This Is What We Call a Pivot
Lotus.fm Launch Party. Downtown Portland. Thursday, May 2. Free. Live Music.
I moved to Portland, Oregon two and a half years ago, from a sleepy little hamlet in Western Massachusetts close to the towns of Northampton and Amherst. I don’t have cred. I am not “old Portland.” But somehow or other I managed to convince five very different artists to get on a lineup for a Thursday night for the Lotus.fm Launch Party at this intimate downtown venue known as The Big Legrowlski. (It’s not a big space, so if you want to be assured of getting in, come by on the early side. Doors open at 6 PM.)
Here’s our poster:
I love this poster, made by artist savant Null NZA. I love that in a single night we are trying to shoe-horn hip-hop with punk with noise/electronica. I love that we have a female hip-hop artist on our bill. The only thing the poster doesn’t mention is that Riot AF is rock as well as post-punk: guitar + base + drums. Loud and good. You may not have heard of them until now, but I have to say, all of the men and women who will be performing are quite good.
And yes, I am aware that we probably took a risk including an artist who has the word “FUCKING” as part of his stage name. Yes, I did think about it. Yes, it might scare off some investors in my company. But you know what? That Fucking Ivan is Fucking Great. Right now I own 100% of Lotus.fm. I’d rather keep my own integrity than sell to the wrong people.
For me, personally, Lotus.fm represents the culmination of about five years of work and is the natural evolution of Attention Based Currency, a non-commercial cryptocurrency project that sought to develop a coin powered by streaming music. Musicians would receive half of the currency generated. The regulatory environment for Initial Coin Offerings has changed quite a bit since 2014. We are in consultation with counsel, but I wouldn’t expect a Lotus.fm coin any time soon. In the meantime, we are working on a number of other interesting projects to ensure that artists get paid.
Why am I so interested in helping artists? Because I am an artist myself. (I write and I draw comics in my spare time). Also because several of the most talented artists I know have been homeless or in danger of being homeless in the past three years.
Last week we did a small, informal focus group over pizza with musicians to find out what they wanted in technology. It really was a watershed moment. Somebody shared an idea that I hadn’t heard before: namely, that you could use custom, limited edition artist-created “badges” to crowdfund small projects such as recording a record album. What is the advantage over existing services? Much lower cost and hassle to create the rewards at each level. Because the badges are something that donors will want to display on their own social media, they will make it easier to market the campaign. Finally, as artists receive a share of revenue, they also have an incentive to promote the campaign far and wide. Assuming we have the resources and can get market validation, we’re going to take this idea and run with it.
There are several other exciting tools and technologies that may be brought to bear over the next year or so for Lotus.fm. (If you come to my party, ask me what “virtual merch” is.) My previous company developed this really outstanding augmented reality technology called Zappen — it works like Shazam, but for images. You can download the app to your mobile phone and use it to make a concert poster Zappable (ours is). We call this a visual link. It’s very easy to use. Another plus: you can upload images to our site and add augmented reality content for free, without having to enter a single line of code.
I have a pretty unusual background. I am both a graphic designer and a programmer. I can’t share details of everything I am working on because some of it is proprietary. I wish I could, though! To me, it’s all supercool and beautiful and interesting. I will talk your ear off. Technology is about much more than money to me. Technology is just my jam. Please remember, I am not rich. I sold my Bitcoin to be able to pursue this dream. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to hire full-time people soon. It never hurts to visit our website and put in a job application.
Thanks to Sky Grady, Jessa Moore, Michael Jonas, Todd Ramos, and others who can’t be named.
Thematizer aka “Rose C”, Founder of Lotus.fm
@lotusrosefm on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
On Github: https://github.com/tessgadwa
Personal blog: https://artmeetscode.com/