doesn’t replace us in person. I don’t believe that is the power like I don’t believe artificial intelligence power is replacing humans. I believe augmented intelligence, not artificial intelligence is the future. It’s an additional opportunity for us to expand our capabilities.
I look at NFTs as being another opportunity for us to expand connections. We can have it online. That’s part of it, but it doesn’t replace the in-person experience. You still need that. What we do and are very intentional about is doing events that usually teach or are immersive in some way where they get people to understand the concept of what NFTs are and what the possibilities are. I will give some specific examples.
We didn’t have activation in NFT LA 2022. Maybe we will in 2023. One of our first major activations is at South by Southwest. In there, we had David Bianchi. We had six major screens behind him. You got a chance to see as he did at NFT LA. He had his immersive spoken word. He makes people understand this is how it works. We had panels and NFT galleries. That was our first experience.
We also started doing regular and smaller events to make people understand the basics of NFTs. I have these in my city. All that culminated in what we did at MidwestCon, which we came good at this. We are intentional about creating these activations that make people have an emotional connection to what is happening. We had a fashion show that was both physical items, and you would see the digital avatar walking to that person on the screen at the same time. You would see the wearable digital asset that was being sold. It was all as part of the fashion show.
People got the light bulb. I made them understand that this is not just digital. This is a way that we’re connecting the human experience even more. We’re using technology. This is how you’re creating this co-ownership with the artists and the person. We made them understand that. We had live air drops. We make it easy on Disrupt Art. You have sided up on our site already. If you go on there and go to Community Air Drops, you can claim a MidwestCon NFT to get free general admission, but all it takes is hitting claim to your email. It’s easy.
We do drops like that to show corporations and brands that it doesn’t have to be some foreign hard concept or take a bunch of different steps. We onboard people into the process in a way during events. We’re specific about it. We also have music events. We have a musical performance. We do that where people are engaged and having fun. It’s not a process where people feel like they’re here talking in a lecture. It’s immersive and interactive. That I have found has been the most successful for onboarding people. We talk to them. We do education, but doing things that are tangible during the experience are things that we continue to do, and we’re going to do. We’re going to do something with Art Basel as well like that.
It is intentional and focused on the user. You’re making sure we think from their mindset, level, and onboarding in an intuitive, gentle, and purposeful way. As we mentioned previously, we talked about build-a-bear and building in a bear market. We have seen a bit of what is going on. We go around to various conferences. We went to Davos. It was interesting to see what the scene was like there. Tell us a bit about your experience, “building a bear or building a bear market.”
Overcoming adversity is nothing new. Being African American, I don’t use it as a limitation for myself, but that is how people are. They have set their mind about what somebody in technology should look like in their experiences. That is a fact that you do have to overcome. Even during the “bull times,” people weren’t necessarily like, “This makes sense.”
Ironically, we have more opportunities in the bear market. It’s because I’m used to adversity. At the end of the day, nothing has come in a straight, linear, easy line for me. When things aren’t going according to plan, I think this is normal. I’m like, “A bear market is a normal day to be. How do we figure out more opportunities?” You have to have enough income. I look for ways to figure out how I monetize. How do I monetize enough to make sure we come out of this? I go back to what I know.
I have done a lot of community organizing. I did politics. I have been working with some of our local and state leaders to get them to understand the opportunity at this moment and why they should be investing now. I make people understand that Amazon was built during the same talk people are talking about Web3 now. I’m trying to remember the economist’s name. I can’t remember his name, but he won a Nobel Prize. He was a big economist. He said, “The internet is not going to have any more effect on the economy than the fax machine.”
Now, you hear people saying the same things about NFTs because they don’t understand what is happening. They don’t understand the technology. I understand the technology. My goal is to make sure that others see this opportunity, why they need to invest in it, and find ways to pivot. We have to pivot several times. Building the bear market to me is like building a bullish market. That wasn’t easy for us either. People have gotten funded off of ideas. We have a whole infrastructure built.
We don’t use that to why. We say, “It is a bear market.” Some people never even got their product up and got $2 million to fund. Those who have built technology and are serious have an opportunity to separate themselves. I see it as an opportunity. It hasn’t been easy, but people in the space, the ones that are serious, and I saw this at MidwestCon when we had it, people are more excited about this than they ever were. I’m not concerned. I know no one can predict the future, but I’m bullish on Web3 technology, and I feel good about where we are now.
