NAGMI - Not All Are Gonna 'Make it' And That's Fine
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March 19th, 2022

I once said in a Twitter space, most projects and artists in web3 are average in quality and don’t eventually stand out” In response, I got a couple of hearts and lots of angry ones about what was not intended to be a provocative statement. The reactions inspired me to write this article confronting the acronym WAGMI, which however positive sounds, might not stand true for the ‘new economy’ we are building and lead us into making wrong decisions.

My objective here is to have you think about the web3 community more critically and make better decisions based on lessons learned from past disruptive events and technologies. Leading a double life as both marketeer (business person) & working musician (artist), I approach my analysis some influences from history, some bright minds of the past - and their works.

I appreciate the positive attitude and support the community has shown me and others. However, it’s good sometimes to take a step back and avoid becoming trapped in an illusion we create for ourselves.

I will not be linking any sources apart from my personal work/art here, as I would encourage everyone to do their own independent research if they are interested.

History Repeats Itself

History teaches us the repeating pattern of feeding ideologies to unhappy communities, thus creating a crowd that lives by its own rules. The unfair spread of wealth usually brings this paradigm shift. Some individuals stand out in this community, lead others, and in time dictate through their superior assets what action the ‘masses’ need to take to become ‘successful.’

Those smart people who, for whatever reason, do not stand out from the crowd don’t give up immediately. They choose the flexible way by changing their objectives over time, adapting to the situation. The world is full of examples of these, but unfortunately, the first movers and shakers in all industries become so big that they don’t leave space for others.

Politicians incite ideologies all the time with a clear purpose in mind. Communities, however, tend to do it unwillingly as they know mostly how to follow, not lead. When it all crumbles - or stabilizes - most community members are left with plenty of disappointment and empty wallets.

We aim to make big changes in the crypto world, though most don’t face reality and think of themselves in a bubble or island where the “web2” or real-life rules are not valid. I’m sure that none of us would ever walk into a store and invest 200 USD only because the owner has made big promises for the shop. However, we do that with NFT projects sometimes carelessly as it’s become a norm that everyone is doing a great job and visibility and goodwill are enough to deserve funding.

My point thus far is to nod to the natural similarities of what we call real life, “web2” and “web3.” We are yet to see if crypto and web3 will be a fundamental innovations or not. Even if it is after the NFT and crypto rush dies out and we have it figured out, only the small percentage that justifies investing in them will remain.

The best approach, in my opinion, is to see everything as an extension of the standard internet and realize that we are not inventing the wheel; we are just adapting to new technology with economic theories that existed in the past.

The Web3 Economic System

The culture of the web3 space, which is still web2.5 considering we haven't made the jump yet, has thus far shown principles borrowed from both Marxism and Capitalism. All governments worldwide have a mixture of these with an ideological bias, either leaning towards a massive difference in wealth between people or towards relative parity where shared and equal revenue are achieved.

All the signs in the crypto world are those of a revolution that people start because the spread of wealth is unequal. This same cause is why entire empires have fallen and why we protest today. Revolutions in human history though have only partly achieved the freedom or equality they aim for. A new ruling class is always formed, or another system becomes unequal over time. This might not always be caused by bad intentions, it’s a mixture of those and the reality of an unperfect world.

“A stateless system where workers controlled the means of production” is what Karl Marx aimed for. However, this was never really achieved. Implementing a system that is fair for everyone is very difficult. Neither is the capitalist market force concept truly achieved and this is especially true when you see where wealth is accumulated today.

Is web3 just another way of selling products to people (Hyper-Capitalist) or is it a way to create a sustainable decentralized economy where creators dictate (Almost-Marxist)?

The only difference between a web3 DAO (Decentralised Autonomous Organization from a Worker’s Cooperative (owned and managed by its workers) is that the rules are dictated by smart contracts and computers and not by a law that can easily be twisted. If we have community leaders and rich projects that ultimately translate in USD, it means that the gap between rich and poor in the real world where they are spending might not diminish that much.