I did a little googling while you were talking, and that was Paul Krugman. Paul’s alibi is that he didn’t know a lot about technology. It wasn’t his focus. There are a lot of quotes on this show. I’m thinking about all the quotes I had in my life. This is what happens when you make bold predictions. Sometimes they are right. Sometimes they are wrong.
They are, but I want to stand on this. Let’s take this from the day and say this, “NFT technology, Web3 will be one of the most impactful technologies that we have seen, and it will be commonplace within the next several years. People will not call it NFTs, but it will be integrated into entertainment, art, movies, and finance in ways we can’t even predict yet, but it’s going to have a massive explosion.” Mark it down. Put this point in time. We’re going to keep this and make this NFT later. We can all make a bunch of money off it.
As we look at the roadmap for Disrupt Art and for your projects, what is next? What do you got in the pipeline here that we should be thinking about? Any partnerships and collaborations that are forthcoming?
We’re exploring a major one that I can’t announce yet, but hopefully, at Art Basel, we will see you there, and I will be able to talk to you all about it. I will make sure to invite you all there. We’re going to look like helping brands in this space. That is why it piqued my interest when you started talking about what you guys are doing with social impact because we have already built the backend technology. If a smaller and medium brand wants to have their own NFT marketplace, we can build that for them at a low cost because we have already paid all the money for everything else.
Our goal is to make it easy for brands to understand how to use this space and NFTs to make the experience easy. We are working with a lot of small to medium brands with fashion, as well as independent musicians. We’re helping them have custom marketplaces that can all be in their dot-com name and make it easy for them to use NFT. If they want to do an airdrop to onboard 1,000 people easily by getting their email, we will be able to do that with them. If they want to do their first drop and it’s tied to their website where people are used to coming on, we’re going to be able to do that.
When they want to do secondary sales, they can backend into our technology. It’s already integrated with wearable. OpenSea is coming because Dapper Wallet was already on there. People will be able to be fully cross-chained. Our future is making it easy for brands to onboard into this space, and being cross-chain is the future. That’s what we’re going to be.
Here’s one last question. As you’re looking at the market and what has happened in the early days and recently, what are some of the other projects that inspire you?
One project is VeeFriends and Bored Ape because he’s intentional about onboarding people into the space and looking out for artists. From what I heard from the VeeCon Conference, it was an intentional experience where people were left motivated. Gary Vee does a good job of that emotional component and being intentional about curating his community. That is a project that is inspiring for that reason. Foundation, overall, as a platform, is doing a good job of looking out for artists if I had to say another platform that I admire in terms of how they are trying to curate and look out for artists.
Beyond that, I like some individual projects. I love Nyla Hayes. People are underestimating the long-term value of 1 of 1 art. People are caught up in the Bored Ape Yacht Club. They did a great job in terms of marketing and being the first to market to innovate some of these ideas around intellectual property. Long-term, some of these artists that are 1 of 1, like Nyla Hayes and people like that, are going to be more valuable.
Imagine 20 to 30 years from now, Nyla Hayes is no longer making those Long Neckies. She was the first woman that did a PFP project. She was twelve, African American, and the first artist resident for Time Magazine. The historic value of something like that is going to be extremely high later when she doesn’t offer some of these things anymore. There are other artists like that too.
David Bianchi is one of those people too. At some point in history, when he doesn’t make any work anymore and he gets even bigger, those pieces will become worth more. The 1 of 1 artists I’m inspired by the most because they are leading the space, and I want to make sure we don’t forget that it’s the creators and the creatives that are helping us have this moment. We need to, for a little while, get away from that. The bear market is self-correcting that too.
DisruptArt: The best way is whatever the consumer understands and whatever helps them get there. That is the best way, not the way we think is.
We’re inspired by what you have been discussing here with us now on many different levels, and we’re looking forward to the opportunity to collaborate going forward with NFT LA and beyond. Thanks for sharing that.
We wanted to shift gears a little bit and get to know you a little bit better. It’s a segment that we call Edge Quick Hitters. There are ten questions. We like to do single-word or fewer responses to them that we might dive a little bit deeper here or there. Are you ready to jump in?
I’m ready. Let’s go.
Question number one. What is the first thing you remember ever purchasing in your life?
The first thing I remember purchasing in my life was a video game Street Fighter because I love Street Fighter. That’s the first thing I remember. It was the first fighting game I got into. Here’s a quick story. I used to play this in an arcade. When I played these arcades, I liked to play and compete. There hardly anybody would be able to beat me. I would be there for hours playing. That is how much of a gamer I was. I was like that with Mortal Combat too. My favorite character on Mortal Combat was Scorpion, “get over here,” if you remember that.
Josh’s screen name was a Sub-Zero in his gaming days. Question two. What is the first thing you remember ever selling in your life?
The first thing I ever sold was tickets to an event. My mother was having a fundraiser for an event for the restaurant she was opening. The first thing I remember is that. That’s the first thing I sold.
My mother was having a family party, and I made my relatives buy tickets.
What was the type of food that your mom was cooking up?
It’s Caribbean. It is still good. I miss it. It was called A Taste of Sherry’s. My mother’s name is Sherry. My grandfather was born in 1903. His father was a slave. He wasn’t a slave all his life. He came off of a boat from the Caribbean. He was tricked and became a slave for a period of time. A lot of the roots that we come to the Caribbean were Cuban and also Jamaican. It is a combination of that food and tradition.
My grandfather was a cook. He was a chef during the Great Depression. He could always provide for his family. My mother wasn’t alive there. My grandfather was a rolling stone. I’m getting it down. He had like 24 kids, but that’s a whole other story. The point is she was inspired by him. He was a hard worker and entrepreneur. He had all types of obstacles but never let that stop him from providing a way for his family.
Question number three. What’s the most recent thing you purchased?
The most recent thing I purchased was a flight to San Diego.
Question number four. What’s the most recent thing you sold?
The most recent thing I sold was a Badazz Bear. I’ll count that.
Question five. What is your most prized possession?
My most prized possession is my health and my family’s health. That is what I prized the most.
Question six. If you could buy anything in the world, digital, physical service, or experience that is for sale, what would it be?
I would buy either an island, I saw a Caribbean island for sale, or somewhere with beachfront property. One of my goals is to have is beachfront property because I enjoy the beach. It puts me at ease. I want a place I can get away from that I own. That is on the bucket list. That’s going to happen.
Where do you go shopping for your private islands? I’m curious.
I googled. I found places you could shop for private islands.
There is this website. I got obsessed with it for a while. I haven’t been on there in a while. It’s called Private Islands Online.
Question number seven. If you could pass on one of your personality traits to the next generation, what would it be?
It would be faith. You got to be able to not focus on things where they are now but where they can be. The greatest limitation is the mind. When you get into a situation where you don’t think you can do it because others tell you or you haven’t gotten there yet, having faith can do a lot. If you don’t have the right mindset, it’s impossible to do anything. You still got to do the work. If you don’t have the mindset, you’re never going to get to do the work.
Have you guys heard of this test-taking effect called the Obama Effect? Have you heard this?
No, I haven’t heard of this.
There is this effect called confirmation bias. When you have a student take a test, but before they take the test, there is a little questionnaire and ask them to check off what race they are, minorities will perform more poorly on the test from checking that box. The theory of it is, all of a sudden, it gets them all these stories in their head about how that is going to make them do worse. Their heads get cluttered with that, and they can’t focus.
All of that, there are actual observations. I can’t remember the exact school, but the teachers all did was separate students. They told these students, “You are extremely special. You have taken this test. It showed that you have a special ability.” They didn’t. They had nothing. What happened is over the course of a few years, they came back, and all these students did extremely well. The only difference is that teachers told these students that they had a special ability based on this.
That tells you how important the words that we say to people matter. The environment that you create matters, and that does affect how you think in your mindset a lot. That ability to overcome that despite having that is not easy to do, but that’s why I say that is the trait I would pass on because it would cause the most transformative effect.
To clarify the Obama Effect, they did testing of students after Obama was elected. The same type of student that performed more poorly, the effect went away after Obama was elected. Ostensibly, it’s because of that type of inspiration and opening of the mindset that was possible. It was fascination.
The same thing happened when Kennedy was elected. You have been discriminated against, and you’ve been told that you’re not worthy. When you see someone that is you rise to the heights of power, suddenly, you realize that there is no limitation, even though it never was. Seeing it changes the mindset.
DisruptArt: The beauty of blockchain technology is because it breaks down barriers. It breaks financial barriers. It breaks down global barriers.
Question eight. If you could eliminate one of your personality traits from the next generation, what would that be?