I think we are NOT going towards a new economic system any time soon, so WAGMI is not a philosophy to hold on to. It’s a great motivator and gives people a sense of duty to leave others shill, but more than that, it does not do much.

We have also to understand that following trends of what is commonly accepted will only take us to ‘common” achievements. The same way of thinking, even though it’s positive, as the NFT community is, generally might not be a good fit for everyone.

Clear Goals and Rules Liberate Us

Some will make it, some others will not make it. It's essential to define what ‘make it’ means over time. Like Bruce Lee said, “ Be like water, my friend.”

It is not yet proven that the future norm will be that everyone will have a sustainable lifestyle by only creating art and selling art. Nor that the best artists will be rewarded with more income.

This lack of standards for quality and accountability are the main factors that tell us that not everyone will make it, but only those who make life easier for investors will. A good reason why onboarding people to web3 is still difficult is because there services on web2 are still easier and mostly better.

When there is no set standard we are left with relying on goals and rules.

We should be the ones to set goals and rules based on the lessons of the past. If not, what stops any wealthy capitalist from joining the space and buying most projects and offering superior quality?

‘The rules’ include the original ones that every smart business follows and some that I believe are right.

  • Underpromise and overdeliver
  • Don’t speculate without any basis
  • The value should come first
  • Compare yourself to the real world not only to web3 when providing value
  • Keep in mind that you will be accountable in the future more than you are now in the space

There are many other things that perhaps a business or life coach would be far more experienced than I am to share. Even when a project sets out with these objectives in mind, it’s perfectly understandable it might not be able to follow them.

The following paragraph is the core of all the articles and I want to credit the person in the space that phrased it like you will read it even though unfortunately I don’t recall the name.

The primaly difference and probably the only difference of web2 and web3 is that the market is new and there is lack of competition and human error is avoided by smart contracts.

A maximum of 2% of internet users are into web3. You can replicate a project now on web3, do it 1% better than the original, and be a hit; this is how small the competiton is. If you sol music/art in web2 or ran an internet business, there is very little difference.

Failure and success in web3

Suppose your “make it” is defined by selling out your 10 000 generative art project. Statistics prove you are most likely to fail in the first years as most startups do. Even if the collection sells out, you will most likely fail to achieve your goal to go out of the market.

Should that stop you? No, what you learn from this is important.

The problem with failure in the web3 world is that we still associate it with short/medium-term results. For most people, it’s very easy to avoid “failing” just by following some major players and selling out collections with marketing tricks. While in real life, failure is a more long-term concept that does not count the short bumps along the way.

I have noticed while joining ‘shilling spaces’: the following.

  • We refuse to call our endeavors in web 3 start-ups as that comes with a greater acceptance of risk and failure.
  • We use rug pull as we don’t accept the word “out of the market” or failure to produce a good product as it sounds softer.
  • We are overly polite to projects that fail and take our money as we want others to act the same if we fail.

Now suppose you sold out your collection, some months pass, you are halfway to being rich, have 20k followers on Discord and Twitter, and get people excited with a silly narrative like WAGMI. After some months, the activity just dies out, and you have nothing left to give except some promises on a future platform that will not really provide much-added value.

You got the money, sold your collection, now you enjoy it and give back some to your team. Does this count as “made it,” or is this “failure”?

If you are an artist that has yet to sell anything on web3. Should that tell you that you didn’t “make it”?

It’s way too early to say that you didn’t make it. And even if you don’t accomplish what you aimed for at first, it just means that you need to reassess, change your goals, and try another approach. Ultimately selling a collection might not and should not be your primary objective. Think 5-10 years from now. Will really matter to you. Even if you make 30k dollars now with a collection, wouldn’t it be better to earn 1k every month for 5 years?

As a musician with a background in the music industry, I changed up my goals and tactics at least twice in the 6 months I have been here. If you want to know more about my journey in web3 as a working musician you can read here.

My goal is to help working musicians in the web3 space and transition from a behind-the-scenes session man to an artist.

However, this is a goal born way before web3 was a thing. There are no ‘web3 artists’ or ‘NFT artists' - there are just artists. It’s the same as saying I’m a ‘guitar musician’ and not a musician.

I have personally chosen to be an active participant in the community. Brand me as an artist and “expert” in my area of expertise. When I reach the point that my contribution to the community is palpable, I will prove that my collectibles are valuable because of who I am and what I contributed.

(Edit) Months later into the space and having gone through some ups and downs here’s my 1st NFT of my ‘Fleeting Thoughts’ Collection on Foundation.

This is not a shill, so please only check it out if you are curious.

  • If you are a musician in web3 joining my discord ‘working musician unite’ might be beneficial for both you and me
  • If you want to support me, then collecting a song edition of my track ‘Desert’ would count as a tip to fund my goals.  And it might be a good instrumental to listen to while reading this piece.
  • If I eventually mint this article as an NFT, collecting it will be the most enormous help for me and push my thoughts and values to more people.

What will the future be like?

I can’t say anything for sure, but what’s certain is that those who build a solid backbone now will lead the future. You don’t need to ‘make it,’ just do it!

What is certain is that speculating will leave room for more regulated platforms and prices. High prices will be reserved by those who have the most followers, notoriety, and a stronger brand.

We will eventually blend a centralized real-life economy with a decentralized approach to pricing and exchanging values. Different communities, blockchain, and metaverses might apply their own economic principles. However, it all comes down to how it translates into real-life value and money.

We are and will continue to, depending on the real-life production of goods which is ultimately limited. Even if the metaverse offers unlimited possibilities once crypto is accepted for daily use, its value will fluctuate from real-life events such as gas prices, wars, etc.

The whole concept of WAGMI is driving us to over-promote short-term gain instead of thinking long-term. Basically the opposite of what it stands for. Why? Because it’s not making us think critically but assume outcomes.

What can you do about it?

Follow the right moral rules any business should follow and be a good ‘citizen’ of the web3 community.  It’s ok to be skeptical. It’s ok not to support everyone and to even ask for accountability when your wallet suffers. Being overly nice and justifying lack of quality in a musician, visual artist, or project just for the sake of community won’t do it.

It’s also perfectly fine not to follow standard routes of over shilling, hanging out in spaces for a prolonged time. Not everyone is and should be good at that type of marketing or like me just doesn't like that approach.

Show People, Don’t Tell them about your work or that all are going to make it. It’s not yet proven by any statistics that the common way is the only one way to sell NFTs or to become succesfull in a space where no final goal is yet set.

  • Learn some financial literacy from old-school well versed entrepreneurs. A good starting resource is “Poor Dad, Rich Dad.”  Investing logic is still the same even though technologies change. At the end of the day, the NFT space is an investors market and follows familiar patterns to real-life investments.
  • For musicians, I’d advise you to read the standard “all you need to know about the music business” as it will give you a glimpse into what the future might look like. The industry eventually will catch up and laws will too. For the moment, thinking like a visual artist and business is the best you can do.
  • Be the first to give and genuinely help. It’s ok to buy NFTs to help people and have them buy back yours in the future. However, I don’t suggest building ‘depts' too much but only buying or helping from a project/artist you truly like. This way you help the space become better.
  • Learn some tech. and digital skills. You have to know just enough so that you can make decisions and know the consequence. Understand the basics of the blockchain, minting, smart contracts and merge them with skills in graphic design, communication, creative writing (all the things you still needed in web2)
  • Write your plans down. It does not have to be a business plan but a clear outcome of what you want to reach in the following month. This way you make yourself accountable.
  • Studying economics, history, and some of the names I mentioned above might be beneficial as, believe me, all this has all happened before in one way or another.  Not everyone made it before and probably not everyone will now, the few that will however push the limits and lay the ground for the rest to reassess and keep trying.

Finally, If you want to support me and are not especially into NFTs, you can just Buy me a Coffee or collect my NFT single using just a credit card.

Here is my Twitter profile if anyone wants to connect more on this topic or just in general.

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