I would say lack of patience, especially when it comes to dealing with difficult things and people, because losing your patience doesn’t help. I’m working on that skill, but I would love to be more patient. The other thing is I’m a horrible singer. I wish I could sing.
Question number nine. What did you do before joining us on the show?
I was answering emails and calls, the same thing you guys are probably doing. I did a little prep for the show, but I was mostly answering calls and things like that.
Question ten. What are you going to do next after the show?
I’m going to cook. That’s what I’m going to do.
Caribbean is on the menu tonight.
It looks like we might have a bonus question here as well.
I know you sold a Badazz Bear, but I know you got more. I’m curious what your favorite Badazz Bear is in your own wallet and why?
I like the Badazz Bear with the spaceship helmet. Those are cool. I genuinely like that one. That’s probably my favorite one. Another is the Panda one with the spaceship because there are several different types of bears you can create. When you go on the site, you can choose your bear, background, and shirt that you want. You can do that.
Rob, thanks so much. We appreciate it. That’s Edge Quick Hitters. Thanks for sharing. We have a special, hot topic to dive into. Ethan, do you want to jump in?
Our sponsored hot topic features Rick Farman of SUPERF3ST. We’re getting all our fests out of our system. Rick Cofounded Superfly in 1997 and became one of the creators behind iconic music festivals like Bonnaroo and Outside Lands. After spending two years inspired by and participating in Web3, the time has come for him to see if the space can enable his career-long dream to have a community build a festival from the ground up. Rick, welcome to the show. I’m excited to talk about this stuff.
Thanks for having me. I’m glad to be here.
We have been talking the whole show about building community in the physical world, and you have been doing it your whole life through festivals. This is the first year for NFT LA and MidwestCon in 2022. It sounds like it’s going to be the first year for SUPERF3ST in 2022. We would love to learn more about what your upcoming festival field trip looks like and how you decided to pull this off.
As you mentioned, I have been producing festivals of all different types for many years. One of the things that I always wanted to do was reverse engineer the way it usually works. We plan everything as producers. We hire all the talent, get the venue set up, figure out what the ticket price is, and all that stuff behind the curtain. We put it out into the world with the hope that anybody cares about it. We have success and failure doing that, everything in between. In general, there is a good reason that things work that way.
As I have been absorbing a lot of what’s going on in Web3 as an investor and a participant, it dawned on me that we could do things in a different way. We can start with building a community of people who are inspired festival fans, who love experiences, and who come to that stuff because the community is as important as the art being presented. The relationship with the artists is something that they strive for a deeper connection with. We could start with that community, start building that community and start with artists who are like-minded and create what’s a little bit better than a transactional relationship between the artists and fans. The people are coming to the event and using their funds to power it and producers like myself. That is what the mission of SUPERF3ST is.
We always talk about co-creation. Whether or not, there is a payment occurring for any member or participant in this space. Fundamentally, you’re voting with your dollars on what you want to create in the world anyways. Why not open it up to your fans because they are already stakeholders?
I always thought it was a little weird in the way that we use all of the fan’s funds or their ticket sales to program in ways that we think are right. Not the reverse of listening, getting information, and making those people part of the process of what the end result is. We hope by doing that, it creates a context for an even better artistic experience. In other words, not all the decisions are being made based on, “Are people going to buy tickets to this particular lineup and this particular place?” More, coming from the standpoint of, “What is it that we as a community want to build and self-fulfill that prophecy of what an event can and should be for the community?”
That reminds me of the history of media. We have been growing out of this idea of like, “It’s on the radio. Do you want to listen to it?” This is what’s on the radio. We put it there. Now, we have so much more freedom. Rob, I heard you interjecting here. We would love to know your thoughts.
I’m curious, and you bring up many great points. Can you give us a practical example, if you’re able to at this point, about how you see fans, specifically co-creating with you for the festival, with the musicians and producer? I don’t know if you have any thoughts about how that would work in terms of your co-creation with the fans who are holders of your community.
The baseline stuff is the where, when and what of it. We’re going to be having the community help advise and form all of those top-line things. We formed a couple of different groups. We have our Superpass holders. That is our token. To participate in that conversation, you buy Superpass, and you join that. We also simultaneously created both an industry and artist founder token that sits at the same level as the fans. Now, we’re up to 30 or 40 artists across music, visual arts, and a whole bunch of industry people who have expressed interest in participating in Web3 projects like this to come together and submit proposals for things they would like to have to happen.
The best way to think about this in some contexts is things that are lived at the creative level. There is a lot of the operational and budgeting stuff that we, as producers, will need to be a go-between. Be what the dreams of the community are, what the practical realities are, and how we need to interface with the industry because there are some aspects of the way this is set up, for example, artist’s payments. We’re not going to be having people vote on what artists get paid. That’s going to be our job as producers to take a budget that the community decides on for artists and say, “Here is how we’re going to use that budget in a way that comports with industry norms and things like that.”
When you think about how the budget is split up, we can engage in that capacity, location, timing, and all of those things. One level above that I would say is from a creative standpoint are things like theme. What do we want each year to be the creative context by which artists show up at this experience and contribute to it?
What I said before is the case for artists alike. We don’t want that relationship to be transactional, either. It’s not just come and play to get paid X, Y, and Z, and that’s it. We’re creating a context for collaboration with our community and other artists. We’re creating a context to do something creatively unique and different. The community can set the context for a lot of those things. The theme is a good example of one that’s easier for people to get their minds around.
I almost can foresee. When you give a community a chance to say something, they come up with those out-of-bounds things. You will be like, “What? Okay.” It’s almost like a challenge for the event organizers to implement it.
It’s some slip-and-slide action or something.
It reminded me back during NFT NYC back in November 2021. We ended up at this event. It was Creature World. This guy who I don’t think he had ever planned an event ever in his life before. I don’t know how much his community had a say in what was going on, but I rented out this giant theater in New York City. I had bouncy houses that were adult-sized bouncy houses. You could run and jump through. They had a line you could circulate through. You will be in giant adult-size bouncy houses. It’s the stuff like that, where when the audience has to say, they go, “Let’s do it. It’s crazy enough. We want you to try and make that happen.” You have fun then, I suppose, with that challenge and doing something new and interesting.
It was Danny Cole. He has been around and has been doing it. The community treasury, how does that work with people being able to access it? How do you deploy capital from it? What is that interaction with the community like?
This is an announcement we made to decide to take 80% of the funds from our mint and direct them specifically to a community treasury where any of that money being spent will have to be a voted-on proposal that gets a majority of voting token holders to approve that proposal. There is a variety of different things that we already know the community is interested in doing.
One program that we set up as an initial walk-before-you-can-run type of thing is a program called Field Trip. Our community members are going to scope out other events together to get some ideas for what we want to create together. This is something that comes from a long history of Superfly, my company, both us as founders going to lots of events all over the world and also having a stipend at our business where members of our team could apply and say, “I want to go to this event because nobody in the company has been to it. It’s a good thing to get our eyes on and learn from.”
We wanted to extend that same type of program to our token holders, but the idea that they see something out there that they think is valuable to building this experience. They could do that. They make a proposal to the treasury and say, “It’s going to cost me $1,000 to go to this thing. It’s valuable for X, Y, and Z.” People would vote on that. That is the walking stuff.
As we get deeper into the process, you could think of all things that a community says, “We want to give out free coffee each morning at the festival. It would be a cool thing to do that everybody gets free coffee and donuts in the morning. Here is what it’s going to cost us to do it. Here are the team members. The community members are going to support instituting this. They’re willing to put their time and money into it. We’re asking the community treasury to approve X amount of thousands of dollars to do that free coffee and donuts at the festival.” The community votes on it. If it gets the majority of the votes, that’s where the money goes. It’s that simple.
DisruptArt: We could actually start building a community of inspired festival fans, start with artists who are like-minded, and create something that’s hopefully a little bit better than just a transactional relationship between the artists and the fans.
I got a bonus question for Rick. This is going to be interesting. You have a record collection with you. Give us your favorite from that. That looks like an interesting record collection.
It’s a combination of my wife’s and mine record collection. My wife is much stronger than mine. There is some great stuff in there. I’m going to pick out a random one.
What do you get?
It’s Harry’s Belafonte at Carnegie Hall.
He is a Caribbean-based artist. It was meant to the universe. My mother played that Belafonte at the restaurant all the time. I know Belafonte. I’m a big fan because I had to be. This is wild.
We got diverse music tastes in our house. My wife grew up around the record business. Her dad has been on a record label for many years. It’s like an encyclopedia of music. It’s tied to my world and life. A lot of different types of music are being listened to in this house on a regular basis.
I have one more bonus question. Collecting records is something that came back that people thought wasn’t going to be a thing, and it’s now a huge thing. I’m curious if you see any intersection between NFTs and record collection when it comes to music in some ways. Do you see there being any type of opportunity for intersection there?
It’s poignant because it’s what made me understand music NFTs. I was having a moment of not computing in my mind the relevance of music NFTs. I started to see how people were collecting them and talking about them. It started to remind me of the second wave of what you’re talking about, Rob, of the vinyl resurgence. Why are people buying a vinyl record of an artist that is on Spotify when if you’re a Spotify subscriber, you can listen to it all, but you still buy the vinyl? It’s because you want that collector’s piece. You want that thing that’s a little limited edition.
Most people connect when they buy a piece of merch from an artist. It’s more directly the money is going to the artist. There are not ten middlemen in between. That is a similar construct in music NFT. SUPERF3ST has started to do as a group. One of the things we’re likely to use some of our treasury for, and we’ve started to do it previously, is to start buying music NFTs of some of the artists that are in or we want to be a part of our community to show that support and show that connection to them. What is cool about this NFT product as it relates to this is that you can do all sorts of creative things that maybe vinyl pressing limited your ability to make only 50 of 1 copy or 10 special ones out of 1,000 that are randomly distributed or things like that.
There are mechanics and flexibility that NFT allows, but it gives people the same feel, especially people who are digitally native, who understand and see the value in digital ownership. There are a lot of things there that NFTs enable music NFTs to have interesting product forms and types. That’s something we’re going to be working on a lot at SUPERF3ST. One other quick thing to say about SUPERF3ST and the real way to contextualize it is that it’s not about putting on a singular event. SUPERF3ST is something that is going to be going on year-round, 24/7. If you go into our Discord now, you will regularly see the performances of up-and-coming artists who are going into our Discord, where there are 10,000 people to perform for that audience. You get feedback and engage with that audience. That is the festival unto itself.
SUPERF3ST is a global community already. It’s a community that is decentralized. A lot of what we’re doing is going to be decentralized. We’re going to have a gathering where everybody comes together and has that IRL opportunity, but that is not ultimately what it is about. It’s about forming a community of people who want to espouse and express the values and benefits of what you get from a community of people who love festivals, music, arts, and things like that. That is what we’re doing. We will be using a lot of things like music NFTs and things like that to tie the community together.
I will reign it in when you get another host on your show and somebody a little bit bright brain like me when we get off the rails a little bit. We’re going to transition to our next segment. We want to share how people can find out more about you.
Everybody wants to lead the transitions these days. We want to make sure that people know where to go, Rick, on your side to follow you. We can direct people for their interests who maybe aren’t as familiar with SUPERF3ST.
First off, our website and Twitter handle are all using the same SUPERF3ST name. SUPERF3ST.xyz is the website, and @SUPERF3ST is the Twitter handle. Hop in there. You will see everything you need to know. You can get your links to Discord and everything else. We’re still minting. We’re about to close our mint out, form our founder community and move on to the next phase of the project. Anybody who is interested in joining, now is the time to do it. There will be no other opportunity to buy a Founder Pass except on the secondary market.
Don’t miss out. This is a small glimpse into what the future holds for these guys. We are going to have a little giveaway also. We will get the details hosted out on our social. Keep an eye out for that. It’s going to be something special. Rick, we appreciate you joining.
It’s awesome, guys.
The next segment here is near and dear to our hearts. It’s a relatively new one on the show, but it’s a section built for giving some love and giving some shoutouts to people in our orbits. That makes a difference for us. We want to turn the floor over to Rob to share some impactful people in his life.
I have three shoutouts. Jessica Greenwalt with VaynerNFT has been a great friend. We have known each other for several years. Next is David Bianchi, whom I have known for several months, and Tal Navarro, whom I have known for several months. All three of them have been impactful. Those are examples that you never know what connection makes a big difference. You go out, be intentional, and see what happens.
David is somebody that is in our orbit in a number of different ways. We can appreciate all that energy that he brings. Rob, before we close out this episode, we got to make sure folks know where to follow you and all the projects that you’re working on. Let’s get it out to them.
Everything centers on Disrupt Art. Disrupt.Art is the center of all things that we’re talking about. You could go there and see everything that we’re doing. All socials of Disrupt Art, you can find it there. We also have a conference that we do now every year annually. That is MidwestCon.live. We’re going to be back in 2023. We have our major PFP project and NFT project focused on social impact, which is BadazzBears.com. That is the project with Jim Jones. The utility we talked about is the build-to-bear, social impact, and doing some stuff with some art and music. Those are the three things, but it all centers on Disrupt Art. You can find everything that’s going on that Disrupt Art on our site. Keep track of all the things we’re doing. We will be doing stuff at Art Basel and many other things and at NFT LA too. We’re going to do a lot of things.
A big announcement is coming up at Art Basel. We’re keeping an eye out for that one as well.
The last we wanted to mention is a generous giveaway with 2 FLOW giveaways for 110 FLOW each and 5 Badazz Bears. Any other background that you want to share, Rob?
You will sign up on the website and will get a block your wallet, which is easy to do. People think, “It’s not Ethereum.” It’s not. I’m not anti-Ethereum. I’m pro everything. This is the easy way to get some tokens that are on the rise. It’s not financial advice, but we want you to be a part of the system. See how easy it is to collect in this space. Maybe you get excited and grab some good art with us too.
Keep an eye on our socials. We will give you all the details.
Go to Badazz Bear, and that gets you access to VIP access to our events. You also be able to build your own bear. We’re going to do some stuff with Jim Jones and some other VIP events. You get it free. The normal price is $150. It’s pretty good.
We appreciate that, Rob. Keep your eyes out on our socials. We will give you all the details to win these bad boys. We’ve reached the outer limit. Thanks for exploring with us. We got space for more adventures on this starship. Invite your friends and recruit some cool strangers that make this journey all so much better.
How? Go to Spotify and iTunes now, rate us and say something awesome. Go to EdgeofNFT.com to dive further down the rabbit hole. Look us up on all major social platforms by typing @EdgeOfNFT and start a fun conversation with us online. Lastly, be sure to tune in next time for more great NFT content. Thanks again for sharing this time with us.
- Disrupt Art
- Badazz Bears
- Disruption Now Media
- Disruption Now Podcast
- Art Basel
- REFORM Alliance
- South by Southwest
- Community Air Drops
- Dapper Wallet
- Bored Ape
- VeeCon Conference
- Long Neckies
- Private Islands Online
- Creature World
- Discord – SUPERF3ST
- @SUPERF3ST – Twitter
- Spotify – Edge of NFT
- iTunes – Edge of NFT
- @EdgeOfNFT – Twitter
About Rob Richardson
Richardson is the CEO and co-founder of Disrupt Art, a Global Market Place created to revolutionize the impact of Art, Music, Fashion, and Film.
Richardson is also the founder of Disruption Now Media, a platform that connects entrepreneurs, artists, and leaders through interactive events, educational content, podcasts, and virtual and in-person summits. Disruption Now Podcasts hosts conversational podcasts with disruptors focused on impact. Past guests have included: NY Times bestselling author Robert Greene, Monique Woodward, Jewel Burks Soloman of Google Startups and Collab Capital, Arlan Hamilton of Backstage Capital, and many others.
When Richardson was appointed chairman of the University of Cincinnati’s Board of Trustees, he became the youngest person to serve in this role in the University’s history. In his tenure, he established the 1819 Innovation Hub where industry and talent collaborate to spark groundbreaking ideas. He created a leadership development and academic preparedness program for high school students. He also championed reforms to the University’s police policies.
His education includes a Juris Doctor and Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the University of Cincinnati. He established the first student chapter of the NAACP at the University and was elected student body president. He received the University of Cincinnati Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence, Jeffrey Hurwitz Young Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award, Nicholas Longworth Alumni Award from the College of Law and an honorary degree Doctor of Laws.
Richardson has appeared on MSNBC, America this Week, and is a weekly contributor to Roland Martin Unfiltered.
About Rick Farman
Rick Farman co-founded Superfly in 1996, becoming one of the creators behind iconic experimental properties like Bonnaroo, Outside Lands and The Friends Experience in addition to other various landmark experiences for clients including Intel, Citi, Bravo, Google, Nike, Apple and more. He plays a leading role in business development, identifying key opportunities to grow and expand Superfly’s capabilities through strategic partnerships and investments. Rick also invests opportunistically in businesses that are similarly evolving culture – many of which align with his personal interests towards wellness, technology and entertainment.